When St. Francis established the Franciscans, one of their primary missions was to go out and preach the love of Our Lord throughout the world. St. Francis himself practiced what he preached and journeyed to Egypt to convert the Muslims. By the time of his repose, the Franciscans had spread out to France, England, Germany, Spain, and beyond. But what is more extraordinary than this is that the Franciscans were able to go beyond Africa and Asia Minor to China. It is with this connection in mind that we examine the story of Blessed Oderic di Perdone.
Blessed Oderic was born in 1286 and entered a Franciscan friary in Udine. In 1318, Oderic was sent on a mission that took him some ten years to accomplish. During the course of his journey, Oderic managed to visit the relics of the Apostle Thomas in Maylapur and finally made it to the Chinese city of Beijing, where he stayed for some three years before returning home by way of Sumatra and Indonesia.
Blessed Oderic eventually wrote down an account of his travels in the Middle East and Asia, which were widely disseminated throughout Europe. Oderic’s travels are among the first that speak of foot binding in China, cannibalism in Sumatra, and the growth of extremely long finger nails among the Chinese.
Following his return, Blessed Oderic continued to preach missions throughout Italy. He died on January 14, 1331 and was buried in Udine. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1775. His feast day is kept on the day of his death among the Friars Minor.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Blessed Oderic, pray for us!