Throughout history, there have been many people who have been fortunate to obtain title of "saint" from the church. However one such saint, despite his death centuries ago, continues to influence people today through his prayers, good deeds, and notably his establishment of the largest religious orders today, the Franciscans and the Franciscan Nuns, or Poor Clares. This man is St. Francis of Assisi. A mystic as well as a preacher, St. Francis, "lover of all creation", gave up his life of riches in order to care for the unfortunate. What would drive a rich young man to sacrifice every material asset he had, including his time, to serve lepers and beggars? This paper will examine how the patron saint of Italy transformed his lifestyle to live in poverty and serve the Lord.
Originally named Giovanni Francesco Bernardone at his birth in Umbria, Italy, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) led a youth filled with money and festivities. He grew up in high medieval Italy, during the "time of the Crusades, provincial revolts, class divisions, famine, beggars and lepers". He received little academic education, yet since his father was a rich cloth merchant, perhaps Francis one day would take over the business. Francis' father attempted to teach him to be a great businessman, in hopes that he would one day take over the cloth business. However, Francis as a wealthy gentleman centered his life on giving away money and merrymaking. Despite this, St. Francis of Assisi carried himself as a very thoughtful and polite young man.
When Francis was twenty years old, Assisi declared war on its longtime enemy, the neighboring city of Perugia. Most of the troops from Assisi were butchered during combat. Francis volunteered to aid Assisi, however was taken captive and imprisoned for one year in a dark and cold dungeon after the first major battle. Despite this, he
remained very optimistic and cheerful. However, upon his liberation he became...
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