St. Francis of Assisi, born in 1182, was the founder of the Order of Friars Minor. Chosen by God to be a living manifestation to the world of Christ’s poor and suffering life on earth, he was early inspired with a burning love of poverty and humiliation. Divine desire burned in him so mightily as to kindle a like desire in other hearts. Many joined him, and were constituted by Pope Innocent III into a Religious Order.
He lived at the time when the feudal system was disappearing, and Christian democracy was dawning. St. Francis undertook to teach to this generation a spiritual language suited to its new aspiration. He led the people to devotion towards the sacred humanity and the person of the Redeemer, a devotion which has continued to increase. He set the example for clergy and people of detachment from worldly wealth and worldly honors. His reform was carried out not by rebellion, but in accord with the head of the Church. It was the papal authority, which from the first directed that overwhelming current of new life and evangelical mysticism loosed by the saint, and incorporated it in the service of the Church.
Francis died at sunset on Saturday, October 4, 1226, at Assisi, his birthplace. Gregory IX, his friend and director during life, raised him to the altars three years later, and built the marvelous church of Assisi over his tomb.
(Source: The New Roman Missal, Rev. F. X. Lasance)