ABOUT SAINT FRANCIS: A BRIEF SYNOPSIS
Given the 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 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.
ABOUT THE LIBRARY
Conceived in the summer of 2018 with the gift of just four books on the Poverello, the Saint Francis of Assisi Research Library officially launched its online catalog, website, and pre-opened (due to Covid-19) its doors to the public on the Feast of Saint Francis, October 4, 2020. Since its founding, and with now with almost 1,000 books, journals, and media in forty unique collections on its shelves today, the library has since grown to become one of the largest 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, Br. Allen A. 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 40 categories. The library is also proud to be a full institutional member of ATLA, the American Theological Library Association.
ABOUT OUR BOOKSTORE
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 both Paraclete Press and Tau Publishing, we offer brand new books on Saint Francis, Saint Clare, and a plethora of Franciscan topics. Each book automatically includes a generous discount making it perfect for gift giving. And all proceeds are used to purchase additional books, help maintain our library, or to host our regularly scheduled events and presentations that are offered to the public free of charge. The net proceeds of select books are used to directly help the homeless at Hope Center Houston.
ABOUT OUR LENDING LIBRARY PROGRAM
As an institutional member of Atla, we participate in The Atla Reciprocal Borrowing Program that creates an arrangement between participating North American Atla institutional members and affiliate candidate libraries to grant check-out privileges to each other’s patrons/students. A patron/student from one of our affiliate libraries simply needs to show proof of current enrollment at another participating library, and checks out materials based on the Saint Francis of Assisi Research library’s lending policies. In addition to all of the brothers of the Order of Saint Francis (OSF) who automatically have full borrowing privileges, members of the clergy, other religious orders, seminary students, and researchers are both encouraged and invited to contact us for lending privileges and additional information.
ABOUT HOPE CENTER HOUSTON
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 striving to restore their dignity, provide their basic needs, and offer encouragement and help to transition out of homelessness. We believe all men and women deserve at minimum, basic human services. At Hope Center Houston we provide opportunities for our homeless guests 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 are 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday-Friday. For questions or for additional information, please call Brother Allen, Chaplain of Hope Center Houston at (832) 965-5511 during normal business hours.
Questions? We’re only a phone call, email, or tweet away.