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 Saints of the Season Fall 2017
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) October 4
Francis of Assisi was the son of a successful merchant who sold  ne fabrics used to make beautiful clothing. Even at a young age, he must have had an engaging personality because he was known as one of the leaders of the young people of Assisi. He was always kind and generous, liked parties, good clothes, and good food. He even had a try at soldiering, but he was captured and spent more than a year as a prisoner of war.
When Francis was released, he was ill and returned home to recover. During this time, he experienced
a religious conversion. He wanted to be as much like Jesus as he could. He gave away all he possessed, renounced his family’s wealth, and put on the rough clothing of a poor shepherd. He traveled around the countryside calling on people to turn their lives to God and to make peace with all their neighbors.
Soon, other young men were asking to join Francis in his mission. He never intended to found a religious order, but suddenly the task was thrust upon him. Francis modeled the life of his order of brothers on the life of Jesus. They were to call people to repentance and to join in the creation of God’s kingdom. They were to embrace poverty by owning nothing, carrying no money or provisions for their travels, not even owning a second tunic or a second pair of sandals. Francis took this directly from Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:7–10.
Francis called his order the Order of Friars Minor (OFM). “Friars Minor” means “Lesser Brothers”—a reminder of their own humility and a re ection of the humility that Jesus practiced all his life.
Up until that time, the ideal had been to withdraw from the world and to seek salvation through work, study, and prayer—especially prayer in reparation for the sins of the world. It was thought that a person could become holy through isolation from the world and its people. But Francis chose a di erent way to holiness. He wanted his followers to travel through the world to preach and to bring practical help to others just as
         A Service of
Jesus had traveled the roads of Palestine to preach conversion and bring healing.
Francis loved the world and all its inhabitants because they were God’s creation and deserved not only redemption but also respect. Francis identi ed so completely with Jesus that he was granted the stigmata, the  ve wounds of Christ. Embarrassed by the bleeding wounds in his feet, hands, and side, Francis kept these hidden with bandages and even started wearing socks in his sandals.
On the day of his death, Francis insisted on being laid on the earth in imitation of his Lord. He requested a reading of the Passion from John’s Gospel. He died near sunset, and as he died, a  ock of larks gathered nearby to sing him into paradise.
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