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Francis was born in Assisi, a charming hill town in the Italian region of Umbria. His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy cloth merchant who traded often in France, and his mother, Pica, is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence. Though baptized “John”, their only son was called “Francesco” or “the Frenchman”.
St. Francis of Assisi giving his father his clothesYoung Francis had an expansive nature and was a lover of life, spending his father’s money lavishly. He was also devoted to romantic chivalry then being extolled by troubadours.

At twenty he fought for Assisi against Perugia and was imprisoned for a year. Later, he sought to join another general, and bought a handsome horse and outfit, but meeting a poor man on the way, gave him his clothes. Taken ill, he heard a voice that invited him to fight for “the master” rather than the man.

As he prayed in the Church of San Damiano, he heard a voice coming from the crucifix: “Francis go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Thinking he was ordered to rebuild the crumbling church, he sold a bolt of cloth, and his horse and offered the money to the pastor who refused to use it.

St. Francis of AssisiFrom then on, young Francis embarked upon a spiritual path that culminated in his father publicly disowning him. In a dramatic gesture, Francis handed his father all his clothes, and was covered by the bishop’s cloak. He then set out to beg alms to repair churches in his area. Knowing him, the town’s people mocked him, all of which he bore joyfully.

Francis had fallen in love with “Lady Poverty”, leaving all to find ALL. His was the calling to counteract the worldly spirit then infecting society, so contrary to the spirit of the Gospel that had built the Middle Ages.

Around the small chapel of Portiuncula, in the valley below Assisi, he built a first community of wood and mud huts. As others joined him, the community grew to the point that he sought approval of Pope Innocent III in Rome, who, having had a dream of Francis holding up God’s falling church, blessed his Order.

Out of humility, Francis gave his order the name of “Friars Minor”, and never sought ordination, thinking himself unworthy of such an honor.

He also co-founded a feminine branch of the Franciscans with St. Clare of Assisi.

In the fall of 1212, St. Francis resolved to go and preach to the Muslims. His first two attempts were foiled, and he returned to Italy where he preached extensively.

In 1219 he went into Egypt with the Crusading army, and fearlessly sought and faced Sultan Malek-al-Kamil, who, impressed with his teaching, invited the monk to stay with him, but, ultimately, did not make a commitment.

Disappointed, Francis returned to Italy to face a crisis developing in his Order, now spread throughout Europe. In response to a movement attempting to overturn his initial ideal of strict poverty, he revised his rule. The form ultimately approved by Pope Honorius III in 1223 substantially represented the spirit of St. Francis.

In August of 1224, Francis retired with a companion to Mount Alvernia where he was granted the stigmata of Christ. As his health worsened, the wounds were a source of further pain and weakness and he also became nearly blind.

He died surrounded by his spiritual sons, laying on the floor as he had requested, exhorting his brethren to love of God, of poverty and of the Gospel, “before all other ordinances”.

He was forty five, and was canonized only two years later by Pope Gregory IX.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 22, 2021

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God rather for s...

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April 22

 

Mary was raised to the dignity of Mother of God
rather for sinners than for the just, since
Jesus Christ declares that
He came to call not the just, but sinners.

St. Anselm

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Theodore of Sykeon

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second...

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St. Theodore of Sykeon

Born in the Roman Galatian town of Sykeon in Asia Minor, Theodore was the son of a woman of ill repute, who kept an inn along the imperial highway.

As a child, he was so given to prayer that he would often give up a meal to spend time in church. From an early age he shut himself up first in the cellar of his mother’s house and then in a cave beneath a disused chapel. Later, for a time, seeking to further escape the world, he sought solitude on a mountain.

On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem Theodore assumed a monk’s habit, and though only eighteen years of age, was ordained a priest by his own bishop. His life was most austere, wearing an iron girdle about his body and only sparingly partaking of vegetables.

Endowed with the gift of prophecy and miracles, on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he obtained abundant rain after a severe drought.

Theodore founded several monasteries, and ruled as abbot in Sykeon. He was consecrated Bishop of Anastasiopolis, though he deemed himself totally unfitted. After ten years he succeeded in relinquishing his post and retired to Sykeon.

From Sykeon he was recalled to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate and there healed one of the Emperor’s sons of a skin disease, reputedly leprosy.

Theodore had a great devotion to St. George and did much to propagate devotion to him.

He died in Sykeon on April 22, 613.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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