St Francis of Paola healing oil
The St Francis of Paola healing oil is dedicated to the 15th century Italian Franciscan saint.
Francis of Paola was a man who deeply loved contemplative solitude. Also, he wished only to be the “least in the household of God.” Yet, he became a miracle-worker and influenced the course of nations.
Francis went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. After that he began to live as a contemplative hermit in a remote cave near Paola, Italy. Before he was 20, he received the first followers who had come to imitate his way of life. Seventeen years later, Francis established a Rule for his austere community. He sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi. They were approved by the Holy See in 1474.
The least in God’s house
In 1492, Francis changed the name of his community to “Minims”. He wanted them to be known as the least (minimi) in the household of God. Humility was to be the hallmark of the brothers as it had been in Francis’s personal life. Besides the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Francis enjoined upon his followers the fourth obligation of a perpetual Lenten fast. He felt that heroic mortification was necessary as a means for spiritual growth.
It was Francis’s desire to be a contemplative hermit. Yet, he believed that God was calling him to the apostolic life. He began to use the gifts he had received. He used the gifts of miracles and prophecy, to minister to the people of God. Francis incurred the wrath of King Ferdinand of Naples for the admonitions he directed toward the king and his sons.
Following the request of Pope Sixtus IV, Francis traveled to Paris to help Louis XI of France prepare for his death. While ministering to the king, Francis was able to influence the course of national politics. He helped to restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families. Also, he counseled France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land.
Francis died while at the French court.
In the year 1464, he was refused passage by a boatman while trying to cross the Strait of Messina to Sicily. He reportedly laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff as a sail, and sailed across the strait with his companions following in the boat
After his nephew died, the boy’s mother—Francis’s own sister—appealed to Francis for comfort. After the Mass and divine office had been said for the repose of his soul, Francis ordered the corpse to be carried from the church into his cell. He continued praying until, to her great astonishment, the boy’s life was restored. Also, the young man entered his order. He is the celebrated Nicholas Alesso who afterwards followed his uncle into France, and was famous for sanctity and many great actions.
Francis loved animals
There are several stories about his compassion for animals. For example, a biographer writes: “Francis had a favorite trout that he called ‘Antonella.’ One day, one of the priests, who provided religious services, saw the trout swimming about in his pool. To him it was just a delicious dish, so he caught it and took it home, tossing it into the frying pan.
Francis missed ‘Antonella’ and realized what had happened. He asked one of his followers to go to the priest to get it back. The priest, annoyed by this great concern for a mere fish, threw the cooked trout on the ground, shattering it into several pieces. The hermit sent by Francis gathered up the broken pieces in his hands and brought them back to Francis. Francis placed the pieces back in the pool and, looking up to Heaven and praying, said: ‘Antonella, in the name of Charity, return to life.’ The trout immediately became whole and swam joyously around his pool as if nothing had happened. The friars and the workers who witnessed this miracle were deeply impressed by the miracle.”
Francis’ pet lamb/St Francis of Paola healing oil
Francis also raised his pet lamb from the dead after it had been killed and eaten by workmen. They were eating when Francis approached them, looking for the lamb. They told him they had eaten it, having no other food. He asked what they had done with the fleece and the bones. They told him they had thrown them into the furnace. Francis walked over to the furnace, looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ The lamb jumped out, completely untouched, bleating happily on seeing his master.”
Francis of Paola called the animals by their names even after their lives had ended. He apparently believed they continued to exist after their deaths.
In 1562, a group of Protestant Huguenots in France broke open his tomb and found Francis’s body incorrupt. They dragged it forth, burned it and scattered the bones, which were recovered by Catholic faithful and distributed as relics to various churches of his order