Saint Francis Cacciolo: Zeal for Thy House domain

A brief mention of Saint Francis Cacciolo (1563 – 1608), who was born during the final sessions of the Council of Trent, and died the year that Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec city, laying the foundation for the future nation of Canada. Francis, however, spent his life far removed from the swirl of history, with much of his time before the Blessed Sacrament, hearing confessions, preaching, helping the poor. He was one of the co-founders of the ‘Order of the Clerics Regular Minor’, with Father Giovanni Agostino Adorno (after whom they are often named, the ‘Adorno Fathers’). One of their charisms is perpetual adoration, with each member covering some hour or other of the day or night.

Their original rule was quite severe, by today’s standards, with the priests and brothers also taking turns either fasting on bread and water, taking the discipline or wearing a hairshirt. In all of this, they were motivated not by a morbid fear of sin, but by the love of God: Saint Francis’ favorite verse was from Psalm 68, quoted by Christ as He cleansed the Temple: ‘Zeal for thy house hath consumed me‘.

Father Francis was eventually appointed Superior of the new Order, but he would still do all of his regular, humble chores – sweeping the floor and doing the dishes. Their work was supernaturally fruitful, even though – or perhaps because – they suffered misunderstandings, detractions and calumnies.

After burning himself out with zeal for God and souls, Father Cacciolo fell ill at the beginning of June, 1608. On the fourth day of that month, the vigil of Corpus Christi, fittingly enough, that year, he was bedridden and rapt in prayer, when he suddenly sat up and exclaimed “Let us go, Let us go to heaven!”, and died. He was canonized by Pope Pius VII – the one who opposed Napoleon’s ambitions over the Church – in May, 1807.

It is said that when they examined his body, his heart appeared burned, with the words he loved so well, and lived by, “Zelus domus Tuæ comedit me” inscribed thereon. There is indeed a fine line between heaven and earth, and Father Francis Cacciolo walked the line indeed. May he intercede for all of us with far less zeal than he, that we be given but a smidgen of his.