By Tyler Rahnis '16
At the end of November, the Church and Franciscan Order celebrate the life and memory of St. Francis Anthony Fasani. St. Francis Anthony was born on August 6 in the year 1681, in Lucera, southeastern Italy. He was the son of poor peasants, Giuseppe Fasani and Isabella Della Monaca. He was an intelligent boy and received an education from the Conventual Franciscans in his hometown. He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and took the names of St. Francis and St. Anthony. He took these names as a symbol of his desire to follow by their example and devote himself to God. He received the habit of St. Francis when he was fourteen, and was ordained a priest in 1705 at the age of 24. He was then sent to the Sacro Convento, which is the friary in Assisi next to the Basilica of St. Francis, to continue his studies. He studied with diligence and a desire for knowledge about the mysteries of faith. Antonio Lucci, bishop of Bovino, stated that St. Francis Anthony was “profound in philosophy and learned in theology.” He knew this because he was a former classmate of his. In fact, Bishop Lucci strived to imitate St. Francis Anthony Fasani in religious virtue.
In 1707, St. Francis Anthony Fasani received his doctorate in theology, and was granted the privilege of being the instructor of philosophy at the college conducted by the Conventuals in his native town. After receiving his degree in theology he was referred to as “Padre Maestro.” The title of “Padre Maestro” is still credited to him in Lucera. He was promoted to head of students, guardians, and locals, a position he held from 1721 to 1723. He governed these positions with charity and wisdom, clearly showing he was an excellent animator of the religious life of the Friars. After that, St. Francis Fasani served as a master of novices, and a preacher at the church of St. Francis in Lucera. He was offered the opportunity to be a bishop, but he turned it down. St. Francis Anthony remained in Lucera until his death. He gave witness to the gospel life and preached a passionate pastoral ministry.
St. Francis Anthony Fasani had a great devotion to Mary the Mother of God. St. Francis Anthony was an admired preacher and lover of the poor. He was a missionary, a retreat-master, and a Lenten preacher. He would spend hours upon hours listening to confessions. He spent a lot of time visiting the sick, the orphans, and the imprisoned. In the role of a pastor, he was like a father to the people. The sick, the orphans, and the imprisoned held a special place in his heart. He was motivated by charity to pray with and for the poor. Every day he would personally give out offerings to the poor in his communities. He visited and consoled the sick, urging them to seek reasons for hope in the goodness of God. He visited the imprisoned daily and urged them to trust in the merciful and loving God. St. Francis Anthony Fasani spent 35 years in priesthood practicing a life of penance, union with God, and intense labor for the salvation of souls. On November 29, 1742 St. Francis Anthony died. On the day of his death, people came rushing to the church exclaiming, ‘The saint is dead! The saint is dead!” For 200 years after St. Francis Anthony Fasani’s death, people continued to come to where he is buried and kneel and pray at his tomb. His feast day is celebrated each November 29th. One of the things I most admire about St. Francis Anthony Fasani is that his best friend, Antonio Lucci, has also been beatified. Their friendship shows that it's important to surround yourself with good people who can offer encouragement in being a better person.