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St Francis of Assisi

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider the life of St Francis of Assisi.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and one reader to act out the sketch below. The part of the Vet should be played by the leader of the assembly.

  • You will need a pet carrier and a large sign showing the word ‘Vet’ displayed at the front of the room.

  • Have available a specific story about St Francis and animals and the means to display it during the assembly, such as:

    - St Francis preaching to the birds, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jdhscke
    - the YouTube video, A day in the life of St Francis, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jynr5a6
    - St Francis and the wolf, available at: http://tinyurl.com/z86y5vm

  • Optional: you may wish to use the song ‘Make me a channel of your peace’, which puts a prayer by St Francis to music. A YouTube video of this song, which is 2.51 minutes long, is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihhvm6eLWZI

Assembly

Before the assembly, place the large sign showing the word ‘Vet’ at the front of the room. When the children are settled, the Pet owner should enter from the back of the room carrying a pet carrier.

Pet owner: Can anyone help me? I need to see the vet. My pet is hurt . . . Can anyone help me?

The Pet owner should act out looking for the vet’s surgery, repeating the fact that they are carrying a sick animal. It is hoped that the children and adults present will join in and tell the visitor that there is a vet’s surgery at the front of the room.

Vet: Welcome to St Francis surgery. Can I help you?

Pet owner: Yes, my pet is hurt. Hes limping . . . I think hes hurt his paw.

Vet: Bring him over here . . . Im sure we can help him here at St Francis.

Pet owner: I thought this was a vets surgery, not a church! Why is it called St Francis?

Vet: I see what you mean - St Francis is sometimes the name of a church. However, its also a very good name for a vets surgery. Listen - let me tell you a story.

Use one of the stories suggested:

- St Francis talking to the birds, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jdhscke

- the YouTube video, ‘A day in the life of St Francis’, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jynr5a6
- St Francis and the wolf, available at: http://tinyurl.com/z86y5vm

At the end of the story, continue with the script below.

Vet: Now can you see why we called our surgery after St Francis? St Francis wanted to care for all animals and reminded us all to live in peace.

Pet owner: Dont we sometimes sing a song about peace?

Vet: Yes, its called the prayer of St Francis.

If possible, display the words to the song ‘Make me a channel of your peace’. Alternatively, you could play a YouTube video of it, which is 2.51 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihhvm6eLWZI

Vet: If you look at the end of a song, it sometimes tells you who has written it. This song is known as the prayer of St Francis.

Pet owner: You mean St Francis actually wrote it?

Vet: Yes. He wrote it as a prayer, but it was set to music many years ago. Anyway, let’s have a look at your pet. Can you bring him round to the back of the surgery? Im sure well be able to fix him up in no time.

Pet owner: Thank you.

Time for reflection

Reread the words to the prayer of St Francis. Alternatively, use the YouTube clip available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihhvm6eLWZI

Ask the children to consider how they can bring peace to the world, even today.

Prayer
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where theres doubt, true faith in you.
Where theres despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where theres sadness, ever joy.
Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that were born to eternal life.
Amen.

Song/music

The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace) (Come and Praise, 147)

Follow-up ideas

Art and design. St Francis has been portrayed by many artists, notably Giotto (who illustrated the frescoes at the church in Assisi shortly after St Francis died) and, more recently, Sir Stanley Spencer (whose painting, St Francis and the Birds, is set in Berkshire). Gather together some of the pictures and encourage the children to talk about them. How might the children portray St Francis in a modern setting?

Alternatively, l
isten to some of the other stories of St Francis and make a banner conveying the message of St Francis to display in a vets surgery or a church.

Another idea is to d
esign a stained-glass window showing St Francis of Assisi.

ICT. Research the life of St Francis, considering the different churches and veterinary surgeries named after him.

Publication date: January 2017   (Vol.19 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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