Today, June 4, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Francis Caracciolo* (1563-1608), Italian catholic priest, who co-founded the Congregation of the Clerics Regular Minor with John Augustine Adorno.
Francis was born Ascanio Pisquizio in the Kingdom of Naples. He showed great devotion to the Lord and a desire to life in austerity from an early age. Especially dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, Ascanio prayed the Rosary each day, spent hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and was frequently reprimanded for giving his food away to the poor and beggars of the community.
At the age of 22, Ascanio developed a terrible skin condition, similar to leprosy, and was soon on the verge of death. As he watched his body decay, Ascanio made a solemn vow to the Lord that he would serve Him with his whole might, should he survive. He recovered so quickly after this vow, that his cure was considered miraculous.
In 1587 he was ordained priest and joined the confraternity of the White Robes of Justice, whose object was to assist condemned criminals to die holy deaths. Upon ordination, he took the name Francis.
Five years after he went to Naples, a letter was delivered to him which was in fact addressed to another Ascanio Caracciolo, a distant relative. The letter was an appeal from Father Giovanni Agostino Adorno, of Genoa, to this other Ascanio to join him in founding a religious order. Reading the letter he realized that the vision of Fr. Adorno was in total compliance with his own ideas for a religious institute and he interpreted this as a sign of God’s plan and responded to the letter. The Congregation was approved by Pope Sixtus V on July 1, 1588.
As a priest, Francis spent many hours in the confessional. God endowed him with the gift of prophecy and the discernment of spirits.
At the age of forty-four, Francis fell ill with a serious fever. He died, exclaiming, “Let us go, let us go to heaven!” He is frequently referred to as the “Preacher of Divine Love.” He was canonized by Pope Pius VII on May 24, 1807.
*Saint Francis Caracciolo, pray for us.*
O God, You adorned blessed Francis, the founder of a new Order, with a zeal for prayer and a love of penance; grant that your servants may make such progress in the imitation of his virtues, that by constant prayer and bringing their bodies into subjection, they may deserve to attain heavenly glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who being God, lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.