Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hallowe'en Saints: Saint Francis

Here are some things that Saint Francis of Assisi did.

As a young man he was a soldier, and was taken prisoner. Later he fell ill, and, at the end of these he had a strange vision. he began to avoid feasting and hunting, and, when asked if he would marry answered "Yes - to My Lady Poverty[1]".

He went on pilgrimage, renounced his father's money and restored several churches.

He took Matthew 10:9-10 literally.

He was never ordained as a priest, so he and his followers formed the Friars Minor, known as the Franciscans for obvious reasons. Clare of Assisi was inspired by him and together formed the Order of Poor ladies, known as the Poor Clares (obvious reasons).

Saint Francis went to Egypt where he debated with Muslim scholars before the Sultan[2]. Impressed by him, the Sultan allowed him to preach. Later, after the fall of the Crusader States, it was the Franciscans who the Muslim rulers allowed to remain as custodians of Christian sites, thanks to St Francis.

Francis handed over control of the order to Pietro, but Pietro died soon afterwards. Then miracles started occurring at Pietro's tomb, causing great disturbance to the order. Francis prayed that Pietro would obey in death as in life and the miracles stopped.

He wrote poetry, as well as the rules of his order, in the Umbrian dialect of Italian rather than Latin, believing that common people should be able to understand; as such he is considered the first Italian Poet.

The first thing most people remember about Saint Francis:

He preached to some birds.

The costume: tonsure, halo, brown robe and lots of birds.

[1] I paraphrase. "To a fairer bride than you have ever seen" reminiscent to me of Saint Catherine.
[2] In fact he challenged them to ordeal by fire.
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