April 2 – St. Francis of Paola and the Bartlett Pear

March 31, 2014

The Bartlett pear is called “The Good Christian” in France, after St. Francis of Paola introduced it

Pears‘poire bon chretien’ (good Christian pear)

“Said to have originated in Calabria in southern Italy, Bartletts probably were introduced to France by St. Francis of Paola. St. Francis brought a young tree as a gift for King Louis XI of France, who had summoned him in the hope that the saint would miraculously cure the king’s many illnesses. When the king died in 1483, St. Francis returned to Italy, but he left behind the legacy of his pear tree, called by the French the ‘poire bon chretien’ (good Christian pear).”

Nick Malgieri is the author of “Perfect Cakes” and “A Baker’s Tour” (HarperCollins) and “Perfect Light Desserts” (Morrow).



April 2, Feast day of the man feared by kings who sought his advice

The feast of St. Francis of Paula is kept by the universal Church on 2 April, the day on which he died. He had an extraordinary gift of prophecy: thus he foretold the capture of Otranto by the Turks in 1480, and its subsequent recovery by the King of Naples. Also he was gifted with discernment of consciences. He was no respecter of persons of whatever rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered much persecution.


When Louis XI was in his last illness he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come nor could he be prevailed upon until the pope ordered him to go. He then went to the king at Plessis-les-Tours and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis’s successor, much admired the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for Minims at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the throne in 1498. Francis was now anxious to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction.

St. Francis of Paola blessing the son of Louisa of Savoy

St. Francis of Paola blessing the son of Louisa of Savoy

The last three mouths of his life he spent in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Maundy Thursday he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a vicar-general. He then received the last sacraments and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, his soul passed away. Leo X canonized him in 1019. In 1562 the Huguenots broke open his tomb and found his body incorrupt. They dragged it forth and burnt it, but some of the bones were preserved by the Catholics and enshrined in various churches of his order.

The Order of Minims does not seem at any time to have been very extensive, but they had houses in many countries. The definitive rule was approved in 1506 by Julius II, who also approved a rule for the nuns of the order.

FATHER CUTHBERT (Catholic Encyclopedia)



Louis XI, king of France, had sent for Saint Francois de Paule from the lower part of Calabria, in the hopes of recovering his health through his intercession. The saint brought with him the seeds of this pear; and, as he was called at court Le Bon Chretien, this fruit obtained the name of him to whom France owed its introduction.



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