* Irene's Country Corner * - St. Francis of Assisi



 Saint Francis of Assisi

 I dedicate this page to Saint Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of the animals. If all human beings were able to love animals like he did, this would certainly be a better world and there would not be so many homeless animals and endangered species disappearing from the face of the Earth.


Copyright © Marys Little Lamb

~ Saint Francis of Assisi's Story ~

- Introduction -

St. Francis was born in 1182, in Assisi, a town in the Perugia province, Umbria region, central Italy. Assisi became part of the Italian kingdom in 1860.

Because it is the place where St. Francis was born, founded his order and died in 1226, Assisi became a famous Roman Catholic shrine and a popular pilgrimage site.

The Basilica of San Francesco (St. Francis), which began to be constructed in 1228, just two years after the saint's death, being completed in 1253, is Assisi most famous landmark.

Assisi was also the birthplace of St. Clare (Santa Clara) in 1194, the founder of the religious order named the Poor Clares.

- His Life -

San Francesco D'Assisi, baptized Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardonne, later renamed Francesco, was born in 1181, in Assisi, Duchy of Spoleto. He died on October 3, 1226 and was buried on October 4. He was canonized on July 15, 1228 and his day is celebrated on October 4. He is known as the protector of the animals because of his love to nature and devotion to animals.

Saint Francis was the founder of the Franciscan orders of men and women and leader of the church reform movements of the early 13th century.

In 1202, Francis took part in a war between Assisi and Perugia. He was captured and spent almost a year in prison. After his release, he embraced a life of poverty.

Little by little a small group began to form around Francis and he wrote in a few words a form of life and rule for himself and his brothers.

The early Franciscan rule of life, which has not survived, set as the aim of the new life, "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps."

Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his "brothers" and "sisters".

In 1212 Francis began a second order for women that became known as the Poor Clares. He gave a religious habit similar to his own to a lady of Assisi, named Clara, later known as St. Clare of Assisi, and then lodged her and a few companions in the church of S. Damiano, where women of Assisi joined her. For those who could not leave their families and homes he eventually formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, a lay fraternity that, without withdrawing from the world or taking religious vows, would carry out the principles of Franciscan life.

- Francis' vision and the stigmata of the Crucified -

During the Summer of 1224, two years before his death, Francis went to La Verna (Alvernia), near Assisi, to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) and to prepare for St. Michael's Day (September 29).

While praying one morning, about the time of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), he beheld a figure coming toward him from heaven. According to St. Bonaventure, general of the Franciscans from 1257 to 1274 and an important thinker of the 13th century, "as it stood above him, he saw that it was a man and yet a Seraph with six wings; his arms were extended and his feet conjoined, and his body was fixed to a cross. Two wings were raised above his head, two were extended as in flight, and two covered the whole body. The face was beautiful beyond all earthly beauty, and it smiled gently upon Francis".

Although this vision brought Francis great joy, he felt a deep sorrow due to the sight of the suffering and crucified figure. When the vision disappeared, it left not only a greater ardor of love, but also marked him with the stigmata of the Crucified (marks resembling the wounds on the crucified body of Jesus Christ).

For the rest of his life, Francis took the greatest care to hide the stigmata, even his most devoted followers and those who were constantly at his side knew nothing of it for a long time.

After the vision, Francis lived in pain and almost blind due to an eye disease he had contracted in the East for two more years. He was buried temporarily in the church of S. Giorgio, at Assisi. In 1230 his body was transferred to the lower church of the basilica that was being erected in his memory.

- Saint Francis and the animals -

Francis' love for the animals is most-known aspect of his legend and it has encouraged a recent pope to proclaim him patron saint of the ecological movement.

Francis received from God the great honor of having creatures obey him and he, whom creatures obey in this manner, is certainly a holy man.

Copyright © Marys Little Lamb

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This page was created on: July 6, 2001.
Last updated on: September 8th 2001.

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