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What Do France, Grey Wool, and St. Francis Have in Common? (More than you think!)

“Gosh, I have so enjoyed this and feel like you have helped me sooo much. I feel like you have helped me get my confidence back at a time I really needed it. I also feel like a gained a really cool, fashionable frien (10).png

When I was chatting with my sister a few months ago, our conversation turned to her habit and St. Francis. Because she’s not only a Franciscan sister, but (as if being a Franciscan wasn’t enough) she also took the religious name of Francesca . Clearly, she is SUPER into St. Francis, so what other day could possibly be better for highlighting him than today, October 4th, his Feast Day!

Ever wonder why Franciscans (okay, not all but many) wear habits made of grey wool? It wasn’t picked on a whim.  Simple grey wool habit has an anything but simple significance.

Pietro di Bernardone was a cloth merchant AND… St. Francis’s father.  A cloth merchant, Pietro’s work often took him traveling to France (which he  LOVED), and during one of those trips, his son (Francis) was born. When the baby was born, Pietro’s wife (Francis’s mother) initially named him Givanni but… when Pietro returned home and met his son for the first time, he changed his name to Francesco, out of his love for France!

Can you imagine this happening to you?! 

With a taste for fancy clothing (after all, he was well-off and his father was in-the-biz), Provencal culture, and singing troubadour poets from the South of France, there was nothing drab about this son of a cloth merchant.

Provencal troubadors in the 14th century

Provencal troubadors in the 14th century

In fact, young Franceso was surely “living large!”

But then… everything changed. 

After Francesco’s conversion, he only wore a grey wool tunic. Grey happened to be the color of undyed wool, so it was the cheapest fabric to wear. The shape of his tunic was in the shape of a cross. It was a reminder that, as he left the world, such a simple tunic would help him remember how he was always wearing the cross and had conformed his life to Christ crucified. 

This Saint went from taking total delight in fashion and an extravagant lifestyle to a life of poverty and sacrifice. 

But... what I find SO interesting is that, even though he wore the simplest of clothing, he STILL found a style that helped him evangelize his faith and find his way to heaven. 

Question: Do YOU have a devotion to St. Francis?

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