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The vision embraced by the community of learners that became Saint Francis College originated over 800 years ago in the person and the dream of the Poverello, Francis of Assisi, who delighted in calling himself the Troubadour, the story teller, of the Great King.
Francis' life was, in every way, a proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for "he preached Christ's Gospel as a spokesman from God himself" (Bonaventure, Major Life: 12). In an age of materialism and opulence, Francis urged his followers to divest themselves of all things material. In an age of class elitism and exclusion, he embraced the disenfranchised and called all of creation brother and sister. In an age of ever increasing tension and conflict, his constant greeting was "Pax et Bonum," peace and goodness. In an age which mandated a rigid conformity and uniformity, he valued the individuality of Brother Bernard's faith and Brother Lucidus' caution, Brother Masseo's eloquence and Brother Leo's simplicity. In an age of neglect and despair, he urged all to rebuild hope.
Among the followers of Saint Francis was a group of six brothers from the Archdiocese of Tuam in Ireland, who requested permission from the bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese, to bring their dream, rooted in Francis' vision, to fruition in the Americas. Arriving in this country in 1847, they were eventually to establish a house of their order "near the town of Loretto," thereby fulfilling the dream of Demetrius Gallitzin, recorded in a letter to Archbishop Marechal almost twenty-five years earlier, that "...a college, seminary, and all that is required for an episcopal establishment' one day be built on the land where Saint Francis University now stands.
Like Francis, who had himself left the comfort and security of his family’s home and station, traveling “on a missionary journey…, sowing everywhere the seed of salvation and reaping an abundant harvest” (Bonaventure, Major Life: 6), the founding brothers left family and country to forge a new community of faith and prayer in Loretto.
*All content adapted from Stewards of the Vision
Saint Francis University117 Evergreen DriveP.O. Box 600Loretto, PA 15940