Nicholas of Tolentino

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Saint Nicholas of Tolentino
Nicholasoftolentino.jpg
Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Pietro Perugino, 1507, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.
Confessor
Born c. 1245
Italy
Died September 10, 1305
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Canonized June 5, 1446, Vatican by Pope Eugene IV
Feast September 10
Attributes Augustinian holding a bird on a plate in the right hand and a crucifix on the other hand; holding a basket of bread, giving bread to a sick person; holding a lily or a crucifix garlanded with lilies; with a star above him or on his breast;
Patronage animals; babies; boatmen; diocese of Cabanatuan, Philippines; dying people; Lambunao, Philippines; Guimbal, Iloilo, mariners; diocese of Mati; holy souls; Philippines; sailors; sick animals; souls in purgatory; diocese of Tandag, Philippines; watermen; patron saint of Surigao City, La Huerta, Parañaque City and Buli and Cupang in Muntinlupa City, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte a town named after St. Nicholas De Tolentino, Banton, Romblon in the Philippines

Nicholas of Tolentino (Italian: San Nicola da Tolentino, Spanish: San Nicolás de Tolentino) (c. 1246 – September 10, 1305), known as the Patron of Holy Souls, was an Italian saint and mystic.

Biography[edit]

Nicholas Gurrutti was born at Sant'Angelo in Pontano in Italy, in what was then the March of Ancona. He was the son of parents who had been childless into middle age. Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani, prayed at the shrine of Saint Nicholas of Myra for his intercession, and when Amata became pregnant they named their son after the saint.[1]

A studious, kind and gentle youth, at the age of 16 Nicholas became an Augustinian Friar and was a student of the Blessed Angelus de Scarpetti. A monk at the monasteries at Recanati and Macerata as well as others, he was ordained in 1270[2] at the age of 25, and soon became known for his preaching and teachings. Nicholas, who had had visions of angels reciting "to Tolentino", in 1274 took this as a sign to move to that city, where he lived the rest of his life. Nicholas worked to counteract the decline of morality and religion which came with the development of city life in the late thirteenth century.[3]

On account of his kind and gentle manner his superiors entrusted him with the daily feeding of the poor at the monastery gates, but at times he was so free with the friary's provisions that the procurator begged the superior to check his generosity.[1] Once, when weak after a long fast, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine who told him to eat some bread marked with cross and dipped in water. Upon doing so he was immediately stronger. He started distributing these rolls to the ailing, while praying to Mary, often curing the sufferers; this is the origin of the Augustinian custom of blessing and distributing Saint Nicholas Bread.[4]

In Tolentino, Nicholas worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by strife between the Guelphs and Ghibellines who, in the conflict for control of Italy, supported the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor respectively. He ministered to his flock, helped the poor and visited prisoners. When working wonders or healing people, he always asked those he helped to "Say nothing of this", explaining that he was just God's instrument.[1]

During his life, Nicholas is said to have received visions, including images of Purgatory, which friends ascribed to his lengthy fasts. Prayer for the souls in purgatory was the outstanding characteristic of his spirituality.[2] Because of this Nicholas was proclaimed patron of the souls in Purgatory,[4] in 1884 by Leo XIII.

Towards the end of his life he became ill, suffering greatly, but still continued the mortifications that had been part of his holy life.[5] Nicholas died on September 10, 1305.[4]

Miracles[edit]

Statue of Nicholas of Tolentino on the Charles Bridge.

There are many tales and legends that relate to Nicholas. One says that the devil once beat him with a stick, which was then displayed for years in his church. In another, Nicholas, a vegetarian, was served a roasted fowl over which he made the sign of the cross, and it flew out a window. Nine passengers on a ship going down at sea once asked Nicholas' aid and he appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit, radiating golden light, holding a lily in his left hand, and with his right hand he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint, it is said, once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames. He was also reported to have resurrected over one hundred dead children, including several who had drowned together.

According to the Peruvian chronicler Antonio de la Calancha, it was St. Nicholas of Tolentino who made possible a permanent Spanish settlement in the rigorous, high-altitude climate of Potosí, Bolivia. He reported that all children born to Spanish colonists there died in childbirth or soon thereafter, until a father dedicated his unborn child to St. Nicholas of Tolentino (whose own parents, after all, had required saintly intervention to have a child). The colonist's son, born on Christmas Eve, 1598, survived to healthy adulthood, and many later parents followed the example of naming their sons Nicolás.[6]

Veneration[edit]

San Nicolas de Tolentino in Macabebe

Nicholas was canonized by Pope Eugene IV(also an Augustinian) in 1446. He was the first Augustinian to be canonized. [2] At his canonization, Nicholas was credited with three hundred miracles, including three resurrections.[7]

The remains of St. Nicholas are preserved at the Shrine of Saint Nicholas in the Basilica di San Nicola da Tolentino in the city of Tolentino, province of Macerata in Marche, Italy.[4][2]

He is particularly invoked as an advocate for the souls in Purgatory, especially during Lent and the month of November. In many Augustinian churches, there are weekly devotions to St Nicholas on behalf of the suffering souls. November 2, All Souls' Day, holds special significance for the devotees of St. Nicholas of Tolentino.[2]

St Pius V did not include him in the Tridentine Calendar, but he was later inserted and given September 10 as his feast day. Judged to be of limited importance worldwide, his liturgical celebration was not kept in the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar,[8] but he is still recognized as one of the saints of the Roman Catholic Church.[9]

A number of churches and oratories are dedicated to him, including San Nicolò da Tolentino in Venice, San Nicola da Tolentino agli Orti Sallustiani in Rome, and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino in The Bronx, New York. In the Philippines, the 16th century Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in Banton, Romblon, was built in honor of him and his feast day is celebrated as the annual Biniray festival, commemorating the devotion of the island's Catholic inhabitants to St. Nicholas during the Muslim raids in the 16th century.

Iconography[edit]

He is depicted in the black habit of the Hermits of St. Augustine — a star above him or on his breast, a lily, or a crucifix garlanded with lilies, in his hand. Sometimes, instead of the lily, he holds a vial filled with money or bread.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bittle O.F.M.Cap., Berchman's, A Saint A Day, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1958
  2. ^ a b c d e "Devotion to St. Nicholas of Tolentine", St.Augustine's Church, Cork, Ireland
  3. ^ "Saint Nicholas of Tolentine", Province of St. Augustine
  4. ^ a b c d "Saint Nicholas of Tolentine", Augustinians of the Midwest
  5. ^ a b Garesché, Edward. "St. Nicholas of Tolentino." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 23 Mar. 2013
  6. ^ Antonio de la Calancha, Crónica moralizada del Orden de San Agustín en el Perú (Barcelona: P. Lacavalleria, 1639), 750.
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 2. By André Vauchez, Richard Barrie Dobson, Michael Lapidge. (Chicago: Fitzroy, Dearborn, 2000)
  8. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 138
  9. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)

External links[edit]