top of page

St. Francis of Assisi

The earliest existing portrayal of St. Francis is a fresco at the entrance of the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco. It was painted in 1228 or 1229. St. Francis is depicted without the stigmata, emphasizing that it is a religious representation rather than a portrait.

St. Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1181 or 1182 in Assisi, Italy, is one of the most beloved and influential saints in the history of Christianity. His life, marked by radical poverty, humility, and a deep love for all of God's creation, has left an enduring legacy that transcends denominational boundaries.

Francis was born into a wealthy family, and his father, a successful cloth merchant, had grand expectations for his son to follow in his footsteps. Francis, however, was drawn to a different path. He was known for his charming personality, generosity, and love for the troubadour lifestyle, enjoying parties and socializing.

His life took a dramatic turn when he encountered Christ. While praying in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, Francis heard the crucifix speak to him, saying, "Francis, go and repair my house, which, as you see, is falling into ruin." Taking these words literally, he initially set out to physically repair the crumbling church building. However, as he continued to reflect on God's message, he realized that a more profound calling awaited him.

Embracing a life of radical conversion, Francis renounced his wealth and embraced a life of poverty, simplicity, and service to God. He famously stripped off his expensive clothes and handed them back to his father, choosing to wear a simple tunic instead. This symbolic gesture marked the beginning of his commitment to Lady Poverty and became a cornerstone of the Franciscan way of life.

Francis sought to live the Gospel in its most literal sense, following the example of Jesus and His apostles. He embraced a life of itinerant preaching, traveling from town to town, preaching repentance, love for God and neighbor, and the joy of Christian discipleship. He attracted followers who were inspired by his charisma and the authenticity of his message.

In 1209, Pope Innocent III gave verbal approval to the "Rule of Life" that Francis had composed for his followers, and the Order of Friars Minor (commonly known as the Franciscans) was officially recognized. The Franciscan order was characterized by a vow of poverty, simplicity of lifestyle, and an emphasis on itinerant preaching and service to the poor.

Francis' love for all of God's creation extended beyond human beings to include animals and nature. Legend has it that he preached to the birds and once tamed a fierce wolf that was terrorizing the town of Gubbio. His famous Canticle of the Sun, also known as the Canticle of the Creatures, is a beautiful expression of his deep connection with all elements of creation.

"Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful."

Francis' journey was not without challenges. As the Franciscan order grew, internal debates emerged about how to interpret and live out the commitment to poverty. Francis, ever faithful to his original vision, even went to Rome to seek approval for a strict interpretation of poverty, known as the "Rule of 1223." The order was eventually divided into different branches, but the spirit of Francis endured.

In 1224, Francis experienced a profound mystical encounter on Mount La Verna, north of Assisi, Italy. During this event, known as the stigmata, Francis received the wounds of Christ on his hands, feet, and side. This mystical experience was a sign of his union with Christ's suffering and became a central element of his spirituality.

Toward the end of his life, Francis dealt with various health issues, including blindness, but he continued to inspire and guide his followers. He composed the Canticle of Brother Sun during his final years, praising God for the beauty of creation.

St. Francis of Assisi died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44. He was canonized just two years later by Pope Gregory IX. His feast day is celebrated on October 4th.

The Franciscan order, with its commitment to poverty, humility, and joyful service, has continued to thrive, and there are millions of Franciscan followers worldwide. St. Francis' influence is not limited to the Catholic Church; he is admired and respected by many, regardless of religious affiliation, for his embodiment of love, peace, and simplicity.


The legacy of St. Francis is visible in the countless churches, schools, and hospitals named after him, as well as the ongoing work of Franciscan communities around the globe. His example challenges individuals to reassess their priorities, emphasizing the importance of love, humility, and stewardship.

Famous Quotes

St. Francis of Assisi left behind a legacy of inspiring words. Here are some famous quotes attributed to St. Francis:

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy."

"It is in giving that we receive."

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

"Lord, grant me the grace to desire more and more to empty my heart of all that is not of You, so that You may come and make Your home in me."

"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance."

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

"Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them whenever they require it."

"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received — only what you have given."

"True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice."

"Love is not loved."

"A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows."

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

bottom of page