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At baptism the saint received the name of Giovanni, which his father afterwards altered to Francesco, through fondness it would seem for France, whither business had led him at the time of his son's birth.
In any case, since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought.
With returning health, however, Francis's eagerness after glory reawakened and his fancy wandered in search of victories; at length he resolved to embrace a military career, and circumstances seemed to favour his aspirations.
A knight of Assisi was about to join 'the gentle count', Walter of Brienne, who was then in arms in the Neapolitan States against the emperor, and Francis arranged to accompany him.
About the same time Francis made a pilgrimage to Rome.
Pained at the miserly offerings he saw at the tomb of St Peter, he emptied his purse thereon.
A low fever which he there contracted appears to have turned his thoughts to the things of eternity; at least the emptiness of the life he had been leading came to him during that long illness.
But a second illness arrested his course at Spoleto. Although Francis still joined at times in the noisy revels of his former comrades, his changed demeanour plainly showed that his heart was no longer with them; a yearning for the life of the spirit had already possessed it.
There, we are told, Francis had another dream in which the same voice bade him turn back to Assisi. His companions twitted Francis on his absent-mindedness and asked if he were minded to be married.
No one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display.
Handsome, gay, gallant, and courteous, he soon became the prime favourite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, the very king of frolic.