St. Francis Solanus lived from 1549 to 1610. He was a Spanish Franciscan missionary to South America. Although St. Francis is not well-known in the United States, he is indeed to be classified among the extraordinary saints. St. Francis was gifted with an abundance of miracles. St. Francis converted and baptized many natives and explored uncultivated regions.
The Prayer to St. Francis
“O powerful St. Francis Solanus, thou who explored and evangelized in the wilds of South America, please assist me in the wilds of this world and obtain for me, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the grace I ask of thee. Amen.”
(Specify your petition and then say one Hail Mary in honor of St. Francis Solanus)
St. Francis Solanus miraculously heals the mangled face of a five-year-old girl and raises her to life: “…the five year-old Maria Monroy had fallen from the second story of her parents’ home. An iron latticework, which she had dragged down with her in the fall, had put out one of the nina’s eyes, destroyed her face, and split her skull. When picked up, she was dead. The desperate screams of the grief-crazed mother immediately brought the entire neighborhood to the scene; but nothing anyone could do or say served to console the woman or assuage the shock incurred when she had first glimpsed the ruin of her baby’s head and features.
“Above the bed of the dead child there hung a likeness of Fray Francisco [St. Francis Solanus]. Only when the mother’s eyes lifted to this picture was she somewhat calmed. Beginning to pray before it, she experienced a sudden wild hope. Loudly she demanded that someone bring her oil from Padre Solano’s lamps – at once! It must have seemed quite hopeless to the numerous onlookers, but to pacify the poor mother, this was done, and the oil was applied to the broken little face and head. The miracle which followed worked instantaneously! The eye returned to its orbit, the break in the head closed, and little Maria returned to life with the exclamation, ‘Jesus, remain with me!’” (Fanchon Royer, St. Francis Solanus – Apostle to America, St. Anthony Guild Press, Patterson, N.J., 1955, p. 187.)
St. Francis Solanus miraculously crosses a river: “The river was wide and there was no boat to carry him to the opposite shore. How happy were his Indians in their belief that, for this reason, they would have their padre with them a little longer. But he, it seems, was hearing the voices which cried to him from the other side. For a last time he exhorted his dear Indios to persevere in seeking God’s grace, in the Faith, and in love of neighbor; and he gave them his blessing. Then, lifting up his eyes to heaven, he was elevated to ecstasy. He now spread his mantle upon the water and embarked upon it without fear, and thus passed over to the opposite shore, leaving those who had accompanied him as far as the river in the extreme of astonishment.” (Fanchon Royer, St. Francis Solanus – Apostle to America, St. Anthony Guild Press, Patterson, N.J., 1955, p. 117.)
St. Francis’ extraordinary travels: “The diligent apostle did not content himself with ministering to his own converts, the Christian thousands about Socotonio and Magdalena. As soon as he was confident that their feet were firmly placed upon the Christian path of life, he set his own to another immense tour which, owing to the rigors of the terrain which he chose to penetrate, was to prove a classic chapter in the marvelous epic of record-breaking travel and spiritual adventure… while evangelizing and instructing the natives he might encounter in the great wastes that stretched between the heroically founded stations. But this tour was so largely devoted to the Gran Chaco that one imagines he must have known from the start that this vast, still almost completely unexplored region was the prize for which he would contest – alone and totally unsupplied with provisions of any sort.” (Fanchon Royer, St. Francis Solanus – Apostle to America, St. Anthony Guild Press, Patterson, N.J., 1955, p. 111.)
Witnesses to his miracles: “…eight hundred witnesses had presented themselves to testify under oath to St. Francis prodigies. Among these, five hundred and twenty were Limenos. The list included prelates, savants, physicians, army officers of high rank, religious, and ladies of prominent social standing. Also a witness was the temporal ruler of them all, the Marques de Montesclaros, Viceroy of Peru.” (Ibid, p. 183.)
St. Francis Solanus believed that no man is saved without Baptism. In his life, there is a story about a ship on which St. Francis was traveling which came upon a terrible storm. This ship contained many religious, as well as natives who had received some instruction from him but had not yet been baptized. “They ran head into a violent hurricane. Almost immediately the cumbersome wooden ship went out of control, to become a mere chip on the frantically churning seas… Water was now passing freely through the hold. In the midst of the tempest’s fury, the ship was falling to pieces beneath them; and as there was but a single lifeboat aboard, the disaster could only mean death for the majority of the company… the Captain made all haste to get the Franciscans and some of the more prominent passengers over the side, that they might be given this one last slim chance of survival [on a lifeboat]. Seeing that Fray Franciso made no move to join his brothers in the boat, Juan de Morgana implored him to hurry. There was space for but one more. But the missionary had already decided that he could not leave his stricken Negritos [the natives] to die abandoned in their agony. Who could say that he might not be granted the time to administer Baptism to some of them?… [He said]: ‘God will not allow me to save myself by leaving my poor brothers to lose not only the life of the body, but also that of the soul, which is eternal.’” (Ibid, p. 71.)
Thus, St. Francis clearly believed that they would not be saved without Baptism, despite the knowledge or “desire” they had. So he risked his life to stay, to make sure they were convinced of the faith and baptized. He immediately went to work. “… imploring [God] for the time to complete his holy mission, the priest immediately went to work. There were so many to whom he must administer the Sacrament [of Baptism], and under circumstances which almost anyone else would have found quite impossible!” (Ibid, p. 73.)
As St. Francis continued to baptize, the ship was actually broken into two by the hurricane. “When the vessel had cleft in twain, Fray Francisco [St. Francis] was hastily baptizing his Negritos. He barely looked up as he heard the noise… Quite naturally there were many who were still hysterical from fright and the misery of their half-submerged positions. But Fray Francisco was perfectly calm; and as the fragment of the ship miraculously continued to stay afloat, one by one, the frightened men edged into their places before him and the crucifix still held high by an arm which should by now have broken beneath it. In this manner the hours dragged on, and finally the Sacrament had actually been administered to all who wished to receive it.” After days of struggling on the seas in the face of the hurricane, God intervened with a number of extraordinary events which allowed the vessels to survive. (Ibid, pp. 70-77.)