V CENTENARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT FRANCIS OF PAOLA

V CENTENARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT FRANCIS OF PAOLA  

Saint Francis was born in Paola, in the southern Italian province of Cosenza (Calabria), on 27 March 1416. As a child, Francis showed a desire to live a life marked by sacrifice. He grew steadily in wisdom and holiness and, after having spent a year in a convent with the Friars Minor, felt the need to visit the places where the friars' founder -Saint Francis of Assisi- had lived and worked. After returning home from his journey, at the age of 14, Francis decided that he wanted to live a life of solitude as a hermit and he retreated to the woods of Paola. Others joined him later to follow his way of life consisting of prayer and penance. Over the years, despite many difficulties, convents and churches were built throughout Calabria and Sicily. In 1473, his group of hermits received papal recognition and became known as the Order of the Minims. Throughout his life Francis performed many miracles, so much so, that his fame as a wonder worker and healer spread to royal courts throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. He was called by the King of France who never let him return to his native country. Meanwhile, the Order of the Minims spread throughout Europe. A women's branch of the Order started in Spain with the opening of new convents. On 2 April 1507 Francis died in Tours in the company of his friars. Just six years later, in 1513, he was beatified by Pope Leo X whose election to the papacy he had predicted when only six years old. On 1 May 1519 he was declared a Saint. He is the Patron Saint of Calabria and also a patron of maritime people. The work of Saint Francis of Paola still continues today through the Order he founded.