Francis Bernardone was born in 1181 at Assisi, Umbria, Italy. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he lived a lavish and irresponsible life. At the age of twenty, he went to war against Perugia, but was captured and imprisoned. During his imprisonment he experienced a vision from Christ and changed his life completely. He left all his possessions and embraced complete poverty, taking the Gospel as his rule of life.
He wore ragged old clothes, begged for food and preached peace. He began to attract followers, and in 1209 with the papal blessing he founded the Friars Minor (Franciscans). Then in 1212 with St. Clare of Assisi he founded the foundation of the Order of “Poor Ladies,” now known as the “Poor Clares.” He also founded the “Third Order of Penance” (the Third Order) which included lay people. He was the first person (recorded) to receive the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) in 1224. He died on October 4, 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy. He was canonized by Gregory IX less than two years later.