Several years ago, I had the good fortune to visit the church of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. I was moved to tears by the reverence and peaceful energy that greeted me on the path to the church and permeated the atmosphere within. In a world often marred by violence, conflict, and discord, the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi stands as a beacon of peace, compassion, and unity. Born in the early 1180s in Assisi, Italy, St. Francis embarked on a spiritual journey that not only transformed his own life but also left an indelible mark on the world. His message of peace, simplicity, and love for all living beings continues to resonate today, serving as a timeless reminder of the power of harmony and empathy.
Francis, originally named Giovanni, was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. He enjoyed a life of privilege, indulgence, and revelry. However, an encounter with a leper on the outskirts of Assisi became a turning point in his life. Moved by compassion, he embraced the leper, an act that shattered the walls of his ego and set him on a path of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.
One of St. Francis’ most renowned teachings is the embrace of poverty and simplicity. He famously renounced his material wealth, even stripping off his expensive clothes and handing them back to his father, declaring his new-found devotion to “Lady Poverty.” This act was not one of depredation, but an affirmation of the profound truth that inner peace often lies in renouncing the excesses and distractions of worldly possessions.
St. Francis founded the Order of Friars Minor, also known as the Franciscans, in 1209. His order focused on living a life of humility, service, and devotion to God. The Franciscans adopted a vow of poverty, living a life of extreme simplicity, and relying on the generosity of others. They became itinerant preachers, spreading the message of peace, love, and humility throughout Europe, even during the turbulent times of the Crusades.
Perhaps one of the most famous stories of St. Francis is his encounter with the Sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. In 1219, Francis ventured into enemy territory with the intention of converting the Sultan. Despite the danger, he was received with respect and kindness by the Sultan, and while he did not convert him, he left a lasting impression of peaceful dialogue and mutual understanding. This remarkable episode demonstrates St. Francis’ unwavering commitment to peace and his ability to transcend religious and cultural boundaries in the name of love and harmony.
St. Francis’ deep connection with nature and all living creatures also sets him apart as a symbol of peace. His famous Canticle of the Sun, or “Praises of Creatures,” is a hymn of gratitude for the natural world, expressing his kinship with all beings, from the sun and moon to the birds and wolves. His appreciation for the beauty and interconnectedness of the Earth is a timeless reminder of the need to protect and care for our environment and its inhabitants.
St. Francis of Assisi’s legacy endures through countless Franciscan communities, churches, and organizations around the world. The message of peace, simplicity, and love continues to inspire people of all backgrounds and faiths to seek a harmonious existence with one another and with the world around them.
St. Francis reminds us that peace is not merely the absence of conflict but the presence of love, understanding, and unity. It is a message that transcends time and resonates with the deep longing of the human heart for a better world. In this way, St. Francis of Assisi remains a guiding light, guiding humanity toward a brighter future filled with the promise of peace and goodwill for all.
Author: MarBeth Dunn is a Founder and Co-Director of Ten Million for World Peace. She is an Intuitive Energy Management Maven and Miracles Mentor, helping highly sensitive, empathic women manage their energy so they can ditch the drama and live happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. A spiritual teacher for 35 years, she is the award-winning creator of the World Miracle Peace Experiment, which correlated with a 20% drop in Middle East violence in 2018. According to Digital Journal, ”Her expertise and experience in meditation, personal development, and peace building are truly inspiring.” She has been featured FOX, NBC, CBS, and The CW.
Learn more about MarBeth at www.morefrommarbeth.com