Lancaster Italian Cultural Society
Lancaster Italian Cultural Society

Saint Francis by Jeffrey Campagna

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." This is one of my favorite quotes from the Patron Saint Francis of Assisi of Italy. Saint Francis grew up under the wealth of his fabric-making father. His mother originally named him Giovanni but when his father got home from a trip to France, he changed his name Francesco. Saint Francis did not feel his calling until close to the age of twenty-five. He originally wanted to be a heroic, noble knight, fighting among others in the Crusades. He did not go very far; however, immediately turning back to begin searching for an answer to a calling he felt. He did not know what it was but he felt it. Heading back home to Assisi, Francis crossed paths with a leper and felt the call to go up to the man and kiss his hands. Everyone around him gasped in disgust. "Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith," Saint Francis made to be his calling. He felt it to be necessary to the whole Church, and even the whole world.
 
Saint Francis answered this calling in the only ways he could at first. He gave up everything he had, stripped naked, and headed out on his own to do the "possible," acting in love to the hated, pardoned to the injured, and spreading faith to the doubtful. Francis would walk the streets of Italy only accepting what was freely given to him, never begging for anything. He reached people through his beaming happiness, love, and faith. This is the same way in which my loving, Italian grandmother would pray with my two brothers and me when we were younger. Her gentle softness, and extraordinary faith always kept us guided down the right path, filled with family and faith.

 

At times, people were cruel, hateful, and ignorant to Francis, but he never once lost his happiness. Over time, Francis was joined by follower after follower, to what we know today as the Franciscan faith. Saint Francis acted on what he saw as a necessity, in helping the sick and homeless. He proclaimed to everyone around him on his own, and eventually grew as the leader of a worldwide, thousand year old, Faith and religion. His faith passed down through centuries the same way the Italian culture and heritage of my family has for many years. Francis truly did the impossible and earned the respect of every soul he touched in his lifetime, including Pope Innocent III of Rome.

 

Ever since I was a young boy I knew about Saint Francis. I still remember my grandfather giving me a plaque with the prayer of Saint Francis on it for my First Reconciliation and it still is hanging on my bedroom wall ten years later. I learned a lot about Francis' life throughout my life attending Catholic school. He is an inspiration to myself in helping others without expecting anything in return. We live in a world where we have to get paid for everything we do, whether it is mowing someone's grass, or watching someone's kid for a couple hours, but we forget what he means to actually give to someone. We forget how to give without receiving. Saint Francis never needed, nor requested anything in return, and gave up all he had in helping the sick, poor, and homeless. I try to put myself in Saint Francis' shoes and though I may not go to the lengths Saint Francis went to, it pushes myself to help others. I especially enjoy helping the elderly, doing yard work, and even just being a friendly face to socialize with. It may make no monumental difference helping someone just once, but imagine the impact a hundred times, or even a thousand times.

 

Saint Francis taught me one of the biggest messages anyone can learn: how to love. Loving the people who do not love you back, loving the ones who no one loves, and loving no matter what someone looks, smells, or sounds like. Saint Francis taught me the difference that simple acts of love and kindness can have on the world. If we just think of a scenario where everyone acted in such love and kindness as Saint Francis, the world would be a lot better place. Personally, I have felt a calling to go to college and study Physical Therapy so later in life, I can live my life out purposefully, knowing I am helping someone every day. To know the impact I could have on so many people's lives is a reward in itself and I credit much of this thinking to Saint Francis. Their is something for everyone to learn from him and he has truly made history, effecting thousands of people's lives today through all of his followers. He has always been an inspiration and someone I look to in times of doubt or hatred. I try to live by his simple words, "for it is in giving that we receive." I do what can to help others and in the end it will pay off with love and happiness. Saint Francis has taught me to "start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

Il Duomo, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence Italy
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