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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 January 21, 2020

All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going...

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January 21

 

All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.


Pope St. Pius X


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Agnes

Even pagans were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant...

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St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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