Saint of the Day – 29 November – St Francesco Antonio Fasani OFM Conv. (1681 – 1742) also known as Antony Fasani, Francis Anthony Fasani, Francis Fasani – was an Italian Friar and Priest of the Order of Conventual Friars Minor, Teacher, Confessor, Preacher, Mystic, Apostle of prayer and charity, Marian devotee – he was born on 6 August 1681 in Lucera, Foggia, Italy as Giovanniello Fasani and died on 29 November 1742 in Lucera, Foggia, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – Lucera, his home town in Foggia.
St Francesco was the son of Giuseppe Fasani and Isabella della Monaca. He began his studies at the Conventual friary in his town and there entered the Order, taking the religious names of Saints Francis and Anthony. Fasani professed his religious vows in 1696.
Once having professed his vows, Fasani began theological studies in Agnone and continued them in the General Study Centre at Assisi, close to the tomb of St Francis. It was there that Fasani was ordained to the priesthood in 1705. He stayed in Assisi and completed his theological studies there in 1707.
From 1707 until his death in 1742, Fasani spent the rest of life in residence in his hometown of Lucera and endeared himself to the faithful of that town and all of Daunia and Molise. In 1709, he received the degree of Doctor of Theology and, from that time on, Fasani became known to all as “Padre Maestro” (“Father Master”), a title which is still attributed to him today in Lucera. Fasani also fulfilled many duties in the Franciscan Order, being a respected teacher of scholastic philosophy and was entrusted with the position of Master of novices and the junior professed friars.
He was later appointed to serve as the guardian of the community of friars and the pastor of the town. He came to be elected Minister Provincial of his province in the Order. As a worthy ministry of “the one who uninterruptedly exercises his priestly mission for us in the Liturgy through the Spirit” (PO, 5), Fr Fasani dedicated himself with zeal-especially the administration of the sacrament of Penance and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. “He heard the confession of every type of person,” asserted a witness, “with the greatest patience and kindness on his face”. He was charitable and welcoming to all, giving as his reason the hope of being able one day to say to the Lord: “I was indulgent, I don’t deny it but it was You who taught me to be so.”
Fasani was known for having a deep life of prayer and was considered to be a mystic, becoming greatly in demand as a confessor and preacher. He constantly preached popular parish missions, gave retreats and led Lenten devotions and novenas – either in his own town or wherever he was requested. It was reported by his contemporaries that he would levitate while at prayer. At the same time, he was a steadfast friend of the poor, constantly seeking out the financial support necessary for efforts to meet their needs.
Fasani died in Lucera and was buried in the parish church there. Upon the news of his death, children could be heard running through the streets shouting, “The saint is dead! The saint is dead!”
The proceedings to open the cause for his canonisation began several years after his death. Testimony to his holy life was given by many people of region. Among them was his old friend, Blessed Antonio Lucci (1682–1752), who by then was a Bishop in the region. Progress did not take place, however, until the 20th century, when he was beatified in 1951 by Pope Pius XII and subsequently Canonised in 1986 by St Pope John Paul II.
From the Vatican biography of St Francesco: – “The spiritual life of Fr Fasani was characterised by those virtues that made him like his Seraphic Father St Francis. In fact, it was said in Lucera: “Whoever wants to see how St Francis looked while he was alive should come to see Padre Maestro.” In imitation of St Francis he built his religious life on the basis of a generous participation in the mysteries of Christ through the most faithful practice of the evangelical counsels, which he considered to be a radical expression of perfect charity. In his constant prayers, inflamed with seraphic love, he called out to God, saying to Him: “O Highest Love, Immense Love, Eternal Love, Infinite Love.”