Per the Vatican’s News Facebook presence:
There had also been initial speculation regarding “for which St. Francis?” Pope Francis took his name. Also from the Vatican News Facebook page we learn:
The 265th Successor of Peter (and 266th Pope) has taken the name Francis after Saint Francis who was born in Assisi, an Umbrian hilltop town in 1181.“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 .”
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.
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.”…..
To learn more about these preliminary details and the early moments of Pope Francis’ pontificate, watch the official Vatican press conference.