Second Thought for the Day – 31 January – The Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier Bianchi CRSP (1743-1815) “Apostle of Naples”
Trainer of many candidates for the altars
In 1776 he met a Franciscan Tertiary, Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe (aka Anna Maria Rosa Nicoletta Gallo, Canonised in 1867), to whom supernatural gifts were attributed. He was her Spiritual Director until her death on 6 October 1791.
Among his disciples for whom the causes of Beatification and Canonisation have been opened, in addition to the aforementioned Francesco Maria Castelli, there are Don Mariano Arciero (Beatified in 2012), Don Placido Baccher, Don Agnello Coppola and Giovanni Battista Jossa.
Don Vincenzo Romano (Canonised in 2018) and Queen Maria Clotilde of Savoy, in exile in Naples with her husband Carlo Emanuele IV, as well as many cardinals and bishops, also had spiritual relationships with him.
His style, between special gifts and cheerfulness
Father Francesco Saverio remained in his convent even when the subversive laws of 1809 suppressed his Order. He had the gift of prophecy and visions of events distant in time and space. Miracles and charismatic gifts increased his reputation for holiness – one of many, the arrest, with a sign of the cross, of the lava erupted by Vesuvius in 1804 and 1805.
Similar in joyfulness to Saint Philip Neri, he had mysterious tremors like him and heart palpitations during the prayer and the celebration of the Mass, which he officiated with a fervour, which amazed those who attended. Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe said: “We have two Filippo, one black and one white”, referring to similar spiritual qualities and also to the two surnames “Neri” and “Bianchi.”
Never underestimate the power of the Saints to assist us on this journey home!