St. Francis of Assisi (Italy) is known to many as the patron saint of animals, but he was also a man dedicated to the poor, creation, and peace.
Born October 3, 1226, St. Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant and his wife, a devout Catholic. St. Francis grew up with a charismatic, fun-loving personality, and dreamed of accomplishing many things. But he did not like violence. During a war between Assisi and Perugia (Italy), he decided against being a solider, and sought his purpose in life.
St. Francis worked in a little Church, and after hearing a reading from the Gospel, he felt called to do three things – to be one with his heavenly Father, to work for the Church, and to become as much like Jesus as possible.
He gave up his expensive clothes and possessions and began traveling around Italy, preaching the Gospel. His simplistic lifestyle made him one with the poor, so he tried to create better conditions for them. He offered them respect and dignity through kindness and compassion. He tried to be like Jesus, through poverty, humbleness, and compassion.
During his life, St. Francis founded the Franciscan Framily, which today totals thousands of men and women in religious and secular orders.
In addition to being the patron saint of animals, St. Francis is also the patron of ecologists and Italy. Pope Francis chose his papal name in honor of St. Francis because of his love for the poor.