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    Saint Francis Of Assissi Essay (3490 words)

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    Saint Francis of AssissiSaint Francis of Assissi1. Birth Saint Francis was born Giovanni Bernadone in either 1181 or 1182 in theItalian hill town of Assisi. His parents, Pietro and Pica, were members of therather well-to-do merchant class of the town.

    Pioetro Bernadone was away inFrance when his son was born. On his return, he had the boy’s name changed fromGiovanni to Franceso (The Little Frenchman-perhaps a tribute to France, acountry he loved and from which his wife’s family came). Saint Francis of Assisi,was born in 1182, more probably in the latter year. His mother’s family, whichwas not without distinction, may originally have hailed from Provence. Hisfather, Pietro di Bernardone, was a prosperous cloth merchant and one of theinfluential business men of Assisi. A merchant in those days was a fardifferent individual from the modern shop keeper; forced by circumstances to beboth daring and prudent, he constantly embarked upon the most hazardousundertakings and his career was likely to be a succession of ups and downs.

    Moreover, business activities, which today tend more and more to assert theirindependence of any ethical code, were then strictly subordinated to acceptedmoral standards, as is clearly shown in the writings of Leo Battista Alberti, acentury and a halflater, or in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas. Bernardone was not in Assisi when his son was born. At first the child wascalled John but upon his father’s return he was christened Francis, in memory ofFrance, whence Pietro di Bernardone had just returned. More than any othercharacter in history, St.

    Francis in after life retained the qualities mostcharacteristic of childhood, so that it is not difficult to imagine him as hemust have appeared during his early years, with his combination of vivacity,petulance and charm. Childhood At the proper time young Francesco Benardone was sent to clergy of SanGiorgio, his parish church, to learn his letters and the ciphering necessary fora merchant. He sat on a bench with the better-class boys, chorusing sacredLatin. He was nota brilliant student. The three extant scraps of his writingbetray a clumsy fist and abound in sad solecisms.

    In later years he avoidedholding a pen;hepreferred to dictate, and to sign his pronouncements with across or tau, a semisacred symbol. However, he learned enough Latin for hispurposes, for school routine and for the comprehension of the ritual. Francescoalso had the education of the home and shop. He could admire his father, honestand worthy, but an austere man, taking up where he laid not down, reaping wherehe had not shown.

    Drama also rendered his secret dream, the realization of thechivalrous life. The exploits of Charlemagne’s paladins and the Knights of theRound Table were already familiar throughout Italy, and code of knightlybehavior was known and honored, if little practiced. Francis’s imaginationdisported itself in the enchanted world of knighthood;and all his life he usedthe language of chivalry and appealed to its ideals. After Francis had attained manhood and developed his native discernment, hedevoted himself to the profession of his father, who was a merchant.

    Yet thishe did in his own way. Merry and generous by nature, ever ready for jest andsong, he roamed the town of Assisi day and night with his comrades and was mostprodigal in his spending-to such and extent that he used all the money allowedhim and all his earnings for banquets and festivities. For this reason hisparents frequently remonstrated with him, pointing out that he was living insuch style with his friends that he no longer seemed to be their son, but theson a great prince. Yet as his parents were wealthy and loved their sontenderly, they allowed him to have his own way rather that disturb him. Educational Backround The official Life of Saint Francis, written by Saint Bonaventure, theMinister General of the Franciscan Order, after the chapter of 1266 at which itwas decided that such a life was needed, because of the proliferation ofapochryphal and spurious lives, records that Francis was sent to school to thepriests of Saint George’s, also in Assisi. But he seems to have learned littlefrom them except enough Latin to read with difficulty and write great labour.

    In later life, the clerky Brother Leo usually acted as his secretary;althoughan example of his signature survives, he preferred to make his mark with a Greekcross, the letter tau, the cross used by the crusaders. However, somewhere -probably in the first instance from his father and his father’s businessacquaintances – he learned enough French to be able to converse in that language,and earn himself the nickname il Francesco, the Frenchman’, although whether itwas given to him by his father, as pious legend has always maintained, or by thewits of Assisi, is uncertain. Whoever gave it to him, it was the obvious namefor a boy wearing French cloth, talking with French visitors, andsingingFrench tunes, the songs of troubadours and jongleurs. John Bernardone became Francis’ early in life, and has remained Francis throughout the years since.

    Which dialect of French he spoke is unknown. Because he was called theFrenchman’ and called his language French’, it is usually assumed that hisdialect was that of the north and the Ile de France, not the langue d’oc ofcounty of Toulouse, which further west towards Navarre shaded into early Spanish. But although he once himself proposed to go to Paris, most of thetraces of French’ influence in his life seem to relate to southern France, andthere are no proofs that Pietro Bernardone’s travels in search of business tookhim further north than the great fairs at Toulouse, Lyons, and Montpellier. TheQuestion remains open. Francis’s everyday language must have been the currentUmbrain dialect:not yet Italian, but a mingling of late Latin and dialectwords from which Italian was rapidly emerging.

    He died just thirty-nine yearsbefore the birth of Dante, the first and greatest of the Italian vernacularpoets. Religious Affliation and Experiences In the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels, Francis was kneeling at the footof the crucifix, he was completely drawn out of himself and lost allconsciousness except of God. From the cross Christ spoke to him. Francis,the Voice came, do you not see that My house is being destroyed?Go thereforeand repair it. He took Christ’s words in the most literal sense. He could seethat the neglected chapel was badly in need of restoration, so he accepted thetask laid upon him as being simply that of bringing stones and mortar andsetting to work.

    Not for an instant did he imagine that the commision could bewider than that. Indeed, though the field of his labor was soon to widen toenclose the last limits of the earth, he never ceased to believe, as in the caseof the lepers, that the local obligation was also his. He never ceased to begreatly concerned about the rebuilding and care of dilapidated churches. Professional life There is no doubt that Francis and his brothers did preach peace in Assisiin autumn, but whether in fact he played the leading role ascribed to himreconciling the factions is undemonstrable. If the claim also sometimes made istrue, that it was from this time that he penitents of Assisi began to callthemselves the frates minores, it is unlikely that Francis arbitratedeffectually in the quarrel. At Assisi in 1202, frates minores would not havebeen taken to mean the lesser’, that is, more humble, brothers’, but brothersof the minores’;it would have bben a political label, as suggestive ofcommitment as the Workers’ party’ of the workers’ brotherhood’ might be today.

    Francis had fought with the minores in 1202 and he was committed to poverty; but he had not damned the rich for their wealth, as Joachim of Flora had done,and it is unlikely that he would have begun his mission to the world bydeliberately alienating a significant faction in his native city. Major Goals About the spring of the year 1206, Francis was freed from everything tyinghim to what theologians called the world’, Francis was poised to begin hislife’s work at last. There was one difficulty, however. He still did not knowwhat that work was. Even though he was freed from the world, he was stilltotally dependant on it for food, drink and clothing. He took a job as adishwasher in a monastery – probably a subpriory of the Benedictines of MountSubasio – but he felt that he was being badly treated there, and left, crossingthe mountain to the village of Gubbio, where an old friend took pity on him,giving him food and clothing.

    While Francis was working on the restoration ofSaint Damian’s, Francis also continued his attempts to help the lepers, who atthis time were still outlawed and and counted dead by most of the world. Sincethe first crusade, their numbers had vastly increased, though whether theirdisease was true leprosy or not is a matter of dispute. To rebuild SaintDomian’s, he begged stones – and, of coarse, food – from his father’s friends inAssisi. Their pity must have been hard for Pietro Bernardone to bear asanything he had yet endured on Francis’s account. Major issues and concerns During the Middle Ages, a number of movements were based on the ideal ofpoverty. What made the movement led by Saint Francis different was hisattractive personality and passionate dedication to the message he preached.

    One of the most popular of saints, he combined austerity with poetic gentleness. Francis popularized the custom of the Christmas crib. Besides the threebranches of the order that he established, many other religious societies bearhis name. One of the major issues that Francis took an interest in the most was,preaching the necessity of the poor, a simple life-style based on the ideals ofthe Gospels. Francis overflowed with a spirit of love not only for men whosuffered but also for dumb animals, reptiles, birds, and any other creature withand without consciousness. Above all, he loved little lambs with a specialaffection and love, fot they showed forth the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ,since the Scriptures used the image of a lamb in describing him.

    Major life events When Blessed Francis, accompanied by Blessed Peter of Cattaneo, who hadbeen a doctor of law, crossed the sea, he left behind two vicars, BrotherMatthew of Nario and Brother Gregory of Naples. He instituted Matthew as vicarof St. Mary of Portiuncula;he was to remain there and accept pos. .

    . . . tulants intothe Order, while Gregory toured Italy to console the bretthren. Accourding tothe first Rule, the fairs were to fast on the fourth and sixth day of the week. There might be some plausibility in the suggestion that the Roman authorities,while lacking idealism thenselves, shrewdly understood how to utilize theidealism of others, were it not that they would have been imbecile in theirpolicy had they failed to see that enthusiasm, to be useful at all, must bemaintained.

    This actually means that it must be constantly renewed. Thereforeit is absurd to suppose that they would have wished to modify the Franciscanidealism in such a way as to destroy or even diminish it. Theirs was theextremely delicate task of directing it so as to preserve it from dissipatingits energies and to help it to keep the enthusiasm bright and fresh. What was this person most known for’saint Francis of Assisi was most known for all of his preaching. Francisbegan as a poet and ended as one, though during the years of his active life heappears to have been too busy living poetry to have felt much inclination towrite it. Of Francis’s own style of preaching we can say that it was altogetherunstudied.

    He never prepared anything but, depending upon the inspiration ofthe moment, addressed himself with burning intensity to those before him. Hiswhole body seemed to preach, and his gestures were vivacious and, perhaps,violent. Had it not been for his crystalline sincerity he might have struckpeople as absurd. Probably, too, it was not only in the famous sermon he wassoon to deliver before the Pope and the cardinals this his feet danced while hespoke. His great dark eyes, full of fire and tenderness, seemed to look eachperson present through and through. He had a voice so resonant that it wasstartling, coming from so frail a man.

    It was fortunate that he had that assetof the orator, for his physical presence was not at all impressive, and whatslight advantages he might have had in this respect were thrown away because ofhis appearing in a coarse habit patched with material still coarser, sack-cloththat did not even match in color. Detail the search for truth One day Francis, who had begun to walk about the house learning on a stick,thought the time had come for him to go and breathe the country air;he openedthe door and went out , undoubtedly on to the road from Spello and Foligno,which was nearest to his house and most convenient for him, being almost level. The road runs along the side of Subasio: on the left rise the curves of thebroad mountain shoulder, here green with woods and there showing the bare rocks:on the right the ground slopes away gently, clothed in the uniform soft pallorof the olive. Before him, where the plain stretches away to Foligno, green andfertile, cypresses and oaks strike a livelier not of colour. Of all thelandscapes round Assisi it is the sweetest and most attractive.

    Francis, whohad not looked at this view for a long time, sought anxiously for his usualsensations at the sight of it. But the mountains and the slopes, the plain andcypresses and olives, had nothing more to say to him;they were strange,inanimate objects. What resistance was met? The claims of his commune has already drawn Francis towards the professionof arms, but it was not enough to satisfy him. The disputes of a handful ofpaltry merchants and insignificant nobles over a house of the ownership of amill, the petty wars of raids and rapine under the very city walls, made noappeal to him, after his short unlucky experience. Of the disputes betweenChurch and Empire he understood but little:he had a respect for ecclesiasticalcensure, for he had experienced in his own city its blighting effect on hisreligious life. He sought for far-away adventure, a mighty war, withoutscruples of conscience, with much glory and the crown of nobility at the end ofit.

    How did he/she affect the world around them? All of the places that Francis visited, for example, Italy, according tothe historical records, were many;and as these appear in casual references,they can be only a part of the total. If we were to include the popular legends,the number would be infinite. Terni, Perugia, ubbio, Citta` di Castello,Cortona, Arezzo, Siena, Florence, Bologna, Ancona, Osimo, Ascoli:these are toosome of the places that Saint Francis visited. It is at once observable thatthey are all in a definite and rather circumscribed district.

    The Saint’sappearances in the more remote and diverse parts of the country, such as Rome,Florence, Bologna, and Alexandria, were, in proportion, few and far between; and one gets the impression ( borne out by the definite or circumstantialevidence of the records )that these were but occasional visits. The otherplaces, on the contrary, appear to represent his usual andappointed circuit. If you take a map of Italy and draw a circle with Assisi as its center, with adiameter of a little less than two hundred kilometers, you will include them all,from Borgo San Sepolcro to Ascoli Piceno, Rieti, and Toscanella, the extremistpoints being roughly equidistant from Assisi. Find a quote made by the person that most identifies the individual and his/herwork. Why did you choose this quote’saint Francis took a child that had just been born and said, There havebeen born today in this street two children, one of whom will be one of the bestmen in the world.

    The other will be the worst. That worst has been taken toapply to the man who succeeded Francis as the ruler of the Franciscan Order,Brother Elias. Yet, apart from the question as to whether Elias was as bad asall that, there is a reason to believe that he was not born in Assisi at all,but nearby;and nobody knows the exact date of his birth. I chose thisparticular quote because it talks about the everyday occurrence of childrenbeing born each and every day. Some of those children are among those best menor women in the world and some are unfortunate to have the opportunity to evenbe born. Those children who are born with a disorder, from their mother’s wrongdoing while carrying her child.

    Your reflection should include:How did he/she express genuine love and concern for people in the climate oftheir world? Francis was one that should have been included among the Fathers, for heputs then into shame. He came at the end of the long process of discovery. With him, the wheel has turned full circle:we are back again in the gold-illuminated days of the apostles and of the early catacombs, the days when to bea Christian was to be carefree, before the heretics and arisen and thedisputatious theologians has assumed the role of lawgivers. Francis threwlearning away and the world sighed with relief, for learning was alreadyweighing heavily in the cloisters, and the librarians, as usual, were wonderingwhether they would be able to keep count of the books. What have I to do withbooks?Francis said.

    O my brethren, all we need to do is pray. As all ofthe people of the Church read of the Church Fathers, we are all made aware ofimmense strains, heroic efforts, terrible responsibilities. The Fathers of thefourth and fifth centuries were shoring up the ruins of Rome with their nakedshoulders. They fought prodigiously, with superlative cunning, against thebarbarians and the Emperors and all the tribes of wanton and evil people in theworld. How did he/she bring to real life what is right, and what is good’saint Francis, the true disciple of Christ, while he was living in thismiserable life, tried to follow in the path of Christ with all his strength, forChrist was the perfect master.

    So it often happened that as he healed a body,God also healed the soul, for the same thing often happened to Christ. SoFrancis did not only serve the lepers willingly, but also ordered his brethrenas they went about the world to serve the needs of lepers for the love of Christ,who reputed a poor leper himself. Saint Francis was staying in a place near towhere some of the brothers of the order were serving a leper hospital. One ofthe lepers was testy, unruly, and also so obstinate that everyone believed.

    This leper had abused and cursed whoever waited on him and, what was worse, hebitterly blasphemed and cursed Christ and his Holy Mother. No one wanted totake care, or even be near him. Although the brothers were willing to put upwith the leper’s many abuses in order to grow in the virtue of patience, buttheir consciences would not ever tolerate his blasphemies about Christ and hisMother. So the brothers were quite prepared to abandon him, but they thoughtthat before doing this they should consult Saint Francis, who at the time wasstaying nearby.

    When the brothers told Francis about this perverse leper, Francis went tosee him. Finding the leper, Francis greeted him warmly:God grant you peace,my dearest brother. The leper then replied with a grumble, What peace can Ifind from God, who has taken away my peace and every worldly good and left mecancerous and stinking?Saint Francis then answered him, My son, be patient! God often inflicts us with a weakness of the body for the good of our souls. There is a great merit in bearing illness with patience. The sick man retorted,How can I endure the continual pain both day and night with any sense of peace?Not only am I sick, but the brothers who were sent to help me will not do it, asthe ought. Saint Francis, divinely inspired to understand that this leper waspossessed by an evil spirit, prayed most devoutly for this man before God.

    After he had prayed, he returned again to speak to the leper:My son, I willtake care of you, since the others do not want to. I’ll willingly have you. What can you do though that the others have not done?What do you want me todo?I want you to wash me, for I stink so bad that I cannot stand myself. Saint Francis immediately went and heated water, which he scented withherbs.

    Then he undressed the man and washed him with his own hands, whileanother brother poured the water. Through divine power, wherever Saint Francistouched him with his hands, the leprosy disappeared and the fleshgrewimmediately healthy. And as his body healed, his soul also healed along withhis body. When the leper saw his body heal, he began to weep bitterly becauseof his sorrow for his sins and great compunction that he felt.

    As his body wascleansed from the leprosy by the bathing, so his soul was cleansing power of histears and his sorrow.

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