Bl. Francis of Fabriano
Priest of the Order of Friars Minor; b. 2 Sept., 1251; d. 22 April, 1322. His
birth and childhood were remarkable for evident signs of future sanctity. He was
also gifted with rare talents. Having successfully completed the study of humanities
and of philosophy, he asked for admission at a neighboring Franciscan convent, in 1267.
Under the guidance of able masters he made rapid progress in religious perfection.
Subsequently he applied himself to the study of theology, and devoted the remainder
of his life to missionary labours in his native town and vicinity. As missionary
Blessed Francis has become a shining example to the preachers of the Seraphic Order.
He was a man of prayer and untiring study. In accordance with the words of the rule,
Ut sint examinate et casta eorum eloquia, he was deeply convinced that the friars
must announce to the faithful only well-grounded and authentic doctrine, in unambiguous
and carefully sifted language. Ever mindful of this principle, Francis logically took
a further step which has signalized him as a far-sighted and truly progressive member
of his order. As a consequence of the extensive proportions theological studies had
assumed since the time of St. Francis, the humble collections of biblical and patristic
works, which were found in the early Franciscan communities, no longer met the demands
of the student and preacher. Hence, Francis, heedless of any disapproving voice,
promptly purchased with his father's money a handsome library, the first on an
extended scale established in the order. He loved to call it the
in the convent, and its catalogue, mentioned by Wadding, contains numerous works
of the Fathers, the masters of theology, biblical commentators, philosophers,
mathematicians, and preachers, which shows that Francis was indeed, in this respect,
quite abreast of his time. No wonder, then that we find all his biographers in accord
with Mark of Lisbon, who styles him a
most learned man and renowned preacher. Of
the writings of Francis Venimbeni little has been published. His
et Fabriani, his
De veritate et excellentiâ Indulgentiæ S. Mariæde Portiuncula,
Opusculum de serie et gestis Ministrorum Generalium, all three probably
forming one extensive chronicle, have unfortunately disappeared, save a few precious
fragments bearing on the most salient questions of early Franciscan history. Besides
several treatises of a philosophical, ascetical, and didactic character, he wrote an
Ars Prædicantium, numerous
Sermons, and a beautiful elegy on the death of St.
Bonaventure. Despite his literary pursuits and manifold missionary occupations Francis
found ample time for ascetical practices and works of an all-embracing charity. God
testified to the sanctity of His servant by many signs and miracles. His cult was
approved by Pius VI in 1775.
The biography of Blessed Francis was written by his nephew, DOMINIC FESSI, and other contemporary wrriters. WADDING has collected and utilized their accounts for his Annals. PULIGNANI, Miscell. Francesc., X, 69 sq. enumerates the more recent biographers of F., and recommends especially two books by LUIGI TASSO: Discorso laudatorio del B. Francesco Venimbeni da Fabriano (Fabriano, 1881), and Vita del B. Francesco da Fabriano dell' ordine dei Minori (Fabriano, 1893). The latter contains a brief treatise by Francis, and his elegy on St. Bonaventure. Extracts from his Chronicle have been edited by PULIGNANI, op. cit., 69-72. Cf. DE CLARY, L Aureole Seraph., tr. Lives of the Saints and Blessed of the three Orders of St. Francis (Taunton, 1882) II, 171-175; WADDING, Annales (Rome, 1731), III, 244, 245, IV, 276-278, 400, VI, 377-385; IDEM, Scriptores (Rome, 1659), 115; SBARALEA, Supplementum (Rome, 1806), 252; Acta SS. (Venice, 1734-), April, III, 88-94.
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