Saint Francis of Assisi
While St. Francis is often known for his love of animals, this saint was known for his poverty, in imitation of Christ. He was born Giovanni Francesco Bernardone in 1181 in Assisi, Italy. His father was a merchant, so Francis never knew poverty as a child. He enjoyed wearing fine clothes, singing at parties, and eating good food. When he grew up, he decided to become a soldier, but was captured and injured. After the war, Francis was a changed man. While recovering from his injuries, Francis had come to know Jesus through prayer. Francis wanted to follow Christ by giving away all his father’s money to help the poor. Francis’ father did not appreciate his son’s generosity and even locked him in a closet, hoping that Francis would come to his senses. His mother helped him escape, though, and then Francis began begging for everything he needed to fix fallen churches and help the poor. Many people were moved by this man who lived a poor life, helping others just like Jesus. Several men wanted to join Francis in his way of life and became the first Franciscan friars. Francis died, surrounded by them, in 1226. The Church celebrates his feast day on October 4.