Saint Francis of Assisi
the fourteenth apostle: a biography

by John WorldPeace

Saint Francis of Assisi
the fourteenth apostle:
a biography

by Dr. John WorldPeace JD

St Francis of Assisi by Dr. John WorldPeace JD
Oil on Canvas Painting 50" x 50" in Progress




About Saint Francis

His Life



Communication with Birds, Fish and Animals







I have organized this biography differently from the others I have read because in those biographies I could not get a feel for who St. Francis was due to all the legends, stories, mythical background, history of times, and author commentary mixed together. So I began with the story of St. Francis without interlineating the bios of his closest disciples, then continued with his wisdom, his miracles, his prayers, his relationship with animals and my commentary. I have written the St. Francis story from birth to death and then added the rest by categorizes at the end of the story.

This biography is not a scholarly treatise. Many sources disagree on the actual fact and timing of certain events. Almost immediately after Francis’ death, his story was recorded then later rewritten. The official story was written by St. Bonaventure who was healed by Francis as a child. It was foretold by Francis that Bonaventure would be a great friar minor.

When St. Bonaventure finished his official biography of Francis, he sent out word to the Franciscan order to destroy everything not included in the official biography. This is the same thing the Christians did after the official Bible was canonized in 400 C.E. fortunately, Bonaventure’s order was ignored.

The reader of this bibliography should be able to get his or her bearing for further reading into St. Francis if so desired. St. Francis is much more than the Patron Saint of bird baths.

I refer to St. Francis as the 14th apostle, St. Paul. was the 13th disciple. No one has actually tried to follow the gospel of Jesus in regards to the disciples spreading the good news of Jesus, except Francis. The original/initial Franciscan Order successfully followed the instructions of Jesus, proving it could be done.

Today’s Christians have come to support billion dollar Jesus shows where televangelists wear suits and charge $400 for front row seats in their entertainment centers. St. Francis would not have even entered such a circus where humans make millions talking about Jesus who had nothing. The hypocrisy, of these men of God is just too overwhelming.

The Catholic Church has definitely honored Francis but it has not admitted just how important Francis was to rebuilding the Church of the 1200’s that had become power mad, materialistic, degenerate, and disconnected from its members who were overwhelmingly poor. The Franciscans healed the church. Significant numbers of friars have become Pope.

The miracles that Francis performed were too well documented to be written off as myth. They gave us a glimpse of the reality of the greater miracles and healings of Jesus.

It is not important to me whether Jesus walked on water or not, what is important is that I believe he could. It is not important to me whether Francis actually had the five wound stigmata of Jesus’ crucifixion on his hands, feet and side. It is only important that I believe Francis loved Jesus enough to be worthy of them.

The miracles of Jesus are 2000 years old and hard to believe for today’s rational scientific technical minds. Especially since those miracles were not written down untilthirty-five years after his death. Yet Francis performed almost all the same miracles over a period of eighteen years as Jesus did in the two years of his ministry. We know almost everything about Francis from birth to death whereas with Jesus we are missing all but one incident between his birth and the start of his ministry thirty-four years later.

Like the gospels of Jesus, the actual literal Twenty-Firstst century factual history is not critical. What is important is the general agreement about Francis. The stories and legends are believable even if they did not happen exactly how or when the many biographers related them.

For me, Francis is critical in this age of reason and science in understanding Jesus. rancis life is an eight hundred year bridge back to the 2000 old ministry of Jesus.

For me, the reality of Francis who is only eight hundred years in the past, bolsters and certifies the reality of Jesus who is 2000 years in the past. Francis lived the life advocated by Jesus. Nothing gives more credence to Jesus than Francis living his examples.

Jesus lived in obscurity and taught in parables, paradoxes and riddles expecting that after his death others would understand his presence. We still have not figured if out but thanks to Francis we have received the core message of love and peace loud and clear.

The world more than ever, needs the peace and love gospel of Jesus. And the world human society needs Francis as a wide corridor for some to embrace the real Jesus.


St. Francis fell in love with Jesus. He was a troubadour and would be knight and Jesus was his king.

When St. Francis heard the voice of Jesus in San Damiano Church in 12-C.E., he desired never to lose that communication. He deeply regretted his youth as an unrestrained hedonist and found he could not punish himself enough or repent enough to atone for those years. It may be that no one ever inflicted as much pain and suffering on himself as pennance for his sins.

He wanted to feel what Jesus felt being scoured and crucified, alone and abandoned on Calvary. He wanted to understand the source of Jesus’ love.

Francis embraced poverty, became an itinerant preacher, prayed and meditated constantly, worked miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, foretold the future and like Jesus went around doing good.

In 1200 the Catholic Church had lost respect of the people; the church was about money, power, and decadence. Nonetheless, unlike other preachers of that day, Francis completely supported the church. He supported the clergy absolutely; an incredible commitment considering the reputation of the church at that time.

The Franciscan Order was no doubt responsible for the rejuvenation of the Catholic Church from the 13th to the 14th centuries.

Francis’ joy came from being ridiculed, abused, criticized, and literally humiliated as punishment for his sins. He took the charge of Jesus to go forth in poverty with only the clothes on his back and preach the gospel. That was his life after San Damiano.

When asked by one of his disciples why he had been chosen by God, Francis said, because he was the world’s most detestable sinners!

St. Francis was not a scholar, intellectual or theologian. He was a simple man who lived and preached the gospel. He taught first by example.

He was not an administrator and in time his vision of poverty was diluted as was his Rule, which was based on the gospel as the order covered the world and swelled to tens of thousands of friars.

He said he never did anything but what God told him to. In the end, he was received by royalty and nobility, popes and clergy, rich and poor.

The following is his story.


“May the Lord give you peace”.

Peter Bernadone Mariconi, who chose to be known as Peter Bernadone, son of a successful cloth merchant and his wife Pica were expecting their first child in 1182. Pica was French from Provence and had been married before. She had a son named Angelo from her prior marriage.

Peter had greatly expanded his father’s cloth business and was rich and on his way to becoming very rich. At the time of the expected arrival of his child, he was away on business in French Provence.

It was said that a poor man walked the streets of Assisi calling out “Pax et Bonum, Sitx et Bonum (Peace and all good, )” prior to the expected birth of the Bernardone child.

Pica was having trouble delivering her baby until a stranger, a prophet, an angel, appeared and told her that she would not deliver until she went to a stable and laid down on a bed of straw. When she did this, her son was born.

At the baptism, another stranger appeared and stood in as the childs godfather. The child was christened Giovani (John) Mariconi. The stranger disappeared after the baptism leaving an impression of his knees in the marble step of the altar.

When Pica returned home, yet another stranger appeared and asked to hold the baby. He was given permission; he took the child, made the sign of the cross on the child’s right shoulder and told the nurse to be cautious or devils who would make war on the child all his life.

When Peter returned from his business trip, he was irritated with the name John. He had thoughts of the crude and rough “John the Baptist”. He considered himself a successful man of the world and was very conscious of his and his family’s image. He admired the demeanor of the French so he decided to call his son Francisco (Italian) instead of John. In time, he was called Francis (English) “Frenchy” by all because he was fluent in French.

Such are the legends surrounding the birth and naming of John Bernardone who the world has come to know as St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order of friar’s minor, poor Clares and order of penitents.

There was a severe famine in Italy from 1182-7; the first 5 years of Francis’ life. The wealth of his Peter meant there was little effect on his family.

The Catholic Church had begun to set up schools about this time and Francis was enrolled in St. Georges for about three years from age 8-11. It seems, Francis learned enough to function as a cloth merchant. He had a good facility with Latin but was not perfect.

From his mother Francis learned French. Provence her home was officially German but it was French speaking. She brought with her to Italy many French poems and songs. This was the age of troubadours, knights, chivalry and courtly love.

At 12, Francis’ father began to teach him the cloth business. He was taken out of school and traveled and worked with his father. At age 13, he was admitted to the cloth guild which made Peter proud. In his travels, Francis saw many kinds of people.

Apparently in addition to selling cloth in bulk, his father also made clothing and had a shop for that purpose. This was also a time when fashion developed in the clothing business. Francis was probably one of the best dressed citizens of Assisi. This was in line with is father’s desire to show his wealth as well as, I am sure, to advertise his clothing business.

For the next eight years, Francis worked with his father but it seems he never felt attached to his vocation. He was not motivated by money and greed. He lacked enthusiasm for the business.

Francis spent more than his wages on endless partying and revelry. His father indulged him. Francis was a total hedonist living a life after work of wine, woman and song with is friends. Sex was more open and free than now.

Society at the time could almost be viewed as degenerate by contemporary standards. There was no indoor plumbing and few public facilities so it was common to see people relieve themselves in public. Saturnalia was an old annual pagan public orgy which was finally outlawed by Innocent III in 1207, when Francis was 25.

Considering the extreme penance that Francis imposed in himself during the second half of his life, it seems that his sins of debauchery and unrestrained sex were extreme in his mind.

Francis was 5’3” and had black eyes. He was always good natured, courteous and generous. He was always compassionate in regards to the poor. He practiced poverty to extreme of true love later in life.

Francis saw himself as a troubadour and potentially a chivalrous knight. He looked for the opportunity to achieve renown as such.

Yet life in his late teens felt empty maybe he had partied to the extreme accumulating 12 years of unlimited merry making.

Francis was an idealist. He was not an intellectual scholar or theologian. He was a down to earth people person. He could size up a person quickly; convince them to buy his cloth, lead them to revelry, be compassionate to the poor and sick and he refrained from judging pretty much everyone. He was a likeable fellow and nice guy.

One day Francis was selling cloth in the market. He was speaking with a customer when a poor man came up begging alms. It was against the law to interrupt a sale. Francis refused the man. After the customer left Francis left his booth and ran to find the beggar. He felt ashamed that he had refused him. He found the man, gave him some money, and returned to his booth. Obviously Francis was changing.

In 1202, Francis was 20 and bored. In November 1202, the nobles who had been exiled from Rocca Maggiore, a fort above Assisi, attacked Assisi from Perugia. Francis rode out to do battle and was captured. Most of the men and boys of Assisi who fought were slaughtered.

Francis was imprisoned in the worst of conditions and contracted malaria. It was a year before he was able to be ransomed by his father.

In prison, Francis continued to act with compassion and friendship and good cheer to his fellow prisoners. He made no distinction between them. Even one who allegedly was an outcast was treated equally by Francis. It seems that Francis always had a preference for those who were shunned, ignored or looked down upon.

When Francis returned home, he was extremely weak. So much so that it took him a year to recover. The truth is that he never fully recovered during the rest of his life. The malaria continued to reoccur concerning that time, he said, “I was very frail.”

Many dreams and visions, hallucinations appear to those who are very sick. I believe that in prison Francis had his first experience with these altered states of consciousness. In addition, I believe this is when his conversion began up until the time of his imprisonment. Francis had led a pretty good life, money, friends and freedom to do as he pleased, and he had indulgent parents.

After his recovery, Francis drifted back into his old habits of revelry and hedonism but not with the same degree of enthusiasm.

In 1205 he decided to attempt to gain some knightly glory and overcome his defeat and imprisonment by joining the crusades. He had some expensive clothes made for the endeavor and prepared to depart.

Before departing he encountered a true knight of noble birth who seemed to have only one set of ragged clothes. Francis gave the knight all the clothes he had made for himself. The compassion and generosity that characterized Francis life as a penitent, was obviously already a part of his character going back as far as when he spent his money on his friends in their endless hedonism.

About this time, Francis had a dream that a man called his name and then led him into an enormous room filled with weapons and shields and military gear each with a sign of a cross on it. He asked who all these things were for and was told the palace and contents were for him and his knights.

Then with great enthusiasm, Francis left for Puglia to join the crusade. He only rode 22 miles to Spoleto when he experienced a reoccurrence of malaria. He was very ill with fever, nausea, cold spells and shaking. It was obvious that he could not continue his journey to knighthood and the crusades.

During this sickness he heard a voice asking where he was going.

He said, “To the crusades.”

The voice asked whom he should serve, the master or servant.

He responded, “The master.”

“Then why are you abandoning the master to follow the servant?” asked the voice.

Francis understood it was Jesus who was speaking to him and he asked, “Lord what do you want me to do?”

The voice said, “Return home. You will be told what to do. You must understand your vision in a different way”.

Francis returned home disillusioned, ridiculed, humiliated and confused. His friends encouraged him to rejoin them which he understood to mean pay for their revelry. Out of courtesy he did but his desire was gone. That life was now behind him fast.

As he exited a party early one morning and entered the street as usual with his mindlessly drunken friends, he experienced an ecstasy of sweetness that paralyzed him and held him fast.

His friends asked him what he was doing. He replied “ I am thinking about taking a wife; one more noble and beautiful than any other in the world.”

They laughed in their drunkenness. Later that wife turned out to be lady of poverty. Poverty became his spiritual spouse.

Francis always referred to his youth as a time when he was “in sin”. It seems he was now on a new path. Francis began to spend all of his time after work praying in order to continue the celestial conversation that he had been experiencing.

One day while praying, Francis was addressed.

The voice said “Francis all the things that you in the past loved and desired, you must reject if you wish to know my will. When you begin to do this all the things that horrified and repulsed you, you will find gives you an overwhelming sense of sweetness and peace.”

Returning home on his horse, he felt the horse stall. When he looked up the road he saw a leper, a person he and all people feared and avoided. A fear to some even greater that the battlefield. He understood immediately that this was a test.

Francis dismounted his horse and rushed towards the leper. He gave him a hug and some money. He had changed as the voice promised. He mounted his horse but as he turned around the leper had disappeared. He understood it was an angel.

Thus begun Francis’ ministry to the lepers, one he never abandoned if not personally, in time through the brothers of his order. He cared for them.

Francis then made a pilgrimage to St. Peters Basilica in Rome. At St. Peters, he was amazed at how meager the offerings were. He donated a significant sum.

In the square, he noticed the poor begging for alms. He solicited one to trade clothes with him and then he began to beg himself. His conversation was preceding. The ties of money and wealth were breaking. He had begun to reach out to his Lady Poverty.

One day Francis was passing in front of a small church in Assisi, San Domiano, which was in a much need of repairs. Francis was inspired to go inside which he did. He began to pray before a large painting of Jesus on the cross.

“Dear God and my lord Jesus, I pray you to enlighten me and to dispel the darkness in my mind. Give me faith, hope and charity. Make yourself known to me so that I may be guided by your light and act in accordance to your will.”

Francis looked to the painting of Christ crucified above the altar and three times he heard these words, “Francis do you not see my church falling into ruin? Rebuild me house.”

Francis was not one to philosophize or delay when inspired. He left immediately. He went to his fathers shop, gathered some bolts of material and rode to Foligno and sold them along with his horse. He returned to Saint Damiano and gave the old priest the money and begged him to allow him to stay with him.

The priest knew Francis’ father and was not disposed to anger him by taking the money but he told Francis he could stay with him. Francis took the money and threw it on one of the window sills of the church.

When Francis’ father returned home and discovered what had happened he gathered some friends and family to make a call on the priest. When they arrived, the priest pointed to the money on the window sill which was retrieved. Peter searched the priest’s quarters but did not see Francis behind the door. He took his money and left.

Francis moved into a cavern in the woods and prayed for a month before deciding one day to return to town. He looked terrible. People thought he’d gone mad.

Peter, embarrassed, found him, beat him and locked him under the stairs in their house. He gave the keys to his wife but as soon as Peter left on another business trip, Pica set Francis free and he returned to his cavern.

When Peter returned from his business trip, he was livid and decided to take Francis to the magistrates to recoup the rest of his money. The magistrates summoned Francis who said he was now a servant of God and not subject to their jurisdiction. The magistrates told Peter he needed to take the matter to Guido, the bishop of Assisi.

Francis and Peter were summoned to the bishops court. They both appeared.

The bishop informed Francis that the way he acquired the money would not allow it to be used to repair St. Damiono and that Francis must return the money to his father.

Francis took off his clothes, but not his hair shirt, and put them in front of his father along with his purse. He then said, “ Peter Bernardene, up until now I have called you my father, but from now on I will say ‘Our father who art in heaven.’”

Everyone in the courtroom was moved. The bishop gave Francis a hermit’s habit and Francis left married to his Lady Poverty. This was 1206 when Francis was 25.

Nothing indicated that there was ever a reconciliation between Francis and his parents. No one knows what eventually happened to them.

However, every time Peter saw Francis in his rags, Peter cursed him. This hurt Francis so he found a poor old man to act as his earthly father and bless him every time Peter would curse him.

Francis returned to St. Damiano and rebuilt it.

One day, Francis met a band of robbers. He was singing. They asked him who he was. “I am the herald of the great king” he replied.

They beat him and threw him into a ditch with snow and said “Rest there great herald of God.”

When they passed, Francis got out of the ditch and was happy that he had been abused due to Christ.

Francis had solicited stones instead of money for St. Damiano. He would say, “One reward for one stone, two rewards for two stones, three for three.” He carried the stones to the church.

Francis predicted that one day St. Damiano would be a home for nuns. The poor Clares, the Franciscan second order did move there in time.

Angelo, Francis half brother came by St. Damiano with some friends and Angelo told one of them to see if Francis would sell him some sweat.

Francis said he sold all his sweat to God for a higher price.

Francis would greet everyone with “May the Lord grant you peace.”

One day Francis heard a priest giving a sermon on Jesus instructions to his disciples. “Do not posses gold, nor silver nor money in your purse. Nor script for your journey nor two coats, nor shoes, nor staff.” Francis asked the priest to verify what he had heard. The priest confirmed it.

Then Francis said “That is what I want” He threw away his purse, shoes, leather girdle and staff. He traded his tunic for a coarser one and tied at the waist with a piece of rope.

In this new attire he began to preach in addition to repairing St. Damiano and nursing the lepers.

The priest at the St. Damiano was fixing supper for Francis. Francis decided if he was truly poor he should beg for food per the gospel.

He took a bowl and went door to door begging. He received alms and sat on the sidewalk to eat. The food was disgusting but he ate it.

Francis then told the priest he no longer needed the priest to cook for him, because he had found a wonderful place to eat.

He finished the repairs on St. Damiano and also on St Peters and began to work on St. Mary De Angelis. The Virgin Mary became the protector of his order and St. Mary’s his favorite church.

St. Mary’s is where he began to attract disciples. It was called Porziuncula, a little portion of land belonging to the Benedictine monks of Mt. Subasio.

One day while preaching, Francis caught the attention of Bernard De Quintualle, a rich merchant. Bernard and Francis talked and Bernard invited Francis to stay with him, during the night. Bernard pretended to be a sleep, Francis got up and went to pray.

Francis on his knees, eyes full of tears, arms crossed prayed “Deus meve et omnia - My God My All.” the rest of the night. Bernard was convinced he was in the presence of a truly holy man.

The next morning Bernard asked Francis what a man should do with things he had received from his master but no longer had any use for them. Francis said he should return them to his master.

Bernard said, “Then I will return everything I posses to the Lord by giving in to the poor.”

Bernard did as he said he would and liquidated his estate. He and Francis gave it away. Bernard thereby became Francis’ first disciple.

In order to determine God’s plan, Francis determined to go to church and open the Bible three times. (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) randomly, looking for guidance. Bernard sent for Peter Catanio, a canon of the church to meet them.

On the first opening they read “If you will be perfect, go sell what you have, and give it to the poor.” On the second opening they read “Take nothing for your journey.” On the third opening they read “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

“This is the Rule we will follow” announced Francis. “This is God’s will. Let us go and put it into practice.”

Peter De Catanio, canon of the church of St. Ruffinus joined Francis and Bernard and received the habit the same day. The three then moved into a simple hut at Rivo Torto. This was April 16, 1208. The foundation of the Franciscan Order was laid. It would in time spread around the world.

As usual with anything new, people object to it, criticize it, and condemn it. People tend to fear things new and non conforming.

There was no class distinction between the brothers. They had a high sense of fraternity. Their common denominator was poverty and the love of Jesus. The clergy were hostile. Most had degenerated into drunks and fornicators.

The church’s image at that time was low. In time, Francis understood “rebuild my house” meant to reform and overcome the disrepute of the clergy. It seems that many of the good clergy men wanted to separate themselves from the church’s bad reputation and so they joined Francis’ band of brothers who were living the gospel.

The next to join was Giles. He joined on April 23, 1209, in the feast of St. George. HE was considered one of the most distinguished brothers.

There was no material with which to make Giles a habit so Francis took him to the town to obtain some. On their way, a woman begged alms from them. Giles said he had nothing to give. Francis suggested he give her his tunic which he did and proceeded to town in his under clothes.

When they returned, Sabbatin was waiting and became the forth disciple. For many years only Francis could approve someone for membership in the fraternity. Eventually the missions were too spread out and the number of applicants was too great. So Francis had to delegate that responsibility to others.

Moriques was sick and abandoned by the doctors at the hospital of St. Savor of Assisi. He asked Francis to pray for him which he did. Francis also mixed some bread with oil from the lamp before the altar of St. Mary’s and sent it to Morique by two brothers. He ate the offering and fully recovered. He joined the brotherhood and lived a long life of austerity.

The sixth disciple was John De Capella, Capella because he refused to part with his hat and wore it with his habit. In time be became lax and was reprimanded by Francis. Eventually he was told by Francis that he would suffer a severe illness and miserable death if he did not observe his vows. He did not change. He contracted leprosy and chose to hang himself instead of living with the disease.

Four more applicants arrived and were accepted by Francis, Phillip the Tall, John of St. Constantine, Barbarus, and Bernard of Viridant.

When Francis was working on San Damiano, he purchases some stones from a priest named Sylvester. Later when Francis and Bernard were distributing Bernard’s estate to the poor, Sylvester saw them and confronted Francis saying he had sold the stones to Francis to cheap. Francis gave him a bag of money which satisfied him.

Shortly Sylvesters conscience began to bother him. He then had a dream three nights in a row. In the dream, the town of Assisi was surrounded by a dragon and threatened it. Francis came forth and from his mouth there came a golden cross which reached to heaven and its arms extended to the ends of the Earth. Its splendor put the dragon to flight.

Sylvester relayed the dream to Francis. He joined the order at the end of 1209 after he gave away his possessions. He became an example in his sincere attempt to follow Jesus and spent almost all his time in prayer. He talked to the Lord like a friend.

He was the first priest to join and was a boon to Francis brothers because he could give Holy Communion. Francis respected all priests and overlooked their short comings. His reverence for Holy Communion was total and with it his respect for those who administered it.

Francis and his companions were on their way to Rome when Francis spotted a knight he had never met. “Angelo” (Tancred) He said. “You have been a solider long enough. It is time you traded your belt for a cord. Trade your sword for the cross of Christ and trade you spurs for mud and dust. Follow me and I will make you a solider of Christ.”

Angelo immediately responded and became the twelfth brother. Christ had twelve disciples but after Angelo, Francis added thousands more brothers to what became the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor.

Guido the Bishop of Assisi summoned Francis to discuss his lifestyle. “It seems your lifestyle is very hard especially since you do not posses anything.” he said.

“If we had possessions, we would need arms to protect them and we would be involved in law suits. Our love for God and neighbor would be impeded. Possessions would interfere with our work for Jesus so we don’t want any.” Francis replied.

Knowing the truth of Francis’ words, the bishop had no reply.

One day after many hours in prayer, Francis called his brothers together and said “Take heart my brothers, be thankful to God. Though our numbers are small and our life simple, God has shown me that he will spread our family through out the world. I have seen a great multitude coming to us and receiving our habit. I have seen roads filled with the sound of footsteps going here and there. Our mission is the salvation of souls. We shall teach by example and our savior will speak through us. Some will revile us but many will embrace our message. Be patient in tribulation, frequent in prayer and laborious in work. Our fraternity will last until judgment day.”

After saying this Francis sent his brothers to preach outside Assisi. They were told to identify themselves as “poor penitents from Assisi.”

They entered every church they came to and prayed, “We adore thee O Lord Jesus Christ here in all thy churches which are in all the earth. And we bless thee because by thy holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

Francis decided it was time to create a rule for his group and then go to the Pope to get it approved. A rule would prevent them from being accused of heresy. So he and the brothers started out for Rome. Francis appointed Bernard to conduct the trip. Francis did not like to take charge of trips. Actually, he never liked leading and being above others.

It so happened that Guido, the Bishop of Assisi was also in Rome and was alarmed at first when he saw Francis thinking he was going to leave his diocese. When Guido understood their real purpose, he introduced them to John De Colonna (St. Paul) who was devoted to the poor and could relate to Francis and his brethren.

John De Colonna invited Francis and his companions to stay with him out of charity as well as his desire to observe them.

Prior to Francis meeting with the Pope, John De Colonna met with Francis and was impressed with his simplicity and his humility. He suggested that he and his brothers join a monastery or hermitage. Francis was tenacious and asserted that he did not want his order living apart from the people. He had an apostolic mandate not a monastic mandate.

John De Colonna also introduced Francis to Cardinal Ugolino, nephew of the pope, and who would someday be Pope Gregory IX, as well as the protector of the Franciscan Order.

Innocent III was pacing on the terrace of the Lateran Palace when Francis came up to him asking permission to establish a new religious order. The pope not knowing him sent him away without comment.

That night the Pope had a dream in which a palm tree sprang up at his feet. At first it was a little shoot but it grew into a stately tree. In the morning he came to understand that the tree symbolized Francis who he had dismissed the day before. He sent for Francis.

The Pope told Francis that his way of life seemed very difficult and hard. He said he had faith in Francis but he questioned whether his successors would have his same determination and faith. He thought others may find his way to austere.

John De Colonna then spoke up and said, “If you reject the poor man’s prayer based on the thought that his Rule is novel and too austere, we have to be careful not to reject the Gospel itself since the Rule is in strict conformity with what the Gospel teaches. If we say a vow to practice it or that the Gospel contains anything unreasonable or impossible, it would be a blaspheme against Jesus Christ the author of the Gospel.”

The Pope was influenced by the argument and asked Francis to pray to Jesus to make his will known in this matter. Francis did as he was told and returned with the following parable from Jesus.

G87, 1727 6263 (Woman in Dessert)

“And behold, while Francis was praying with all his soul, Christ spoke to him: “Francis, here is what you are to say to the Pope. There was once, in the dessert a very poor but very beautiful woman. Captivated by her beauty, a king wanted to marry her, hoping that she would give him handsome children. The marriage took place, and from that union were born many sons. When they were grown and well educated, the mother said to them, ‘My dear children, be not ashamed of your poverty, because you are all the sons of a great king. Go, then, to the court and ask him for what you need.’ When they arrived in court, they presented themselves confidently to the king, whose features they reproduced. And the king, recognizing in them his own image asked them, filled with astonishment, whose sons they were. They then stated hat they were the sons of a poor women who lived in the desert. The king, filled with gladness, embraced them, saying, ‘You are my sons and heirs; fear not. I feed strangers at my table; all the more reason that I will take care of you, who are my own children.’ At once the king sent message to that woman, telling her to send to his court all the sons that she had had by him, so as to provide their needs.”

When Christ had finished speaking, Francis was radiant with joy.”

The Pope was pleased with the parable and believed it came from Jesus. He also considered the dream he himself had a few days earlier.

In the dream, “The Lateran Basilica and St Peters Cathedral in Rome were shaking on their foundations. Suddenly it tilted as if to collapse. But a puny and little poor man ran up and put his shoulder to the building to keep it from falling. The pope understood the little man to be Francis.”

Innocent III approved the order verbally and directed Francis to preach penance everywhere and labor to extend the Catholic faith. He was not allowed to preach doctrine and dogma. He and his brethren were to receive tonsure (shaving the crown of the head). Francis was appointed superior general of The Order of Friars Minor.

John De Colonna, Cardinal of Sabina became the protector and advocate of the community.

The friars set out on a pilgrimage to the great Roman basilicas and tombs of the apostles. They were ready to begin preaching the Gospel as members of their new order.

It was much easier to get alms with tonsure. A few of them could collect enough food for all.

They went to Rivo Torto and slept in a small shed there. Francis wrote their areas on the beams because it was so small and so they would not disturb each other coming and going.

The new recruits came streaming in. There was not enough room for them all.

One day a peasant and his donkey forced their way into the shed. Francis then decided to move to Portuincula. (St. Mary’s Da Angeles)

The Benedictine monks gave Portiuncula to the friars in exchange for a basket of fish each year and the understanding that if the Franciscan Order increased Portiuncula would be “the mother house”.

Two things are of interest about St Mary’s; 1) The chapel was poor and, 2) dedicated to the Virgin Mary the protector of the order. Also concerts by the angels were heard and lights sometimes came from the windows.

Francis preached a simple message of love and forgiveness and a tolerant God. He did not preach the old Christian message of judgment and damnation. He did not try to encourage non friars to embrace their lifestyle but moderation and penance as fit their normal lives. They were not expected to live like professional religious.

As the friary increased in numbers, the citizens of Assisi determined to build a large convent. When Francis saw it, he was irritated because it was contrary to poverty. He climbed on the roof to begin to tear it down. The communal council reminded him it was their building and he had no right to destroy it. Francis allowed it to stand since it was built by the citizens of Assisi and was on loan to the order.

Francis was determined to honor poverty and not allow his order to fall into the pattern of the established monasteries and their display of wealth and leisure monks.

One night one of the brothers started hollering “I am dying, I am dying.” Francis asked the friar what he meant; he replied “He was dying of hunger.” Francis awaked the whole community and everyone ate. Then Francis gave a lecture telling his friars that each person’s body is different and some require more food than others. So he told each brother to eat what he needed and for the other brothers to not be critical. Francis told them that he did not expect anyone to practice the degree of austerity that he practiced.

At another time Francis required all the friars who were using mortification devices to cause themselves pain to put them in a pile at his feet. He collected over 500 devices from hair shirts to iron waistbands that cut into the flesh and made for discomfort.

Chastity, poverty, infliction of pain had taken the place of martyrdom since 313 when Christianity became the official religion of the holy empire.

There were several brothers who were more in harmony and more attached to Francis than others. Several were saints in there own right.

The order of St. Francis created a second order for women, Clare De Scifi was the one designated by Francis to initiate and govern this order.

Prior to giving birth to Clare, Ortolana Scifi heard a voice saying “Fear not, for you will give birth to a light which shall illuminate the world.” Born in 1193, Ortolana named her daughter Clare (Luminus Bright).

Clare was never a child. She was devoted to the poor; giving them her food from an early age. She wore a hair shirt under her rich dresses and was continuously found in prayer.

Her parents tried to arrange her marriage but she refused. She was beautiful and of noble birth and many sought her hand in marriage. But Clare had already determined to become a nun. In 1212 she was 18 and an embarrassment because she was by custom to wed before her sisters Agnes and Beatrice.

Clare was the cousin of Rufino, one of the first of Francis disciples. Her father died when she was twelve and her uncle Manaldo became her guardian.

During lent of 1212 when Clare was 18, she heard Francis preach at the church of St. George. He talked about holy poverty and the suffering of Christ. She met and talked with Francis in her companion’s, Bona’s, presence.

Claire attended the feast of the palms accompanied by her mother and sister Agnes. When others went up to receive a palm branch from the bishop, Clare remained seated deep in thought. The bishop left his place at the altar and presented Clare with a palm branch.

That night she and her companion Pacifica, Bona’s sister, left the family castle and preceded to St. Mary’s to meet Francis as planned. Francis clothed her with a poor habit and cord, cut off her long hair and placed a veil on her head. She said her vows at the altar of St Mary’s.

The friars then escorted Clare to a temporary refuge with a group of Benedictine nuns at San Paulo at Bastia who agreed to take her in.

The next morning when Clare’s family learned what had taken place, her uncle, Manaldo, led a party to the convent to bring her home. They broke into the convent and said they had found the perfect husband for her. Clare removed her veil, showed her shorn head and announced her true spouse was Jesus Christ. She clung to the altar and claimed sanctuary. Manuldo and his party were afraid to commit sacrilege and touch the altar and so they left without Clare.

The nuns of San Paulo did not want anymore excitement and therefore asked Francis to take Clare and Pacifica elsewhere. Francis took them to the nunnery at St. Angelo Di Panzo on the slopes of Monte Subasio. Her uncle made another attempt to bring her home to no avail. He considered her mad and abandoned her.

Two weeks after Clare left home, her sister Agnes, who was four years younger, joined Clare at St. Angelo Di Panzo. Her uncle Manaldo pursued Agnes and forcibly removed her from the convent. Agnes begged Clare for help.

Clare prayed with the result that Agnes became so heavy that kidnappers could no longer carry her or lift her from the ground. In frustration, Manaldo raised his iron club as if to strike Agnes. His arm froze above his head and the whole side of his body was wracked with pain. They left and Clare escorted Agnes, whose body had returned to normal, back to the convent.

Shortly, Francis removed Clare, Pacifica and Agnes to San Damiano to some rooms he had designated for a convent. Francis cut Agnes’ hair and gave her a veil and habit.

Francis made Clare abbess of the rapidly growing community. She accepted reluctantly but out of obedience to Francis. In time her mother and youngest sister Beatrice joined her.

Francis sent Agness to Florance where she founded the convent of Monticelli. Thirty years later she was summoned to the death bed of her sister Clare.

The order of the Poor Clares was approved by Innocent III in 1215, a few days after Clare’s death. Innocent III signed the bull that adapted the Franciscan Rule to the poor clothes.

One has to wonder what the poor Clares would have accomplished had they been allowed the freedom to move about outside their convent and as Francis “Go around doing good” preaching the peace and love gospel of Jesus.

While in Rome seeking permission to preach to the Muslims, Francis was introduced to Jacoba Settisoli a twenty-two year old beautiful intelligent devout woman. She was Francis’ other spiritual sister. Their meeting was intense and left her more devoted to prayer and the poor. Francis was astounded by her abilities and nicknamed her Brother Jacoba.

Francis desired to be martyred for Christ. He felt the Crusade may be a vehicle for that goal so he decided to attempt to proclaim the Gospel to the Muslims. He asked Peter Catanio to assume his duties in his absence and proceeded to Ancona to travel to Syria to join the Crusade. His ship was blown off course and landed in Slavonia, on the Dalmation coast, only 95 miles from Italy. God had other plans for Francis.

Francis had no money for return passage so he determined to stow away on a ship for Italy. A good man offered him food and wine, which he bartered for fare for the return trip.

After establishing his second order for woman and returning from his attempt to take the gospel to the Muslims, Francis was in doubt about what he should do with his life. He loved contemplation, prayer and meditation. But he also believed God wanted him to preach.

To resolve this matter, he assigned Masseo to go and pose this question to Sylvester and Clare. Sylvester was in hermitage when asked the question. He immediately prayed and then said that God did not call Francis for himself but that he may return many souls to God.

Clare took some time to pray and returned the same answer as Sylvester: that France should preach.

When Masseo returned, Francis knelt down and crossed his arms over his chest and asked Masseo to give him their answer.

“God’s will”, said Masseo, “is for you to preach for the salvation of others not just for yourself.”

In early 1213, Francis spent the six weeks of lent at Isola Maggiore, an island in Lake Trasimeno. He frequently prayed and meditated and subsisted on one loaf of bread and water. The isolation and fast renewed him.

On his way back to Assisi through Romagna with Leo, he came to a great celebration in honor of a knight. It was the castle of Orlando De Chiusi one of the wealthiest landowning families in central Italy.

Francis detoured to the celebration, mounted a wall and began to sing and entertain the guests. He then followed with one of his inspiring sermons about discomforts of this life leading to rewards in heaven; basic teachings of Jesus. The guests were spellbound as per usual when Francis preached.

The count had heard of Francis but had never met him. He began to speak with him when Francis suggested that the count entertain his guests and then they could speak later.

When the count and Francis resumed their conversation, the count told Francis that he had a mountain that would be good for a solitary life and he would give it to Francis if he wanted it. Francis agreed to send two of his brothers to inspect it and if suitable he would accept it. The mountain was called Mt. Laverno and Francis did later accept it.

It was there, two years before his death, that Francis experienced his most significant revelation from his Lord Jesus.

The Muslims had retreated from Spain to Morocco and Francis was determined to go to Morocco by way of Spain because of the shorter distance by water. He was intent on achieving martyrdom by preaching to the Muslims which was a capital offense carried out by decapitation.

Francis took Bernard with him and traveled barefoot from Assisi to Spain.

At Terni, the bishop was present while Francis spoke. When Francis finished his sermon, the bishop rose and commented “Brothers and sisters, the man you heard preach today is poor and illiterate and obsessive. Consider how God uses the most feeble and common instuments for his glorious purposes.”

Francis was overjoyed at the humiliation; he went to his knees and prayed. “My Lord, no one has done me as much honor as you today. People call me a saint without giving you glory. But you Lord know the difference between a sinner and your divine mercy.”

Due to the hardship of the journey Francis had another bout of malaria. He had to again abandon his plans to preach to the Muslims. He instead spent three years establishing his order all over the Iberian Peninsula. He has returned to St. Mary’s but from 1213-17 he was very ill.

Francis would receive medicines but give them to the poor. He continued to fast whether he was sick or well. He severely abused his sickened body. One has to wonder what more he could have done had he been gentler with himself. He might have lived longer but it may be that his visions were as intense and as frequent as they were because of his severe illnesses.

In 1216, Francis was so gravely ill he had to accept an invitation by Bishop Guido to stay with him at his residence. Even there, Francis did not rest. His order had grown to over three thousand brothers and there were many challenging the austerities of the order and wanting a more formal Rule. Poverty was the primary issue of contention.

On November 11, 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council was convened. St. Dominic was there seeking permission to establish his new order. The council forbid any new orders to be founded except on an established Rule. Dominic’s order was poor and was known as the Friars preachers. They were not in the beginning settled in a monastery but moved around the country. Their chief purpose was to testify against heresy for the inquisition.

Francis’ order had already been verbally approved years before by Innocent III and so Francis was allowed to establish a new Rule.

On May 30, 1216, The first general chapter of the Friars Minor was held at St. Mary’s. At this chapter the new Rule was drafted, this was the modification of the original gospel rule which Francis did not want to change but acknowledged would not govern three thousand brothers.

On July 15, 1216, Innocent III suddenly died and Cencio Savelli succeed him as Pope Honorus III on July 18, 1216.

James Vitry wrote that before Innocent’s funeral, thieves stripped Innocent’s body of all the vestments and left it naked and decaying. Vitry remarked on how fleeting is earthly glory.

Francis had returned to Rome after his chapter in May and was there when Innocent died. At that time he met St. Dominic and they formed an immediate friendship.

St. Dominic had a vision while praying in which Jesus was angry with the world his mother brought him two men to cool his anger. One was Dominic and the other was a stranger. The next day Dominic recognized Francis and said “You are my companion. We should work together in union and no one will be able to master us.”

Both men considered the mother of Jesus as their patron. Both were devoted to poverty, humility and prayer. They appeared to some as Peter and Paul preaching the gospel and converting the world.

Dominic asked Francis for his cord and after much insistence Francis gave it to Dominic. Francis did not like to be honored in any way. Dominic wore the cord under his habit for the rest of his life.

At the chapter of May 1217, it was decided to send brothers on missions all over Europe and the east. For the most part these missions failed because the brothers were not prepared for such missions. Primarily they did not speak the languages of the other countries. In Germany, they unknowingly admitted to being heretics and were seriously abused.

Francis decided he would take the mission to France. The order was divided into two provinces and a hierarchy or leadership was set up. Francis still accepted anyone into the order and there was no probationary period required to assure the brothers were cut out for Francis’ order.

Francis after the 1217 Chapter was over walked to Florance to visit Ugolino, Innocent III’s nephew and future Pope Gregory IX. Ugolino was the unofficial protector of the order. Francis told him he wanted to go on a mission to France.

Ugolino believed the order was too weak to survive without Francis’ presence. Ugolino told Francis that he had many supporters in Rome but he also had many detractors. His supporters needed him to stay in Italy. Francis agreed and sent Pacificus and Albert of Pisa in his Place.

Francis had a dream about a little hen who was trying to protect her many chicks from a hawk. She was not doing a very good job. Then a much larger bird appeared who was much more powerful and protected the brood.

Francis on awaking understood he was the hen and he would need a protector in Rome for his order. Francis immediately left for Rome and met with Cardinal Ugolino.

Ugolino was surprised that Francis would be asking for a protector of his order. It was a very unusual request. Ugolino told Francis that he should prepare to present his request to the Pope. Francis said he was not worthy to make the argument. Ugolino said he would do fine and ordered him to prepare his plea.

Francis carefully prepared his petition and memorized it but when he was in front of the Pope he could remember none if it. As usual he then allowed the Holy Spirit to give him the words. When he finished, he asked Pope Honorus to appoint Cardinal Ugolino the protector.

The Pope felt the request was unusual but he had been persuaded by Francis’ plea and so he approved Ugolino as the official protector of the order.

Ugolino and Francis had a mutual respect for each other. Francis provided the energy of a charismatic reformer and Ugolino was schooled and experienced in the reality of the church’s bureaucratic hierarchy. Together they made an effective team.

At the Chapter of 1218, Ugolino on his way into camp took off his official vestments to reveal a Franciscan habit underneath. He presided over the chapter as official protector.

About this time Francis wrote the clergy admonishing them regarding the mistreatment the eucharistic elements. He felt that the chalices and linens should be clean and the wine and bread should be protected. Francis had a profound reverence for the Holy Communion and respect for the clergy who had administered it.

Also in 1218, Al-Malik Al-Kamil, nephew of Saladin had become sultan of Egypt. Francis made it known that he would seek martyrdom with the Muslims by going to Egypt to convert them.

In the Chapter of May 1219 those who wanted a more formal traditional order became more vocal. There was no doubt that a more formal order was needed. The missions outside Italy had essentially failed. The needs of the world required a more dynamic order with scholars, less rigorous poverty, and more structure and a more distinctive rule.

Ugolino was persuaded to talk to Francis to make him understand. Francis was rigid. He repeated that God had always directed him. (“No one showed me what to do but God.”) He had no desire to put his faith elsewhere or to conform to the desires of men. He told them they were as God wanted them and that God would confound and punish them if they persisted in their determination to make their order like the others.

There was silence. Everyone was shocked and shaken.

The Chapter did not adopt an existing Rule of one or the other orders but it was obvious that change was coming. It was just a matter of time.

In 1219, the Middle East and western society was in a state of chaos and agitation due to the Fifth Crusades. Honorius had followed through with Innocent’s call for a Fifth Crusade before his death.

Honorious gave letters of introduction to the order to make it easier for the them to expand their mission.

On June 24, 1219, Francis and Illuminatuo, who could speak Arabic, boarded a ship bound for Damietia. The journey took about six weeks. There were a thousand on board his ship including criminals, clergy, poor, knights and commoners.

The Muslims had defended Damietia for a year. There were ten thousand Christian troops present. Disease killed one fifth. Others sailed home. Class hatred permeated the whole enterprise.

Al-Kamil offered generous settlement terms, which were rejected by the commander Cardinal Pelagio Galvani. The Italian merchants did not want to give up trade with Egypt.

The Christians were not prepared or equipped to win the engagement.

Francis found the encampment a den of iniquity; drunkenness, greed, whores, fights, and murder were all in play.

Francis knew the Christians were going to lose the war but he did not want to say this yet. His conscience could not let him be quiet. He asked for advice. One of his companions said he on many occasions spoken his mind and his situation was no different Francis spoke to deaf ears.

The Christians attacked and the Muslims retreated into the dessert. When the Christians were deep enough into the desert, and without water, the Muslims attacked killing six thousand.

Al-Kamil again offered to negotiate and again was rebuffed. Francis demanded permission to go see the sultan. Cardinal Pelagio gave his permission to what he considered a suicide mission.

The two armies were in sight of each other when Francis and Illuminatus started for the Muslim lines. Two sheep appeared and Francis quoted the scriptures “I send you forth as sheep among wolves.” Shortly they were captured, beaten and bound. Francis demanded to he taken to the sultan.

Francis was dressed like a Muslim sufi and so they were taken to the sultan who asked who sent them. Francis said that God sent then to preach salvation by pointing out the truth of the gospels. Francis began to preach and the sultan who was a pious man listened for several days. The sultan invited him to stay with him.

Francis replied he would stay if the Muslims converted and he suggested to the sultan that if he was not sure to build a large fire and Francis would walk into it with the sultan’s priests in order to know which religion to follow.

The sultan said “I don’t believe any of our priests would walk into the fire or suffer torments.”

Francis then said he would go into the fire by himself. If he was burned it would be due to his sins. If he was not burned, then the sultan would have to acknowledge Christ as the true savior of mankind.

The sultan offered Francis riches which could be distributed to the poor. Francis who had an aversion toward money, refused and decided he had failed in his mission to convert the Muslims or suffer a martyr’s death or bring peace.

The sultan had Francis and Illuminatus escorted back to the Christian lines. He asked Francis to pray for him so he would know which religion to embrace.

Francis was told by a messenger that there was a serious dissent in the order led in part by brother Elias. Francis insistence on poverty, simplicity of teaching and life and a lay organization were rejected by almost everyone. The order was too big now and needed a more traditional Rule. Many wanted the opportunity to become integrated into the Catholic bureaucracy.

Francis realized that he was not an administrator and did not want to be one. Francis seemed to have a love hate relationship with Brother Elias who loved Francis. Brother Elias was a good but deceitful administrator. Under his direction the order grew but it evolved away from Francis original vision over time. Francis was more and more out of sync with the brothers of the order he founded.

In 1220, Francis began to draft a new Rule. He resigned from leadership of the order and became in action a humble friar. He removed Elias and appointed Peter Catanio as minister general. Peter died in 1221 and Elias again became minister general.

Francis understood that for him to continue the order would polarize and maybe create a permanent split. He said a prayer returning the ministry back to Jesus. He continued to guide the order but from an unofficial position.

In 1221, Francis established the third order – The Order of Penitents. The first order consisted of the friars. The second order consisted if the poor Clares. The third order was for lay people who lived regular lives but wanted to be associated with St. Francis and his order.

A merchant and old friend of Francis, Luchesio and his wife Bonadonna were his first members. Luchesio had been very much in love with money but had a change of heart and began to distribute his wealth as Francis advocated.

One day Bonadonna complained that there was no bread in the house because Luchesio had given it all away. Luchesio reminded her of Jesus’ miracle of the feeding of five thousand. He directed her to go to the bread cabinet where she found a larger supply of bread than was there before Luchesio gave it all to the poor.

When Francis arrived, she venerated him and begged directions as to how she could follow his way.

Francis gave them a gray habit and the Franciscan cord.

The Rule Francis set out on the third order was simple 1) Restoring any ill gotten gains 2) Reconcile with anyone they were in conflict with 3) Obey commandments of God, the Church and the Pope 4) Consent of the husband was necessary before a married woman could join.

In addition, there was a rule to aviod the theater and dancing and liberal partying and to make a will in order to avoid conflict over money at death. They were forbidden to carry arms except soldiers.

They were called penitents of St. Francis or tertiaries. The order was confirmed in 1227.

St. Dominic also set up a third order about the same time. All classes of people flocked to organizations where they committed to Dominic or Franciscan values without vows or ordination. Some lived in monasteries and some in secular society.

In truth, this was a WorldPeace movement and it caused concern among those in power. It was an across the board challenge to their authority and essentially a revolution within the social fabric that had unlimited potential and possible repercussions.

One night at Portiuncula while praying for enlightenment of sinners, Francis was directed by an angel to go to church where he would find Jesus and his mother accompanied by a host of celestial beings.

Francis prostrated himself before the savor who said “Francis, the zeal you have for the salvation of souls entitles you to solicit something for their favor for the glory of my name.”

Francis said, “O Jesus, my savior, I am a sinner, but I ask you to grant to all who shall visit this church a free indulgence for their sins after having confessed them to a priest and I request the blessed virgin, the advocate of human beings to intercede that may obtain my request.”

The blessed virgin did intercede and Jesus said, “Francis what you ask is great but you will receive greater favors. I grant you this one. Go to my vicar who has power on earth and ask him for the indulgence.”

The brothers in their cells heard all this and saw a great light fill the church but they did not approach out of respect and fear.

Francis went to Pope Honorius and asked him to grant the free indulgence.

The Pope said he could not reasonably grant it because indulgence requires an act of charity (money). The pope then asked for how many years Francis and Francis replied, “Not year but souls”

The Pope asked what he meant.

Francis said, “To whoever enters St. Mary’s, who are contrite, have confessed their sins, have received absolution, may receive remission of their sins in this world and the next,from baptism until they entered the church, without paying an indulgence fee.”

The pope said such a request has never been granted.

Francis said, “I do not ask for me but for Jesus who sent me.”

The pope then said three times in public, “It is my desire that it be granted to you.”

The cardinal informed the Pope that he was subverting the Holy law and the sepulcher of the apostles.

The pope said that he made the concession and would not revoke it but would modify it.

The Pope recalled Francis and told him that the concession would be in perpetuity but only on one day each year (August 23).

Francis bowed and began to leave.

The Pope asked him where he was going; that had not been given documentation.

Francis said that the Pope’s word was sufficient for him. That if it’s the work of God, it will manifest. Jesus is the notary, the blessed mother, the parchment and the angels the witnesses.

Francis set the day of proclamation for October first at St. Mary’s. Several bishops were in attendance.

Francis spoke first. As per usual his opening sermon held people in awe. Then he said, “I want everyone to go to heaven. I have obtained an indulgence from God and confirmed by the Pope Honorius. Everyone here can obtain a free indulgence if your hearts are converted and the same will be true on the same day every year. I wanted it to be for 8 days but I was unable to obtain that.”

The bishops each rose to speak and had by agreement among themselves decided to say the indulgence would only be good for a period of 10 years but none could get the words out of their mouth and where forced to say “in perpetuity.”

The first Role was approved at the Pentecost Chapter in 1221. It was really a modification of the original gospel rule approved by Innocent III. Even though the Rule was approved; there was a lot of discontent because the Rule did not move in the direction of the traditional rules of the St. Augustine and St. Benedict orders.

Pope Honorius finally insisted that Francis produce another modification. Francis obeyed and he and Bonizo of Bologna and Leo retired to Fonte Columbo to write a new Rule.

Francis gave the Rule to Elias and intended to present it to the chief ministers of Italy. When the time came to review the Rule, Elias said he had lost it; an obvious lie.

Francis was depressed but returned to Fonte Columbo and quickly rewrote the Rule.

Several ministers, concerned that the new rule would be too strict, persuaded Elias to talk to Francis. Elias only agreed to go when the ministers agreed to accompany him.

When they arrived, Francis asked who they were. Elias said they were ministers who thought he was writing too strict a rule.

Francis looked to heaven and said, “Lord I told you they would not believe it is your rule.”

They then heard the voice of Christ, “Francis this is not your rule. All within is of me. I want this Rule observed exactly and without comment.”

Francis finished dictating the Rule and decided to take it straight to the Pope without consulting the ministers who he said would take it apart line by line. He went to Rome and consulted with Cardinal Ugolino. A rule was produced that was very polished.

Honorius approved the Rule on November 20, 1223. This is known as the Second Rule on the “Definitive Rule”.

Discouraged by the new direction of the order, Francis considered abandoning everything. At these times he thought of marrying and having a family; a fantasy. However he did have strong temptations of lust.

One winter he went into the snow and made seven figures, a friar asked what he was doing. Francis said he was preaching to himself. He said one of the figures was his wife, two were his sons, two were his daughters, one a servant and the other a maid. I need to hurry and feed and clothe them.

It seemed Francis convinced himself that celibacy was not such a bad option after all.

In December 1223, Francis was staying at a hermitage in Greccio. Francis decided to bring the nativity into the thirteenth century by putting real humans in contemporary dress in a live nativity with donkeys, oxen, sheep, Shepard’s and Magi.

The effect was to bring the presence of Christ into the present time.

Francis was not the first to create a live nativity but he was the first to place people in contemporary dress in it. This contemporary nativity has been repeated countless times in the last 800 years. It reminds people of the continued presence of Jesus.

In the summer of 1224, Francis decided to go to Mt. Laverna in August. He took four of his closest brothers; Leo, Angelo, Rufino and Masseo.

At the base of the mountain it was necessary to find a donkey to carry Francis up a steep path. A peasant was found who insisted on guiding the donkey once he knew it was Francis who was going up the mountain. When he saw Francis, he admonished him to try to live up to his reputation because many placed their trust in him. Francis kissed his feet, thanking him. Francis always liked to be talked down to. Too many people revered him while he considered himself a sinner.

About half way up the mountain, the peasant complained loudly of his thirst. Francis directed him to a fresh spring, which was not known before. The peasant drank his fill.

For meditation, Francis chose a grotto in one of the fissures of Mt. Laverna. A log had to be placed over the chasm so that Leo could cross and bring Francis food and tend to him. Mt. Laverna has a very unique landscape. The legend is that when Christ died on the cross, a shock wave hit it.

Leo concerned about his personal temptation wanted a blessing from Francis but did not want to ask. Francis as per usual knew his thoughts and asked him to bring pen and paper. Francis wrote:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May he show his face to you and be merciful to you
May he turn his countenance to you and give you peace
May the Lord bless you Brother Leo

Leo was asked to call out to Francis before he crossed the log and to come over only if Francis responded. On several occasions Leo crossed over without a response from Francis. He would see Francis levitating and if Francis was low enough, Leo would kiss his feet and cry knowing Francis in ecstasy would not be aware of him.

One night Leo saw a light from heaven descend on Francis’ head and heard a voice he could not make out. Leo made a noise and Francis asked who was there. Francis’ eyes were so bad he could see very little. Leo, crying, begged for forgiveness. Francis knowing that God had permitted Leo to see the miracle forgave him.

One the eve of the festival of the Holy Cross, an angel appeared to Francis and told him to prepare for a gift from God.

When asked, Francis asked for two things; 1) that he would experience all the pain and suffering that Jesus experienced during crucifixion, and 2) that he would feel the love that induced Christ to suffer for all sinners.

In his vision a serapath angel descended from the sky and approached Francis. It had three pairs of wings. One pair over the head, one pair for flight and one pair covered the rest of the body. Then appeared the figure of the crucified savior in the form of the serapath.

While Francis was marveling in bliss at the magnificence of his vision, the meaning of the vision was reveled to him. The vision had been placed before him to teach him that it was not by the martyrdom of the flesh but by the burning all consuming love of the spirit that he should be transformed into a perfect image of the savior crucified.

Upon Francis’ hands and feet appeared the nails of the crucified Christ and into his right side the spear wound received on the cross. All were bleeding. These wounds Francis bore until his death two years later.

After receiving the stigmata, Francis said, “Brothers let us begin to serve God for up to this time was have done nothing.”

The mountain had appeared to be on fire by all those who looked at it.

Prior to Francis there had been no record of anyone having received the stigmata. St. Paul says in Galatians that he had received the marks of Christ and in Corinthians he says the Lord gave him a thorn in the side which he prayed the lord to remove and the Lord refused. Until Francis no one considered Paul’s comments to mean the actual stigmata of the crucified Christ.

The Catholic Church has never certified the stigmata on Francis or the 300 subsequent cases reported since Francis. It is possible that in the 1200 years between St. Paul and Francis that they ignored any such reports. But Francis was too important a saint for the church to ignore such a miracle.

Francis kept the marks hidden as best he could by wrapping his hands with cloth and wearing special shoes made by Clare which allowed him to walk with the protruding nails from him feet.

Only Leo who took care of Francis and bathed him was actually allowed to see and touch the stigmata. At his death many saw them.

Francis was moved to a hut in San Damiano near Clare but there is no indication that they talked. Clare was cloistered in the convent. In the spring each year the field mice and rats invaded the hut and the crawled all over Francis and danced on his face. He never complained.

In his agony one night he composed his famous “Canticle to Creation”. It was the first poem composed in the vernacular Italian. Francis, the troubadour had composed his song reflecting his love of God. At first it was referred to at the “Canticle of the Sun”

Most high, all-powerful God, yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.
To you alone, most high, do they belong and no human is worthy to mention your name.
Praised be you, my lord, with all your creations, especially sir brother sun who is the day, and through whom you give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor and bears a likeness of you, most high one.
Praised be you, my Lord, through sister moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them, clear, precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through brother wind and through the air cloudy and serene and every kind of weather through whom you give sustenance to you creators.
Praised be you, my Lord, through sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and pure.
Praise be you, my Lord, through brother fire, through whom, you light the light and he is beautiful and playful, robust and strong.
Praised be you, my Lord, through our sister, mother earth, who sustains and govern us, and who produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Francis called for Pacificus, the king of verses, and together they sang the words, Francis had transcended Jesus to the oneness of God in all things, both animate and inanimate.

Later the Mayor of Assisi, Oportulo Bernardo and Guido the Bishop of Assisi, entered into a political conflict that was based on pure hatred. Francis summoned them to the bishop’s palace.

His canticle of the creation was well known and popular. Francis wrote an additional verse.

Praise be you, my Lord, through those who grant pardons, for your love and infirmity and tribulation blessed are those who endure in peace. For you most high shall they be crowned

The hostilities were reduced between the bishop and the mayor – they could not ignore a venerated man like Francis.

Then when Francis’ doctor told him that he only had a few months to live he composed the last verse to his canticle.

Praised be you, my Lord, through our sister bodily death
For whom no one living can escape
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are those whom death shall do them no harm
Praise and bless me Lord and give him thanks and leave him with great humility.

In the spring on 1225, Francis agreed to be moved to Fonte Columbo near Reiti where a physician was found who treated eye diseases.

The cure was to cauterize with a hot iron from his eye brows to his cheeks to drain away the poison. Francis’ eyes exploded with pus and he refused to stop the flow of tears which accompanied his prayers. The treatment was gruesome and his brothers fled the room in horror before it was performed.

Prior to the operation Francis said a prayer, “Brother fire, you are noble and useful among all things created by God. Be friendly to me. I have loved you. I pray you temper your heat so I can bear it.”

After the doctor finished, Francis said he did not feel anything and the doctor could do it again if necessary.

The operation did not help and six months later another doctor performed a similar operation in Siena. Again it did not help. It just increased the agony of a very sick and dying man.

Francis returned to Assisi. Francis doctor told Francis that he was dying and only had six weeks to live. The magistrates put a guard around Francis so that no one would steal his body. Assisi wanted to keep Francis’ body in Assisi.

Clare who was sick was grieved because she could not see Francis but he sent word to her that she and her sisters would see him before she died. He honored his promise but it was his dead body she saw when it was brought to her convent eight months later.

As soon as Francis was carried back to St Mary’s he dictated a letter to Jacoba telling her that if she wanted to see him alive she should come immediately. He asked her to bring the material for a tunic and some almond cake.

As the friar left to send the letter, he ran into Jacoba. She had a dream telling her immediately to go see Francis. And she had brought the material and the ingredient, for the cake.

The friar returned to Francis’ cell and told him that Jacoba was outside. Francis told him to let her in. The friar asked about the restrictions of women entering cells and Francis said that it did not apply to Brother Jacoba.

Upon entering the cell she fell to his feet and bathed them with her tears. The disciples were reminded of Jesus and Mary Magdalene who had done the same.

Francis called his brothers in and blessed them. He gave Bernard his tunic. He dictated his testament, which was in essence the Rule.

Francis blessed all that came to him individually.

Francis dictated his last three requests, “May the brothers always love one another as I have loved them. And as I love them, may they always love and revere lady poverty. May they always prove loyal to the bishops and the priest of the holy mother church.”

In compliance with Francis’ instructions, when he was near death, his tunic was removed and he was laid on his back on the floor of his cell. His tunic was removed. His arms outstretched. He began his journey naked after returning his clothes and money to his father and he ended his journey naked on the floor of his cell. After about an hour his tunic was put back on his dying body and he was returned to his bed.

He was asked where he wanted to be buried. He said on Inferno Hill on the spot where they used to execute criminals.

Like St. Paul in the end he could say “I am not ashamed. I know who I have trusted.”

“I have done what is mine.” said Francis

Francis departed and larks flew over his roof circling and singing.

Brother Augustine of Assisi, Provencial of Terra De Lavoro, was in the last stages of his illness and had ceased to speak. He exclaimed “Wait for me father, I will go with you.” His brother asked who he was speaking to. He said “Don’t you see Father Francis going to heaven?” after saying this he died.

Francis died at St. Mary’s De Angelis on October 4, 1226. His body was clothed in the new tunic Jacoba made for him. His remains were placed on a bier covered with a rich tapestry. The procession passed by St. Damiano where the body was placed in the church to fulfill Francis’ promise that they would see him again. Clare and her sisters emerged from their cloister and surrounded the body.

The procession then moved to St. George’s where his body was to be interred until his basilica was completed and his canonization declared. The mourners carried olive branches.

In 1228, the Pope gave the eulogium of sainthood, Honorous III had died and Ugolino had been elected Pope and he chose the name Gregory IX.

Cardinal Octavian read aloud the miracles that had been examined and endorsed. Cardinal Rainerio Capoccio who had been appointed protector of the order gave a eulogy in which he and those in attendance wept extensively.

At the time of the canonization, the Pope made Inferno Hill (the former execution place of Assisi) a fief of the Pope and its name was changed to Hill of Paradise. On this same day, Pope Gregory IX inspected the sight on the basilica and laid the foundation stone.

In 1230, the basilica that was erected on Inferno Hill for St. Francis received Francis’ body from St. George’s.

The bier was placed on a chariot drawn by oxen covered with a crimson tapestry, with birds and flowers embroidered in gold, a gift of a German emperor.

As the body approached its place of final interment, a group of men took charge of the body and locked themselves in the church for the purpose of hiding the body to prevent theft. When they were finished, the public was allowed to enter.

In 1824, Pope Leo XII, at the request of the minister general of the Franciscan order authorized a search for the remains of Francis. The search went on for 54 nights in secret. Then the coffin was moved to where it could be venerated by pilgrims.

By 1257, the order had grown to 40,000 friars.

“May the Lord give you peace.”



Pacificus was a court poet in Germany and was called the “king of verse”. He would take contemporary songs and improvise bawdy verses.

Pacificus went to hear Francis speak and like many was in awe. He saw a vision of two swords in front of Francis; one going from head to foot and one going from his extended right hand to his left forming a cross.

Pacificus introduced himself with one of his songs. Francis said he had a fine voice but could make better use of it. He borrowed Pacificus lute and improvised a tone about God’s love.

A week later Pacificus joined the order.

Later Pacificus had a vision of thrones at the foot of God. One was higher and more ornate than the others. God told him that was Lucifer’s but it is reserved for Francis. Another voice said, “Just as Lucifer due to his pride lost his place in heaven. Francis will be raised up by his humility.

John The Simple

Francis while preaching in Nottiano was sweeping out a church, and cleaning up after receiving permission. A young peasant name John left his oxen in the field where he was ploughing to meet Francis. John alarmed at Francis doing clean up finished the task.

John told Francis he had wanted to join the order but did not know where to find Francis. Francis told him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor.

John watched one of the oxen he considered his for the years working for his father and gave it to Francis for the poor.

When his parents found out what had happened they begged for the ox. Francis thinking he should not take their son and the ox returned the ox to them.

John was told that he could obtain salvation by imitating Francis. This he began to do. John mimicked Francis’ every act; kneeling, crouching, raising his hand. Francis called him “St. John”.

Sadly John died an early death at 18. The brothers were certain he obtained heaven.


Francis called Giles knight of the round table.

One of the friars said that Giles should learn to preach. Giles replied, “Going on a pilgrimage is better than showing someone the road to take.”

In response to a woman mourning over her son he asked whether she wanted his body or his soul. She said his body of course. Giles told her to go to the cemetery and dig it up and see what was left of it.

When he was preaching on sexual excess, a man came up and said he had only had one wife and no lovers. So the subject of sexual excess did not apply to him. Giles asked him if a man ever gets drunk in wine from his own vineyard.

In regards to the great basilica honoring Francis he disapproved. He said that since the brothers had abandoned their promise to live poorly, they might as well give up on chastity and find wives.

A cardinal asked Giles for his prayers. Giles responded that the cardinal had more faith that he did. “You have wealth, power and honors hoping to save your soul and I live a very simple life afraid I’ll be damned”

Giles arrived one time to find Francis deathly ill but not being provided for by the brothers. A brother came up to Giles saying he had had a dream of hell and there were no Franciscans there. Giles simply replied that the brother was not going deep enough.

In his later years, Giles, went into ecstasy several times a day. The boys in the streets know about Giles and his ecstasy and would call out “paradiso” when they saw him to watch him go into ecstasy.

He became a saint and two books “The Life of Blessed Giles” and “The Sayings of Blessed Giles” were written about him.

Angelo Taplati

In 1213, Francis met a young knight named Angelo Taplati. He was very refined in manner and appearance. He said “Father. I would like to join your order.”

Francis said, “You are very young and delicate. Do you think you can adhere to our austere and rigorous life?”

Angelo replied, “Are you men like me? What you can endure, I can endure.”

Francis admitted him to his order and assigned him as the guardian of the Monte Casach convent.

One day three robbers who had been terrorizing the area came to the convent and asked for something to eat. Algelo was summoned by the porter.

Angelo called them vile persons who not only stole from honest people but now were demanding foods received as alms by the servants of God. He told them to depart and never return, which they did.

When Francis returned and heard about the episode he told Angelo he had done wrong; that such souls must be returned to God by kindness not rebukes. Jesus said he was called to heal the sick not the healthy.

Francis instructed Angelo to take the food he had just brought with him and find the robbers and feed them. Then after they eat tell them if they will quit their evil ways Francis will provide for them.

Angelo obeyed. He found and fed the robbers.

The robbers felt remorse that they had done so much evil and were being treated with kindness they decided to go find Francis and ask him to obtain God’s mercy for them.

Francis spoke to them with the result that they renounced their evil ways and were admitted to the order.


Masseo was a tall attractive man and a good preacher. When he worked he was given the choice of meat, best fruit, and soon he became vain and egocentric.

One day Masseo met Francis returning to St. Mary’s and asked him three times, “Why you?”

Francis asked what he was talking about.

“Why is the world running to you? Everyone wants to see you, listen to you, join your order, why you?” Masseo asked. “You’re not handsome, not well educated, and not of noble birth. What does the world see in you?”

Francis said “Because there is no worst example of someone less qualified or more of a sinner, than me.”

This answer stunned Masseo and he increased his fasting and prayer and increased his humility.

In time he became one of Francis’ best friends.

On another occasion when traveling with Francis they came to a fork in the road with the options, Florence, Siena and Arezzo. Masseo asked which way. Francis told him to spin around, which he did, until he fell down. Francis asked him to do it again and again.

Then Francis asked Masseo where he was facing.

“Siena.” said Masseo.

“That is the way God wants us to go.” said Francis.


In 1211, Francis was traveling with Sylvester to Cortona. There he recruited Elias Bononarone who would cause Francis grief in running the order as minister general.

He was considered the least of the Franciscans.

He was autocratic, led the order away from its poverty roots, wanted status and power, harassed some of the original members and was self serving.

Yet under him the order grew. Eventually it would be made over into a close likeness of the other established orders of Augustine and Benedict, both of which Francis objected to.

Elias loved Francis. And after he died was appointed to build his memorials and did an excellent job. He was excommunicated as Francis told him he would be but he was allowed to return to the church.

The order needed a tough administrator and he filled that role but maybe a bit too arrogantly.

On the day of his death Francis took a loaf of bread blessed it and made the sign of the cross over it. Brother Elias who wept was the only one who did not eat his portion. He gave it to Leo when he asked for it. It was preserved and worked many miracles.

As vicar general he made a habit of treating brothers of science and those who stood out, better than others. He would place them at the head of the table. One day Francis in defiance after a blessing was said called two lowly friars to sit on either side of him.

Elias criticized him and said his demand for simplicity would ruin the order.

Francis told him his vanity was creating injury to the order. He then told him he would be excommunicated and die out of the order. He was excommunicated but this was reversed. He did die out of the order.

Francis had prayed for him regarding excommunication by the said he could do nothing about dying not out the order. Francis had quit speaking to him and Elias had then come to Francis begging his prayers as intercession.

One day in Spoleto Francis saw Elias who had on a habit made of fine cloth with wider sleeves and a larger cowl. It was to make him look worldly and fashionable. Francis made him take it off and give it to him. Francis put it on and then walked around with an arrogant courtly air saying, “God save you good people.” He then took it off and threw it at Elias saying, “That is how bastard children of our order will strut.

John Parenti

John Parenti, a doctor of the new university of Bologna, was serving as a magistrate when he heard a swine herd yell at his pigs “Pigs get into your stable as judges go to hell.” The pigs calmed down and went in.

The event shook the doctor into considering his salvation. He gave up his magistrate and returned to Florence. He met Francis and along with his only son sold all they had, distributed the proceeds to the poor, and joined the order.

After the death of Francis, John was elected by the brothers a minister general of the order to replace Elias. He charged Elias to build the St. Francis Basilica and complex.


In the wildest part of Mt. Alverno a criminal named Lupo hade made a hideout for himself. He was a terror to all who came near.

When the friars moved into the mountain he was angry because he had come to feel the mountain was his. He went to see the friars and threatened them if they did not vacate the mountain. The friars informed Francis.

Francis came to the mountains and waited for Lupo to appear. Lupo returned shortly. Francis spoke to him a few gentle words of a nature he probably had not heard in many years. Lupo threw himself at Francis’ feet and said he would never leave him.

Francis received him into the order where he became known as Angelo. The violence left him and he became a gentle and loving bother.

Peter Catanio

On March 2, 1247, Peter Catania died. As soon as he was buried his tomb caused many miracles. The people crowded to his grave and left many valuable gifts. The crowds disturbed the peace of the brothers and the valuable gifts gave them concern about their vow of poverty.

Francis was informed of the problem and went to the tomb. He said, “Brother Peter when you were alive you always obeyed me. I want you to obey me now. The people who are coming to your grave are causing us troubles. Our poverty is in jeopardy and our peace is disturbed. Therefore, I command you to stop performing miracles.”

Francis’ request was obeyed and no more miracles were performed by Peter.

When Francis could no longer tolerate the divisive act of Elias he appointed Peter minister general of the order. He served in that position until he died. Francis was compelled to reappoint Elias.


Q & A Francis G 102

“The most famous of the conversations between Francis and Leo is the one about perfect joy. It takes place along the road to Perugia, in the dead of winter. The two preachers are very cold. Francis begins relating his parable to Leo, who is marching two paces ahead of him, “Brother Leo! Even if the Friars Minor gave the finest example of sanctity and edifying behavior everywhere, write down and not carefully that that is not perfect joy.”

The two walked on for a moment in silence, and Francis spoke again, “Brother Leo! Even if Friar Minor restored sight to the blind, made the crooked straight, expelled demons, made the deaf hear, the lame walk, the mute speak – and an even greater miracle, raised those who had been dead for four days – write down that that is not perfect joy.”

Silence again. Then Francis said in a louder voice, “Brother Leo! Even if a Friar Minor know all languages and all sciences and all the Scriptures, so as to prophesy and reveal not only future event, but also the secrets of consciences and of hearts, write down that that is not perfect joy.”

Another interval of client walking. Then Francis spoke, “Brother Leo, little lamb of God! Even is a Friar Minor spoke in the tongue of the angels, knew the course of the stars and the properties of the herbs; even if all treasures of the earth were revealed to him, even if he knew the virtues of the birds and the fish, of all the animals and of men, trees, and rocks, of the roots and the waters, wrote down that that in not a perfect joy.”

Again they proceeded down the road in silence. And Francis spoke yet again, “Brother Leo! Even if the Friar Minor knew how to preach so well that he converted all the infidels to the Christian faith, write down that that is not a perfect joy.”

The fragmentary monologue of Francis had gone on for a league already, without his having conveyed his thought. Finally, Leo, wanting to know more about it, turned around and said, “Father, I beg you, in the name of God, please tell me where perfect joy is to be found.”

Then Francis, who perhaps was only waiting for this intervention explained himself at last: “When we arrive at Santa Maria degli Angeli, drenched as we are by the rain and chilled by the cold, spattered with mud, tormented with hunger, if we knock at the door of the friary, and the porter comes to ask us angrily, ‘Who are you?’ and we answer, ‘We are two of your brothers’, and he replies, ‘That’s not true. You are two scoundrels who go about deceiving the world and stealing alms from the poor. Off with you!’; and if he does not open the door for us and makes us stay outside in the snow and the rain, cold and hungry, until midnight; and if we endure so many insults, cruelties, and rebuffs without being disturbed and without murmuring; and if we think, in humility and charity, that this porter truly knows us and that God is the one who made him speak against us, then, O Brother Leo, write down that that is where perfect joy is found. And if we continue to knock, and he comes out furious and chases us away like importunate good-for-nothings, with insults and blows, crying ‘Away from here you villains, go to the inn, for you will find no food or lodgings here’; if we endure that patiently and gladly, in a true spirit of charity, then, O Brother Leo, write down that that is perfect joy. And if the hunger, the cold, and the darkness force us to knock yet again, to call and groan and beg him, for the love of God, to open the door for us, and he says, in an even greater fury, ‘Well, these certainly are importunate good-for-nothings! I will give them what they seserve’; and he comes after us with a knotty cudgel, grabs us by the cowl, throws us to the ground, rolls us on the snow, and strikes us with all the knots on his codgel; and if we endure all that patiently and happily, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Savior and that we chould put up with it for love of hi, O Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy.

Finally listen to the conclusion, Brother Leo. Over and above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit that Christ grants to his friends, there is the gift of conquering self, of enduring sufferings, insults, opprobrium, and inconveniences for the love of Christ; for we cannot boast about all the other gifts of God, since they do not come from us, but from God. But we can boast in the cross of tribulation and affliction, because that comes from us.”

Leo was the confessor of Francis and his secretary.

A few days before the death of Francis, Leo was sitting with him. He wanted something to remember Francis with and he thought about Francis tunic.

The next morning Francis who had a revelation of Leo’s thought, called Leo to his bedside and gave him his tunic. Francis said, “I give you my tunic. It still clothes my body but it is yours. In a few days it will clothe you.”

Because of Leo’s candor, Francis called him “The Sheen of God”, Pecorella Di Dio.


On his way from Mt. Alverno to Assisi, Francis due to his bad health and fatigue was riding a donkey. Brother Leonard who was also very tired was walking behind. Leonard was thinking to himself, “Father Francis’ parents were not equal to mine but yet he is riding and I am walking.”

Francis came to know his thoughts and dismounted the donkey and said that Leonard was correct, that Francis should not be riding because Leonard was of a more noble birth that he, Francis.

Leonard was shocked, surprised and ashamed, fell to his feet, acknowledged his short comings and with tears begged Francis’ forgiveness.


Francis would say he wished he had a whole forest of Junipers.

One time Juniper was taken for a spy in Viterbo. He was about to he hanged without protest when another friar came along dressed the same as Juniper. They had heard him preach and took his word as to Junipers innocence.

Juniper says he simply crowds out evil thought with other thoughts. He tells the devil to be gone there is no more room in the inn.

Juniper would give away too much of his tunic so he was immodest. So Francis ordered him to stop. A beggar asked him for his tunic. Juniper said he was prohibited from giving it away but if the beggar wanted to take it Juniper would not stop him. Francis was furious. Later Juniper brought Francis some soup because he was sure his throat was sore from yelling. Francis declined. So Juniper asked Francis to hold the candle while he ate it. He did not intend to throw it away. Francis relaxed and they ate together.

One day when Juniper was working in the hospital a sick brother said he would like to eat a pig foot. Juniper took a knife and found a heard of pigs, caught one, cut off its foot, cooked it, and served it to the sick brother. The Shepard reported it and his master went to see Francis. Francis told Juniper to go ask for forgiveness. Juniper found the owner and told him how good the sick brother felt after eating the foot. The owner ordered the pig roasted and took it to the brothers to eat.


Rufino was from a prominent Assisian family. He was very shy and it hampered his ability to preach. To overcome this, Francis requested that he remove his tunic to his waist, walk into town and preach. Rufino did as he was told. Francis was informed that the town’s people had jeered and laughed at him.

Francis hurried to town and removed his tunic to his waist and stood next to Rufino and put his hand around him. He then gave a sermon related to Christ’s nakedness on the cross to which the crowd listened intently and was inspired. Christ as he was naked and dying suffered jeers and insults.

A short time later Rufino had a dream in which the devil told him that he should leave St. Mary’s and the fraternity. The next day he left and disappeared for several months before Francis found him. When he found out what had happened he said, “Rufino, the next time the devil appears in a dream like that, just tell him if he opens his mouth like that again you will fill it with dung.”

Rufino was a first cousin of Clare and ___.

Rufino, Leo and Angelo wrote the first account of Francis and the order.


Bernard was the first to follow Francis. Francis had a deep respect for him.

In refusing money, Bernard told one benefactor, it is true we are poor but it is not a curse. God has made us poor by his grace.

Bernard was sent to Bologna by Francis. When he first began to preach in the square he was looked down upon and harassed because of his poor habit. Then one day a lawyer listened to him and asked him who he was. Bernard showed him the Rule. The lawyer was amazed and impressed.

He offered Bernard and his companions a furnished house and agreed to take care of him. Bernard accepted.

The people then accepted him and respected and honored him. They wanted to be close to him to touch his habit.

Bernard returned to Francis and asked him to send someone else to Bologna because Bernard was concerned that he would lose God’s grace if he continued to live there with so much respect and honor.

Francis agreed.

James the Simple

James was assigned to lepers. He cared for one so well he almost restored him. He took the leper from the hospital for a walk to St. Mary’s. Francis was upset and told him the lepers distress people and he should care for him in the hospital.

The leper was upset that Francis had chastised James. Francis realized what he had done, fell at the leper’s feet and begged his forgiveness for causing him pain.

Francis took the leper outside the convent and shared food with him out of the same bowl. He then embraced the leper and sent him home consoled.


Francis had asked the Benedictines for St. Mary is of the stony valley, close to Fabriano. They complied. He was traveling there and lost his way. And so he asked a ploughman to take him there. The ploughman objected because he had a field to plough but he stopped and escorted Francis and his companion to the church. He received Francis’ blessing and when he returned to his field, he found that the work had been completed.


A town neighboring Contanello was molested by wolves and plagued with hail. The wolves attacked and ate men and livestock and every year the hail destroyed their crops and damaged their vineyards, Francis informed then these troubles were due to their sins. He promised them if they gave credit to God, confessed their sins and repented they would be relived of their calamities and receive blessings. He warned them if they returned to their old ways the troubles would return twice as bad. The people agreed. The wolves disappeared and hail fell around their town and on their neighbors and their crops. In time they reverted to their old ways and wolves returned with a vengeance.


In the town of Toscanella, Francis received the hospitality of a knight whose son was lame in both legs and suffered though his whole body. The knight asked Francis to intercede with God on his son behalf. In time Francis placed his hands on the boy and made the sign of the cross on him. The boy stood up; his body healed.


In Gaeta, the people crowded him to touch him. He stepped onto a boat to avoid this praise which he felt he did not deserve. The boat floated out a bit and became stationary while Francis preached. When he finished the boat returned to shore.


Francis agreed to build a convent in Gaeta. While his work was in progress a beam fell and crushed a workman to death. He was being carried home when Francis was returning. He instructed them to put the dead man down. He made the sign of the cross over him, took him by the hand, called his name telling him to rise. The dead man got up and went back to work.


A female servant left a child alone and went to hear Francis speak. Returning she found the child half boiled in a copper pot. She hid the child in a trunk and later told the parents what happened. Francis was to dine with them and they determined not to show their grief. After dinner Francis asked for an apple. The parents said they had none. Francis insisted they did in the trunk which contained the child. The parents protested but Francis finally opened the trunk. The child sat up holding an apple in each hand. The father placed the child in the arms of Francis.


Francis could not attend all provincial Chapters due to their number and distance. At Arles, Anthony was preaching when a religious named Monald looked toward the door and saw Francis with his arms extended, blessing the assembly. Francis later acknowledged being there.


Near Cortona, Francis met a woman whose husband cruelly used her and prevented her from serving God. She was on her way to pray for her husband. Francis instructed her to tell her husband “Now is the time for mercy, later will be the time for justice.” The woman received Francis blessing. When she related to her husband what Francis had told her, the Holy Ghost descended on him. He immediately changed and said “Wife let us serve God and work out our salvation.” They loved for many more years together and died on the same day.


In Sarthiano, the men who were traveling with Francis tried to purchase food from the townsfolk with no success. Francis told them to put away their flies (money) and go back to those houses begging for the food and offering to pray for them as payment. The men acquired all they needed.


Once when traveling between Lombardy and the Treuisan marshes, Francis and Leo were overtaken by darkness. Leo asked Francis to pray that they be delivered from danger Francis replied “that God could provide them with the light they desired”. At that moment they were surrounded by light; which allowed them to see clearly. A convent was established there and named “Holy Fire” to mark the event.


Francis was staying with a poor charcoal dealer name Cotolai in Compostella. God informed Francis that he wanted a convent between the Valley of God and the Valley of Hell. The Benedictines owned the land. Francis negotiated with them for the right to build and offered his standard payment of a small basket of fish each year. The abbot agreed.

Francis then informed his host that he should build the convent. Cotolai asked how since he was very poor.

Francis instructed him to take his pick ax and dig a hole a little in front of a close by spring and there he would find a treasure with which to finance the construction of the convent. Cotolai did as Francis asked, found the treasure and built the convent know as St. Francis.


Due to his health, fatigue of traveling and the weather, Francis was exhausted and had to stop. He was only hungry for some wild foul. As he was relating that to Bernard, a knight rode up and presented him with a prepared meal of wild foul. “servant of God”, said the knight, “partake in what the Lord has sent you” and then disappeared. Francis ate the provisions, was strengthened, and rose up and continued on his journey to St. Mary’s.


In his first attempt to join the Crusades his ship was blown off course to Dalamatia. He would have to return to Italy but he could not afford the fare.

A stranger came aboard and gave him provisions to a passenger for Francis and his companion. The ship was caught in a storm and the crew ran out of their provisions. All that was left was the provisions for Francis and his companion.

Those provisions were miraculously multiplied, feeding all on board until they reached shore. The sailors thanked God for his mercy provided by Francis who the war refused on board because he had no money.


In the “Chapter of the Mats” in 1217 at St. Mary’s there were three thousand friars but no one had brought anything to eat. No one even considered that they may die of hunger. Without being asked, food and drink flowed in a steady stream from the nearby towns.


On his way to Siena to have a second operation to see if his eyesight could be restored, the group with Francis was near Radicofani.

Three young girls appeared who looked like triplets. They stopped in front of Francis and in unison said “Welcome to Lady Poverty”. After passing, the young girls disappeared.


The gospel of John ends by stating that if all the miracles of Jesus had been individually recorded, the world may not be able to hold all of the books. Francis’ ministry was 18 years, Jesus’ ministry was two. Like Jesus, Francis was 24/7 occupied with doing good.

In truth, it seems what Jesus could do, Francis could do. This is not hard to believe. Jesus told his disciples that they would be able to manifest even greater miracles than those he preformed.

Francis was a man of absolute faith in God. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will be able to say to the mountain move and it will move.


At Spoleto, a violent and profane man was on rampage in the town. He constantly insulted and cursed the friars as they went about their work. The brothers reported this to Francis. Francis called the brothers together to kneel down and pray for this man. As they stood up after prayer the profane man knocked at the door asking forgiveness though his tears of remorse.


At Fabriano, some work men would not stop making noise as he preached. He told them that their work would not be successful. They ignored him. A few days later the building they were working on collapsed.


One of the patients in one of the leper hospitals, in which the brothers were working, was very distressed. He would hit the friars and yell at them. The friars were tired of his blasphemes against Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Francis, went to speak to him and told him that sickness was from God to heal the soul. The man had believed that God had abandoned him.

Francis retired to pray. When he returned the man seemed much calmer. He prayed Francis would wash him because he could no longer tolerate the smell of his sickness.

As Francis washed him, his leprosy was cured. When Francis finished the man was healed.

After the man spent a short time in rigorous penance he died.

Later he appeared to Francis when he was praying. He identified himself as the leper. He told Francis he was going to heaven due to Francis intercession and he told Francis that many other souls would be saved through Francis.


Francis had the ability to communicate with all God’s creatures. In the end Francis saw God in everything. Creatures and stars, sun, moon, fire and water were all brothers and sisters to him; Children of God.


On his way back to Assisi from a frustrating mission he thought he would be more effective preaching to the birds. Shortly he saw a significant number of dove, crow, magpie, jackdaws near the road. He ran over to them. He felt them waiting on him and he said, “May the Lord give you peace.” When they did not fly away he asked them to listen to him.

Brothers you should praise God, your creator who gave you feathers and wings and whatever you need. He gave you a home in the sky. You don’t sow or reap and yet he feeds you. He protects and cares for you. The birds turned their heads, stretched their necks, and opened their beaks as if listening. He passed through them, touchinng them with his tunic, then he gave them permission to leave which they did.

From then on he encouraged them to praise and to love God.


At Alviano, Francis was about to speak but a large number of swallows nesting there were chirping and making noise. He said, “Sister swallows, you have said enough. It is my turn to speak. Be quiet and listen to the Lord’s word.” They fell silent until Francis was finished to everyone’s amazement.


He removed insects and worms from the road. In the winter, he would provide honey and wine for the bees.


At St. Mary’s, a cicada pleased Francis with its song each day. He said “Sister cicada come to me.” It would come to him and land on his hand. He told her to song and he would join her. He then asked her to return to her branch. This continued until he sent her away.


He loved larks, he said they were humble. They sing praises to God, when they fly – like good religious.

They are always directed to heaven praising God. Her feathers are dull earth colors not brightly colored garments.


In Umbria, in the town of Grubbio there was a wolf that created havoc, scaring the people, killing livestock, causing panic. People did not want to travel outside the city walls.

Francis preached there and heard all the stories and declared he would preach to the wolf. They thought he was mad to put himself in danger. He made the sign of the cross and walked out with a companion. The wolf appeared almost immediately. He made the sign of the cross and told the wolf to come to him so he could talk to him about Jesus.

The wolf came and curled up at his feet.

“Brother Wolf you are creating chaos wounding and killing God’s creatures and attacking humans. All the people hate you and want to kill you. I am here to make peace. If you stop your destruction they will forgive your past, and no longer pursue you.”

The citizens watched as the wolf acted like he understood.

“Brother wolf I know you acted out of hunger but if you stop I will see to it that you have plenty to eat. Do you agree?”

Francis shook the paw of the wolf and told the wolf to follow him without fear and they would make a pack in God’s name.

“My brothers and sisters if you fear the jaws of this wolf how much more should you fear the jaws of hell. This wolf can only kill the body. The fires of hell will torment the soul.

The citizens agreed to feed the wolf and the wolf held out his paw to Francis

The wolf lived another 2 years and died of old age. He went where he pleased and was well fed and not harassed. When he died, he was missed.


A lark built a nest close to the convent at Mount Columba. The mother bird came each day to eat from Francis hand. When the babies could fly the mother brought them to Francis.

Francis noticed one greedy bird pecked the others when they tried to eat. Francis preached to the greedy one. He told him he was greedy and would die a wretched death and no animal would eat him.

The next day the greedy bird was found dead in their water bowl. The body was thrown away but no animal would touch it.


Francis would release snared animals and netted fish.


When Francis was fasting on Alverno before he received the stigmata he made friends with a falcon. He would feed the falcon by day and at midnight the falcon would come to his cell and wake him for matins.


Francis came across a mixed herd of horses, cows and a small lamb being driven by their owner. The lamb could not keep up and Francis had pity on it. He wanted to buy it but had nothing but his tunic to offer. About that time a merchant came along and after understanding Francis wishes, purchased the lamb and gave it to him.

Francis took the lamb to the poor Clares who cared for it and sent Francis a tunic woven from its hair every year.


In Rome in 1222 a lamb attached itself to Francis and followed him everywhere. When he left Rome he made a present of it to Jacoba. She was delighted.

When she would go to church it would follow her and be silent during the service. It would also wake her each morning and if she did not respond to his bleating the lamb would push her with his head until she got out of bed.


At St. Mary’s Francis was given a lamb by a friend. He gave it to the friars to care for after he gave it instructions on proper behavior.

When the friars would chant their office the lamb would kneel down as if in prayer. During the chanting she would also bleat and leap before the altar. When the holy sacraments were raised she would kneel in reverence.


One day Francis met a young man who had captured two doves and was taking them to market to sell. Francis convinced the young man to give him the doves. He took the doves to the convent at Baucciano where they became so familiar with the friars that they would eat out of their hands.

The young man joined the order and did well. He died young and in peace.


One day a mother of two of the brothers came to St. Mary’s for help. She had no money and owned nothing. The mothers of the brothers were considered his mothers as well.

Francis asked Peter what they had to give her. Peter said the only thing they had was a copy of the New Testament for reading. Books were expensive.

Francis told Peter to give her the book that the mother of Jesus would prefer the woman to have the book as opposed to the brothers reading from it.

The woman sold the book and lived off the proceeds for two years.


Francis had also told Peter that if they could not give alms to the poor who came to them to take the adornments from the altar and give them as alms. Francis believed the mother of Jesus would rather a plain altar than the gospel of Jesus ignored.


Preach by example because words produce little effect when they are not backed up by example. To preach one thing and live another is hypocrisy.


Dear brothers our mission is to bring salvation and save many souls. Let us live by example more than by our words. Let us encourage the people to repent and to penance and follow the commandments. The Holy Spirit will speak through you. You will encounter those who will welcome you with joy and those who resist your words and insult you. Be resolved to endure it all in humility and with patience.

Embrace Lady Poverty. Possess nothing except your habit. Become attached to nothing.

Travel in pairs. Observe silence for the first three hours of the day. Do not engage in idle talk. Always be as humble as in your cell. Our bodies are the cells which our souls inhabit. Our bodies inhabit the cells of our hermitage.

Perfect joy G.102

In Leo’s bio add Q&A between Francis and Leo wanting to be criticized G-102


A corpse is an example of perfect obedience. It does not complain bout where it is placed. Does not ask to be moved. Does not seek a more honored seat. Goes where it is send without question.


One day upon leaving Bari, Francis and his companion passed a purse of money. His companion thought it should be given to the poor. Francis said it was the devils trap. If it was lost it would not be right to give it away even to the poor.

The companion would not let the matter rest. So Francis returned to the purse and instructed the companion to pick it up. The companion became apprehensive but did as Francis asked.

When he touched the purse and large poisonous snake crawled out and took the purse into the bush.

Brother Francis said, “Money is to the servants of God a poisonous snake if not the devil himself.”



The brothers never passed a church without going in. They would pray, “We adore thee o most Holy Lord Jesus Christ! Here in all thy churches which are in the entire world, and we bless thee for having redeemed the world by thy holy cross.”

Lord’s Prayer 1727 309 Michu 123

“’Our Father,’ most happy and most holy, our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Consoler. ‘Who art in Heaven;’ in the angels, in the saints, in the illuminated, in order that they know Thee, who inflamest them, and Thou are their Beatitude by satiating them: Thou are the Sovereign and Eternal Good, from whom all good proceeds, and without Thee there is no other good. ‘Hallowed be Thy name:’ in order this to make Thyself known to us by vivid light, so that we may see the full extent of Thy bounty, the duration of Thy promises, the sublimity of Thy majesty, and the depth of Thy judgment. ‘Thy Kingdom come:’ in order that Thou mayest reign in us by grace, and that Thou mayest bring us to Thy Kingdom, where Thou art clearly and perfectly loved, where we become happy in Thy society, and where Thou art eternally enjoyed. ‘Thy will be done on earth at it is in Heaven:’ in order that we may love Thee ‘with our whole hearts,’ thinking always of Thee ‘with our whole soul,’ ever longing for Thee, ‘with all our mind,’ referring to Thee all our views, seeking Thy glory in all things; ‘with all our strength,’ employing in Thy service, for Thy love, all the strength,’ of our bodies and souls, without making any other use of them; that we may love our neighbor as ourselves, using all our efforts to draw them to Thy love; rejoicing in all the good that happens to them, as if it was our own; being grieved at any ills which may befall them, and giving offense to none. ‘Give us this day our daily bread:’ it is Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ; we ask Thee for Him, in order to remind us of the love He has shown us, and of what He has said, done and endured for us; we ask Thee to make us fully comprehend these things, and cause us to revere them. ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ by Thy infinite mercy, by the passion of Thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the elect. ‘As we forgive them that trespass against us:’ what may not be altogether remitted on our part, grant us the favor, O Lord! to remit entirely, in order that, for love of Thee, we may sincerely love out enemies, and may intercede for them fervently at Thy throne; that we may not render to any one evil for evil, and that in thee we may endeavor to do good to all. ‘And lead us not into temptation,’ hidden, manifest, sudden, grievous. ‘But deliver us from evil:’, past, resent, and to come. Amen: willingly and gratuitously”


St. Francis was one of God’s special human beings. He was a Christian but there are others like him who are Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and others who experience God through a religious metaphor other than Christianity. But only Jesus came to the world human society with a peace and love message. In time Christianity will swallow all the other major religions. By swallow I mean integrate and incorporate into Christianity, even as they remain distinct religions. Christianity has already done this with Judaism.

The point is that St. Francis was a rare human being but not totally unique. There were others before him and others will continue to come after him. He was a servant/Disciple/Apostle of Jesus, Jesus was Francis’ master. His love. Had Francis been a Buddhist, his life would have been the same except he would have taught his message with Buddhist metaphors.

However Francis was needed in the Western world. Christianity needed him. And so he was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. Advance souls like Francis come into this reality by agreement with God to teach. Before Francis was born, his destiny was set. This is not predestination; this is God and Francis agreeing that Francis would attempt to accomplish a mutually agreed goal of bolstering Christianity at a critical time in the history of the church.

Most of the soul’s memory of the pre birth reality is forgotten. The soul incarnates into a human body and then it goes through a long process of orientation. The mission to earth for one like Francis is never easy.

In addition to learning how to function as a human, these missionaries must always contend with the initial fear and hatred of anyone who challenges the traditional/conventional wisdom and myths. Once that is overcome then the bureaucrats who know how to manipulate the masses take the message of the missionary and skew it to fit the demands of those lesser souls who need to incorporate it into their lives.

These lesser disciples are necessary to spread the message. They are necessary to make the message acceptable to the masses and to do that the pure truth and light of the missionary must always be toned down. The high impact truth of the missionary undiluted will burn up the average human being. It will make their heads explode.

God cannot send angels to found religions and teach spirituality because the masses can barely embrace the message of a human missionary.

Jesus came to the earth as a human being. After he was crucified and his body died, he returned as a heavenly being, as no other religious missionary has done. Jesus returned to show his heavenly image, which all four gospels say, no one recognized. They did not recognize him until he spoke. Then they knew him

All through human history God has spoken to the world human society through human beings, some greater than St. Francis and some lesser but all have been human beings.

Those with missions like Francis must be careful and not allow others to fully see their gifts and they seldom tell all they know.

Jesus walked on water; Francis levitated when he was in ecstasy. If he was born in the 21st century Jesus walking on water would not be believed. People would want to know how the trick was performed. The result is that the world human society has become more trapped in confusion and believes the earth reality is the true reality, that this finite mortal world is the infinite immortal heaven. The human God of technology and science have blinded human beings to the truth that all things connected to the tangible earth are nothing but a dream; a mirage.

Francis’ story is true. He is a bridge back to the truth of Jesus. He is a lighted highway back to heaven.

In Jesus’ time sickness and pain and suffering were attributed to evil spirits. Today there is an arrogance that science and medicine and the solution to all human ills and diseases. The reality is that some sickness is biologically related but some is due to a spiritual chaos and confusion. Some people do not respond to medical treatments. Some don’t respond because even though the symptoms indicate a certain medical cause, the reality is that the cause is spiritual and that requires a spiritual cure.

Jesus’ mission was to lead people from the darkness of attachment to and confusion in the earth back to the infinite immortal light of heaven and Francis was one of his later day apostles, carrying the same message in a Christian metaphor.


Chalippe, Father Candide, The Life and Legends of St. Francis of Assisi (1727), New York, 1917

Chesterton, G.K., St. Francis of Assisi, New York; Doubleday & CO. 1924

Gobry, Ivan, Saint Francis of Assisi, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2006

Magliano, Very Rev. Pamfilo DA, OSF, The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi and a Sketch of the Franciscan Order, New York, 1867, Univ of Michigan Univ Library Reprint

Spoto, Donald, Reluctant Saint – The Life of Francis of Assisi, New York, Penguin Compass, 2002


1) “Lord let me be an instrument of the peace” is the first line of an anonymous poem written during WWI, the war to end all wars. It was printed on the back of a card with a picture of God and Francis on it in 1919 and distributed. It was then copied by others and disseminated in the world human society. The friar who first printed it said the poem sounded like something God and Francis would write.

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