Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
St. Francis of Assisi
The child of wealthy parents, St. Francis of Assisi was born in Italy in 1181. With a quick wit, handsome looks and fine clothes, the young Francis lived a lavish lifestyle, loving parties and good times with friends. Even during his early years, however, Francis was taken with the plight of the poor. Feeling badly after turning away a beggar one day, Francis reflected upon his deed and promised God that he would never again refuse a person in need.
As a young man, Francis decided to pursue a military life and resolved to join the Crusades. Before he could do so, he had a strange dream in which he saw a room full of armor, all marked with the Cross. A voice asked, “Francis, who is it better to serve, the servant or the master?” “The master,” replied Francis. “Then return to Assisi and await the master’s word.” This dream affected him deeply, and Francis finally understood his calling: he was to depend entirely on God and devote his life to serving the Lord. Francis gave up all his possessions and presented himself to the Bishop of Assisi, who sent the young man to a small church in Portiuncula, just outside the city walls. There he heard the voice of Jesus who instructed, “Francis, go and rebuild my house which is falling into ruin.”
Through his words and by his example, Francis preached a life of peace and love. He lived in harmony with all elements of nature and was fond of all God’s creatures. Soon, other young men joined Francis and working together, they cared for people on the margins of society.
In 1224, Francis retreated to the caves of Mount LaVerna, where he fasted for more than a month and consumed himself with prayer and reflection on the sufferings of Christ. While there, he received the stigmata, and his body was marked with the wounds of Jesus. Already weakened by many years of hard work and self-denial, Francis became increasingly more frail. Knowing death was near, he returned to Portiuncula, where he and the Brothers had enthusiastically and faithfully lived the Gospel. Francis died in 1226.
Let all strive to exert themselves in doing good works.
— St. Francis of Assisi