| Who we are St. Francis of Assisi |
|Who we are |
St. Francis of Assisi
Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.
Voice from the crucifix of San Damiano
We were simple and subject to all.
Testament of St. Francis of Assisi, 19
May the Lord give you peace.
Testament, 23; universal Franciscan greeting
Francis (1182-1226) grew up in the small town of Assisi in central Italy,
where he lived most of the time and is buried in the Basilica of San Francis.
* son of a rich cloth merchant
* leader of young people
* captured in a local war with Perugia 
* ambitious to fight in a crusade and become a knight 
But: solitude, illness and inner voices lead to a radical change and a new direction in life (people say "he has gone mad!").
Conversion / New Life
* Francis sells his horse, gives away his armour and returns to Assisi
* he discovers the beauty of nature and searches for meaning in life
* he crosses all social barriers by embracing a leper, the outcast of that time
* from the cross of San Damiano, Christ calls him to rebuild the Church
* Francis listens to Jesus and his word in the gospel and shapes his life according to it
* he breaks his family ties and lives without anything of his own
* he shocks many and attracts others, who ask to share his life
* with his companions he wanders round Italy and beyond, proclaiming the goodness of God the Saviour, peace and reconciliation.
Beginnings of the Franciscan Movement
* Men, women and families ask to follow Francis: brothers gather around him (First Order), he asks Clare of Assisi to organize the sisters (Second Order) and assists the movement of the lay people (Third or Secular Order)
* He writes a short rule and has it approved by the Pope.
* severe health problems create great suffering: Francis receives the stigmata and composes the Canticle of Creatures.
* He dies among his brothers, naked on the earth before his hut, and is buried in Assisi (1226).
* The Order grows and spreads very fast but the absence of the charismatic founder strains its unity.
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