At first, everyone thought young Francis Bernadone had gone mad. One minute he was a popular party boy, in fine clothes. The next, he had given away all his money, put on a simple, rough robe and gone to live in a hut in the scrubby woodlands around Assisi. But people soon came to respect Francis. He had given up all his possessions and yet he was happy. Soon, young men from all over Italy came to join him. For stories abounded about the miracles he worked: the roses that he made bloom in the dry desert, and the birds and animals who trusted and came to sit by him; it was even said he could speak their language.