The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed Francis Xavier Bianchi

Saint Francesco Saverio Maria Bianchi; thanks eugeneArpino is justly proud of its great son, Cicero. But though he won the applause of the whole world by his oratory, another son of Arpino merits much more the admiration of all by reason of his great holiness. Here was born the Blessed Francis Xavier Bianchi on 3 December 1743, and, as says the process of beatification, “rejoiced as a giant to run the course of perfection, perfectionis curriculum ut gigas emensus est in exultatione.” He studied with the Barnabites and chose his vocation under the guidance of Saint Alphonsus Liguori. He had to struggle much against the opposition of his parents before obtaining their consent to his entering among the Barnabites. After ordination in 1767, Bianchi was put to teach – first rhetoric and then philosophy. He already enjoyed a great reputation, was much beloved, and his advice was eagerly sought after by the people. Then came a special call of grace to forsake his dealings with the world, to give up science and to devote himself in solitude to prayer and to the meditation of things divine. For fourteen years he prepared himself for the grand apostolate he was afterward to practise at Naples. He had, so to speak, a magnetic power. Crowds ran to him for help and advice in affairs both spiritual and material. All returned consoled, for heavenly wisdom flowed from his lips and his words gave back peace to the most unhappy. He saw into the future and into the secrets of souls and miraculous events accompanied his labors. Many eye-witnesses assert that in 1805 a lava stream was suddenly stopped by his prayer. Men jokingly said that if they had a Neri (black) at Rome, at Naples they had a Bianchi (white).

During the last years of his life Blessed Francis endured a dreadful affliction. His feet and legs were covered with horrible ulcers. He bore this not merely with patience, but with holy joy and an ardent desire to suffer even more, adding voluntary penance to his pains. During this time he could neither stand nor walk nor move himself, save that, marvelous as it surely was, he had always strength to say the Holy Mass. His apostolate was not interrupted by his sickness. The people came to his bed of pain to get consolation and instruction and they had the happiness of seeing a saint in suffering. On 31 January 1815, Francis Xavier Bianchi went to heaven. His beatification was decreed on 22 January 1893.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916