Any relief we feel in hearing that Francis gave the cloak to a poor knight will be destroyed by the boasts that Francis left behind that he would return a prince. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy.
But Francis never got farther than one day's ride from Assisi. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared.
He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands, not realizing that it was the Church with a capital C that God wanted repaired.
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All accounts say that he never lost his happy manner in that horrible place.
Finally, after a year in the dungeon, he was ransomed.
Francis must have known about the decay in the Church, but he always showed the Church and its people his utmost respect.
When someone told him of a priest living openly with a woman and asked him if that meant the Mass was polluted, Francis went to the priest, knelt before him, and kissed his hands -- because those hands had held God.
So he renamed his son Francesco -- which is the equivalent of calling him Frenchman.
Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life growing up because of his father's wealth and the permissiveness of the times.
Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat..loving God.
With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places.
Thomas of Celano, his biographer who knew him well, said, "In other respects an exquisite youth, he attracted to himself a whole retinue of young people addicted to evil and accustomed to vice." Francis himself said, "I lived in sin" during that time.