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St Francis of Assisi

Fr.Joseph Santiago CMF - Tue, Oct 4th 2016


Founder of the Order of Friars Minor, Co patron of Italy 
(September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226)

Feast Day: October 4



Saint Francis, Italian mystic, preacher and founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, was born in Assisi (Umbria, Italy) in 1182.

St. Francis of Assisi abandoned a life of luxury for a life devoted to Christianity after reportedly hearing the voice of God, who commanded him to rebuild the Christian church and live in poverty.

Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Franciscans Order.

He gave to his followers wise rules which were approved by the Holy See.

He laid the foundations of an order of nuns, groups of penitents living in the world, and of preaching the Gospel to the infidels.

He preached to all the love of God. He saw it as his task to preach. His sermon was simple, and joy and peace was important to him. And he was in all contexts a peacemaker. He preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. His brothers were sent out in all directions to preach. Francis himself was responsible for the mission in the Orient and came in 1219 in Damietta, where he was disgusted by Crusader atrocities.

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 such holy wounds.

He died on 3 October in the year1226.

He was canonized as a saint on July 16, 1228.

Saint Francis' feast day is observed on October 4.

Solemn religious services are held in the Basilica of St Francis and in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

World Animal Day is an international day of action animal rights and welfare celebrated annually on october4,the feast day of Francis of Assisi,the patron saint of animals.

He is the patron saint for ecologists and merchants.

Birth and baptism

Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. His mother, Pica is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence, had him baptized Giovanni di Bernadone, in honor of John the Baptist. But, his father (Pietro Bernardone), a wealthy assisian cloth merchant, renamed him Francesco (French in Italian) because of his commercial success and interest in France.

Francis was one of several children.


Francis received some elementary instruction from the priests of St. George's at Assisi, though he learned more perhaps in the school of the Troubadours, who were just then making for refinement in Italy. However this may be, 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

Teenage life


Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father's wealth and the permissiveness of the times. He was constantly happy, charming, and a born leader. No one tried to control him or teach him. As he grew up, Francis became the leader of a crowd of young people who spent their nights in wild parties.


Longed for glory and prestige

Francis wanted to be a noble, a knight. Battle was the best place to win the glory and prestige he longed for. He got his first chance when Assisi declared war on their longtime enemy, the nearby town of Perugia.

Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered in the fight. Only those wealthy enough to expect to be ransomed were taken prisoner. At last Francis was among the nobility like he always wanted to be...but chained in a harsh, dark dungeon. All accounts say that he never lost his happy manner in that horrible place. Finally, after a year in the dungeon, he was ransomed.

The call of God

Francis was a handsome and cheerful young man and enjoyed the pleasures of life. He also spent a short time in the military and following a battle between Assisi and Perugia, he was held captive in Perugia for over a year. While imprisoned, he suffered a severe illness during which he resolved to alter his way of life. He felt God was calling him to live as Jesus did, so he decided to give up his wealth and embrace a life of poverty and service to the poor and sick. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at the church doors for the poor, he claimed to have had a mystical experience in the Church of San Damiano just outside of Assisi. There the Icon of Christ Crucified came alive and said to him three times, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."

Spiritual enlightenment

Francis heard a sermon that changed his life forever. The sermon was about Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty


His father Pietro, highly indignant, attempted to change his mind, first with

Threats and then with corporal chastisement. After a final interview in the presence of the bishop, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony, laying aside even the garments he had received from him. For the next couple of months he lived as a beggar in the region of Assisi. Returning to the town, he restored several ruined churches, among them the Porziuncola—little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels—situated just outside of town, and which later became his favorite abode.

Mission among Lepers and outcasts

He performed charities among the lepers and began working on the restoration of other dilapidated churches. Francis then devoted the next three years to the care of outcasts and lepers in the woods of Mount Subasio.

Preaching mission

Francis put on the clothes of a poor shepherd and began preaching to people about peace with God, with one's neighbor, and with one's self. He looked on all people and things as his brothers and sisters because they were created by the same God.

Congregation: OFM, Cap

Francis founded the Franciscan Order in 1209.

Saint Francis gave his Order the name “Friars Minor” out of humility since he wanted his brothers to be the servants of all and to always seek the most humble places.

In 1209 he composed a simple rule for his followers ("friars"), the Regula primitiva or "Primitive Rule", which came from verses in the Bible

The order is devoted to preaching the Gospel and living in strict poverty.

In 1209, Francis gathered round him the 11 young men who became the original brothers of his order and took them to Rome where Pope Innocent III gave him permission to start the religious order of Franciscans, later alled the First Order; they elected Francis superior.

Saint Clare

On the night of Palm Sunday, March 28, 1212, Clare clandestinely left her family's palace. Francis received her at the Porziuncola and thereby established the Order of Poor Ladies, later called Poor Clares.

It was probably later in 1212 that Francis set out for the Holy Land, but a shipwreck forced him to return.

In May of 1213 he received the mountain of La Verna (Alverna) as a gift from the count Orlando di Chiusi who described it as “eminently suitable for whoever wishes to do penance in a place remote from mankind.” The mountain would become one of his favorite retreats for prayer. In the same year, Francis sailed for Morocco, but this time an illness forced him to break off his journey in Spain. He returned to Assisi.


A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (Luke 9:1-3). Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. The Lord God made saint Francis of Assisi Christ like in his poverty and humility.

In Egypt and Holy Land

In 1219 he was in Egypt, where he succeeded in preaching to, but not in converting, the sultan. Francis then went on to the Holy Land, staying there until 1220.

Christmas Crib

Although nativity drawings and paintings existed earlier, St Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known three-dimensional presepio or crèche (Nativity scene) in the town of Greccio near Assisi, around 1220. He used real animals to create a living scene so that the worshipers could contemplate the birth of the child Jesus in a direct way, making use of the senses, especially sight.


In September 1224, after 40 days of fasting, Francis was praying upon Monte Alverna when he felt pain mingled with joy, and the marks of the crucifixion of Christ, the stigmata, appeared on his body. Francis was carried back to Assisi, where his remaining years were marked by physical pain and almost total blindness. So deep was his desire to be like his Lord, the marks of Jesus' five wounds remained with Francis the rest of his life.  The impression of the stigmata on his body is celebrated on 17 September.

He died at his beloved Porziuncola chapel (Itlay) on October 3, 1226 and was buried in Assisi.

Pope Gregory IX pronounced St Francis a saint on 16 July in 1228.

The pope also laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy.

The church, also known as Basilica of San Francesco d' Assisi, is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In 1980, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him the patron saint of ecologists.

He died at the age of 44.


Saint Francis is considered the first Italian poet by literary critics.

In art, the emblems of St.  Francis are the wolf, the lamb, the fish, birds, and the stigmata.

On June 18, 1939, Pope Pius XII named Francis a joint Patron saint of Italy along with Saint Catherine of Siena with the apostolic letter "Licet Commissa”.

Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Many fantastic myths, stories and movies have been made on the life of Francis of Assisi, Paul Sabatier’s biography is one of the more well known and historical correct books.

Saint John Paul II admired Francis

On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology.

During the World Environment Day 1982, John Paul II said that St. Francis' love and care for creation was a challenge for contemporary Catholics and a reminder "not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment even to those who succeed us."

The same Pope wrote on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990, the saint of Assisi "offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation ..." He went on to make the point that: "As a friend of the poor who was loved by God's creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples

Papal name

On 13 March 2013, upon his election as Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, becoming Pope Francis.


"Don't forget the poor"

At his first audience on 16 March 2013, Pope Francis told journalists that he had chosen the name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, and had done so because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. Bergoglio's selection of his papal name is the first time that a pope has been named Francis


Lessons learnt from saint Francis of Assisi

Francis (1181– 1226), lived during the late 12th and 13th centuries in Italy. Humility was, no doubt, the saint’s ruling virtue.

 Mystic and Man of action:

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

Persecution and martyrdom

Francis did find persecution and martyrdom of a kind -- not among the Moslems, but among his own brothers. His dream of radical Poverty was too harsh, people said. Francis responded, "Lord, didn't I tell you they wouldn't trust you?"


Francis' final years were filled with suffering as well as humiliation. How did Francis respond to blindness and suffering? During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44), he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

Patron of Ecology

He is remembered for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to minister to the lepers. However, what many people recall about him is his love for animals and nature. St.Francis loved the beauty of nature and wildlife so much. He recognized creation as another manifestation of the beauty of God.  In 1979, he was named patron of ecology.

“Peace and Reconciliation”

The anonymous 20th-century prayer “make me a channel of thy peace” is widely but erroneously attributed to St. Francis

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong,
 I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to 
comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.



Fr.Joseph Santiago CMF
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