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Profiles in Faith - January


As part of our initiative for the Year of Faith, Veritas is proud to present Profiles in Faith, a series of essays on the life and work of Christian men and women who lived their lives as ‘faith in action’. We encourage you to read the accounts, and to reflect on them over the course of the month. Additional biographical sources are also suggested, should you wish to find out more. 



Profile Four: St Francis of Assisi



At a General Audience in January 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave a catechesis on St Francis of Assisi, whom he described as an ‘authentic “giant” of holiness’.


Below is a summary of that catechesis.


St Francis was born in Assisi either at the end of 1181 or the beginning of 1182. As part of a rich family, he lived a carefree adolescence and youth. At age 20, he took part in a military campaign and was taken prisoner. He became ill and was freed. After his return to Assisi, a slow process of spiritual conversion began within him, which brought him to gradually abandon the worldly lifestyle that he had adopted thus far.


When his father Bernardone reproached him for being too generous to the poor, Francis, in a symbolic gesture, stripped off his clothes, thus showing he renounced his paternal inheritance. He then lived as a hermit until, in 1208, another fundamental step in his journey of conversion took place. While listening to a gospel passage about Jesus’ discourse to the apostles whom he sent out on mission, Francis felt called to live in poverty and to dedicate himself to preaching. Other companions joined him, and in 1209 he travelled to Rome to propose to Pope Innocent III the plan for a new form of Christian life, known today as the Franciscan way of life.



It has been said that Francis represents an alter Christus, that he was truly a living icon of Christ. He has also been called ‘the brother of Jesus’. Indeed, this was his ideal: to be like Jesus, to contemplate Christ in the gospel, to love him intensely and to imitate his virtues. The first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt 5:3) found its fulfilment in the life and words of St Francis.


From love for Christ stems love for others and also for all God’s creatures. This is yet another characteristic trait of Francis’ spirituality: the sense of universal brotherhood and love for creation, which inspired the famous Canticle of Creatures. This too is an extremely timely message in this Year of Faith.


You can read the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s catechesis on St Francis of Assisi by clicking here.



 - To what parts of your own life could you apply St Francis’ message of living simply and generously?
 - In what concrete ways can you put this into action during this Year of Faith? 



Previous Profiles in Faith 

October 2012: Thomas Merton

November 2012: Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

December 2012: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)


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