Capuchin lay brother (1804–66).
Born Giovanni Croese of farming stock in a small town in Liguria, he joined the Franciscan friary at Sestri Ponente (near Genoa), but after two years transferred to the more austere Capuchins. Professed in 1826 he worked in the infirmary, and was soon appointed questor in Genoa, where his occupation was to go from door to door begging food for the community. He overcame his initial distaste for this, persevered for ten years and became specially well known in the docks. Here he had the reputation of being able to give accurate information about people he had never seen and had gone to live abroad.
Near the end of his life he suffered from varicose veins, but in 1866 there was a fearsome outbreak of cholera at Genoa. Francis, like the other religious, went out to help the victims and their families. He offered his own life to God so that the epidemic might cease. He fell ill on 15 September and died two days later. It is said that the epidemic began to diminish immediately afterwards. He was first buried in Staglieno cemetery, where miracles were soon reported. In 1911 his remains were enshrined in the church. Francis was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1962. There is a statue of him in Genoa's port. Feast: 17 September.
Bibl. SS., v. 1205–7; B.L.S., ix. 171–2.