|San Francesco, ora pro nobis|
When you hear that I cannot celebrate Mass any more, count me as dead. ~ San Francesco Saverio Maria Bianchi
Completing his studies at Naples, San Francesco was ordained a priest on January 25, 1767. First assigned to the Barnabite Collegio dei Santi Carlo e Filippo in Arpino as a professor of humanities, he was later transferred in 1769 to the Collegio di San Carlo alle Mortelle in Naples as a professor of philosophy and mathematics.
Thanks to the guidance and friendship of the great Neapolitan mystic Santa Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe (St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds), San Francesco gave up his scholarly pursuits and withdrew to a more-fulfilling life of prayer and contemplation. Spending long hours in the confessional working with poor penitents he earned the celebrated appellation: “Apostle of Naples.”
In addition to working with the city’s lazzaroni, San Francesco offered spiritual guidance to King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia and his wife Queen Marie Clotilde when the French Revolution had forced the northern monarchs to flee Turin and go into exile in Naples.
A great miracle worker, San Francesco famously stopped the spewing lava of Mount Vesuvius from destroying the towns of Torre del Greco and Portici. Holding a framed portrait of St. Mary Frances, he gathering the panicked townspeople together in prayer. Raising his right hand, he commanded in the name of God the torrents of lava to stop and to everyone’s great relief and amazement it did.
San Francesco Saverio Maria Bianchi died in Naples on January 31, 1815. Originally interred at the Chiesa di San Giuseppe delle Scalze a Pontecorvo, on June 18, 1972 his relics were translated to the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Caravaggio.
In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to St. Francis Xavier Mary Bianchi. The accompanying photo, courtesy of Andrew Giordano, was taken at the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Caravaggio in 2019. Evviva San Francesco!
Prayer to St. Francis Xavier Mary Bianchi
God, our Father, through the deep charity of St. Francis Xavier Mary Bianchi, you wanted to attract your people to your love. Help us now, through his intercession and by his example, to come to recognize and love you in our brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
• St. Francis X. Bianchi at Barnabite Holiness