St. Francisco Coll Guitart
One of ten children. His father, Peter, died when Francis was only four. Confirmed in 1818 at age six. Entered the seminary at Vichy, France in 1822 at age ten. Student with Saint Anthony Mary Claret. Even as a kid he taught grammar and catechism to local children. Francisco joined the Dominicans at Vichy in 1830 at age eighteen. When monastic orders were suppressed by the government, Francis continued to study covertly. Ordained on 28 March 1836 at Vichy.
Parish priest of Arles, France. Re-assigned to Moya in 1839, an area devastated by war, awash with starving refugees. He established charitable organizations to feed and house them, and he worked with the poor and displaced for ten years. Helped Saint Anthony Claret found the Apostolic Fraternity in 1846. Director of the tertiaries in Vichy. In 1850 he re-opened the suppressed Dominican monastery, and began a program of preaching throughout the Catalan region. Worked with cholera victims during the epidemic that struck in 1854.
Founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (La Annunciata) in 1856, a teaching branch of tertiaries; by his death the order had grown to fifty houses, and today there are over 140 in Europe and America. Struck blind during a homily given at Sallent on 2 December 1869; his health was never the same, but he refused to retire. When the Dominicans were allowed to officially return to the region in 1872, they found that Francis has somehow maintained the primary structures, physical and administrative, and instead of starting all over, they reclaimed what was theirs, and took up their work where they had left off.