Francis was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1181 or 1182. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he dressed himself in the finest clothes and spent money freely. Seeking adventure and glory, Francis went to war in 1201. He was taken prisoner and became seriously ill. He was freed after a year and returned home. When he recovered from his sickness, he tried again to go into battle, hoping to become a knight. But on the way he heard the Lord telling him to go back to his home in Assisi, where he would learn what he was to do with his life. Back home, Francis realized that he had been wasting precious time. He became aware that he should be serving Jesus. He began by praying more and making sacrifices to grow strong in spirit. He often gave money to the poor, and once he even traded his own clothes for a poor man’s rags so that he could experience the man’s extreme poverty. He took care of the lepers in the nearby hospital. Still, he felt he must do more.