St. Francis of Paola
St Francis of Paola was an Italian friar born on 27 March 1416 and hedied on 2 April 1507. He was born after his parents had remainedchildless for a period of time in their marriage and they had soughtintersession from St Francis of Assisi resulting in them naming theirfirst born son after him.
He is known as St Francis of Paola because he was born in the town ofPaola. When he was younger he suffered in a swelling which resulted inthe endangering of the sight in one of his eyes. His parents againsought the help of St Francis of Assisi and they vowed that their sonworld wear a religious habit of St Francis of Assisi. Their sonsubsequently recovered.
When St Francis of Assisi was thirteen years old, he joined the friaryof the Franciscan order. This was after he had a vision of a Franciscanfriar and this was also to fulfill the vow that was made by his parentswhen he was ill.
After a year, he had completed his training and with his parents theywent on a pilgrimage to Assisi in Rome and other places of devotion.
When they returned to Paola, he secured himself in a cave on hisfather’s estate and lived there in solitude, however he later found aneven more secluded cave on the sea coast where he lived giving himselfto prayer and solitude.
In 1435, two followers joined him in his retreat and as a way ofaccommodating the, he had three cells and a chapel built and this wasthe beginning of a new order with humility as the hallmark of theirbrotherhood
This brotherhood abstained from meat and any animal derived foods. Theyalso vowed to poverty, obedience and chastity. They adopted a life ofextraordinary severity, living unknown and hidden from the world andthey thought it was a necessary means for spiritual growth. They alsoaimed at reviving the practice of fasting during lent, a practice thatmany had stopped practicing.
The number of his disciples gradually increased to about 1454 and StFrancis built a large monastery and church. When this church was beingbuilt, a lot of people were moved such that even the nobles joined andcarried stones for the building.
In 1474, he was permitted by Pope Sixtus IV to Wright a rule for hiscommunity and to assume the title of Hermits of St Francis and the titlewas later changed to Minims by Pope Alexander VI.
St Francis also performed many miracles as answers to the people’sprayers and this increased the people’s devotion. At one point KingLouis XI of France was ill and he requested for St Francis of Paola tocome and pray for him but he initially refused, only to agree after hewas ordered by the Pope.
On his way to the king he cured many who were sick of the plague. He waswith the king until his death and became the tutor to the King’s heir.This new king, King Charles VIII built two monasteries for the minims.This king held St Francis in high esteem and so did his predecessor.
The king would not permit St Francis to return to Italy because he didnot want to lose his counsels and direction.
It is also believed that St Francis of Paola had the gift of prophecyand he foretold to several people. He also predicted a lot of eventsincluding the capture of Otranto by the Ottoman Turks.
St Francis of Paola is also said to have performed a lot of miraclesincluding using his cloak as a sail when he was refused passage by aboatman. He is also believed to have prayed for his nephew when he haddied and the boy’s life was restored.
The Love for Animals
He is also reported to be compassionate towards animals and wouldoccasionally give back life to animals that would have been killed to beeaten. He at one point raised his pet lamb from the dead after it waskilled for consumption. What is more fascinating is that the lamb hadbeen eaten already and he just went to the fire furnace where the fleeceand bones had been thrown and he called the pet’s name. The lamb thencame out of the fire untouched.
At one point one of the friars got a fish from the pond and had alreadyprepared it and was now in the frying pan when St Francis noticed thatit was missing. He send someone to go and get the fish and the friarthrew the fish on the ground breaking it into pieces. St Francis tookthe pieces and threw them into the water, prayed and the fish wasrestored back to life.
Even after the death of animals, he continued to call them by theirnames as he believed that they continued to exist even after theirdeath.
St Francis of Paola is considered to be a patron saint of boatmen,mariners and naval officers. His liturgical feast day is celebrated onApril the 2nd which is the day of his death.
St Francis was canonized for his humility and discernment.
He founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily.
He also established monasteries of nuns and the third order for people.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Francis of Paola
- St Francis of Paola had his first followers before he was 20
- He lived in solitude in a cave on the coast for six years
- Relied exclusively on alms for survival.
- St Francis of Paola did not respect anyone based solely on their
worldly rank as at one point he rebuked the king.
- St Francis of Paola was never officially ordained as a priest.
Prayer to St. Francis of Paola
O most Holy Saint Francis, God gives wisdom to the simple and makes themerest child wise. Pray that He grants me this reward He promises to thehumble through your intercession. Help me always to make a goodexamination of conscience and confession. Amen.