St. Francis in prayer.
Image source: The Famous People
A few days from now will be the celebration of the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi—who the namesake of the current Roman Catholic Pope! Known to be the humble saint who gave up his wealthy life for his selfless dream, St. Francis catered to the poor and those who needed spiritual guidance. He also loved animals and nature!
Yet there are a few things we may not know about him. What was he like before his conversion? How did he garner success in establishing the Franciscan order? Below are a few facts on St. Francis that you may have never encountered!
1. St. Francis was a boisterous party animal.
Born Giovanni di Bernardone, St. Francis was a charismatic young man who was quite popular among townsfolk in Assisi. He had a thing for social events and gatherings and was often the life of the party. You could probably say he was spoiled rotten, yet even then, he had a soft spot for the poor!
2. He was well-educated yet performed poorly in school.
In fact, St. Francis never formally finished his education! He didn’t study much and his academic life remained incomplete. He also wasn’t fond of being a merchant like his father.
3. He tried joined the military but was captured.
He went out with the townsfolk to fight the Perugians in a small skirmish. They were defeated and Francis was taken as a prisoner of war. He was held captive for a period of time.
4. He was never ordained a priest, but as a deacon.
A staunch believer in not calling anyone father, he protested against the idea of being ordained a priest and instead chose the diaconate—even when he was the leader of his order!
5. He humbled Pope Innocent III.
Upon presenting the Franciscan order to the Pope, St. Francis dressed himself in rags—a practice of the Franciscans. Pope Innocent was astonished to see Francis in such a state that he authorized the Franciscan order to operate without qualms.
6. He went to Syria to preach and was unharmed.
During the Fifth Crusade, he was captured and was made to face the sultan who became fascinated with Francis. The sultan said he would convert upon hearing St. Francis preach. It remains unclear if he converted to Christianity. Nonetheless, St. Francis left an impact on him.
7. St. Francis later gave up on being the head of the order and decided to be a mere brother.
Burdened by the pressure of being the order’s leader, St. Francis later stepped to be among the ranks of his former subjects, living as a brother for the rest of his life.
Later on, St. Francis received the stigmata in 1224 and began to go blind. In 1226, he succumbed to sickness and finally passed away, leaving behind a legacy which swept across the globe.
As the celebration of his stigmata approaches, let’s be as humble and as dedicated as St. Francis of Assisi, who gave up his possessions for his calling. What an extraordinary man he truly is!
Who was St. Francis of Assisi? 12 things to know and share, Jimmy Akin, National Catholic Register
The Real St. Francis: 14 Surprising Facts, Wendy Murray, Belief Net
St. Francis of Assisi, Catholic Online
St. Francis of Assisi, Catholic Encyclopedia