Blessed Francis of Fabriano
(Beato Francesco di Fabriano)
Feast Day – April 21
Francis was born in the year 1251 in the city of Fabriano. His father was a physician in that city and highly esteemed not only because of his medical ability but still more because of his love for the poor and afflicted and his sincere piety. Daily he recited the Divine Office as the priests do. To the great joy of his parents, Francis gave evidence of the finest talents, an alert understanding, and a meek and devout temperament.
As a boy Blessed Francis of Fabriano had a very serious illness which brought him to death’s door. Then the pious mother vowed to make a pilgrimage to the grave of St Francis of Assisi, and at once the illness took a turn for the better.
In Assisi the venerable Brother Angelo, one of the first associates of St Francis, saw the lovely boy and foretold to the mother that he would later be his companion in the order. In consequence Francis won the love of his parents more and more.
The boy’s desire for learning and his great progress were especially pleasing to his father. At the age of ten years Francis already understood the Latin language. When he had reached his seventeenth year, he experienced a strong impulse to consecrate himself to God in the Order of St Francis, and his pious parents gave their consent.
Francis entered the Franciscan convent at Fabriano and there, under the excellent direction of Father Gratian, later minister general of the entire order, Blessed Francis of Fabriano was instructed in all the conventual virtues. In order to gain the Portiuncula indulgence he went to Assisi, and there he heard from the trusted companion of St Francis, Brother Leo, who was still living, how this popular indulgence had been given and also how the Stigmata had been bestowed. Concerning both these fats Francis later wrote a book, which still serves as evidence.
In theology Blessed Francis of Fabriano acquired eminent knowledge, which he endeavored to use for the benefit of his brethren as also for the conversion of sinners. He eagerly gathered books that could serve the intellectual advancement and the edification of the friars, and when his father made him a rather generous legacy for procuring books, he founded a library for the convent of Fabriano to the great future benefit of the order.
But Francis also faithfully carried out the teaching and the example of the saints as he found them laid down in the books. He lived so strictly that he partook of food only once a day, frequently only bread and water. He slept only a few hours on a hard bed; the remainder of the night was devoted to prayer and meditation. The holy sacrifice of the Mass he celebrated with fervent devotion. Once when he had said the Mass for the departed and at the end said:
“Requiescant in pace. May they rest in peace!”
Many invisible voices answered,
It is supposed that these were the holy angels or the released souls.
In the new convent at Fabriano, which his fellow citizens built out of veneration for him, the day and the hour of his death were pointed out to him. On his very deathbed he miraculously cured a sick person. Then he departed blessedly in the Lord, with a gentle smile on his lips, on April 22, 1322. His body, which is still incorrupt, rests in the church of the Friars Minor at Fabriano. The celebration of his feast was granted by Pope Pius VI.
from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM
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