Franciscan Saints




7th February

Blessed Rizziero of Muccia (d. 1236)

Confessor, First Order

The feast of blessed Rizziero is observed on the 7th February by the Franciscans and the Conventuals and by the capuchins on the 14th.

On the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1220, St Francis was preaching in the Piazza Maggiore before an enormous crowd of people. One of those present, later the archdeacon of Spalato, gave his account of the event:

 

:- It seemed as though the whole town had gather together in that place. The holy preacher spoke of angels, of men, and of devils; everything he said was calculated to end the conflict existing in that city. He spoke of those intelligent beings so clearly and persistently that many learned men in the audience were in awe. He did not speak in the customary manner of preachers, but in a popular style and with only his purpose in mind. His external appearance was plain and unassuming, but his words were permeated with such supernatural force that many among the nobility, whose violent and uninhibited passions had been the cause of considerable bloodshed, were  put to rights with one another. The veneration of the people was universal and crowds of men and women pressed about him and considered themselves favoured if they could but touch the hem of his garment. -:

 That is but one account of the affairs of that day; an added result of the sermon was the calling to the Franciscan Order of two young men in the audience, who were later beatified – Rizziero and Peregrin.

 Blessed Rizziero of Muccia was born into a wealthy family in Muccia in central Italy; he studied  at the University of Bologna, but was so disturbed by the sermon of the holy Founder that he renounced everything  the world had to offer him  to become a follower of the Poor Man of Assisi. In spirit, Francis saw the great purposes God intended for the young man and said to him:

 

“You will be a priest and will preach the word of God with great success; you will serve God and your brethren in various offices of the order.” (Habig 1959)

 

When Rizziero received the holy habit it seemed the spirit of his seraphic Father had also come upon him. He was set afire with the love of God and zeal for souls, treasured holy poverty and practiced it to excess. Together with perfect virtue Blessed Rizziero of Muccia manifested extraordinary prudence, and for this reason, after a number of years of successful preaching he was appointed provincial for the March of Ancona by the holy Founder.

 

But God did not exempt Rizziero from trials. Although he was an admirable director to others, he found himself entangled in a web of temptations that caused him great sorrowfulness and confusion of mind. He prayed, fasted, and practiced severe penance, but all to no purpose. He believed that he was rejected by God that blessed Father Francis knew of this and therefore did not love him anymore or consider him his son. The thought tortured him so terribly that one day he was determined to go to Assisi so that he might discover whether it was really true.

 

Francis, who was lying seriously ill, was informed by God of the torment Rizziero was suffering and that he was coming to Assisi. He sent two of the brethren to meet him. They were to receive him in his name and greet him as one of Francis’ most beloved sons, and accompany Rizziero into his presence. The greeting bought Rizziero  great relief as he hastened to the bedside of the sick saint. Francis rose from his couch, pressed Rizziero to his bosom, assured him again of his great affection for him, and made the Sign of the Cross on his forehead.

 

At once Rizziero’s spirit was lifted, from hell up to heaven. Francis said to him: “This temptation, my son, has served very much to increase your merit; but in future you will be delivered from it.” Francis kept Blessed Rizziero of Muccia close to him until his death soon afterwards. (Habig 1959)

 

After the death of St Francis, Blessed Rizziero of Muccia outlived the holy Founder by ten years , abiding in undisturbed peace of mind and steadily increasing in virtue. He went to his eternal reward in his native town of Muccia, on 7th February  1236. Veneration of him began at once, and many sick people, especially those who suffered from fever, were restored to health through his intercession. His Cult was approved by Pope Gregory XVI on December 14th 1838.

 

Comment:

"Hearing Francis of Assisi preach, Rizziero renounced the wealthy status into which he was born and immediately fell in love with God. Nevertheless, he struggled mightily with temptations that threatened his faith in God’s boundless mercy. Francis could not free him, but did give him the reassurance he sought. We too know how a familiar temptation can return again and again to plague us. Rizziero offers loving reassurance to us."2

 

Prayer of the church

Almighty and merciful God, who didst give Blessed Rizziero,

thy confessor, the gift of healing the sick, grant, we beseech Thee,

that through his intercession we may be delivered from all evil

and may deserve to obtain the crown of glory.

Through Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth
with
Thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

 Amen

 

1. Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

2.(Comment) Foley, Leonard , O.F.M. ,author, McCloskey, Pat, O.F.M. ,ed.,(date unknown)Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast , St Anthony’s Messenger Press

3. Exact dating from Nardi, Elisabetta, (nd) Beato Rizziero della Muccia, Santi beati , Modified 12 April 2002, Accessed 3 January 2012,<web:www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/90823>


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