John Francis Bernardone was born in Assisi, in Umbria. As a youth, he was more interested in fine clothes and a life of squandering his father’s money.
However, a Byzantine-style crucifix (picture) in the small, run down church at San Damiano of Assisi spoke to him, calling him to restore the crumbling Church. His conversion led him to renounce his worldly possessions, and he began to literally rebuild the church. The money he earned from begging paid for materials.
Francis believed the best way to bring others to Christ was by example. He had a special interest in helping those with leprosy. He and a few followers were given a small church called the Portiuncula, which formed the cornerstone of his Order, the Friars Minor.
He founded other orders for lay people, geared toward helping the poor, and his inspiration came from his calling to glorify God through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this be our quest, too.
“Brethren: God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14). (The day’s epistle, page E 121, The People’s Anglican Missal).