Most people associate St. Francis of Assisi with the blessing of animals. But his prayer, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…” is a fitting biography of his life. As a child, he was a student of the priests of St. George’s at Assisi – but spent more time with Troubadours. He had a wonderful relationship with his mom – but a tenuous one with his father who had plans for his life.
Francis had a ready wit, love to sing and buy and wear fine clothes. He was also often found in the company of beautiful women. He was very generous with his father’s money – and even at an early age was known to be sympathetic to the poor.
When he was about twenty, he went out with the townsmen to fight the Perugians (a neighboring town) in a petty skirmish that was frequent between rival cities. The Assisians were defeated and Francis was held captive for more than a year and became ill. The illness got him thinking about life and eternity – and he promised to change.
When his health returned, he forgot his vow and began searching for fame and fortune by embracing a military career. The night before he set off with a knight – he had a dream of a vast hall hung with armor marked with the Cross. “These,” a voice said, “are for you and your soldiers.” “I know I shall be a great warrior and prince,” exclaimed Francis misinterpreting the dream. A second dream told him to turn back and “serve the Master not the nation” – and he did.
Francis embraced a “wife” (poverty) and set up camp outside town where he welcomed anyone in need. Many of his first converts to the Franciscan Order were military veterans returning from war. They were broken individuals – in body, mind and spirit – and Francis took them in and helped them in the healing process. They wandered the country serving God and the church.
They were a very different kind of army – true soldiers of the cross – willing to serve and sacrifice to bring just a little bit more of God’s kingdom to earth.
Me Ke Aloha,