Francis of Assisi
This week’s text is based around the famous but slightly bizarre character of Francis of Assisi. Francis was born in 1181 into a very affluent family his father being a rich merchant. He became a hermit in his late 20s displeasing both his father and a local bishop when famously he strips naked handing back his clothes to his father. Above everything Francis hated money. He believed that money was “the devil” he believed that his followers should run from as if they were running from the devil itself. The accounts in Thomas’s of Celano’s second life of St Francis of the punishment of his fellow brothers when they come into contact with money reaffirm this claim. Francis believed that he was called to lead an apostolic life which meant for him absolute poverty. He made sure that he owned nothing. He went off out into the world to proclaim the gospels and preach about repentance. He did not set out to found a monastic order. All he was concerned with was leading a holy life and preaching the gospel but his vision was so attractive that it appealed to many young men like him, comfortable middle- class idealistic lay men. Francis encouraged them to sell all their goods and possessions and set out barefoot into the world. Attitudes to missionary work
Francis had a burning desire for martyrdom he believed that this was the purpose of his ministry. This leads him to go off as a missionary. Syria is his fixed destination and after a few attempts he finally gets there. Expecting to die in Syria, he stood in front of the Sultan who was amazed and moved by Francis’s contempt for wealth and status. The Sultan said he was a man like no others. Francis believed that he the way to be a missionary was to stay true to the values that founded his faith and to hold strong to God. He instructed his brothers that there were two ways in which they could go out and live on missionaries. They should not cause any conflicts and treat all humans in the...
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