Franciscan Saints


 

 

 

16th September

 

 

Blessed Thomas of Foligno

 

 

Confessor, Third Order, Anchorite

 

Feast day 12 February

 

Thomas was a Tertiary hermit in the diocese of Nocera, Italy. He lived for twenty-four years with Blessed Peter of Gualdo another holy hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, and when this hermit died in his arms, he began to lead a still more rigorous life. He chose a very narrow cell for himself, the door of which was walled up. There was a small window in it through which devout persons brought him food on Sundays and Thursdays. The remaining days of the week he ate nothing at all.

 

He lived in close union with God. The devil, quite naturally annoyed him with severe temptations, but Thomas manfully overcame them all. It was the earnest wish of Blessed Thomas to spend the remaining days of his life in his cell and to die in it, but God had other plans in mind for him. Some one registered a complaint with the bishop that Thomas was an odd character and had no regard for the precepts of the Church or for obedience to the spiritual authorities. The bishop, therefore, sent for him. At once the servant of God left his enclosure and went to his spiritual superior.

 

When the bishop recounted the complaints that had been lodged with him, Thomas cast himself upon his knees but said nothing. Not until the bishop urged him to speak, did he state that he had the permission of the pastor of the place, who also administered the sacraments to him. The pastor was summoned confirmed the statements of the servant of God, and highly praised the sanctity of Thomas. The bishop then dismissed him with his good wishes and his blessing.  

 

But when Thomas again came to the entrance of his enclosure an angel appeared to him — it is believed that it was really our  Lord in the form of an angel—and charged him to go to Umbria the March of Ancona, and Tuscany. The people there had rebelled against the authority of the pope and no longer observed the precepts of the Church. Thomas was to preach to them,  and exhort them to practice obedience to spiritual authority such as  he had just practiced so admirably.

 

At first Thomas hesitated; feeling that he was unfit for this task but he began timidly to exhort the people, and our Lord Himself  placed the words upon his tongue. Many persons ridiculed and mocked him; but he gradually took courage, and warned  them of the judgments to come, urging them to do penance.   A reform soon set in among the people; they heeded his admonitions. God confirmed his words by miracles, and many thousands returned to the allegiance they owed the Church.

 

Thomas then returned to his hermitage at Foligno, and died there on September 15, 1377. His feast is annually celebrated in the church of St. Augustine at Foligno, where his body has been laid to rest. Although the title of Blessed is given to him in popular devotion, this cult has not been officially approved by the Holy See. (Cf. These Made Peace, pp. 127-128.)

 

 

 

 

Prayer of the Church

 

O God, who hast united the several nations of the Gentiles in

the confession of Thy name, give us both the will and the power

to obey what Thou commandest; that Thy people, called to

eternity, may have one faith in their minds, and show one

devotion in their actions

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

 

 

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

Hallack, Cecily and Peter, F., Anson, 1957 ed., Habig, Marion, A., OFM, These Made Peace: Studies in the Lives of the Beatified and Canonized Members of the Third Order of St Francis of Assisi, Burns and Oates, London and St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, NJ. pp. 127-128

 

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