Saint Francis

The Life of Francis

Francis of Assisi was born in Assisi (Italy) in 1181/1182. After a carefree youth, he converted and the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as Franciscans, originated from him. A young woman, Clare of Assisi, wanted to share his choice of life and the Order of the Poor Clares, later to be called Poor Clares, was born from her.

He also inspired the birth of the Franciscan Third Order, now called the Secular Franciscan Order. In 1219-1220 Francis travelled to Egypt, where he met the Sultan; this meeting also inspired the birth of the Custody of the Holy Land, which is the ancient Franciscan presence in Jerusalem and the holy places.

In 1224, on the mountain of La Verna, Francis received the stigmata. The following year he composed the Canticle of Brother Sun, a poetic prayer of praise to God the creator of everything; this prayer and his attitude of respect for creation inspired his proclamation (1979) as the patron saint of ecologists. Francis died on 4 October 1226 in Assisi and was declared a saint in 1228.

The Story of Francis


Born in Assisi, he was baptised Giovanni di Pietro Bernardone, called Francis by his father.

1199 – 1200

Guerra civil en Asís. Muchas familias nobles se refugiaron en Perusa.

1202 (November)

War between Perugia and Assisi. The latter is defeated at Collestrada. Francis spends a year in captivity (falls ill) until ransomed by his father.


A long period of illness and convalescence.


Francis sets out to join the army of Walter de Brienne. Returns after a vision and message in Spoleto. Beginning of a gradual period of conversion.

1205 (Fall)

Message of the Crucifix at San Damiano, Conflict with his father.

1206 (January or February)

Trial before the Bishop.

1206 (Spring)

Francis nurses the lepers.

1206 (Summer)

Returns to Assisi and begins to rebuild San Damiano; end of conversion process.

1206 (Summer to January or February)

He repairs San Damiano, San Pietro della Spina and Our Lady of the Angels “Portiuncula”.

1208 (24 February)

Francis hears the Gospel for the Feast of St. Matthias.

1208 (April 16)

Bernard of Quintavalle and the priest, Peter Cattani join him. Others follow.

1208-1209 (Fall and Winter)

Francis is assured of the pardon of his sins and the growth of his fraternity. They go out two by two to preach penance.


Francis writes a brief Rule for himself and his eleven friars. They receive the approval of Pope Innocent III in Rome. The friars return to Rivotorto and then to the Portiuncula.

1212 (Palm Sunday Night)

Reception and investiture of St. Clare at the Portiuncula. After a stay with the Benedictine Nuns, Clare moves to San Damiano.


Francis at Rome for the IV Lateran Council.


Francis receives the Portiuncula Indulgence from Pope Honorius at Perugia.

1217 (May 5 – Pentecost)

General Chapter of all the friars at the Portiuncula. First mission outside Italy.

1219 (26 May)

First friar missionaries leave for Morocco.

1219 (June 24)

Francis sails for the Holy Land.

1219 (Fall)

St. Francis meets with the Sultan.


First Franciscan martyrs: the friars killed in Morocco.


Cardinal Hugolino appointed Protector of the Order.


Francis resigns as General Minister and friar Peter Cattani appointed.


Peter Cattani dies and at Chapter Bro. Elias becomes the Vicar.


Francis goes on a preaching tour throughout Italy.


Francis goes to Fontecolombo to write the definitive Rule for the Order of Friars Minor. The Chapter discusses it and further changes are made until its approval by Pope Honorius III in November.


The first Christmas Crib midnight Mass at Greccio.


The long retreat of Francis at La Verna where he receives the Stigmata.


His eye problems turn worse and he stays for a while at San Damiano with St. Clare and the sisters. At the insistence of Bro. Elias he undergoes medical treatment but without improvement. Almost blind he writes his “Canticle of the Creatures”.


Francis goes to Fontecolumbo where the doctors cauterize his temple in an unsuccessful treatment. At Sienna he takes a turn for the worse and dictates a short “last will”.

1226 (September)

Staying at the Bishop’s house in Assisi, Francis knows that he is dying, writes the Testament and asks to be brought down to the Portiuncula.

1226 (3 October)

Francesco dies at the Portiuncula in the evening.

1226 (4 October)

He is buried in the church of San Giorgio.

1228 (July 16)

In Assisi, his friend Cardinal Hugolino now Pope Gregory IX canonizes Francis.

1230 (May 25)

Transfer of the Saint’s remains to his tomb in the new papal basilica of San Francesco.