St. Francis of Paola
St. Francis was born in the tiny village of Paola, Italy, around 1416. His parents were poor but humble and holy. They had prayed to St. Francis of Assisi for a son. When he was born, they named him after the saint. The boy went to a school taught by the Franciscan priests. There he learned to read. When he was fifteen, with his parents' permission, he went to live in a cave. He wanted to be a hermit and spend his life for God alone.
When he was twenty, other young men joined him. St. Francis left his cave. The people of Paola built a church and monastery for him and his followers. He called his new religious order the "Minims." "Minims" means "the least of all."
Everyone loved St. Francis. He prayed for them and worked many miracles. He told his followers that they must be kind and humble, and do much penance. He himself was the best example of the virtues he preached. Once someone visited the saint and insulted him to his face. When the man was finished, Francis did something unusual. He quietly picked up some hot coals from the fireplace and closed his hands tightly around them. But he was not burned at all. "Come, warm yourself," he said to his accuser kindly. "You are shivering because you need a little charity." At such a miracle, the visitor changed his mind about Francis. From then on, he admired him greatly.
King Louis XI of France had not lived a very good life. He called for St. Francis when he was dying. Just the thought of dying made the king terrified. He wanted Francis to work a miracle to cure him. Instead, the saint gently helped the frightened man to prepare well to die a holy death. The king had a change of heart. He accepted God's will and died quietly in the arms of the saint.
St. Francis lived a long life praising and loving God. He died on Good Friday in 1507, at the age of ninety-one.
"Beloved Jesus, preserve the just; justify sinners; have compassion on all the faithful, living and dead; be merciful to me, although I am nothing more than an unworthy sinner."-St. Francis of Paola