Franciscan Priest (1549-1610)
Born in Spain in 1549, Francis entered the Friars Minor and was ordained priest. He held various offices in the Order and became a renowned preacher. His apostolic zeal led him to South America where he worked in Peru and northern Argentina. He made the native people his special concern, converting many of them to the faith, introducing them to a civilised way of life, and defending them from exploitation. Exhausted by work and penitential practices, he died in Lima in 1610. He was canonized by Pope Benedict X III in 1726.
From the biography of Saint Francis Solano by a contemporary writer
Acta Sanctorum July V Paris 1860 pages 884-6
God of my life, source of all joy: glory to you
The whole life of Saint Francis Solano was martyrdom and cruciﬁxion; still, during his last two months on earth he was given the opportunity of winning God’s promised reward for suffering patiently as a Christian. Very severe pains and a raging fever forced him to take to his bed for good. But no illness could keep him from praying and during his last days the gift of contemplation was at work in him to such an extent that he seemed to be living all the time in the company of the angels. He was so forgetful of his bodily wants that his ability to go on living seemed to be a miracle even in the opinion of eminent doctors. He kept on repeating with great feeling his favourite aspiration: “God be gloriﬁed”, or some similar one. Sometimes he asked that the Psalms “Bless the Lord, my soul” and “My soul, give thanks to the Lord” should be recited and these caused his heart to melt. He even wanted to read Saint John’s Gospel for himself, beginning at the passage “It was before the festival of the Passover”. The story of the cruciﬁxion especially affected him deeply and he would begin to speak of the suffering of Christ, giving him thanks and praising the goodness and mercy shown to a sinner like him at such great cost. Hymns in honour of Our Lady often helped him to feel better and he was ﬁlled with happiness and joy at the thought of her. On one occasion he said to his confessor: “Father, help me to speak the praises of God”, immediately adding, “0 God, my creator, my king, and my father, you are all my delight, you are everything to me.” At this, the ﬂame of divine love burned so ﬁercely that his soul was turned to inward things and was wholly occupied with spiritual joys, leaving him immobile, his senses numbed, his body like marble.
Five days before he died he said to the inﬁrmarian, Brother John Gomez: “Brother, have you noticed God’s great mercy to me in giving me the strength to overcome the enemy?” Two days later he turned to the friar who looked after him and exclaimed with tears and sighs: “How is it, my Lord Jesus, that you were cruciﬁed while I have your servants to care for me; you were naked while I am clothed; you were struck with blows and crowned with thorns while I have everything I need to satisfy my wants and give me consolation?” On the following day In the presence of many of the friars he cried out: “God of my life, may you be gloriﬁed! What honour you heap on me. I rejoice, my Lord, that you are God, the source of all my joy!”
The night before he passed away he was rapt in ecstasy so that everyone thought he had died. But he came to himself again and exclaimed: “I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.”’ From then until the end his face was suffused with an expression of overﬂowing joy, eagerness and beauty. His soul exulted at the thought of the good things promised him and so broke out in these signs of joy. A friar said to him: “Father, after God has taken you to heaven, be mindful of me when you reach the eternal kingdom,” and Saint Francis replied: “It is true that I am going to heaven, but on the strength of Christ’s passion and death; for myself, I am the greatest of sinners. But I will be a good friend to you when I reach my home in heaven.”
through Saint Francis Solano
you led many inhabitants of South America
into the community of the Church.
By his merits and prayers
join our hearts to you in love
and lead non-believers to know and reverence your name.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.