Saint Francois d'Assise-RELICS

Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1181 or 1182, is one of the most revered saints in Christian history. Founder of the Franciscan order, he is known for his life of voluntary poverty, his devotion to nature and his unconditional love for all of God's creatures. This Italian saint marked his time with his radically simple way of life and his deep faith, thus becoming an emblematic figure of medieval Christianity.

 

Saint Francis of Assisi

 

The Youth and Conversion of Francis

A Privileged Youth

A comfortable family environment

Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, was born in 1181 or 1182 in Assisi, a city located in Umbria, in the heart of medieval Italy. He grew up in a prosperous and influential family. His father, Pietro di Bernardone, was a renowned cloth merchant. Thanks to his business, Pietro accumulates great wealth, thus ensuring his family a comfortable and wealthy lifestyle. His mother, Pica Bourlemont, belonged to the Provençal nobility, bringing additional social status to the family.

The Impact of Wealth on Education

The prosperity of the Bernardone family allowed Francis to benefit from an education that few children of his time could hope for. Although formal education was not as widespread as in modern societies, Francis received training in subjects deemed important to young people of his rank. He learned to read and write, probably in Latin, the language of the Church and scholars, and became familiar with the basics of arithmetic and commerce, essential to following in his father's footsteps.

seated saint francis relic

Relic of Saint Francis of Assisi on relics.es

 

A Carefree and Luxurious Youth

As the only son and heir of the Bernardone family, François leads a carefree youth, surrounded by luxury. He wears elegant clothes and participates in banquets and lavish parties thrown by the elite of Assisi. His social position allows him to mingle with the city's wealthy youth, with whom he develops friendships and maintains camaraderie.

The Values ​​of Nobility and Bourgeoisie

Francis' education is not just academic; it is also imbued with the values ​​of the nobility and the bourgeoisie. He learns codes of social conduct, respect for hierarchies and traditions. He is trained in the arts of chivalry, although his family is primarily a merchant. These skills include horsemanship, weaponry, and courtesy, reflecting the chivalric ideal of the time.

First Steps in Commerce

Pietro di Bernardone has high hopes for his son, hoping that he will one day take over the family business. François began to dabble in business under his father's tutelage, learning the ins and outs of the cloth trade, from negotiations with suppliers to selling products on local and international markets. This training aims to make him a competent businessman, capable of managing the family fortune and maintaining, or even increasing, their social and economic position.

Leisure and Entertainment

Outside of his educational and business obligations, François enjoys numerous leisure activities. He is known for his taste for music and poetry, arts very popular in wealthy circles. The troubadours and jugglers, who sing songs of love and bravery, captivate his imagination. Francis also participated in jousting and tournaments, activities which, although risky, were very popular among young nobles and wealthy bourgeois.

The Spirit of Chivalry and Courtesy

Young Francis is also influenced by the ideals of chivalry. He dreams of glory and recognition, aspiring to become an honored knight. These aspirations are reinforced by the stories of crusades and the exploits of knights which circulate in the circles he frequents. This period of his life is marked by a desire for prestige and personal success, in accordance with the values ​​of his social environment.

An Emerging Awareness

However, despite this golden youth, signs of questioning and dissatisfaction are beginning to emerge. The life of luxury and privilege sometimes leaves François with a feeling of emptiness, a presentiment that something is missing. This inner unease, although discreet at this stage, foreshadows the spiritual upheavals which will later mark his life. The first seeds of his future renunciation of material goods and worldly life begin to germinate, announcing a radical transformation.

In short, the youth of Francis of Assisi is characterized by a total immersion in luxury and privileges, a careful education, and an initiation to commercial responsibilities. However, this period is also marked by the first signs of existential questioning which will lead François to a completely different life path.

The Dissolute Life and the First Crisis

A Carefree and Dissolute Life

Francis of Assisi, from a rich and influential family, spent a large part of his youth enjoying the pleasures of life. As a young man of his time and social status, he led a carefree existence, marked by lavish parties, opulent banquets, and friendly relations with other young people from Assisi's high society. His family's wealth allows him to indulge in expensive hobbies and a life of luxury without worrying about daily necessities.

François is also known for his taste for partying and entertaining. He frequents taverns and participates in song and dance evenings, where he stands out for his joie de vivre and his generous spirit. However, this life of hedonistic pleasures is often accompanied by excessive and irresponsible behavior. The golden youth of Assisi, of which François is a part, are renowned for their excesses and their amorous adventures.

The Conflict between Assisi and Perugia

In 1202, a conflict broke out between the cities of Assisi and Perugia, two rival cities in the region. Francis, driven by the chivalrous ideal and hungry for glory, engages in this war. He hopes to find the opportunity to prove his bravery and obtain honors. However, fate decides otherwise. The forces of Assisi are defeated, and Francis is captured by the soldiers of Perugia.

Captivity and Deep Reflections

Francis' captivity marks a decisive turning point in his life. In prison, he faces difficult living conditions and the suffering of other prisoners. This brutal experience contrasted sharply with the life of comfort and pleasure to which he was accustomed. Francis begins to reflect deeply on the nature of his life and the values ​​he has until then embraced.

This period of detention, which lasts about a year, is marked by intense introspection. Francis is forced to confront his own vulnerabilities and the illusion of security that his wealth provided. He begins to question the meaning of his existence and the superficiality of his worldly ambitions. Confrontation with the reality of human suffering and mortality shakes his certainties and awakens in him a desire for something deeper and more authentic.

Liberation and Illness

After about a year in captivity, François was released following a ransom paid by his father. However, when he returns to Assisi, he is no longer the same. Shortly after his release, he became seriously ill. This illness, which confined him to bed for several months, was another major ordeal in his life. François is confronted with his own physical fragility and the reality of death.

During this period of illness, Francis continued to reflect on the meaning of life and faith. The trials he goes through intensify his quest for truth. He turns more and more to prayer and contemplation, seeking to understand God's plan for him. The illness deprives him of worldly pleasures and forces him to concentrate on spiritual and existential questions.

The Start of Transformation

As François regains his health, he realizes that he can no longer continue to live as before. The experiences of captivity and illness profoundly transformed his perspective on life. He begins to move away from his old friends and their dissolute lifestyle. His concerns turn towards more spiritual and altruistic values.

This existential crisis marks the beginning of Francis' transformation. He feels a call to something greater than himself, something beyond material ambitions and fleeting pleasures. He is looking for a new meaning in his life, a new direction that would be in accordance with the deep aspirations of his soul. This quest for meaning and truth gradually leads him towards a life of renunciation and devotion, laying the foundations for his future religious commitment and his spiritual mission.

In short, the period of Francis of Assisi's dissolute life and the first crisis are crucial stages which lead him to a profound questioning and a spiritual transformation. The trials of captivity and illness play a catalytic role in his inner journey, preparing him to embrace a life of voluntary poverty and devoted service to God and others.

Conversion and Renunciation

The Vision in San Damiano

In 1205, Francis of Assisi experienced a mystical event that would profoundly transform the course of his life. While he was praying in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, located near Assisi, he heard a divine voice. Christ on the cross, whom he contemplated with devotion, spoke to him distinctly. Christ’s words, “Repair my ruined Church,” resonated deeply within him. Francis interpreted this message literally and immediately, believing that he had to physically rebuild the dilapidated churches around him.

The First Restoration Actions

Inspired by this vision, Francis immediately set to work. He began by restoring the chapel of San Damiano. To finance this venture, he sold some of his personal possessions, as well as merchandise taken from his father's store. This action caused a confrontation with his father, Pietro di Bernardone, who did not understand his son's transformation and saw his actions as madness.

Breakup with Family

In 1206, the conflict with his father reached its climax. Pietro, furious at his son's actions, dragged him before the bishop of Assisi to demand the restitution of his property. In a gesture of total renunciation, Francis publicly undressed, returning to his father not only the money and clothes he had taken, but also the clothes he was wearing at the time. Naked before the bishop and the assembled crowd, he declared: "Until now I have called Pietro di Bernardone my father, but from now on I will say: 'Our Father who art in heaven'." This symbolic act of stripping signified his complete detachment from earthly goods and family ties.

A Life of Poverty and Service

After this dramatic episode, Francis devoted himself entirely to a life of poverty and service. He adopted simple clothing, often made of coarse fabric, similar to those worn by the poor and beggars. His life took a radical turn: he renounced all material comfort and chose to live in the greatest simplicity. Francis devoted himself to the restoration of several ruined churches, including the Chapel of San Damiano, the Porziuncola and St. Peter's.

Commitment to the Poor

Francis didn't just restore buildings; he also actively engaged with the poor and the sick. He begged for his food and shared whatever he received with those in need. His commitment to poverty was total, and he lived according to evangelical principles, preaching the love of God and charity by personal example.

The Training of the First Companions

His radically different lifestyle attracted attention and admiration. Little by little, other men were inspired by his example and decided to join him. These first companions shared the same desire to live according to the Gospel, renouncing their possessions and devoting themselves to the service of others. Together they formed a small community, living on alms and helping the poor and sick.

The Officialization of the Mission

In 1209, Francis and his first followers traveled to Rome to obtain official recognition of their way of life from Pope Innocent III. Despite initial reluctance, the pope was convinced of Francis' sincerity and holiness after having a dream which confirmed the young man's divine mission. Francis and his companions received authorization to preach and live according to their rule of poverty.

The Order of Friars Minor

Thus was born the Order of Friars Minor, commonly called the Franciscans. Their mission was clear: to live in poverty, preach the Gospel and serve those most in need. Francis insisted on the importance of fraternity, humility and service. He rejected any form of personal possession, even within their community, and encouraged his brothers to see Christ in every person they met, especially the poorest and marginalized.

Spiritual Heritage

The conversion and renunciation of Francis of Assisi marked the beginning of a profound and lasting spiritual movement. His total commitment to living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, his love for nature and all of God's creatures, and his message of peace and universal brotherhood have left an indelible imprint on Christianity. Even today, Francis of Assisi is revered as a model of faith, simplicity and selfless service.

In conclusion, Francis of Assisi's conversion and renunciation of material goods illustrates a profound spiritual transformation that led him to a life of voluntary poverty and dedicated service. His example continues to inspire millions around the world, proving that true treasure lies in simplicity, humility and unconditional love for God and others.

 

The Foundation of the Franciscan Order

The First Companions

In 1208, after his experiences of conversion and renunciation, Francis of Assisi began to preach a message of penitence, poverty and divine love. His charisma and devotion quickly attracted attention, and a small group of disciples decided to join him, inspired by his exemplary life and his total commitment to the teachings of the Gospel.

The Call for Simplicity and Poverty

Francis' first companions share his ardent desire to live in voluntary poverty, in a simple and humble way, following the words of Jesus Christ literally. Among them are men from diverse backgrounds, some from wealthy backgrounds who, like Francis, have chosen to renounce their material possessions to devote themselves entirely to God.

Community Life

Francis and his companions adopt a community life, centered on prayer, manual work and service to others. They live on alms, begging for their food and sharing everything they receive with those most in need. Their lifestyle contrasts sharply with that of established religious orders, who often own property and property. The first Friars Minor, as they call themselves, prefer precariousness and material uncertainty, entrusting their daily survival to divine providence.

The Poverty Oath

The oath of poverty is at the heart of the identity of the first Franciscans. Francis insists that his brothers must not own money or property, and must live as pilgrims and strangers on this earth. This radical poverty is seen not only as a means of following Christ, who was himself poor, but also as a testimony against the greed and social injustice of their time.

Commitment to the Poor and the Sick

One of the most remarkable aspects of the mission of the early Franciscans was their dedication to the poor and the sick. They spend a lot of time treating lepers, visiting prisons and assisting those who are marginalized and abandoned by society. Their compassion and selfless service quickly gained the admiration and respect of the people of Assisi and the surrounding area.

Itinerant Preaching

Francis and his companions travel the cities and countryside, preaching the Gospel and calling for repentance. Their preaching is marked by a simplicity and sincerity that deeply touches those who listen to them. They avoid complicated theological discourse and focus on accessible messages, emphasizing God's love, peace, and the need to live according to Christian values.

Recognition of the Church

In 1209, the number of Francis' companions having increased considerably, it became clear that their movement needed official recognition to continue and develop. Francis then decides to go to Rome with some of his brothers to present their way of life to Pope Innocent III. This step is bold, because the pope and the Roman curia are often suspicious of new religious movements.

Audience with the Pope

During the audience with Pope Innocent III, Francis and his companions explain their commitment to poverty and their desire to live according to the Gospel. The pope, impressed by the sincerity and humility of Francis, as well as by the spiritual vision which animates him, decides to grant them a favorable audience. According to tradition, the pope had a dream in which he saw the Church of Saint John Lateran, symbol of the universal Church, collapsing and then being supported by a poor little man, interpreted as Francis. Encouraged by this vision, the pope verbally approved their rule of life, thus allowing Francis and his companions to preach and continue their mission.

The Rule of Friars Minor

In 1223, after several years of growth and adjustment, Francis wrote a more formal rule of life for his order, known as the "Regula Bullata", which was officially approved by Pope Honorius III. This rule codifies the principles of poverty, fraternity and mission which are at the heart of Franciscan life. It emphasizes prayer, preaching and service, while emphasizing community life and total surrender to the care of divine providence.

The Expansion of the Order

With official approval from the Church, the order of Friars Minor began to spread rapidly across Europe. Men and women from all walks of life are attracted by Francis' example and join his movement. The Franciscans founded communities in many cities, where they continued to live according to the principles of poverty, simplicity and service.

The Order of Friars Minor

The Quest for Official Recognition

In 1209, as the number of companions of Francis of Assisi continued to grow, it became obvious that their movement required official recognition to ensure its sustainability and legitimacy. Francis, accompanied by several of his first disciples, decides to go to Rome to meet Pope Innocent III. Their goal is to obtain formal approval of their way of life, based on poverty, simplicity and dedicated service to the poorest.

Audience with Pope Innocent III

The audience with Pope Innocent III is a crucial moment for Francis and his companions. Innocent III, known for his rigor and prudence, is initially skeptical of this group of beggars advocating a radically poor life devoid of any material possessions. New religious movements are often viewed with suspicion by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as they can represent a challenge to authority and established structures.

The Pope's Vision

According to tradition, Pope Innocent III had a vision the day before his meeting with Francis. In this dream, he sees the church of Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome and the seat of the pope, collapsing. A poor little man, identified as Francis of Assisi, supports the building with his own hands, preventing its fall. This symbolic vision convinced the pope of the sincerity and divine mission of Francis. He interprets this vision as a sign that Francis and his movement are destined to play a crucial role in revitalizing the Church.

Verbal Sourcing

Encouraged by this vision, Pope Innocent III gave his verbal approval to Francis and his companions. This approval allows the Friars Minor to preach and live according to their rule of life based on the Gospel. The Pope officially recognizes their commitment to poverty and serving the poor, while granting them the freedom to continue their mission.

The Rule of Friars Minor

Although this initial approval was verbal, it marked the beginning of the formalization of the Order of Friars Minor. In 1223, Francis wrote a more detailed rule for his order, known as the "Regula Bullata". This rule was formally approved by Pope Honorius III, successor to Innocent III, and became the founding charter of the Franciscan order. The rule emphasizes the importance of poverty, brotherhood, prayer, preaching and service.

The Fundamental Principles of the Order

The Order of Friars Minor, commonly called the Franciscans, is distinguished by several fundamental principles:

  1. Radical Poverty : The Franciscans renounce all material possessions, living on alms and sharing what they receive with the most deprived.
  2. Brotherhood : They live in community, treating each brother with equality and respect, and emphasizing brotherly love.
  3. Service : Their lives are dedicated to serving the poor, sick and marginalized, embodying God's love through their actions.
  4. Preaching : They preach the gospel wherever they go, calling for repentance, peace and the love of God.

The Expansion of the Order

With papal approval, the Franciscan order began to grow rapidly. Francis and his companions traveled throughout Italy and beyond, preaching and establishing new communities. Their message of simplicity and service resonates favorably in a society often marked by inequalities and abuse of power.

The Structure of the Order

The Franciscan order is gradually adopting an organizational structure to manage its growth. The brothers are grouped into provinces, each headed by a provincial minister. Important decisions are made during general chapters, assemblies where representatives from the different provinces meet to discuss and plan the activities of the order.

The Poor Clares and the Franciscan Third Order

Francis' influence is not limited to men. In 1212, Clare of Assisi , inspired by Francis, founded the order of the Poor Ladies, later known as the Poor Clares. This feminine order adopts the same principles of poverty and simplicity as the Friars Minor. Francis also established the Franciscan Third Order for lay people who wish to live according to Franciscan ideals while remaining in the world.

The Legacy of the Order of Friars Minor

The Order of Friars Minor, founded by Francis of Assisi, has had a profound and lasting impact on the Church and society. Their commitment to poverty and service inspired many other reform and devotional movements. The Franciscans have played a key role in preaching, education and mission, contributing to the evangelization of many parts of the world.

In conclusion, the founding of the Order of Friars Minor by Francis of Assisi and his companions, with the approval of Pope Innocent III, represents a major turning point in religious history. Their way of life based on poverty, simplicity and service not only renewed the Church from within but also left a spiritual legacy that continues to inspire millions of people around the world.

The Mystical Life and Miracles of Francis of Assisi

Stigmata

One of the most mystical aspects of the life of Francis of Assisi is the reception of the stigmata. In 1224, Francis retired to Mount Alvern for a period of intense prayer and fasting. It is a place conducive to contemplation and isolation, where he hopes to draw even closer to God. During this spiritual retreat, he had a moving vision of Christ crucified.

In this vision, Christ appears to Francis in the form of a winged seraph nailed to a cross. Overwhelmed by this mystical experience, Francis feels intense pain and, when he comes to, he discovers that he bears on his own body the marks of the crucifixion: the stigmata. He has wounds on his hands, feet and side, exactly where the nails and the spear pierced Christ's body. Francis thus becomes the first known person in Christian history to receive these sacred marks.

The stigmata of Francis reinforce his reputation for holiness and proximity to the divine. This event is seen by many as a confirmation of his mission and his life of renunciation and devotion. The stigmata remain with him until his death, symbolizing his mystical union with the suffering of Christ.

Love of Nature

Francis of Assisi is also famous for his deep love of nature and animals. Contrary to the common anthropocentric vision of his time, Francis sees all creation as a vast family united under the fatherhood of God. He calls the elements of nature and living creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” demonstrating his respect and affection for all forms of life.

Preaching to the Birds

One of the most famous stories from his life is when Francis preaches to the birds. According to tradition, while walking with his companions near the town of Bevagna, he noticed a large group of birds of various species. Moved by their presence, he turned to them and began to preach to them the love of God. To his surprise, the birds did not fly away, but remained attentive, as if listening to his words. Francis said to them: “My brother birds, you should thank your Creator very much and always love him, because he has given you feathers to clothe you, wings to fly and everything you need.”

Wild Animal Taming

François is also known for his ability to tame wild animals. One of the most emblematic stories is that of the wolf of Gubbio. The town of Gubbio was terrorized by a ferocious wolf which attacked the inhabitants and their animals. Francis went there and, instead of hunting or killing the wolf, he spoke to it gently. The wolf calmed down, and Francis made a pact with him: the inhabitants of Gubbio would feed the wolf, and in exchange, the wolf would no longer harm anyone. The wolf respected this agreement, living in peace with the inhabitants, which further strengthened Francis' reputation as a man of peace and harmony with nature.

The Song of the Creatures

Francis' love of nature is expressed beautifully in his "Canticle of the Creatures", also known as the "Canticle of Brother Sun". Composed near the end of his life, this poem celebrates the beauty of creation and the glory of God manifested through the natural elements. In it, Francis calls the sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire and earth his brothers and sisters, expressing deep gratitude and wonder for God's work.

This canticle is not only a hymn to nature, but also a testament to the spiritual vision of Francis. He sees in every element of creation a reflection of divine goodness and love. This holistic and respectful vision of nature is radically ahead of its time and still resonates today, particularly in contemporary movements for environmental protection.

Prayer for Peace

Francis of Assisi is also known for his prayer for peace, often called the "Prayer of Saint Francis" (although its authorship is disputed and it was probably composed later). This prayer embodies the spirit of peace, reconciliation and fraternal love that Francis advocated throughout his life:

 
Seigneur, fais de moi un instrument de ta paix.
Là où il y a la haine, que je mette l'amour,
Là où il y a l'offense, que je mette le pardon,
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l'union,
Là où il y a l'erreur, que je mette la vérité,
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi,
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l'espérance,
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette la lumière,
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

The Death and Canonization of Francis of Assisi

The last years

The last years of Francis of Assisi were marked by great physical suffering and a deep spiritual commitment. After receiving the stigmata in 1224, his health gradually declined. The stigmata were a constant source of pain, but Francis saw this suffering as participation in the sufferings of Christ. In addition to these sacred marks, he suffered from several other illnesses, including severe eye problems and possibly advanced tuberculosis.

Despite his growing pains, Francis remained active in the leadership of his order. He continued to guide the Friars Minor, providing spiritual and administrative advice. His charismatic presence and teaching were essential to maintaining the unity and vision of the emerging order. He emphasized the importance of remaining true to the ideals of poverty and service.

In 1225, feeling his health further deteriorate, Francis composed his famous "Canticle of the Creatures", a hymn of praise to God for all creation. This hymn is a poignant testimony of his gratitude and spiritual joy despite his physical suffering. Towards the end of his life he asked to be brought back to Assisi. He wanted to die among his brothers and in the simplicity that had marked his life.

On October 3, 1226, Francis died at the age of 44, surrounded by his brothers. His death was marked by a deep spiritual peace and a serene acceptance of his passage to the afterlife. He was buried the next day in the Church of Saint George in Assisi.

Canonization

News of Francis' death spread quickly, and his reputation for holiness immediately attracted crowds of pilgrims to Assisi. The miracles reported at his tomb and the impact of his teaching prompted the Church to consider his canonization.

Less than two years after his death, on July 16, 1228, Francis of Assisi was canonized by Pope Gregory IX. The canonization ceremony took place in Assisi, and the pope declared Francis a saint in recognition of his exemplary life and the miracles attributed to his intercession. Gregory IX knew Francis personally and had been a great admirer of his work and his spiritual charisma. The speed of the canonization testifies to the enormous influence that Francis had already exerted during his lifetime.

The Basilica of Saint Francis

To honor the new saint, Gregory IX ordered the construction of a basilica in Assisi, dedicated to Francis. The Basilica of Saint Francis was quickly erected, becoming an important place of pilgrimage and a major spiritual center. Francis' tomb, located in the basilica's crypt, attracted thousands of pilgrims, coming to seek healing, inspiration and comfort.

The basilica, with its famous frescoes by Giotto and other artists, chronicles the life of Francis and illustrates his profound impact on the Christian faith. Today it is one of the most revered religious sites in Italy and the Christian world.

Patronage and Legacy

Francis of Assisi is today considered the patron saint of environmentalists, animals and the poor. His love for nature and his deep respect for all forms of life have inspired many modern environmental movements. The Catholic Church celebrates its feast day on October 4, a day often dedicated to blessing animals and recognizing the beauty and importance of creation.

Francis' legacy extends far beyond the Catholic Church. Its message of love, simplicity, service and respect for creation resonates with people of all faiths and cultures. Francis is a universal figure of peace and harmony, a model of spiritual and ethical life in a world often troubled by injustice and environmental destruction.

The Relics of Saint Francis of Assisi

The Tomb of Saint Francis

After his death in 1226, Francis of Assisi was buried in the Church of Saint George of Assisi. However, in 1230 his remains were transferred to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, built specifically to house his tomb and honor his memory. The basilica, located in Assisi, Italy, quickly became an important place of pilgrimage, attracting faithful from around the world to venerate the saint.

The Basilica of Saint Francis

The Basilica of Saint Francis, composed of two superimposed churches, the upper church and the lower church, as well as a crypt, is the main sanctuary of the relics of Saint Francis. The remains of the saint rest in the crypt, under the altar of the lower church. The crypt, sober and austere, reflects the life of poverty and simplicity that Francis advocated. Pilgrims visit this crypt to pray and gather in front of Francis' tomb, hoping to receive graces and healings.

Personal Items

In addition to his remains, several personal items of St. Francis are preserved as relics and are displayed in various locations in Assisi and elsewhere. Among the most valuable objects are:

  • The tunic of Saint Francis : The raw wool tunic that Francis wore is kept at the basilica. This tunic is emblematic of his vow of poverty and his renunciation of material goods.
  • The cord of Saint Francis : The simple cord with three knots, representing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, is also preserved.
  • The Chalice and Paten of Saint Francis : Used by Francis during the celebration of the Eucharist, these liturgical objects are venerated for their direct association with the saint.

The Chapel of San Damiano

Another significant place linked to Francis is the Chapel of San Damiano, located just outside Assisi. It was there that he heard the voice of Christ asking him to “repair his ruined Church”. Today, the chapel preserves several relics, including fragments of the speaking cross and other objects that belonged to Francis.

The Relics of Clare of Assisi

Although distinct, the relics of Clare of Assisi, founder of the Poor Clares and close collaborator of Francis, are often associated with the relics of Francis. Clare's remains rest in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, and devotees visiting Assisi to honor Francis often also visit the Basilica of Saint Clare to venerate her relics.

The Scattering of Relics

Over time, some relics of St. Francis were scattered to various shrines and churches around the world. Small plots of bones, pieces of his clothing and other personal items are preserved as sacred relics in several Franciscan churches and cathedrals, allowing faithful from around the world to venerate the saint even at a distance from his place of origin.

The Meaning of Relics

The relics of St. Francis of Assisi are venerated for their direct association with the saint, considered a model of poverty, simplicity and devotion. The faithful believe that the relics possess miraculous powers and can offer special graces, including healings. Pilgrimages to the places where these relics are kept are opportunities for spiritual renewal and deep devotion for believers.

The relics of St. Francis of Assisi, distributed among the Basilica of St. Francis and other shrines, continue to play a central role in devotion to this exceptional saint. These sacred objects allow the faithful to connect in a tangible way to the life and spirituality of Francis, strengthening their faith and commitment to follow his teachings of poverty, simplicity and service to God and all creation.

Conclusion

The death and canonization of Francis of Assisi sealed his status as an emblematic figure of Christian holiness. His life of poverty, mysticism and devotion left an indelible mark on the Church and the world. As the patron saint of environmentalists, animals and the poor, he continues to inspire generations to follow his example of simplicity, compassion and respect for all creation.

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