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...