Francis of Assisi
So today remember Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone! Okay remember Francis of Assisi as today is his feast day. Francis (Giovanni) was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. The day he was born, his father Giovanni was in France on business as he was a silk merchant and his mother Pica (who was born in France) named him Giovanni after her husband. When Giovanni arrived home from France he changed his name to Francesco. Thus the world inherited Francis of Assisi. Francis didn’t want to work with his father as a silk merchant, he wanted to be a preacher. He read Scripture often and so appreciated the depth of God’s love for all of God’s creatures and wanted to spread that in preaching. He even got involved in the world’s problems as he went to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade to preach and change the hearts of leaders to stop persecutions. He became a monk and had 12 of his disciples accompany him to Rome to persuade Pope Innocent III to officially recognize his group, the Franciscan Communities. Francis was never ordained a priest and he remained a deacon until his death.
Our Holy Father chose Francis as his papal name because he admired the love of evangelization that Francis of Assisi had and also his love for ALL of God’s creatures. As the world learned and then honored Francis as the patron saint of the environment and animals. Francis used to remark how he preached to the birds and they listened and followed him around. Today I am so grateful the world today honors a person who so appreciated the depth of God’s love and then practiced it.