June 4, 2017

St. Francis Caracciolo, Founder

Saint Francis Caracciolo

It would have been easy for St. Francis Caracciolo to be a name dropper; born at Naples into Italian nobility in 1563, he was related on his mother’s side to the great St. Thomas Aquinas. But the word that described him best was humility, for it was this virtue that guided him throughout his life. When he was 22, Francis developed a skin condition resembling leprosy; he vowed that, if he was cured, he would devote the rest of his life to God.

When the condition disappeared, Francis made good on his promise; he sold everything he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went to Naples to study for the priesthood. While there, he became cofounder of a religious order, the Congregation of the Minor Clerks Regular.

Members of this new order took the usual three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, to which they added a fourth — that they would not actively seek positions of authority either within the Church or the order itself. Even though elected superior several times, Francis kept that vow by doing whatever menial tasks the members needed.

Francis, the patron saint of Naples, died of natural causes in 1608.  His feast day is June 4. St. Francis Caracciolo was much sought after as a confessor while his exhortations brought to repentance numerous public sinners, and he fortified the wavering and the despondent by his extensive personal encouragement and the recommendation of the two great Catholic devotions, those to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady. Graciously grant to your Church, O merciful God, that, gathered by the Holy Spirit, she may be devoted to you with all her heart and united in purity of intent. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

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