The little German boy named after St. Francis Xavier was born in January of 1819. One day, when he was still small, his mother asked him what he would be when he grew up. Little Francis replied by pointing to a picture of his patron saint and declaring, “I shall be another St. Francis Xavier!”
Francis loved his faith very much and wished to act upon it. Inspired by tales of the work done by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) in America, he joined the Congregation when he was twenty-three.
He made the long and arduous trip to America during the winter.
There, he worked for nine years at St. Philomena Parish in Pennsylvania. For six of those years, Francis was assistant to St. John Neumann.
In the 1860s, Blessed Francis traveled extensively as an itinerant missionary, covering about ten states in total.
In 1866, the Congregation assigned him to New Orleans. It was right around this time that yellow fever broke out in the city. Fr. Seelos worked tirelessly, administering to those suffering from the sickness.
Then he, too, became ill and, after several weeks of meek suffering, entered heaven on October 4th, 1867.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos seemed on the outside to lead an “ordinary” life, but he was known for his cheerfulness and humility. Like him, many holy American men and women are quietly moving toward sainthood due to the selflessness, joy, and humility with which they lived their “ordinary” lives. You can learn about some of these saints in Michael O’Neill’s inspiring book They Might Be Saints: On the Path to Sainthood in America. Discover 24 holy Catholics of our country, such as Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, Blessed Michael McGivney, and Fr. Patrick Peyton. Available today at The Catholic Company!