2013-03-16 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) The 265th Successor of Peter has taken the name Francis. He has now told us why. He did so in the course of an audience with journalists. Departing from his prepared speech he said:
"... Some people still don’t understand whether I named myself after Francis Xavier or Francis De Sales or St Francis of Assisi."
Going on to describe how, during the conclave, he was seated beside the Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paolo and Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a close friend of his. Referring to teh votes he was getting in the conclave he added:
“When the matter became dangerous he comforted me”. And when the votes were being counted and it was clear the Pope had been elected, the Cardinals began to applaud and Cardinal Hummes embraced me and kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor’…and that struck me…the poor…Immediately I thought of St Francis of Assisi…Francis was a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.” That, said Pope Francis, is how the name came to mind.How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor...”
Saint Francis is "the one saint whom all generations have succeeded in canonising" and is probably the best known saint in the whole calendar.
The 19th century French Protestant writer Ernest Renan , declared that " after Jesus, he was the only perfect Christian . Blessed " Pope Pius IX , in an encyclical celebrating the 7th centenary of the death of Saint Francis said the same.
"Whether or not Francis was the one and only perfect Christian " comments biographer Abbé Englebert, "he was certainly the only Christian to take Christ quite literally at his word. Noone else has ever dared to do so ."
Perhaps Thomas Merton comes closest to the truth when he says: " merely to know Saint Francis is to understand the Gospel in all its fullnes."
What we know is that Francis was praying one day in the little ruined chapel of San Damiano. Suddenly the figure of Christ on the Crucifix called out to him..."Francis, go and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.".....