Francis was the son of Peter Bernardone, an Italian merchant. He was a generous, light-hearted man, not at all the son his father had envisioned taking over his cloth business. Francis longed to become a knight, and after an experience in battle and subsequent imprisonment, Francis became ill and his conversion process had begun.
After recovering, he reached out to the poor and outcasts in society, notably lepers, and shared his material resources generously. He even began to repair churches in Assisi, after hearing the Lord tell him to rebuild the church. His father was outraged at his behaviour, and brought him before the bishop of Assisi. Francis returned his father's material possessions, and professed his love for God above all else.
After hearing the Gospel in which Our Lord commissions His apostles to carry no possessions, Francis recognized God's will in his life and began a radical penitential movement. Others joined him, living in poverty, traveling, and preaching. They called themselves the friars minor, and Pope Innocent III gave approval.
A second order, this one for women, was established and headed by Saint Clare. Francis showed a great love for all of creation, and is known for his songs and poetry praising God in creation. His love of the crucified Christ filled his heart, and, two years before his death, he received the stigmata (sacred wounds) on his body.
Francis died in 1226. His feast day is October 4th.
Prayer of St. Francis
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.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master; grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour, 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 bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy, all weather's moods, by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister, Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, by You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death, from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, And serve Him with great humility.
St. Francis' Vocation Prayer
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.
St. Francis' Meditation Prayer
My God and My All!
St. Francis' Prayer in Praise of God Given to Brother Leo
You are holy, Lord, the only God, and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true.
You are love.
You are wisdom.
You are humility.
You are endurance.
You are rest.
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage.
You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord, God Almighty, Merciful Saviour.
Prayer of St. Francis Before the Blessed Sacrament
We adore You, O Lord Jesus Christ, in this Church and all the Churches of the world, and we bless You, because, by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
St. Francis' Prayer Praising Mary the Mother of Jesus
Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen, Mary, Mother of God, ever Virgin. You were chosen by the Most High Father in heaven, consecrated by Him, with His most Holy Beloved Son and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
On you descended and still remains all the fullness of grace and every good. Hail, His Palace. Hail His Tabernacle. Hail His Robe. Hail His Handmaid. Hail, His Mother. And Hail, all holy Virtues, who, by grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state, they may be made faithful servants of God through you.