Servant of God Brother Juniper (1210-1258) is remembered by St. Francis of Assisi with the words, “Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers.” Little is known about Juniper’s life before he joined the Franciscan friars in 1210. Under the direction of St. Francis, he was instrumental in founding friar communities in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. Brother Juniper also played a comforting role during St. Clare’s final moments. His devotion to the Passion of Christ and his notable simplicity were central to his character.

The “Little Flowers of St. Francis,” a collection of anecdotes, vividly portrays Brother Juniper’s boundless generosity, albeit sometimes resulting in humorous or challenging situations. In one such instance, Brother Juniper, eager to satisfy a sick man’s craving, fetched a pig’s foot, inadvertently igniting the ire of the pig’s owner. However, with his sincere apologies and unique persuasion, he managed to turn the owner’s anger into generosity, convincing him to donate the entire pig to the friary.

Another tale recounts Brother Juniper’s clever adherence to an order forbidding him from giving his clothes to the needy. When approached by a man in need of clothing, Juniper stated that while he couldn’t give his tunic away, he wouldn’t stop the man from taking it. This and similar acts of kindness taught the friars to secure their belongings, as Juniper was likely to give them away in acts of charity. Brother Juniper’s death came in 1258, and he was laid to rest at the Ara Coeli Church in Rome, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and devout faith.

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
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  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!

  2. Lord our God, we thank you that every day – through good days and through days that to us seem bad – we know that our lives are guided by your will, what you do and what you want. For this we thank you. We want to love you above everything in the world. Our hearts long for you, for you are our Father. We want to love and honor you with our whole lives. Lord our God, bring your order into the world. Help us at all times to do your will and to fulfill your commandments. Amen.


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