Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-October 3, 1226) is the co-founder of the Franciscan Order. He was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, the son of a rich merchant named Pietro di Bernardone. Indulged by his parents, Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man. He was handsome, witty, gallant, and delighted in fine clothes. He spent money lavishly, but slowly became disillusioned with the lavish lifestyle. One day he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis abandoned his wares and ran after the beggar. When he found him, Francis gave the man everything he had in his pockets. His friends mocked him for his charity; his father scolded him in rage. He joined the military and was held prisoner for several months in 1202 during a dispute between Assisi and Perugia. This was followed by a period of illness. Dissatisfied with his life, he turned to prayer and service to the poor, and in 1206 he publicly renounced his father's wealth.
He died on October 3, 1226 and was canonized as a saint in 1228.
He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on or near his feast day of 4 October.