Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name of Pope Francis. His simple lifestyle and focus on social justice draws a connection to his namesake from the thirteenth century. Here is a brief review of the original Francis.
St. Francis of Assisi was never ordained a priest, but was a friar and a traveling preacher. The son of a wealthy merchant, he gave up his family for poverty and preaching. He founded the Franciscan order among other orders.
What makes this man unique? The radical reversal of a love for worldliness to that of following God seems to indicate a conversion. This man then lived the rest of his life following God.
In spite of being the founder of an organization, he seems to circumvent human rules to do what he believed would honor God. In this, he would go about preaching repentance to ordinary people.
It is remarkable that Francis had audience with the Sultan of Egypt and was able to communicate the Gospel to him. To be received favorably in a climate of hostility speaks much to the life of this simple man who was dedicated to God.
As with historical figures of the time, there are always legends that add to the person. Stripping those aside, the legacy of Francis has been more associated with poverty and simplicity as its foci rather than a passionate zeal to life out one's life for the Gospel of the kingdom of God.
Pope Francis I did speak of the Gospel mandate in ministry. The challenge to be faced is whether the Catholic church will reexamine its Gospel message with the simplicity of the biblical truth. Many in the Catholic church are not expecting it, but are you?