Celebrate St. Francis and Laudato Si’ with a week of events

September 20, 2023

St. Francis statue on campus

Campus Ministry and the Department of Environmental Studies are partnering on a weeklong celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment whose Feast Day is Oct. 4, and Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for the environment. 

The events begin Sunday, Sept. 24, with an opportunity to stargaze through a 150-year-old telescope and will run daily through Friday, Sept. 29.  Laudato Si’ week at Bellarmine falls within the Season of Creation in the Christian tradition that runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 every year. 
Laudato Si’, a 184-page encyclical, or public letter, was published in 2015. Encyclicals develop Catholic teaching on a particular topic, often in response to current events. Pope Francis addressed Laudato Si’, which is subtitled “Care for Our Common Home,” to “every living person on this planet” and focused on care for the natural environment and all people. 
Laudato Si’ also refers to a historic hymn called The Canticle of the Sun that St. Francis wrote in 1224.
“At Bellarmine, our mission is to educate students by caring for and developing the whole person, in mind, body, and spirit, but I also like to add that at Bellarmine we are also inspiring students to care for our Earth, the common home that we all share,” said Dr. Kate Bulinski, associate professor of Geoscience and one of the week’s organizers. “This Laudato Si’ celebration is a way to connect students with that call to care for creation, with many different events that are open to all.”
Sunday, Sept. 24: Stargazing
6 p.m., Our Lady of the Woods Chapel

Our Lady of the WoodsThanks to the Archdiocese of Louisville, the Bellarmine community can look to the heavens through a 150-year-old telescope that belonged to Monsignor Michael Bouchet, an inventor who was vicar general for the Diocese of Louisville in the 1870s.

Christopher Graney, an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory who was a guest speaker in one of Bulinski’s classes in the Spring 2023 semester, spent hours taking the telescope apart, cleaning it and restoring it to operating order. Graney and Tim Tomes, the Archdiocese’s archivist, are taking the apparatus to a small number of stargazing events this fall in a series titled “Kentucky’s Oldest Telescope: Born and Bred in Louisville.”
The telescope was manufactured by A.C. Schuman, a maker of scientific instruments located a short distance from the Cathedral of the Assumption. 
Mass will be held at 6 p.m. in Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, followed by a presentation (with pizza) around 7 p.m. and stargazing at 8.
Monday, Sept. 25: Bellarmine Tree Pilgrimage
4-5:30 p.m., Bellarmine Farm
Bellarmine is fortunate to enjoy and protect a vast tree canopy, which has earned the university the Arbor Day Foundation’s designation of Tree Campus USA for nine consecutive years since 2014.
In this second annual event, participants will take an educational walking tour focusing on nine significant trees, with poetry and guided meditations delivered by students, staff and faculty and featuring Dr. David Robinson, emeritus professor of Biology. The tour will begin at the Bellarmine Farm and end at Our Lady of the Woods Chapel.
Tuesday, Sept. 26: Plant Giveaway
11 a.m.-noon, Quad
Join Campus Ministry to receive a free houseplant to bring life into your dorm room or indoor space, connect with nature, and care for creation.
Blessing of the AnimalsWednesday, Sept. 27: Blessing of the Animals
5:30-6:30 p.m., Quad
The Blessing of the Animals is a fun annual event in the spirit of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. Fr. George Munjanattu will bestow the blessings, and treats will be provided for both the pets and their humans. Everyone is welcome to celebrate, with or without a pet. If your pet is back home, bring a photo for a blessing from afar. 
Thursday, Sept. 28: Transitus of St. Francis
8 p.m., Our Lady of the Woods Chapel 


This retelling of St. Francis’ transition from his earthly life to eternal life with God will include readings/stories, music, and a reflection by Dr. Hoon Choi, associate professor of Theology.

Friday, Sept. 29: Farm Workday
3-5 p.m., Bellarmine Farm
Join the Department Environmental Studies Department for a Farm Workday at the Bellarmine Farm behind Allen Hall to winterize the farm by cutting weeds, spreading mulch and harvesting food for the Knights Pantry. Wear clothes you do not mind getting dirty and sturdy shoes. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

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