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St. Francis of Assisi
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Religious Figure
    (1182-October 3, 1226)
    Birth name was Francis Bernardone
    Patron Saint of the Animals and Environment
    Also Patron Saint of Italy
    Founder of the Order of Mendicant Friars/Franciscans (April 16, 1209)
    As a youth, he was a street fighter and occassional soldier.
    He spent a lot of money on foolish pleasures and drank with some of Italy's young princes.
    Though born into wealth, he spurned it to beg for his food, dress in rags, and wander the world without a roof over his head, often living in caves.
    His former friends thought he was a nut case and looked upon him with disdain and disgust, occasionally throwing rocks and mud at him.
    He couldn't decide whether to devote his life entirely to prayer or travel about and preach the word of Christ. He chose in favor of the latter, but snuck off to be alone whenever he could.
    He wanted to be a missionary in Syria, but a shipwreck and illness prevented it.
    Hanging around animals and not having a steady supply of toiletries to clean up with, he must have been bad news for the noses of his followers.
    His name sounds like 'Francis is a sissy!'
    He gave up worldly goods after a beggar touched his soul and gave him the last pieces of coinage he would ever possess. His father nearly stroked out, and then disowned him.
    He developed a serious illness and was about to die when Christ healed him. Afterwards he devoted his life to the service of humanity.
    He preached purity and peace, visited hospitals, cared for lepers, and offered comfort to the sick.
    He considered all men and women as brothers and sisters and all of God's creatures as his children.
    He composed songs to God and nature, lived with animals, did handy work, cleaned churches, and sent food to the needy.
    He began to attract followers in 1209, and with the blessing of the Pope, founded the Franciscans.
    Two years before his death, half blind and in poor health, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side. Today this miracle has a separate memorial, held each September 17th.
    Humble to the end, he asked for permission to die lying naked on the Earth in tribute to his Lord God, and died happy at age 44 (1226).
    He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX (1228).

Credit: Scar Tactics

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