St Francis Day is on 4 October
by Revd Catherine Williams (revised, originally published in 2003)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore friendship by using the examples of St Francis and St Clare.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a cross, a mobile phone and a letter.
- Ask the children to tell you about their friends and why they like them. Ask them what qualities they think makes a good friend.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain that you want to tell the children about some very famous friends who lived nearly a thousand years ago: St Francis and St Clare. Francis and Clare were both born into wealthy families in the town of Assisi in Italy in the twelfth century. When Francis was a young man, he had a vision of Jesus, which made him give up everything he owned and become a monk. He travelled around telling people about Jesus, and saying that all the creatures on Earth were his friends.
Francis and Clare became special friends, and they met often to talk about Jesus. Clare started an Order (a society or group) of nuns, but the rules of the Order were very strict, so she and Francis were no longer allowed to meet. However, they prayed for each other every day and wrote letters to each other for the rest of their lives.
- Show the cross to the children.
Explain that for Francis and Clare, their Christian faith made them very good friends because they had a lot in common. They felt that their friendship helped the other to become better at living as they thought Jesus wanted them to. They were not in competition, but wanted the best for each other.
Suggest that our best friends are often those who really care about us and want what is best for us. If we are going to be a good friend to someone, we need to support them and help them to grow.
- Show the mobile phone to the children.
Point out that today, people communicate by text, email, phone or social media. However, many years ago, these forms of communication had not been developed. Instead, people wrote letters.
- Show the letter to the children.
Ask the children if they have ever received a letter. Receiving a letter is special because someone has taken the time to sit down and write it. Although Francis and Clare couldn’t meet with each other, they wrote letters, which meant that they could stay in touch. If friendships are going to survive, it’s important to keep in contact. It’s easy while our friends are at school and we see them all the time, but sometimes, we want to stay friends with people who move away, so we need to communicate.
- True friendship takes time, energy and commitment. If we don’t spend time with our friends, we can’t develop and grow our friendships. Having things in common - shared hobbies and interests - enables us to get to know each other better, and helps us to grow to respect each other more.
- Make the point that friends each have a responsibility to the other to keep a friendship alive and healthy.
Christians believe that Jesus has promised to be our friend always, even when we think we don’t have any friends.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to be quiet for a moment to think about their friends.
- How can we be better friends to each other?
- How do we show our friends that we care about them?
Thank you for our friends.
Help us to be good friends to one another.
Thank you for giving us Jesus to be our friend forever.