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 The Life of Francis of Assisi

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The Philosopher

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PostSubject: The Life of Francis of Assisi   Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:42 pm

Francis of Assisi (Giovanni Francesco Bernardone; born 1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was a friar and the founder of the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans.

Francis was one of seven children born to Pietro di Bernardone, a rich cloth merchant, and his wife Pica Bourlemont, about whom little is known except that she was originally from France

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As a youth, Francesco—or Francis in English—became a troubador and yearned to become a writer of French poetry. And although many biographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, street brawls, and love of pleasure, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came fairly early in his life, as is shown in the "story of the beggar." In this account, he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends quickly chided and mocked him for his act of charity. When he got home, his father scolded him in rage

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In 1201, he joined a military expedition against Perugia, he was taken as a prisoner at Collestrada, and spent a year as a captive. It is probable that his conversion to more serious thoughts was a gradual process relating to this experience. Upon his return to Assisi in 1203, Francis returned to his carefree life and in 1204, a serious illness led to a spiritual crisis. In 1205 Francis left for Puglia to enlist in the army of the Count of Brienne. In Spoleto, a strange vision made him return to Assisi, deepening his ecclesiastical awakening

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It is said that thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions; in response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered "yes, a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen", meaning his "lady poverty". He spent much time in lonely places, asking God for enlightenment. By degrees he took to nursing lepers, the most repulsive victims in the lazar houses near Assisi. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he begged at the church doors for the poor, he said he had had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the Church of San Damiano just outside of Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified came alive and said to him three times, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins"

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According to Jordanus, on 24 February 1209, Francis heard a sermon that changed his life. The sermon was about Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers that they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty.

From then on, his new order grew quickly with new vocations.When hearing Francis preaching in the church of San Rufino in Assisi in 1209, Clare of Assisi became deeply touched by his message and she realized her calling. Her brother Rufino also joined the new order.

Suffering from these Stigmata and from an eye disease, he received care in several cities (Siena, Cortona, Nocera) to no avail. In the end he was brought back to the Porziuncola. He was brought to the "transito," the hut for infirmed friars, next to the Porziuncola. Here, in the place where it all began, feeling the end approaching, he spent the last days of his life dictating his spiritual testament. He died on the evening of October 3, 1226 singing Psalm 141.

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He was buried on May 25, 1230 under the Lower Basilica.

Saint Francis is considered the first Italian poet by literary critics. He believed commoners should be able to pray to God in their own language, and he wrote always in the dialect of Umbria instead of Latin. His writings are considered to have great literary value, as well as religious.

"He who fights monsters should see to it that in the process, he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - Nietzche
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PostSubject: Re: The Life of Francis of Assisi   Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:58 pm

Saint Francis! Truly a Saint if ever there was one. Great post Miro. St. Francis is truly an inspiration.

One of my favourite books is called St. Francis by Nikos Kazantzakis (who also wrote Zorba the Greek and the Last Temptation of Christ). It is a fictional telling of St. Francis' life. Some of my favourite quotes come from this book:

"The earth is beneath our feet and we tread upon it, but heaven is within us."

"In order to mount to heaven, you used the floor of the inferno to give you momentum. The further down you gain your momentum, the higher you shall be able to reach."

"I believe I'm a caterpillar buried deep down under the ground. The entire earth is above me, crushing me and I begin to bore through the soil, making a passage to the surface so that I can penetrate the crust and issue into the light. It's hard work boring through the entire earth, but I'm able to be patient because I have a strong premonition that as soon as I do issue into the light I shall become a butterfly."
Nikos Kazantzakis, St. Frances, pg. 68

"There is no harsher means of punishment, than to answer malice with kindness."

"What is the definition of heaven? Complete happiness. But how can anyone be completely happy when he looks out from heaven and sees his brothers and sisters being punished in hell?"
"Take care that you do not wound man's heart, for in doing so you may be wounding God."
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