St. Francis Society
(Società di San Francesco di Paola)
Frankfort, N.Y. U.S.A
St. Francis Society
152 8th Avenue
Frankfort, N.Y. 13340
The following was taken from Wikipedia:
Francis was born in the town of Paola, which lies in the southern Italian Province of Cosenza, at that time part of the Kingdom of Naples. In his youth he was educated by the Franciscan friars 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, after whom they named their first-
When still in the cradle, Francis 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 wearing the "little habit" of St Francis in one of the friaries 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 friary 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 the Minim friars. Their name refers to their role as the "least of all the faithful".
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 monasteries of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
Francis became famous for miracles and 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-
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 Holy 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 rites 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, almost a week after his 91st birthday, in Plessis.
Pope Leo X canonized him 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.
In 1562, a mob of Huguenots in France broke open his tomb and found the saint's 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. (Note: one of these relics was purchased by a member and is housed in our Chapel)
In 1963, Pope John XXIII designated him as the patron saint of Calabria.
Currant patronage also includes Amato in Italy and La Chorrers in Panama