Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Francisof Assisi

Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), founder of the Franciscan Order, was born at Assisi of r. family named Bernardone. His Christian name was really John, but he was called II Francesco or "The Little Frenchman," from his knowledge of the Provencal language. Like Loyola, he had been a soldier before he became a saint; it was during a year's captivity at Perugia that he first turned his thoughts to a religious life. He exchanged clothes with a beggar, spent a month in a cave, praying, and finally abandoned all his possessions. Having left his father's house, he begged at the gates of monasteries, tended the lepers at Gubbio, and assisted with his own hands in the building of two churches. After some years he was joined by two fellow-townsmen, and in 1210, when there were eleven brothers, he drew up for them his threefold rule, consisting of vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Two years later, having received informally the Papal sanction, the seat of the Order was fixed at Santa Maria degli Angeli of Assisi. The number of brethren rapidly increased, there being in 1219 as many as 5,000. Missionaries were sent to all parts of Italy, and five devoted men lost their lives while preaching to the Moors. St. Francis himself, in 1223, preached before the Sultan of Egypt, and obtained for his Order the guardianship of the church of the Holy Sepulchre. After his return to Italy he is said, while praying on Monte Alverno, to have received upon his person the marks of the wounds of the Redeemer. Narrators of the legend place this occurrence in the year 1224. On October 4, 1226, St. Francis died; two years afterwards he was canonised by Gregory IX. He left behind him works, both in prose and verse, characterised by a tender simplicity and great love of nature. He is one of the most cherished saints of the Roman Catholic Church. [Franciscans.]