Saint Francis of Assisi is a complex and a multi-faceted figure. The more one seeks to understand the secret of his greatness, the more do new and unforeseen elements emerge which expand his personality and the manifestation of his deep spirituality.
The Saint of Assisi, according to the evaluation of more objective historians, is a colossus; just as Dante Alighieri, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti were in their fields. The human side of his person is no less surprising than his spiritual and mystical side, because Francis the man, with his gifts and qualities, immediately reminds us of the saint of love, of poverty, of peace, of poetry, of fraternity, of the perfect following of Jesus Christ. In him the union of human with the supernatural create such a blend that he is seen always and everywhere immersed in an atmosphere of sweet and intimate converse with God.
Saint Francis had a personality gifted by God. But he was also a person who knew how to follow all he interior inspirations of the Holy Spirit and the promptings of divine grace. In him one must note continually this joyous correspondence, this harmony, this equilibrium, founded in faith, animated by charity, and sustained by hope. The religious and scriptural data became for him the constant norm and rule of life, of things believed, loved, and lived in God and for God. God was truly "his all".
All this was experienced by his first companions. He appeared in their eyes as the perfect imitator of Jesus Christ, as an exceptional creature, as a living miracle, as a kind of mystery. The traces of similarity with the poor and obedient Christ were so obvious in him that it seemed possible to say that in no other man did the living image of the Redeemer shine forth as it did in Francis, so that they who came to know him or were familiar with him saluted him as another Christ. As such, in the judgment of Pope Pius XI, he will remain for future generations. [Adapted from Lombardi, OFM, INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF FRANCISCANISM, page 1]
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You made Saint Francis of Assisi Christ-like in his poverty and humility. Help us so to walk in his ways that, with joy and love, we may follow Christ Your Son, and be united to You. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.