Who was Saint Francis of Assisi?
But who was Saint Francis, and why did he become so important?
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Italy and the founder of the Franciscan Brotherhood. But in his day, he was a simple friar, not even a fully ordained priest, who made waves around his hometown of Assisi because he preached to ordinary people. At that time, this simply wasn’t done.
His dedication to a life of poverty and his affinity for all living creatures earned him a following so great that he was canonized just two years after his death. This amazing man left his mark, not just within the Catholic community, but the town of his birth as well.
Assisi is located in the Umbria region of Italy and is home to exquisite Renaissance churches, castles, murals, and works of art. A place of pilgrimage, Assisi has an aura of peace and tranquility in this rapidly changing world.
Perhaps the most famous of its many chapels is the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi. Begun after his death in 1226, this Basilica now houses St. Francis’ Franciscan monks, two chapels, and the saints remains.
The town is full of the gentle saints presence. From the church he was baptized in, to places he preached and lived, his open and accepting nature still fills the town. It’s palpable and people often describe feeling closely connected with St. Francis while visiting.
St. Francis was born to a rich merchant and lived a fully decadent and materialistic life while growing up. As a young man he went to war and it was during this period that he felt his calling to return to Assisi and preach.
He took a pilgrimage to Rome and joined with beggars to ask for alms. It was at this time that he took his vow of poverty. He took this vow so seriously that his order of monks were often referred to as “lesser monks,” in their efforts to fully imitate the life of Christ and live with no possessions.
St. Francis had a kind of transcendalist view and saw the divinity of nature. He often referred to Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and Sister Death. He is well known for preaching to animals and for viewing all of creation, two legged and otherwise, as capable of honoring and praising God.
Perhaps it is for this reason that his legacy continues to this day. He was not concerned with dogma so much as open hearted living. He reached out to people in all walks of life and his genuine and sincere desire to help others live fully still permeate the town.
Body Mind Spirit Journeys is now registering participants for a pilgrimage to Assisi in the spring of 2015. It is an opportunity to experience for yourself St. Francis’ message and his life’s work – it’s a powerful and moving place that won’t fail to touch you deeply! For full details, including the Early Bird Discount if you sign up before November 1, 2014, please visit http://bodymindspiritjourneys.com/assisi-retreat.html