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St Francis of Assisi

St Francis was born in 1182 in a town called Assisi which is Italy.  His father was very rich and wanted Francis to follow in his footsteps, but young Francis had other ideas! At the age of 19, Francis became a soldier but was captured during a battle and he was kept as a prisoner for over a year. Eventually, his father paid for his son to be released, but over the next few years, Francis began to see visions from God that changed his life. When praying in a church, Francis heard God tell him to, "Repair my church, which is falling in ruins." Francis then gave all his money to the church. His father became very angry with him. Francis then left his father's home and took a vow of poverty. As Francis lived his life of poverty and preached to people about the life of Jesus Christ, people began to follow him. By 1209, he had around 11 followers. He had one basic rule, which was "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps". These people later became known as the Franciscan monks. 

Francis was known for his love of nature and animals. It is said that one day he was talking to some birds when they began to sing together. Then they flew into the sky and formed the sign of a cross. It was also said that Francis could tame wild animals like 'the Wolf of Gubbio' who was scaring the townspeople, but Francis blessed and tamed.

He died in 1226 while singing Psalm 141, and it is said that he received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ) two years before he died. Francis was declared a saint of the Catholic Church only two years after his death.