The power of the Dream
In his youthful years Francis seems to have had plenty of money to spend since his father was a rich cloth merchant. He loved to party with friends, sons of merchants and nobles of Assisi. and like many of the young men of the time desired to become a knight. His father’s riches allowed him to attempt to fulfill his dream but each time he left Assisi he would meet someone poorer than he was and would give his horse and all his knightly equipment this poorer person and return to Assisi.
However at one point he did fight in a battle between Assisi and Perugia and was captured and remained a prisoner for a year until he was ransomed by his father. After returning to Assisi and slowly recuperating from a sickness contracted as a prisoner, he realized that things were changing and he lost interest in former way of life and partying with his friends. One day while wondering around Assisi and the nearby country side, he stopped at the dilapidated Church of San Damiano. While praying before the Crucifix in the church, he heard the words: «Francis, go and repair my church which you see is falling into ruin». He immediately ran to his father’s store, got some cloth and a horse and went to Foligno where he sold the cloth and the horse and gave the money to the priest at San Damiano’s. But the priest would not accept the money realizing that Francis’ father would be very angry. In fact Francis’ father was livid! This was a great embarrassment to Francis’ father and to void that it would not happen again, his father built a little cage in the house and put Francis in it. However one day, Francis’ mother let him out. Francis realized that if he stayed in his father’s house, he would not be able to do God’s will so he ad his father appeared before the Bishop of Assisi and a gathering of people. Francis stripped off his own clothes and gave them back to his father, saying: «Until now I have called Pietro Di Bernardone my father. From now on I shall say: Our Father in heaven».
God alone would now provide for his spiritual and even material needs. It was a turning point in his life. Appalled by the injustice in the world because of greed and the avid desire of wealth to the neglect of the poor, Francis had renounced his paternal inheritance to embrace the life of the poor under the fatherhood of God. In search of his way of life, he one day read the Gospel: «Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff...» and in the Gospel he established his Franciscan program, the Rule he and his followers observed. From that time - as he records in his Last Testament - «those things which at first seemed so attractive, so pleasant and enjoyable, became entirely unattractive, undesirable, even disagreeable; on the contrary things which previously had been repulsive to him became desirable, a source of joy. No longer did he shun lepers; he embraced them and bound up their wounds.