St. Francis was born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy. In his youth, he dreamed of becoming a knight and living a life of great fame and fortune. After fighting in battle, being captured, held prisoner, and recovering from a severe illness, Francis felt God was calling him to a different direction in his life. He refused his family’s wealth and gave up all his possessions to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through his great example and teaching, thousands of men and women followed the “herald of the great King” to a life of simplicity, service, and prayer.
One day as Francis was praying for direction in his life, in an abandoned and neglected Church in the countryside, Jesus spoke to him from the Cross saying, “Francis, rebuild my house, for it is falling into ruin”. Francis busied himself repairing the broken down walls of that building and other churches before he realized that what the Lord was really asking him to do was to rebuild the entire church by bringing people back to lives of faith and following the gospel.
Francis has become one of the best known of all saints. He is the patron of all who work for peace and justice and patron of the environment and all who seek to preserve it. His life and teaching have become timeless. Today, thousands of Franciscan men and women still carry his message of peace and joy throughout the world.