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Papa Francis The First | His Holiness Papa Francisco

Pope Francis & St. Francis...

If you’re a longtime subscriber to St. Anthony Messenger, you’ll know that, every once in a while, we introduce a new, regular column into this magazine. Sure, we’ve got our permanent, very popular columns (departments), such as “Followers of St. Francis,” “Ask a Franciscan,” “Reel Time,” “Channel Surfing,” and more. But the editors here know that our readers like to mix it up. Sometimes it’s just a desire for variety, and we’re happy to provide it. Other times there’s some celebration or observance among Catholics worldwide. Then there is Pope Francis.

No one seems to get enough of this guy! Google News has resorted to collecting a page of news stories a few times a day rather than barraging subscribers with notice after notice. Of course, we editors started publishing regular feature articles about Pope Francis. He’s doing so many things that are challenging us to live and enjoy our faith more deeply!

francis and birdsAs the “Francis effect” persisted, we decided to initiate a regular column, “The Spirit of Francis,” that launches in this issue. It took us a few months to develop our approach and to recruit authors whom we are confident will have something new, insightful, and masterfully written to share. We chose to play our strongest hand: helping people understand how the spirit of St. Francis inspires the spirit of Pope Francis.

So we looked for socially engaged experts on our beloved St. Francis. We settled on a team of two friars (Pat McCloskey, OFM, and Murray Bodo, OFM), a Franciscan sister (Joanne Schatzlein, OSF), and a laywoman (Gina Loehr). Pat you’ll know from our own pages; Murray is a prolific author and poet (Francis: The Journey and the Dream is his most well-known), Joanne lectures worldwide on St. Francis, and Gina wrote the book Saint Francis, Pope Francis (Servant Books). Murray and Joanne regularly lead pilgrimages to Assisi.

I think it’s going to be a great column! I hope you agree.

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Featured image: CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."