St. Ignatius of Laconi

MAY 11

                                                                       (1701-1781)

“Saint Ignatius was born in 1701, the son of peasants at Laconi, Sardinia. As a young man he vowed, during a serious illness, that if he recovered his health, he would consecrate his life to God in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He regained his health, but kept putting off the fulfillment of his vow from day to day. There is some indication that his parents raised objections to his entering the Franciscans. Some time later his life was again threatened when a horse he was riding shied. Ignatius called upon the assistance of Saint Francis of Assisi and renewed the vow he had previously made. This time his parents did not raise objections to his becoming a Franciscan.

“He asked for admission at the Capuchin convent at Cagliari, but the superiors hesitated at first because of his delicate health. Ignatius then looked up an influential friend who interceded for him, and he was received into the novitiate. Despite his physical infirmities, his ardor allowed him to attend the spiritual exercises of the community and excel in perfection of his observance of the Rule of Life of Saint Francis.

“After being employed in the community for several years at various occupations, he was appointed quester of alms because of his edifying conduct. He had good relations with the citizens of Cagliari, who realized that although Brother Ignatius was begging alms, he was also giving back to them in a spiritual manner. His modest demeanor was seen as a quiet sermon for all who saw him going about. He seldom spoke; but when charity required it, he spoke with exceptional kindness. He would also instruct the children and the uneducated, comfort the sick, and urge sinners to be converted and to do penance.

“Ignatius was known for punctually obeying his superiors, even when it required the denial of his own will. He was accustomed to pass by the house of an usurer, because he feared that in accepting an alms from him he would share the guilt of this man’s injustices. But when the man complained and the superior commanded, Ignatius accepted alms from the man. On returning to the friary, St. Ignatius opened the sack offered by the usurer and blood flowed out. To those around him the saint said, “This is the blood of the poor squeezed from them by usury.”

Ignatius’ sister had often written to him asking him to pay her a visit, so she could get his advice in certain matters. Ignatius had no mind to heed her request, but when his superior ordered him to do so, he at once undertook the journey. But he left again as soon as he had given the required advice.

“When his brother was sent to prison, it was hoped that, in view of the reputation of Brother Ignatius, the latter could obtain his brother’s release. His superior sent him to speak to the governor, but he asked merely that his brother be dealt with according to justice. Not for anything in the world would Brother Ignatius have kept anyone from doing his duty.

“Despite his infirmity, Ignatius persevered in his work until he was 80 years old. Even after he became blind, he continued to make his daily rounds for two years. The veneration of the people increased, and many sick persons accounted miraculously healings that were aided by him.

He died on May 11, 1781, and many miracles were said to have occurred at his grave. Brother Ignatius was beatified in 1940, and canonized in 1951.”





Additional Information
The official summarium of the Positio super virtubtibus (1868) lists 121 pages of miracles performed during the lifetime of St. Ignatius and 86 attributed to him after his death.

As a boy, Ignatius called the church “my home.” He went there early in the morning before the doors opened and knelt down at the entrance. The people of Laconi called him “the little saint.”

Initially, Ignatius was denied admission to the Capuchins because the provincial felt that the young man’s frail constitution made him unfit to endure the austere life and hard labors of a Capuchin brother.

Br. Damian of Neonelli said of Ignatius time in the novitiate that he, “…lived it with intense fervor and devotion. He observed with the greatest care even the most minute prescriptions of the Rule, whether they were obligatory or only counsels. He surpassed all the other novices in recollection, silence, obedience, reception of the sacraments, and the spirit of devotion. Everyone looked upon him as a saint, the more so when they found him at night, after midnight office, kneeling before the image of the Madonna and talking to her in soft and tender tones.”

A witness to his cause testified: “I saw with my own eyes how the servant of God went about with downcast eyes. He always held his rosary in his hand. The children ran to him, and he gave them pieces of bread. When the people saw him passing by, they showed him the greatest respect. If some of them were quarreling, they kept silence at his approach.”

Ignatius often talked about the great love we should have for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He took as his model Lawrence of Brindisi who was a veritable furnace of divine love, “not cold, like himself.”

In the official process it states of Ignatius: “He taught little children the catechism and asked them to pray for the exaltation of the Church and the spread of the Christian faith. Whenever he stayed at homes in the course of his questing, he spoke of the mysteries of the faith, the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Incarnation. He frequently expressed an intense desire to see the whole world become Catholic.” 

When he was insulted, he was glad that at least somebody knew him for what he was. “At long last,” he would say, “one person in Cagliari knows me and calls me what I really am.” When others applauded his miracles, he said, “Be quiet, this is the Lord’s work.”

Regarding his humble austerity, his cell had a “poor little cot of bare boards with a rock for a pillow,” and his worn and threadbare habit was, “of coarse Sardinian wool which, with the permission of his superior, he wished to wear until death, even though the province had introduced a habit of finer material.”

In a circular letter, Ignatius’ Capuchin superior painted an accurate picture of the humble lay brother only seventeen days following his death: “This most exemplary religious wore our holy habit from the twentieth year of his life; he always led a life of ceaseless mortification and won the esteem of all who had the good fortune to meet him and speak with him… I feel it hardly necessary to call attention to his scrupulous religious observance. He was always the first in choir, not only in his younger days but even as an octogenarian. He did not allow his advanced age to excuse him from standing, as was his custom, several hours of the night in church in continuous contemplation. His was a prompt and unquestioning obedience. It was enough for him to know the mind of his superiors for him to carry out their will, whatever it might be. Everyone loved him… He always kept his gaze fixed on eternity, the strict account he would have to render at the moment of his death, and the vanity of this passing world. He knew how to combine incredible fasting, privation of sleep, and continual mortification with common observance.”

Pope Pius XII canonized St. Ignatius of Laconi on October 21, 1945 and called him: “A hero of sanctity, of humble birth, who lived his life in lowly conditions… Long and difficult tasks seemed easy to him; easy, too, was the obedience he gave to his superiors. For him even the most painful corporal sufferings were light and sweet, all because he accepted whatever happened to him, whether agreeable or disagreeable, with complete resignation. He relied entirely on the will of God. That was the source of his strength.” 

- Source: Mariano D’Altari, O.F.M.Cap., ed., The Capuchin Way: Lives of Capuchins (Victoria: North American Capuchin Conference, 1993), 117-133.


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