Conventual Franciscan Priest (1681-1742)
St Francis Anthony was born in 1681 at Lucera in Apulia and was accepted by the Conventual Franciscans at an early age. He soon distinguished himself or his integrity of life and was an example of austerity and priestly zeal. As Provincial Minister he promoted religious discipline throughout the Province. He promoted devotion to Our Lady Immaculate and for nearly forty years was famous in Apulia for his fervent preaching and his great charity towards the poor, orphans, and prisoners. He died at Lucera on 29th November 1742, enriched with spiritual gifts. He was canonized by Saint John Paul II on 13th April, 1986.
From the “Meditations” of Saint Francis Mary Fasani
Novena for the Feast of Our Lady Immaculate, Lucera, ed. 1973 passim
In Mary, nature and grace were in remarkable harmony
In the Immaculate Virgin, a model of sanctity outstanding in its radiant brightness is put before us. From the very ﬁrst moment of her conception. She appeared to the world like a boundless ocean of perfection and virtues. First-born of all creatures, she was always peerless in her purity and perfection; her thoughts, affections and desires, as well as her actions, were always adorned with admirable virtues, their all-pervading perfume like that of the most fragrant ﬂowers, with never a breath of profanity to tarnish their beauty. Throughout her life her whole being was perfectly ordered, with nature and grace in marvellous harmony, and spirit and ﬂesh, the higher powers and the lower, in perfect harmony with original justice.
As for you, in your life you have been stained by many sins. How great the carelessness in observing the divine law; how many the precepts transgressed, the duties neglected! Observe the bitter battle being fought within you, as the senses rebel against reason and the ﬂesh against the spirit. How many times you have rendered fruitless the precious gift of grace. For how long has the Lord been repeating to you his burning desire for your salvation, and you contradict his wishes, reject his inspirations and resist his grace. And if at times you do indulge his invitations, you still fail to respond to the highest aims of his Providence.
All this results from a lack of the spirit of prayer. Even ecclesiastics study God, preach about God, teach about God, debate about God; and yet the spirit remains dry, there is no devotion in it. Lots of knowledge, but no prayer; all the nourishment is for the intellect, with nothing for the will.
Reﬂect on the fact that your dependence on the Lord is fundamental, absolute, constant. Why then do you not keep your eyes on heaven, to praise, bless, and glorify the divine Goodness? If you were to direct everything to God, you would become a saint. Get up now, put your intentions right, do good, love what is good, but only for God’s sake and for him alone. Strive to imitate the most perfect and Immaculate Virgin Mary, always “ambitious for the higher gifts”.
If you spoke the language of angels, if you knew the hidden depths of God’s mind, if the dead rose to life at the nod of your head, all of this would be worth no more than a single degree of sanctifying grace. The cardinal virtues are to be highly esteemed, but much more so are the theological virtues. Faith is precious, and hope is precious, but the greatest of them is charity, which brings with it the gifts of the Spirit.
in Saint Francis Anthony you have given us
a model of seraphic perfection
and an ardent apostle of your word.
Grant through his merits and intercession
that we may be always steadfast in the faith
and active in charity,
so that we may merit an eternal reward.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.