His parents, who had been childless for so many years, named him after St. Francis of Assisi, whose intercession they had sought. At the age of 16, he retired as a hermit in a cave by the sea. Attracted by his holiness, many disciples followed him and formed the first community of the Order of Minims.
That name was chosen to signify their desire to be considered the least in the Church of God. They practiced a life of extreme austerity, sleeping on the bare ground and observing the vow of perpetual abstinence from meat. The saint said to them: I earnestly admonish you, my brothers, to look after your spiritual well-being. Death is certain; life is short and vanishes like smoke.
In 1481, St. Francis of Paola went to France at the request of King Louis XI, who was slowly dying. The saint said to him: Even the lives of kings are in the hands of God, and have their appointment limits. Louis was not healed, but learned from Francis to die in peace with the Lord. His successor, Charles VIII, chose the saint as his adviser and built for him several monasteries in France and Italy. St. Francis of Paola died in 1507.