Francis of Assisi

1181/2 Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone is born and baptized in Assisi, Italy; later named Francesco

1190 Francis attends the parish school at San Giorgio

1193 Chiara di Favarone (Clare) is born to a renowned family of nobility

1199-1200 Civil war rages in Assisi, a city intent on independence from both papal and imperial power; nobility flee to the city of Perugia, Assisi’s arch-rival

1202 Francis fights in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, is captured and imprisoned in Perugia

1203 Francis’s father ransoms him; Francis endures a long illness

1204 Late: Sets out to participate in a crusade; en route, a vision directs him to return home to seek God’s will

1205 Spring: Francis’s gradual conversion begins: he gives generously to the poor and embraces a leper; he is mocked by fellow Assisians; he seeks solitude with God in caves and abandoned churches
Fall: In the church of San Damiano, Francis hears, “Go, repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin”; he sells cloth from his father’s shop and gives money to repair the church building

1206 Jan./Feb. His enraged father takes Francis before the bishop of Assisi, demanding repayment for his cloth; Francis strips, returning his clothes and renouncing his inheritance
Spring: Nurses lepers and begs for stones to repair churches

1208 Desires to imitate Jesus perfectly; begins to preach repentance and peace; several young men leave their families and possessions to join Francis

1209 Writes a rule [guiding charter] for his new order; goes to Rome to gain papal approval for the order; settles with his “brothers” in a small church in Assisi called “The Portiuncula”

1211 Tries to reach Muslim territory to convert Muslims; heavy winds detour his ship and force his return

1212 Clare is received as a follower of Francis; she begins the Second Order of St. Francis, known as the Poor Clares

1213 Francis receives as a gift La Verna, a mountain in the Tuscan Valley; he often seeks solitude there

1215 Francis begins his “Eucharistic Crusade,” exhorting people to show reverence for Communion

1217 Some 5,000 brothers convene; Francis seeks volunteers to preach in Germany, Tunis, and Syria; eventually, brothers reach Spain and England

1219 Franciscan missionaries to Morocco killed, the order’s first martyrs; Francis sails to the Holy Land and in Egypt tries to convert the Muslim sultan

1220 Pope Honorius III requires Francis to establish more discipline in his order; recognizing his poor administrative skills, Francis appoints Peter of Catanii as minister general

1221 Francis writes a letter that becomes the basic rule of the Third Order, a Franciscan order for lay men and women; at the request of church authorities, Francis begins to create a more formal rule for the First Order

1223 Fall: After much debate in the brotherhood, Francis revises his Rule; final revision of the Rule approved by Pope Honorius III
Dec. 24/25: Exhausted and ill, Francis travels to Greccio; he re-enacts the Christmas story, popularizing the nativity scene

1224 Francis returns to La Verna to pray and fast; he receives the stigmata, marks of Christ’s wounds

1225 Spring: Nearly blind and suffering possibly from tuberculoid leprosy, Francis returns to San Damiano, where Clare and her sisters care for him; he writes The Canticle of Brother Sun.
Late summer: Submits to cauterization treatment for his eye maladies

1226 Sept. Asks to be taken back to the Portiuncula; composes a final verse about “Sister Death” for his Canticle
Oct. 3: Dies; buried at the Church of San Giorgio in Assisi

1227 Francis’s friend and protector, Cardinal Ugolino, becomes Pope Gregory IX

1228 Canonized

1230 Remains are transferred to the Basilica of Saint Francis, built in his honor

Francis’s World

1180 University of Paris founded; glass windows first in English homes

11987-1191 Third Crusade

1191 Second era of Maya civilization begins; tea comes to Japan from China

1196-1198 Famine decimates Western Europe

1198 Innocent III elected Pope; Fourth Crusade announced

1200 Engagement rings come into fashion; Cambridge University founded

1202 First court jesters in Europe

1204 Constantinople sacked in Fourth Crusade [Fourth Crusade ] ; city of Amsterdam founded

1210-1221 North transept of Chartres Cathedral in France built

1212 Children’s Crusade; Rheims Cathedral begun (completed in 1311)

1214 Roger Bacon, greatest scientist of his time, born

1215 Fourth Lateran Council affirms transubstantiation of elements at Communion; Magna Carta confirmed

1217 Thomas Aquinas born; University of Salamanca founded

1218 Genghis Kahn conquers Persia

1220 Dominic founds his Dominican order; giraffes first shown in Europe

1221 Vienna becomes a city

1230 Founding of Berlin

1233 Coal first mined in Newcastle, England

Joanne Schatzlein, O.S.F., is congregation administrator at Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.