Francis of Paola, St.
FRANCIS OF PAOLA, ST.
Founder of the minims; b. Paola, province of Cosenza, Calabria, Italy, March 27, 1416; d. Tours, France, April 2, 1507. He was the second son of Giacomo d'Alessio and his wife, Vienna da Fuscaldo. When 12 he spent a year at the Franciscan friary of San Marco and then accompanied his parents on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. With their permission, he then sought a secluded region at Paola to live as a hermit. He later moved to a remote cave by the sea but was discovered by some hunters who spread the fame of his virtues. Although he would frequently return to his grotto, he believed that God now wished him to dedicate himself to an apostolic life. At 19 he received his first followers, thus laying the foundations of his order. Francis became the defender of the poor and oppressed and did not fear to plead their cause before Ferrante I of Aragon and Louis XI of France. His last 25 years were spent in France, where he was called by Louis XI, then near death. Though unwilling at first to leave Italy, at the insistence of sixtus iv he left for Paris and prepared the king for a happy death. At the court of the Valois he was instrumental in restoring peace between France and Brittany by advising the marriage of the Dauphin, Charles, to Anne of Brittany, and between France and Spain by counseling Louis XI to return the counties of Rousillon and Cerdagne to Spain. While at court he became the tutor of the future Charles
VIII. His miracles were numerous, and because many were connected with the sea, he was declared patron of seafarers by pius xii on March 27, 1943. He was canonized on 1 May 1519, by leo x, and has enjoyed particular veneration in Latin countries, where he is honored by the devotion of the "Thirteen Fridays." His iconography is rich with illustrious names as Bartolomé Murillo, Diego Velázguez, Francisco Goya, Giovanni B. Tiepolo, Giovanni B. Piazzetta, Giulio Romano, and others. He appears in the Torquemada of Victor Hugo, and is the subject of a sonata by Franz Liszt, St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waters. Francis' letters are preserved in a collection edited by F. Preste, Centuria di lettere di S. Francesco di Paola (Rome 1665).
Feast: April 2.
Bibliography: f. russo, Bibliografia di S. Francesco di Paola (Bollettino Ufficiale dei Minimi Suppl. Rome 1957). g. m. roberti, S. Francesco di Paola: Storia della sua vita (2d ed. Rome 1963). g. vezin, Saint François de Paule, fondateur des minimes, et la France (Paris 1971). g. vanzillotta, A Royal Adventure, St. Francis of Paola (New York 1975). g. j. simi and m. m. segreti, Saint Francis of Paola: God's Miracle Worker Supreme (Rockford, Ill. 1977). p. addante, Il processo cosentino e turonense a Francesco di Paola (Bari 1979). f. grillo, San Francesco di Paola nella storia e nella leggenda (Cosenza 1984). n. misasi, In provincia: l'ambiente calabrese al tempo dei Borboni (Sala Bolognese 1984).