Francis' embrace of Christ-like poverty was a radical notion at the time. The Christian church was tremendously rich, much like the people heading it, which concerned Francis and many others, who felt that the long-held apostolic ideals had eroded.
Francis set out on a mission to restore Jesus Christ's own, original values to the now-decadent church. With his incredible charisma, he drew thousands of followers to him.
They listened to Francis' sermons and joined in his way of life; his followers became known as Franciscan friars. Continuously pushing himself in the quest for spiritual perfection, Francis was soon preaching in up to five villages per day, teaching a new kind of emotional and personal Christian religion that everyday people could understand. He even went so far as to preach to animals, which garnered criticism from some and earned him the nickname "God's fool.
In Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ — marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified, through his hands and the gaping lance wound in his side.
This made Francis the first person to receive the holy wounds of the stigmata. They would remain visible for the rest of his life. Because of his earlier work treating lepers, some believe that the wounds were actually symptoms of leprosy.
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As Francis approached his death, many predicted that he was a saint in the making. When his health began to decline more rapidly, Francis went home. Knights were sent from Assisi to guard him and to make sure that no one from neighboring towns would carry him off the body of a saint was viewed, at the time, as an extremely valuable relic that would bring, among many things, glory to the town where it rested.
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Francis of Assisi died on October 3, , at the age of 44, in Assisi, Italy. Today, Francis has a lasting resonance with millions of followers across the globe. He was canonized as a saint just two years after his death, on July 16, , by his former protector, Pope Gregory IX. We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives.
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The patron saint of missionaries and one of the founders of the Jesuit order, Saint Francis Xavier sought religious converts throughout Asia during the s. Italian Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential medieval thinkers of Scholasticism and the father of the Thomistic school of theology. Saint Patrick is Ireland's patron saint, known for spreading Christianity throughout the country as a missionary during the 5th century.
She was canonized in Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who provided for the poor and sick, and is the basis for the popular character of Santa Claus. In a famous tale, he rescued a Libyan princess from a sea monster.
He was a disciple of John the Baptist. Saint Francis, feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city, taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, Saint Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the miracle. The wolf, seeing all this multitude, ran towards Saint Francis with his jaws wide open.
All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, if so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee any more. Now, the news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked to the market-place to see Saint Francis and the wolf. All the people being assembled, the saint got up to preach, saying, amongst other things, how for our sins God permits such calamities, and how much greater and more dangerous are the flames of hell, which last for ever, than the rage of a wolf, which can kill the body only; and how much we ought to dread the jaws of hell, if the jaws of so small an animal as a wolf can make a whole city tremble through fear.
Now this event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards Saint Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to heaven, praising and blessing God, who had sent them Saint Francis, through whose merits they had been delivered from such a savage beast. Otherwise nothing will change. I guess I am an optimist, but I think that can apply to race relations, or to political divisions.
Prayer of Saint Francis
And someone has to cross the battlefield, as Francis did. He did so over the mean-spirited objections of the papal legate. CW : What has been the reception of this story? Have you found Catholic or Muslim audiences surprised or pleased or confused by this part of their history? I felt that most of all at the opening of the docudrama, which was in a packed auditorium at George Washington University on the weekend after the presidential election. Hundreds of Muslims were present for the event—it was such an emotional night, to see this story of Muslim-Christian peace presented a few days after a president was elected on anti-Muslim rhetoric, and to be right there in Washington, a few blocks from the White House.
Please email comments to letters commonwealmagazine. What St. An Interview with Paul Moses. By The Editors. Share Share Twitter Print. CW : What made you decide to write a book about it? CW : What about its relevance in cultural, societal, or geopolitical contexts? Also by this author Letters Dr. King, Donald Justice, Vietnam. Related Media. Muslim-Christian Relations. By Regina Munch. By Paul Moses. Can the Word Become a Hashtag? By Griffin Oleynick. Must Reads. Stumbling toward War. A Girl in Need of a Tourniquet. What follows is a heady tale of guilt, loneliness, and pain.
How one saint’s ancient insights are transforming today’s church
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