Saint Francis

The Story of Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis, A Charismatic Penitent

from A Small Order, a Great Fraternity
by Fr. Bonaventure Midili, T.O.R.
and Bro. John Paul McMahon, T.O.R.

Francis of Assisi was not born a saint. The son of a wealthy merchant, he had time and money to host lavish banquets for young nobles who proclaimed him “King of Feasts.” Parties and selling cloth left Francis little time for God.

In a war between Assisi and Perugia, Francis fought with youthful enthusiasm. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Spending the next year in a dungeon, he contracted malaria. Ransomed by his father, a more reflective Francis returned to Assisi.

The military victories of Count Walter of Brienne revived Francis’ desire for knighthood. Under Brienne’s command, he hoped to win his favor and become a knight. On his way to join Brienne, Francis stopped in Spoleto and heard the shocking news of his death. Overcome by depression, his malaria returned. One night a mysterious voice asked him, “Who do you think can best reward you, the Master or the servant?” Francis answered, “The Master.” The voice continued, “Why do you leave the Master for the servant?” Francis realized the servant was Count Walter. He left Spoleto convinced God had spoken to him.

During the next two years, Francis sensed an inner force that was preparing him for another change. The sight of lepers caused revulsion in the sensitive soul of Francis. One day while riding his horse, he came upon a leper. His first impulse was to throw him a coin and spur his horse on. Instead, Francis dismounted and embraced the leper. On his deathbed, he recalled the encounter as the crowning moment of his conversion: “What seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body.”

He became a charismatic penitent. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance see the pattern of gradual conversion that marked Francis’ spiritual journey as the defining characteristic or charism of the Third Order Regular.


Saint Francis
Saint Francis

Read more about Saint Francis… Click on the images below!

Events in the Life of Saint Francis

The Canticle of the Sun

The San Damiano Cross