The Patron

TSt. Francis of Assisi is the patron and titular saint of the school. He is considered the most popular saint of the Catholic Church. The present Pope has taken the name of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was born in the small Umbrian city of Assisi in the year 1182 of Pietro di Bernadone, a wealthy textile merchant, and Pica, of distinguished French family probably from Picardy. His wealth and love of life made him the leader of Assisi’s youth and filled him with dreams of grandeur. In the intercity feuding between Assisi and Perguia he enlisted, entered the battle of Collestrada, and was imprisoned when the troops of Assisi lost. After his release, he returned to Assisi and turned his back on the military career and the promising profession in the business world in order to respond to the impulses of the Lord that moved mysteriously within. A meeting with a leper and hearing a voice from the cross of San Damiano resulted in his conversion, the renunciation of his possessions and a project of rebuilding churches.

On February 24, 1208, on the feast of Saint Matthias, Francis was working in the little church of Santa Maria Degli, Angeli, the Portiuncula, and heard the missionary discourse of Mathew’s Gospel. He responded immediately and embarked on the life of a poor, itinerant preacher proclaiming the message of penance and peace. Shortly afterward, his first followers joined him and formed a brotherhood dedicated to an intense living of the Gospel life. Within a short period of time, Francis and his brothers set out for Rome to have a simple rule-made up of Gospel texts and few prescriptions helpful for their common life-approved by Pope Innocent III. This document was approved orally by the Pope. The biographers of the saint tell us that Francis also wrote a Gospel plan for sisters (the Poor Ladies of San Dimiano) and another for men and women, single and married, who remained in their homes and among their daily secular concerns and strove to live an intense Christian life.

The life of the Poor Man of Assisi is characterized best by his total identification with the mysteries of Christ. On December 25, 1223, at Greccio, he further developed the dramatic presentation of the birth of Christ and brought the crib scene into popular spirituality. His biographers tell of his intense devotion to the mystery of the Eucharist, in which Francis saw the Lord of all creation assume poverty and humility each day so that all men and women might be reconciled with God and one another. The crucified Christ, however absorbed the Saint’s attention to great degree so that the last years of his life became caught up in the mystery of the Cross. On September 14, 1224, while Francis was immersed in a long period of prayer, he received the stigmata, which he carried until his death.

During the last years of his life he was blind and seriously ill. Yet this did not deter his from undertaking a series of preaching missions, ministering to the lepers, and relentlessly encouraging his brothers to give themselves to the ideals of the Gospel. Francis died at Santa Maria degli Angeli, the Portiuncula, on October 3, 1226. Less than two years later, on July 16, 1228 he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX. In 1939 he was proclaimed the patron of Italy and in 1980 he was proclaimed the patron of ecology by Pope John Paul II.

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