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Francis of Assisi

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« on: October 03, 2007, 03:17:44 pm »

The founding of the Order of Friars Minor

At the end of this period (according to Jordanus, on February 24, 1209), Francis heard a sermon that changed his life. The sermon was about Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers that they should go forth and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, that they should take no money with them, nor even a walking stick or shoes for the road. Francis was inspired to devote himself wholly to a life of poverty.

Clad in a rough garment, barefoot, and, after the Evangelical precept, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance. He was soon joined by his first follower, a prominent fellow townsman, the jurist Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work. Many other companions joined Francis, and reached the number of eleven within a year. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, and the community lived as "fratres minores", in Latin, "lesser brothers". The Franciscans are sometimes called Friars Minor, a term derived from "fratres", in Latin, "brothers".

The brothers lived a simple life in the deserted lazar house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time wandering through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and full of songs, yet making a deep impression on their hearers by their earnest exhortations.

In 1209 Francis led his first 11 followers to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. At first his attempt to speak with the Pope was refused; but the following night, according to accounts, Innocent saw in a dream the church was crumbling apart and a poor man appearing to hold it up. The next morning, recalling the poor man he had refused the day before, he recognized him as the man he saw in his dream, and decided to change his verdict the following day.

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(Psalms) 31:5,
"Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth."


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