- NAME: St. Francis of Assisi
- OCCUPATION: Saint
- BIRTH DATE: c. 1181
- DEATH DATE: October 03, 1226
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Assisi, duchy of Spoleto, Italy
- PLACE OF DEATH: Assisi, Italy
- AKA: St. Francis of Assisi
- Full Name: Saint Francis of Assisi
- AKA: Saint Francis
- AKA: San Francesco d'Assisi
- Originally: Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone
- AKA: St. Francis
Best Known For
St. Francis of Assisi abandoned a life of luxury for a life devoted to Christianity after reportedly hearing the voice of God, who commanded him to rebuild the Christian Church and live in poverty. He is the patron saint for ecologists.
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Also during this time, he would later report, he began to receive visions from God.
Finally, after a year of negotiations, Francis's ransom was accepted and he was released from prison in 1203. When he came back to Assisi, however, Francis was a very different man. Upon his return, he was dangerously sick in both mind and body—a shell-shocked casualty of war. He had fought and lost in a bitter, bloody war, and was left with mental and physical scars.
One day, as he would later report, whilst riding on a horse in the local countryside, Francis encountered a leper—regarded, at the time, as the lowest of the low, an untouchable. Previously, Francis would have run from the leper, but on this occasion, his behavior was very different. Viewing the leper as a symbol of moral conscience—or as Jesus incognito, according to some religious scholars—he embraced and kissed him, later describing the experience as a feeling of sweetness in his mouth. After this incident, Francis felt released from many of his inhibitions. Suddenly, his earlier life of wine, women and song had lost all of its appeal.
Subsequently, Francis, now in his early 20s, began turning his focus toward God. Instead of working, he spent an ever-increasing amount of time at a remote mountain hideaway as well as in old, quiet churches around Assisi, praying and looking for answers. During this time, while praying before an old Byzantine crucifix at the church of San Damiano, Francis reportedly heard the voice of Christ, who told him to rebuild the Christian Church and to live a life of extreme poverty. Thusly, Francis abandoned his life of luxury and devoted his life to Christianity. He began preaching around Assisi and was soon joined by 12 loyal followers.
Some regarded Francis as a madman or a fool, but others viewed him as one of the greatest example of how to live the Christian ideal since Jesus Christ himself. Whether he was really touched by God, or simply a man misinterpreting hallucinations brought on by mental illness and/or poor health—following his release from prison, he was incredibly sleep-deprived and malnourished—one thing is for certain: Francis of Assisi quickly became well-known throughout the Christian world.
After his epiphany at the church of San Damiano, Francis experienced a defining moment in his life. In order to raise money to rebuild the Christian Church, he stole a bolt of cloth and a horse from his father. His father became furious upon learning of his son's crimes, and subsequently dragged Francis before the local bishop. The bishop told Francis to return his father's money, to which his reaction was extraordinary: He stripped off his clothes and passed them, along with the money, back to his father, declaring that God was now the only father he recognized; this event is credited as Francis's final conversion, and there is no indication that Francis and his father ever spoke again thereafter.
The bishop gave Francis a rough tunic, and dressed in these new humble clothes, Francis left Assisi.
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