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Thursday, April 2, 2009

St. Francis Of Paula - 2ns April 2009

Saint Francis Of Paula, founder of the order of Minims, born at Paula or Paola, Calabria, in 1416, died at Plessis-les-Tours, France, April 2, 1507. His family name has been variously given as Martorello, Martotillo, and Re-tortillo. Commines, who gives all the details of his stay in France, constantly calls him Frere Robert. This may have been his first name, to which that of Francis was added at a later date. He was devoted by his parents to St. Francis of Assisi, to whose intercession they ascribed his birth, after their marriage had been long childless.

He was early placed in an unreformed convent of Franciscans in Calabria, where he surpassed all the monks in the strict observance of the rule. In 1428 he returned to Paula, resigned his right of inheritance, and retired to a grotto to lead the life of a hermit. He was hardly 20 years old when he found many followers, who built themselves cells near his grotto. He received from the archbishop of Cosenza permission to build a church and convent, which were completed in 1436. From this year dates the establishment of the order of Minims, which adopted the name of hermits of St. Francis. To the usual three monastic vows (poverty, chastity, obedience) St. Francis added as a fourth perpetual abstinence, not only from meat, but also from eggs and milk, except in sickness.

He himself was still more ascetic. He slept on the bare ground, took no food before sunset, often contented himself with bread and water, and sometimes ate only every other day. The fame of miracles reported of him induced Pope Paul II. in 1469 to send his chamberlain to investigate the facts. The report was very favorable. Pope Sixtus IV. confirmed the new order, appointed the founder superior general, and permitted him to establish as many convents as he could. King Louis XL of France, attacked by a fatal disease, sent for him in the hope of being cured; but Francis waited until, in 1482, the pope ordered him to go. He met the sick king in Tours, and exhorted him to leave the issue of his sickness to the will of God, and to prepare himself for death. The successor of Louis, Charles VIII, retained the saint in France, and consulted him in cases of conscience as well as in state affairs, and built for him two convents in France and one in Rome. Francis was canonized by Pope Leo X. in 1519.

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