St. Francis of Assisi
Feast Day – October 4
Throughout the world, East to West, in nearly all cultures, St. Francis of Assisi is likely the best known and most beloved of all the saints.
Born in 1182 to a merchant family of Assisi and a life of ease, (John) Francis Bernadone, he died at just 45 years of age in 1226. By then, he was a poor man by choice, dying with just a simple religious habit in worldly goods – but bequeathing a heritage of love that only God could properly value, a heritage that people of every age share anew and in new ways.
The church declared Francis of Assisi a saint in 1228, just two years after his death. He was widely celebrated then and into modern times for many reasons:
Francis remains among the greatest mystics the Church has produced, a man who truly united his life with Jesus (he was the first to receive the stigmata, the wounds of the Lord’s Passion, on his own body).
Francis experienced the world which God created as holy people, animals, plant life, the cosmos. And he opened all our eyes to that loving presence of God.
Francis, both brave and foolish as the world sees things, talked to the world’s powerful -but he mostly walked among lepers, lonely children, and God’s holy poor, on behalf of the Good Shepherd.
And Francis founded a new kind of church community, the Franciscans, a religious order that still lives wherever God’s people long to know their heritage as children of God.
But perhaps what makes Francis so loved in every age is the way he prayed and taught others to pray. For St. Francis experienced Jesus risen and living in our hearts – if only we opened the door and let Him in.
St. Francis, be our model and guide as we come to the Lord in prayer.