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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

Saint Francis of Assisi





The son of a prosperous businessman, Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone gave up all his worldly goods and set out to preach repentance. He founded the Franciscan Order of friars and set forth the simple Franciscan Rule: "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps." He also founded the Order of Poor Clares for women with Saint Clare. He exhorted his followers to embrace a life of poverty and to help others. His example was highly influential in thirteenth-century Church reform.

Possibly no other figure in Catholic history is venerated as is Saint Francis. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he is one of the patron saints of Italy. He is also known for his love of nature and all God's creatures and is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Important Dates

Born: 1181 or 1182
Franciscan Order Founded: April 16, 1209
Died: Oct. 3, 1226


Francis of Assisi
This public-domain graphic from the 1885 publication The Hundred Greatest Men is free for your use. Part of the Medieval and Renaissance History Portrait Gallery here at this site.

On the Web

Saint Francis on the Web

In Print

Saint Francis in Print

Related Resources

Indices, primary sources, and general sites focusing on the study of Saints' lives.

Medieval Italy
Sites that focus on Italy during the middle ages and Renaissance.


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