Deacon; Founder of Franciscan Family (1182-1226)
Francis was born in Assisi in the year 1182. A happy carefree young man, he came to renounce his family inheritance and gave himself resolutely to God, embracing poverty, living the life of the Gospel, and proclaiming to everyone the love of God. The excellent formative principles he gave to his followers were approved by the Holy See. He laid down the foundations also for the Order of Poor Clares and the Third Order of Penance for people living in the world, and prepared the way for an apostolate among the non‐Christian peoples. He died in the year 1226. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1228.
From the letter of Saint Francis to all the faithful
How blessed are those who love the Lord and do as the Lord himself tells us in the Gospel
Because I am the servant of all, I am obliged to serve all and to administer the fragrant words of my Lord to them. Therefore, realizing that I could not visit each one of you personally because of sickness and the weakness of my body, I decided to offer you in this letter and message the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Word of the Father, and the words of the Holy Spirit, “which are spirit and life”.
The most high Father made known from heaven through His holy angel Gabriel this Word of the Father ‐ so worthy, so holy and glorious ‐ in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from whose womb he received the ﬂesh of our humanity and frailty. Though he was rich, He wished, together with the most Blessed Virgin, His mother, to choose poverty in the world beyond all else.
His Father’s will was such that His blessed and glorious Son, Whom He gave to us and Who was born for us should offer Himself through His own blood as a sacriﬁce and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for Himself through Whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we might follow His footprints.
And He wishes all of us to be saved through Him and receive Him with our heart pure and our body chaste. How blessed and happy are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbour a s yourself.” Let us love God, therefore, and adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind, because He who seeks this above all things has said: “True adorers adore the Father in Spirit and Truth”. For all “who adore Him must adore Him in the Spirit” of truth. And “day and night” let us direct praises and prayers to Him, saying: “Our Father, Who art in heaven…” for we “should pray and not become weary.” We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from an excess of food and drink and be Catholics.
We must also frequently visit churches and venerate and revere the clergy not so much for themselves, if they are sinners, but because of their ofﬁce and administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacriﬁce upon the altar, receive and administer to others. And let all of us know for certain that no one can be saved except through the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim, and minister. Religious, however, who have left the world, are bound to do more and greater things, but not to overlook these.
We must “love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.” We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of servitude and holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord.
We must not be wise and prudent according to the ﬂesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble, and pure. We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to “every creature for God’s Sake.” And “the Spirit of the Lord will rest” upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and it will make a home and “dwelling place in them”. And they will be the children of the heavenly Father, Whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I, brother Francis, your lesser servant, with a wish to kiss your feet, beg and implore you in the love that is God, to receive, to put into practice, and to observe, as you should, these words and the others of our Lord Jesus Christ with humility and love. And may the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit bless all who receive them with kindness, and understand them, “if they have persevered to the end” in them.
you helped our seraphic father Francis
reflect the image of Christ
through a life of poverty and humility.
May we follow your Son
by walking in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi
and by imitating his joyful love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.