St. Francis Anthony Fasani was born in Lucera (south-east Italy) in 1681. He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in 1695, taking the names of Saints Francis and Anthony, thus expressing his fervent desire to follow their example by consecrating himself to an evangelical and apostolic life. After his ordination, he taught philosophy to younger friars, served as guardian of his friary and later became provincial, exercising his office with charity and wisdom. He received a graduate degree in theology and from that time on Fr. Fasani was known to all as ‘Padre Maestro’ (‘Father Master’), a title which is still attributed to him today in Lucera.
The spiritual life of Fr. Fasani was characterized 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, his whole religious life was a participation in the mysteries of Christ through the 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.”
His fervent devotion to the Immaculate Mother of the Lord was nourished by his intense dedication to knowing ever better “who Mary is” and making her known to others, while at the same time knowing and making known the maternal role entrusted to her in the history of salvation with faith and love.
In his various ministries, he was loving, devout and penitential. He was a sought-after confessor and preacher. One witness at the canonical hearings regarding his holiness testified: “In his preaching he spoke in a familiar way, filled as he was with the love of God and neighbour; fired by the Spirit, he made use of the words and deeds of Holy Scripture, stirring his listeners and moving them to do penance.” Francis Anthony showed himself a loyal friend of the poor, never hesitating to seek from benefactors what was needed.
At his death in Lucera in 1742, children ran through the streets and cried out, “The saint is dead! The saint is dead!” But it was not until 1986 that he was canonized by Pope John Paul II. During his homily at the Mass of Canonization, John Paul observed that in the final analysis human holiness is decided by love. “He [Francis Anthony] made the love taught us by Christ the fundamental characteristic of his existence, the basic criterion of his thought and activity, the supreme summit of his aspirations.”
St. Francis Anthony Fasani, pray for us!