Galatians 1:13-24; Psalm 138(139):1-3,13-15; Luke 10:38-42
Saint Francis of Assisi, orig. Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone, died Oct. 3, 1226, Assisi; canonized July 16, 1228; feast day October 4), Italian saint and founder of the Franciscan religious order. Born into a wealthy family, he was a soldier and prisoner of war before he experienced a conversion in his early 20s. He sold his property, gave the proceeds to the church, and began a life of poverty and devoutness. He soon attracted followers, whom he sent to preach throughout Europe, and in 1209 Innocent III gave approval for the Franciscan order. The Rule of St. Francis stressed the need to imitate the life of Jesus - a message we see frequently in the writings of Pope Francis. In many ways a mystic, Francis viewed all nature as a mirror of God, calling all creatures his brothers and sisters. In 1212 he allowed formation of an order for women, called the Poor Clares. In 1219 he went to Egypt, preached to the sultan, and visited the holy places of Jerusalem. In 1224, after a vision, he became the first person to receive the stigmata. His influence helped restore popular faith in a church much corrupted by wealth and political aspirations.