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St. Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226
Patron Saint, Christian Mystic
One of the world's most popular and beloved Saints. He is the Patron Saint of animals, ecology and merchants.
It is said that if St. Francis had not lived, Christianity might have died during his lifetime. He was one whose purity and whose selflessness was so great that Christianity had a revival through this pure Being's absorption, as it were, into the Divine or his absorbed love for the Divine.
Reverend Flower A. Newhouse, Studies in Greatness (1 of 3)
The Life of St. Francis
St. Francis was born, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, in Assisi, Italy in 1181. Although he took a vow of poverty later in life, his early life involved living a life of indulgence, paid for by his father who was a wealthy cloth merchant. Even though the wealth of his youth brought much extravagance in his living, there is the the story of the beggar.
Francis was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends quickly chided and mocked him for his act of charity. When he got home, his father scolded him in rage.
Francis' life turned upside down in 1202, when he went off to war and was captured by enemy soldiers. He was imprisoned in a cave for nearly a year, where Francis reported having visions from God.