During this holy season, we thought it would appropriate to write about Saint Francis of Assisi, a man who represents no only values of the Christian faith, but is an inspiration to folks of any faith. Saint Francis of Assisi was a 13th-century Italian saint who founded the Franciscan orders of the Friars Minor, the Poor Clares, and the Third Order. He is one of the most venerated religious figures in Roman Catholic history and the patron saint of Italy, ecology, and animals.
Saint Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in Assisi, a town in the duchy of Spoleto, in 1181 or 1182. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant and his mother was a noblewoman from France. He was baptized Giovanni but his father later renamed him, Francesco, meaning "Frenchman".
As a young man, Francis enjoyed a lavish and worldly life. He was known for his charm, generosity, and love of adventure. He dreamed of becoming a knight and fought in a war between Assisi and Perugia. He was captured and imprisoned for a year until his father paid his ransom.
In 1209, Francis received approval from Pope Innocent III to establish a new religious order, the Friars Minor, or the Lesser Brothers. They traveled throughout Italy and beyond, preaching the gospel and helping the poor and sick. They also respected and cared for all creatures as God's creation.
In 1212, Francis met Clare, a young noblewoman who was inspired by his example. She left her home and joined Francis and his followers. She founded a new order of nuns, the Poor Clares, who lived in seclusion and poverty.
In 1224, Francis received a miraculous gift: the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ on his hands, feet, and side. He suffered from these wounds for the rest of his life.
Francis died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on July 16, 1228. His feast day is celebrated on October 4. Saint Francis of Assisi is revered for his humility, compassion, and joy. He composed several prayers and hymns, including the Canticle of the Sun, which praises God for all his creatures. He is also known for his love of nature and animals. He is said to have preached to birds, tamed a wolf, and celebrated Christmas with a live nativity scene.
Saint Francis of Assisi is a model of holiness and service for Christians of all denominations. He also symbolizes peace and harmony for people of different faiths and cultures.