St. Francis of Assisi

by Jed Marc Jimenez from San Diego

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible"(St. Francis of Assisi). Doing the impossible is what heroes do. Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was born around 1181 in Assisi, duchy of Spoleto, Italy. Known to us as St. Francis of Assisi, he though revered today, began his life as a confirmed sinner. (A&E Networks Television). "Francis of Assisi learned the skills of archery, wrestling and horsemanship. He was expected to follow his father into the family textile business, but was bored by the prospect of life in the cloth trade"(A&E Networks Television). He was raised as a spoiled child, and left school at the age of 14. Francis enjoyed an easy life due to the fact his father was a wealthy merchant and dreamed about being a knight instead of continuing his father's business. He pursued his dream by joining the military. Francis was imprisoned after the war between Assisi and Perugia. A year later he was released making it a turning point of his life, and he had a life changing experience which led him to a religious conversion. Although he was being humiliated with all the negative feedbacks about him, he never gave up and continued to do his mission. Francis' mission was to preached to the people about doing the simple things which can change their life and make it wonderful. St. Francis of Assisi is a hero because he sacrificed his wealthy life for the good of others and kept his life simple; which was the way Christ wanted His people to live. Francis inspired all to do good deeds.

Saint Francis of Assisi by Jusepe de Ribera ()
Saint Francis of Assisi by Jusepe de Ribera ()

Instead of caring about himself, St. Francis shows great sacrifice in caring for others. Paul Sabatier recounts a time when St. Francis gives to the untouchable people of his time:"Riding one day in the plains below Assisi, he met a leper whose loathsome sores filled Francis with horror. Overcoming his revulsion, he leapt from his horse and pressed into the leper's hand all the money he had with him, then kissed the hand."(Sabatier). With the feel of sympathy that he had for the poor leper, he gave him all what he had to the leper. This changed the event of his entire life. He started to visit the poor people, and cared for the sick. He even helped the ones who made mistakes. During the trip going to Damietta, Francis, "With eleven companions, including Brother Illuminato and Peter of Cattaneo, Francis set sail from Ancona on 21 June, for Saint-Jean d'Acre, and he was present at the siege and taking of Damietta. After preaching there to the assembled Christian forces, Francis fearlessly passed over to the infidel camp, where he was taken prisoner and led before the sultan."(Robinson). Francis could have been killed going with his brother to evangelize the people who have no religious beliefs in the Mediterranean. Infidel is a term used to describe atheists.  Infidels are people who are non-Christians and non-believers. They are the people who don't follow the traditions of the Church. put himself in great danger for his mission. Giving up his wealth was not a hindrance to him; rather it encouraged him more to make good deeds, to provide help, and to take care of his people; a true sacrificial man.

He aimed to do the same what God had acted upon, which is to live in simplicity and to motivate others to do the same thing. Francis was invited to stay at Bernard's house, and "Bernard soon informed Francis that he would sell all his goods and give the proceeds to the poor and join him. Shortly afterward, a canon of the cathedral, Peter de Cattaneo, asked to come with them. The three then went down to the Portiuncula, where, on April 16, Francis "gave his habit" to these two companions and they built themselves simple huts."(Sabatier).His two acquaintances were enthused by how Francis carries on in life even when he lived in humiliation and poverty. Francis is a true inspiration to his two brothers. The two believed that only having bare necessities to live a life can make them have a convenient life. Additionally, they are doing kindly acts like Francis was doing.  According to Robinson, who said that, "And thus, without strife or schism, God's Poor Little Man of Assisi became the means of renewing the youth of the Church and of imitating the most potent and popular religious movement since the beginnings of Christianity."(Robinson). Francis was disowned by his own father for giving up all his wealth but that didn't stop him from doing what he wanted to do in his life. He continued to live a life of poverty no matter what had happened between him and his father. Francis disregarded the hard works his father had done to give him a good life because Francis intended to do his mission without the help from his father.  Gallico one said that, "These are the pictures that uplift the spirit and enchant the heart, a worn and sightless man who through faith and simplicity has found the key to communicating with the universe."(Gallico).He surrendered his possessions to adore and to understand the true meaning behind every God's creations. Setting aside everything he had, he started over again to fix his mistakes in the past, making everything came to positive outcomes. Wealth might not be that much important to him, but as an exchange of sacrificing his possessions, his faith grew much stronger to be able to achieve what he hoped-for.

Through the good examples he showed to the people, St. Francis of Assisi is truly hero because he cared for the others first before himself. He gave all that he had just to help the poor to survive and have a great life. Francis' enthusiasm motivated the people to follow him. In this article, Gallico provides details about, "Saint Francis in particular defies the would-be imitator, for his courage was so gigantic, his faith so unswerving, his simplicity so unassailable, and his consistency so unique that his like has not been encountered since."(Gallico).  The remarkable faith Francis had shown made him a founder of organizations which his followers had established. Francis' simplicity was not questioned at all by the people. He heartened the people by showing them what the differences between from the rights and wrongdoings were. Another reason why Francis is a hero is that, "Francis went forth at once exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace. The Assisians had already ceased to scoff at Francis; they now paused in wonderment; his example even drew others to him."(Robinson). Francis preached and preached until he gained their trust which then encouraged the people of Assisi to bring peace and love to all. From that, he started to gain followers which then organizations were started forming. Francis will always be a true hero because he didn't forget about the poor after all the sacrifices he had done. He never abandoned his obligations despite the fact he faced a lot of tribulations which Francis had overcame. Francis proved that you can surpass the impossible you just have to believe in yourself, show efforts in what you are hoping for, and never give up. That starting from the bottom making it all the way through slowly step by step can make you reach what you wanted to achieve in life.

Works Consulted

"St. Francis of Assisi Biography." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 02 May 2013

Bucher, Raymond J. "Francis of Assisi." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed.

            Vol. 5. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 3184-3185. Gale Virtual Reference   

             Library. Web. 7 May 2013.

Gallico, Paul. "St. Francis of Assisi." Catholic Information Network (CIN). N.p., 30 Nov. 2010.

Web. 09 May 2013

Robinson, Paschal. "St. Francis of Assisi." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: 

Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 8 May 2013

Sabatier, Paul. "Life of St. Francis of Assisi." St. Francis of Assisi. Book Jungle, 12 Nov. 2008. 

Web. 10 May 2013

"Francis of Assisi." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. Ed. Laura B. Tyle. Vol. 4. Detroit: UXL, 2003. 729-731. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 May 2013.


Page created on 5/23/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/23/2013 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

St. Francis of Assisi - detailed story from the Catholic Encyclopedia
St. Francis of Assisi - an article by Paul Gallico

Extra Info

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.

- St Francis of Assisi

Author Info

"(St. Francis was) the man of the poor. The man of peace. The man who loved and cared for creation -- and in this moment we don't have such a great relationship with the creator. The man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man who wanted a poor church." - Pope Francis
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