Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis was born in 1182 into a wealthy merchant class family in the small town of Assisi in central Italy.  

Francis himself was both heroic and gracious. Although his early life was considered carefree, his friends remained loyal to him throughout his life. Because he loved singing the songs of the French troubadours, his friends even dubbed him the “king of song.” His father actually named him after the country of France – Francesco – a nation and culture that he loved. Pietro was an industrious cloth merchant who enjoyed his son acting like a prince, and indulged the boy in everything.

Civil strife, however, ended the hapless days of Francis' prolonged youth. Francis, who longed to be a knight, joined in a war against the neighboring city of Perugia. He was captured in battle and held as a prisoner-of-war. A year in the dampness of a dark dungeon eventually wore away at his health and his sense of purpose and meaning.

Once ransomed from prison, Francis' illness remained with him a long time. He wandered through the countryside, not knowing what direction his life should take. He often knelt in a dilapidated church outside the city walls, called San Damiano. He prayed fervently for a sign that would lead him out of his melancholy. And one day Francis believed that he actually heard the crucifix speak to him. The voice of Christ said, “Francis, go and repair my house, for as you can see, it is falling into ruin.”

It was not long after this event that some of Francis' earlier companions began to join him in his ministry of service and Gospel life. Francis was creating a new kind of knighthood and a new code of honor. When the number of companions reached twelve, Francis thought it best to request formal approval from the Pope. Too many other communities structured in a similar way had fallen into heresy. Francis desperately wanted to remain faithful to Church teachings by placing his community directly under the authority of the Holy Father. Thus, in 1209, Pope Innocent III granted an oral approval for his new way of life.

Even before Francis’ death in 1226, the men whom he called “friars minor” (lesser brothers), had scattered throughout the world. Their influence would have a far reaching effect in every aspect of society. Francis and his brothers would be a new light for a tired generation. They trusted in a better world yet to come as they worked tirelessly at improving the current one.

Conventual Franciscan Friars

In Christ's name, we continue the Franciscan ministries, or spiritual work and service of healing, so fundamental to the understanding of St. Francis of Assisi. The mission of the Conventual Franciscans is to give witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ through the manner of our life together as brothers.

Conventual Franciscans follow St. Francis by living the Gospel in prayer and fraternity as part of our Franciscan ministries. We witness a joyful presence of hope and salvation to all, especially to the poor. We reach out to young and old bringing inspiration to all who need compassion and spiritual guidance. Living the Gospel in community we preach through our lives.

Our founder, St. Francis, was given a mission from God while praying before the San Damiano Cross. Jesus, speaking from the Cross, said: "Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin." Francis, responding to the Lord, begs for stones to repair the ruined Chapel of San Damiano. Francis fervently sought to know and respond to Jesus. Soon the Lord gave Francis brothers to join him in his mission to repair the Church through passionately knowing Jesus and living His message, the Gospel. The profound, yet simple insight of St. Francis and the friars is to live the Gospel, the teaching and actions of Jesus, today in our world.

The rule and life of the Order Friars Minor Conventual is to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without property, and in chastity. The Evangelical Life breathes new life into the Church and Franciscan ministries. The Franciscans were not founded for any other mission than to live the Gospel.

Living in community focuses us on our mission of living the Gospel through common prayer, meals, and fraternity. Franciscan ministries flow from our prayer and fraternity. Francis said to the friars before he died: "I have done what is my part to do. May Christ show you yours." Conventual Franciscans reach out to the poor and marginalized in our world, bringing the Good News of God's Love in Christ Jesus.

Conventual Franciscans live our mission of rebuilding the house of God today through serving in the Roman Catholic Church in Franciscan ministries that include missionaries, scholars, educators, artists, composers, chaplains, confessors, lawyers, laborers, cooks, social workers, campus ministers, parish priests, administrators, and advocates for the poor and marginalized.