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Francis of Paula

St. Francis of Paula

Born: March 27, 1416

Died: April 2, 1507

Canonized: 1512 by Pope Leo X

Feast Day: April 2

Patron Saint of: sailors

Also known as Francis of Paola, Franciscus de Paula, and Francis the Fire Handler.

Francis of Paula, named after St. Francis of Assisi, was born in 1416 in Calabria, Italy, to devoutly religious parents. At 14 years of age, while on a religious family pilgrimage to Rome, Francis decided to become a hermit in a cave near his home in Paola, Italy. He was soon joined by two others attracted by his austere lifestyle. The three soon left the cave for chapel built by the villagers. The society continued to grow and got the attention of the local archbishop; in 1436, the Archbishop of Cozenza gave his approval. As the unofficial order continued to grow, so too did reports of miracles. In 1474, Pope Sixtus IV officially approved the new order and named it the Franciscan Minim Friars. In 1483, Francis was summoned by Louis XI of France to be spared from a severe illness. Reluctantly, Francis went to Louis XI, but instead of performing a miracle as Louis XI had wanted and expected, Francis convinced Louis XI to willingly accept his fate. At the request of Louis IX's successors, Francis of Paula remained in France until his death in 1507. During his life, Francis of Paula was known for his ability to read the thoughts of others and for his prophesies. One noteworthy miracle was reported to have happened at the Straits of Messina which he sailed across on a cloak.