Saint Francis of Assisi O.F.M.
|Religious, deacon, confessor|
stigmatist and religious founder
|Born||Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone|
1181 or 1182
Assisi, Duchy of Spoleto, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||3 October 1226 (aged 44 years) |
Assisi, Umbria, Papal States
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Old Catholic Church
|Canonized||16 July 1228, Assisi, Italy by Pope Gregory IX|
|Major shrine||Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi|
|Patronage||stowaways ; Italy ; ecology ; and animals|
Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian : San Francesco d'Assisi, Latin : Sanctus Franciscus Assisiensis), born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco (1181/1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Some Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state; in others, the deacon remains a layperson.
Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades.By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy, which would make him the second person in Christian tradition after St. Paul (Galatians 6:17) to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142 (141).
Pope Gregory IX was Pope from 19 March 1227 to his death in 1241. He is known for issuing the Decretales and instituting the Papal Inquisition in response to the failures of the episcopal inquisitions established during the time of Pope Lucius III through his papal bull Ad abolendam issued in 1184.
A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.
Francis of Assisi was born in late 1181 or early 1182, one of several children of an Italian father, Pietro di Bernardone, a prosperous silk merchant, and a French mother, Pica de Bourlemont, about whom little is known except that she was a noblewoman originally from Provence.Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, and Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco ("the Frenchman"), possibly in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French. Since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought.
The Italians are a Romance ethnic group and nation native to the Italian peninsula and its neighbouring insular territories. Most Italians share a common culture, history, ancestry or language. Legally, all Italian nationals are citizens of the Italian Republic, regardless of ancestry or nation of residence and may be distinguished from people of Italian descent without Italian citizenship and from ethnic Italians living in territories adjacent to the Italian Peninsula without Italian citizenship. The majority of Italian nationals are speakers of Italian, or a regional variety thereof. However, many of them also speak another regional or minority language native to Italy; although there is disagreement on the total number, according to UNESCO there are approximately 30 languages native to Italy.
The French are an ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.
Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It largely corresponds with the modern administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and includes the départements of Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and parts of Alpes-Maritimes and Vaucluse. The largest city of the region is Marseille.
Indulged by his parents, Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man.As a youth, Francesco became a devotee of troubadours and was fascinated with all things Transalpine. He was handsome, witty, gallant, and delighted in fine clothes. He spent money lavishly. Although many hagiographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, and love of pleasures, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came fairly early in his life, as is shown in the "story of the beggar". In this account, he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends quickly chided and mocked him for his act of charity. When he got home, his father scolded him in rage.
A hagiography is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader. The term hagiography may be used to refer to the biography of a saint or highly developed spiritual being in any of the world's spiritual traditions.
Alms or almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue, either materially or in the sense of providing capabilities free. It exists in a number of religions and regions. The word, in the modern English language, comes from the Old English ælmesse, ælmes, from Late Latin eleemosyna, from Greek ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosynē, from ἐλεήμων, eleēmōn ("merciful"), from ἔλεος, eleos ("pity").
Around 1202, he joined a military expedition against Perugia and was taken as a prisoner at Collestrada, spending a year as a captive.An illness caused him to re-evaluate his life. It is possible that his spiritual conversion was a gradual process rooted in this experience. Upon his return to Assisi in 1203, Francis returned to his carefree life. In 1205, Francis left for Apulia to enlist in the army of Walter III, Count of Brienne. A strange vision made him return to Assisi, having lost his taste for the worldly life. According to hagiographic accounts, thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions. In response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered, "Yes, a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen", meaning his "Lady Poverty".
Perugia is the capital city of both the region of Umbria in central Italy, crossed by the river Tiber, and of the province of Perugia. The city is located about 164 kilometres north of Rome and 148 km southeast of Florence. It covers a high hilltop and part of the valleys around the area. The region of Umbria is bordered by Tuscany, Lazio, and Marche.
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto to the south. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about four million.
Walter III of Brienne was a nobleman from northern France. Becoming Count of Brienne in 1191, Walter married the Sicilian princess Elvira and took an army to southern Italy to claim her inheritance. He became Prince of Taranto in her right in 1201 but died fighting before he could establish himself as King of Sicily.
On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter's Basilica.He spent some time in lonely places, asking God for spiritual enlightenment. He said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the forsaken country chapel of San Damiano, just outside Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins." He took this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, and so he sold some cloth from his father's store to assist the priest there for this purpose. When the priest refused to accept the ill-gotten gains, an indignant Francis threw the coins on the floor.
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs.
Old St. Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, where the new St. Peter's Basilica stands today in Vatican City. Construction of the basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of Emperor Constantine I. The name "old St. Peter's Basilica" has been used since the construction of the current basilica to distinguish the two buildings.
Enlightenment is the "full comprehension of a situation". The term is commonly used to denote the Age of Enlightenment, but is also used in Western cultures in a religious context. It translates several Buddhist terms and concepts, most notably bodhi, kensho and satori. Related terms from Asian religions are moksha (liberation) in Hinduism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism, and ushta in Zoroastrianism.
In order to avoid his father's wrath, Francis hid in a cave near San Damiano for about a month. When he returned to town, hungry and dirty, he was dragged home by his father, beaten, bound, and locked in a small storeroom. Freed by his mother during Bernardone's absence, Francis returned at once to San Damiano, where he found shelter with the officiating priest, but he was soon cited before the city consuls by his father. The latter, not content with having recovered the scattered gold from San Damiano, sought also to force his son to forego his inheritance by way of restitution. In the midst of legal proceedings before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony.
For the next couple of months Francis wandered as a beggar in the hills behind Assisi. He spent some time at a neighbouring monastery working as a scullion. He then went to Gubbio, where a friend gave him, as an alms, the cloak, girdle, and staff of a pilgrim. Returning to Assisi, he traversed the city begging stones for the restoration of St. Damiano's. These he carried to the old chapel, set in place himself, and so at length rebuilt it. Over the course of two years, he embraced the life of a penitent, during which he restored several ruined chapels in the countryside around Assisi, among them San Pietro in Spina (in the area of San Petrignano in the valley about a kilometer from Rivotorto, today on private property and once again in ruin); and the Porziuncola, the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in the plain just below the town.This later became his favorite abode. By degrees he took to nursing lepers, in the lazar houses near Assisi.
One morning in February 1208, Francis was hearing Mass in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, near which he had then built himself a hut. The Gospel of the day was the "Commissioning of the Twelve" from the Book of Matthew. The disciples are to go and proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty. Having obtained a coarse woolen tunic, the dress then worn by the poorest Umbrian peasants, he tied it around him with a knotted rope and went forth at once exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace. Francis' preaching to ordinary people was unusual since he had no license to do so.
His example drew others to him. Within a year Francis had eleven followers. The brothers lived a simple life in the deserted lazar house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time wandering through the mountainous districts of Umbria, making a deep impression upon their hearers by their earnest exhortations.
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 rule was "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps". He then led his first eleven followers to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious Order. III, was immediately sympathetic to Francis and agreed to represent Francis to the pope. Reluctantly, Pope Innocent agreed to meet with Francis and the brothers the next day. After several days, the pope agreed to admit the group informally, adding that when God increased the group in grace and number, they could return for an official admittance. The group was tonsured. This was important in part because it recognized Church authority and prevented his following from possible accusations of heresy, as had happened to the Waldensians decades earlier. Though a number of the Pope's counselors considered the mode of life proposed by Francis as unsafe and impractical, following a dream in which he saw Francis holding up the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the cathedral of Rome, thus the 'home church' of all Christendom), he decided to endorse Francis' Order. This occurred, according to tradition, on April 16, 1210, and constituted the official founding of the Franciscan Order. The group, then the "Lesser Brothers" (Order of Friars Minor also known as the Franciscan Order or the Seraphic Order), were centered in the Porziuncola and preached first in Umbria, before expanding throughout Italy. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, although he was later ordained a deacon.Upon entry to Rome, the brothers encountered Bishop Guido of Assisi, who had in his company Giovanni di San Paolo, the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina. The Cardinal, who was the confessor of Pope Innocent
From then on, the new Order grew quickly with new vocations. Hearing Francis preaching in the church of San Rufino in Assisi in 1211, the young noblewoman Clare of Assisi became deeply touched by his message and realized her calling. Her cousin Rufino, the only male member of the family in their generation, was also attracted to the new Order, which he joined. 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.This was an Order for women, and he gave Clare a religious habit, or garment, similar to his own, before lodging her in a nearby monastery of Benedictine nuns until he could provide a suitable retreat for her, and for her younger sister, Caterina, and the other young women who had joined her. Later he transferred them to San Damiano, to a few small huts or cells of wattle, straw, and mud, and enclosed by a hedge. This became the first monastery of the Second Franciscan Order, now known as Poor Clares.
For those who could not leave their homes, he later formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, a fraternity composed of either laity or clergy whose members neither withdrew from the world nor took religious vows. Instead, they observed the principles of Franciscan life in their daily lives.Before long, this Third Order grew beyond Italy. The Third Order is now titled the Secular Franciscan Order.
Determined to bring the Gospel to all peoples of the World, Francis sought on several occasions to take his message out of Italy. In the late spring of 1212, he set out for Jerusalem, but was shipwrecked by a storm on the Dalmatian coast, forcing him to return to Italy. On May 8, 1213, he was given the use of the mountain of La Verna (Alverna) as a gift from 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 favourite 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. Back in Assisi, several noblemen (among them Tommaso da Celano, who would later write the biography of St. Francis), and some well-educated men joined his Order. In 1215, Francis may have gone to Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council, but that is not certain. During this time, he probably met a canon, Dominic de Guzman(later to be Saint Dominic, the founder of the Friars Preachers, another Catholic religious order). In 1217, he offered to go to France. Cardinal Ugolino of Segni (the future Pope Gregory IX), an early and important supporter of Francis, advised him against this and said that he was still needed in Italy.
In 1219, accompanied by another friar and hoping to convert the Sultan of Egypt or win martyrdom in the attempt, Francis went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade where a Crusader army had been encamped for over a year besieging the walled city of Damietta two miles (3.2 kilometres) upstream from the mouth of one of the main channels of the Nile. The Sultan, al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin, had succeeded his father as Sultan of Egypt in 1218 and was encamped upstream of Damietta, unable to relieve it. A bloody and futile attack on the city was launched by the Christians on August 29, 1219, following which both sides agreed to a ceasefire which lasted four weeks. It was most probably during this interlude that Francis and his companion crossed the Muslims' lines and were brought before the Sultan, remaining in his camp for a few days. The visit is reported in contemporary Crusader sources and in the earliest biographies of Francis, but they give no information about what transpired during the encounter beyond noting that the Sultan received Francis graciously and that Francis preached to the Muslims without effect, returning unharmed to the Crusader camp. No contemporary Arab source mentions the visit. One detail, added by Bonaventure in the official life of Francis (written forty years after the event), has Francis offering to challenge the Sultan's "priests" to trial-by-fire in order to prove the veracity of the Christian Gospel.
Such an incident is alluded to in a scene in the late 13th-century fresco cycle, attributed to Giotto, in the upper basilica at Assisi.It has been suggested that the winged figures atop the columns piercing the roof of the building on the left of the scene are not idols (as Erwin Panofsky had proposed) but are part of the secular iconography of the sultan, affirming his worldly power which, as the scene demonstrates, is limited even as regards his own "priests" who shun the challenge. Although Bonaventure asserts that the sultan refused to permit the challenge, subsequent biographies went further, claiming that a fire was actually kindled which Francis unhesitatingly entered without suffering burns. The scene in the fresco adopts a position midway between the two extremes. Since the idea was put forward by the German art historian, Friedrich Rintelen in 1912, many scholars have expressed doubt that Giotto was the author of the Upper Church frescoes.
According to some late sources, the Sultan gave Francis permission to visit the sacred places in the Holy Land and even to preach there. All that can safely be asserted is that Francis and his companion left the Crusader camp for Acre, from where they embarked for Italy in the latter half of 1220. Drawing on a 1267 sermon by Bonaventure, later sources report that the Sultan secretly converted or accepted a death-bed baptism as a result of the encounter with Francis.The Franciscan Order has been present in the Holy Land almost uninterruptedly since 1217 when Brother Elias arrived at Acre. It received concessions from the Mameluke Sultan in 1333 with regard to certain Holy Places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and (so far as concerns the Catholic Church) jurisdictional privileges from Pope Clement VI in 1342.
By this time, the growing Order of friars was divided into provinces and groups were sent to France, Germany, Hungary, and Spain and to the East. Upon receiving a report of the martyrdom of five brothers in Morocco, Francis returned to Italy via Venice.Cardinal Ugolino di Conti was then nominated by the Pope as the protector of the Order. Another reason for Francis' return to Italy was that the Franciscan Order had grown at an unprecedented rate compared to previous religious orders, but its organizational sophistication had not kept up with this growth and had little more to govern it than Francis' example and simple rule. To address this problem, Francis prepared a new and more detailed Rule, the "First Rule" or "Rule Without a Papal Bull" (Regula prima, Regula non bullata), which again asserted devotion to poverty and the apostolic life. However, it also introduced greater institutional structure, though this was never officially endorsed by the pope.
On September 29, 1220, Francis handed over the governance of the Order to Brother Peter Catani at the Porziuncola, but Brother Peter died only five months later, on March 10, 1221, and was buried there. When numerous miracles were attributed to the deceased brother, people started to flock to the Porziuncola, disturbing the daily life of the Franciscans. Francis then prayed, asking Peter to stop the miracles and to obey in death as he had obeyed during his life.
The reports of miracles ceased. Brother Peter was succeeded by Brother Elias as Vicar of Francis. Two years later, Francis modified the "First Rule", creating the "Second Rule" or "Rule With a Bull", which was approved by Pope Honorius III on November 29, 1223. As the official Rule of the Order, it called on the friars "to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience without anything of our own and in chastity". In addition, it set regulations for discipline, preaching, and entry into the Order. Once the Rule was endorsed by the Pope, Francis withdrew increasingly from external affairs.During 1221 and 1222, Francis crossed Italy, first as far south as Catania in Sicily and afterwards as far north as Bologna.
While he was praying on the mountain of Verna, during a forty-day fast in preparation for Michaelmas (September 29), Francis is said to have had a vision on or about September 14, 1224, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, as a result of which he received the stigmata. Brother Leo, who had been with Francis at the time, left a clear and simple account of the event, the first definite account of the phenomenon of stigmata. "Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ."Suffering from these stigmata and from trachoma, Francis received care in several cities (Siena, Cortona, Nocera) to no avail. In the end, he was brought back to a hut next to the Porziuncola. Here, in the place where it all began, feeling the end approaching, he spent the last days of his life dictating his spiritual Testament. He died on the evening of Saturday, October 3, 1226, singing Psalm 142 (141), "Voce mea ad Dominum". On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX (the former cardinal Ugolino di Conti, friend of Saint Francis and Cardinal Protector of the Order). The next day, the Pope laid the foundation stone for the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. Francis was buried on May 25, 1230, under the Lower Basilica, but his tomb was soon hidden on orders of Brother Elias to protect it from Saracen invaders. His exact burial place remained unknown until it was re-discovered in 1818. Pasquale Belli then constructed for the remains a crypt in neo-classical style in the Lower Basilica. It was refashioned between 1927 and 1930 into its present form by Ugo Tarchi, stripping the wall of its marble decorations. In 1978, the remains of Saint Francis were examined and confirmed by a commission of scholars appointed by Pope Paul VI, and put into a glass urn in the ancient stone tomb.
It has been argued that no one else in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work of Christ, in Christ's own way. This is important in understanding Francis' character and his affinity for the Eucharist and respect for the priests who carried out the sacrament.
He and his followers celebrated and even venerated poverty. Poverty was so central to his character that in his last written work, the Testament, he said that absolute personal and corporate poverty was the essential lifestyle for the members of his Order.
He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his "brothers" and "sisters", and even preached to the birdsand supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf. In his Canticle of the Creatures ("Praises of Creatures" or "Canticle of the Sun"), he mentioned the "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon", the wind and water. His deep sense of brotherhood under God embraced others, and he declared that "he considered himself no friend of Christ if he did not cherish those for whom Christ died".
Francis' visit to Egypt and attempted rapprochement with the Muslim world had far-reaching consequences, long past his own death, since after the fall of the Crusader Kingdom, it would be the Franciscans, of all Catholics, who would be allowed to stay on in the Holy Land and be recognized as "Custodians of the Holy Land" on behalf of the Catholic Church.
At Greccio near Assisi, around 1220, Francis celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known presepio or crèche (Nativity scene).His nativity imagery reflected the scene in traditional paintings. 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. Both Thomas of Celano and Saint Bonaventure, biographers of Saint Francis, tell how he used only a straw-filled manger (feeding trough) set between a real ox and donkey. According to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity, with the manger acting as the altar for the Christmas Mass.
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Francis preached the Christian doctrine that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of human sin. He believed that all creatures should praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the people have a duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves.Many of the stories that surround the life of Saint Francis say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.
An incident illustrating the Saint's humility towards nature is recounted in the "Fioretti" ("Little Flowers"), a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint's death. One day, while Francis was traveling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to "wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds."The birds surrounded him, intrigued by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. He is often portrayed with a bird, typically in his hand.
Another legend from the Fioretti tells that in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, was a wolf "terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals". Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and so he went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though the saint pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at Francis' feet.
"Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil", said Francis. "All these people accuse you and curse you ... But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people." Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly. In return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. Finally, to show the townspeople that they would not be harmed, Francis blessed the wolf.
Three-quarters of a millennium after his death, St Francis remains an important figure and symbol in and out of Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II declared Saint Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology.During the World Environment Day 1982, John Paul II said that Saint 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."
Saint Pope John Paul II concluded that section of the document with these words, "It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of 'fraternity' with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created."
Saint Francis' feast day is observed on October 4. A secondary feast in honor of the stigmata received by Saint Francis, celebrated on September 17, was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1585 (later than the Tridentine Calendar) and suppressed in 1604, but was restored in 1615. In the New Roman Missal of 1969, it was removed again from the General Calendar, as something of a duplication of the main feast on October 4, and left to the calendars of certain localities and of the Franciscan Order.Wherever the traditional Roman Missal is used, however, the feast of the Stigmata remains in the General Calendar.
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".Pope Pius also mentioned the two saints in the laudative discourse he pronounced on May 5, 1949, in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
Saint Francis is honored in the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church USA, the Old Catholic Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and other churches and religious communities on October 4.
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.
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.He explained that, as it was becoming clear during the conclave voting that he would be elected the new bishop of Rome, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, "Don't forget the poor", which had made Bergoglio think of the saint. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time. He changed history." Bergoglio's selection of his papal name is the first time that a pope has been named Francis.
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St. Francis is the patron of Animals, Merchants & Ecology. [ unreliable source? ]He is also considered the patron saint: against dying alone; patron saint against fire; patron saint of animal welfare societies; patron saint of animals; patron saint of Assisi, Italy; patron saint of birds; patron saint of Catholic Action; patron saint of Colorado; patron saint of Denver, Colorado, archdiocese of; patron saint of ecologists; patron saint of ecology; patron saint of environment; patron saint of environmentalism; patron saint of environmentalists; patron saint of families; patron saint of Franciscan Order; patron saint of Freising, Germany; patron saint of Italy; patron saint of Kottapuram, India, diocese of; patron saint of lace makers; patron saint of lace workers; patron saint of Lancaster, England, diocese of; patron saint of Massa, Italy; patron saint of merchants; patron saint of Metuchen, New Jersey, diocese of; patron saint of Nambe Indian Pueblo; patron saint of needle workers; patron saint of peace; patron saint of Quibdo, Choco, Colombia; patron saint of Salina, Kansas, diocese of; patron saint of San Francisco, California, archdiocese of; patron saint of San Pawl il-Bahar, Malta; patron saint of Santa Fe, New Mexico; patron saint of Santa Fe, New Mexico, archdiocese of; patron saint of Sorbo, Italy ; patron saint of tapestry workers; patron saint of zoos.
Emerging since the 19th century, there are several Protestant adherents and groups, sometimes organised as religious orders, which strive to adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis.
The 20th century High Church Movement gave birth to Franciscan inspired orders among revival of religious orders in Protestant Christianity.
One of the results of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church during the 19th century was the re-establishment of religious orders, including some of Franciscan inspiration. The principal Anglican communities in the Franciscan tradition are the Community of St. Francis (women, founded 1905), the Poor Clares of Reparation (P.C.R.), the Society of Saint Francis (men, founded 1934), and the Community of St. Clare (women, enclosed).
A U.S.-founded order within the Anglican world communion is the Seattle-founded order of Clares in Seattle (Diocese of Olympia), The Little Sisters of St. Clare.
There are also some small Franciscan communities within European Protestantism and the Old Catholic Church.There are some Franciscan orders in Lutheran Churches, including the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, and the Evangelische Kanaan Franziskus-Bruderschaft (Kanaan Franciscan Brothers). In addition, there are associations of Franciscan inspiration not connected with a mainstream Christian tradition and describing themselves as ecumenical or dispersed.
For a complete list, see The Franciscan Experience.
Saint Francis is considered the first Italian poet by literary critics.He believed commoners should be able to pray to God in their own language, and he wrote often in the dialect of Umbria instead of Latin. His writings are considered to have great literary and religious value.
The anonymous 20th-century prayer "Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace" is widely but erroneously attributed to Saint Francis.
The Franciscan Order promoted devotion to the life of Saint Francis from his canonization onwards, and commissioned large numbers of works for Franciscan churches, either showing Saint Francis with sacred figures, or episodes from his life. There are large early fresco cycles in the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, parts of which are shown above.
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The Franciscans are a group of related mendicant religious orders within the Catholic Church, founded in 1209 by Saint Francis of Assisi. These orders include the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. They adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others.
Thomas of Celano was an Italian friar of the Franciscans as well as a poet and the author of three hagiographies about Saint Francis of Assisi.
Saint Francis of Paola, O.M. was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of Minims. Unlike the majority of founders of men's religious orders, and like his patron saint, Francis was never ordained a priest.
The Canticle of the Sun, also known as Laudes Creaturarum and Canticle of the Creatures, is a religious song composed by Saint Francis of Assisi. It was written in an Umbrian dialect of Italian but has since been translated into many languages. It is believed to be among the first works of literature, if not the first, written in the Italian language.
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town in the Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.
Felix of Cantalice, O.F.M. Cap., was born on 18 May 1515 to peasant parents in Cantalice, Italy, in the central Italian region of Lazio. Canonized by Pope Clement XI in 1712, he was the first Capuchin friar to be named a saint.
San Francesco a Ripa is a church in Rome, Italy. It is dedicated to Francis of Assisi who once stayed at the adjacent convent. The term Ripa refers to the nearby riverbank of the Tiber.
The Flowers of St. Francis is a 1950 film directed by Roberto Rossellini and co-written by Federico Fellini. The film is based on two books, the 14th-century novel Fioretti Di San FrancescoLittle Flowers of St. Francis and La Vita di Frate Ginepro, both of which relate the life and work of St. Francis and the early Franciscans. I Fioretti is composed of 78 small chapters. The novel as a whole is less biographical and is instead more focused on relating tales of the life of St. Francis and his followers. The movie follows the same premise, though rather than relating all 78 chapters, it focuses instead on nine of them. Each chapter is composed in the style of a parable, and, like parables, contains a moral theme. Every new scene transitions with a chapter marker, a device that directly relates the film to the novel. When the movie initially debuted in America, where the novel was much less known, on October 6, 1952, the chapter markers were removed.
The Servant of God, Juniper, O.F.M., best known as Brother Juniper, called "the renowned jester of the Lord," was one of the original followers of St. Francis of Assisi. Not much is known about Juniper before he joined the friars. In 1210, he was received into the Order of Friars Minor by St. Francis himself. "Would to God, my brothers, that I had a whole forest of such Junipers," Saint Francis would pun.
The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels is a Papal minor basilica situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi, Italy, in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
The Little Flowers of St. Francis is a florilegium, divided into 53 short chapters, on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi that was composed at the end of the 14th century. The anonymous Italian text, almost certainly by a Tuscan author, is a version of the Latin Actus beati Francisci et sociorum eius, of which the earliest extant manuscript is one of 1390 AD. Luke Wadding ascribes the text to Father Ugolino da Santa Maria, whose name occurs three times in the Actus. Most scholars are now agreed that the author was Ugolino Brunforte.
The Sacro Convento is a Franciscan friary in Assisi, Umbria, Italy. The friary is connected as part of three buildings to the upper and lower church of the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, where the friars custody with great reverence the body of Saint Francis. St. Francis wanted to be buried at this location outside of Assisi's city walls, called Hill of Hell, because his master Jesus of Nazareth also was killed like a criminal outside of the city of Jerusalem.
Elias of Cortona was born, it is said, at Bevilia near Assisi, ca. 1180; he died at Cortona, 22 April 1253. He was among the first to join St. Francis of Assisi in his newly founded Order of Friars Minor.
The Secular Franciscan Order is a world-wide community of Catholic men and women who seek to pattern their lives after Jesus in the spirit of Francis of Assisi. Secular Franciscans are tertiaries, or members of the Third Order of Saint Francis founded by Francis of Assisi 800 years ago.
Ugolino Brunforte was an Italian Friar Minor and chronicler, known principally as the author of the Fioretti or Little Flowers of St. Francis.
The Wolf of Gubbio was a wolf that, according to the Fioretti di San Francesco, terrorized the Umbrian city of Gubbio until it was tamed by St. Francis of Assisi acting on behalf of God. The story is one of many in Christian narrative that depict holy persons exerting influence over animals and nature, a motif common to hagiography.
Francesco da Fabriano - born Francesco Venimbeni - was an Italian Roman Catholic professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He was a noted writer on various theological and biblical matters and was known for his great breadth of theological knowledge that characterized his religious life.
Saint Clare of Assisi is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares. Her feast day is on 11 August.
Saint Francis of Assisi was a friar and the founder of the Order of Friars Minor.
Blessed Andrea Caccioli was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He became the first priest to enter the Franciscans and served as one of the disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi himself - the priest was at his deathbed and attended his canonization. The friar preached across Italian cities such as Rome and Padua as well as in France and he became noted for miracles performed during his lifetime.