Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of CanadaFranciscains du Canada

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

What are fleas good for?

What are fleas good for?


The first newsletter from the Franciscan Missionary Union of Western Canada was published on March 1964. It outlined the work of the Franciscans in the parish of Santa Catalina de Moquegua in Peru and gave updates on notable works and events in the Province. Since then, the Franciscan Missionary Union has continued to publish newsletters

In celebrating the 60th year since the establishment of the Franciscan Missionary Union in western Canada, we share an excerpt from this very first newsletter, capturing the exasperation, adventure, and humor of mission work.

Did You Know?

The shortest poem ever written is entitled “Fleas” and runs like this:

Had ‘em *

So do we.

The Church is the House of God. It is also a refuge for fleas in Moquegua. With our brown woolen habit, we Franciscans offer the little creatures free hospitality and sometimes free meals! The torture has its consolations though. One day, I captured one alive (the secret: wet its hind legs) and put it in a transparent escape-proof bottle. What a powerful jumper the little flea is: 50 times its own height at least! Three days of complete fasting and abstinence didn’t kill it. Then playful Brother secretly added a couple of little ones and had me believing, for a while, that they were born that day. For lack of a magnifying lens, we couldn’t see its eyes, ears, mouth, etc… which are microscopic but we could see the flat body and the hind legs that permit the insect to keep its stability while walking.

Can anyone tell us what fleas are good for?

Editor’s note: Yes, to drive away the Missionary’s loneliness

* Poem attributed to Strickland Gillilan