Papa Bianchi did not relish the prospect of young Francis becoming a Barnabite priest in eighteenth century Italy. Actually, to call it Italy is more or less anachronistic -- he was born in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. But it hardly matters; most of Western Europe was becoming less tolerant of the Roman Catholic Church, and whether we're talking about KTS or all Italy, the anti-clerical sentiment was the same. Despite his dad's objections, Francis enrolled in a Barnabite seminary at age fourteen and was ordained at age twenty-four.
He was tireless and
devout, serving in every capacity he could. He spent hours in kneeling
in the confessional, available for anyone who may need the sacrament of
penance. He served as president of two different colleges. He worked
doggedly to turn girls away from prostitution.
time, he admitted that his legs felt as if they were slashed with thorns
and on fire. Sounds like diabetic neuropathy to someone who knows more
about that than I. More than Francis knew about it, too. All he knew
was that he couldn't walk anymore, so when Mount Vesuvius was
threatening to flood Naples with lava, Francis asked some friends to
carry him to the base of the mountain. There he prayed, and there the
lava ceased to advance.
Eventually, the anti-clerical
attitude in Italy led to the expulsion of the Barnabites. In 1815, he
had a vision of a deceased penitent who had promised to return to him
before he died. This sign indicated that his own demise was at hand.
Sure enough, he was gone within three days.