Irving Houle, the man who was simply known as “Francis” was given the stigmata on Good Friday, 1993 at the age of 67. On January 3rd 2009 he was called home by Our Heavenly Father. His Mission was to suffer each night with the Passion of Jesus for the conversion of sinners and to touch souls for healing. It has been estimated that “Francis” had prayed individually over a 100,000 people. The Bishop of the diocese where Francis lived had met with him and monitored the work of Francis.
Francis never sought publicity or solicited or accepted any type of financial donations or financial support. He informed people that all healing comes from God and they should not look to him but to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
From SpiritDaily.com an excerpt about Irving Francis Houle. In the 1990s, we had lunch with a man named Irving "Francis" Houle from Escanaba, Michigan, who died last January. Careful to remain out of the limelight, his stigmata, as explained by Father Robert Fox, of Fatima Family Apostolate, began on Good Friday in 1993. The following June 6, his brother Reynold was to witness it.
"At 12:45 a.m., Francis called and said to me, 'Reyn, do you want to come in and put your hands on my head? You may receive some special graces. I think I am getting the crowning with thorns." When his brother entered the spare room where Francis was staying, the stigmagtic was "out of it" -- not even aware he was there. "The suffering I witnessed started with his head pains, then the pain went to his feet. His feet were moving all over in great pain as if he were being crucified. Then the pain went to his hands. His movements were very slow and he would holler and make mournful sounds.
"After the foot movement stopped, Francis slowly moved his right hand up and stretched it out, as if someone were guiding his hand to prepare it for the first nailing. "Then I noticed a lot of finger movements. It looked and sounded like he was being nailed to the Cross. He was moaning in quick agonizing moans. I could tell he was in terrible pain... "He was in great agony. Even though I could see that his hands had been nailed down in the suffering, he kept moving his fingers over and over, as in agony and moaning real loud sounds."When his left hand moved off his chest very slowly, it went right past me while I was kneeling near his bed and I thought at first he was reaching for my rosary that was lying there. But all the while it was his left hand stretching out to be nailed.
"Now I don't mean that I myself heard sounds of hammers pounding in big nails. No. But from Francis would come the irregular groans or shouts of pain like in the rhythm of nails being driven into his hands. [It was] like at each pound he would holler in pain. It was so loud, if I had the windows open I'm sure the neighbors would have heard and wondered." This comes from Father Fox's book, A Man Called Francis.
And so we see the snippet of one reputed stigmata. The suffering often took place between midnight and three a.m. -- when, Francis said, many great sins were committed. We can meditate on that. For years after, Francis traveled around Michigan and Wisconsin, praying over the sick and winning the applause of the Marquette diocese -- which upon his death carried a lengthy article about him (rare in diocesan newspapers). One Marquette bishop, Most Reverend James H. Garland, said that he could "find no fault with the activity that he is exercising" and that "it seems to be helpful to many people." His successor, Bishop Alexander Sample, agreed.
Why stigmata? Why would the Lord have others share His agony?
Perhaps -- just perhaps -- Irving Houle was given the crucial insight. "All hurts, persecution, betrayals and pain are the Passion," the Lord allegedly explained to him. "You will continue to suffer. This is all for conversions; many, many will be saved."