St. Francis searched for a deep understanding and union with
God. As a young man, several events changed his heart and focus
from a materialistic, rowdy way of living.
One day, as he was passing by the church of San Damiano (see
photos), he was led to pray in front of the large image of the
Crucified Christ. He heard Christ calling him: "Francis, go
rebuild My house; as you see, it is all being destroyed."
It was a conversion moment that led Francis on a lifelong journey,
seeking always to identify himself with the Crucified Jesus.
Francis spent much of his time in solitude. He especially
loved to spend time away during Lent, setting aside 40 days for
prayer and penance, which is why Lent is a significant part of the
Franciscan way of life.
The San Damiano Cross (below) is a magnificent icon which hangs
now in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi
(photos). To this day, people kneel before that icon and pray
Francis' very words.
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope, and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
your holy and true command.
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