Saint Theophilus of Corte

Saint Theophilus of Corte
(Saint Theophile de Corte)

Feast Day – May 16

Saint Theophilus was born at Corte in Corsica in 1676, of a rich and noble family. As a youth he entered the Order of Friars Minor and received the name of Theophilus, which proved to be very appropriate for him. He was a delicate youth and disinclined to amusements of the young. He loved silence, solitude and prayer, and by his good example exhorted his companions to exercises of piety, and in genera gave evidence of his future sanctity.

When he donned the coarse garb of the Franciscan Order, he appeared already to have acquired an appreciable degree of Christian and religious perfection. The highest hopes were placed in his piety and talent, nor were the results in any way disappointing; by the grace of God, he far surpassed the expectations of his superiors. He pronounced his vows and went to Rome to pursue the study of philosophy, in which he won great distinction. When he entered upon his theological studies at Naples, he was especially ingenious in doing works of piety to his studies, and there was discernible in him a rare blending of virtue and learning.

He had long admired the austere life which obtained in the retreat house at Civitella near Subiaco, and so, after his ordination to the priesthood, he begged his superiors for permission to repair to that convent, in order to join his brethren in their practices of austerity and in prayer. Aglow with zeal for the honor of God, he undertook to establish or restore in the convents of his order the life of austerity which he himself had courageously embraced. Later he was sent to Corsica and to Tuscany, where he founded the retreat houses of Zuani and Fucecchio.

Saint Theophilus of Corte was pleasant of countenance and possessed a cheerful temperament. Although continually afflicted with various diseases, he was undaunted by hardships, fulfilling the duties entrusted to him while faithfully performing the austerities prescribed by the rule. He was a great lover of poverty, choosing for himself what was poorest, and often begging alms from door to door for the religious entrusted to his care. He distinguished himself in a very pronounced way by obedience, which was remarkable for its promptness. Nothing ever prevented him from immediately carrying out the orders given him, no matter how difficult they might be.

Aflame with love, Saint Theophilus of Corte fostered special devotion to the sufferings of Christ and the Mother of God. His days and even nights were spent in visiting the sick, assisting the needy, giving advice, and hearing confessions. No obstacle was insurmountable to him when there was question of doing good, no roads were too difficult to traverse, no weather was too inclement, no fatigue or infirmity too exhausting.

At the age of sixty-four he died in the Tuscan retreat house on the seventeenth of June, 1740. God favored him with the gift of prophesy and of many miracles both before and after his death, so that the fame of his sanctity spread far and wide. After the required miracles were duly approved, Pope Leo XIII beatified Saint Theophilus of Corte, and in 1930, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Pius XI inscribed him name in the catalogue of the saints.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM

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