Category Archives: Franciscan History

#243 – Converting a Pope

Abraham Abufalia believed God wanted him to convert Pope Nicholas III to Judaism and help bring about the coming of the Messiah. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Franciscans were also involved.

Earlier CUTH podcast on Joachim of Fiore and the Francisans

An important source for this episode was Harvey James’ Like Angels on Jacob’s Ladder: Abraham Abulafia, the Franciscans, and Joachimism

Photo of Pope Nicholas III’s palace at Soriano by NicFer

Be sure to check out the CUTH blog for more on the history of the Catholic Church

Also check out the other great podcasts at the Starquest Production Network

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To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#243 – Converting a Pope


Today in Catholic History – The Ordination of Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap.

On 24 July 1904, Solanus Casey was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He will be ordained a “sacerdotus simplex” or “Mass Priest” which prevented him from hearing confessions or preaching doctrinal sermons because of a judgment that he had not performed sufficiently well in his seminary classes. Indeed, Fr. Casey had great difficulty in seminary as most of the classes were in German, with which he was not very familiar.

Throughout his life as a member of the Capuchin Franciscans, Fr. Casey will acquire a reputation for holiness. 20,000 people would visit his coffin just prior to his burial. He was been declared venerable by Pope John Paul II.

About Fr. Solanus Casey

Today in Catholic History – Junipero Serra establishes the Mission San Antonio de Padua

On 14 July 1771, Fr. Junipero Serra established the Mission San Antonio de Padua in Alta California in a valley at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains known as the “Valley of the Oaks”. Fr. Serra along with two other Franciscans began the mission by the hanging of a large bronze bell on an oak tree. Fr. Serra rang the bell while loudly calling for all “gentiles” to come and receive the faith of Jesus Christ. When the other friars pointed out to Junipero that there were no gentiles in sight, Fr. Serra is reported to have said, “let me give vent to my heart which desires that this bell might be heard around the world.”

One of the Native Americans came to the first Mass celebrated by Fr. Serra a short time later. Fr. Serra offered gifts to the curious visitor who soon returned with others of his tribe. The friendship of the native people was very important for the survival of the young mission.

Junipero Serra would soon leave to establish other missions, leaving behind Frs. Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar to begin the actual construction of buildings and farms.

Two years later, the Franciscan friars would move the mission because of problems with the water supply at the original site. The mission continues to be an active parish today.

More on the Mission

Today in Catholic History – Saint Francis of Assisi buried in tomb of his basilica

On 25 May 1230, Brother Elias and some citizens of Assisi secretly moved the body of Saint Francis, which had been placed in the Basilica of Saint George in Assisi after the death of the saint, into the tomb which had been prepared for it in the recently completed Basilica of Saint Francis.

Elias feared that citizens from nearby Perugia might seek to steal the body and bury it in their own city. It was believed that the city and peoples of a city would gain blessings if the relics of a saint were buried there. Other examples of this belief in history can be seen in the presence of the relics of Saint Mark in Venice and Saint Nicholas in Bari.

The body of Francis was buried in a tomb deep underground, the tomb was covered with stone and over the stone was placed the high altar in order to prevent theft of his relics. Francis’ tomb was inaccessible until 1818 when, after a fifty two day search, the body of the saint was rediscovered.

The transfer of the body of Francis caused a controversy with Pope Gregory IX as there was to be a public transfer of the relics a few days later. The pope excommunicated the citizens of Assisi for moving the relics without episcopal authority and placed an interdict on the Basilica of Saint Francis – though these punishments were later rescinded.

Special Today in Catholic History – St. Francis takes his vows

On April 16, Franciscans renew their vows in honor of St. Francis and his companions who made their vows into the hands of Pope Innocent III on this day in 1209.

According to the book Franciscans At Prayer, unfortunately out of print, the friars are to kneel in a circle around the altar after the celebration of Eucharist. They are to each carry a burning candle and pray for the help of the Holy Spirit. While they do this, the local minister is to encourage them to renew their profession and the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. In the name of all the friars, the local minister thanks God for the gift of being called to follow St. Francis, asks forgiveness for any sins against the Rule, repeats the vows of his solemn profession and then asks for the grace to persevere in the Rule until death.

This form as expressed in the Rituale Romano-Seraphicum in 1955 has been modified by various communities today but still contains these essential elements of renewal of vows, the importance of the Eucharist, and the emphasis on the community life. It should be noted that this renewal is intended as a devotional and has no juridical value. The renewal of vows is intended for Franciscans to recommit themselves to what they have already vowed to God that they would do.

Brothers, it has been a tradition in our Order that each year on April 16 – the day on which Francis made his profession into the hands of Pope Innocent III – we gather and renew our profession. The purpose of this renewal is to recall the origins of our Rule, to recall the devotion of Francis and his companions as they promised to follow the holy Gospel, to recall our own fervor as we begin this way of life, and to resolve to commit ourselves again to these ideals. Let us pray that with the help of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Francis, we may regain our initial fervor and re-commit ourselves to the life we have professed – from Franciscans at Prayer

#229 – A Message for the Khan

In just a few days, the Mongol armies had devastated the armies of Western Europe and all of Christendom seemed ready to fall. Pope Innocent IV placed all his hopes for peace in the hands of a sixty-five year old Franciscan.

Letter of Pope Innocent IV to the Great Khan
The Letter of Great Khan Güyük to Pope Innocent IV
The Journal of Father John de Plano Carpini

Photo is map of the journey of Father John de Plano Carpini

Be sure to check out the CUTH blog for more on the history of the Catholic Church

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podcasticon#229 – A Message for the Khan

#221 – Chess Club

While Chess did not originate in Catholic culture, the culture of Catholicism certainly influenced the game and in turn Chess influenced the way Catholics understood their faith.

Chapter 16 of the “The Way of Perfection” by St. Theresa of Avila
Gautier de Coinci on the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Chess
Treatise on the Game of Chess by Fr. Pietro Carrera
Paolo Boi and the Devil
Play a game of Carrera Chess
Jewish Story – “The Pope’s Game of Chess”

For more see “Birth of the Chess Queen: A History” by Marilyn Yalom
The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk

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podcasticon#221 – Chess Club

#215 – The Saving of Assisi

Faced with the twin threats of WWII and the Holocaust,the people of Assisi looked to their three protectors – God, Saint Francis, and German Colonel Valentin Müller. Plus, Austrian Alpine Horns.

“The Strategy That Saved Assisi” by Francesco Santucci

“Three Heroes of Assisi in World War II: Bishop Guiseppe Nicolini, Colonel Valentin Müller, Don Aldo Brunacci” edited and written by Josef Raischl SFO and André Cirino OFM

Cria-BD – Christian Comic Book blog and web site

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podcasticon#215 – The Saving of Assisi

#199 – Doctor Illuminatus


Raymond Llull, a 13th century Franciscan blessed, with influence in theology, logic, computers, and even an appearance in Marvel Comics! Plus, when priests sing with sisters.

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The Portiuncula Indulgence

Photo of a Priest Hole from the Mary in Monmouth blog

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podcasticon# 199 – Doctor Illuminatus