The patron saint of animals is Saint Francis of Assisi of Italy. He is also recognized as the patron saint of ecologists, as declared by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
Born and baptized as Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1181, Saint Francis' father, a wealthy silk merchant, renamed him Francesco in 1182. After a wild youth and a short time spent as a soldier, Francis had a life-changing experience with a leper he met while traveling. It was after this encounter that Francis renounced his worldly possessions and wealth and embraced a lifestyle of selflessness, following the gospel of Jesus literally. Canonized on July 16, 1228, by Pope Gregory IX, Saint Francis' legacy is that of dedication to the sick and impoverished and assertions that all animals and humans alike are brothers and sisters under God.