St. Francis was in his 20’s living the good life in Assisi, Italy, with his father, mother, and 6 siblings. He was born in to money as his dad was a wealthy cloth merchant who afforded his children with many luxuries. He was a young man when his town went to war with a neighboring city-state. Because he had the wealth to afford a horse and armor, he became a knight and joined in the feud but was captured and imprisoned early.
In prison, he was treated deferentially because of his father’s wealth and due in part to his good nature and cheery disposition. He was released from prison and when he returned home, his friends thought he was in love. He was frequently lost in thought and meditation. When he set out on another military campaign, he exchanged his armor with another poorly clad knight and returned without ever having engaged the enemy. The object of his affection was not a lady whom his friends imagined, but “Lady Poverty.” From this point on, Francis set upon a journey of conversion that steadily led him away from the values and lifestyle of his society and toward the values and lifestyle of the Gospels.
After reading in the Gospel the story of a rich young man being told to give his money to the poor, Francis took this to heart. From then on, he gave money to poor people more easily than he had ever spent it in his former lifestyle. Embracing simplicity in its purest form, Francis came to despise money as something that entices people away from valuing other people, animals and creations of God. He would frequently treat coins as he would pebbles on the ground. Since the money he was giving away was his father’s, this generosity led to a confrontation where he renounced his father’s possessions, even to the point of stripping himself of the cloak he was wearing. He declared himself a son of God and thus began a movement that would change the world.