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Word Count: 432
Saint Francis of Assisi 1182-1226 was born into a wealthy family at Assisi Italy the son of a cloth merchant Francis received little formal education and during his youth was mostly preoccupied with having fun As a young man he was popular charming enjoyed practical jokes and was usually the life of the party Because of his wealth he generally picked up the tab and thus attracted a following of fun loving rowdy young men and promiscuous womenWhen armed conflict broke out between the men of Assisi and a neighboring city in 1202 Francis eagerly volunteered for the cavalry but wound up getting captured after the first big battle and spent a year in captivityFrancis returned to Assisi hailed as a hero but unknown to his friends he had undergone a transformation in his outlook during his captivity Although he was once again the life of the party he was now questioning his reason for existence After much contemplation including vivid dreams and mystic visions he turned away from the pursuit of all worldly pleasures sold all his property and donated the money to the Church He then began a lifelong passion of caring for societys castoffs the sick and poor including lepers His wealthy father reacted to his sons new lifestyle by disinheriting him Thus Francis lived in utter poverty and even went without shoes But his humbleness extraordinary kindness and love for humanity attracted the attention of other young men and they also chose to give up worldly pleasures and follow him to spread the gospel and serve the poor Eventually as the brotherhood grew its members traveled to other parts of Europe to preach including France Germany Spain and England A separate order for women was formed now known as the Franciscan Nuns or Poor Clares Francis had much love for animals with special fondness for the birds He liked to refer to animals as his brothers and sisters Legend has it
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