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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Francis Solano (1549–1610)

Saint Francis Solano (1549–1610)

Patron of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru

Feast day: July 17




Saint Francis Solano was born in Spain in 1549. He came from a prominent family and, as a student, once broke up a deadly duel. At the age of 20, Saint Francis joined the Franciscans, studied philosophy and theology, and developed commendable musical talents. He chose a life of austere simplicity, prayer, silence, and fasting. He never wore shoes, never ate meat, always wore a profoundly uncomfortable hair shirt, and usually lived in self-made clay huts. He became widely known for his fearless service to the poor and the sick during an epidemic and even allegedly healed many sick people. Hoping to find martyrdom, he asked to be sent to Africa to preach. His request was rejected, and he instead traveled to modern-day South America. He converted many indigenous residents, learned many different languages, and often played the violin to those to whom he preached. He was highly respected and cherished. He also fought against the oppression of the indigenous population. He was canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. (Image in public domain-100)