Friday, April 9, 2010

A Carving of St. Francis

Many years after the fact -- like a couple of weeks ago (!) -- it was brought to my attention that my son was born on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4th.  [OK…yeah...I *knew* he was born on the 4th…I just didn’t know that the date was “important”:-).]

I knew that he had a large print of the Saint in his house but I always thought that he just like the “look” of the picture.  Who knew?  Well, apparently my wife did. 
She informed me of the connection soon after I decided to do a somewhat stylized carving of the Saint based, of all things, on a picture of a lawn ornament that I found in a magazine… sometimes inspiration comes from the *strangest* places. 

The carving is from Basswood (what else?) and is about 11” tall.  It sits on a small base that I turned from some kind of maple that I found in my scrap wood pipe.  The photos don’t begin to do the wood grain justice.  It might be “Ambrosia” Maple, but that is purely a guess based on the look of the grain in a bowl that I turned a few years ago.  The major reason for the base is that the figure is tall (~11”) and slender and more than a bit “tippy” because the bowl hangs out so far.  The birds were carved separately and glued on with little pieces of dowel rod.

In scratching around to find some background to add to the posting, I found this bit in Wikipedia:

“Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint's humility towards nature is recounted in the "Fioretti" ("Little Flowers") a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint's death. It is said that, one day, while Francis was traveling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds" The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them:

My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you... you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore... always seek to praise God."

I also learned from my son that during the Christmas celebrations in the Italian town of Greccio in 1220, St. Francis began the Christian tradition of the crèche or Nativity scene by placing an empty manger between a real ox and donkey.

These seemed like nice thoughts for the day.

“Til next time…Keep makin’ chips.

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