In Angela's Ashes, why does Frank pray to St. Francis?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This part of this incredible autobiography occurs in Chapter Seventeen, when the narrator becomes burdened by his many sins which have reached their climax after he hit his mother because of her relations with her cousin, Laman Griffin, with whom they live. He feels he is a complete sinner and has no hope of salvation so he goes to the church in tears and feeling that St. Francis is no help. Clearly one of the reasons why he feels a special connection with St. Francis is the way that they share the same name. However, also let us remember that it is the priest that encourages to confess his "sins" to St. Francis rather than to confess his sins in a formal confession. Thus it is that Frank tells St. Francis about what is oppressing him so and is able to unburden himself of all his guilt:

I talk to St. Francis and tell him about Margaret, Oliver, Eugene, my father singing Roddy McCorley and bringing home no money, my father sending no money from England, Theresa nad the green sofa, my terrible sins on Carrigogunnell, why couldn't they hang Hermann Goering for what he did to the little children with shoes scattered around concentration camps, the Christian Brother who closed the door in my face, the time they wouldn't let me be an altar boy, my small brother Michael walking up the lane with the broken shoe clacking, my bad eyes that I'm ashamed of, the Jesuit brother who closed the door in my face, the tears in Mam's eyes when I slappped her.

It is interesting that this moment in the play is actually able to give Frank some measure of relief, as he receives absolution and is encouraged to believe that Theresa is actually in heaven and that she is happy "with the cough gone." Thus Frank prays to St. Francis both because he has this saint's name and also because he is urged to by the priest.

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