Events in the Life of Saint Francis

c. 1182 – Francis is born Giovanni Bernardone (soon renamed Francesco) in the
city-state of Assisi, the son of wealthy textiles merchant Pietro

c. 1202 – The worldly young Francis—nicknamed “The King of Feasts” by his
wealthy friends—is taken captive during a military skirmish with the
neighboring city of Perugia. He remains prisoner for a year, during
which time he contracts malaria.

1205 – Francis attempts to join the army of Count Walter of Brienne, but turns
back after falling ill and receiving a message in a dream which he
believes to be the voice of God.

1206-08 – The period of Francis’ conversion. During this time Francis undertakes
the restoration of the Church of San Damiano after a voice from the
Crucifix there instructs him to “rebuild my House, which as you see is
falling into ruins.” Francis enters the Order of Penance (a lay order) and
goes on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he lives for a time as a beggar,
and gives all his money to the Church and to the poor. Upon his arrival
home, his father commands him to stop spending the family wealth on
such things. Francis responds by disowning his family connections and
giving himself over wholly to the service of God.

1208 – Francis begins his life as a mendicant preacher, alone at first, but soon
gathering a community of followers. These are the first Franciscans.
They build a small monastery at Porziuncola and travel to Rome, where
Pope Innocent III grants their Order (the Friars Minor) his sanction.

1211 – The Franciscans become caretakers of their first parish, St. Mary of the
Angels in Porziuncola.

1212 – Clare Scifi, a young noblewoman, requests to join Francis’ community.
He creates the Second Franciscan Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares)
for her and her companions.

1214-15 – Francis travels to Spain in an attempt to convert the Muslims.

1216 – Cardinal Ugolino is made Protector of the Order.

1217 – The first General Chapter of the Friars Minor is held at Porziuncola.

1219 – The second General Chapter, during which Francis and some
companions resolve to visit the Holy Land in an attempt to convert
the Sultan of Turkey. This unsuccessful mission lasts about a year.

1221 – At the “Chapter of Mats,” 5,000 friars from around Europe meet at
Porziuncola. Around this time the first order for the “Third Order
Regular” is conceived, intended for laypeople who wish to follow the
Franciscan way.

1223 – The Rule of the Friars Minor is finalized and approved by the Pope.
At Christmas, Francis creates the first Creche or Nativity Scene at

1224 – Francis receives the Stigmata while praying on the mountain of La

1225 – Francis composes his famous “Canticle of the Sun.”

1226 – Francis dies at Porziuncola, aged 45.

1228 – Francis is canonized by Pope Gregory IX.