Habemus Papam St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis of Paola, sculpted c. 1800

St. Francis Xavier on the left and St. Francis of Paola sculpted between 1750 and 1800, Goa, India. 

  Ivory, ebony, polychrome and gilt decoration, wood and ivory bases.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

St. Francis of Paola (1416 – 1507) on the right below ,founder of the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi (later the Minim Friars).  His family deemed that St. Francis of Assisi had intervened more than once miraculously in their family life and had saved their son’s sight when he was young.  He took to humility and non-violence and his order took vows, among other things, to eat no flesh and no products derived from animals.

St. Francis Xavier (1506 – 1552) co-founder with St. Ignatius of Loyola of the Society of Jesus, he was one of the first seven Jesuits to take vows as such in 1534 in Montmartre, France.  He was a missionary in Asia notably in India and Japan and certain of the Spice Islands; and died as he was entering China.

                   St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis of Paola, c.1750 - 1800, Philadelphia Musuem of Art-1                            St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis of Paola, c.1750 - 1800, Philadelphia Musuem of Art-2

A visual representation of two traditions of the Catholic Church combined by choice in Pope Francis.

It is obvious that St. Francis of Assisi’s way of being is more palatable in a secular, anti-intellectual world with huge inequalities between peoples and growing anxieties about ecology than that of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

But nothing put a crimp in the fast-track, no-miracles-needed canonization by a Jesuit Pope of Junipero Serra, a Franciscan no less, whose work is considered to have been catastrophic to their people and culture by most native Americans in California.

Not much Francis of Assisi about Junipero Serra.

Other factors, political, (‘Jesuitical’) at work in this canonization.

Just to say that the Church is, of course, in both traditions (and in others) which I, a secular and a woman, will not be forgetting in face of Pope Francis’ forceful worldly and unworldly intelligence and evangelization.

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