Five years later, the same Pope would have a similar dream about Saint Dominic. Innocence III ordered that Francis be called and verbally approved his rule; he then conferred the tonsure upon him along with his companions and gave them as a mission to preach penance. Saint Francis and his companions transferred temporarily to a cabin of Rivo Torto in the outskirts of Assisi from where they would leave to go preach all over the region.
Being St. Francis
Shortly after, they had difficulties with a farmer who was claiming the cabin as his own so that he may use it as a barn for his donkey. In , the abbot gave Francis the chapel of the Porziuncula with the condition that he always conserve it as the main church of the new order. The Saint refused to accept the property of the small chapel and only consented to borrowing it.
As a proof that the Porziuncula would continue as property of the Benedictines, Francis would send them every year, in recompense for the loan, a basket of fish taken from the neighboring stream. On their part, the Benedictines would, in turn, send them a barrel of oil.
Did St Francis of Assisi walk the Camino? | Camino de Santiago Forum
Around the Porziuncula the friars built various primitive cabins because Saint Francis did not allow the order in general or the convents in particular to own any temporal goods. They had made poverty the base of their Order and their love for poverty would manifest itself in their way of dressing, in the utensils used, and in each one of their acts.
Shortly before dying, considering that man is required to treat his body with charity, Francis asked forgiveness from his body for having treated him perhaps with too much rigor. The saint had always opposed the indiscrete and exaggerated austerities. On one occasion, seeing that a friar had lost sleep due to excessive fasting, Francis took him some food and ate with him so that he would feel less mortified. At the beginning of his conversion, upon seeing himself attacked by violent temptations of impurity, he would roll over naked over the snow.
When the temptation was still more violent than ordinary, the saint furiously disciplined himself. Since this was not enough to drive it away, he ended up rolling over brambles. He detested with all his heart peculiarities. These are not poor in spirit because the one who is truly poor in spirit loathes himself and loves those who hit him on the cheek.
His contemporaries speak with frequency of the care Francis had for animals and the power he had over them. Some authors considered such anecdotes as simple allegories and others attributed to them a historic value. The first years of the Order in Saint Mary of the Angels were a period of training in poverty and fraternal charity. The friars worked in their duties and in the neighboring fields to earn their daily bread.
When there was no sufficient work, they would ask for alms door to door, but the founder had prohibited them from accepting money.
They were always prompt in serving everyone, particularly the lepers and the maids. The number of companions of the saint increased. Saint Clare. Clare had left Assisi to follow Francis in the spring of after having heard him preach. The saint was able to establish Saint Clare and her companions in San Damiano, and the community of religious sisters soon became for the Franciscans what the nuns of Prouille were to the Dominicans: a wall of feminine strength, a hidden flower and fruit garden of prayer that made fruitful the work of the friars.
In the autumn of , Francis, unhappy with everything he had suffered and worked for the souls in Italy, he was resolved to go evangelize the Muslims. He set sail in Ancon with a companion and headed for Syria, but a storm caused the boat to shipwreck on the Dalmatian coast. Since the friars had no money to continue their trip, they were forced to hide inside a ship to return to Ancon.
God, however, wanted them to never arrive at their destination: the saint fell ill in Spain and he then had to return to Italy.
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There he dedicated himself to passionately preach the Gospel to the Christians. With frequency he would exhort his companions to manual labor and if he allowed them to ask for alms, he prohibited them from accepting money.
Lights Along My Path, A Friars Journey in the Footsteps of St. Francis
Asking for alms did not represent something shameful since it was a way of imitating the poverty of Christ. Blessed is the servant who always remains under the rod of correction. He is a faithful and prudent servant who for each fault he commits he hurries to make amends: interiorly through contrition and exteriorly through confession and completing the penance.
The wise and giving cardinal Ugolino exercised a great influence in the development of the Order. The companions of Saint Francis were so numerous that a certain form of systematic organization and common discipline would forcibly be imposed. The first general chapter met in the Porziuncula in Pentecost of the year It was told that around five thousand friars gathered.
It is not at all strange that in such a large community the spirit of the founder would have diluted itself slightly. The delegates found that Saint Francis would offer himself excessively to adventure and they demanded a more practical spirit. What seemed to them as an adventure was in reality a great trust in God. The Lord told me that we should be poor and crazy in this world and may that one and no other be the path through which He takes us.
May God confuse your wisdom and science and make you return to your primitive vocation even if it is against your will and if you find it defective. His words were a reflection of his life in imitation of Jesus.
He would say:. Consider how the greatest of all privileges is enjoying no privilege…. Francis wanted to brandish the sword of God. As a remembrance of this pious visit, the Franciscans are in charge since centuries ago of being custodians of the Holy Places of Holy Land. On June of , he embarked in Ancon with 12 friars. The ship took them to Damietta at the mouth of the Nile. The crusaders had established in the city and Francis suffered much upon seeing the selfishness and the dissolute habits of the soldiers of the cross.
I come to show you, you and your people, the path of salvation; I come to announce the truths of the Gospel. And if you still waver between Christ and Mahoma, order that a bonfire be lit; I will go inside it with your priests and you will see which one is the true faith. Discouraged by seeing the reduced success of his preaching amongst the Saracens and Christians, the Saint went to visit the Holy Places. There he received a letter in which his brothers urgently asked him to return to Italy. During the absence of Francis, his two vicars, Mathew of Narni and Gregory of Naples, had introduced certain innovations that tended to standardize the Friars Minor with the other religious orders and frame the Franciscan spirit within the rigid scheme of monastic observances and ascetic rules.
The religious sisters of San Damiano already had their own constitution drawn by Cardinal Ugolino using the rule of Saint Benedict as a base. Upon arriving in Bolonia, Francis had the unpleasant surprise of finding his brothers lodged in a magnificent convent. The saint refused to place his feet inside it and so stayed with the preacher friars. At once he called for the guardian of the Franciscan convent, reprimanded him, and ordered the friars to leave that house.
Such events had according to the vision of the saint the dimensions of a true betrayal: it dealt with a crisis out of which the Order had to leave either sublime or destroyed. Saint Francis moved to Rome where he obtained from Honorius III the naming of Cardinal Ugolino as protector and advisor of the Franciscans since he had deposited a blind faith in the founder and he possessed a great experience of the matters of the Church. At the same time, Francis offered himself ardently to the task of revising the rule.
For this he summoned a new general chapter that met in the Porziuncula in The saint presented the delegates the revised rule. As for poverty, humility, and evangelical freedom, which are all the characteristics of the Order, they remained intact. They represented a challenge from the founder to the dissidents and legalists who behind his back plotted a true revolution of the Franciscan spirit.
The head of the opposition was brother Eli of Cortona.
Log in to Viator
The founder had already renounced being director of the Order, such that his vicar, Friar Eli, was practically the general minister. However, he did not dare oppose the founder whom he respected sincerely. At the end of two years during which he had to move each time stronger against a current that was tending towards moving the order in a direction that he had not foreseen and that seemed to jeopardize the Franciscan spirit, the saint took on a new revision of the Rule.
Afterwards, he transmitted it to Brother Eli so that he may hand it down to the ministers. The rule, as it was approved by Honorius III in , represented substantially the spirit and the way of life for which Saint Francis had struggled since the moment he stripped himself of all his rich clothing before the bishop of Assisi. The association, which was formed by laypeople dedicated to penance and who led a life very much different to the one accustomed to back then, became a great religious strength in the Middle Ages.
In current canon law, the terciaries of the diverse orders still enjoy a status specifically different from the members of the associations and Marian congregations. Saint Francis spent the Christmas of in Grecehio in the valley of Rieti. He wanted to celebrate the Incarnation in a special way. He wanted to do something to help people remember the Child Jesus and how he was born in Bethlehem. Saint Francis remained various months in the retreat of Grecehio, consecrated in prayer, but jealously hidden to the eyes of men the most special graces that God transmitted to him in contemplation.
Brother Leo, who was his secretary and confessor, affirmed that he had often seen him during prayer be elevated so high above the ground that he could barely reach his feet and on some occasions he could not even do that. Around the Feast of the Assumption of , the saint retired to the mountain of La Verna and built a small cell there.
He took with him Brother Leo, but he prohibited anyone from coming to visit him until after the feast of Saint Michael. It is there where on or about September 14th, , the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the miracle of the stigmatas took place. Francis tried to hide from the eyes of men the signs of the Passion of the Lord he had printed on his body.
Therefore, he always had his hands inside the sleeves of the habit and he used socks and shoes. Nevertheless, wanting the advice from his brothers, he communicated to Brother Illuminated and some others what had happened, but he added that certain things that had been revealed to him no man on earth will ever discover.
One time when he was sick, someone proposed reading a book to him to distract him.
Although I have to live until the end of the world, only that book is enough. The saint did not reject science, but he did not desire it for his disciples. Studies only made sense as means for an end and they could benefit the Friars Minor if they did not prevent them from dedicating a longer time of prayer and if they taught them to preach themselves than to speak with others. Francis detested studies that nourished vanity more than piety because they made charity become lukewarm and dried the heart. Above all, he feared that lady science would become the rival of lady poverty. He prowls around seeking to become the owner of the heart of man and, under the appearance of some recompense or aid, to drown in his memory the word and precepts of the Lord, and he intends to blind the heart of man through the worldly activities and worries, establishing his abode there.
The really hot sand of the desert of Egypt affected the vision of Francis to the point of being almost completely blind. The last two years of the life of Francis were of great suffering that it seemed that the cup had been filled and flowed over. Strong pains due to the deterioration of many of his organs stomach, liver, and spleen were consequences of the malaria he contracted in Egypt. In the most terrible pains, Francis offered to God everything as a penance and for the salvation of souls since he considered himself a great sinner.