St. Francis Xavier Bianchi
Feast day: January 31
1743 - 1815
Francis Xavier Bianchi, of Arpino, Italy, suffered much in striving to overcome his father’s opposition to his religious vocation. Having been ordained a Barnabite priest at the age of twenty-four, Father Bianchi spent hour upon hour in the confessional, sustained by a deep prayer life. His personal resolve to make himself always and everywhere available to anyone seeking his priestly ministry and counsel seemed to impart to his words and prayers an extraordinary efficacy. Later in life, Father Bianchi was crippled by the swelling and ulceration of both his legs, rendering him incapable of moving about or even standing on his own. He nonetheless managed to continue celebrating Mass. When in 1805 a lava flow from the erupting Mount Vesuvius threatened Naples, he had himself carried to the advancing edge of the lava, where with a blessing he halted it. Although bedridden, Father Bianchi continued to counsel those who came to him. Three days before his death, he experienced a vision of his deceased penitent, Saint Mary Frances of Naples, who before her own death in 1791 had promised to appear to him thus.
Born in Arpino, Italy, 1743; died in Naples, January 31, 1815; canonized in 1951. Saint Francis studied in Naples, was tonsured at 14 and, despite his father's objections, joined the Congregation of Clerks Regular of Saint Paul (the Barnabites). After his ordination in 1767, Francis served as president of two colleges, and became famous for his gift of prophecy and the miracles credited to him (he is reported to have stopped the flow of lava from the erupting Vesuvius in 1805). He was considered and acclaimed 'Apostle of Naples' for his work among the poor and abandoned and to preserve girls from the danger of an immoral life. Owing to overwork and to his austere lifestyle, he ruined his health and lost the use of his legs. Unable to be moved because of his health, he was left alone at his college when his order was expelled from Naples and died there. He inspired boundless veneration in Naples and miracles were attributed to him