Tag Archives: Franciscan Order

St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church (1195-1231)

St. Anthony of PaduaToday, June 13th, the universal Church honors St. Anthony of Padua, one of the greatest Doctors of the Church.

Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal, of a young noble couple. As a youth, he was educated by the clergy at the cathedral of Lisbon, but when he turned 15, he joined the regular canons of St. Augustine. Approximately two years later, he transferred to the priory at Coimbra, where he lived a more quiet and contemplative life of prayer. He was a scripture scholar with a supremely incredible memory.

In 1220, Don Pedro of Portugal brought from Morocco, the bodies of Franciscan martyrs who were murdered in Morocco by the Moors. The sight of these heroic individuals greatly moved Anthony. Therefore, he left the Augustinian Order to become a Franciscan, ready to die for his Catholic Faith, for Jesus Christ. Accordingly, in 1221, he became a Franciscan.

Subsequently, a short time after joining the Franciscans, he was traveling to Morocco to preach the Gospel to the Moors. But on the way, he became extremely ill and had to return to Europe. He then traveled to Assisi where a great gathering of the Franciscans occurred, called the general chapter, presided over by Vicar General Brother Elias. Posts were assigned to the Franciscans, whereupon Brother Anthony was assigned to a hermitage in San Paolo near Forli. There, he lived a quiet life of prayer and performing menial tasks for the rest of the friars. Little did they know of his intellectual and spiritual brilliance, his mental acuity, nor were they aware that he possessed many gifts given to him by the Holy Spirit, including his ability to preach effectively and defend the Faith as an extraordinary apologist.

The final incident, shall we say, that uncovered Brother Anthony’s gifts, occurred at an ordination held at Forli. Remarkably, because of communication misunderstandings, no one was prepared to give the homily. (I picture in my mind’s eye, everybody looking at each other perplexed. LOL.) Hence, St. Anthony came forward and delivered such an eloquent and meaningful homily that everyone was indeed amazed.

Accordingly, the minister provincial took Brother Anthony out of seclusion and sent him to preach, especially to the many heretics in Northern Italy. He became the first friar to teach theology to his colleagues, now a lector in theology. After this post, he was sent to preach to the Albigensians in France who converted in great numbers to the Catholic Faith, renouncing their denial of Jesus Christ’s divinity and their denial of the Sacraments.

He was a preacher of tremendous power, with a passion for the salvation of souls, a passion for the Truth and an appealing voice. Indeed, he even had a magnetic personality. Wherever Brother Anthony went, people flocked to him, including hardened criminals. Heretics came back to their Catholic Faith, back to Our Lord Jesus Christ, after listening to the Truth preached by the great Brother Anthony. The churches were filled when he spoke, wherein he preached also out in the open market-places and squares.

After St. Francis died, he was assigned to go to Italy to serve as the minister provincial of Emilia or Romagna, acting as an envoy from the chapter general in 1226 to Pope Gregory IX. Anthony was granted his request to be released from this office so that he could devote his life to preaching.

Therefore, on forward, Brother Anthony lived in the city of Padua, a place where he worked before, being well-loved and welcomed there by the people. Large congregations listened to him speak, leading sinners to reform their lives, ending fighting and terrible quarreling establishing peace.

In the spring of 1231, once again Brother Anthony became very ill. Thus, he retired with two other friars to a retreat in the woods known as Camposanpiero. He stayed there for awhile, but asked to return to Padua. Sadly, he only reached the outskirts of Padua. On June 13, 1231, having received the last rites, he died in an apartment at the Poor Clares of Arcella.

Brother Anthony was only 36 years old when he died, and in 1232, he was canonized. In 1946, Pope Pius XII declared him to be a Doctor of the Church. Because of his greatness, he was known as “The Wonder-worker.” He is pictured holding the Infant Jesus. During one of his visits, his host, looking through a window, saw St. Anthony gazing upon the Holy Child whom he held in his arms. Numerous miracles were attributed to him. St. Anthony is the patron of the poor, and the founder of lost objects. This is completely appropriate, since he found himself by losing himself totally to the Triune God.

St. Anthony wrote in one of his sermons about the saints: “The saints are like the stars In His providence, Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.”

My dearest St. Anthony, I have always loved you and you have always been efficient in tending to my requests. Thank you for your example of true love in defending the Faith against heretics, standing for the truth, preaching the Gospel with great eloquence and serving the people of God. I am sure you are aware that we live in a time of “in your face evil.” Please come to our aid here in this world, and assist us and pray for us to Our Lord. May we now continue to follow your example, dear St. Anthony! Praise be Jesus Christ!

With love and respect,


Sources: Vatican website; One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press; Franciscan Media

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Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio, “Angel of Mexico”

Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio

Today, the universal Church honors Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio, known as the “Angel of Mexico”.

Sebastian was born of poor Spanish parents.  At 31, he journeyed to Mexico, wherein he began to work very hard taking care of the fields.  He was extremely ingenious, effective and talented, since he was known for building roads and/or bridges to help agricultural trading and merchandising, also fulfilling general travelling needs.  His 466-mile road that went from Mexico City to Zacatecas took Sebastian ten years to build.  Sebastian also had to deal with the politics that facilitated the building of this road with the indigenous people who lived in the various towns and cities that this road affected.

Sebastian, at the age of 60, being a wealthy farmer and rancher, entered into a “virginal  marriage” with a lady who did not have enough money for a dowry, allowing her to live a proper and respectable life.  His first wife died and he once again, entered into a second such marriage for the same reason, with his second wife dying at a young age.

There is no end to Sebastian’s generosity and kindness.  At the age of 72, he distributed all of his personal property to the poor and entered into the Franciscan order as a brother.  He was assigned to the 100-member friary at Puebla de los Angeles, south of Mexico City.  For the next 25 years, Francis collected alms for the friars.

For the sake of background, the Franciscan order provided that all of the friars were to work for their bread.  But many times, whilst the Franciscans were serving the poor and the lepers, they had no monies to give them.  Hence, begging for alms was then permitted.

St. Francis demanded that the friars give good examples, that they live their lives pursuant to what they preach.  One time, St. Francis entered a town with his brothers, wherein the brothers expected St. Francis to preach.  He did not say a word to the people.  When questioned by his brothers why he did not speak, St. Francis said, “Speak the Gospel constantly, and when necessary, use words.”  St. Francis explained that just by walking through the town as they did, treating people with kindness and love, was the highest manner of preaching.  Certainly, Sebastian truly lived his life in a Christ-like manner as has been set forth above.  Therefore, he preached incessantly!  Nevertheless, St. Francis gave the brothers this maxim:

“There is a contract between the world and the friars.  The friars must give the world a good example; the world must provide for their needs.  When they break faith and withdraw their good example, the world will withdraw its hand in a just censure.”  (2 Celano, #70).

Sebastian’s wonderful charity and generosity up to and including his age in the 90’s, earned him the name, “Angel of Mexico”.  In 1787, Sebastian was beatified, and received the honor of being called, “Blessed”.

What a wonderful man!  His compassion, empathy, kindness and generosity is what Jesus requires of us!  The thought came to my mind what the famous French priest, St. Vincent de Paul, said, “Be kind, be kind, be kind, and you will be a saint!”  Let us attempt to follow the example of dear Blessed Sebastian.  We send you our love dear Blessed one, and we thank you for your wonderful example of being “Jesus in disguise“.

With love and respect,


Source:  Vatican website

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St. Conrad of Placenza

St. Conrad

On February 19th, the universal Church honored St. Conrad of Placenza.  I apologize to this saint for being tardy with his post.

Conrad belonged to the Third Order of St. Francis, but his actual birth date is unknown.  He belonged to a noble and prominent family in Placenza.  He married at a young age and tried to live a virtuous life.

One day, while he was engaged in hunting, he told his attendants to fire some brushwood nearby so that the game would flee.  But prevailing winds caused the flames to spread quickly which damaged the fields and forest.  A mendicant who was found nearby this “crime scene” was interrogated for this event and later sentenced to death, denying that he had any complicity in the crime.  Conrad told the truth, sold his possessions to pay for the damage and was reduced to poverty.  He apologized for his behavior with great remorse.

Conrad then went to a hermitage while his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares.  Subsequently, he went to Rome and then to Sicily, where for 30 years he lived a hard life in penance.  Various miracles are attributed to Conrad.

He died on February 19, 1351.  In 1515, Pope Leo X allowed the town of Noto to celebrate his feast, and Pope Urban VIII extended permission to celebrate Conrad for the entire Order of St. Francis.  Nevertheless, Conrad was never formally canonized.  His feast day is honored in the Franciscan Order on February 19th.

With love and respect,


Sources:  Vatican website; ewtn.com

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Coincidence or Design? You Decide

The Franciscan Friars are a Catholic mendicant religious order of men tracing their origin to St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226).
Mendicant orders are religious orders that have taken a vow of poverty and depend directly on charity (not government welfare!)  for their livelihood. In principle, they do not own property, either individually or collectively, in order that all their time and energy could be expended on religious work.
On June 27, 2011, two Franciscan friars of St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York — Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher and Fr. Jude Thaddeus — just happened to be at the scene of a traffic accident and so, gave the last rites to the severely injured bicyclist who died a few days later.
Was it mere happenstance that the two friars were there — in a part of the city they had never visited and normally would not visit, on their way to a chapel and an event that turned out to be fictitious? Or was this “happenstance” by design?
You decide!
Here’s the account by one of the friars.

A Most Mysterious Moment of Mercy

FranciscanFriars.com – July 8, 2011-
Did you ever have an experience in which you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real?
Monday June 27, 2011, was a day that I will never forget. Br. Jude Thaddeus and I were the only friars home at our friary in Harlem. We decided that we wanted to do something special, something out of the ordinary, go on an adventure. We started to brainstorm with various ideas. Mysteriously every idea ended up not being available. We laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation, “Finally a free day and we can’t find something to do!”
My eye caught sight of a postcard which had been on our office corkboard for months. It was advertising a new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in New York City. We decided to go to this chapel for our evening prayers – some adventure! Mysteriously the phone number was disconnected. I called my sister to check out the listed website which – mysteriously – did not exist. We were very close to canceling our plans. As we climbed into the car I told Br. Jude that we might be going on a wild goose chase.
With map in hand I tried to locate the address of the alleged chapel. Being unfamiliar with the particular neighborhood, I suggested that we take the West Side Highway south then east on Canal Street. As we approached the intersection of West Broadway we accidentally got stuck in the left lane behind some cars which were waiting to turn left.
I told Br. Jude that we needed to get over a lane so that we could continue going straight. Br. Jude waited as a car going straight was about to pass us. As soon as it passed we moved over and started to enter the intersection. At that moment a middle-aged man on his bike ran the red light and was hit by the car right in front of us.
It all happened so fast. It seemed that neither person saw each other. Within seconds I was present to the bicyclist who was lying unconscious face down in the street. In a most mysterious moment of mercy I was able to pray the words of absolution and apostolic pardon over my brother who was in his hour of need. Br. Jude was at my side praying “Jesus, mercy, Jesus, mercy.”

Bicyclist Ray Deter

We are never out and about at that time of day. We are seldom in that neighborhood. I feel like we witnessed a miracle of mercy. Jesus the Good Shepherd placed us at the exact time and place needed to bring His presence to a tragic situation.
Our prayers that morning had included the following passage from St. Augustine, “Even in the midst of this life of tears and tribulations, what happiness, what great joy it is to realize that we are God’s flock! He keeps watch over us when we are awake; He keeps watch over us when we sleep. A flock belonging to a man feels secure in the care of its human shepherd; how much safer should we feel when our shepherd is God? Not only does He lead us to pasture, but He even created us.”
Psalm 103 was prayed at Mass that morning, “The Lord is kind and merciful…He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes.”
Ray Deter died less than a week after the accident. I do not know about his relationship with God, although he did grow up in a Catholic family. Since the accident there has been a colossal outpouring of sympathy. This bears witness that he was a great guy. He was a bar owner and beer connoisseur. I would have loved to talk over a pint, now maybe on the other side.
After the accident we found out that the adoration chapel does not exist, so we offered our evening prayers for Ray that day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York
New York Daily News article on the accident
H/t Spirit Daily.

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