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Saint Francis of Assisi: Facts

Return to St. Francis Page | St. Francis Biographical Info.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi: Facts Concerning St. Francis 

Sources: Various

Important Notice: We make no guarantee regarding any item herein. All applicable items are subject to change. Information herein is not comprehensive and may include details that are unverifiable, disputed, based on legends, etc. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any item herein. By using this site you agree to all terms. For more terms information, click here


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Biographers of St. Francis of Assisi

The Catholicity of St. Francis of Assisi

Devotions Traced to St. Francis

Disciples & Admirers of St. Francis of Assisi

Famous Franciscans

The Franciscan Orders

Friends & Companions of St. Francis

Important Dates

One Honor St. Francis Was Unwilling to Accept

One Thing St. Francis Hoped For But Was Unable to Attain

Other Names St. Francis is Known By

Parents of St. Francis of Assisi

The Portiuncula

St. Francis' Appearance

St. Francis' Death

St. Francis' Encounters With Animals [ACH]

St. Francis' Feast Days

St. Francis' Given Name

St. Francis' Visit to Rome

Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi / Facts

Misc.

Also Try: 

Biographical Information 

St. Francis of Assisi Writings/Sayings

Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi

On St. Francis of Assisi (Reflections)

Other St. Francis Information (Reflctn.)

Item

Fact(s)

Biographers of St. Francis of Assisi

"First Important Biographer": St. Thomas of Celano 

Other Biographers: "In addition to the saint's writings the sources of the history of Francis include a number of early papal bulls and some biographies properly so called. These include the lives written 1229-1247 by Thomas of Celano, one of Francis's followers; a joint narrative of his life complied by Leo, Rufinus, and Angelus, intimate companions of the saint, in 1246; and the celebrated legend of St. Bonaventure, which appeared about 1263; besides a somewhat more polemic legend called the 'Speculum Perfectionis', attributed to Brother Leo, the state of which is a matter of controversy. There are also several important thirteenth-century chronicles of the order...and not a few later works...which are in some sort a continuation of them. It is upon these works that all the later biographies of Francis's life are based." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Warning Concerning Some Modern Biographers: "The St. Francis of Assisi whom certain moderns present to us, and who springs from the imagination of the Modernists, this man, guarded in his obedience to the Apostolic See, a specimen of a vague and vain religiosity, is assuredly neither Francis of Assisi nor a saint." (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921)

The Catholicity of St. Francis of Assisi

Those who speak of St. Francis of Assisi sometimes fail to insist upon his strong Catholicity of doctrine. As Pope Benedict XV reminds us, "The St. Francis of Assisi whom certain moderns present to us, and who springs from the imagination of the Modernists, this man, guarded in his obedience to the Apostolic See, a specimen of a vague and vain religiosity, is assuredly neither Francis of Assisi nor a saint." (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921, emphasis added)

The True St. Francis of Assisi:

* Was obedient to the Pope [as the saying goes "Ubi Petrus ibi Franciscus" ("Where Peter is, there is Francis")]

* Was devoted to the Holy Eucharist

* Was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary

* Reverenced the priesthood & the sacraments

* Was devoted to the Passion of Christ

* Was mortified & chaste

* Founded Religious Orders of the Catholic Church and had them approved by the Pope

* Encouraged all to penance

* Tried to convert infidels

* Warned those outside the Catholic Church that they would perish

* Exhorted all to remain in the Catholic Church for salvation

* Lived and preached the Gospel

* Performed and encouraged all others to perform good works

In short, he was a 'perfect Catholic'!

A sampling of St. Francis' very Catholic writings / sayings include the following (emphasis may be added):

Necessity of Remaining Catholic For Salvation

"And all of us lesser brothers, useless servants, humbly ask and beg all those who wish to serve the Lord God within the holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church...that all of us may persevere in the true faith and in penance, for otherwise no one will be saved." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Those Who Die in Mortal Sin Are Damned

"But let everyone know that whenever or however a person dies in mortal sin without making amends when he could have done so and did not, the devil snatches up his soul out of his body with so much anguish and tribulation that no one can know it unless he has experienced it." (St. Francis of Assisi)

The Holy Eucharist (Necessary for Salvation)

"We must also confess all our sins to a priest, and receive from him the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who does not eat His Flesh and does not drink His Blood (cf. Jn. 6:55-7) cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Yet let him eat and drink worthily, since he who receives unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not recognizing - that is, not discerning - the Body of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:29). Moreover, let us perform worthy fruits of penance." (St. Francis of Assisi)

[To preachers of his order:] "And in every sermon which you give, admonish the people concerning [the necessity of] penance, and [instruct them] that no one can be saved unless he receive the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. Jn. 6:54). And when It is sacrificed upon the altar by the priest and carried to any place, let all the people, on bended knee, praise, glorify, and honor the Lord God living and true. And you must announce and preach His praise to all peoples in such a manner that at every hour and whenever the bells are rung, praise, glory, and honor are given to the all-powerful God through all the earth." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Therefore all those who saw the Lord Jesus according to [His] humanity and did not see and believe according to the Spirit and the Godhead that He is the true Son of God were condemned. And now in the same way, all those who see the sacrament [of the Holy Eucharist], which is sanctified by the words of the Lord upon the altar at the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine, and who do not see and believe according to the Spirit and the Godhead that is truly the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are condemned. [Such] is attested by the Most High Himself Who says: 'This is my Body and the Blood of my new testament...' and 'He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life' (cf. Jn. 6:55). Therefore it is the Spirit of the Lord, Who lives in His faithful, Who receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. All others who do not share in this same Spirit and who presume to receive Him eat and drink judgment to themselves (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29). Therefore, O sons of men, how long will you be hard of heart? Why do you not recognize the truth and believe in the Son of God? See, daily He humbles Himself as when He came from the royal throne into the womb of the Virgin; daily He comes to us in a humble form; daily He comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of the priest. And as He appeared to the holy apostles in true flesh, so now He reveals Himself to us in the sacred bread. As they saw only his flesh by means of their bodily slight, yet believed Him to be God as they contemplated Him with the eyes of faith, so, as we see bread and wine with [our] bodily eyes, we too are to see and firmly believe them to be His most holy Body and Blood living and true. And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says: Behold I am with you even to the end of the world (cf. Mt. 28:30)." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Penance/Confession

"[L]et them not fail to have recourse to a priest, since the power of binding and loosing is granted only to priests." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Confess all your sins. Blessed are those who die in penance, for they shall be in the kingdom of heaven. Woe to those who do not die in penance, for they shall be the children of the devil whose works they do, and they shall go into the eternal fire. Beware and abstain from every evil and persevere in good till the end." (St. Francis of Assisi)

The Holy Eucharist (Reverence)

"[T]hey should receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with great humility and reverence, remembering what the Lord says: Whoever eats and drinks my blood has eternal life (cf. Jn. 6:55) and: Do this in memory of me (Lk. 22:19)." (St. Francis of Assisi)

[To preachers of his order:] "I beg you, with all that is in me and more, that, when it is appropriate and you judge it profitable, you humbly beg the clergy to revere above everything else the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy written words which consecrate [His] Body." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Therefore, kissing your feet and with all that love of which I am capable, I implore all of you brothers to show all possible reverence and honor to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom that which is in the heavens and on the earth is brought to peace and is reconciled to the all-powerful God (cf. Col 1:20)." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Unfaithful Brothers Rejected

"But if any of the brothers do not wish to observe these things, I do not consider them to be Catholics nor my brothers, and I do not wish to see them or speak with them until they shall have done penance. I say this also of all others who go wandering about with no regard for the discipline of the Rule, for our Lord Jesus Christ gave His life that He might not lose the obedience of the most holy Father (cf. Phil. 2:8)" (St. Francis of Assisi)

"All the brothers must be Catholics, [and] live and speak in a Catholic manner. But if any of them has strayed from the Catholic faith and life, in word or in deed, and has not amended his ways, he should be completely expelled from our fraternity." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Respect For Clergy

"We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from any excess of food and drink, and be Catholics. We must also visit churches frequently and venerate and show respect for the clergy, not so much for them personally if they are sinners, but by reason of their office and their administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar and receive and administer to others. And let all of us firmly realize that no one can be saved except without the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must administer [them], and not others." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Those Held by the Devil

"All those men and women who are not [engaged in] penance and do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; [who] practice vice and sin and follow wicked concupiscence and the desires of the flesh; [who] do not observe what they have promised to the Lord, and bodily serve the world by the desires of the flesh, the anxieties of the world and the cares of this life: [such people] are held fast by the devil, whose children they are and whose works they perform (cf. Jn. 8:41). They are blind, since they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not have spiritual wisdom, since they do not possess the Son of God, Who is the true wisdom of the Father. It is said of these people: Their wisdom has been swallowed up (Ps. 106:27), and Cursed are those who turn away from Your commands (Ps. 118:21). They see [and] acknowledge, they know and do evil deeds, and, knowingly, they lose [their] souls." (St. Francis of Assisi)

For more writings / sayings of St. Francis, click here.

Devotions Traced to St. Francis

Devotions initiated by (or popularized by) St. Francis of Assisi may include:

* The Nativity Scene ("Christmas Crib")

* The Stations of the Cross

Note: St. Francis also promoted devotion to the Blessed Mother and promoted frequent recitation of the Gloria Patri (Doxology).

Disciples & Admirers of St. Francis of Assisi

Some of the many disciples & admirers of St. Francis of Assisi include:

* St. Bonaventure (St. Francis is credited with saving his life when he was a child)

* St. Elizabeth (first professed Tertiary of the Seraphic Order, received a mantle from St. Francis himself)

* St. Francis Caracciolo ("moved by the special love and devotion he had to the holy Francis of Assisi, he changed his name from Ascanius to Francis")

* G. K. Chesterton (he had a long devotion to St. Francis even before his conversion and took Francis as his confirmation name)

* Bl. Roger (This Confessor was received into the Order by St. Francis himself)

* Etc.

Also see: Friends & Companions of St. Francis | Famous Franciscans

Famous Franciscans (Includes Third Order Franciscans)

Famous Franciscans May Include:*

St. Agnes of Assisi (St. Clare's sister)

St. Agnes of Bohemia

St. Anthony of Padua

Pope Benedict XV

St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Bonaventure

St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Catherine of Bologna

St. Charles Borromeo

Christopher Columbus

St. Clare

Pope Clement XII

St. Colette

Dante Alighieri

St. Didacus of St. Nicholas

St. Elizabeth (Queen of Hungary)

St. Elizabeth (Queen of Portugal)

St. Elizabeth of Thuringia

St. Ferdinand III (King of Spain)

St. Francis Solano

Franz List

Pope Gregory IX

Bl. Pope Gregory X

St. Ignatius of Laconi

Pope Innocent XII

St. Ives

St. Joan of Arc

St. John Bosco

St. John of Capistrano

St. John Vianney

Pope John XXIII

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Bl. Junipero Serra

St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Pope Leo XIII

St. Louis IX (King of France)

Louis Pasteur

Cardinal Manning

St. Margarita da Cortona

Pope Martin V

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Michelangelo

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina [Note: There are a number of parallels in the life of St. Francis and St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). In fact, Padre Pio has been called "a St. Francis for our times."]

St. Paschal Baylon

St. Peter of Alacantara

Pope Pius IX

Pope St. Pius X

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XII

St. Thomas More

St. Veronica Giuliani

...

* Note: Includes Third Order Franciscans

Note: "There are hundreds of Saints and Blesseds in the Franciscan Calendar."

Also See: Friends & Companions of St. Francis | Disciples & Admirers of St. Francis of Assisi

The Franciscan Orders

Shortly after St. Francis was joined by other men in his brotherhood, St. Francis sought out and received papal approval for his newly founded religious order (oral approval was received in 1209/1210, a papal bull of approval was issued in some years later). St. Francis ultimately founded three religious orders in the Catholic Church; the Order of Friars Minor (said to have been originally called "Poor Minors"), an order for women ("Poor Clares"), and an order of "Secular Franciscans" (originally called the Brothers and Sisters of Penance). Among these orders, various divisions have occurred (e.g. Spirituals, Conventuals, Observantines, Capuchins, Third Order Regular, Third Order Secular, etc.). Some hold to a more or less strict observance of St. Francis' original rule, some are involved in everyday life, some are more detached. Unfortunately, some strife had occurred within the Order during St. Francis' lifetime concerning the direction the order should take. St. Francis himself eventually resigned from overseeing the Order, but made clear his intentions that certain observances of the Order should remain.

Since their founding, the Franciscans have bestowed incalculable benefits both on the Church and on society at large. The order has produced numerous saints and blesseds; Many conversions have resulted from their preaching; and Franciscans have the guardianship of holy places in the Holy Land.

Also See: Famous Franciscans | On St. Francis of Assisi | Third Order of St. Francis | Priests & Vocations Section

Friends & Companions of St. Francis

St. Francis 'companions of the first hour': 

Bernardo di Quintavalle (first disciple of St. Francis)

Pietro Cattani

Egidio (Bl. Giles of Assisi) 

Sabbatino

Morico of Assisi

Giovanni della Cappella

Filippo Longo (Philip the Long)

Angelo Tancredi [secretary, one of the "three (closest) companions"]

Giovanni da San Costanzo

Barbaro

Bernardo di Vigilante 

Silvestro (first priest in the Order)

St. Francis 'companions of the second hour':

Leone (Leo) [St. Francis' confessor, "the most intimate companion of St. Francis", one of the "three (closest) companions", "very close to St. Francis"]

Rufino [relative of Sylvester, cousin of St. Clare, one of the "three (closest) companions"]

Masseo

Ginepro [Regarding Brother Juniper: "I would I had a forest of such junipers" (St. Francis of Assisi)]

Illuminato dell'Arce

Elio (Elias) ("unhappy brother Elias")

Pacifico

Giovanni il Semplice

Other Friends of St. Francis include:

St. Anthony of Padua ("best known and most popular of all the sons of St. Francis")

St. Claire

St. Dominic

Important Dates

St. Francis' Date of Birth: 1181/1182

San Damiano crucifix heard speaking to St. Francis: 1205/1206

St. Francis' father takes him before the bishop's court / St. Francis renounces his father: 1206

Pope Innocent III approves St. Francis' rule: 1209/1210

St. Francis receives the Stigmata: September 14, 1224

St. Francis goes to his heavenly reward: October 3/4, 1226

St. Francis is Canonized by Pope Gregory IX: July 16, 1228

One Honor St. Francis Was Unwilling to Accept

One honor St. Francis was unwilling to accept is the priesthood (his humility kept him from accepting the great honor of the priesthood).

One Thing St. Francis Hoped For But Was Unable to Attain

One thing St. Francis hoped for but was unable to attain is martyrdom (although his mortified life was a sort of 'martyrdom'). He did, however, try to attain this goal when he attempted to convert the Sultan, but he returned unharmed (1219).

Other Names St. Francis is Known By

"Seraphic" ("due to the divine love which burned in him")

"Il Poverello" (Italian for "the little poor one") 

Parents of St. Francis of Assisi

Father: Pietro di Bernardone of Moriconi (a wealthy textile merchant)

Mother: Lady Pica Bourlemont ("of a distinguished French family", thought to be from Picardy)

The Portiuncula

Portiuncula Facts:

* It is the location of St. Francis' death as well as "the place where his vocation was revealed to him". 

* It is also called "the cradle of the Franciscan Order" and " the central spot in the life of St. Francis". 

* The "Portiuncula" ("Little Portion") was property of the Benedictines on Monte Soubazo (use of the property was given by the Benedictines to St. Francis of Assisi for his new religious order). 

* The Portiuncula may also be called St. Mary of the Angels, or Santa Maria degli Angeli.

* It is said that St. Francis obtained a special "Porziuncola Indulgence" by Pope Honorius III (a plenary indulgence for those who visit the chapel and meet the required conditions).

* "When St. Peter's church was finished, he came to a place called Portiuncula, where was a church built in ancient times to the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, and under her invocation, but which had been deserted, and which, for want of care, was now falling into decay. The holy man, beholding it thus desolate, resolved, out of his fervent devotion to the Queen of the world, to remain there, in order to repair and restore it. And while he abode there, he received frequent angelical visitations in accordance with the name of the church, which was St. Mary of the Angels. Here, therefore, he resolved to remain, because of his reverence to the Angels, and, above all, because of the exceeding love which he bore to the Mother of Christ. This place was loved by the holy man above all places in the world, for here, in great humility, he began his spiritual life; here he grew in virtue; here he attained his happy and perfect end; and this, at the hour of his death, he commended to his brethren as a spot most dear to the Blessed Virgin." (St. Bonaventure)

St. Francis' Appearance

"Of less than middle height, we are told, and frail in form, Francis had a long yet cheerful face and soft but strong voice, small brilliant black eyes, dark brown hair, and a sparse beard. His person was in no way imposing, yet there was about the saint a delicacy, grace, and distinction which made him most attractive." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

"A very eloquent man, of cheerful countenance, of kindly aspect, free from cowardice and devoid of arrogance. He was of middle height, inclining to shortness; his head was of moderate size and round; his face somewhat long and prominent, his forehead smooth and small; his eyes were black, of moderate size and with a candid look; his hair was dark, his eyebrows straight, his nose symmetrical, thin and straight, his ears upright but small, his temples smooth. His words were kindly, fiery and penetrating; his voice was powerful, sweet-tones, clear and sonorous. His teeth were set close together, white and even; his lips thin and fine, his beard black and rather scanty, his neck slender; his shoulders straight, his arms short, his hands attenuated, with long fingers and nails; his legs slight, his feet small, his skin fine and his flesh very spare. His clothing was rough, his sleep brief, his hand most bountiful." (Celano)

Also See: The Person of St. Francis of Assisi (Reflections)

St. Francis' Death

St. Francis died on October 3/4, 1226 at age 45.

St. Francis is said to have died while finishing the last verse of Psalm 141: "Bring my soul out of prison, O Lord, that I may praise Thy name." 

St. Francis died while laying on the ground at the Portiuncula (as was his desire), covered by a borrowed cloth. He rejoiced that he was able to be faithful to "Lady Poverty" to the end.

Also See: St. Francis' Death (Reflections)

St. Francis' Encounters With Animals

Click Here for St. Francis' Encounters With Animals

St. Francis' Feast Days

Traditional Feast Days of St. Francis of Assisi:

* October 4 (10/4)

* September 17 (9/17) (stigmata)

St. Francis' Given Name

St. Francis' baptismal name was Giovanni (John) Bernadone. He was named by his mother after St. John the Baptist. His name was changed by his father to Francesco (Francis) after the country of France.

St. Francis' Visit to Rome

San Francesco a Ripa (formerly S. Biagio) - It is said that St. Francis lived here in a hospice when visiting Rome in 1219. His stone pillow and crucifix are preserved here in his cell as well as a copy of a picture considered to be an "actual portrait" of St. Francis. 

Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi / Facts

Facts Regarding the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi:

* St. Francis of Assisi received the Stigmata [the five wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ - a supernatural phenomena (the wounds cause suffering, may bleed, may appear or disappear abruptly)] at Mount Alverna on September 14, 1224, while immersed in prayer. He had begun there a fast of 40 days in honor of St. Michael the Archangel and received a heavenly vision prior to receiving the Stigmata.

* St. Francis had the Stigmata until his death.

* St. Francis of Assisi is the first known stigmatic.

* St. Francis was the first stigmatic to be canonized.

* St. Francis is considered to be "so Christ-like that he was imprinted with Christ's wounds."

* St. Francis is said to have kept the stigmata "jealously concealed from everybody". ["He was accustomed to say that...to God alone must be attributed whatever was found in him of goodness and beauty, for from God only was it derived. For this reason he tried in every possible way to hide those privileges and graces, especially the stigmata of Our Lord imprinted on his body, which might have gained for him the esteem and praise of men." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)]

Misc.

Place of Birth: St. Francis was born in Assisi (a small town in region of Umbria, in central Italy). Some argue that he was "born in a stable, like our Lord Jesus Christ". The exact date of his birth is unknown.

Place of Baptism: St. Francis was baptized in the cathedral church font of San Rufino.

Similarities with St. John the Baptist: St. Francis' life has many similarities with St. John the Baptist (his namesake).

Also Try...

Click Here For St. Francis Biographical Information 

Click Here For St. Francis of Assisi Writings/Sayings

Click Here For Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi

On St. Francis of Assisi (Reflections)

Click Here For Other St. Francis Information (Reflections)


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