Mystic, Friar, Stigmatist, Confessor, and Religious Founder
1181? – 1182?
3 October 1226 (aged 43-45)
July 16, 1228, Assisi, Italy by Pope Gregory IX
Animals; the environment; Italy; merchants; stowaways; cub scouts, San Francisco, California
When he was twenty strife broke out between the cities of Perugia and Assisi: Francis was taken prisoner by the Perugians, a plight he bore with good cheer. But as soon as he was released he was struck down by a serious illness. Upon recovery he planned to join a military contingency. Riding out one day in his new uniform he met a pauper who touched his heart, so Francis exchanged clothes with the man. At Spoleto he fell sick again and as he lay a voice from Heaven told him to turn back and “Serve the master, rather than the man.” Francis obeyed, although in the beginning he returned to his old life of pleasure, which he was not able to enjoy as he used to. Then he met a leper on the plain of Assisi; the leper’s sores were so loathsome that Francis was horrified. Francis not only gave the man alms, he kissed his hand. It was after that meeting that our Saint started visiting hospitals to care for the sick and give clothes and money to the poor.
One day he was praying at the church of St. Damian, which was just outside of Assisi: he seemed to hear a voice coming from the Crucifix, saying to him three times:
“Francis, go and repair My house, which you see is falling down.”
Francis, seeing that the church was old and in need of repair misunderstood Our Lord to mean that he was to undertake the rebuilding of that church itself.
O glorious Saint Francis, who, even in thy youth, with a generous heart didst renounce the comfort and ease of thy father’s house in order to follow Jesus more closely in His humility and poverty, in His mortification and passionate love of the Cross, and didst thereby merit to behold the miraculous Stigmata impressed upon thy flesh and to bear them about with thee, obtain for us also, we pray, the grace of passing through our life here below, as though insensible to the ephemeral splendor of all earthly possessions, with our hearts constantly beating with love of Jesus Crucified even in the darkest and saddest hours of life and with our eyes serenely raised toward Heaven, as though already enjoying a foretaste of the eternal possession of the infinite Good with his divine and everlasting joys.