sermon to the birds

According to folk-lore, one day when Francis of Assisi was traveling with a group of companions, they arrived at a clearing in which birds filled the trees lining the road. Francis told his friends to wait for him while he spoke to his sisters the birds. The birds surrounded him, and not one flew away, the power of his speech holding them transfixed.

'My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God.'

Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the animals
c 1220