The saint for April 02
St. Francis of Paola
Optional Memorial
Roman Calendar

Born 1416 at Paola, Calabria, Italy
Died April 2, 1507 at Plessis-les-Tours, France
Canonized 1519

St. Francis' parents had been childless for all their many years of marriage. After praying for years through the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, the at last had a son, whom they named in honor of their patron Saint. Needless to say, Francis recieved a devout upbringing.  At the age of 13 he went ot live with the Franciscans. The following year he made a pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome and, upon his return, retired to a cave to live as a hermit.

Francis' reputation for holiness and asceticism spread, and at length men began to join him in his hermitage, the first two arriving in 1436. Francis founded his order, at first named the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, in 1452, with a very austere rule of life. To the three evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience Francis added a fourth vow, that of a perpetual fast, asking his followers to abstain from meat, eggs and dairy, keeping a perpetual lenten fast.

Later, in 1492, the name of the order was changed to the Minim Friars, in keeping with Francis' idea that they were to be the least in the family of God. The motto of the order was, as is, Charity, and the virtue most urged upon his followers by Francis was humility.

Francis was given a gift of miracles, healing many sick, even raising some from the dead, reading minds and prophecy. In sympathy for the workmen building his monastery at Calabria, seeing that they were without refreshment, he struck a rock and water gushed out into a natural basin. This resevoir of water still exists. The source of the water is unknown, and if emptied, the basin will refill itself within five hours. Numerous miraculous cures have been associated with it.

Francis' renown was so great that he came to have influence with the kings and pontiffs of his day, counseling Louis XI of France and his successor Charles VIII. In fact, that is the reason that Francis died in France. He became so beloved there that they would no longer allow him to leave, but built monasteries for him there.

Francis died on Good Friday, 1507. He was buried on Easter Monday, the following week. However, the monks were persuaded after 12 days, that they had buried him in an unsuitable low spot, subject to flooding, and ought to disinter him and move his body. When Francis was exhumed, it was found that absolutely no decay had occurred. The French court painter Bourdichon testified that he knew this was so because, desiring to be certain, he laid his face against the dead saint's face, to see if he could detect the odor of corruption. Saint Francis' body was still incorrupt in 1527, when it was next disinterred. In 1562 his body was burned by the Huguenots; the bones were recovered and dispersed to various churches.

Patron of Italy, Travellers,Sailor. Invoked against Fire and Epidemics
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