Friday, March 15, 2013

The New Pope and St. Francis

People have asked me which of the many saints named "Francis" did our new pope choose as his patron. Besides St. Francis of Assisi there is also the great Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier and the gentle founder of the Visitation Order St. Francis de Sales. There are also two other Jesuit saints named "Francis"--St. Francis Borgia, the third general superior of the Jesuits, and St. Francis Jerome, a great preacher in Naples.  It seems pretty clear that Pope Francis had the saint from Assisi in mind when he chose his name, but, I'm sure he'll be happy for all the saintly help he can get.

Pope Francis and St. Francis share a strong devotion to the Cross of Jesus. In his first homily, Pope Francis said the following:

"When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord."

In 1673, months before revealing His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus prepared her for the revelations and the sufferings that would follow.  She described it this way:

"On the feast of St. Francis, our Lord let me see in prayer this great saint, clad in a garment of light and unspeakable brilliance. He had been raised above the other saints to an extraordinarily high degree of glory, because his life was so like that of the suffering Redeemer who is the life of our souls and the love of our hearts. His glory was the reward of his great love for the Passion of our Lord, a love which rendered him worthy of the sacred stigmata and made him one of the favorites of Jesus' heart. By a very special favor he had been given power in applying to the faithful the merits of the Precious Blood, a power which made him in a sense a mediator of this treasure. After I had seen all this, the Divine Bridegroom, as a token of his love, gave me St. Francis as my soul's guide. He was to lead me through all the pains and sufferings that awaited me."

May St. Francis now lead Pope Francis through the sufferings that await him as "the Servant of the Servants of God."  May he too draw strength and courage from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

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