Saint Francis of Assisi was a Catholic friar who gave up a life of wealth to live a life of poverty.
Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant so lived a very good childhood, wanting for nothing. Francis loved to learn and sing songs as a boy. His father wanted him to become a businessman when he grew up but Francis had other ideas.
As Francis grew up, he began to see visions from God that changed his life. The first vision was when he was sick with a high fever. At first he thought that God had called him to fight in the Crusades. However, he had another vision that told him to help the sick. Finally, when praying in a church, Francis heard God tell him to "repair my church, which is falling in ruins." Francis gave all his money to the church. His father became very angry with him. Francis then left his father's home and took a vow of poverty.
As Francis lived his life of poverty and preached to people about the life of Jesus Christ, people began to follow him. By 1209, he had around 11 followers. He had one rule which was "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps".
Francis was a devoted follower of the Catholic Church. He and his followers travelled to Rome to get the approval for their religious Order from the Pope. At first the Pope was reluctant. These men were dirty, poor, and smelled bad. However, eventually he understood their vow of poverty and blessed the Order.
Francis was known for his love of nature and animals. There are many stories about Saint Francis and his preaching to animals. It is said that one day he was talking to some birds when they began to sing together. Then they flew into the sky and formed the sign of a cross. It was also said that Francis could tame wild animals.
One story tells of a vicious wolf in the town of Gubbio that was killing people and sheep. The people of the town were frightened and didn't know what to do. Francis went to the town to confront the wolf. At first the wolf growled at Francis and prepared to attack him. However, Francis made the sign of the cross and told the wolf not to hurt anyone else. The wolf then became tame and the town was safe.
Francis became ill and spent the last few years of his life mostly blind. He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141. He was declared a saint of the Catholic Church only two years after his death.
Y1 celebrate his Feast Day on October 4th.