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Servant of God Brother Juniper (1210- 1258) – “Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers,” said Francis of this holy friar. We don’t know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish “places” for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars!

Another time Juniper had been commanded to quit giving part of his clothing to the half-naked people he met on the road. Desiring to obey his superior, Juniper once told a man in need that he couldn’t give the man his tunic, but he wouldn’t prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away. He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Brother Juniper, you were one of St. Francis’ first friars. Your simplicity and generosity were infamous amongst the Franciscans. There are many tales told about you: how you would give so much away that the friars didn’t dare leave anything laying around; how you were told by St. Francis not to give away any more of your clothing to beggars, but you told one man that although you could not give him your habit, there was nothing to prevent him from taking it!

    Brother Juniper, we can learn much from your lavish generosity and your humbleness of heart. Pray that we may be inspired to give until it hurts, to put others needs above our own, and to love God with our whole heart and soul. And pray that we may imbue some part of the Franciscan spirit of poverty and love of serving God. Amen.

    Brother Juniper, humble Servant of God, pray for us!

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