Saint John of Capestrano: Franciscan Preacher, Reformer

On October 23, the Church remembers Saint John of Capestrano [John Capistran] (1386-1456), a Franciscan friar who had a prominent and multifaceted ministry as a preacher and reformer in 15th-century Europe.

Walking line between zeal and fanaticism

Several years ago, Fr. Steve Grunow accurately described him: “John was a Franciscan friar and priest, but not of the good-natured variety of Franciscans that holds the popular imagination. To describe John as zealous would be an understatement. He walked the fine line between zeal and fanaticism, allowing God to write straight with the crooked lines he drew throughout his life."

Young life scarred by violence

Born in 1386 in Capestrano in the Abruzzo region of Italy, John lived a young life scarred by violence. His father, a knight, and all his brothers were killed in one of the bloody civil conflicts so common in Italy at the time. He later spoke of

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Saint Peter of Alcántara: Franciscan Reformer

On October 22, Franciscans in the USA celebrate the memory of Saint Peter of Alcántara, a famous reformer of Franciscan life (in most of the world, his feast is observed on October 19).

Effective preacher, spiritual leader

Peter was born in 1499 in the town of Alcántara in the Extremadura region of Spain. He was sent to the University of Salamanca to study law, but at age 16, he decided to join the small Discalced reform movement of the Franciscans. In 1519, most of these friars joined the Franciscans of the Regular Observance, but forming their own province of San Gabriel in Extremadura. Peter was ordained in 1524, and even as a young friar gained the reputation of being an effective preacher and spiritual leader.

St Peter of Alcantara friary he founded 700pxlsFriary of El Palancar, Pedroso de Acim, Spain, founded by Peter in 1557.

Extremely austere lifestyle

Elected provincial minister of San Gabriel in 1538, Peter

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Blessed Contardo Ferrini: Legal Scholar and Secular Franciscan

On October 20, Franciscans celebrate the memory of Blessed Contardo Ferrini (1859-1902), a brilliant Italian legal scholar and professor and fervent Secular Franciscan.

Intellectually curious

Ferrini was born into a professional family in Milan. He was a precocious child who developed a deep intellectual curiosity and an equally strong religious devotion. Several scholarly priests were influential in his formation, including the prefect of the Ambrosian Library in Milan, who encouraged him to learn to read the Bible in the original languages.

Active in charitable organizations

In 1876 he began the study of law in Pavia. A brilliant student, he was not popular with his fellows because of his serious nature. Graduating in 1880, Ferrini won a government scholarship that enabled him to study Roman law at the University of Berlin. There he also became active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other charitable organizations.

Blessed Contardo Ferrini School of Law Pavia 700pxlsContardo Ferrini attended the

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Pope Saint John XXIII: Secular Franciscan

On October 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of Pope St. John XXIII (1881-1963), a Secular Franciscan.

Influenced by Franciscan spirituality

He was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in the diocese of Bergamo, Italy, the fourth of 13 children of a family of poor sharecroppers. While in the diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1896. At the time of John's canonization in 2014, Fr. Andre Cirino, OFM, wrote a very nice article on the influence of Franciscan spirituality in Pope John's life, "Saint John XXIII, Secular Franciscan."

Pope John XXIII birthplace 700pxlsBirthplace of Angelo Roncalli, Sotto il Monte, province of Bergamo, Italy. Several families lived in this large house.

Broad experience of the world

John was ordained in 1904, and after serving in his diocese in various positions, he entered the Vatican diplomatic corps, where he had a long and varied career, giving him a broad experience of the world. Click

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Saint Francis: The “Poor Man of Assisi”

"Alleluia, Alleluia, Francis,

poor and humble, enters heaven rich

and is welcomed with celestial hymns. Alleluia."

Around the world people celebrate Francis

On October 4, Franciscan men and women, with all Christians, many religious people of other faiths, and countless people of goodwill throughout the world honor the inspiring memory of Francis of Assisi, “the Poverello.”

St Francis weds Lady Poverty fresco Giotto 700pxlsSaint Francis desired to follow Christ in his self-emptying and so “weds” Lady Poverty. Detail from fresco in the lower basilica of San Francesco in Assisi (Giotto, c. 1320).

Francis renounced wealth, status

Francis died on this date in 1226, as his first biographer tells us, “having completed twenty years since his conversion,” when he renounced wealth and status before the bishop of Assisi to follow the poor and humble Christ. The chief highlights of his life, as well as some of his more important writings and prayers are available at (scroll down

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Transitus of Saint Francis: Welcoming Sister Death

795 years ago this evening, October 3, 1226, Francis of Assisi passed from this life into the fullness of the Divine.

Yielding up the spirit of life

His health had been sharply declining, and several months earlier, he had asked to come home to Assisi. According to St. Bonaventure’s account, Francis was being nursed in the bishop’s residence in the city, but aware that his death was imminent, “he asked to be carried to St. Mary of the Portiuncula so that he might yield up the spirit of life where he had received the spirit of grace.”

St Clare nursing St Francis statue 700pxlsSaint Clare nursing Saint Francis and seeing the wounds of the Stigmata. Historically speaking, this moving image depicts something that "might have happened"—we know that when Francis was very ill and depressed, he went to San Damiano where he was nursed by the Poor Sisters, but we also know that he always took

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Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael: The Franciscan Connection

The feast of the great archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (Sept. 29) should not go by without recalling the deep devotion Saint Francis had to these heavenly protectors of Christians.

Saint Michael present at the hour of death

Like most medieval Christians, Francis was very conscious that the journey of faith was a perilous one, with many temptations and dangers that threatened to divert believers from their heavenly goal. Especially he believed Saint Michael was at hand to defend them and was present in a special way at the hour of their passing from this life.

Francis felt unworthy to stand where Michael had stood

Francis in fact made a pilgrimage to the great shrine of Saint Michael at Monte Gargano in Apulia (as had Saint Clare's mother Ortolana). According to tradition, Francis climbed a dangerous section of rocky steps but did not enter the grotto itself. The chronicles say

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Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio): Bearing the Stigmata, Suffering with Christ

On September 23, Catholics celebrate the memory of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), the Capuchin Franciscan friar still best known simply as "Padre Pio," who has become one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church.

Fascinated by Capuchin friar

He was born of poor but devout parents, Grazio and Maria Forgione, in the town of Pietrelcina, province of Benevento, in southern Italy, and baptized Francesco. At an early age, he was fascinated by a barefoot Capuchin who came around seeking alms, and Francesco grew up wanting to become a friar but lacked the educational background. His father, Grazio, came to the United States to find work in order to pay for the necessary schooling, and so Francesco entered the novitiate in 1903 and was given the name Pio.

Padre Pio street scene Pietrelcina 700pxlsStreet scene in Pietrelcina, birthplace of Padre Pio

Plagued with ill health

Brother Pio was ordained to the priesthood in

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Feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis

On September 17, Franciscans celebrate the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, to recall Francis's body being marked with the wounds of Christ.

What happened in LaVerna?

A modern biographer, Andre Vauchez, says: "What happened on La Verna on an undetermined day in September 1224?. . . It is difficult to say with any precision, as Francis [himself] did not mention it in his writings, and he forbade from speaking about it those rare persons who came to observe the traces of the wounds. It is thus only after his death and before his burial that a certain number of witnesses were able to actually see them on his flesh."

Stigmata El Greco 700pxlsSt. Francis Receiving the Stigmata, El Greco (1586-1600, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. El Greco was a Secular Franciscan and the Stigmata one of his favorite subjects.

Francis identifies with the suffering Christ

Whatever the source of the physical wounds,

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Saint Joseph of Cupertino: The “Flying Friar”

On September 18, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663), a Conventual Franciscan friar popularly known for the paranormal phenomena that marked his life.

Prone to trances

Joseph was born to poor but devout parents, Felix and Francesca Desi, in the town of Copertino, province of Lecce, in Apulia. As a child he was prone to “space out” of conversations and fall into a trance. Even his widowed mother berated him for being a lazy good-for-nothing.

Exemplifies Franciscan virtues

This reputation hindered him in realizing his desire to become a Franciscan. He finally gained acceptance into the Conventual friars; although a notoriously poor student, he exemplified Franciscan virtues of prayer, humility, and dedicated service in the community. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1628 (the ordaining bishop had given the first candidates a thorough examination but was so impressed by them, he waived the

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Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows: The Franciscan Connection

As the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15), it is good to know the important role that Franciscans played in promoting this particular image of Mary and why.

Cross of Christ central to Saints Francis and Clare

The Cross of Christ was central to Francis and Clare, as we know from the place the cross of San Damiano played in their lives and from Francis’s early prayer, “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, in all your churches throughout the whole world and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

Crucifixion frescoe Lorenzetti 700pxlsCrucifixion frescoe by Pietro Lorenzetti (c. 1315-1320) in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi

Promoting the suffering humanity of Jesus

But by the 1220s this emphasis took a new turn: in their preaching of penance, Franciscans promoted devotion to the suffering humanity of Jesus to draw people to conversion.

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Saint Rose of Viterbo: Audacious Secular Franciscan

On September 4, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of Saint Rose of Viterbo (c. 1233-1251), an audacious young Secular Franciscan woman who challenged her contemporaries as a public preacher.

Captivated by Franciscan friars

Born in the city of Viterbo, about 50 miles from Rome, to a working-class family, Rose was captivated by the Franciscan friars who had established a church there. She began dressing in their habit and devoted herself to prayer and ascetical practices in her home.

Gained reputation of foretelling future

She also experienced visions and gained a reputation of being able to foretell the future. To the consternation of her parents, people flocked to their home to hear Rose speak. In time, they allowed her to join the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (the Franciscan “Third Order”).

St Rose of Viterbo window LaCrosse WI 700pxlsThis window in La Crosse, Wisconsin, depicts Saint Rose.

Preached publicly to urge people to turn their lives to

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Blesseds John Francis Burté, Apollinaris Morel, and Severin Girault: Franciscans Massacred During the French Revolution

On Sept. 2, Franciscans honor the memory of Blesseds John Francis Burté, Apollinaris Morel, and Severin Girault—Franciscan friars who were among the 116 priests and seminarians massacred on this date in 1792 at the Carmelite church and friary in Paris during the French Revolution.

A violation of divine law

The French National Assembly in 1790 had abolished religious orders and passed a law called the Civil Constitution of the Clergy that totally reorganized the Catholic Church in France under government control, with only a nominal relationship to the pope. When the pope condemned the Constitution as a violation of divine law, the government demanded that clergy take an oath to obey it; on the other hand, the pope threatened excommunication for priests who did.

Arrested as enemies of the state

In November 1791, the government declared that any “non-juring” clergy were subject to arrest as enemies of the state. These

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Saint Louis IX of France: Co-Patron of Secular Franciscan Order

On August 25, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Louis IX of France (1214-1270), co-patron of the Secular Franciscan Order and of Third Order Regular men and women.

Raised with great sense of responsibility to others

Louis succeeded his father, Philip II, on the throne of France when he was only 12. He was raised strictly by his devout mother, Blanche of Castile, who instilled in him a great sense of responsibility. She told him: "I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should ever commit a mortal sin."

Quintessential Christian ruler

In his day, Louis was viewed as the quintessential Christian ruler. He fostered a uniform system of justice, attempting to quell private wars in his realm and being attentive to the rights of the poor (he outlawed

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Saint Louis of Toulouse: Renouncing Throne to Become a Franciscan

On August 19, the Franciscan family remembers Saint Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297). Although not well known today, Louis was a phenomenon in his own time, a prince who renounced a throne to become a Franciscan.

Great-nephew of two saints

Louis of Anjou was born in 1274 at Brignoles in Provence, the son of Charles II, future King of Naples and count of Provence. He was a great-nephew of both Saint Louis of France and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

St Louis of Toulouse birthplace 700pxlsThis summer residence of the Counts of Toulouse at Brignoles was both the birthplace and deathplace of Saint Louis.

Educated by Friars Minor

In 1284, Louis's father, Charles, was captured in a struggle with the king of Aragon over the control of Sicily; Charles obtained his release in 1288 only by agreeing to send Louis and two other sons to Catalonia as hostages instead. And so, the youths spent seven years under

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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, as we celebrate the feast day in honor of the Virgin Mary, at whose Assumption the Angels rejoice and praise the Son of God.

Mary’s privileged place

Franciscans, from the beginning of our movement, have celebrated the privileged place that Mary occupies in God’s design for human salvation. Saint Francis recited the following antiphon several times a day in his Office of the Passion:

Holy Virgin Mary,

among the women born into the world,

there is no one like you.

Daughter and servant

of the most high and supreme King

and of the Father in heaven,

Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ,

Spouse of the Holy Spirit,

pray for us

with Saint Michael the Archangel,

all the powers of heaven

and all the saints,

at the side of your most holy beloved Son,

our Lord and Teacher.

Glory to the Father,

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Saint Roch: Provider of Loving Care to Humans and Animals

On August 16, the memory of Saint Roch, a Secular Franciscan, is celebrated in many places with great festivity.

Renouncing wealth, becoming Franciscan penitent

There is no contemporary life of Saint Roch, but according to popular tradition, he was born into a noble family in Montpellier, France. When he was around 20 years old, he renounced his wealth and became a lay Franciscan penitent, choosing the life of an itinerant pilgrim. As he made his path to Rome, he stopped in a number of towns where he would stay in hospices for a time, treating and sometimes healing victims of the bubonic plague, and then moving on.

Legend of being a plague victim

His legend tells us that Roch himself became a victim of the plague near Piacenza and collapsed in a forest but was helped back to health by a dog who brought him bread and licked his wounds.

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Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, OFM Conv: Martyr of Charity

Eighty years ago on August 14, 1941, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., was killed with a phenol injection inside a starvation cell of Block 11 of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Determined to become a Franciscan

Saint Maxmilian was born Raymond Kolbe in 1894 at Zdunska Wola, an industrial town near Lodz, Poland (then part of the Russian Empire), to a devout but poor family. As a teenager, he determined to become a Franciscan and so illegally crossed the border into the Austro-Hungarian Empire where he studied at the Conventual Franciscans' minor seminary in Lvov and entered the Order in 1910.

Mobilizing Catholics to profess their faith

Friar Maximilian was a brilliant student who excelled in what we would call today STEM subjects; after his profession, he was sent for studies in Rome, where he earned doctorates in both philosophy and theology. During his years in Italy, he witnessed

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Saint Clare of Assisi: First Woman to Join Saint Francis

On August 11, the Franciscan family celebrates the feast of St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253), the first woman to join Francis and his brothers in forging a new Gospel way of life.

Embarking on a life of penance

Clare was born into one of the feudal land-owning families of Assisi, spending some years in the neighboring city of Perugia due to class warfare in Assisi. Several years after her family's return to Assisi, she determined to embark on a life of penance in her family home.

Joining Francis and his brothers

Inspired by conversations she had with Francis, however, in 1211 (others say 1212) she courageously decided to abandon her family, possessions, and social status to join Francis and his brothers at the Portiuncula. Soon, she was joined by several other women, and they settled at the church of San Damiano. Francis composed a brief form of life for her

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Saint Clare: Light of Assisi

In 1253, Clare’s health began to deteriorate. With August’s scorching temperatures, she was closer and closer to the end. As always, the late summer heat drove the papal entourage from Rome to the refreshing heights of Perugia. It would not be long until these dignitaries heard the news echoing from hill to hill in the Valley of Spoleto: Madonna Chiara was dying. 

Clare fresco 2 Friedman 700pxlsA fresco of Clare and her sisters can be found at San Damiano near the dormitory. Photo by Greg Friedman, OFM. 

Pope Innocent IV understood the meaning of the moment. His nephew, Cardinal Rainaldo, accompanied him on the journey to the little cloister. This pope, whose attempt at a Rule for the women had been politely rejected by San Damiano’s sisters, arrived to see its famous abbess. She received him with utter respect and humble gratitude. 

How wonderful was this? The successor of St. Peter was under her

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Saint John Vianney: Patron of Parish Priests

On August 4, the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie (John) Vianney (1786-1859), the most noted of the many diocesan priests who have been attracted to Franciscan values and joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

Maintaining faith amid revolution

Born in Dardilly, France, John was part of a poor farming family that valiantly maintained their faith amid the anti-religious policies of the French Revolutionary government.

Ministering entirely in Ars, France

John’s desire to be a priest was hampered by his lack of prior education and so he struggled with studies. Finally, he was ordained at age 30. He was assigned to the village of Ars (about 300 inhabitants) near Lyon, where he spent his entire priestly life.

St John Vianney rectory in Ars 700pxlsSaint John Vianney lived very simply for over four decades in the humble rectory in Ars.

Living authentic manner of life

In the beginning, John had to overcome an apathetic attitude toward religious

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Feast of the Dedication of the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi

On August 2, the Franciscan family celebrates the dedication of the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi.

Home base for Franciscans

Located down in the valley about two and half miles below the city of Assisi, this chapel, the beloved "Portiuncula" or "Little Portion," was restored by Francis in the first years of his conversion. It became the place where he and the first brothers made their home base about 1210. It is also where Francis received Clare into his movement a few years later and where he died in 1226. This shrine to Mary remains the spiritual “motherhouse” of the Order of Friars Minor.

Portiuncula wooden panel Assisi 700pxls In the interior of the chapel, the central scene on the wooden panel over the altar depicts the Annunciation, surrounded by the story of the granting of the Portiuncula Indulgence. In the top scene Francis kneels before Christ and Mary enthroned in

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Blessed Solanus Casey: Holy Priest, Friend of the Poor

On July 30, US Franciscans especially celebrate the feast day of Blessed Solanus Casey (1870-1957), a Capuchin friar noted for his deep prayer, compassion for the sick, and outreach to the poor.

Witnessing violence led to priestly vocation

Solanus was born Bernard (“Barney”) Casey to Irish immigrants Bernard and Ellen Casey on November 25, 1870, on a farm outside Oak Grove, Wisconsin, the sixth child of ten boys and six girls. He contracted diptheria as a child which permanently weakened his voice. At 16, Barney left the farm and worked at a series of jobs: lumberjack, hospital orderly, prison guard, and street car operator. While at work one evening, he witnessed a brutal murder. This caused him to re-evaluate his life, and in 1891 he decided to study for the priesthood.

Blessed Solanus Casey family photo 700pxlsBernard and Elllen Casey at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1913 with their 14 living children. Fr Solanus is

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Saint Lawrence of Brindisi: The Capuchins’ Renaissance Man

On July 21, the Franciscan family, with the rest of the Church, celebrates the memory of St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), who was been described as "the Capuchins' Renaissance man."

Given an excellent education

Lawrence was born Giulio Cesare Russo in 1559 in Brindisi, Italy, where his father, a Venetian, was a prosperous merchant. He lost his parents at an early age and was raised by an uncle in Venice and given an excellent education.

Gifted with facility for languages

He entered the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan friars in Venice at age 16 and given the name Lawrence. Gifted with a remarkable facility for languages, Lawrence devoted himself to the study of Scripture. Besides mastering Greek, he was one of the few scholars of his age to be totally fluent in Hebrew (so much so that rabbis thought he must have been a Jew who had converted to Christianity).

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Saint Bonaventure: Theologian and Doctor of the Church

On July 15, the entire Church joins Franciscans in celebrating the memory of St. Bonaventure (1217/21-1274), Doctor of the Church.

Student of theology

A native of the Italian town of Bagnoregio, about 90 miles from Rome, Bonaventure was educated at the University of Paris, where he joined the Friars Minor in 1243 as a young master of arts. There he studied under Alexander of Hales, one of the principal masters of theology at the University who had joined the Friars Minor in 1236, founding the Franciscan School of Theology.

St Bonaventure Bagnoregio 700pxlsCivita di Bagnoregio, ancient city on rocks in Italy.

Effective guide for his Franciscan brothers

Bonaventure himself continued in Paris, teaching at the Franciscan School from 1248-1257, where he became regent master. Here he became one of the leading Scholastic theologians of the day. His eloquence and writings defending the friars' way of life caused him to be elected General Minister

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Blessed Angelina of Montegiove: Medieval Franciscan Leader / Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companion Martyrs: Victims of Religious and Ethnic Violence

On July 13, Franciscans honor a medieval Franciscan woman leader and a group of 19th-century Franciscan martyrs.

Encouraging young women to live celibate life

Blessed Angelina of Montegiove (1357-1435) was born to an aristocratic family near Orvieto, Italy. According to tradition, she was married to a nobleman in the Abruzzo who died soon after. She then joined the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (the "Third Order of St. Francis") and traveled about the region encouraging other young women to a dedicated celibate life.

Settling into life of prayer, simplicity, charity

About 1395, she settled in a small community of tertiary women, Sant' Anna, in Foligno, who were devoted to common prayer, a simple life, and works of charity.

Blessed Angelina of Montegiove courtyard monastery SantAnna 700pxlsInterior courtyard of monastery of Sant'Anna in Foligno, Italy.

Moving into leadership role

By the early 1400s, Angelina had moved into a leadership role in the community which gradually developed a more

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Saint Veronica Giuliani: A Foremost Catholic Mystic

On July 10, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of Saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727), a Capuchin Poor Clare nun who is one of the foremost mystics in the Catholic tradition.

Setting her heart on religious life

Born Orsola Giuliani in 1660, the youngest of seven daughters born to devout upper-class parents in Mercatello in the diocese of Urbino, she set her heart on a religious life from childhood. Her father was adamantly opposed to this as two of her older sisters had already entered the convent, but he finally relented, and at age 17, she joined the austere Capuchin Poor Clares in the town of Città di Castello in Umbria. She took the name Veronica out of devotion to the Passion; her one desire was to become a "true icon" of the Crucified Christ.

St Veronica Giuliani Poor Clare monastery 700pxlsCapuchin Poor Clare monastery in Città di Castello, where Saint Veronica lived for over 50 years.

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Dutch Franciscan Martyrs: Remaining Faithful to Catholic Beliefs

On July 9, Franciscans celebrate the memory of Saints Nicholas Pieck (1534-1572), Willehad, and their 17 companions, martyred during the brutal religious wars that accompanied the Reformation in Europe.

Catholic beliefs challenged

In the Netherlands, at that time ruled by Spain, the population in some areas was increasingly drawn to Protestant beliefs, whereas in others, people tended to remain loyal to inherited Catholic practices. In the northern provinces, where Calvinists were in the majority, an armed resistance against harsh Spanish rule began in 1569, although there were pockets where Catholicism still remained strong.

Franciscans rounded up, imprisoned, abused

In April 1572, a motley armed band of Calvinists, known as the "Sea Beggars," seized the town of Brielle; from there, on June 26, they took the town of Gorkum (today, generally spelled as Gorinchem). There they rounded up the 11 friars of the local Franciscan community, headed by their guardian, Friar

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25 Franciscan Martyrs in China: Caught in the Crossfire of Political Currents

On July 8, the Franciscan family honors the memory of a group of 25 Franciscans, both European missionary friars and sisters and native Secular Franciscans, who were martyred in Shanxi province, China, this day in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion.

Martyred during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China

As has often been the case, Western missionaries who had come to a foreign country to bring the Gospel to native peoples became caught in the crossfire of wider political currents. In 1898 several European governments exacted significant financial and territorial concessions from the Chinese Empire, capping a process that had been going on since the 1840s. The imperial government also promulgated some liberal "reforms" bringing significant Western perspectives into the Chinese educational system.

Chinese martyrs 1200pxls Bishop Francesco Fogolla, OFM (seated with white beard), coadjutor to Bishop Gregory Grassi, with a group of friar missionaries and Chinese seminarians. Bishop Fogolla and some of the

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Saint Elizabeth of Portugal: The Great Peacemaker

On July 5, Franciscans in the USA honor the memory of Saint Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal, Secular Franciscan (1271-1336), known in her lifetime as a great peacemaker (elsewhere her feast is observed on July 4, Independence Day in the US).

A great beauty and highly intelligent

The daughter of King Peter III of Aragon, Elizabeth was named after her great-aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Considered both a great beauty and highly intelligent, she was married in 1282 to King Denis of Portugal. Denis was a very able ruler but took his wife for granted and engaged in numerous affairs. Nevertheless, Isabel was devoted to him and bore his infidelities patiently.

St Elizabeth of Portugal portraitSaint Elizabeth, depicted by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) as a young woman in 17th-century court dress, some three centuries after her death.

Known for her kindness and generosity to the poor

Besides attending to her obligations at court, she joined

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Saint Junipero Serra: Apostle of California

On July 1, Catholics in the United States and Franciscans throughout the world celebrate the memory of Saint Junipero Serra (1713-1774), the "Apostle of California."

St Junipero Serra statue San Diego 700pxlsStatue of Serra in San Diego, California, his first mission in what is now the United States, founded in 1769.

Formed in austere penitential environment

Born Miguel Serra to humble farmers in the village of Petra on the island of Mallorca (Majorca), Spain, he grew up close to a Franciscan friary where he received his elementary education. He entered the Friars Minor at Palma de Majorca in 1730 and was given the name Junipero after one of the early companions of Saint Francis. There he was formed in an austere penitential environment.

Early ministry devoted to teaching student friars

Ordained in 1737, the young Serra was considered brilliant; his early ministry was devoted to educating student friars in philosophy and theology according to the teachings

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Blessed Ramon Llull: Secular Franciscan Committed to a Multicultural Mission

On June 30, the Franciscan family honors the memory of Blessed Ramon Llull, a Secular Franciscan scholar committed to mission to the Islamic world (1232-1316).

An accomplished poet, troubadour

Llull was born into a wealthy family on the island of Mallorca in 1232; his father was a knight in the army that had conquered the island from the Arabs two years previously. Llull grew up in a multicultural environment. Educated as a courtier, he became an accomplished poet and troubadour, and companion and seneschal to the future king James II of Mallorca. Although married in his twenties, Llull continued to court many ladies.

A profound religious conversion

In 1263, however, he experienced a profound religious conversion and determined to give his life to God’s service as Saint Francis of Assisi did; he eventually joined the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (The "Third Order" of St. Francis—today called Secular Franciscans).

Blessed Ramon Llull 14th c manuscript 700pxlsScenes

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Saint Thomas More: Secular Franciscan and Martyr

On June 22, Catholics celebrate the memory of St. Thomas More (1478-1535), celebrated humanist, author, statesman, devoted father and husband, who died as a martyr on July 6, 1535. According to longstanding tradition, he was a Secular Franciscan.

Immersed in humanistic scholarship

Born in London in 1478, the son of the prosperous lawyer John More, Thomas received an excellent primary education, and at the age of 12 became a page to Archbishop Morton of Canterbury, the chancellor of England, who immersed him in humanistic scholarship.

St Thomas More Holbein

The celebrated portrait of Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger (1527), Frick Gallery, New York.

Study of law

In 1492 Thomas began studying at Oxford but he left to study law in London. By the late 1490s More, a young lecturer in law, had joined a circle of prominent humanist scholars: John Colet, Thomas Linacre, and Erasmus.

Deeply drawn to prayer and an ascetic

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Venerable Matt Talbot: Patron of People Struggling with Alcoholism

On June 19 Franciscans recall the memory of Venerable Matt Talbot (1856-1925), an Irish Secular Franciscan considered a patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism and other forms of addiction.

Venerable Matt Talbott

Only known photo of Matt Talbot (man in front).

Born into poverty

Matthew Talbot was born in the North Strand neighborhood of Dublin, the second oldest of 12 children of Charles and Elizabeth Talbot. The family always remained poor due to Charlie’s heavy drinking, moving from one cramped tenement to another.

Venerable Matt Talbott Dublin street scene 1800s 700pxlsDublin street scene 1800s. The city had some of the worst slums in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Early alcoholism

Matt only went to school a short time; he joined the workforce at the age of twelve. Unfortunately, he worked in a beer and wine bottling company where he began to sample the wares. By the time he was thirteen, he was a confirmed

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Saint Anthony of Padua: Drawn to a Life with God
On June 13, countless people recall one of the most popular Franciscan saints, Anthony of Padua (1191/5-1231). Being Sunday, his feast is not celebrated liturgically this year, except in churches where he is the patron saint.

Drawn to a life with God

Despite his common association with an Italian city, Anthony was actually a native of Portugal. He was baptized Fernando Martins de Bulhões and came from a prominent family of knights in Lisbon, then on the frontiers between Christian and Muslim cultures. Drawn to a life with God, he entered the canons regular of the Holy Cross in Lisbon as a young man. Seeking greater solitude, he asked to be transferred to the motherhouse of the congregation in Coimbra, where he received an excellent education in the Scriptures.

St Anthony of Padua Abbey of the Canons Coimbra Portugal 700x1000pxls

This is the Abbey of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) in Coimbra, Portugal, where Anthony was a

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The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

On June 11 this year, Catholics around the world celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A symbol of Christ's tender love

Although this feast is a product of the seventeenth century, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a symbol of Christ's tender love for humanity has patristic and medieval roots, including Franciscan writers.

The Franciscan connection

See the column by George Corrigan, OFM, who at the time was pastor of a parish originally staffed by Jesuits, but more recently by Franciscans.
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Saint Francis and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

On June 6, Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, popularly known as Corpus Christi.

The Real Presence of Christ

Originally celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, in most places today it is observed the following Sunday. This feast celebrates the great gift of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

Saint Thomas Aquinas urged extending this feast

First observed locally in northern France and what is now Belgium in the 1240s, Pope Urban VI extended this feast to the universal Church in 1264 at the urging of St. Thomas Aquinas. However, this mystery was already central to the spirituality of Francis of Assisi.

The Eucharistic writings of Saint Francis

On this point, see the enlightening column below by George Corrigan, OFM.

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Job Opening: Administrative Assistant



Administrative Assistant


Chair, Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition (CFIT)


The Administrative Assistant for the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition (CFIT) works in tandem with the Chair and other Commission members to facilitate the effective and efficient internal operations of the organization, in particular, the creation and distribution of documents and tasks related to the Commission’s Executive Committee and full board meetings.


1. Familiarity with the Franciscan charism and experience working with the Franciscan family.

2. Minimum of 1 to 3 years’ administrative experience with excellent understanding of office organization, maintenance of organizational files and records, and best clerical practices, with attention to detail, timeliness in completion of tasks, and adherence to confidentiality.

3. Experience working in a variety of professional and nonprofit settings, domestically and internationally.

4. Excellent writing, editing,

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Pentecost in the Franciscan Tradition

A blessed Feast of Pentecost to all!

Meditate with Saint Bonaventure

On this Feast of Pentecost, let us meditate on these words from Saint Bonaventure’s “Tree of Life,” 40:

“When seven weeks had passed since the resurrection, on the fiftieth day, ‘when the disciples were gathered in one place with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a violent wind blowing’ (Acts 1:14, 2:1). The Spirit descended. . . ‘and appeared in the form of tongues of fire. . . . They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages’ (Acts 2:4), as the prompting of the Holy Spirit dictated, who taught them all truth and inflamed them with all love. . . ."

"Purified, illumined, and perfected by the power of the same Holy Spirit, the Church becomes lovable to her Spouse. .

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Blessed Franz Jägerstätter: A Conscientious Objector

On May 21, Franciscans honor the memory of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter (1907-1943), an Austrian Secular Franciscan who was a conscientious objector executed by the Nazis.

Raised in farmland

Franz was born on May 20, 1907, in the village of Sankt Radegund, Upper Austria, in a mountainous area along the German border. He was an illegitimate child, the son of Rosalia Huber, a housemaid, and a local farmer. His parents could not afford a marriage, so Franz was raised by his grandmother until 1917, when Rosalia married a prosperous farmer, Heinrich Jägerstätter, who adopted her boy.

Popular, wild young man

As a young man, Franz left home to work on a farm in another town and then in a mine. Returning to St. Radegund in 1930, Franz was a popular, somewhat wild young man, who rode about in a motorcycle and fathered an illegitimate child. However, he gradually accepted the responsibility

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Saint Bernardine of Siena: The Apostle of Italy

On May 20, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Bernardino (Bernardine) of Siena (1380-1444), a Franciscan friar and celebrated preacher called "The Apostle of Italy.”

Preparation for career in public life

Bernardino was born on September 8, 1380, in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima, where his father, a member of the noble Albizzeschi family of Siena, was governor. Orphaned by age 6, he was raised by a devout aunt. As a youth he received an excellent education in liberal arts and law to prepare him for a career in public life.

Serving at a hospital during a plague

In 1397, while still a student, he joined the lay confraternity attached to the largest hospital in Siena. When, in 1400, a severe plague descended upon the city, Bernardine, with some companions, took charge of the hospital for several months. He then cared for his aunt in her last illness.

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Saint Felix of Cantalice: Humble Servant

On May 18, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of Saint Felix of Cantalice (1515-1587), a Capuchin friar known for his life of humble service.

Devoted to prayer in the midst of work

Born in the village of Cantalice near Rieti, Italy, to a peasant family, Felix Porri worked as shepherd and then a ploughman. He was known to be devoted to prayer in the midst of his work. One day, while he was breaking in a team of young oxen, the animals were suddenly spooked and trampled on Felix, pulling the plow over his body. He survived, but this narrow escape caused him to rethink his life, and in 1543 he sought admission to the Capuchin friars in Cittaducale as a lay brother.

St Felix Cantalice.Italy 700pxls

The village of Cantalice, Italy, birthplace of Saint Felix.

"Ass of the friars”

In 1548, Felix was sent to Rome, where for the next four decades

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Saint Paschal Baylón: Devoted to the Eucharist

On May 17, Franciscans celebrate the memory of St. Paschal (Pasqual) Baylón (1540-1592), a friar known for his devotion to the Eucharist.

Born on Pentecost Sunday

Paschal was born to a family of poor shepherds in Torrehermosa, in the province of Zaragosa, Aragon, Spain; he received his name from the fact he was born on Pentecost Sunday (in Spanish, the "Pasch of the Holy Spirit").

Torrehermosa Spain 700x405pxls

Village of Torrehermosa, Spain, the birthplace of Saint Paschal.
(photo: Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA)

A man of transparent goodness

He began working as a shepherd at age seven; his work made it possible for him to spend long times at prayer; in the pastures he would listen for the bell of the church marking the consecration of Mass and would pause to pray devoutly. He also used his long hours alone to teach himself how to read. He became known as a man of

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Saint Leopold Mandić: Apostle of Christian Unity

On May 12, Franciscans celebrate the memory of Saint Leopold Mandić of Castelnuovo (1866-1942), a Capuchin friar famous for his dedicated ministry in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Born in Montenegro

Bogdan Mandić was the twelfth child born to a Croatian couple in the town of Herceg Novi (Castelnuovo) in what is now Montenegro, on the Dalmatian coast of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Herceq Novi.Montenegro birthplace St Leopold of Mandic 700pxlsThe town of Herceg Novi, Montenegro, birthplace of Saint Leopold

Joining Italian Capuchins

Italian Capuchins had staffed a church in his hometown since the 1600s when the area was ruled by the Venetian Republic. At age 16 the young Bogdan left to study at their minor seminary in Udine, Italy. He was received into the Order in 1884 and given the name Leopold.

St Leopold of Mandic time of ordination 1890Saint Leopold Mandić at the time of his ordination, 1890

Keen mind and inner resilience

Despite many physical handicaps—he was only 4'5" tall, walked with

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Dr. José Gregorio Hernández: “Doctor of the Poor”

This past weekend, April 29, 2021, saw the beatification in Caracas, Venezuela, of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, a physician and Secular Franciscan (1864-1919), known as the “doctor of the poor.”

Shrine to Dr Hernandez Isnotu Venezuela 700pxlsPHOTO: Shrine to Dr. José Gregorio Hernández in his birthplace—Isnotú, Venezuela

A brilliant student

José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros was born on October 26, 1864, in Isnotú, a small village in the state of Trujillo in the Venezuelan Andes. The oldest of seven children, his mother was a housekeeper; his father sold pharmaceuticals and livestock. When he was 13, he expressed his desire to go to law school, but his mother convinced him to study medicine. He therefore went to Caracas to study: first at a prestigious academy and then at the medical school of the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), where he was considered a brilliant student.

Doctor, teacher, author

After graduating in 1888, he received a grant from the Venezuelan government

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Five Franciscans Executed for Their Faith
On May 4, Franciscans recall the witness of five friars—Blesseds Thomas Bullaker, Henry Heath, Arthur Bell, John Woodcock, and Charles Meehan—who were executed in England and Wales in the 1640s because of their loyalty to the Catholic faith.

Staunch defenders of the faith

During the reign of Henry VIII, the Observant Franciscans had been staunch defenders of the king's marriage to Queen Catherine and Papal supremacy, and so were the first religious order in England to be suppressed in 1534. The friars met imprisonment, death or were scattered to the continent.

Founding an English Franciscan friary

During the latter part of the sixteenth century, a number of English Catholics came to Europe to join the Order, and in 1618 they founded an English Franciscan friary at the University of Douai, then in the Spanish Netherlands (English Catholic women also founded a Poor Clare monastery in nearby Gravelines).

Ministry a risky

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Blessed Luchesius of Poggibonsi: First Lay Franciscan Penitent

On April 28, Franciscans—especially Secular Franciscans and members of the Third Order Regular—honor the memory of Blessed Luchesius of Poggibonsi (c. 1180-1260).

A contemporary of Saint Francis

A contemporary of Saint Francis, Luchesio Modestini was born around 1180 in a small village in Tuscany. In his early life he was a soldier. He was stationed at one point in Poggibonsi, a small but thriving town between Florence and Siena; abandoning his military career, he settled there and married a local woman named Buona (popularly known as Buonadonna).

A reputation as grasping, unfeeling

Luchesio became a merchant, selling provisions to the many pilgrims travelling the Via Francigena, the main highway from the north to Rome that passed through the town. He became very successful and also engaged in moneylending. Both he and his wife gained the reputation as grasping, unfeeling people.

Undergoing a religious conversion

In his early 30s, Luchesio underwent

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CFIT Appoints Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Treasurer

The Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition (CFIT) appointed Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, to its board and elected him treasurer at its board meeting January 29, 2021.

A desire to spread the Franciscan tradition

CFIT Chair Dominic Monti, OFM, distinguished professor of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University, said Father Jack’s addition to the CFIT board brings a wealth of experience, organizational skills, and a desire to spread the Franciscan tradition.

Responsible for financial accounting and funding

As treasurer, Fr. Jack will be responsible for providing accurate and accessible accounting of the organization’s finances and identifying and retaining funding that will allow the Franciscan organization to continue its initiatives to retrieve, preserve, and articulate the Franciscan intellectual and spiritual tradition.

A specialist in Franciscan history in the United States

Fr. Jack specializes in the history of the Franciscans in the United States, studying the activities of Franciscans who came to

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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: Martyr for the Faith

On April 24, the Franciscan family celebrates the memory of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577-1622), a heroic martyr for the Catholic faith.

"The Poor Person's Lawyer"

Born Mark Roy in the town of Sigmaringen, Germany, he was educated at the University of Freiburg and became a professor of philosophy. He eventually went on to obtain a law degree and began the practice of that profession in Alsace, becoming known as "The Poor Person's Lawyer." However, he became disillusioned with the rampant dishonesty in his profession; instead, drawn to prayer and a simple lifestyle, he entered the Capuchin friars in 1612.

Sigmaringen Germany 700pxls

An eloquet preacher and confessor

Following his ordination, Fidelis was stationed for some years at Weltkirchen in Austria, becoming known as an eloquent preacher and a confessor. In 1621 he and several other Capuchins responded to a request from the Vatican Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to preach

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Pray with Francis to Mark the Resurrection of Jesus
This blog concludes our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

One of Saint Francis’s most extensive, but at the same time, lesser-known writings, is his Office of the Passion. This work was a unique product of his many years of meditating on the major events of Christ’s life—his coming into the world as God’s beloved Son, announcing his Father’s Word with its promise but its rejection by many, culminating in the Paschal Mystery of his suffering, death, and resurrection and how we as believers are incorporated into this mystery.

Expressing deep relationship with Christ

As Francis meditated, different phrases from the psalms and the liturgy of the Church struck him deeply, which in a “stream of consciousness” he pieced together in a collage, creating fifteen new “psalms” that express his deep relation with Christ. The result is

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