FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d'Assisi; born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, but nicknamed Francesco ("the Frenchman") by his father; 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher.
He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women not able to live the lives of itinerant preachers, followed by the early members of the Order of Friars Minor, or the monastic lives of the Poor Clares. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
As autumn arrives, people in various places may notice something odd, a procession of animals, everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses, is led to churches for a special ceremony called the Blessing of Pets. This custom is conducted in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.
As a youth, Francesco became a devotee of troubadours and was fascinated with all things Transalpine. Although many hagiographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, and love of pleasures, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came fairly early in his life, as is shown in the "story of the beggar."
According to the hagiographic legend, thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions. In response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered, "yes, a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen," meaning his "Lady Poverty". He spent much time in lonely places, asking God for enlightenment.
St. Francis is one of the most famous saints in Church history.
He’s so significant that the current pope—Pope Francis—chose to take his name.
October 4th is his memorial day.
He was born in 1181 or 1182 (we’re not sure), and he died in 1226. He thus lived to be only 44 or 45 years old.
He was born—and he died—in Assisi, Italy, which is somewhat near Rome.
He was not very studious, and his literary education remained incomplete. Although associated with his father in trade, he showed little liking for a merchant's career, and his parents seemed to have indulged his every whim. Thomas of Celano, his first biographer, speaks in very severe terms of Francis's youth. Certain it is that the saint's early life gave no presage of the golden years that were to come. No one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Handsome, gay, gallant, and courteous, he soon became the prime favorite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, the very king of frolic. But even at this time Francis showed an instinctive sympathy with the poor, and though he spent money lavishly, it still flowed in such channels as to attest a princely magnanimity of spirit.
Born in Italy circa 1181, St. Francis of Assisi was renown for drinking and partying in his youth. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned at ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison—awaiting his father's ransom—and, during this time, reportedly began receiving visions from God. After his release from prison, Francis reportedly heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian church and live a life of poverty. So he abandoned his life of luxury and devoted his life to Christianity and became known all over the Christian world. Later in life, Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ—marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified—making Francis the first person to receive the holy wounds of the stigmata. He was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228. Today, St. Francis of Assisi has had a lasting resonance, with millions of followers across the globe.
Over all summary of who Francis of Assisi was:
Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance. Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy." From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.