St. Francis of Paola
The son of humble and pious parents in Calabria, Italy, Fnmcis was named after St. Francis of Assisi. He was only 14 when he was inspired to become a hermit by a pilgrimage with his parents to Assisi, Monte Cassino and Rome. At first he lived alone in a cave overlooking the sea, near his home town of Paola; then he was joined by two companions for whom the local people built a chapel and cells. Attracted by the asceticism and simplicity of the life, others joined the group and, in 1436, the archbishop of Cozenza gave it his approval. Many miracles were recorded as other communities sprang up in southern Italy, and in 1474 Pope Sixtus IV approved the new order as the Franciscan Minim Friars.
Francis's fame spread outside Italy when, in 1483, Louis XI of France realized he was mortally ill and summoned Francis to heal him. Francis went relucrantly and only on Pope Sixtus IV's instructions, and by his prayers and example persuaded the king to resign himself to dying.
After Louis' death, in the same year, the king's successors, the regent Anne of Beaujeu and his son Charles VIII, asked Francis to stay in France. He remained there for the rest of his life.
As well as conducting diplomatic negotiations with Brittany and Spain and acting for a while as tutor to Charles VIII, Francis perfected his role and widened it to include women and the laity. He died in 1507 and was buried at Plessis-les-Tours; his canonization followed in 1512. Because so manyof his miracles were connected with the sea-----one of which was hissailing across the Straits of Messina on his cloak-----he was declared the patron Saint of seafarers by Pope Pius XII in 1943.
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