Francis Bernadone was born in Assisi in 1182 to Pietro and Picca Bernadone. Pietro was a cloth merchant and probably the richest man in Assisi. He anticipated even more wealth as the young Francis had demonstrated keen business skills. Francis, however, was unlike his greedy father. Rich in natural virtue, he was always quick to share his good fortune with his friends and even with the poor.
Known as the king of youth, for his joyful nature and popularity, his primary aspiration was to be a knight. In 1205, an opportunity arose to fight for Pope Innocent III. Francis jumped at the opportunity, but thirty miles into the excursion he fell ill. As he recuperated, he heard the voice of God asking him: Francis who can do more for you the lord or the servant? Francis answered, the lord. God replied: Then why do you leave the lord for the servant, a rich lord for a poor man?And Francis asked, Lord, what would you have me do? God said, Return home and you will be told what to do. From then on, Francis began to desire to serve the King of kings and to be a holy knight in His court.
Francis was a changed man, but the interior battle every soul must face had just begun. His love grew for the poor, and Francis himself began to embrace a life of poverty. In 1206, while on a journey, Francis met a leper and was immediately repulsed; but overcoming his lower nature, he reached out and embraced the man.
Story cont'd at http://www.franciscanfriars.com/RMH/bio.htm