Ascanio Pisquizio was born at his family's castle at Villa Santa Maria in the Abruzzi region of Italy. His father was a Neapolitan prince and his mother was from the family of St. Thomas Aquinas. Francis had a good upbringing and he was active in sports. When he grew up, he enjoyed going hunting with his friends.
Then, when he was twenty-two, a disease, something like leprosy, brought him close to death. While he was sick, he thought about how empty his life was and all the pleasures of this world only for a short while.
Francis promised 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 sold all he had, gave the money to the poor and began his studies to become a priest in Naples.
Later, as a new priest, Father Francis joined a group called the White Robes of Justice who cared for the prisoners and prepared condemned men to die a good death. Then with the approval of the Pope, he and another priest, John Augustine Adorno, started a religious congregation that cared for the sick and prisoners.
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."
He opened new congregation houses in Rome, Madrid, Valladolid and Alcala. He worked with the poor, performed many miracles and healed this sick with the sign of the cross. Pope Paul V wanted to make him a bishop, but Francis gently but firmly refused.
St. Francis did not live a long life. He was at Agnone in Italy when he died in 1607 at the age of forty-four of a fever. 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.