These three works form the chief sources of the saint's life and the beginnings of the Franciscan Order which he founded in 1212. Born at Assisi in 1182, St Francis embraced a life of holy poverty after a gay and sometimes extravagant youth. At the age of twenty-two he fought with great spirit and was taken prisoner in a petty feud between the town of Assisi and Perugia. During his captivity he reflected on his former mode of life, but attempted to take up arms once more on his recovery. However, a second illness intervened, and after a period in which wordly pleasure and spiritual counsels sought mastery and he finally determined to dedicate his life and work to God. Through pilgrimage, devotion, example and simple teaching he became one of the great Christian reformers. 'Whatever accretions of legendary material', says Fr McKay in his Introduction, 'have crept in here and there to heighten the colours of St Francis's portrait, they are undoubtedly in keeping with the total impressions which St. Francis made upon the world of his day.' Moreover St Francis was the very opposite of a sour Puritan: we are told he was the 'most joyous of saints, and would have no sad, long faces about him, and always rebuked any friar that was gloomy or melancholy.' He wanted his friars to be joculatores Dei ('the minstrels of God'). The Little Flowers is translated from the 'Fioretti', an Italian translation of a Latin original of which the earliest extant manuscript is one of 1390. It is a narration of miracle and hymn connected with the saint and his friars. The Mirror of Perfection is based on documents and memoirs left by Friar Leo, St Francis's favourite disciple, and was completed about 1318. St Bonaventure wrote the Life of St Francis c. 1260, intending it to stand as an authoritative Life and to supersede the numerous fragmentary biographies then in circulation.