Today in the Middle Ages: April 16, 1209

Traditionally, April 16, 1209 is regarded as the day Pope Innocent III gave oral permission of St. Francis of Assisi to found the Franciscan order.

Francis was born to wealthy parents and lived the life of a fashionable, wealthy young man until one day he heard a sermon based on the tenth chapter of Matthew. He was inspired to give away his belongings and become an itinerant preacher, living in poverty.

Francis had acquired a number of followers by 1209 when he founded the Order. The early Franciscans were doctrinally strongly orthodox and formed a preaching force that helped counter some of the heresies being voiced at the time. The order with its central values of peace and service still exists today.