The diocese of Cordova, in Spain, was the birthplace of St. Francis Solano, who won many thousands of souls to God. From his earliest years he was characterized by a modest behavior, prudent silence, and edifying meekness. While still very young he was always able to effect a reconciliation between the most bitter enemies.
His education was intrusted to the Jesuit Fathers, but his desire to follow the poor and humble Jesus in perfect poverty and humility induced him to enter the Order of St. Francis. Soon he excelled every one in the house in humility, obedience, fervor in prayer, and self-denial. Sometimes he would pass the entire night on his knees before the tabernacle.
After his ordination he preached the Word of God in simple, unadorned language, but with so much fervor and heart-felt emotion, that those among his numerous audience who had been travelling on the broad road of vice abandoned it, and entered upon the narrow path of a virtuous life.
He was no less zealous in deed than in word; for when the pestilence was raging in Granada he was untiring and fearless in his service to the plague-stricken inhabitants.
In the year 1589 he sailed for South America to preach the Gospel to the Indians in Peru. . . . God protected His fearless servant, to whom He had given the gifts of eloquence and power over wild beasts. Lions, tigers, and snakes obeyed him, and the birds perched on his shoulders, singing with him the praises of God. By degrees he won the trust of the Indians, who marvelled at his kindness; they listened to his instruction, allowed him to baptize them, and followed him as grateful children follow their father.
He carried his mission everywhere — in the public streets, into the shameless theatres and gambling-dens, where, cross in hand, he frightened the evil-doers by the might of his words.
He wrought many miracles on the sick and sorrowful, but was in himself the greatest miracle of all. Ever busy, humble, joyful, and never uttering a single useless word, in his leisure time he composed songs to the Christ-child and His blessed Mother, and sung them, to the accompaniment of his violin, so sweetly that his hearers were enraptured.
His love of his neighbor was unbounded. He never thought evil of any one, and put a good construction on every action, even when persecuted.
His last words were, “God be praised!” after uttering which his soul departed this earth on July 14, 1610.
Text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).