The Saints Francis

by Bob Schwartz

St. Francis of Assisi
Right now, there are millions of words being written and spoken about who Pope Francis is and what kind of Pope he will be. Read and listen with care and a bit of skepticism, knowing that some (but not all) have an agenda or a bit of rosy vision, and knowing that almost all of the “experts” got this papal selection wrong. The fact is that predictions are all we have at the moment, but they will fade in the shadow of what the Pope actually does or doesn’t do and accomplish.

Instead or in addition, spend some time with the saints, particularly the various Saints Francis. Even for us non-Catholics and non-Christians, the saints are an enormously interesting, educational and in some cases enlightening phenomenon. If you don’t have some appreciation for the saints, whether or not you believe the intrinsic or underlying theology, you cannot understand the Catholic Church. Besides that, in the world of religion, not just Catholicism, the lives of the saints are just plain entertaining and their teachings often edifying and inspiring.

Here is the list of Saint Francis variations, taken from the SPQN site, a go-to location for summary saint information and references:

Francis Gil de Frederich
Francis Isidore Gagelin
Francis Jaccard
Francis Jerome
Francis Johnson
Francis Man
Francis Mary Paul Libermann
Francis Page
Francis Palau y Quer
Francis Patrizzi
Francis Pontillo
Francis Possenti
Francis Regis Clet
Francis Rogaczewski
Francis Seelos
Francis Solano
Francis Solanus
Francis Trung Von Tran
Francis Webb
Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier Bianchi
Francis Xavier Can Nguyen
Francis Xavier Mau
Francis Xavier Seelos
Francis de Capillas
Francis de Geronimo
Francis de Hieronymo
Francis de Montmorency Laval
Francis de Sales
Francis di Girolamo
Francis of Assisi
Francis of Girolamo
Francis of Nagasaki
Francis of Paola
Francis of Saint Michael
Francis of Sales
Francis, Caius
Francis, Gaius
Francisca Aviat
Francisca de Ambrosia
Francisca Salesia
Francisca Salesia Aviat
Francisco Castells Brenuy
Francisco Ferro, Ambrosio
Francisco José López-Caamaño García-Pérez
Francisco Marto
Francisco of the Child Jesus
Francisco Palau y Quer
Francisco Pascual Sánchez
Francisco Shoyemon
Franciscus de Hieronymo

The most-discussed and obvious of the lives behind Cardinal Bergoglio’s groundbreaking choice of name (he is the first Pope Francis) is Francis of Assisi. His turning from a worldly life to a mission of simplicity, service, peace and, of course, living with nature led to his founding of one of the Church’s most significant orders (the Franciscans) and indirectly to the founding of another by his star student (the Poor Clares). He is also a patron saint of dozens of occupations, causes and places, including

against dying alone
against fire
animal welfare societies
lace makers
lace workers
needle workers
tapestry workers
Ahuacatlán, Mexico
Assisi, Italy
Freising, Germany
Massa, Italy
Nambe Indian Pueblo
Quibdo, Choco, Colombia
San Pawl il-Bahar, Malta
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Sorbo, Italy
Denver, Colorado, archdiocese of
Kottapuram, India, diocese of
Lancaster, England, diocese of
Metuchen, New Jersey, diocese of
Salina, Kansas, diocese of
San Francisco, California, archdiocese of
Sante Fe, New Mexico, archdiocese of
Viana, Angola, diocese of

But he is not the only Saint Francis with a substantial presence in the Church. Saint Francis de Sales, for example, is the namesake of schools worldwide, founder of his own order (the Salesians), and in 1923 was named patron saint of writers and journalists (and presumably bloggers) by Pope Pius XI.

However you are celebrating the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day—if you are—you might start your study of the saints with him.  But don’t stop there. Take this opportunity of a new Pope to learn about the Saints Francis, from the big names to the lesser known but still worthy ones. You’ll find it a special experience, no matter what your spiritual perspective, and maybe much more fun and useful than listening to the earnest babble of certain media talking heads.