Saint 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 sense of self-importance. Volumes could be written about this most holy man and no short biography can truly give justice to the humble and inspiring life that he led.

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.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evokng sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. 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” (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

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.

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. On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.

Perhaps the most beloved of all saints, St. Francis is the patron of Italy, Animals, Ecology & Environmentalism,, Merchants, against dying alone, against fire, birds, Catholic Action, families, Franciscan Order, peace, zoos, and many cities and diocese around the world.

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  1. St. Clare helps my household hugely! We have 8 dogs and 3 cats plus squatters. She is so down to earth and fun…Someday I hope to thank her in person, sit on the floor of San Damiano and play with the pets.

    I believe Francis’ strongest guiding vision was the democratic bond we all share as creatures of one Father. He had to overcome a bit of snobbery in himself, and fear of the leper…he would not be a saint if he didn’t battle with himself. He loved the Sacrament because it was peculiar to Jesus…it was Jesus’ idea to stay with us in our material pilgrimage hiding in bread and wine.

    To love God is open to all…but the Eucharist is uniquely the brainchild of Jesus.

    For Francis it was very up close and personal, not a luck charm or ancestral custom. For many Catholics the Faith is almost ancestor worship or even politics. The Catholic cemetery here has more Irish flags and Georgia Bulldog souvenirs than flowers! Francis really loves Jesus, human and Divine.

  2. Visited Assisi and Gubbio (where he tamed the wolf) in 2015; such a peaceful and happy place! Assisi was also a holy place during the worst times of WWII, hiding hundreds of Jews during the German occupation. The bishop there is listed as a Righteous Gentile at Yad Vashem in Israel. A story is told that the Germans originally wanted Assisi as a combat related headquarters. The decision maker, a German officer, just kept having the feeling this was totally wrong, based on the sacred history of the town. He suggested they turn it into a medical center for wounded soldiers, pointing out the many convents of nuns included highly trained nurses. Assisi was saved, and there are other stories too of that time, showing the hand of God. St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!

  3. From a merchant’s son to a soldier and would-be crusader to a monk and church-builder. St. Francis was an amazing and inspiring figure.

  4. St Francis of Assisi please protect us tonight & always in our home please help us fix our home which is in bad repair-
    grant us financial aid urgently
    cure mum of all ailments & give her many more happy & healthy years with us

  5. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

    “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.

  6. Spent the fest day of St Francis at a Indian Pueblo in northern NM which St Francis is their patron saint!
    What a wonderful blessed day starting with Mass and then a procession around the Pueblo ending with the Indians dancing and celebrating and open invitation into their homes with sharing their food. It’s my second year of attending and I hope I have many more years to look forward too.

  7. St. Francis of Asisi pray for us, especially for my family, aunty in Singapore, friends, Ann and husband battling with cancer, Anthony Marcus for speedy recovery,Freddie Mcleod for a safe operation and speedy recovery and all others who are unwell and need prayers.

  8. For the Holy Spirit to flood Pope Francis today with righteousness and clarity, that he may stand firm against the injustices of crimes against Mother Church, both from within and from without, to restore Her credibility as the One True Faith. Amen.
    Ecce Crucem Domini!
    Fugite partes adversae!
    Vicit Leo de tribu Juda,
    Radix David! Alleluia!
    Saint Anthony, pray for us. Saint Peter, pray for us.
    Saint Francis of Assisi, compassionately pray for us.


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