Litany of St. Francis of Assisi

Biography as the call to holiness (Lumen Gentium, par. 39):

St. Francis was born in 1181 and baptized by his mother as Giovanni de Pietro de Bernardone, but nicknamed Francesco by his father, a prosperous silk merchant. Francis lived the high-spirited life of a wealthy young man. He became a devotee of troubadours and liked flashy clothes, rich friends and all the pleasures of life. One day a beggar came to him asking for alms. At first, Francis ignored him but later ran after the beggar and gave him everything in his pockets. He was then mocked for his charity by his friends and scolded by his father.

In 1201 he was imprisoned during a military expedition and held captive for a year. His spiritual conversion is rooted in this experience. While going off to war in 1204 he had a vision that led him back to Assisi where he disowned his worldly life. He spent time in solitude, asking God for enlightenment. During this time he began to nurse lepers.

On a pilgrimage to Rome he joined the poor in begging outside St. Peter's Basilica. There he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the country chapel of San Damiano, just outside Assisi. He heard Christ say: "Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins." He took this to mean the ruined church he saw in the vision and sold some cloth to assist the priest there for this purpose.

Francis renounced his father and his patrimony, laying aside his garments in front of the public. He then began living as a beggar and embraced the life of a penitent.

On February 24, 1209 Francis heard a sermon, based on Matthew 10:9 that changed his life forever. He was inspired to devote himself to a life of poverty. Clad in a rough garment, and, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance. Within a year Francis had eleven followers. The brothers lived a simple life, spending their time wandering through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and singing, making a deep impression upon their hearers. In 1209 he beseeched Pope Innocent III to found a new religious order. On April 16, 1210 they were constituted as the Order of Friars Minor also known as the Franciscan Order. At the promptings of Clare of Assisi he established the Order of the Poor Ladies, later called Poor Clares in1211. From these emerged the Third Order composed of laity and clergy who carried out the principles of Franciscan life in their daily lives.

Around 1220, Francis celebrated Christmas by setting up the first known Nativity scene. In 1223 a "Second Rule" for the community set regulations for discipline, preaching and entry into the order. During a vision on the Feast of the Holy Cross in 1224 Francis received the stigmata. He suffered from the five wounds of Christ and received care in several cities until he was brought home. He died on the evening of October 3, 1226 singing Psalm 141. He was made a saint on July 16, 1228. In 1978 his remains were placed in a glass urn in the ancient tomb of the Lower Basilica in Assisi. He is considered the first Italian poet by literary critics.


God, author of creation----------------------------make us one with all creation
Jesus, lover of the poor----------------------------may we find you in the poor
Holy Spirit of ongoing renewal------------------make our hearts new in you.

Francis Bernardone, troubadour of life-------------------------keep us humble
Francis Bernardone, lover of worldly things-------------------keep us humble
Francis Bernardone, surrounded by rich friends-------------keep us humble
Francis Bernardone, at home with life's pleasures-----------keep us humble

Francis of Assisi, an itinerant preacher... ... help us preach with our lives Francis of Assisi, a caregiver of lepers... ... guide our caregiving
Francis of Assisi, a man of solitude... ... still and quiet us
Francis of Assisi, imitator of the life of Christ... ... show us how to do that
Francis of Assisi, author of the Canticle of Creation... ... may our life be a song of praise
Francis of Assisi, founder of a fraternal brotherhood... ... bind us in fraternal care
Francis of Assisi, founder of the Poor Clares... ... make our hearts open to Lady Poverty
Francis of Assisi, preacher to birds and a wolf... ... may we model your love of animals
Francis of Assisi, received by the Sultan of Egypt... ... teach us tolerance
Francis of Assisi, recipient of the Stigmata... ... may our sufferings lead us to God
St. Francis, model of care for all creation---------we praise you
St. Francis, poet and peacemaker-------------------we praise you
St. Francis, witness to gospel values---------------we praise you
St. Francis, patron of the environment------------we praise you

Let us pray,
Loving God, your heart was big when you created the poor man of Assisi. In Francis you give us a witness of how to be at peace with you and all creation. In him you give us a model of how to stay healthy and integrated so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment to all who are seeking a place to be at home. Change our hearts daily as you changed his so that St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New Orleans will be that home for welcoming strangers, the unwanted; the unchurched. As we celebrate 125 years of Catholic identity with Franciscan roots, give us his humility as we help grow the gospel of hope in this special chapter of our faith life. Give us his joy to sing and pray, to dance and be still, to preach the good news and sometimes use words. May we use this special year in our parish history to become a new canticle of love and praise for the gift of St. Francis who imitated so beautifully the life of your son, Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever. Amen.

Composed by: Rev. Paul G. Mast
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