Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady

The Story of St. Francis

Born to a wealthy cloth merchant in 1182, Francis was inspired by God in his mid-20s to leave his worldly life. Clad in rough garments, barefoot and without a walking staff or currency, he began to wander the countryside of Umbria, Italy, preaching and proclaiming the Gospel. Francis advocated “holy poverty” to the rich as well as to the poor, and he invited all to forgiveness, reconciliation, humility and simplicity.

Leading by Example

Francis became known for his love of nature, animals and the environment and moved people not only by his words but also his example. Many joined him and soon The Order of Friars Minor was established, endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210. This group quickly grew and inspired by Francis, set out to not only preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ but also to live it through services to the sick and needy. Soon after, Francis founded The Order of Poor Ladies, eventually The Order of St. Clare, a group of women dedicated to his teachings. Finally, for those who could not leave their homes, Francis later formed the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance. This was a lay fraternity whose members neither withdrew from the world nor took religious vows but still carried out the principles of Franciscan life.

Francis died in 1226, but not before his growing Order had been established in France, Germany, Hungary, Spain and even further to the East. This gentle man, a profound inspiration to many, was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX in 1228.