Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181.In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son.His father saw this as an act of theft -- and put together with Francis' cowardice, waste of money, and his growing disinterest in money made Francis seem more like a madman than his son.Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounce all rights as his heir.While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, "Francis, repair my church." Francis assumed this meant church with a small c -- the crumbling building he was in.Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father's shop and sold it to get money to repair the church.But before he left Francis had to have a suit of armor and a horse -- no problem for the son of a wealthy father. One day while riding through the countryside, Francis, the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper.And not just any suit of armor would do but one decorated with gold with a magnificent cloak. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper.
The last thing Pietro wanted in his son was a man of God -- he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with France.
The experience didn't change what he wanted from life either: Glory.
Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream.
There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle -- the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis' turn to wait. He always looked upon it as a test from God..he had passed.
His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano.