+ Antonio was born in Naples, Italy, to a noble family of French heritage. He studied theology and received doctorates in civil and canon law before traveling to Spain to serve in the royal court.
+ Ordained a priest in 1610, he was named royal chaplain to King Philip III and was appointed “major chaplain” of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1616. At that time, he was also named “territorial prelate” of Santa Lucia del Mela (near Messina).
+ Remembered for his personal asceticism and dedication to prayer, he showed a special concern for the poor and sick and was a special advocate for those who were the victims of loan sharks and unjust financial policies.
+ Blessed Antonio Franco died in Santa Lucia del Mela on September 2, 1626, and was beatified in 2013.
For prayer and reflection
“A bishop as God’s steward must be blameless, not arrogant, not irritable, not a drunkard, not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled, holding fast to the true message as taught so that he will be able both to exhort with sound doctrine and refute opponents.”—Titus 1:7-9
On this day we also remember 191 bishops, priests, and religious who were martyred during night between September 2 and 3, 1792, during the early waves of anti-Catholic violence of the French Revolution. Honored collectively as the “Martyrs of September,” they were beatified in 1926. One of these martyrs, Saint Solomon LeClerq, a member of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, was canonized in 2016.
O God, who wonderfully numbered among your holy shepherds blessed Antonio, a man aflame with divine charity and outstanding for that faith that overcomes the world, grant, we pray, that through his intercession we, too, persevering in faith and charity, may merit to be sharers of his glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Bishop)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.