Following a pilgrimage in his teens to Rome and Assisi, he became a hermit in a cave near Paola. Before he was 20 years old he began to attract followers. By the 1450's the followers had become so numerous that he established a rule for them and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492 they were renamed the Franciscan Order of Minim Fiars, which means they count themselves the least of the family of God.
Prophet. Miracle worker. Reputed to read minds. In 1464 Francis wanted to cross the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, but a boatman refused to take him. Francis laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff to make a sail, and sailed across with his companions. Franz Liszt wrote a piece of music inspired by the incident.
Defender of the poor and oppressed. Gave unwanted counsel and admonitions to King Ferdinand of Naples and his sons. Traveled to Paris at the request of Pope Sixtus IV to help Louis XI prepare for death. Used this position to influence the course of national politics, helping restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land.
Francis died on Good Friday while still at court in France. In 1562 Huguenots broke open his tomb, found his body incorrupt, and burned it. The bones were salvaged by Catholics, and distributed as relics to various churches.
1416 at Paola, Calabria, Italy
2 April 1507 at Plessis, France of natural causes
1512 by Pope Julius II
Calabria, Italy (named by Pope John XXIII in 1963)
Fossato Serralta, Italy