San Francesco d'Assisi
Twenty Interesting Facts About St. Francis of Assisi
1. Just like Dr. Dolittle, San Francesco spoke the language of animals.
2. San Francesco lived happily with no money. Although he came from a very rich family, he gave away everything he owned to the poor. He wore a simple tunic and shaved the top of his head to show that he was not vain.
3. San Francesco was not frightened to work with people suffering from leprosy even though they were the most feared people at the time.
4. He began the tradition of celebrating Christmas with a crib and a stable with animals. Nowadays, it is normal to celebrate Christmas with the Nativity Scene because of Saint Francis.
5. San Francesco believed that EVERYTHING was equally important, so he called everything either a 'brother' or a 'sister.' For example, Sister Air, Brother Wind, Sister Earth, Brother Sea, Sister Moon, Brother Sun.
6. Saint Francis loved all creatures and took care not to step on insects when he was walking.
7. Saint Francis loved the letter T. His special letter T is called the T Tau.
8. He rebuilt ruined churches, stone by stone. Two of them still stand today: San Damiano and Santa Maria degli Angeli (also known as la Porziuncola).
9. Francesco was very popular and fascinating. Thousands of people travelled from all over Europe to the area of Assisi just to hear his words.
10. Francesco loved the French language even though he was Italian. For that reason, he was nicknamed 'Francesco' (Frenchy). His real name was Giovanni (John.)
11. Francesco loved songs and poetry. He wrote his own songs and poems. Many people believe that he composed the famous hymn called 'Make me an instrument of your peace.'
He also wrote a very famous poem called Canticle of Brother Sun. This poem is one of the first pieces of literature known to be written in Italian (rather than Latin or Greek.)
12. Francesco developed sores on his hands and feet. These mysterious sores are known as stigmata. They are in the form of the wounds received by Jesus at the time of His death.
13. Francesco's best friend was called Bernardo.
14. Francesco travelled with his companions from Assisi to Rome, to speak to the Pope.
Pope Innocent III was so impressed with Francis that he became his friend and thought that he was wonderful.
15. Francesco travelled to Egypt during the Crusades, to speak to Malik-al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt. The Sultan was so impressed with Francis' peaceful words that he became his friend and gave him gifts, even though Italy and other European countries were fighting against the Sultan's country. This proves how effective words can be and that Francis would have been an excellent politician.
16. Although Francis had no possessions, a friend called Count Orlando of Chiusi gave him a mountain as a gift! That mountain is in Italy and is called Mount La Verna.
17. Francis befriended a fierce wolf that was scaring the town of Gubbio. After a discussion with the wolf, a deal was made that the wolf would become friendly if the people agreed to feed him. Everyone lived happily.
18. Francis had a friend called Clare. She became Saint Clare of Assisi - Santa Chiara
19. The beliefs of Saint Francis are still practised today. Men who live according to the teaching and beliefs of Francis are called Franciscans - Francescani
20. Francis is laid to rest in the Basilica of Saint Francis - la Basilica di San Francesco - in Assisi, with all his companions.