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Luis Mendez
Mr. Allsup
English 1301.05
Research Paper

St. Francis of Assisi

We have heard the saying: put your money where your mouth is. Certainly St.

Francis does so. The exceptional life he chose to live, not only has impacted religion

tremendously. It has also impacted education through both his precepts and examples.

St. Francis of Assisi was born under the name of Francis Bernardone in

September 26, 1811. His father was Pietro di Bernardone, a successfully merchant of the

time. His mother—of French origin— was Pica Bourlemont. At the end of the second

crusade, in his early twenties, Francis joined the army of his town to fight Perugia. After

they were ambushed, Francis was captured. This hardship period as a prisoner turns to be

a turning point in his life, his conversion. Louis De Wohl, in his novel Francis of Assisi,

asserts this point, “The story of the soldier and merchant’s son who might have been right

hand to a king…and whom became instead the most beloved of all saints.”1

St. Francis believes precepts as the fundamental elements to succeed in life.

Today in his congregation, his disciples follow these rules. Among his many precepts,

three stand out. The first: simplicity of life. John Davis, in The Gift of Saint Francis,

supports this point. In his analysis, he exposes the revised rule of 1221 (second rule)

which was adopted by the Franciscan congregation. In this rule, St. Francis calls all his

disciples to live in poverty. Francis establishes that, “Brothers…should seek the most

humble jobs so that they are on the lowest rung of the economic ladder. They should be

servants rather than masters.”2 The complex life of the twenty first c makes it difficult to

live in simplicity. Factors such as technology, individualism and materialism contribute to

it. Technology for example, complicates a simplistic life as it provides for a higher

standard of living. In addition, individualism makes us selfish thus preventing our

simplicity. Finally, materialism leads us far from simplicity, as we have an excessive urge

to acquire more than what we need.

The second: reverence for the environment. St. Francis in The Canticle of Brother

Sun gently portrays, “Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Wind and air, breezes and clouds

and weather foul of fair-to everyone that breathes Thou givest a share.” 3 In this figurative

language, St. Francis calls us to preserve nature. Throughout the canticle, he portrays the

need of balance in nature which has been disturbed by humanity. Consider global

warming, the weather is dramatically changing as the result of the over consumption of

natural resources. The effects can be seen in natural disasters like: tsunamis, hurricanes,

the melting of the poles, and the extinction of species. Leonardo Boff, in Saint Francis A

model for Human Liberation, recalls the precept for the environment also in the simplest

things. He mentions that St. Francis “prohibits the brothers from cutting any tree at the

roots that they might bud again. He commanded the gardeners to leave a plot of

uncultivated land so that all types of grasses might grow (including weeds), because ‘they

too proclaim the beauty of the father in all things’.”4 It is our responsibility to take care of

this world in order to preserve life, not only for ourselves, but for the generations to


The third: self-giving. Saint Francis mirrored the example of Jesus Christ, as Saint

Mark mentions in the Bible, “If a man wishes to come after Me, he must deny his very

self, take up his cross, and follow in my steps”5. All the disciples who want to become

part of the congregation must deny themselves. In The Gift of Saint Francis, the precept

establishes that, “the brothers who are anxious to follow the humility and poverty of our

Lord Jesus Christ should allow themselves only what the apostle permits: ‘Having food

and something to cover ourselves with, we consider it a privilege to live with the outcast

of this world: the sick, the weak, the poor lepers, and the beggars on the road”. 6 Self-

giving constitutes the core for the spirit of St. Francis accepting to live in poverty and

humbleness. I should show how, with a little help from Leonardo Boff, in Saint Francis A

Model for Human Liberation, self-giving = poverty + humility. He recalls that, “true

poverty is always accompanied by humility that supports and accepts everything”.7 All

his disciples must follow this precept. The precepts of St. Francis would not mean

anything if he would not have put them into practice.

We know the life of St. Francis due to his actions. The examples of St. Francis

and his disciples are preserved in: The Little flowers of St. Francis of Assisi (the Fioretti).

This work helps us to illustrate some of his precepts. The first example is that of

simplicity of life. St. Francis gave all his possessions to the poor. In the film, Brother

Son, Sister Moon by Franco Zeffirelli, the new attitude of St. Francis, about the real

richness in heaven and not on earth, shows him throwing away all his father’s possessions

through the window. St. Francis argues, “...father the real treasures are in heaven and not

on earth”.8 Francis realizes that he needs no more ties in his spirit to be free and to obey


The second example is that of reverence to the environment. St. Francis feels the

presence of God through both, inanimate and animate elements in nature. He strongly

believes that everybody is part of the whole universe, and everybody should be kind to

one another. The work, The little flowers of St. Francis, narrates how St. Francis converts

a fierce wolf, which devoured not only animals, but also people in the region of Agobio,

to a nice and gentle protector of the town; he safes him from being killed. This

demonstrates his regards for animals and environment. St. Francis recalls, “come hither,

brother wolf: I commanded thee in the name of Christ that thou do not harm, nor to me

nor to anybody”.9 Due to his reverence for the environment and for animals, St. Francis is

well know today as the patron of the nature and creatures.

The third example is that of self-giving. Leonardo Boff recalls in his analysis that,

“Francis and his ‘little poor people’ lived this spirit of minority with courtesy and

unassumingly, with joy and without false pity”.10 St. Francis felt guilty about the cruel

treatment of the servants; he feels their pain and he becomes one of them. As a result of

the situation, he rejects his father. In the film, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, St. Francis tells

his father, “…what is born with flesh is flesh. What is born with spirit is spirit”.11 Self-

giving involves freedom from human ties like wealth. If St. Francis would not have

denied himself, he would not have felt the compassion for the poor and what is most

important, he would not be a saint. Instead, he refuses the human world and serves the


The precepts by St. Francis impacted education. In general education, he invites us to

respect one another, to listen, and to obey. Besides that, he encourages older people to

teach good values to the next generation, especially those concerning nature and

fraternity between men. The numbers of Colleges, which based its mission on precepts

by Francis, is vast. This fact is visible in the webpage Google. The Saint Francis of Assisi

College System Calamba asserts their mission statement. “We, at Saint Francis of Assisi

College System a private, co-educational, non-sectarian, but Catholic-oriented, multi-

campus institution of learning, envision the total development of our students and the

community guided by the virtues of Saint Francis of Assisi for the progress of the

society”.12 In addition, his examples impacted education because the main goal of

colleges and universities is to prepare us for life. What is distinctive of colleges and

universities based on virtues by St. Francis is the creation of a serving community in the

Franciscan spirit. Precepts by St. Francis teach us to focus on intangible treasures, such as

love and service towards others, rather than on tangible treasures.


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11.- scene 9
12.- Mission Statement


1.-De Wohl, Louis. Francis of Assisi. J. B. Lippincott Company: Great Britain, 1958.

2.-Davis, John. The Gift of Saint Francis. Published in the U.S.A by Ave Maria Press,
Notre Dame, IN, 46556, 2003
ISBN 0-87793-603-X
3. - A. Armstrong, Edward. Saint Francis: Nature Mystic.
University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1973.
ISBN 0-520-03040-0e
4. - Boff, Leonardo. Saint Francis. A Model for Human Liberation The Crossroad
Publishing Company. 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y., 1985.
ISBN 0-8245-0671-5

5.-Kempihs, Thomas. The Imitation of Christ. Catholic Book Publishing Co.: New York,
6. - Davis, John. The Gift of Saint Francis. Published in the U.S.A by Ave Maria Press,
Notre Dame, IN, 46556, 2003

7. - Boff, Leonardo. Saint Francis. A Model for Human Liberation The Crossroad
Publishing Company. 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y., 1985.
ISBN 0-8245-0671-5

8. - Zeffirelli, Franco. Brother sun, Sister moon. A Paramount Release of an British Co-
Production. Copyright 1972.
9. - St. Francis of Assisi. The Little Flowers of ST. Francis of Assisi. Translated from the
Italian From the Italian by T. W. Arnold, M.A. with a note by DR. Guido Biagi
New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers
Printed in Great Britain, 1925

10. - Boff, Leonardo. Saint Francis.(A Model for Human Liberation) The Crossroad
Publishing Company. 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y., 1985.
ISBN 0-8245-0671-5

11.-Zeffirelli, Franco. Brother sun, Sister moon. A Paramount Release of a British Co-
Production. Copyright 1972.
12. - Saint Francis of Assisi College System Calamba. Mission statement. 14 April 2007