the cemetery in Genoa a statue of Blessed Francis Mary may be seen which bears
the following inscription: "Francis of Camporosso was born December 27, 1804,
and died on September 17, 1866. This poor man in Christ was more blessed in
giving than in receiving. With bread and advice and consolation, he was ever
prepared to minister to the sufferings and needs of all who came to him. His
austere and holy life he crowned with the sacrifice he made of himself at the
beginning of the epidemic of 1866. The sorrow and gratitude of the people
prompted them to immortalize his image in this marble statue."
It needed but a few words to say all
that one could wish to have said of this apostle of the people. As a shepherd
in the little village of Camporosso near San Remo he was obliged to contribute
to the support of his family. Later he joined the Capuchins an Genoa. There he
clothed his ideals and intentions in the words: "I came to the convent to be
its beast of burden."
The opportunity was presented to him to
carry out his intentions when he was made infirmarian, and especially when he
was appointed to collect alms. He called at the palaces of the nobles, but
oftener at the huts of the poor in order to distribute to them the alms he had
just begged. He ventured to go into the ill-famed quarters of the seaport,
where he would pick up the stones thrown at him and kiss them. Soon it was
reported of him from all sides that he was working miracles, cures, and
conversions of a most unusual kind. People of rank as well as the lowliest
souls came to him to seek advice.
His love for our Blessed Lady was most
touching. He spent entire nights on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament.
When an epidemic broke out in 1866, he was seized with the desire to make his
last and most magnanimous sacrifice. He knelt before the altar of the
Immaculate Virgin, and through her hands offered himself to God as a victim of
expiation. On September 17th, he departed this life as a victim. The epidemic
ceased that very day. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI and canonized in 1962
by John XXIII.
1. Francis Marry
offered everything he possessed. He was well aware of our Lord's words:
"Everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my
disciple" (Luke 14:33). As a child he worked for his parents; in the order, he
became a servant to other members; as the apostle of the people he worked for
the poor and the sick. -- Does your life agree with the Christian principle,
"It is more blessed to give than to receive"?
2. Francis Mary also
sacrificed his life. He lived up to the admonition of the Apostle: "In this we
have known the charity of God, because he has laid down His life for us: and
we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren" (1 John 3:16). Francis Mary
did this literally when he sacrificed his life for the people during the
epidemic. -- Pray God to give you a share of this heroic courage, of this
3. Francis Mary received an inestimable reward for his
sacrifice. Posterity is extolling him. The Church has raised him to the
dignity of the altars. Almighty God has fulfilled in him the promise: "And you
shall have treasure in heaven" (Matt 9:21). Whatever we do for God will not go
unrewarded. God will not let Himself be outdone in generosity. -- Rouse
yourself to a similar spirit of sacrifice.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst
cause Thy humble servant Francis Mary to distinguish himself in an
extraordinary way by works of charity, grant that by his merits and
intercession Thy love may ever be increased in our hearts. Through Christ our
The Franciscan Book
of Saints, ed. by
Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald