It would have been easy for St. Francis Caracciolo to be a name dropper; born at Naples into Italian nobility in 1563, he was related on his mother's side to the great St. Thomas Aquinas. But the word that described him best was humility, for it was this virtue that guided him throughout his life.
When he was 22, Francis developed a skin condition resembling leprosy; he vowed that, if he was cured, he would devote the rest of his life to God. When the condition disappeared, Francis made good on his promise; he sold everything he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, and went to Naples to study for the priesthood.
While there, he became cofounder of a religious order, the Congregation of the Minor Clerks Regular. Members of this new order took the usual three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, to which they added a fourth–that they would not actively seek positions of authority either within the Church or the order itself. Even though elected superior several times, Francis kept that vow by doing whatever menial tasks the members needed.
Francis, the patron saint of Naples, died of natural causes in 1608. His feast day is June 4.
Sources for these articles include:
Paoli, Francesco. "St. Francis Caracciolo." The Catholic Encyclopedia.Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909.
"Saint Francis Caracciolo," CatholicSaints.Info. 29 May 2015.
Schreck, Alan. Catholic Church History from A to Z. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 2002.
- Published in Saints & Sacred