St. Francis Caracciolo
Francis was born in the Abruzzi region of Italy on October 13, 1563. His father was a Neapolitan prince. His mother claimed relationship to the Aquino family among whom was the thirteenth-century saint, Thomas Aquinas. Francis had a good upbringing. He was active in sports. Then, when he was twenty-two, a disease, something like leprosy, brought him close to death. While he was sick, he thought about the emptiness of the pleasures of the world. He realized that real happiness could only be found in something deeper. Francis made a vow that if he got better, he would dedicate his life to God. The disease left him so fast that it seemed like a miracle. Francis kept his promise. He began his studies to become a priest.
Later, as a newly ordained priest, Father Francis joined a group who were devoted to prison ministry. They cared for the prisoners and prepared condemned men to die a good death. He and another priest, John Augustine Adorno, started a religious congregation. When Father Adorno died, Francis was chosen superior. He was not comfortable at all with this position. So humble was he that he actually signed his letters, "Francis the sinner." He also took his turn, along with the other priests, sweeping the floors, making beds and washing dishes.
Father Francis often spent almost the whole night praying in church. He wanted all the priests to spend at least one hour a day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. St. Francis spoke so often and so well about God's love for us that he became known as "the preacher of the love of God."
St. Francis did not live a long life. He died in 1607 at the age of forty-four. Just before he died, he suddenly cried, "Let's go!" "Where do you want to go?" asked the priest by his bed. "To heaven! To heaven!" came the answer in a clear, happy voice. Soon after, he died. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius VII in 1807.
How can we become more generous with our time and energy? St. Paul reminds us in his second letter to the Corinthians, "God loves the cheerful giver." May our love for God motivate us to be cheerful givers.