On October 4th is the date of honoring Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of “animals and nature, also known for being the saint of the poor”.
Who is St. Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1182. He was the son of Pedro Bernardone, a wealthy merchant, and also, from a noble family in Provence. In his youth, Francis was very wealthy and wasted money on ostentations. However, his father’s business did not interest him, much less his studies. What he wanted was to have fun. However, St. Bonaventure, his contemporary, wrote about him: “But, with divine help, he never let himself be carried away by the ardor of the passions that dominated the young people of his company”.
In Francis’ youth, a war broke out between the Italian cities called Perugia and Assisi. He wanted to fight in Espoleto, between Assisi and Rome but fell ill. During his illness, Francis heard a supernatural voice. The latter asked him to “serve love and the Servant”. Little by little, with much prayer, Francis felt in his heart the need to sell his goods and “buy the precious Once”, upon encountering a leper, despite his natural disgust, he overcame his will and kissed the sick.
It was a gesture moved by the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, he began to make visits and serve patients who were not in hospitals. He share his own clothes and money with the poor, Francis felt in his heart the need to sell his goods and “buy the precious pearl” that he had read about in the Gospel.
One day when Francis was praying alone in Saint Damian church, in Assisi, he felt that the crucifix was talking to him, repeating the famous phrase three times: “Francis, repair my house, for you look that it is in ruins“. He sold everything he had and took the money to the priest of the Church of Saint Damian, and asked for permission to live with him. Francis was twenty-five years old at that time.
Saint Francis and his followers traveled to many cities in Europe and Africa, such as Egypt, Cyprus, Rome, Syria, and other cities. To better meditate on the mystery of the birth of Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi would have made figures representing Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus, building the first nativity scene, which became so popular at Christmas. In1224, while meditating on Mount Alverne, Saint Francis received the stigmata of Christ.
Francis had heard God’s calling. Thus, he began to live with joy in the life of poverty, humility, and obedience. He believed that for the Christian to live the real meaning of the Gospel, he should give up all comforts and follow the life of Jesus Christ.
He wrote the first rule of the Franciscan Order and obtained the oral approval of Pope Innocent III, in 1209, giving rise to the branch today known as Franciscan Conventual Friars. Also, he would receive the young Clara, who would be responsible for the female branch of the Franciscans, under the name of Poor Clares.
He died on October 3, 1226, under the age of 45, after listening to the reading of the Passion of the Lord. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX (1145-1241) two years later after his death.
By Bro. Cesar OP