12 October 2009
Saint Francisco Coll y Guitart
12 OCTOBER 2009. Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized a new Dominican saint. Although today is not his feast day, let's take this opportunity to learn about, now, Saint Francisco Coll y Guitart.
Born in 1812 in Grombeny, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain, Saint Francisco was one of ten children, and only 4 when his father died. Saint Francisco was confirmed at the age of 6 in 1818, and entered the seminary in Vichy, France in 1822 at the age of only 10. Saint Anthony Mary Claret was a fellow seminary student.
As a child, Saint Francisco taught grammar and catechism to local children in France. He joined the Dominican Order in 1830 at the age of 18. When religious orders were suppressed in France, Saint Francisco continued his studies covertly.
Saint Francisco was ordained on 28 March 1836. Assigned to Moya in 1839, an area ravaged by war, Saint Francisco established charitable organizations to feed and house the many refugees. Saint Francisco worked with the poor and displaced for 10 years. In 1850 Saint Francisco re-opened a suppressed Dominican monastery, and began a program of preaching throughout the Catalan region.
When the cholera epidemic struck in 1854, Saint Francisco worked to minister to cholera victims. He founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (La Annunciata) in 1856, a teaching branch of tertiaries
Saint Franciso was struck blind while delivering a homily given at Sallent on 2 December 1869. After that event, Saint Francisco's health never fully recovered, but he refused to retire. When the suppression of religious orders was lifted in 1872, and the Dominicans officially returned, they found that Saint Francisco has kept the necessary structures--physical and administrative--in place. Therefore, the Order could take up their ministry where it had been left off.
Saint Francisco was a popular preacher of missions in various dioceses of North Eastern Spain. Those who knew him characterized his life by his fervent zeal for preaching; he prayed long hours, studied, and dedicated a great deal of time to preparing the sermons for his missions.
Saint Francisco died on 2 April 1875 in Vic, Barcelona, Spain. By the time of his death, the order he had founded had grown to 50 houses; today there are over 140 in Europe and America.
Saint Francisco was beatified by the great Pope John Paul II on 29 April 1979. He was canonized yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI. Saint Francisco's feast day is 2 April.
God of all truth, you chose Saint Francis to make known the name of your Son and to instruct Christian people in holiness. By the help of his prayers may the true faith be continually sustained and grow through the ministry of preaching. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons