The History of St. Francis of Paola

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Visione di S. Francesco di Paola, 1670, Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Dear Readers,
April-Aprile comes from the Latin word aperire which means to open. This is the month to open your umbrellas for April showers and watch the buds open for Spring flowers and Italian American Connections...
 
St. Francis of Paola was born in Paola (Calabria), Italy circa 1416. He cured the sick, prophesied the future and was a major influence on five kings and seven popes. 
 
In fact after Pope Julius died unexpectedly in 1513, John Cardinal de Medici, a long-time, devoted friend of the Calabrian Holy Man was elected to the Papal throne as Leo X, he recalled that in early 1483, while Francis was in Rome on his way to France, Lorenzo de Medici, ruler of Florence, took then seven-year-old son John to pay respects to the Calabrian Miracle Worker. As John kissed the Saint’s hand, the Calabrian embraced him and said to the young boy prophetically: “I shall be a saint when you become a Pope!”
 
Pope Leo gave the canonization of the great Saint special attention, taking a personal interest in its progress. Four months after he had been elevated to the Papacy, Leo issued a decree declaring the Calabrian Holy Man Blessed. The decree established April 2, the date of the 91 year old Saint’s passing, as his Feast day.
 
Francis had been educated by the Franciscans at San Marco and at the age of 15 went to live as a hermit in a cave. He eventually founded nearly 500 monasteries and was canonized just twelve years after his death at age ninety-one. The religious community he founded was officially recognized by Rome in 1474 as the Hermits of St. Francis, but they changed their name to the Minim Friars in 1492. A Minim Friar, Fr. Boyl, was with Columbus when he sailed the ocean blue on his second voyage of discovery to America in 1493.
 
In 1976, Mario Segreti, born near Paola, co-authored the first work in English on the life of San Francesco di Paola. It was published by TAN Books, and has been reprinted. To order St. Francis of Paola by Simi-Segreti call (800) 437-5876 or write: St. Benedict Press, TAN Books, Box 410487, Charlotte, North Carolina 28241 and include a check for $14.00 for your copy of St. Francis of Paola that includes postage.
 
If you are an Italo-Americano with “roots” in Calabria, I suggest you do it NOW, because despite the fact that St. Francis of Paola was no light weight saint and that witnesses of the Saint’s holiness and miraculous acts from all sections of Calabria at Cosenza, called “Processo Cosentino” started June 15, 1512, and continued through January 18, 1513, with a total of 103 witnesses being heard and proceedings recorded, most of you “figli di Calabria” either never heard of him or know very little about him.
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Palmiro Togliatti was born in Genoa, Italy on Palm Sunday 1893, accounting for his Christian name, but he began in 1944, leading the Italian Communist Party for nearly two decades from la Camera dei Deputati, Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome. As boss of the largest communist party in western Europe, Signor Togliatti was supported by over 2,000,000 card-carrying members and was able to attract over 6,000,000 votes, nearly one fifth of the Italian electorate. He studied Marxism in college and received a Ph.D. degree.
 
When Mussolini came to power and communists began to roll, Togliatti escaped to Russia, and, in 1936, turned up in Europe, writing under the name Ercoli, acting as a Moscow agent in Spain during the civil war. During World War II, he and a French communist leader shared quarters in Moscow, where Togliatti broadcast twice weekly as Mario Corenti. Togliatti was Vice Premier from 1944 to 1945 and Minister of Justice from 1945 to 1946.
 
After an auto accident he went back to the Soviet Union, where he clashed with Stalin. In 1956 he party pledged that it would not copy the methods adopted by communists behind the Iron Curtain.  He also broke with the Italian socialists under Pietro Nenni, long time believer in a “United Front” with the communists.
 
He was married to Rita Montagnana, long time communist, but divorced her (an act which did not bolster his popularity in Catholic Italy) in favor of Leonilde Jotti, a communist deputy and secretarial girl, with whom he lived on the outskirts of Rome, until his death. His son, Aldo, returned in 1957 from a three-year stay in the Soviet Union (for “psychological therapy”), declaring, “Despite all the brainwashing I received, I’m still a devout Catholic, and still intend to become a priest”.
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