St François-Antoine (Francesco Antonio) Fasani
‘Il Padre Maestro’ (le Père Maître)
François-Antoine (Francesco Antonio) Fasani naît le 6 août 1681 à Lucera, dans les Pouilles (sud-est de l’Italie). Ses parents sont d’humble condition mais riches de foi. Chaque soir, on récite le chapelet devant une image de Marie Immaculée, ce qui déterminera certains aspects de son apostolat plus tard.
L’enfant est confié pour son éducation aux frères mineurs conventuels. Et c’est dans cet ordre franciscain, au couvent du mont Saint-Ange (Monte Gargano), qu’il entre comme novice à l’âge de quatorze ans, en 1695. L’année suivante, il fait ses vœux sous le nom de François-Antoine.
Ordonné prêtre le 11 septembre 1705, il achève ses études de philosophie à Assise, puis, il obtient le grade de Maître en théologie. Désormais on l’appellera : ‘Il Padre Maestro’ (le Père Maître) et de nos jours encore, c’est le titre qu’on lui donne dans la région où s’est exercée son influence.
Il commence à prêcher lors du Carême de 1707. Contrairement au style fleuri et pompeux de l’époque, il parle avec simplicité en employant des exemples tirés de l’Écriture. Il émeut ses auditeurs et les invite sans ambages à la conversion. En ce siècle des Lumières, rationaliste et orgueilleux, il rencontre parfois de vives oppositions, surtout qu’il ne cache jamais la vérité et n’hésite pas à fustiger les vices ou les injustices sociales, mais souvent les gens réfléchissent après coup, et aboutissent à son confessionnal.
À ce ministère du pardon, il consacre de nombreuses heures, toujours accueillant et souriant. Il a un ministère très actif qui s’étend sur la région des Pouilles et de la Molise. Il inculque sa dévotion à l’Immaculée, distribuant à ses auditeurs, spécialement aux enfants, des images de la Vierge au dos de laquelle est inscrite telle ou telle phrase. (Ces images font souvent des miracles !) « Si la Mère de Dieu est immaculée, dit-il, c’est pour être le refuge des pécheurs. » Il répand l’habitude de mettre en valeur la fête de l’Immaculée-Conception par une neuvaine préparatoire.
Pendant 35 ans son ministère s’exerce partout où on l’appelle. Dans son couvent, il est successivement professeur de philosophie puis de théologie, maître des novices et ‘gardien’ (c'est-à-dire supérieur). En tant que supérieur religieux, « il est un vrai ‘ministre’ au sens franciscain du terme, a dit saint Jean Paul II, c'est-à-dire le serviteur de tous ses frères : charitable et compréhensif, mais saintement exigeant quant à l’observance de la Règle, particulièrement en ce qui concerne la pratique de la pauvreté, donnant lui-même un exemple irréprochable d’observance régulière et d’austérité de vie. »
En 1721, Clément XI (Giovanni Francesco Albani, 1700-1721) lui confie l’administration de la province franciscaine de Saint-Ange. « À une époque caractérisée par une si grande insensibilité des puissants à l’égard des problèmes sociaux, notre saint se dépense avec une charité inépuisable pour l’élévation spirituelle et matérielle de son peuple. Ses préférences vont aux couches sociales les plus méprisées et les plus exploitées, surtout les humbles travailleurs des champs, les malades, les prisonniers. Il fait preuve d’initiatives géniales, sollicitant la coopération des classes plus aisées, réalisant ainsi des formes d’assistance concrète et capillaire, qui ont paru anticiper et annoncer les formes modernes d’assistance sociale ». En effet, il crée une banque de crédit dont le but est de protéger les pauvres contre la spéculation des usuriers.
Il fait des miracles. Un jour, il est amené à défendre la vertu d’une jeune fille contre les visées d’un noble. Cela lui vaut la vindicte du gentilhomme qui le dénonce à Rome. Convoqué en présence du Pape, il ne dit mot pour se défendre, mais tandis que, selon la coutume, il baise les pieds du Pontife, celui-ci, qui souffre de la goutte, se sent immédiatement guéri !
Il meurt à Lucera le 29 novembre 1742.
Toute la ville participe à l’enterrement et crie : « Notre saint Père Maître est mort ! »
François-Antoine (Francesco Antonio) Fasani a été béatifié à Rome, le 15 avril 1951, par le vénérable Pie XII (Eugenio Pacelli, 1939-1958) et canonisé, toujours à Rome, le 13 avril 1986, par saint Jean Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła, 1978-2005).
- Antony Fasani
- Francis Anthony Fasani
- Francis Fasani
Known as a pious child. Entered the Conventual Franciscan order in 1695, taking the name Francis. Ordained in 1705. Taught philosophy to younger friars, served as guardian of his friary, provincial of the Order, master of novices, and finally pastor in his hometown. Sought after confessor and preacher, a loyal friend of the poor, never hesitating to seek from benefactors what was needed. A mystic, known for his deep prayer life, he was known to levitate while praying.
- 29 November 1742 in Lucera, Foggia, Italy of natural causes
- when news of his death spread, children ran through the streets crying, “The saint is dead! The saint is dead!”
Francis Anthony Fasani (1681-1742)
priest, O.F.M. Conv.
A study of the life of Fr. Francis Anthony Fasani shows clearly that his life was directed toward God in a singular manner from his very infancy, thanks to the Christian education received from his parents and to the workings of the grace of a religious and priestly vocation upon his soul. He was born in Lucera on August 6, 1681, the son of Giuseppe Fasani and Isabella Della Monaca. His parents had the joy of seeing their "Giovanniello" (this was the name they gave him at Baptism) grow up endowed with promising moral and intellectual gifts. He began his studies at the Franciscan friary of the Friars Minor Conventual at Lucera; there Giovanniello's understanding of his vocation became clearer-a vocation to which he gave himself with generous enthusiasm. He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and took 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. Professing his vows in 1696, the young Friar Francis Anthony completed his liberal arts studies and followed with his philosophical studies in the seminaries of his religious province. Thereafter, he began theological studies in Agnone and continued them in the General Study Centre at Assisi near the tomb of St. Francis. It was there that Francis Anthony was ordained to the priesthood in 1705 and there, too, that he completed his theological studies in 1707.
His application to his studies, carried out with diligence and with a lively desire to assimilate the salvific value of the mysteries of faith, made him "profound in philosophy and learned in theology." The Venerable Antonio Lucci, bishop of Bovino, attests to this in the canonical hearings investigating Fasani's holiness. Bishop Lucci was a fellow student of his and imitated him in the exercise of religious virtue. At the same time, by means of an intense spiritual formation aided by enlightened spiritual masters, Francis Anthony progressed in a life of union with God, patterning himself on the Lord through religious consecration and the priestly charism.
From 1707 until his death he continued to live at Lucera for thirty-five years, always giving splendid witness to the gospel life and zealous pastoral ministry. For this reason he was admired by the faithful of Lucera and all of Daunia and Molise. Within his Franciscan Order he fulfilled offices of special responsibility. He was a respected teacher of scholastic philosophy and a revered master of novices and the professed, making notable contributions to the spiritual and doctrinal formation of his confreres. In 1709 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. He exercised the offices of local superior and minister provincial with charity and wisdom, demonstrating that he was and effective animator of the religious life of the brethren.
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 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."
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.
The priestly life of Father Anthony Fasani is a splendid testimony to fidelity and dedication to the mission given to all priests in the Church. It is their duty-as Vatican Council II so vigorously confirms-to promote "the glory of God the Father in Christ by their ministry and their life" (PO, 2).
In exercising this evangelical mission Fr. Fasani gave himself devotedly from the very moment of his priestly ordination, to such an extent that a witness could assert: "He allowed himself no rest in the salvation of souls." His pastoral ministry shows that he was involved zealously in many fields and forms of the apostolate according to the needs of the particular Churches in which he ministered.
The ministry of preaching the word of God assumed a special role in his apostolic life. He preached popular missions, retreats, Lenten devotions and novenas almost constantly - at Lucera and wherever he was called. The duty which falls to all priests "to invite all people to conversion and holiness" (PO, 4) was carried out by Fr. Fasani through a type of preaching based on the scriptures that was well prepared, persuasive, and had the particular purpose, as one witness recalled, "of rooting out vices and sins and planting in their place goodness and the exercise of virtue."
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."
The most holy Eucharist was the summit of his religious life and wholly represented the goal toward which be ordered his entire priestly ministry. In fact, he always considered the Eucharist "the source and summit of evangelization," and that the faithful were "fully incorporated into the Body of Christ through the Eucharist" (PO, 5). A fervent minister of the Eucharist, Fr. Fasani celebrated the sacrifice of the Mass with an intense ardor that lifted and nourished his spirit while at the same time it edified all who were present. In his preaching he inculcated in the faithful the love of the Eucharist, promoting even daily communion.
The poor, the sick, and the imprisoned held a privileged place in his pastoral activities. Motivated by his ideal of gospel charity ("We must be charitable."), he loved to pray with the poor and for them. Every day he personally distributed to the poor the alms of his religious community and very often he gave them as well gifts and special goods gathered from benefactors. Oftentimes his prayers obtained extraordinary interventions of divine Providence for the poor. He visited and comforted the sick, exhorting them to seek reasons for hope and resignation in the goodness of God. The spiritual care of the imprisoned, an apostolate given him by the bishop of Lucera, permitted him to visit them daily and to exhort them to trust in the merciful love of God. He was given the responsibility of assisting those condemned to death in their last moments.
The witnesses at the canonical proceedings for his holiness assure us that God rewarded the apostolic zeal of Fr. Fasani with abundant fruits of conversion and a renewed Christian life among the faithful. In this way those values of the sacred ministry were totally fulfilled in the priestly life of Fr. Francis Anthony Fasani which Vatican Council II expresses in the following terms: "Priests, whether they devote themselves to prayer and adoration, to the preaching of the Word, to offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice and administering the other sacraments, or to carrying out other ministries in the service of mankind, always contribute to the increase of the glory of God and at the same time to enriching mankind with divine life" (PO, 2).
When Fr. Fasani was taken by his final illness in 1742, he wanted to offer it to the Lord in a spirit of perfect joy, with that same expression with which he had always offered God all the actions of his life: "The Will of God: that is my Paradise." On November 2 of the same year, comforted by the holy sacraments and the protection of the Immaculate Virgin Mary for which he prayed, Fr. Francis Anthony Fasani returned his soul to God in the friary of the city where he was born and where, for thirty-five years, he showed himself a faithful witness to Christ. His body was interred in the adjoining church of St. Francis, after funeral rites in which all of Lucera participated with the cry: "Our holy Padre Maestro has died!"
The fame of the sanctity that surrounded Fr. Fasani in life witnessed an extraordinary increase after his death. Thus, already in 1746 the bishop of Lucera decided to institute proceedings to investigate the holiness of life, the virtues and the miracles of this Servant of God. There followed the Apostolic Cause of particular virtues and the decree on the heroicity of his virtues promulgated by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII on June 21, 1891. His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, having approved two miracles attributed to the intercession of Venerable Fasani, raised him to the honor of the altars on April 15, 1951.
A new miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Francis Anthony was approved with the decree of March 21, 1985, by the Holy Father, John Paul II.
San Francesco Antonio Fasani
Lucera, 6 agosto 1681 - Lucera, 29 novembre 1742
Nacque da umile famiglia il 6 agosto 1681 a Lucera, antica città della Daunia nelle Puglie. Entrò da giovane tra i Minori conventuali del suo paese natale per poi completare il Noviziato a Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano dove emise la professione il 23 agosto 1696. Quindi, nel 1703 fu mandato nel convento di Assisi dove fu ordinato sacerdote l'11 settembre 1705. Passato a Roma, nel collegio di San Bonaventura, tornò ad Assisi fino al 1707 quando rientrò a Lucera. Eletto ministro provinciale fu protagonista di un'intensa attività apostolica percorrendo tutti paesi della Capitanata e località limitrofe. Sempre attento ai bisogni dei poveri e dei sofferenti, devotissimo alla Vergine, fu particolarmente vicino ai carcerati e ai condannati che accompagnava fino al luogo del supplizio. Morì il 29 novembre 1742. Ancora oggi la sua tomba, nella chiesa di San Francesco a Lucera è meta di frequenti pellegrinaggi. Proclamato beato il 15 aprile 1951 da Pio XII è stato canonizzato da Giovanni Paolo II il 13 aprile 1986. (Avvenire)
Martirologio Romano: A Lucera in Puglia, san Francesco Antonio Fasani, sacerdote dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori Conventuali, che, uomo di raffinata cultura pervaso da un grande amore per la predicazione e la penitenza, si adoperò al tal punto per i poveri e i bisognosi da non esitare mai a privarsi della veste per coprire un mendicante e offrire a tutti il suo cristiano sostegno.
Nacque a Lucera, antica città della Daunia nelle Puglie, il 6 agosto 1681, da umili e modesti lavoratori, Giuseppe e Isabella Della Monaca. Battezzato con i nomi di Donato Antonio Giovanni, fu chiamato familiarmente Giovanniello.
Entrò giovinetto nell'Ordine di s. Francesco, tra i Minori Conventuali del convento di Lucera e vi rifulse per innocenza di vita, spirito di penitenza e povertà, ardore serafico e zelo apostolico, sì da sembrare un "s. Francesco redivivo".
Compiuto il noviziato a Monte S. Angelo sul Gargano ed emessavi la professione il 23 agosto 1696, fu mandato, nel 1703, a completare la sua formazione nel sacro convento di Assisi dove ebbe come direttore spirituale il servo di Dio Giuseppe A. Marcheselli, e fu ordinato sacerdote l'll settembre 1705.
Passato a Roma nel collegio di S. Bonaventura, vi fu creato maestro in teologia, per cui, in seguito, sarà da tutti chiamato a Lucera "Padre Maestro". Ritornato ad Assisi, vi rimase dedicandosi alla predicazione nelle campagne fino al 1707, quando rientrerà definitivamentc a Lucera.
Dalla scuola, dal pulpito e dal confessionale esplicò un intenso e fecondo apostolato, percorrendo tutti i paesi della Capitanata e località limitrofe, sì da meritarsi l'appellativo di apostolo della sua terra. "Profondo in filosofia e dotto in teologia", come attesta il ven. Antonio Lucci, suo confratello e vescovo di Bovino, fu dapprima lettore e reggente di studi nel collegio filosofico di Lucera, e poi guardiano del convento e maestro dei novizi, modello ai confratelli di osservanza regolare, per cui fu nominato nel 1721, con speciale Breve di Clemente XI, ministro provinciale della provincia religiosa conventuale di S. Angelo, che in quel tempo si estendeva dalla Capitanata al Molise.
Scrisse alcune operette predicabili, tra cui un Quaresimale, un Mariale, una esposizione al Pater e al Magnificat, e vari Sermoni, alcuni in lingua latina. Suo principale intendimento nel predicare era quello di "farsi capire da tutti", come nella sua modestia era solito dire, e la sua catechesi, tipicamente francescana, era rivolta di preferenza all'umile popolo verso cui sentivasi particolarmente attratto. Inesauribile fu la sua carità verso i poveri e sofferenti; fra le varie iniziative, promosse la simpatica usanza di raccogliere e distribuire pacchi-dono ai poveri in occasione del S. Natale. Ma il suo zelo e la sua carità sacerdotale rifulsero in modo singolarissimo nell'assistenza ai carcerati e ai condannati che accompagnava personalmente fino al luogo del supplizio per confortarne gli estremi momenti, precorrendo in ciò l'ammirabile esempio di carità di s. Giuseppe Cafasso. Fece restaurare decorosamente il bel tempio di S. Francesco in Lucera, centro per quasi trentacinque anni continui della sua indefessa attività sacerdotale. Fu devotissimo dell'Immacolata Concezione, e alle anime che egli dirigeva era solito inculcare gli atti di ossequio alla Madonna e la meditazione delle sue virtù. Anche oggi è oggetto di particolare venerazione nella chiesa di S. Francesco la bella statua dell'Immacolata, che il beato fece venire da Napoli, ed il popolo canta tuttora la canzone mariana da lui composta.
Morì a Lucera il 29 novembre 1742, il primo giorno della novena dell'immacolata ed il suo corpo è venerato nella chiesa di S.Francesco. Fu beatificato da Pio XII il 15 aprile 1951.
Autore: Gaetano Stano