January 10, 2019

⛪ Blessed Giles of Laurenzana

⛪ Saint of the Day : January 10

⛪ Other Names :
• Giles di Bello • Bernardin •  Bernardino, Egidio •  Egidius

⛪ Memorial : 10 January

⛪ Born :
• 1443 in Laurenzana,  Italy as Bernardin de Bello

⛪ Died :
• 10 January 1518 in Laurenzana,  Italy

⛪ Patronage : Laurenzana, Italy

Blessed Giles was born at Laurenzana, a town in the kingdom of Naples, in 1443. He received in Baptism the name of Bernardine. His parents were of humble station in life, but they were highly esteemed by their fellow citizens, on account of their noble qualities and virtuous lives. They brought up their child in the fear and love of God, and their careful training was amply rewarded. Bernardine, already in his childhood, gave unmistakable signs that he would one day be a great saint. His favorite pastimes were acts of piety and the reading of the lives of the saints. At the age of ten, he was wont to visit the convent church of the Friars Minor, and there he would remain for hours rapt in prayer, enjoying the spiritual consolations reserved for pure and contemplative souls. He was sometimes found raised from the ground, his face shining with a heavenly light. He also performed many acts of self- denial and mortification, and in his desire to serve God as perfectly as possible, he strove to imitate the life of the friars, following the Rule of St. Francis as far as circumstances allowed. 

Feeling that he was called to a life of recollection and prayer, Bernardine, to avoid the distractions and dangers of the world, retired to a lonely spot not far from 

 Laurenzana. Here he divided his time between prayer and manual labor. God rewarded the fervor with which he exercised himself in every virtue by raising him to a sublime degree of contemplation and by granting him the gift of miracles. The fame of the virtues and miracles of the holy hermit spread among the people of the neighborhood, and many came to ask his prayers and to witness the wonderful favors which he had received from God. 

The humility of the young man took alarm at these marks of veneration. He, therefore, left his beloved solitude, and the more complete- ly to conceal the gifts of God be- neath a commonplace exterior, he entered the service of a farmer who lived near the Franciscan convent at Laurenzana. But here again he was visited with supernatural favors. Though he spent more than half the day in the convent church, his work in the fields was always as much advanced as if he had never quitted his post. His master, who was himself an eyewitness of this prodigy, at length released him from his engagement and left him free to carry out his resolve, inspired by God, of consecrating himself to the divine service in the Order of St. Francis. Bernardine at once betook himself to the convent at Laurenza- na, and there, at his humble.request,  he was clothed with the habit of the Order and was given the name of Giles. 

The servant of God now applied himself with renewed zeal to the practice of virtue, and with rapid strides he advanced on the path of perfection. While he performed, with great care and diligence, the duties of gardener imposed on him by holy obedience, his mind and heart were constantly occupied with the thought of God and of heavenly things. His superiors, noticing his ardent love of retirement and prayer, and persuaded that he was guided by the spirit of God, allowed him to retire to a little hut which he had built in the garden, that he might give himself up more freely to penance and contemplation. In this solitude, his life was one continuous communion with God. He spent many hours in prayer, during which he knelt immovable and entirely oblivious of his surroundings. Very often he was seen rapt in ecstasy. To continuous prayer he joined prolonged fasts, fatiguing labors, and other austerities; and thus he gained the complete mastery over the inordinate inclinations of nature. God continued to bestow on him extraordinary supernatural favors. He granted him a deep in- sight into the mysteries of faith, the gift of reading the secrets of the heart, and the gift of prophecy. The fame of the humble Brother's holy life and of his power with God spread beyond the walls of the con- vent, and the people came in great numbers to recommend themselves to his prayers and to find relief in  their afflictions. Though he sought to remain hidden and unknown to men, the charity of his heart made him ever ready to leave his beloved solitude to come to the assistance of his needy and suffering fellow men. He provided for the wants of the poor, and by his prayers frequently obtained relief and complete restoration to health for the sick. All who were troubled with anxieties and temptation found in him a sympathizing friend and an enlightened counselor. His burning words dispelled their sadness, removed their doubts, and filled them with new hope and confidence. Sinners, too, came, under his influence, and of these, many were led, by his prayers and earnest exhortations, to abandon their evil ways and to em- brace a life of virtue and perfection. 

Because the soul of Bl. Giles was acceptable to God, he, like all the saints, was severely tried by temptation. Throughout his life, he was subject to terrible assaults of the evil spirit. God, in his hidden designs, even permitted Satan to torment his faithful servant bodily and to inflict on him cruel blows and wounds. But these spiritual com- bats only served to purify him from all imperfections and to unite him more intimately with the object of his love. 

At length the time arrived when Bl. Giles was to receive the eternal reward in heaven for his faithful service here below. He passed away in the convent at Laurenzana, on January 10, 1518, At his death, the bells of the church began to ring of their own accord, and the people came in great numbers to show their had been buried in a moist place, veneration for the servant of God. ; This increased the devotion of the people, and the town of Laurenzana 

Six years after his death, his body was found incorrupt ;Pope Leo  XIII declared him Blessed, in 1880. 

Source : Franciscan herald (1913 - 1940)

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