Charles of Sezze
|Saint Charles of Sezze, O.F.M.|
|Religious and confessor|
October 19, 1613|
Sezze, Province of Rome, Papal States
|Died||January 6, 1670
Rome, Papal States
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
(Order of Friars Minor)
|Beatified||1882, Rome, Italy, by Pope Leo XIII|
|Canonized||12 April 1959, Vatican City, by Pope John XXIII|
|Major shrine||Church of San Francesco a Ripa, Rome, Italy|
Charles was born in the town of Sezze, now in the Province of Latina. As a youth, he felt a desire to serve as a missionary in India. Later inspired by the lives of Saints Pascal Baylon and Salvador of Horta, two holy Franciscan lay brothers, he decided to enter the Franciscan Order, to which he was admitted in 1635. He later recounted that he did so out of a desire to live a poor life and to beg alms "for the love of Christ".
In the Order, Charles lived the life of a lay brother, never requesting ordination to the priesthood. He worked at a range of jobs in various friaries in Italy: cook, porter, sacristan, gardener and beggar. He was not qualified in all of them, as he became notorious for setting the kitchen of one house on fire.
One story of his life is taken to show his remarkable fidelity to the Franciscan ideal of poverty. At one point, the Guardian of a friary ordered Charles, who was the porter, to give food only to traveling friars who came to the door. Charles obeyed and immediately alms to the friars decreased. Charles persuaded the Guardian that the two facts were related. When the friars resumed giving help to all who sought assistance at their door, alms to the friars increased.
Though he was not a priest, Charles was instructed to write the story of his life by his confessor. The result was The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God which was widely read. He went on to write several other books on the mystical life. Though he kept himself under the guidance of a spiritual director, he himself, though not a priest, was often sought for spiritual advice. Pope Clement IX summoned him to his deathbed for comfort and a blessing.
- Donald Attwater and Catherine Rachel John (1995). The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 3rd Edition. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
- Raphael Brown (1960). The Wounded Heart: St. Charles of Sezze. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press. OCLC 3247159.
- St. Charles of Sezze (1963). St. Charles of Sezze: an autobiography, Leonard Perotti (trans). London: Burns & Oates. OCLC 221056796.