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. 

https://sacredheartfla.org/seasonal/feast-days-solemnities/the-solemnity-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/
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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

COMMISSION ON THE FRANCISCAN INTELLECTUAL-SPIRITUAL TRADITION SEEKS ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

JOB TITLE:

Administrative Assistant

SUPERVISOR:

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

PURPOSE OF THE POSITION:

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.

OPTIMAL QUALIFICATIONS:

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, delso.photo, 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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The Way of the Cross: Part of Everyday Life in Jerusalem

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

When I guide Holy Land pilgrims through the streets of Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “Sorrowful Way”), we usually share the crowded streets with pilgrim groups from around the world, people of other faiths going about their business, tourists from cruise ships, and merchants standing outside their shops doing business. We are part of everyday life in the Old City.

Way of the Cross imported from Europe

The Via Dolorosa, the route traveled by Jesus on Good Friday, takes pilgrims from the place of his trial before Pilate to his burial in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. Most Catholics know the 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa, also called the Via Crucis and Way of the Cross, but they may be surprised

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Contemplating the Trinity: A Lenten Exercise

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
give us miserable ones
the grace to do for You alone
what we know you want us to do
and always to desire what pleases You.
Inwardly cleansed,
interiorly enlightened
and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
may we be able to follow
in the footprints of Your beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
and, by Your grace alone,
may we make our way to You,
Most High,
Who live and rule
in perfect Trinity and simple Unity,
and are glorified
God almighty,
forever and ever.
Amen.

 

The preceding prayer concluded Francis’s “A Letter to the Entire Order” and is as relevant a prayer for us in our days as it was for Francis in his. It is an

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Clare’s Encouragement: Go Forward and Stay There

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

“We’ll get together when it’s safe.” How many times have you said this, or something like it, this past year? Who are you missing most this Lent? In your Christian vocation, who has been your greatest encourager recently?

The need to connect with loved ones

In this Lenten season of opportunity and loss, I have found Clare of Assisi to be a good friend and encourager. I am rereading her letters to Agnes of Prague, someone Clare grew to love but probably never expected to meet this side of heaven.

As I have needed to connect with others while distanced, so Clare and Agnes needed to connect with each other—in much more difficult circumstances! I have needed my loved ones to remind me who I really am,

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The Five Lents of Francis

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

The early sources about the life of Francis mention five “Lents.”

A Lent to prepare for Easter and for Christmas

For 40 days before Easter, Francis observed the “Great Lent,” what we know as Lent today.

Francis also observed a similar period of 40 days of fasting and prayer in preparation for Christmas, beginning after the Feast of All Saints on November 1. It was at the end of a Lent preparing for Christmas that Francis arranged for the display of the Nativity scene at Greccio.

Both Lents were observed by his brothers as well (Later Rule, Chapter 3).

A fast like Jesus’ in the desert

Francis also recommended a fast of 40 days after the Epiphany, January 6. On this day in

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Saint Francis Tells Us to Turn Ourselves Around, Look for Goodness

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

The Assisi Compilation is a collection of stories about Saint Francis told by the friars who knew him personally and may even have lived with him. The stories were compiled between the years 1241 and 1260 and hold reasonable credibility as a significant contribution to our Franciscan intellectual tradition.

Apologize for a lack of kindness

One such story tells of a time when the friars were accosted by a group of robbers. Fearing the intentions of the robbers, the friars told them to leave the area and chastised the robbers for their apparent malintent. When Saint Francis arrived, the friars were eager to tell him about their encounter with the robbers and how they got rid of them. Rather than commending the friars, Francis chastised them. He

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Pray Like Francis: “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, and we bless you”

This blog continues our Lent 2021 series of reflections on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition by a variety of women and men Franciscans.

In his Testament, Saint Francis of Assisi urged the friars to pray whenever they visited churches: “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.”

Francis believed strongly in Jesus’ Incarnation

In the thirteenth century when many people spoke glowingly of the “spiritual Church” and extremely negatively about the “fleshy (carnal) Church,” Francis dealt with the Catholic Church as he found it. He anticipated the much later words of Oliver Cromwell, encouraging the man painting his portrait to show him “warts and all.” Because Francis believed very strongly in Jesus’ Incarnation, the Poor Man of Assisi strongly rejected the luxury of retreating into an ideal Church, all

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John of Capestrano

On October 23, the Church remembers St. John Capistran, a Franciscan who had a prominent and multi-faceted ministry as a preacher and reformer in 15th century Europe.

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.” 

Born in 1386 in Capestrano in the Abruzzo region of Italy, his youth was 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 the thirst for revenge that he felt as a young man. He studied law at the

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St. Pius of Pietrelcina

On September 23, Catholics celebrate the memory of St. 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 Church.

He was born of poor but devout parents, Grazio and Maria Forgione, in the province of Benevento in Southern Italy, and baprtized Francesco. At an early age, he wanted to enter the Capuchin friars, but lacked the educational background.  His father Grazio came to the  United States to find work in order to pay for schooling, and Francesco entered the novitiate in 1903 and given the name Pio.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1910. 

Padre Pio was plagued with ill health in his early years. In 1916 he was assigned to the small friary of Our Lady of Grace in the town of San Giovanni Rotondo in Apulia where he spent almost

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Rose of Viterbo

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

Born in the city of Viterbo to a working-class family, Rose was captivated by the Franciscan friars who had established a church there. She began dressing up in their habit and devoted herself to prayer and ascetical practices in her home. 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”). Although still in early adolescence, Rose began preaching publically, girt in a Franciscan cord, leading her followers through the streets, urging people to do penance and turn their lives to God. The

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Maximilian Kolbe

76 years ago, 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.

Kolbe was born in 1894 at Zdunska Wola 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 minor seminary in Lvov and entered the Order in 1910. Friar Maximilian was a brilliant student who excelled in what we would call today STEM subjects; after his profession, he was sent on for studies in Rome, where he earned doctorates in both philosophy and theology.

 Kolbes RoomDuring his years in Italy, he witnessed violent anti-clerical demonstrations and became convinced of the need to mobilize Catholics to profess their faith in

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Feast of St. Clare

On August 11, the Franciscan family celebrates the feast of St. Clare of Assisi (1193/94-1253), the first woman to join Francis and his brothers in their new Gospel way of life. 

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, but, inspired by conversations she had with Francis, she decided to abandon her family and social status, and in 1211 or 1212 became part of the new movement of a "life according to the Holy Gospel" at the Portiuncula. She and several other women who soon joined her quickly settled at the church of San Damiano. Francis told them:

"Since by divine inspiration you have made yourselves daughters and servants of the

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 Benedict the African

On April 3, the Franciscan family honors the memory of St. Benedict the Black or Benedict the African (1526-1589). He was referred to in Italian as “il Moro” (dark-skinned), and this was often translated into English as “the Moor.”

Benedict was born at San Fratello, a small town near Palermo, Sicily, to an African slave couple. Due to their good service, their son was declared free at birth. Benedict became a hard- working shepherd, devoted to prayer; he never went to school due to his poverty and remained illiterate all his life. When he was 21, a nobleman witnessed his patient attitude when insulted because of his race, and invited him to come with him and form an independent group of lay Franciscan hermits; there Benedict became the cook, and eventually became head of the group.

In 1564, Pope Pius V ordered groups of lay hermits to join an established

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