14 Jul Saint Francis Solanus, Confessor
Today is the feast day of Saint Francis Solanus. Ora Pro Nobis.
Saint Francis Solano was born in 1549 at Montilla in the province of Andalusia, Spain, of very devout parents, Matthew Sanchez Solanus and Anna Ximenes. At the request of his mother, he received the name of Francis in baptism. She ascribed the fortunate delivery of the child to the intercession of the Seraphic Founder.
The boy grew to be a joy to his parents. While he was pursuing his studies with the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, his modesty, gentleness, and piety merited the esteem of his teachers as well as the friendship of his fellow students. Francis completed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood, proving his zeal for the salvation of souls during an epidemic of the plague that broke out in the region. The heroic sacrifices he made during an epidemic were especially admirable. He cared for the corporal and spiritual needs of the sick without any fear of infection. He became afflicted with the malady, but was miraculously restored to health.
After his ordination, he was sent by his superiors to the convent of Arifazza as master of novices.
Eventually, Francis was sent to South America in 1589 with several members of the Order, assigned to the provinces of Tucuman (Argentina), Gran Chaco (Bolivia), and Paraguay. Obediently, Francis accepted his assignment, never complaining about the countless hardships the missionaries encountered. Concentrating on the indigenous peoples of the regions, Francis approached the Indians so courteously and kindly that they rejoiced at his very appearance. He learned the difficult native languages in a very short time, and he was miraculously understood wherever he went.
God also gave Saint Francis marvelous power over hearts. Once when he was in the city of La Rioja, a horde of thousands of armed Indians approached in order to slay all Europeans and Christianized Indians. Saint Francis went out to meet them. His words at once disarmed them. All understood what he said although they spoke different languages. They begged him for instructions, and 9,000 were baptized.
After Father Francis had labored 12 years among the Indians, he was re-assigned to the Monastery at Lima, Peru, where he led the Christians of Lima away from wanton laxity, back to the tenets of the faith. Saint Francis processed through the city, calling aloud for the repentance of the inhabitants. They were—one by one—moved to repent, receive Reconciliation, enact penances, and pray for mercy. Through his efforts the city was restored.
Saint Francis Solano had labored untiringly for the salvation of souls in South America for twenty years, when God called him to Himself on the feast of his special patron, St. Bonaventure, July 14, 1610. The viceroy and the most distinguished persons of Lima bore the body of the poor Friar Minor to the grave.
Almighty God glorified Saint Francis after death by many miracles, especially in favor of sick children; yes, even dead children were restored to life at his grave. Pope Benedict XIII canonized Saint Francis Solano amid great solemnity in the year 1726.
Image: Saint Francis Solanus, Attributed to Pedro Diaz, circa 1810
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff