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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Saint Francis of Assisi was born by the name Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone (1881/1882). He was an Italian, Catholic Friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscian Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the lay Third Order of St. Francis. St. Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high- life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier. While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that guided him back to Assisi, where he lost his desire for his worldly life. On a Pilgrimage to Rome, Francis begged with the beggars at St. Peter's Basilica. He was so moved by this experience that he then took a vow of poverty.
When Francis returned home to Assisi he began preaching on the streets, and soon had a following of his own. His order was endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210.
Saint Francis had a great devotion and veneration for Christ crucified and never ceased to preach this devotion till his death
Francis is credited as having arranged for the first Christmas manger scene in 1223. A year later, he received the Stigmata making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion. He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141.
It was on July 16, 1228, when he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. St. Francis of Assisi is known as the patron saint of animals, the environment and is one of the two patrons of Italy. It has become customary today for Catholic Schools and Churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his Feast Day which is October 4th each year.