St Francesco Antonio Fasani

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Franciscan priest. Born in Lucera, southeast Italy, in 1681, Francesco entered the Conventual Franciscans when he was just 14. After his ordination 10 years later, he taught philosophy to younger friars, served as guardian of his friary and later became provincial. When his term of office ended, Francesco became master of novices and finally parish priest in his hometown.

In his various ministries, he was loving, devout and humble. He was a sought-after confessor and preacher. One witness at the canonical hearings regarding Francesco's holiness testified: "In his preaching he spoke in a familiar way, filled as he was with the love of God and neighbour; fired by the Spirit, he made use of the words and deed of Holy Scripture, stirring his listeners and moving them to do penance."

Francesco was a loyal friend of the poor, never hesitating to seek from benefactors what was needed.

When he died in Lucera, in 1742, children ran through the streets and cried out: "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" Francesco was canonised in 1986.

During his homily at the canonization of Francesco, Pope John Paul II reflected on John 21:15 in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than the other apostles and then tells Peter, "Feed my lambs." The Pope observed that in the final analysis human holiness is decided by love. "He [Francesco] made the love taught us by Christ the fundamental characteristic of his existence, the basic criterion of his thought and activity, the supreme summit of his aspirations."