Saint Francis of Paola



Average: 2.8 (5 votes)
Fast Facts
200px-Franziskus_von_Paola.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Franciscus de Paula or Saint Francis the Fire Handler
Function: 
Saint
Traditions: 
Roman Catholic Church
Main Countries of Activity: 
Italy
Date of Birth: 
March 27, 1416
Place of Birth: 
Paola in Calabria, Italy
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
April 2, 1507)

Biography

Saint Francis of Paola (or: Franciscus de Paula or Saint Francis the Fire Handler, March 27, 1416 – April 2, 1507) was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims.

Biography

He was born in Paola in Calabria, Italy, which at that time was part of the Kingdom of Naples. In his youth he was educated by the Franciscans in Paola. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives: having remained childless for some years after their marriage, they had recourse to prayer and especially commended themselves to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. Three children were eventually born to them, the eldest of whom was Francis.

When still in the cradle, he suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year in the "little habit" of St Francis in one of the convents of his order, a not uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured.

From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity, and at the age of thirteen, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a convent of the Franciscan Order in order to fulfil the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility, and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paola, he selected a secluded cave on his father's estate and there lived in solitude; but later on he found an even more secluded cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years giving himself to prayer and mortification.

According to a famous story, in the year 1464, he was refused passage by a boatman while trying to cross the Strait of Messina to Sicily. He reportedly laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff as a sail, and sailed across the strait with his companions following in the boat.

By 1436, he and two followers began a movement that would become the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, which would later be renamed as Minim Friars. Their name refers to their role as the "least of all the faithful".
Saint Francis of Paola, painting by Jean Bourdichon, 1507.

In 1435 two companions joined him in his retreat, and to accommodate them Francis caused three cells and a chapel to be built: in this way the new order was begun. The number of his disciples gradually increased, and about 1454, with the permission of Pyrrhus, Archbishop of Cosenza, Francis built a large monastery and church. The building of this monastery was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm and devotion on the part of the people towards Francis: even the nobles carried stones and joined in the work. Their devotion was increased by the many miracles which the saint wrought in answer to their prayers. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. They observed perpetual abstinence and lived in great poverty, but the distinguishing mark of the order was humility. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world. To express this character which he would have his disciples cultivate, Francis eventually obtained from the Holy See that they should be styled Minims, the least of all religious. In 1474 Sixtus IV gave him permission to write a rule for his community, and to assume the title of Hermits of St. Francis: this rule was formally approved by Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of Minims. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established convents of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

Francis was also renowned as prophet: he foretold the capture of Otranto by the Ottoman Turks in 1480, and its subsequent recovery by the King of Naples. He was no respecter of persons, whatever their rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered persecution. When Louis XI of France was in his last illness, he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come until the pope ordered him to go. He then went to the king at Plessis-les-Tours and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis's successor, was an admirer of the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for Minims at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. Francis also forcefully influenced many in the French church, particularly Jan Standonck, who founded the Collège de Montaigu along what he thought were Minimist lines. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the French throne in 1498. Francis was now eager to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction. The last three months of his life he spent in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Maundy Thursday he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a vicar-general. He then received the last sacraments and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, he died on April 2, 1507, in Plessis, France.

Legacy and veneration

The Order of Minims does not seem at any time to have been very extensive, but they had houses in many countries. The definitive rule was approved in 1506 by Julius II, who also approved a rule for the nuns of the order.

In 1562, a group of Huguenots in France broke open his tomb and found his body incorrupt. They dragged it forth, burned it and scattered the bones, which were recovered by Catholic faithful and distributed as relics to various churches of his order.

Pope Leo X canonized in 1519. He is considered to be a patron saint of boatmen, mariners and naval officers. His liturgical feast day is celebrated by the universal Church on April 2, the day on which he died.

He is the Adversary of Belial for his great and dove-like humility.

In 1963, Pope John XXIII designated him as the patron saint of Calabria.

Sources: 
wiki

Teachings

-- No teachings were entered yet for this guru. Please help by clicking the Edit tab and adding teachings, theories, points of view, techniques and other messages related to the guru. --

Locations

-- No locations were entered yet for this guru. Please help by clicking the Edit tab and adding details about ashrams, centers, temples, satsangs and any other locations and events related to this guru. --