St. Francis was born in Assisi in Umbria (central Italy) in 1181. His mother named him Jhoan. However, his father, Pietro Bernadone, a cloth merchant who was working abroad during the birth of the baby, renamed him as Francis (as if he had called him “the French”) because he did not want his son to be a man of God , but a merchant who shared his passion for France. Francis lived a rather carefree and rich childhood. He was always happy and charming and everyone loved him. He was a born leader. Francis developed his father’s love for France and wanted to be a knight. He had the chance to get the prestige he wanted when Assisi declared war on his long-time enemy, Perugia. Many of his comrades were killed, but because of Francis’s social stature, he was taken prisoner and held for ransom. Repatriated by his father, he returned home where he became ill for over a year. Francis spent the next 25 years spending more time in prayer and crying for his sins.
The Ministry of St. Francis
While praying at the Church of Saint Damian, he heard Christ talk to him saying, “Francis, fix my church.” In order to meet this demand, he sold some of his father’s belongings. This made his father very angry. Francis threw his rich clothes in the presence of the bishop. The bishop, having seen this, covered him with his mantle as a sign of accepting him in religious life. After this gesture, his father disavowed Francis. Francis at Saint Damian rebuilt the church with his own hands. He did not realize that God did not intend to rebuild the church of Saint Damian, but rather the universal Church that suffered from scandal and avarice and external heresy. In 1208, attracted by his way of life, they associate with Francis his first companions and with them in 1209 he goes to Rome to ask Innocent III the approval of their form of religious life. The pope grants them permission to preach by postponing the approval of the Rule at a later date. Driven by the desire to witness Christ in the Muslim countries, Francis repeatedly tries to recapture him. Finally, in 1219, he reached Damietta, Egypt, where he was received and protected by Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil during a truce in the 5th Crusade fighting.
During the Christmas night of 1223, in Greccio, Francis wanted to recall the birth of Jesus, making a living representation of that event. It is from this episode that the tradition of the crib originated.
The weeks from the middle of August to the end of September 1224 Francis passed them to La Verna, an area between Tuscany and Romagna, and on the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, he received the stigmata or was imprinted The signs of Christ’s crucifixion on hands, feet, and on his feet.
In the last two years of life of Francis there is also the composition of the canticle of Friar Sun (or Canticle of the creatures). These are years in which Francis is increasingly suffering from illness (suffering from severe liver disorders and a trachea in the eyes). When his condition worsened definitively Francis was brought back to Porziuncola, where he died in the night between 3 and 4 October 1226, at 45 years. The next day his body, after a stop at Saint Damian, was brought to Assisi and buried in the church of Saint George.
Francis of Assisi was canonized on July 19, 1228 by Pope Gregory IX. On May 25, 1230, his body was eventually transferred from the church of Saint George and buried in the present Basilica of St. Francis made quickly by friar Elijah in charge of Gregory IX between 1228 and 1230.