Given the seemingly impossible task of condensing more than eight hundred years of Franciscan history and the impact of Saint Francis of Assisi’s life on our world into several paragraphs for this website, suffice it to say that to this day Saint Francis remains one of the world’s best-loved saints and most-venerated religious figures in Christianity.

As his birth name denotes, Francis was born circa 1181/2 in the mountain town of Assisi, Italy. The son of an Italian father, Pietro di Bernardone dei Moriconi, and a French mother, Pica de Bourlemont, the child was christened Giovanni (John) di Pietro di Bernardone by his mother, but quickly renamed Francesco (Francis) by his father. A dreamer, fun-loving, but also religious boy, Francis was raised in an aristocratic home of wealth and luxury. Following several illnesses, Francis received several visions from God at about the age of nineteen, resulting in a dramatic, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. It was in the broken-down San Damiano chapel where he heard the Lord’s voice say: “Go repair my church, which is falling in ruins.” Thus began the lifelong transformation of Francis into the imitation or mirror of Christ as he began to live a life of abject poverty, preached the Gospel, and ministered to “the least of these” (especially the lepers of his day) that culminated in Francis becoming the first person in recorded history to receive the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ.

Inspired by Francis’ personal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, by 1209 Francis attracted at least a dozen followers which ultimately grew to become the men’s Order of Friars Minor (the Lesser Brothers); the women’s Order of Saint Clare (Poor Clares) so named for Francis’ first female follower, Chiara (Clare) Offreduccio; and the Third Order of Saint Francis (with both Regular and Secular branches)—all of which still exist today as part of the larger worldwide and ecumenical Franciscan family. Perhaps best known today for his love of nature and animals, and in addition to being the first Franciscan friar, Francis was also a Roman Catholic deacon, philosopher, musician, mystic, naturalist, poet, and preacher.

Francis transited from earthly life to heavenly life on October 3, 1226 with his last breath taken at age 44 in Assisi, the same city of his birth. He was canonized on July 16, 1228 by Pope Gregory the IX. In addition, Pope John Paul II declared Saint Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology on November 29, 1979, and on February 28, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Today, Saint Francis is beloved not only by Catholics, but by Protestants, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and nonreligious alike. He has, in many ways, become the saint adopted by the entire world.

Conceived in the summer of 2018 with the gift of just four books about the Poverello, the Saint Francis of Assisi Research Library officially launched its online catalog, website, and opened its doors to the public (only to immediately close them due to Covid-19) on October 4, 2020. With the worst of the pandemic now behind us, and following a complete re-modeling of the library, an official grand re-opening and reception welcoming the public is currently scheduled for Friday, December 8, 2023 as we also celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Greccio nativity scene.

Since its founding, and with now more than 2,000 books, journals, media, and art in over thirty unique collections on its shelves today, the library has since grown to become one of the finest and most respected research libraries of its kind in the world dedicated exclusively to the life, history, and study of Saint Francis of Assisi. As such, it is the library’s mission to celebrate and share the life of Saint Francis through its research, education, advocacy, and personal ministry of Franciscan friar, Allen White, OSF.

By design, the library is strategically located in Houston, Texas and intentionally embedded on the second floor of Hope Center Houston to help raise awareness of and advocate for the needs of the homeless—the lepers of our day. And although it may look small on the outside, it is mighty on the inside by virtue of its world-class book collections in over 30 categories. The library is also proud to be a full institutional member of ATLA, the American Theological Library Association.

In addition to our library’s rich permanent collections, art, and resources on Saint Francis, our library also includes a small bookstore. As an authorized reseller of Paraclete Press, Tau Publishing, and other well-known publishing houses, we offer brand new books on Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and a plethora of Franciscan topics. Each book automatically includes a generous discount off the publisher’s suggested retail price, making it perfect for building your own personal library or gift giving. And all proceeds are used to purchase additional books, help maintain our library, and to host our regularly scheduled events and presentations that are typically offered to the public free of charge.

Although we do have a limited collection of books that are available for the public to borrow, as well as books for sale in our bookstore, as a research library all of our books are reserved for conducting research physically at the library.

Special permission and arrangements for book borrowing privileges by verified researchers, graduate students, and published writers are available. Contact a librarian for details.

The mission of Hope Center Houston as a faith-based agency is to offer a safe place and caring community for our homeless brothers and sisters; while working to restore their dignity, provide their basic needs, and offer encouragement and help to transition out of homelessness. We strive to minister to the whole person: body, mind, and soul, believing all men and women deserve at minimum, basic human services. And at Hope Center Houston we provide opportunities for our homeless friends to embrace who they are, define their future, and change their world. We are located at 821 Peakwood, Houston, Texas 77090. Our regular hours of operation for guest services are 9am-1pm, Monday-Friday. For questions or for additional information, please call (832) 965-5511 during normal business hours.


Questions? Read our FAQs or ask a librarian! We’re only a phone call, email, or tweet away.