Saint Francis of Assisi (Italian: San Francesco d'Assisi, Latin: Sanctus Franciscus Assisiensis), born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, in Assisi, Italy in 1182. his father was a wealthy cloth merchant and Francis was a gay and handsome youth. one day, it is said when Francis was praying in a ruined chapel outside the town of Assisi, a voice commanded him to repair the chapel. Francis rode off immediately, snatched some cloth from his father's shop, and sold both the cloth and his horse at once, planning to use the money to repair the chapel, but Francis' father was furious when he hear the news. in fact, he took the matter to court. in court Francis removed all his fine clothes except for an undergarment and declared would consider only God his father. after that Francis supported himself by begging and spent the rest of his time helping the poor and praying. others followed Francis' example and in 1209 they formed the Friars Minor, a religious order more commonly known as the Franciscans. Francis and his followers traveled through Spain, Italy, Southern France and Egypt, preaching the ways of Christ to people. within 10 years about 5000 men joined the Fransiscan order. Francis loved all living things. He is even said to have preached to the birds, telling them to be grateful for the care God takes of them. Francis loved flowers and called the animals his brothers and sisters. in his famous "Canticle of the Sun" he wrote of "sister moon" and "brother sun" He would not put out the fire less he injure it. The custom of having a crib, or manger scene at Christmastime was begun by Francis. He expressed his love for Christ and for animals by surrounding the Christ child with common farm animals. Francis never became a priest. In 1224 we are told, he saw a vision of an angel hearing the image of a man nailed to a cross. After the vision had gone, Francis found that he had miraculously received the stigmata, or wounds of Christ, on his own body. Two years later Francis died in his home city of Assisi. In 1228 he was declared a saint.

He was the founder of the Reanciscan Order of the Roman Catholic church. His simple life of poverty inspired many mend during the Middle Ages. Today many people admire St. Francis because of his love of peace and his respect for all living creatures. As a young man he took an active part in the city's (Assisi) commercial, political and social life. he was captured while fighting in a war between Assisi and a nearby village Kruzia. He spent 1202 and 1203 as a prisoner of war. The suffering while he was a prisoner made him think of the meaning and purpose of life.

In 1205, after seeing a vision of Christ, Francis changed his life. He disowned his father, rejected his inheritance and began to devote his life to re-building churches and serving the poor. Francis began to live as hermit. He adopted absolute poverty and lived off the land. He preached the gospel of Christ and did healing of the sick.

Francis wrote poems and a "Conticle of the Sun" - he shows his love for all living things big and small.

The Canticle of the Sun

by Francis of Assisi
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

Francesco, the spoiled son of Pietro Bernardone, a wealthy textile merchant, returned home from fighting in the war between Assisi and Perugia. Struck by a feverish illness that forced him to desert the war, Francesco lies on his bed tormented by visions of his past when he was a boisterous, arrogant youth. During a long recovery process, he slowly finds God in the midst of all, in poverty, chastity and obedience, experiencing a recovery not only of his body but of his soul.
Healthy again, Francesco returns to his normal life as a rich young man. However, to the consternation of his parents, he begins to spend lots of time surrounded by nature, flowers, trees, animals and poetry as he becomes more and more reluctant to his prior life style. His father's obsession with gold now fills him with revulsion and this creates an open confrontation with Pietro. Francesco rebuffs offers to take over the family business and throws the textiles out the window. His father, frustrated, beats him and ends up humiliating him in front of the city's Bishop and population. Francesco renounces all his worldly possessions and his "noble" family name Bernardone and leaves Assisi naked and free from his past in order to live an ascetic and simple life as a man of God and nature.
He goes toward the ruins of the chapel of San Damiano, where he hears God's voice asking him to restore it. Much to the dismay of his family, friends and the local bishop, Francesco gradually gains a following amongst the poor and the suffering. His friend Bernardo, happily joins him after returning from a Crusade that left him in sorrow and emptiness. Two other friends, Silvestro and Giocondo, admiring Francesco's new life style as a beggar help to rebuilds the chapel of San Damiano.
Clare, a beautiful young woman also from a wealthy family, serves and cares for lepers of the community. She joins the brothers in their life of poverty. Meanwhile in Assisi, the high classes of nobility, including the Bishop, protest against Francesco and his group, worried about them "corrupting" the whole of Assisi's youth and they command Francesco's friend Paolo to hinder and stop the so called "minor brothers".
Because of conflicts between the high corrupted levels of the Church and Francesco's group, he decides to walk to the Vatican in Rome and ask Pope Innocent III to advice. Once in Rome, Francesco becomes stunned by the enormous wealth, power, lust and emptiness that surrounds the throne of St. Peter and when he is brought to face the Pope he vehemently protests against it and recites the scriptures (which was not allowed) on order to prove that Christ's words are totally opposite of Rome's wealth. Due to this emotional explosion, Francesco and his friends are jailed, and finally accepting his admiration toward Francesco, Paolo decides to join them. He also reveals to Francesco how ashamed he is to be dressed in fine and luxurious clothes in front of a humble and kind man dressed as a beggar, to everyone's astonishment, the Pope kisses Francesco's feet, and then blesses him and his companions, wishing for them a long world wide society of men and women willing to serve God in the way he does. The film (Brother son, sister moon) finishes with the sight of Francesco walking into the distance while singing the tune "Brother Sun, Sister Moon".

Facade of the convent, the left portion of which is the
original oratory rebuilt with St. Francis' own hands.
It was later enlarged to the right.

Vriendelike groete