Francis, the Saint known and loved the world over, was born at Assisi, in central Italy, in the year 1181, the son of a wealthy merchant. He died there in 1226, after a life in Christ that earned him the title “Poverello” – little poor man.
As a youth, like many young people today, Francis “discovered” Jesus. He found Him in the Gospel, poor and suffering. Francis made up his mind to identify himself with his crucified Lord. In the words of Pope Pius XI, “So lifelike and strikingly did the image of Jesus Christ and the Gospel manner of life shine forth in Francis, that he appeared to his contemporaries almost as though he were the Risen Christ.”. Saint Francis attained this marvelous ideal by making the Holy Gospel, in every detail, the rule and standard of his life.
Others wanted to live as Francis lived, men and women, single and married. These followers became the Franciscan Family.
Friars (First Order): Priests and Brothers who live in community with vows.
Poor Clare’s (Second Order): Cloistered women who live in a contemplative community with vows.
Secular Franciscans (Third Order): Lay people and Diocesan Clergy living Gospel simplicity in their homes, promising to follow the Rule of the Secular Franciscans, and to live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis.