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Life of St. Francis -- His Three Orders -- Missionary ActivitiesHorizontal bar

Chapter I

I. LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1181 or 1182-1226)


The Order of Friars Minor, better known as the Franciscan Order, was founded by St. Francis of Assisi, who was born about 1181, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, Pietro Bernardone of Assisi. In baptism he was named John (Giovanni), but his father, upon his return from a journey, named him Francesco (Frenchy), because of his predilection for the French. Gay and winsome, Francis became a leader among the youth of his native town. But, amid all the pleasures of the world, Francis remained pure, chivalrous and aspiring to higher things. The year of military captivity at Perugia, sickness and other graces of Divine Providence transformed his mind and, upon hearing in the wayside dilapidated chapel of San Damiano a voice: "Go, Francis, and restore my house, which as you see, is falling to ruin," he began to restore three little chapels and to befriend the homeless and friendless. The "Herald of the Great King", as Francis styled himself, obtained a pilgrim's garb, girdle and staff; and gathering his twelve followers about him, he set out for Rome on February 24, 1209, sought and obtained the verbal approbation from the great Pope Innocent III, for his life of absolute poverty, obedience and chastity. His was a poverty disdaining not only all personal but even all corporate possession of property, as other orders had it. Henceforth the Saint forsook all pleasures and worldly promises and lead a life of the strictest poverty and heroic self-denial. On September 14, 1224, on Mount La Verna, Francis received the stigmata of the Crucified Savior, for Whose passion he harbored an extraordinary devotion. This is the first historically established case of the stigmata. Consumed by fasting, penance and prayer the gentle seraphic saint, burning with love for God, for men and even for animals and inanimate creatures, passed to his heavenly reward on Oct. 3, 1226. Owing to the many miracles wrought through the intercession of the Poor Man of Assisi, Pope Gregory IX enrolled Francis among the Saints on May 25, 1230. His remains were transferred to the magnificent church erected in his honor at Assist

But the Saint was not called to such height of sanctity for his own benefit only, he was to inaugurate a reform first in Italy, of which country he was a real son. The situation in those days was in many respects similar to today's conditions. Sabatier describes them with historical and psychological correctness adducing


His Holiness Pope Pius XI


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also their favorable traits when he says: "Men in that age possessed all vices except that of meanness, all virtues save that of moderation; they were robbers or saints--filled with terrifying or magnificent images such as are represented in the frescoes of the Campo Santo (Cemetery) in Pisa, their imagination was ever occupied with heaven or hell." It was the age of troubadours, and of the crusader, of romantic heroes. Glowing with love of his Savior, Francis sought not only to sanctify himself but also to lead others to love of God. "Non sibi soli vivere, Sed aliis proficere Vult zelo Dei ductus", i. e., He wished to live not for himself alone, but sought to benefit others induced by zeal for God's love.


Francis, born in an age of faith, feeling and enthusiasm, but also of social unrest, became a reformer as the natural outcome of his love for God and for everything which God has created. A strenuous saint, but nevertheless open to the tenderest human sentiments, a poet, a troubadour, and a chevalier in character and aspirations, intensely in love with the poor and abandoned but chaste maiden, "La Donna Poverta" (i. e. "Lady Poverty"), Francis felt that he had received from God a mission to convert the world and to restore the peace and happiness which ought to reign among His childlren (sic). He went to the people, the poor and the rich, to laymen and the clergy, to the great and the lowly, captivating all, not only by his charming character, but also by his unstudied and unaffected, yet irresistible eloquence; thus he became the soul of a popular movement, which spread all over Europe and made itself felt in all parts of the then known world.

"There was no philosophy, no method, no spirit of organization in Francis, nor were they necessary for the creation of a popular movement. When the preservation of Francis' work required thought order, direction, he himself applied to the Church, that 'like a loving mother,' she might supply what was lacking in the child, and bring his work to completion and success.

"Though the reform which Francis and the Church accomplished conjointly was above all religious, 'based upon the gospel and aimed at the conversion and salvation of man, it was, nevertheless, all-comprehensive, including the natural as well as the spiritual in man. It aimed, not at the destruction of existing principles and institutions, but at the repression of abuses committed by individuals and the triumph of charity and justice among men"


The singularly lovable and winsome personality of Francis, the wonderful Umbrian Poverello, has instinctively drawn the admiration of even such as care little for his Order or the Church to which he gave his devoted and undivided allegiance. "Few Saints ever exhaled the good odor of Christ to such a degree as he". There was about Francis a chivalry and a poetry which gave to his other-worldliness a quite romantic charm and beauty. Other saints have seemed entirely dead to the world around them, but Francis was ever thoroughly in touch with the spirit of the age. He delighted in the songs of Provence, rejoiced in the new-born freedom of his native city and cherished what Dante calls the pleasant sound of his dear land. And this exquisite human element in Francis' character was the key to the far-reaching, all-embracing sympathy, which may be almost called his characteristic gift. In his heart, as an old chronicler puts it, the whole world found refuge, and the poor, the sick (especially the lepers) and the fallen being the objects of his solicitude in an especial manner. Heedless as Francis was of the world's judgments in his own regard, it was always his constant care to respect the opinions of all and to wound the feelings of none.


Courtesy, indeed, in the mind of St. Francis, was the younger sister of charity and one of the qualities of God Himself, who, "of His courtesy" he declares, "gives His sun and His rain to the just and the unjust." The charm of Francis gentle ways made even beasts and birds enter into the loving companionship with him. (Fioretti). His little breathren (sic), the birds, listened to his sermon preached to them at the roadside of Bavagna. He delighted to commune with the wild flowers, the crystal spring and the friendly fire and to greet the sun as it rose upon the fair Umbrian vale.


His gift of sympathy in this respect seems to be wider even than that of Saint Paul in whom we find no sympathy with beasts and flowers. Hardly less engaging than his boundless sense of fellow-feeling was his whole-hearted sincerity and artless simplicity. "What a man is in the sight of God, so much he is and no more," has passed into Thomas, a Kempis' Imitation, and is often quoted.


Another winning trait of Francis, which inspires the deepest affection, was his unswerving directness of purpose and unfaltering following after an ideal. To Francis, love was the test of all truths; hence his deep sense of per-


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sonal responsibility to his fellows. The love of Christ and His Crucified penetrated the whole life and character of Francis and he placed the chief hope of the redemption and redress for suffering humanity in the literal imitation of his Divine Master. Barefoot and absolultely (sic) poor, he proclaimed the reign of love. This heroic imitation of the poverty of Christ was perhaps the distinctive mark of Francis vocation and he was undoubtedly, as Bossuet expresses it, "the most ardent, enthusiastic and desperate lover of poverty the world has yet seen."


After money, Francis detested most discord and divisions. Peace, therefore, was his watchword. (Cfr. the Bishop and Podesta of Assisi). By doing menial labor among the poor, partaking of their simple fare, speaking words of hope they rarely heard, he bridged the chasm between an aristocratic clergy and the common people and though he taught no new doctrine, he so far re-popularized the old one given on the mount that the gospel took on a new life and called forth a new love.


Francis found in all created things, however trivial, some reflection of the divine perfection, and he loved to admire in them the beauty, power, wisdom and goodness of their Creator. And so it came to pass that he "saw sermons even in stones and good in everything."

His habitual cheerfulness was not that of a careless creature, nor of one untouched by sorrow.



Francis cherished a devotion to the Infancy of Christ, the Passion, the Holy Eucharist as an extension of the Passion. So great was his reverence for the priesthood that in his humility he never dared aspire to that exalted dignity.

The idol of an enthusiastic popular devotion, he was truly a paragon of humility, believing himself to be less than the least. Equally admirable was 'Francis' prompt and docile obedience to the voice of grace within him, even in his early days of ambition. His was ungrudging submission to the constituted ecclesiastical authority. No reformer, moreover, was ever less aggressive than Francis. His apostolate embodied the very noblest spirit of reform; he strove to correct abuses by holding up an ideal. He stretched out his arms in yearning towards those who longed for the "better gifts", the others he left alone. And thus, without strife and dissension, or schism, God's "Poor Little Man of Assisi" became the means of renewing the youth of the church and of initiating the most powerful and popular religious movement since the beginning of Christianity. This movement had a social and religious significance. The Third Order went far towards re-Christianizing mediaeval society. This is a matter of history. However, Francis' foremost aim was a religious one.


To St. Francis, the world of art and letters is deeply indebted.

The Canticle of the Sun brought about the birth of Italian art. Full of color, dramatic possibilities and human interest, the early Franciscan legend afforded the most popular material for painters since the life of Christ. Think of Cimabue, Giotto, Rubens and Van Dyck.

Such in brief outline are the salient features which render the figure of Francis one of such supreme attraction that all manners of men feel themselves drawn to him with a sense of personal attachment. Few, however, follow the saint to the lonely height of rapt communion with God.

The whole world was to him a ladder, mounting upon the rungs of which he approached and beheld God. He united religion and nature.


"The sweet spirit of Francis was not, however, entombed with his remains. St. Francis of Assist has continued to live in his disciples", as Father Cuthvert, O. M. Cap., in his excellent biography of the Saint says, "Through many ages different from his own, and in them his own spirit has been developed, expanded itself with the growth of years and as changing circumstances demand, but itself remaining the same. Within the sphere of proper development the Order is the historical extension of the Saint's personality."


Differing from all Orders of men, Francis founded an Order that embraced Lady Poverty as a spouse, refusing all property for the Order, both personal and corporate; and an Order at once active and contemplative. Startled by the unheard of novelty, the Pope, at first refused to give his approval; but when in a heavenly vision, he saw the poor man of Assisi sustain the tottering walls of St. John Lateran, he granted the desired permission. "Of a truth", he exclaimed, "this is the man, who by his works and his doctrines shall sustain the church of 'Christ." The purpose of the Seraphic Order is, therefore, the imitation of the life and activity of 'Christ and His apostles for the welfare of the church and of humanity at large


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(Rev. Francis Borgia Steck, O. F. M. in "Glories of the Franciscan Order, p. 10).

"To think, to labor, to live for the people and among the people, to be one with them and interested in all their concerns, in their sufferings and joys, without detriment to the contemplative life, is the program, the like of which none of the older Orders knew." (Hilarion Felder, Ideals of St. Francis).


At present the Order of St Francis is divided into three distinct branches. The Order of Friars Minor, or the Franciscans; the Conventuals, or Black Franciscans, and the Capuchins (from the form of their capuche). The cause of this division was the marvellous (sic) growth of the Order of Friars Minor and the consequent relaxation among its members regarding the vow of poverty. In 1517, Pope Leo X definitely separated from the Order of Friars Minor, the Conventuals (or Black Franciscans), though with some restrictions; they obtained certain dispensations and privileges to possess corporately temporal goods.

In 1587 the Conventuals elected their first Minister General. The Capuchins were founded by Matteo de Bassi, who in 1525 separated from the Friars Minor. At first the Capuchins were subject to the Master General of the Conventuals. In the year 1619 they, too, gained their autonomy.


The Second Order of the Poor Ladies or Poor Clares, was founded by St. Francis on Palm Sunday, 1212, when he invested Lady Clare of Assisi with the garb of penance in the little chapel of Portiuncula. These nuns cloistered, lead a very austere life, going barefoot, eating no meat. They number about 12,000 members.


The Third Order of St. Francis for Seculars has developed into two branches: Regular and Secular. The latter was founded by St. Francis at Faenza, or at Florence, Italy, in 1221, for those who were anxious to follow his mode of life, but were detained in the world by family ties. It shares in most of the privileges and all the good works of the three Orders of St. Francis and numbers probably three million members.


The Third Order Secular has been highly recommended by various Popes, especially by the great Pope Leo XIII, as "the Social Reform" to all pastors of souls, preachers and confessors of the secular and of the regular clergy. Leo XIII, exhorted them to "do all in their power to spread it among the faithful."


The Third Order Regular arose when the Tertiaries, male and female, not bound by family or social ties, turned their meeting places into permanent convents and observing the Third Order Rule of St. Francis, as approved by Pope Nicholas IV, devoted themselves to various works of piety. The many Franciscan Sisterhoods and Brotherhoods at the present day have a combined membership of 90,000.


Fruits of Sanctity.
The B. V. Mary and the Saints of the
Franciscan Order.


Volumes might be filled with this topic alone, but space does not permit to dwell thereon. We content ourselves with mentioning one or the other of the eminent fruits of sanctity produced in the past--St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistran, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Pachal Baylon, St. Peter Regalatus, St. Clare, St. Agnes of Assisi, St. Colette, St. Louis, king of France, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, etc., being a few of the many. Already more than 46 Saints and more than 86 Blessed have been declared such while the Martyrologies of Ausserer gives more than 6,000 names of those who died in the odor of sanctity. At least seventy-three Franciscans died as martyrs for the faith in the present limits of the United States. Even at the present age there is a long list of those


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whose canonization may be expected, witness Sr. Celine, Margaret Sinclair, "The White Violet of Edinburgh"; P. Valentine de Paquay (d. 1905), Leo Heinrichs (shot in 1909 at Denver, Colorado, by the anarchist Alia, when he was distributing Holy Communion), and Brother Jordan Mai, of Bochum, Germany, (died a few years ago).


Anent the activity in church and state says Fr. Francis Borgia Steck in, "Glories of the Franciscan Order", p. 16: "It is not failing against historical truth to say that ever since the founding of the order, the all-embracing spirit of St. Francis has literally ruled the world. There is no field of human activity that the Franciscans have not cultivated. In the Council chambers of Church and State; in the lecture halls and laboratories of universities; on the gory fields of battle; in the hovels of the destitute and forsaken; in the perilous regions of schism, heresy, idolatry and barbarism; in hospitals and poor houses; in asylums and leper colonies; in reformatories and prisons--everywhere have they exerted their wholesome influence and inscribed their names on the scrolls of glory as benefactors of humankind."


Zephyrin Engelhardt, O. F. M., and Rev. Francis B. Steck, O. F. M., Historians

The three orders of St. Francis number among their other members 5 popes (Nicholas IV, Alexander V (Franciscans), Sixtus IV, Sixtus V, Clement XIV (Conventuals), more than 30 Cardinals and over 2500 Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs. Amongst the statesmen is found the famous Cardinal Ximenes. Among popular preachers and missionaries the Sons of St Francis have ever been conspicuous, for instance St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistran, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, Fr. Berthold of Ratisbon (died 1272). P. Augustino de Montefeltre, and many others.


Among Catholic devotions promoted by the Friars Minor we mention the devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist (St. Francis, Fr. Cherubino of Spoleto, who founded a confraternity of the Bl. Sacrament); Fr. Joseph a Fermo (d. 1556) to whom we owe the modern Forty Hours Devotion, St. Hyacinth (d. 1640), who inaugurated the Devotion to the Eucharist during Shrove Tuesday and the lay-brother St. Paschal Baylon (d. 1592), who has the enviable honor (little recognized) of being proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII, on November 28, 1887, "Patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Societies."


The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its champion in St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his "Mystic Vine", B. John de la Verna and the Franciscan Tertiaries, St. Jean Eudes (d. 1680) and St. Margaret Mary Alocoque who was told by Our Lord to choose St. Francis as her special patron and protector.

Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is preeminently a Franciscan Devotion. St. Bernadine of Sienna and St. John Capistran were the chief promoters and the feast of the Holy Name was celebrated in the Order since 1530. St. Bernardine used the monogram I. H. S., i. e., Jesus.

The devotion called the Stations of the Cross was popularized especially by St. Leonard of Port Maurice and other friars who are the custodians of the Holy Land which burdensome honor the Franciscans are holding for many centuries.


The feasts of the Espousals and of the Visitation of the B. V. M. were introduced by the Friars Minor and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the B. V. M. had for its chief champion the Subtile and Marian Doctor John Duns Sootus (d. 1308) and 6000 Franciscans. St. Francis himself ordered a Mass in her honor every Saturday and a feast of the Conception was celebrated by the Friars Minor in honor of this singular prerogative of Mary since 1263.


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Luke Wadding, the famous Irish Franciscan Annalist, mentions in 1650 in his "Scriptores Ordinis", i. e., "Writers of the Order", the names of 1831 learned friars, who wrote on every branch of scientific culture.


Among the famous theologians we mention only St. Bonaventure, whose "Breviloquium" according to Scheeben contains "the quintessence of the theology of the time and is the most sublime compendium of dogmatic theology in our possession." John Duns Scotus, the most keen of all scholastics, called "the Subtile Doctor", the Prince of theologians, the New Aristotle and the Doctor of Mary; Alexander of Hales, the teacher of St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure, and the foremost lecturer at Paris University, known as the Monarch of theologians, the Invincible Doctor and the Fountain of Life. The famous Nicholas of Lyra, exegete "without whose lyre Luther could not have danced, i. e., commented on the Bible and translated it (Si Lyra non lyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset)" and Cardinal Ximenes, the publisher of the famous Complutensian Polyglot edition of the Bible, and Fr. Claude Frassen (d. 1911), who edited the Scotus Academicus and taught thirty years at the Sorbonne at Paris. Add to these among more modern writers W. Herincx (d. 1678), Patrick Spoiler (d. 1683) and Anaclete Reiffenstuel (d. 1703) and Benjamin Elbel (d. 1755), famous moralists; Fr. Dietrich Coelde (d. ca. 1470), who published a catechism entitled "The Christian Mirror" (more than 30 editions); Bl. Angelus of Chivasso, who wrote the "Summa Angelica" which was among the books burned by Luther at Wittenberg.

A Latin grammar, written in verse, the "Doctrinate Puerorum" by Alexander of Villedieu (d. ca. 1250) was printed in 300 editions and used in all the schools of Europe up to the XVI century.


Of Historians Fr. Luke Wadding mentions 127 friars of the three families among hagiographers and 159, who wrote on History in general. Add to these the Annals of Albert of Stade (d. ca. 1600), a history of the world; the Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma (d. 1288), etc. Fr. Bernadine of Sahagun (d. 1590) wrote the first history of Mexico entitled "General History of the Affairs of New Spain"; Paschal Robinson and the greatest authority of Franciscan History in the Southwest of the United States, Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt. Nor must we forget the historians of the early history of the Order.


Thomas a Celano (d. 1255); St. Bonaventure, "The Legends", (Major and Minor); Fr. Bernard of Bessa De Laudibus (d. ca. 1289); Thomas Eccleston and John of Giano, Chronicles of the Friars in England. Fr. Ugolino of Monte Giorgio, from whose book, known as the Fioretti, 53 chapters are taken; Francis of Gonzaga (d. 1620), Nicholas Glassberger (d. 1508); Luke Wadding (d. 1657); Vigil Greiderer (d. 1780) and many others.


In the Natural Sciences Fr. Roger Bacon was centuries ahead of his time. He was styled "the Marvelous Doctor" and deserves to be called "the father of experimental science", being the first to base his methods on induction. In his "Opus Majus", "Opus Minus" and "Tertius" the famous friar speaks clearly of optical and astronomical laws that are now generally accepted and discusses such modern inventions as the steamship, balloon, flying machine, microscope, telescope, gunpowder, railroads and electricity.

Volumes might be written on the many eminent friars in every field of human endeavor, but we must be content with this meagre sketch, in order to devote a few pages to the Missionary Activity of the Friars Minor.


As the number of his followers increased, St. Francis, who has chosen for his ideal the gospel of Christ, sent forth his disciples in accordance with the words of the Savior: "Going, therefore, teach ye all nations". When asked by Cardinal Hugolino, why he sent his brethren so far away, he replied: "Do you believe that our Lord sent our brethren for the provinces only? In very truth, I tell you that the Lord has chosen and sent the brethren for the welfare and salvation of the entire world. They will be received not only in Christian countries but also in the lands of the heathens, and if they observe what they have promised, the Lord will provide for them as bountifully there as He is wont to do at home." Indeed, the Order of St. Francis was not to be contemplative only, but one of untiring activity for the salvation of the world. The purpose of the Franciscan Order is a practical one, the imitation of the life and activity of Christ and His Apostles.

--(Cath. Encyclop., Vol. 6--Franciscan Herald: June, 1923).

The Franciscan way was a powerful factor in the development of the missions in pagan countries. Without permanent dwellings, without wealth and treasures, free from all worry about


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their sustenance, since they had cast all their care upon the Lord and at the same time burning with zeal for the salvation for souls, the friars were for the Church a courageous band ever willing to follow the call of obedience. St. Francis himself set the example. Three years after the founding of the Order, he embarked for the land of the Saracens; but a storm drove the ship upon the coast of Dalmatia and he was compelled to return to Italy. The next year he set out for Morocco by way of Spain. But again his plans were frustrated. In 1218 he set out for Egypt, was taken before the sultan, failed, however, to win the coveted martyr's crown. He then visited the Holy Land, the guardians of which his sons were to become. There more than 5,000 friars have since shed their blood in defense of the holy places.


Very Rev. Vincent Schrempp, O. F. M.
Provincial of S. H. Province 1927--


Rev. John Gafron, O. F. M.
First Pastor of David City 1877
Indian Missionary


Very Rev. Ambrose Pinger, O. F. M.,
Ecclesiastical Superior of the Changtien Mission. China


The protomartyrs of the Order were Fr. Daniel and six of his companions who suffered death at Ceuta in 1227. The bishops of Morocco were mostly Franciscans or Dominicans. In Oran, Lybia, Tunis, Algiers as well as throughout Egypt, Franciscans have labored since the XIII century and can show a glorious line of martyrs. In 1630 the friars began their labors in Tripolis. Abyssinia was first visited in 1680. Many missionaries were put to death there.

The two Genoese ships which circumnavigate


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ed Africa in 1291 had two Franciscans aboard. Friars also accompanied Vasco da Gama. In 1446 the sons of the Seraphic Saint came to Cape Verde; in 1549 they reached Guinea; thence they went to the Congo, where they baptized a king. In 1500 they came to Mozambique under Alvarez of Coimbra. At the beginning of the XVI century they settled at Melinda and the island of Socotra near Aden. In 1245, John of Piano de Carpini was sent by Pope Innocent IV to the great Khan of the Mongols and he penetrated as far as Karakorum in Mongolia. By order of King Louis IX of France, William of Rubruck proceeded thence through Armenia and Central Asia to Karakorum. The accounts of the last two missionaries enjoy a well earned historical and geographical renown.

In 1279 Pope Nicholas III sent John of Montecorvino and four other friars to China. Fr. John had preached in Armenia, Persia, Ethiopia, and in China he converted thousands of Chinese and translated the New Testament and the Psalms into Chinese. In 1299 he completed a beautiful church at Peking (Peiping).

In 1307 Pope Clement V appointed Fr. John Archbishop of Cambulac and primate of the Far East, giving him five suffragan bishops, only three of whom reached Peking. In 1333 Pope John XXII sent twenty-seven friars to China. Oderic De Pordenone journeyed through Persia, India, Sumatra, Java, Borneo to China. In 1370 William de Prado was sent as an archbishop to Peking with twenty friars to cultivate this vast field.


In the XIII century Northern Europe was not fully converted to Christianity. In 1325 thirty-six friars were executed in Lithuania. In East and West Prussia, Livonia and Courland the Reformation put an end to the missionary labors of the friars. Their numerous houses in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, England and Scotland to some extent, in Holland and Germany were overthrown. After 1530 the friars could work in the former countries only as missionaries.


About 1530 the Franciscans founded missions on the Black and Caspian seas, in Greater Armenia and in Persia. In India by 1500 the Order had colleges and schools long before the arrival of the Jesuits who first came under the archbishop of Goa, Albuquerque (1537-1553). The Holy Land has had the friars since 1219.


Amid the greatest difficulties and often with small fruit in consequence of the recurrent and devestating (sic) wars and insurrections, the Franciscans labored in southeastern Europe. (Cath. Encyclop., Vol. VI), i.e. in Albania, Monteregro, Bosnia and Bulgaria. They sought earnestly to reconcile the schismatics with Rome. In 1464 the courageous Franciscan Angelus Zojedzdovicz obtained from Mahomed II a charter of toleration for the Catholics and progress was made in Bulgaria, Wallachia, Moldavia and Podolia. As early as the XIII century the friars also settled at Constantinople.


In the year 1516 fourteen Friars Minor landed in Colombia and in 1519 another troop of missionaries of the same Order settled at Paria in Venezuela. The famous Francis Pizarro was accompanied on his expedition to Ecuador and Peru by the famous Father Mark of Nizza. In 1532 he laid the foundation of the first convent at Cuzco. In 1593 a Belgian friar began to preach the faith among the inhabitants of Quito, Ecuador. After some time the province of Quito was founded with eleven missions and colleges. How well the people liked the friars is evident from the fact that in 1895 the government dared not exile the friars, because of the threatening attitude of the people.

The Province of the Twelve Apostles was organized at Lima in Peru 1553. Of their labors among the savage natives we may say: No human pen can adequately describe their sufferings and trials. The country was wild and inhospitable, the natives often hostile and bloodthirsty savages. Yet, the Franciscans alone, as the viceroy testified, beginning with the year 1756, carried through pathless forests primeval, through deceitful swamps and swift streams, with constant danger of death lurking, to the fiercest tribes the glad tidings of salvation.

In 1589 the Apostle of Peru and miracle-worker, St. Francis Solano, came to Peru. For more than twenty years he labored incessantly and converted by glowing work and noble example, kindness and sacrifice countless thousands. Fearlessly facing an invading horde of fierce savages, he converted nine thousand of them. After fore-telling the destruction of Quito by an earthquake, Francis passed to his glory in 1610, honored as a saint by one hundred tribes, before ever the Church pronounced upon his sanctity. By the year 1810 at least one hundred and twenty-nine Franciscans had gained the crown of martyrdom in Peru. At present the Franciscans have charge of over sixty-five churches and three hundred and twenty-one missions throughout Peru;70,000


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Padre Junipero, O. F. M.,
Founder of the California Missions


His Excellency, Most Rev.
Albert T. Daeger, O. F. M.,
Archbishop of Santa Fe, N. M.


Diagram of Franciscan Missions

Catholic Indians are under their care on the Ucayali river.


Santiago in Chile saw the coming of the grey-robed friars in 1535. The flourishing missions which they founded were destroyed by the infuriated natives because of the harsh rule of the Spaniards. The friars nothing daunted gradually rebuilt them. The expulsion of all religious orders from Spain proved a serious obstacle to a steady development. Nevertheless in 1905 the ancient province of the Most Holy Trinity was restored to new life and a new missionary province of the Seven Joys of Mary was erected including the two missionary colleges of Chillan and Castro. At present the Friars Minor have the care of more than 25,000 Catholics. As might be expected, a number of episcopal sees when first erected had Franciscan bishops.


These republics were visited by the friars as


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early as 1536. In 1554 Rio de la Plata became a see and Fr. John Baros, O. F. M., its first bishop. The Missionary College of San Carlos was founded by them in 1584. The missions had to suffer abject poverty and undergo endless hardships in the forests to win the wandering tribes to Christ. Gradually towns and cities arose in what was formerly a solitary wilderness.


In Bolivia the Franciscans have five large missionary colleges. One of these alone from 17551810 converted 350,000 to the Christian Faith.


Brazil accidently (sic) discovered in 1499 by a Portugese (sic) fleet on its way to the East Indies, had eight Franciscans aboard who began to plant the Faith in this immense territory. It was continued by other sons of St. Francis. But a fierce persecution robbed the neophytes of their spiritual guides. The Franciscans continued during a century and a half the dangerous work of evangelizing and baptizing the savages, who frequently in the end, murdered their spiritual guides and benefactors.

Since 1891 the friars of the Saxonia, the Province of the Holy Cross in Northern Germany, the same that founded the Sacred Heart Province in the United States, revived the missions in Brazil. Within ten years the Province of St. Anthony (in the South) and the Province of the Immaculate Conception (in the North) were established, and a Franciscan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Amandus Bahlmann, O. F. M., appointed to the see of Santarem. (Franciscan Herald, Nov. 1923).


(cfr. Franciscan Herald Vol. XII).

Father Juan Perez, guardian of the Friary at La Rabida, who influenced Queen Isabella in favor of Columbus, is said to have accompanied the latter on his second voyage to the New World and to have celebrated the first Mass on the Island of Hayti (sic) December 8, 1493. It is note-worthy to state that Queen Isabella and Columbus were members of the Third Order of St. Francis. Here Fr. Perez built the first convent of his order and about the year 1503 opened the first schools in America. Within ten years after the discovery of the Western Continent nineteen Franciscans were ministering to the temporal and spiritual needs of the natives in the West Indies. Missionaries kept coming from Spain and in 1511 almost all the Indians of the Greater and Lesser Antilles were in charge of the friars. They also furbished the first martyrs in those parts in 1516 when two Fathers and a lay brother became the victims of cannibal Caribs.


In 1512 the Franciscans landed on the Isthmus of Panama, where they were the first missionaries to evangelize and civilize the inhabitants of the mainland of North America. In 1600 the sons of the Seraphic Saint had twenty-six minor houses and convents in Central America.


Mexico, too, saw the missionary sons of the Poor Man of Assisi at an early date--1523. "The twelve apostles of Mexico," consisting of Fr. Martin de Valencia and eleven others, by their wonderful zeal and shining example of all virtues achieved great success. They divided Mexico into three sections and sent forth Fathers to each section. It seems incredible, but it is asserted by reliable historians that each of these friars baptized upwards of 100,000 natives. Under their supervision, too, Fray Pedro de Gante, the first schools in Mexico and on the continent were opened in 1524. In these the children were not only clothed and fed but taught to read, write, sing, work and serve their Creator. In 1536 Bishop Zumarraga, O. F. M., brought the first printing press to the New World. The first book printed in America that remains to us come to us from that press (in Mexico City) in 1539. The first music printed in America came from that press in 1584.--Lummis, Span Pioneers, p. 83f. In 1650 there existed in Mexico six provinces numbering 200 or more convents. Special missionary colleges established on account of the peculiar character of the natives, helped to make these missions perhaps the most flourishing in the world. All their work, however, was destroyed when in the early part of the nineteenth century Mexico gained her independence.


In 1539, eighty, years before the English established the first colony at Jamestown on the Atlantic seaboard, the famous friar Markus de Nizza, who had already been with Pizarro in Peru, explored Arizona and New Mexico. Among the seventy-three friars, who sacrificed their lives for the faith within the present limits of the United States, the protomartyr Padre Juan de Padilla deserves special mention. The place of his martyrdom is disputed. According to the Catholic Dictionary he suffered in Hall county, Nebraska, probably in 1542 or 1544 (?).

It is fair to state that Barton county, Kansas, and the Panhandle of Texas lay claim to the same honor. About this more anon.


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St. Joseph's College, Hinedale, Illinois, For Aspirants To The Franciscan Order.


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Permanent missions were opened in New Mexico in 1597. Within thirty years, the Franciscans had put up forty-three churches for the eighty thousand Catholic Indians. Between 1539 and 1850 about 300 Franciscans preached the faith in New 'Mexico and Arizona. At the present time a large number of friars are continuing the good work in Arizona and New Mexico. The present Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the Most Reverend Albert T. Daeger, O. F. M., a former missionary in that state. Previously he labored for five years at Lincoln, Nebraska.


Glorious is the record of the Sons of St. Francis in California. Fr. Juniperro Serra and his devoted companions founded the missions of San Diego in Southern California 1769. Gradually a chain of missions was established along the Camino Real (Royal Highway) each about a day's journey distant from the next mission. Of these San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Rey, San Gabriel, Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura, Monterey, San Raphael, Dolores Mission (in honor of the stigmata of St. Francis) in San Francisco, are perhaps the best known. The achievements of the 144 Padres between 1769 and 1854 in behalf of the temporal and spiritual welfare of the natives form one of the brightest pages of Franciscan missionary annals. Entire California is proud of their record and of the monumental ruins of these Indian missions. The largest number of neophytes' harbored, fed, clothed and instructed at one time was, nearly 30,000. The first bishop of California was a Franciscan Don Garcia Diego y Moreno (1840 to 1846) with his see at Santa Barbara. There he died and was buried in the Sanctuary of the Old Mission Church. ("Franciscan Herald", Jan. 1924).


When Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527 landed on the peninsula of Florida, he was accompanied by Fr. Suarez, O. F. M., with four companions. Fr. Suarez was one of the famous twelve apostles of Mexico. The whole expedition except Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca with three companions perished, whether of famine or at the hands of the savages, is not known. The Dominicans and Jesuits also attempted the conversion of the natives, but desisted after several missionaries had been killed.

The Franciscans returned to Florida in 1539 and in surprisingly short time founded many flourishing missions among those seemingly intractable natives. An insurrection of the aborigines caused the death of four Padres and the captivity of one, thus temporarily retarding the good work. About 1683 the English of Georgia carried off many Indian converts as slaves and murdered three Franciscans who interceded for their neophytes. When Spain in 1763 ceded Florida to the English, all Catholic missionary work ceased, the mission buildings fell into decay and by degrees all traces of civilization disappeared. The bigotry of the English also prevented extensive work in the northern territories. Nevertheless we hear of a few Franciscans who toiled in 'Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, even in Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois.

In the latter state the aged Fr. Gabriel de la Ribourde was killed by the Kickapoo Indians between Morris and Seneca and was the first martyr in Illinois. Fr. Michael Egan, an Irish Franciscan missionary, labored in Philadelphia and was chosen the first bishop of that see, A. D. 1810.


The Franciscans at an early date also penetrated into the present state of Texas. In Texas they established twenty-one missions during the eighteenth century. Some of these are: San Jose, La Purissima Concepcion, San Juan Capistrano, 'San Francisco de la Espada, Espirito Santo, La Bahia, Rosario, Refugio, San Saba, Los Alamo. The latter is famous in Texan history.

The San Jose mission near San Antonio will see the return of the Sons of St. Francis A. D. 1931.


And then the labors of the friars of the Southwest, in what is often referred to as the "Southwestern Culture Area," comprising parts of northern Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico, twenty-six pueblos still remain. None of these have names given by Americans. Six of them bear Catholic names: San Ildefonso, San Juan and Santa Clara, near Santa Fe; San Felipe, Santo Domingo and Santa Ana, north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not only did the heroic sons of St. Francis bring the Gospel to these aborigines in centuries past under the most trying conditions, many dying at their post, but they are continuing their work down to the present day. We refer to the late Rev. Anselm Weber, O. F. M., Rev. Bernard Haile, O. F. M., (both of the Cincinnati Province). To the wild Navaho (or Navajo) Fr. Anselm was all things in one person: teacher, friend, counselor, pastor. Nor did the government fail to recognize the work of this true friend of the Indian. He was an excellent Navaho scholar, well versed in the lore of the tribe.


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Fr. Anselm's labors in gathering ethnological and linguistic material has been continued by the friars now cultivating that portion of the Lord's vineyard. They have published a scholarly work of high standard among ethnologists: "AN ETHNOLOGIC DICTIONARY OF THE NAVAHO LANGUAGE", which is a real store house of information of the life and customs of that tribe. Fr. Bernard Haile has since composed a grammar of the difficult Navaho language, which is a valuable contribution to American Linguistics. Rev. Muntsch, S. J., in Preuss' "Fortnightly Review", 1930.


The first Franciscans reached the Philippine Islands in 1677 and founded the Province of St. Gregory. From the Philippines they extended their activity to China, Siam, Formosa, Japan and Borneo. In the Philippines their activity was tireless. They founded convents, towns and hospitals, instructed the natives in manual labor, the planting of coffee and cacao and the breeding of silkworms and weaving; they planted trees, built bridges, canals and aqueducts. They also compiled grammars and dictionaries. On May 26, 1592, Peter Baptist with some associates set out from Manila for Japan and after zealous work died a martyr's death, with twenty-five companions, three of whom were Jesuits.


In 1860 Australia was visited by Italian Franciscans, who also preached in New Zealand. In 1878 the missions were transferred to the Irish Franciscans, who furnished two bishops for the see of Adelaide: Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan 1859-1864; and Bonaventure Sheil, 18651878.


The first pioneers of the faith in New France or Canada were the Franciscans. In 1615 four Friars Minor arrived in Quebec and were for ten years the only missionaries among the Algonquins and Hurons along the Great Lakes. Father Nicholas Viel, one of their number, is the first martyr for the Catholic faith in Canada. The labors of the Franciscans (the Recollects were Franciscans), were ended by the English in 1629. The Friars continued, however, to evangelize the Abnaki Indians in Arcadia or Nova Scotia until the year 1633.

About the year 1650 another contingent of Franciscans, including the famous Fr. Louis Hennepin, arrived. Fr. Hennepin passed Niagara Falls, discovered and named the Falls of St. Anthony in Minnesota and was the first to sail down the Mississippi from its source to its mouth.

Fr. Emmanuel Crespel, O. F. M., in 1726 reached the Fox river in Wisconsin.


"Franciscan Herald," Dec., 1930, F. Marion Habig, O. F. M.). See Diagram, p. 180.

The following Status of the Franciscan Missions is taken from Father Marion Habig's article in the Franciscan Herald, December, 1930, page 540:

"The accompanying chart reveals at a glance the world-wide missionary activity of the Order of Friars Minor, one of the three branches of the First Order of St. Francis. It indicates, therefore, only a part of the Franciscan missionary endeavor; but even this part is truly amazing. There are 3,340 Franciscans laboring as missionaries in 69 mission fields the world over, among the population of 88,460,713 and a Catholic population of 7,631,363.

The Capuchins, another branch of the First Order of St. Francis have a total of 4,716 missionary friars; and since the First Order has about 35,000 members, more than one of every eight is a missionary.

To this host of Missionaries must be added those supplied by the Third Order Regular, which comprises numerous Franciscan Sisterhoods and some Brotherhoods with a total membership of 77,064. Figures are not available for these missionaries, but their number far exceeds that of the First Order. Some of these brotherhoods and sisterhoods have missionary work in foreign lands as their primary purpose. Thus the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary, the largest missionary 'Sisterhood in the Church, has a total of 5,600 members in 223 houses, of which 158 are in mission lands.

The Third Order Secular is represented in the missions by some lay nurses. Many secular priests aiding the Franciscans in their missions, especially in China, are native Tertiaries.

By far the greatest percentage of the Church's missionaries in foreign lands are sons and daughters of the apostolic St. Francis.


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