National Francis Day is celebrated every year on December 4 around the world. The name Francis is one of those that one may be tempted to view as old-fashioned or laden with religious significance. However, that is a myth we’d like to be the first to bust. At its core, the name means ‘Frenchman’ or “free man” and is the anglicized version derived from the Latin Franciscus. Even more intriguing, the name ‘France’ can be traced back to a Germanic people group known as the ‘Franks.’ Presumably, they were free people, hence the etymological connection to the word ‘free.’ They also had a weapon called the francisca, which was a throwing ax. Thankfully, the name itself is not a direct derivative of this weapon, but the origin certainly is colorful. The feminine variant of the name is Frances or Francesca.
History of National Francis Day
Possibly one of the most popular names from the 1500s onwards, the name Francis has stood the test of time and history. One has only to Google the name, and a long list of prolific figures with the name Francis awaits. From patron saints to artists, writers, philosophers, popes, and politicians, this name has left a lasting impression on the world for centuries.
The journey begins with possibly one of the most popular Francises in the Christian canon — St. Francis of Assisi. He was an Italian Catholic friar whose original name was Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, but this was changed to Francesco when his father came back from France, enthused about all things French. He’s the founder of the Franciscan Orders and is also the patron saint of animals and the environment, due to his devotion to all creation. He is also a patron saint of the nation of Italy; no wonder that the pope has taken on the name as well. In the 1500s, Francis Xavier was a Spanish Jesuit missionary sent out to Asia to spread Christianity. He found particular success in the coastal state of Goa, India, where his body is still to this day in a casket on display at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Touted as one of the greatest missionaries since the time of the Apostle Paul, legend has it that his body was preserved from decay until it was brought to its final resting place, from China to India.
Religion aside, there have been numerous royals with the name Francis, including a couple of Roman Emperors, especially during the Renaissance period in Europe. Other figures of note are Sir Francis Drake and Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Drake was a famous English explorer during the 1500s, who is best known for “circumnavigating the Earth” in a single expedition and for destroying the Spanish Armada. Francis Bacon was a prolific philosopher and statesman in England to whom we owe the entire ‘scientific method’ of proving hypotheses via observation and experimentation, rather than rational arguments. He is not to be confused with the other Francis Bacon, an artist from the early 1900s who is one of the giants of contemporary art. Speaking of art, we cannot ignore the creative genius of Francis Ford Coppola, the American film director who brought to life “The Godfather” trilogy and has won many laurels and accolades in the industry.
National Francis Day timeline
St. Francis of Assisi founds a new Roman Catholic religious Order for the sake of his followers.
The first English explorer to do so, Sir Drake successfully circumnavigates the world in three years.
British politician and philosopher, Bacon, develops the scientific method which guides the laws of modern science.
Francis Ford Coppola’s film, “The Godfather” is released, garnering critical acclaim and cementing his reputation as a filmmaker.
National Francis Day FAQs
What is Francis the patron saint of?
Though there are several saints with the name Francis, the most popular one is St. Francis of Assisi. He is considered the patron saint of both animals and the environment. This is because of his great love towards all of God’s creation. Because of this, some view him as the ideal mascot for Earth Day too.
How do you shorten the name Francis?
Common nicknames and shortened versions of the name include Frank, Frankie, Fritz, Franny, and Fran. The female version of the name is Frances, though it is also a unisex name.
Is Francis a good name?
According to some sources, the name Francis is indicative of rationality and logical reasoning. People with the name Francis are said to be good leaders and deserving of recognition. There are strong associations between the name and spirituality and mysticism.
National Francis Day Activities
Explore some art
By now we have already covered some artists of renown, like Francis Bacon, Francis Ford Coppola, and others. Go forth and explore their artistic contributions to the world and be sure to appreciate them in some way. Social media is a great place to find forums and discussion threads too, if that’s where your deep-dive leads you.
Take a history lesson
Hopefully, your appetite for knowing more about these famous historical figures has been whetted. How about watching a documentary or reading up on any one of these Francises? Each figure is as fascinating as the next.
Learn more about the Franciscans
As per the latest numbers, there are about 650,000 Franciscans across 110 nations, making this a truly global sect. One does not have to be an ascetic to follow the way of St. Francis either, as there are about 400,000 people who adhere to the core tenets of the Franciscans. They are known as secular Franciscans. The values they stand for are justice, generosity to those in need, and respect for all nature, which we all would like to help uphold, surely!
5 People You May Not Have Known Are Named Francis
F. Scott Fitzgerald
In case you were wondering, the ‘F’ in this prolific author’s name stands for Francis.
One of the best-selling artists of all time, this timeless crooner’s real name is Francis Albert Sinatra.
Francis Alick Howerd OBE is the real name of this English comedian and actor whose career lasted over six decades.
Canadian filmmaker, James Francis Cameron is a Hollywood giant, known for high-grossing films such as “Titanic” and “Avatar.”
Born Francis Martin Patrick Boyle, this Scottish comedian and writer is known for his controversial sense of humor.
Why We Love National Francis Day
History is littered with Francises
If this article is not proof enough, we urge you to do your own research. Francis seems to have an air of authority, mysticism, and inventiveness about it. This can be seen in the numerous renowned persons with the same name.
The association between Francis and France
Who doesn’t find France a fascinating nation? With its rich culture, food, and drink, Francis is a natural connection to the nation of France, especially given that the name’s origin is the word ‘French.’
The popularity of the name
Francis may have at some point seemed like a stuffy name, but it has risen in popularity. The beauty of its meaning stands it in good stead for the years to come as well. Those with the name Francis should be proud indeed to share their name with so many prominent people.
National Francis Day dates