Thomas was born in Florence; his father was a butcher whose name was Bellaci. His parents raised Thomas to honour God; but once grown to young adulthood, he strayed from the straight and narrow by keeping bad company. Matters came to a head when parents warned their sons to have nothing to do with Thomas Bellaci, and it was a disgrace to be found in his company. A rich man in town became his patron him and enticed him into more serious trouble. There came a day when a serious crime was committed in Florence, and Thomas was accused of it. Although this time he was really guiltless, his reputation put him in danger of being condemned to severe punishment.
In desperation he appealed to his patron, only to learn the worthlessness of such friendship. Thomas was not welcome at the home of his patron. Calling again, he was told plainly that such a disreputable a person as he should never again venture to approach. Crushed at the turn of events, Thomas paced the streets until he met a pious priest who had succeeded in bringing more than one such young man to his senses. At first Thomas rebuffed the priest, but when the priest continued to show him much sympathy, Thomas opened up his heart and told his story. The priest reassured him, and invited him to his home, saying that he would do everything in his power for him. In fact he had Tomas declared innocent of the crime imputed to him.
Thomas now resolved to make amends for his previous life under the direction of his rescuer. He broke off his former associations and joined a pious society of which the priest was director. Instead of wandering about the streets and taverns, he was now seen busy at his work and visiting churches; instead of indulging in games and riotous pleasures, he now devoted himself to prayer and works of penance. The more Blessed Thomas of Florence was filled with the grace of God, the more he longed to leave the world and to give himself to a life of penance.
The Friars Minor had recently built a convent that was renowned for the saintly lives of its members near Fiesole where Thomas asked to be admitted as a lay brother. His application was carefully considered and granted. The penance Thomas did in the convent proved the sincerity of his conversion. By various types of self-mortification, he became a model friar. His clothing consisted of the cast-off clothes of his brethren. He performed the humblest tasks with the most perfect obedience.
Brother Thomas �s sincere conversion was rewarded by God with extraordinary graces. At prayer he was often gript in ecstasy, so that his body was often seen raised on high. He was blessed with remarkable spiritual gifts so that, although he was a lay brother, he was appointed master of novices. He trained many holy men who in time became glories of the order.
In time Pope Martin V delegated Thomas the task of preaching against the Fraticelli a branch of heretical Franciscans whose complete elimination is attributed to him and his fellow Friars Minor. Thomas also founded many convents in southern Italy and elsewhere. Pope Eugene IV finally sent him with other Franciscans to the Orient to encourage the reunion of the Eastern with the Western Church. There Blessed Thomas of Florence encountered great hardships, hunger, and cruel imprisonment; and he had hopes of winning the martyr�s crown. However, he was released when the pope sent a large sum of money on his ransom.
Returning to Italy, Thomas intended to request to be sent back to the Orient. But Blessed Thomas of Florence died on the journey to Rome, in the convent of Rieti, on October 31, 1447. Because of the many miracles which were wrought through his intercession, his veneration increased steadily; and Pope Clement XIV beatified him. The Franciscans observe his feast on October 25th and the Capuchins on the 31st.
Prayer of the church
O, God, who in Thy marvellous kindness dost make just men out
of sinners, and vessels of election out of vessels of wrath,
mercifully grant that, at the intercession of Blessed Thomas,
Thy confessor, we may be redeemed from the slavery of sin
and ever enjoy the freedom of Thy children.
Through the same 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. Foley, Leonard, OFM, 2003, ed., revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., Saint of the Day Lives Lessons and Feasts, 5th edition, Saint Anthony Messenger Press, AmericanCatholkic.org,USA
Last edited 13/09/2017 07:17
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