His baptismal name was Giovanni (John), his father's name was Pietro de Bernardone; from his birth Giovanni di Bernardone was called Francesco (Francis) [Ital., = Frenchman], because his father, a successful cloth merchant, was a frequent traveler in France and admired much that he saw there. The name Francis (and its equivalents in other languages) owes its great popularity to St. Francis, for before him it was a name rarely given. Pietro de Bernardone was a wealthy merchant, and his son's early life was ordinary. At the age of 20, however, Francis was taken prisoner in a battle between Assisi and Perugia and spent a year in prison in Perugia.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.