St. Francis of Paola (Feast: April 2)
Born in Paola, a small town in Calabria, Francis’ parents were humble, industrious people, dedicated to the service of God. Childless after several years of marriage, the couple prayed earnestly for a son, and when, at last a boy was born to them, the grateful parents named him Francis after the Poverello of Assisi.
At age thirteen Francis was placed in the Franciscan friary of S. Marco where he learned to read and where he began to tread the austere life he was later to live.
Two years later, after a pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, and with his parents’ consent, Francis retired to a remote location by the sea where he lived in a cave. Before he was twenty, he was joined by two others who also sought a life of prayer in solitude. With help from some neighbors, they built for themselves three cells and a chapel where they sang the divine praises.
Seventeen years later a church and monastery were built on the spot for them with the approval of the bishop of Cosenza. The hermits were so beloved of the people that the whole countryside joined in the work.
Penance, charity, humility. This trinity formed the foundation of Francis of Paola’s rule, which was particularly austere. In addition to the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, he imposed a fourth binding them to observe a perpetual Lent, abstaining not only from meat, but also from eggs and milk products.
The community received Papal approval in 1474, and in 1492 from being called Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, they became the “Minims” from their founder’s desire to be known as the least (minim) in the kingdom of God.
Francis of Paola became universally renowned as a wonderworker and prophet. In 1481, King Louis XI of France, who was slowly dying, sent a messenger to the saint begging him to hasten to France to heal him. Francis only acquiesced at the command of the Holy Father to whom the monarch ultimately appealed.At the French court the king fell on his knees before the humble hermit begging for his healing. Francis explained that the lives of kings are in the hands of God and have their appointed limits; prayer should be addressed to God. Ultimately, changed in heart, the king died resignedly in the saint’s arms. In gratitude, his son, Charles VIII, became a great sponsor of the Order.
Francis spent twenty-five years in France and died there on Good Friday of the year 1507 at the age of ninety-one. He was canonized in 1519.
DAILY QUOTE for July 12, 2020
SAINT OF THE DAY
St. John Gualbert
John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California