Francis began visiting and serving lepers, giving them his dresses, and all the money he carried. One day, an image of Jesus Christ crucified spoke to him and asked him to repair his Church that was in ruins. He decided to sell his horse and some clothes from his father’s shop to have money to fix the Church of San Damiano. Upon learning what had happened, his father went to find him at church, but his son hid, spending a few days in prayer and fasting.
When he returned to his hometown and was so disfigured and badly dressed that people made fun of him as if he were a madman. His father took him home and beat him furiously, put shackles on his feet and locked him up. When Francis was released, he renounced his inheritance, at the Bishop’s request he returned the money for the dresses he had taken… but he also said that he now it belonged to God and the poor, and got undressed. His father left very upset and the bishop gave Francis a sackcloth where he drew a cross with a piece of chalk before dressing it.
Francis left looking for a place to settle. In a monastery he obtained alms and work as if he were a beggar. Some people gave him a tunic, a belt and sandals that he wore for two years. He was, for a time, considered a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he couldn’t get money for his work, evoking sadness or disgust in the hearts of his former friends, mocking the thoughtless.
Then he returned to San Damiano and went to Assisi to beg to repair the Church. There he endured mockery and contempt. Once the repairs were made, San Damiano did the same with the old Church of San Pedro. Then he moved to a small chapel called Porziuncola, of the Benedictines, which was on a plain near Assisi. It was a very quiet place that Francis liked very much.
Upon hearing the words of the Gospel “… Do not wear gold … neither two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff …”, he gave away his sandals, his staff and his belt and was left only with his tunic fastened with a cord . He began to speak to his listeners about penance.