"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received...but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.”
~ St Francis of Assisi
Summary of St. Francis
Saint Francis of Assisi, (Italian San Francesco d’Assisi, baptized Giovanni, renamed Francesco, original name Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone) (born 1181/82, Assisi, duchy of Spoleto [Italy]—died October 3, 1226, Assisi; canonized July 16, 1228; feast day October 4), founder of the Franciscan orders of the Friars Minor (Ordo Fratrum Minorum), the women’s Order of St. Clare (the Poor Clares), and the lay Third Order. He was also a leader of the movement of evangelical poverty in the early 13th century. His evangelical zeal, consecration to poverty, charity, and personal charisma drew thousands of followers. Francis’ devotion to the human Jesus and his desire to follow Jesus’ example reflected and reinforced important developments in medieval spirituality. Il Poverello (“Poor Little Man”) is one of the most venerated religious figures in Roman Catholic history, and he and Catherine of Siena are the patron saints of Italy. In 1979, Pope John Paul II recognized him as the patron saint of ecology.
The Life Story of St. Francis (taken from the National Shrine website)
Saint Francis of Assisi was born in 1182, the only son of Pietro Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant of central Italy. Pietro gave his son the name of Giovanni at baptism, though he afterwards altered his son's name to Francesco, perhaps in honor of his trading in France. Pietro's worldly success had secured for the young Francis a care-free life of material comfort. Francis was a popular youth, often the center of attention, who could be found engaged in sport, frequenting the piazze of the city, or confidently serenading the young women of Assisi.
Francis eagerly sought the glory and honor of battle and in 1201, at the age of 19, outfitted himself as a knight in order to join the war with Assisi's rival, Perugia. After an abrupt defeat, however, Francis spent nearly a year as a prisoner of the neighboring city-state while his father raised the money in 1203 to pay his ransom.
Though he turned frequently to the Sacred Scriptures for comfort, imprisonment and illness had shattered his self-assurance. Moreover, instead of reassuring him, the Gospel challenged Francis with the still unfamiliar values of Christian discipleship.
In 1205 he again tried to outfit himself as a knight, but after suffering another illness, he had a vision that marked the beginning of his conversion. He was 23 years old.
The First Franciscan Order has had many changes. From the time of the first Friars, the Franciscans today have grown into three distinct groups. The branches have their own governments and structures and are called the Friars Minor, Friars Minor Conventuals, and Friars Minor Capuchin.
The Poor Clares, officially the Order of Saint Clare, (Latin: Ordo sanctae Clarae) – originally referred to as the Order of Poor Ladies, and later the Clarisses, the Minoresses, the Franciscan Clarist Order, and the Second Order of St. Francis – are members of a contemplative Order of nuns in the Catholic Church. The Poor Clares were the second Franciscan Order to be established. Founded by Saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi on Palm Sunday in the year 1212, they were organized after the Order of Friars Minor (the first Order), and before the Third Order of Penance or tertiaries.
In connection with the Brothers and Sisters of Penance or Third Order of St. Francis, it is necessary to distinguish between the Third order secular and the Third order regular.
Secular: The third Order secular was founded by St. Francis about 1221 and embraces devout persons of both sexes living in the world and following a rule of life approved by Nicholas IV in 1289, and modified by Leo XIII, 30 May, 1883 and again by Pope Paul VI in 1973.