Who was St Francis of Assisi?
One of the most venerated religious figures in the Roman Catholic Church ever, St Francis was canonized in 1228, 2 years after this death.
He was born in Assisi in 1181 into wealth as his father was a "nouveau riche". He had an easy and rich life but was also a charming and likeable man. He was a born leader and when young was considered to be wild and definitely did not lead the life of a saint in his formative years and beyond into his teens.
When God spoke to him
He fought in local battle (between Assisi and Perugia) and became imprisoned and was chained up in a dark dungeon, until he got ransomed. Amazingly during this time he retained his happy disposition throughout and upon his release he signed on as a soldier for the Fourth Crusade. He did not get very far from home however, when he had a dream in which God spoke to him and told him to go and repair a local church.
The Patron Saint of Italy
From the moment that God spoke to him, his life changed and from then on he chose a life of poverty. He begged for stones that he used to repair churches, he preached, he lived in nature and wore rags. He died aged 45 years but had been considered a saint for years prior to his death and to this day is still loved by people who support the following causes: animal rights movements, feminism, vegetarianism, and ecology.