The Youth of Francis

Giovanni Bernardone was born around September 1182 to Giovanna (Pica) and Pietro di Bernardone. When little Giovanni was born, his father, a very successful cloth merchant, was on a business trip to Champagne, France, to buy fine French cloth. In his absence, his mother had him baptized him John. When his father arrived home, he was outraged to find his son named John, and had it changed to Francesco, or "Frenchman".
When Francis was about 10, his wealthy parents sent him to Saint George's, a school near the city walls of Assisi. The school belonged to the Church of Saint George, and was taught by canons. It was here young Francis
heard the story of Saint George and the dragon. Then, Francis's heart was set on becoming a Knight. What young boy can resist the story of a brave knight fighting evil dragons in order to save the beautiful princess?
Francis turned 14, and then his wild parties began. He and his other young friends would eat and drink themselves sick, at Francis's treat of course. After that, all through the night the large party would dance through the town, Francis leading them and singing his heart out the whole way. Didn?t it disturb the townspeople? Yes, but when they saw it was Francis, everyone would smile and shake their heads. No could not love this charming boy with his looks, generosity, and splendid voice.
Of course, all this merry-making cost money. And who was the ever-ready provider? Why, Pietro Bernardone, of course. He and his family were very wealthy, and he kept his boy's pockets well lined. He also made sure Francis wore nothing but the best. He being a clothier, his son wore nothing but the finest fabrics in the newest styles. But still, he would sometimes cringe at the way Francis ridiculously spent money. Or when he gave it away. Francis was very generous, and would give to every beggar. When he had no more, he would give the fine clothes off his back.
This pleased his mother, but when would the spending stop?
As Francis became older, the dream of knighthood never left him. In January 1200 war broke out with Perugia.
For two years, this was nothing more than skirmishes, a game of cat and mouse between the two cities. It wasn't until December 12, 1202, that a true battle was fought. The armies of Assisi were assembled. And where was our young knight? With the knights and nobility. He had been splendidly outfitted by his father, who was anxious to see him with the nobles.
With the army, he charged into the fighting plain, along the banks of the Tiber. It was a fruitless massacre. Perugia?s armies slaughtered Assisi?s men. Only knights were taken prisoner, because owning a horse meant one could pay a ransom, horses being a sign of wealth. Assisi?s nobles were put into dark Peruvian dungeons, to be left there for years.
Being stuck in a dungeon was not good for Francis, who contracted tuberculosis. He was released early by a charitable organization who cared for sick prisoners. His father paid a ransom, and Francis went home. He was about 19 when he was taken prisoner. He was now 22.

Francis?s Calling

Francis was having troubles at home. After returning defeated, his father was very disappointed. And upset at the money he spent on fine clothes for Francis. When he was recovering from his illness, he was very quiet and spent much time reflecting and praying. He no longer sang. And Assisi was having a hard time recovering from the war.
But after while, things again began to lighten up. Once again, the dream of knighthood was stirred in Francis. It was the time of the Crusades, the Holy Wars. And Francis was drawn to go. This time he would come back victorious. His father spent the equivalent of a large farm fro the armor and horse of Francis. And so Francis went off once again.
While on his way to Spoleto, Francis fell ill, and lodged with his squire in an inn. In the silence of the night, a voice called him. The voice asked Francis what he was going to do. When Francis explained, the voice said ?Who can give you more, the master of the servant??
Answered Francis ?The master?
And the voice said ?Then why do you abandon the master