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The Pope’s Prayer for Small Farmers

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The difficult life of farmers is matched only by their generosity

Pope Francis takes up a set of prayer intentions each month, and for April he’s praying for those who work small farms. Specifically, his prayer intention is “That small farmers receive a just reward for their precious labor.”

Those who work small farms provide for their local communities and beyond. Their efforts are frequently met with struggle — farming is not for the faint of heart or weak in faith — with storms and droughts and all that can go wrong in an agrarian industry. But one thing I’ve found to be their trademark is generosity; if there is a sincere need, a farmer will do his or her best to share what food they can.

St. Ansovinus, a patron for the protection of farmers’ crops, did the same; only he fed those in need on a much grander scale!

Not much is known about the early life of this ninth century saint. His story begins after he became a priest and lived as a hermit near Torcello, Italy. The people in the region came to rely on this quiet and unassuming priest for many of their needs, for it was not long after he had arrived to the region that miracles began to take place; Ansovinus had been given the holy gifts of multiplication of food and of healing.

His patronage for the protection of crops, and their fruitfulness, originates from the miraculous amount of food that came from his small plot. It didn’t seem to matter how many came to him or when. He nourished them all with grain, and the word of God; bread that fed both body and soul.

One of his more memorable miracles took place when he had emptied the regional granary at Castel-Raimondo. There were so many people starving in Western Europe that hundreds, who had heard of his charity began to flock to him in need. The beloved St. Ansovinus had already fed thousands, and still more came. As his helpers told him of the emptied hold of grain, we can imagine this dedicated priest kneeling in prayer, and appreciate the doubt of the workers — and their ultimate astonishment — when they were told to go back to the granary and found it miraculously filled.

In A Book of Blessings, from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, we read that “Plants are part of God’s creation. By their vast variety and beauty, they help to provide us with food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. When we bless plants, we are praising our heavenly Father who gives them to us as a further reflection of his life, love and goodness.”

If you are a farmer working multiple acres, or an industrious gardener with an an oversized patch of land, there is a special blessing that may be given for good harvest. Your parish priest might enjoy visiting to offer this prayer — and being paid for his time with a home-cooked meal!

Eternal Father,

maker of heaven and earth,

we bless you and give you glory.

 

Bless this seed, and make it fruitful.

Look upon our work this season,

and grant that the seeds we plant

will produce plentiful crops,

providing work and food for many.

In your love, give us favorable weather

throughout this growing season.

 

Make us truly grateful for all our gifts,

and willing to share our goods and talents with others,

especially those without adequate food.

 

All praise and glory are yours, Almighty Father,

through your son Jesus Christ,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

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