The friars returned to Assisi and settled in huts at Rivoreto near the Porziuncula. They travelled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching for people to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on God's providence rather than worldly goods. The brothers worked or begged for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the poor. Francis turned his skills as a troubadour to the writing of prayers and hymns. In 1212 Clara Sciffi, a girl from a noble family of Assisi, left her family to join Francis. With his encouragement she founded a sisterhood at San Damiano, the Poor Ladies, later the Poor Clares. In 1219 Francis joined the crusaders and preached to the Sultan of Egypt.
Francis did not wish to found and 'order', but in time the brotherhood became more organized. As large numbers of people, attracted to the preaching and example of Francis, joined him, Francis had to delegate responsibility to others. Eventually he wrote a more detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of the Franciscans. He gave up leadership of the Order and went to the mountains to live in secluded prayer. There he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. He returned to visit the Franciscans, and Clara and her sisters, and a few of his followers remained with him. He died at the Porziuncula on October 3, 1226.
Francis called for simplicity of life, poverty, and humility before God. He worked to care for the poor, and one of his first actions after his conversion was to care for lepers. Thousands were drawn to his sincerity, piety, and joy. In all his actions, Francis sought to follow fully and literally the way of life demonstrated by Christ in the Gospels.
Feast Day: October 4