The son of farmers, Francis was born in 1416. Named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, Francis of Paola was greatly influenced by him throughout his life. At age 12, Francis spent a year at a Franciscan monastery. While still in his teens, Francis went to live as a hermit, devoting himself to prayer and fasting. Over the years, he would become known for his piety and the miracles he worked to save others from injury or death.
Two neighbors soon joined Francis at his retreat, and local residents built cells for them and a small chapel. Francis attracted more followers, and they called themselves the Hermits of Brother Francis of Assisi. The Order received papal blessing in 1474. Later, Francis changed the name to Friars of Minim, or "least brothers."
Francis demanded the monks practice penance, charity and humility. The brothers also took a special vow to eat only a Lenten diet B no meat, eggs or dairy products were allowed.
Despite his devotion to solitude, Francis could not escape worldly matters. In 1483, Pope Innocent IV asked him to honor an invitation from France's King Louis XI. Francis went reluctantly and continued to live simply, fasting and sleeping on a board. The monk remained at the French court for more than two decades, serving as both a spiritual and political advisor.
Francis never returned to Italy. He died in France on Good Friday in 1507 and was quickly beatified and canonized. In the 20th century, Francis was declared the patron saint of sailors and other seafarers, because many of his miraculous acts took place at or near the sea.
help me to embrace the virtues
that Francis lived his entire life.
May I find a way to be patient in adversity,
to curb my anger and negative thoughts
and to find peace in all parts of life.
Help me to put aside my earthly desires
and seek comfort only in You.
May I live my life
so that I always receive Your blessing,
so that Your peace may be always with me.
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives
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