Saint Francis of Paola

St. Francis of Paola (1416-1507) was born in Calabria, Italy, to a husband and wife known for their holiness. After suffering childlessness for many years, his parents had recourse to prayer, especially the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. They eventually had three children, and the eldest, Francis, was named after St. Francis in thanksgiving for his birth. Francis of Paola grew in sanctity, and after having a vision of St. Francis he spent a year in a Franciscan convent to fulfill a vow his parents had made to the saint. After his time there, he returned to his parents and accompanied them on a pilgrimage to Assisi. Upon returning home, Francis retired to a private spot on his parents' estate to live as a hermit. He later moved his dwelling to a lonely cave by the seashore, living there in prayer, solitude, and mortification for six years. Disciples gradually came to him to imitate his manner of life, so many that St. Francis of Paola, with the permission of his bishop, built a monastery and church to accommodate them. He later obtained permission from the Holy See to found a new religious order called the Minims, or "The Least," as they were to live hidden lives of poverty, abstinence, and humility. St. Francis of Paola became famous and was sought out by others for his prophecies and miracles. He spent the last three months of his life in solitude in preparation for his death. On Good Friday, after receiving Last Rites, he died while the Passion of Christ was read to him aloud. His feast day is April 2.

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