Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi
(c. 1181–1226)
   Saint, Mystic, Poet and Order Founder.
   Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant of Assisi, Italy. After a period in his father’s business and as a soldier, he turned away from his old life. In obedience to an inner voice, he dedicated himself to repairing the ruined church of San Damiano. For several years he lived alone as a beggar, tending lepers and identifying with the poor. Soon others joined him and a community was established at Portiuncula from where he and his followers made regular preaching tours. In 1210 Francis drew up a rule of life, the Regula Prima, which was approved by Pope Innocent III. The group called themselves friars (‘fratres minor’) and their ideals spread rapidly. St clare of Assisi set up a similar society for women based on the church of San Damiano. Francis himself travelled through France and Spain, but was prevented by illness from preaching to the Muslims of North Africa. Later he made another preaching tour to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile the organisation of the order had changed. It already had five thousand members and different administrative arrangements had become necessary. A second, more comprehensive rule was drawn up which was approved in 1223 and Francis also set up the Tertiary Order, by which lay people could dedicate themselves to God while continuing to live with their families. During the last years of his life, he held no official position. He remained a Deacon and lived quietly within the order. In 1224 he received the impression of the stigmata on his body and he died two years later at the age of forty-five. St Francis remains one of the most attractive of the Christian saints. His devotion to the Lady Poverty, his wonderful Canticle of the Sun and the story of his simple, holy life, have been an inspiration to generations. Assisi remains a centre of pilgrimage to this day and the Franciscan Order has produced several other saints – bonaventura and antony of padua being the most prominent.
   G.K. Chesterton, Francis of Assisi (1923);
   L. Cunningham (ed.), An Anthology of Writings by and about St Francis of Assisi (1973);
   J.R.H. Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order from its Origins to the Year 1517 (1968);
   J.H. Smith, St Francis of Assisi (1973).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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  • Francis of Assisi, Saint — orig. Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone born 1181/82, Assisi, duchy of Spoleto died Oct. 3, 1226, Assisi; canonized July 16, 1228; feast day October 4 Italian saint and founder of the Franciscan religious order. Born into a wealthy family, he was …   Universalium

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  • Francis of Assisi,Saint — Francis of As·si·si (ə sēʹzē, sē, ə sĭsʹē), Saint. 1182? 1226. Italian Roman Catholic friar who founded the Franciscan order (1209) and inspired followers with his devotion, simple living, and love of nature. He was canonized in 1228. * * * …   Universalium

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