Francis of Assisi

ca. 1181–3 October 1226


Giovanni di Bernadone (c. 1181–1226), nicknamed ‘Francesco’ by his father, was raised in a wealthy household but through several personal experiences came to desire a life of poverty, charity, and discipleship. He attracted a following of sympathetic Christians in the area of Assisi, Italy. In 1209, he and his followers traveled to Rome to request official recognition as a religious order from Pope Innocent III (c. 1160–1216). He gave them informal recognition at first and they were tonsured; he granted full acceptance on April 16, 1210, the date recognized as the founding of the Franciscan order. The order grew more rapidly than the organizational structure could manage, causing Francis to draft new rules of order. On or around September 14, 1224, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, he had a vision and received a phenomenon known as the stigmata, the wounds of Christ. This and a problem with his eye led him to seek medical assistance, eventually returning to a small chapel in Assisi known as the Porziuncola, where he spent the remainder of his days. Il Cantico del Frate Sole (“The canticle of the brother sun”), as it is often called, was written there over several months as he prepared for death.

by Chris Fenner (2012)


Francis of Assisi, oil painting by Jusepe de Ribera (1643), Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.

Featured Hymns:

Il Cantico del Frate Sole

Life & Works:

Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi (London: R. Washbourne)

1st ed. (1882): PDF
2nd ed., corrected (1890): WorldCat

Paul Sabatier, Life of St. Francis of Assisi (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894): PDF

Paschal Robinson, The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi (Philadelphia: Dolphin Press, 1906): Archive.org

Paschal Robinson, “Francis of Assisi,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 6 (NY: Robert Appleton Co., 1909), pp. 221-230: HathiTrust

Leo Sherley-Price, St. Francis of Assisi: His Life and Writings as Recorded by His Contemporaries (Harper, 1960): WorldCat

Benen Fahey, The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi (Chicago, IL: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988): WorldCat

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents (NY: New City Press, 1999)

Volume 1: The Saint | WorldCat | Amazon
Volume 2: The Founder | WorldCat | Amazon
Volume 3: The Prophet | WorldCat | Amazon
Volume 4: Index | WorldCat | Amazon

Jay Hammond, Francis of Assisi: History, Hagiography, and Hermeneutics in the Early Documents (NY: New City Press, 2004): Amazon

Murray Bodo, Francis: The Journey and the Dream, 40th Anniversary ed. (Cincinnati: Franciscan Media, 2012): Amazon

Jon M. Sweeney, Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2013): WorldCat | Amazon

Jon M. Sweeney, The Complete Francis of Assisi: His Life, The Complete Writings, and The Little Flowers (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2015) | Amazon


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