An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Francis of Assisi

(1181 or 1182-Oct. 3, 1226). Thirteenth-century saint and founder of the Franciscan order. He was born in Assisi in central Italy and named Giovanni Bernardone. His father changed his name to Francesco, “the Frenchman,” after a visit to France. Francis's gradual conversion began in the spring of 1205. He gave generously to the poor and became devoted to “Lady Poverty.” Francis stressed absolute simplicity of life marked by poverty, humility, and contemplation of Christ. Others gathered around him, and on Feb. 24, 1209, the Order of Friars Minor (Fratres minores), sometimes called Minorites, was founded. In England they were popularly called Grey Friars because of the color of their habit. The Second Order of St. Francis, known as the Poor Clares, was established for nuns in 1219. The Third Order for lay men and women was founded in 1221. Francis is especially remembered for his writing, “The Canticle of Brother Sun.” The Hymnal 1982 includes two hymn texts written by Francis, “All creatures of our God and King” (400) and “Most High, omnipotent, good Lord” (406-407). The hymn text “Lord make us servants of your peace” (593) is based on a prayer attributed to Francis. He died in Assisi. Francis is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Oct. 4. See Clare; see Franciscan Spirituality.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.