Blessed Francis Anthony of Lucera
This saint, born in 1681, was nicknamed Johnny as a child. He was the son of an Italian farmer. His father died before he was ten. His mother's second husband was good to him. He sent the boy to be educated by the Franciscans.
When he was fifteen, Johnny asked to be admitted to the order. He became Brother Francis
Anthony. He did very well in all his studies and became a priest. Father Francis Anthony became famous as a preacher and teacher. He also was elected superior. He tried his best to be of loving service to all the friars.
Father Francis Anthony had a special interest in prisoners. The prisons of his day were terrible places. He did his best to help the poor prisoners in every way. His love went out to everyone in need. It was he who began the custom of collecting gifts at Christmas time for poor families. In Lucera, the city in which he spent his life, it was said: "If you want to see St. Francis of Assisi, just look at Father Francis Anthony!"
Blessed Francis Anthony had a great devotion to Mary. He loved to pay special honor to her Immaculate Conception. It was at the beginning of the solemn novena for this feast that he died. Some time before, when he was in good health, he had said he would die soon. He had even suggested to a priest-friend that he come along. This good priest replied a bit excitedly, "Listen, Father, if you want to die, that is your affair, but I'm in no hurry!" What did the saint reply? "We must both make this journey," he said, "I first and you afterward." And that is just what happened. The other priest lived only two months after Blessed Francis Anthony passed to his eternal reward. Father Francis Anthony died in 1742 and was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1951.
Is there a person in your life whom you recognize as holy? What is it about the way that they live that tells people that?