The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI) is a Roman Catholic Institute of Religious Life with Pontifical Right established by Pope John Paul II on 1 January 1998. The FFI was founded by two Franciscan Conventual priests and is a reformed Franciscan Conventual Religious Institute living the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi, the Regula Bullata, according to the Traccia Mariana. The FFI is the male branch of the Franciscan family of the Immaculate. The female branch are the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. And the last branch of the family is the Franciscan Tertiaries of the Immaculate composed mainly of lay people. An offshoot of the Tertiaries are the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.
Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli was born in the city of Fiume/Rijeka on May 1, 1933. He is the sixth of twenty-one children born to the Servants of God Settimio Manelli and Licia Gualandris, whose causes of beatification are now pending in Rome. At an early age, he moved together with his family to the area surrounding San Giovanni Rotondo, where the celebrated Capuchin priest, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, lived. It is impossible to speak of Fr. Stefano’s youth without mentioning the decisive role played by the Saint, who became his confessor, catechist and spiritual director. Little Stefano received his First Holy Communion from the stigmatized hand of Padre Pio in 1938, and in the succeeding years he served the priest’s Mass hundreds of times. Following Padre Pio’s counsel, he entered the Minor Seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at Copertino on December 8, 1945, at the age of twelve.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe (8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941), was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland. He was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century". In Italian he is known as "San Massimiliano Maria Kolbe"; his given name in Polish is "Maksymilian", in French, "Maximilien". READ MORE