Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Francis Solano, Confessor
THIS saint was born at Montilia in Andalusia, in 1549, performed his studies in the schools of the Jesuits, and in 1569 made his religious profession amongst the Franciscans in the place of his nativity. An extraordinary humility and contempt of himself and of worldly vanity and applause; self-denial, obedience, meekness, patience, and the love of silence, recollection, and prayer mental and vocal, formed his character. Whole nights he frequently passed without sleep on the steps of the altar, before the Blessed Sacrament, in meditation and devout prayer, with wonderful interior delight and devotion. Burning with holy zeal and charity, and an ardent desire of the salvation of souls, after he was promoted to the priesthood, he divided his time between silent retirement and the ministry of preaching. His sermons, though destitute of the ornaments of studied eloquence, powerfully withdrew men from vice, and kindled in their breasts an ardent desire of virtue. The saint was appointed master of novices, first in the convent of Arizava, two miles from Cordova, afterwards in that of Monte. Then he was made guardian in the province of Granada. His whole life, says Alvarez de Paz, may be called a holy uninterrupted course of zealous action, yet was at the same time a continued most fervent prayer, abounding with heavenly illuminations and consolations. A perfect spirit of poverty emptied his heart of the love of all created things, that Christ alone might occupy and fill it; and he rejoiced in his nakedness and privation of earthly goods that he might barely use them to serve the necessities of nature, without suffering them to enslave his heart, or to find any place in his affections, which he reserved pure and entire for spiritual goods. Interior humility and self-denial perfected the disengagement of his heart, and the extraordinary austerities of his penitential life subjected his senses, and rendered the liberty which his soul enjoyed complete; by which he was prepared for the spirit of prayer and the pure love of heavenly things. Earthly comforts used with moderation, and as supports of our weakness, may be sanctified by a good intention; but whilst they bolster up our weakness, they keep it alive and strengthen it; and if they are sought after, or made use of with eagerness and attachment, immoderately or frequently, they strongly nourish self-love and sensuality, and produce a distrust of the solid food of devotion and divine love.
The mortified lives of all the saints who arrived at a familiarity with God in holy prayer, are but a comment upon, or sensible examples of, the indispensable gospel precept of dying to ourselves. By no other steps could St. Francis Solano have arrived at the perfection of a spiritual life. A pestilence which raged at Granada afforded him an opportunity of exerting his heroic virtue in attending the infected; but a more noble theatre of action was opened to him by the mission into America, upon which he was sent. Peru and Tucuman were the countries in which he reaped the principal harvest: and the five last years of his life he preached chiefly at Lima, and induced the inhabitants of that great city, by sincere repentance, to appease the divine anger, which they had provoked by their sins. The reputation of his wonderful sanctity was enhanced by many miracles; yet by humility he looked upon himself as the least among men, and he never appeared in public but when called abroad by zeal for the salvation of souls. Before his death he was purified by a lingering illness, and in his last moments repeated those words of the psalmist: I have rejoiced in those things which have been said to me: We will go into the house of the Lord. He departed this life on the 14th of June in 1610, the sixty-second of his age, and fortieth of his religious profession. F. Alvarez de Paz, an eye-witness, describes the stately and religious pomp of his funeral, at which the viceroy of Peru and the archbishop of Lima assisted with extraordinary devotion. The saint was beatified by Clement X., and canonized by Benedict XIII. in 1726, and his principal festival appointed on the 24th of July. See his life compiled by Didacus of Cordova; also by Alphonsus of Mondietta. See likewise the History of the Provinces of Peru, and the edifying account of our saint given by the pious and learned Jesuit F. Alvarez de Paz, l. 5, c. 14, t. 2. Op. p. 1752 and 1753; and Benedict XIV. De Canoniz. t. 1, Append. Also the Lives of Saints, published in High Dutch, by F. Maximilian Rasler S. J.; and F. Charlevoix, Hist. de Paraguay, t. 1, l. 3 and 4.