Francis was born in Assisi in 1182 by Pietro and Pica Bernardone. The father practiced the profession of merchant of fabrics, because they travel and often went to France. Imposed during the baptism the child the name of John. Peter was very fond of France and the return of a trip to this country wanted to change the name of the child by John Francis.
In 1202, Francis participated in search of military glory as a volunteer at the ongoing war between Perugia and Assisi. The fate was not on his side, in fact the army was defeated and Francis of Assisi was taken prisoner. The imprisonment lasted a year after her father ransomed him for health reasons. The disease lasted long and depressing in Francis throughout 1204.
After this difficult period, health was restored and Francesco, we are in 1205, he left again for war. He enlisted as a volunteer to fight the papal army in Apulia. Arriving in Spoleto and heard a voice that urged him to return to Assisi. Francis heard the warning and return to Assisi, where he began the conversion.
At the end of the year 1205, while Francis prayed before the crucifix placed in the Chapel of Dan Damiani, receives from Jesus Christ this order: "Go and repair my Church." Francis received the invitation and began diligently to restore the churches now in ruins placed near Assisi.
Peter Bernardone, father of Francis, who had invested hopes and financed the expensive kind of worldly life, did not appreciate his conversion. He turned, therefore, to Bishop Guido, professor in Assisi Episcopal, with authority to act on the young mystic to induce him to comply with the filial duties and tasks both family and professional, who awaited him. The bishop listened Francis and was impressed by his sincerity and seriousness of purpose, and then took him into the Church and placed it under his protection. Here, then, Francis to renounce his father's legacy stripping naked in public before the bishop, to his father and fellow citizens. The Bishop, then covered it with cloak their nakedness.
For Francis, now twenty-five, begins the journey in the footsteps of Jesus Cura poor and lepers, first staying in the forests of Mount SUBIAS and then downstream, near the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli, called the "Porziuncola. During the celebration of Holy Mass, 24 February 1208, Francis feels the need to exit permanently from the "world", led by the text of the Evangelist Matthew "Giving everything to do good everywhere." He returned to Assisi and began preaching gathering around him a dozen fervent followers, mostly old playmates and parties. These became the first members of a loose fraternity of laymen devoted to poverty, the common life, to charity. This association, in the year 1210 was recognized and legitimized by word of mouth of Pope Innocent III, probably through the mediation of Giovanni Colonna, Cardinal of St. Paul, where Francis had been recommended by the Bishop of Assisi.
Francis received Clare of Offreduccio in his community, was on Palm Sunday on March 18, 1212. Clare, being born in 1194, was twelve years younger than Francis. Today is honored as St. Clare, foundress of the Poor Clares.
The community of St. Francis between 1209 and 1220 grew rapidly. The friars preached the message of forgiveness and peace, not only in Italy but over the Alps and even in Syria. Francis himself visited Dalmatia, Spain, France and the Holy Land, also tried to reach Morocco to preach the Gospel to Muslims.
During the 1215-16 biennium is certain the presence of Francesco in Perugia on the occasion of the death of Pope Innocent III. His successor, Honorius III, was very important for the consolidation of the fraternity and its transformation into a true mendicant Order, the first expression of which was the celebrated general chapter held in Assisi on Pentecost 1217.
Celebrated the second general chapter of the Order, in May 1219, to Francis sails again June 21 with a dozen companions, among whom Peter Cattani and lit by Riera, and sails the first time to meet with fellow Acres settled there, then to Egypt where he wants to preach to the camp crusader who had responded in arms call of the Church. To also meet with the Muslims to show them his faith in Christ. It may have actually met on that occasion the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, known for his long-suffering talents. The meeting opened the great age of the Franciscan missionary vocation, although the order later provide proof of understanding it in a predominantly apologetic and alien to the original intention of the Poor of Assisi.
In the early months of 1202 Francis returned from the East discovers that in his absence have been taken decisions that have been imposed on the community organization most rigid discipline closer to align this fresh community with other orders already firmly established. Must also address the difficulties arising from the success of his fraternity were converging in which followers of different social backgrounds and cultural. The demands were designed to soften and make less severe the rule, especially the concept of absolute poverty, which included the rejection of any property and also to refrain from exercising any form of power. Francis understands that his small community has become a global organization and that he is no longer able to govern. With wisdom and sadness asked Pope Honorius III to appoint Cardinal Ugolino (later Pope Gregory IX) to conduct the business of the Order. Francis resigned as head of its legal order though remained the spiritual leader until his death.
So we proceeded to the necessary definition of the Rule of what was now the mendicant Order of Friars Minor. For this was the "Chapter of Mats" of Pentecost in 1221. In the presence of over five thousand monks from all parts of Christendom, Francis insisted energetically specificity of its Christian proposal, different from that of any other Order, and not in competition with any of them.
The Rule, by the laborious gestation, underwent a first test of 1221 (Regula non bullata, that is not justified by an official papal document) and a second in 1223 which, compared to the first, altering somewhat the penalty. He went Meanwhile, the role of both the second Franciscan order, that of the Poor Ladies (the Poor Clares), and the Third Order, dedicated to the laity.
The transition from first to second rule was not at all easy. Church leaders estimated the rule of 1221 - which in fact received no formal hierarchical legitimacy - too hard and confusing, inappropriate to the life of the Order, which had been developing much beyond any expectation. Ugolino and Elijah made their proposals and exerted pressure on their founder, the circumstances in which this happened are not at all clear.
Francis went into meditation in the hermitage of Fonte Colombo near Rieti, and eventually issued a new version of the document, no longer divided into twenty-three, but in only twelve chapters. This rule was approved by Honorius III in the Bull Solet nod issued November 29 and known then as Regula bullata.
Francis spent the Christmas of 1223 to Gregg, in the valley of Rieti. Where he built a nativity scene to celebrate the festival with a sort of passion play that gave rise to the tradition of the crib in which, without doubt, he fondly relived the pain of not being able to visit about four years ago, the holy places. From miles around people was crude, "was prepared as if it were a new Bethlehem."
The weeks since mid-August until the end of September 1224 Francis handed her to La Verna, a rock Apennine between Tuscany and Romagna, which had been donated, some ten years earlier by a feudal lord of the place, for the time one dedicated to the Archangel Michael Lent: and there, in commemoration of the Holy Cross, September 14, he received the stigmata were the words which bear the marks of corcifissione of Christ on the hands, feet and on his side.
In the spring of 1223, during a visit to St. Clare at San Damiano, Francis fell seriously ill. The cause was an eye disease that had plagued him for several years. Now he was reduced almost to blindness. This forced him to stay at San Damiano for almost two months. After a mystical experience in which it was revealed that he would have eternal life, he composed the Canticle of the Creatures. He left San Damiano in early July, at Fonte Colombo, he was required to be cauterize the temple, and he endured this painful treatment.
In April 1226 Francis was taken to Siena for further treatment of his eyes but to no avail. By now he was vomiting blood and was obvious to everyone that he would not live long because forces do not support him anymore. Francis then moved to Crotona, in the comfortable convent of Celle, where according to tradition, wrote the fundamental and definitive document of his experience, the text, which vigorously advocated that the rule of 1223 was followed constantly and literally, without any form of comment that somehow changing.
For his own desire was returned to Assisi, where he arrived in June, the month of September, realizing that death was approaching, he insisted on being brought to Portiuncula. A few days before his death Francis had done stretch naked on the floor. He urged the death to praise and invited her to dwell with him. Then at dusk the evening of Saturday, October 3, 1226, Francis fell asleep in the Lord. One of the brothers present saw his soul as a star, the size of the moon and bright as the sun ascend directly to heaven. Larks gathered at the place where he lay dying, and flew around singing. That same evening all the bells rang at Assisi and the future lay passed from mouth to mouth with the speed of lightning.
In St. George's Church were celebrated the funeral, so the body was laid in a massive stone urn, which was closed to the surface by a narrow grid, which, in turn, was assured by the ballot tenacious wrappings of iron. In the end the sacred deposit was lowered beneath the altar of the Church.
On that grave meanwhile flourished miracles. Blind, crippled, deaf, mute, paralyzed, suffering from any illness suddenly regained the health of body, soul and rediscovers the light of faith and strength to an inner renewal.
He was canonized almost immediately, July 16, 1228. Gregory IX, coming from Perugia to Assisi, the name of Francis formally enrolled among the saints, while in his honor, pontificating on the square of St. George. Even today, the Francis is honored as alter Christ us, another Christ.