St. Francis of Assisi
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St Francis of Assisi (1181/1182 – October 3, 1226) was the Doctor Doolittle of the Medieval Age. He could talk to the animals, sing with slugs and dance like a devil in skirts. Along the way he became a Catholic saint and in death venerated as one of the few Christian holy men who was willing to talk 'to the other side' even be they Jewish, Muslim or Jedi Knight. When Francis died, Pope Gregory XYZ fast tracked the man from Assisi to a quick boil-in-the-bag saint hood and within two years the 'Birdman of the Italy' had joined the sacred choir invisible.
Francis's real name was actually Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (Johnny) but got called 'Francis' (the Frenchman) for his lecherous chasing of young maidens up and down the Apennines. Francis or 'Frankie' was quite the ladies man then and had money to wear tight red stockings in his home town of Assisi. It would seem that he would grow up an self indulge like everyone else but in 1204 he got a vision. Francis returned home and burnt the contents of his wardrobe and headed off to Rome for a bit of begging.
edit Poor Clare
Francis's change of attire and attitudes shocked his close friends. Where once there was a handsome, fun loving man was now a pious preacher in rough underpants and a bit of brown sacking to cover his body. Fashion conscious Italians said the look would never catch on and banned him from Milan in case he upset the models at the 1205 Autumn/Winter shows. Francis still went and tried to preach from the catwalk. Everyone told him to piss off except one young skinny model called Clare who happened to come from Francis's home town. She fell in love with the weirdo, at least officially on the spiritual plane and became his first follower.
edit Birds and the Bees
By now Francis had decided to abandon humanity and preach the gospel to 'God's other creations, the animals'. He would spend all day on the mountains round Assisi (with Clare in tow) trying to make saints out of starlings and preach a holy war against the sin of foxes eating chickens. Clare's devotion got her the nickname 'Poor Clare' for her poor choice in blokes.
Francis's preachings got him noticed by the heretic-wary Catholic church. They sent priests disguised as pantomime sheep to spy on Francis to see if he was saying any nasty about the Pope. At this time the Catholic Church was in the process of proclaiming a crusade against the Albigensian christians who lived in Southern France. Picking up that Francis wasn't his real name, they sent the preacher to Rome to undergo a gentle examination from the Rome Inquisition to tickle out his real beliefs.
edit Licensed Beggars
Francis was very clear in his message: Don't wash or shave, wear a dirty brown cloak and take your orders from the Pope. Oh, and stay poor. The church gave the message 3 out of 4 but Pope Innocent III wasn't happy with the last bit, seeing that as a bit heretical. Francis refused to budge and got signed on for a new crusade to see if he 'would change his mind'.
Expecting to go to Jerusalem, Francis ended up in Egypt with the Crusaders who said they were 'just dropping by for supplies'. Francis disapproved and stayed at on board talking to seagulls. But then he had a vision that if converted the 'top man', Egypt would become Christian again.
So leaving the crusaders and wearing just his usual dirty old clothes, Francis was admitted into the court of the Sultan. It is said by Christians that Francis did many fantastical things to impress the Muslims but oddly, none of this was reported at the time by local chroniclers. The Sultan is said to have liked Francis's bird tricks but remained unconverted. However Francis was allowed to return and in exchange got a deal as exclusive Christian pilgrimage holiday tourists in the Holy Land.
Francis died and was fast tracked to saint hood two years later. When he died, no birds sang for a week.