Blessed Andrew Segni

Blessed Andrew Segni

Confessor, First Order

Andrew was born in the thirteenth century at Anagni in the Roman Campagna, of the noble counts of Segni, a most ancient and illustrious family. Many great princes of the Church had already proceeded from this noble family. Among them were the two great popes and protectors of the Franciscan Order, Innocent III and Gregory IX. Alexander IV was Andrew’s uncle, Boniface VIII was his nephew.

The road to high honor had opened its portals to him too, but even as a young man he recognized the vanity of the world and renounced it entirely. He left his father’s castle and sought another home in the newly founded Franciscan convent of St Lawrence in the Apennines. There he found a solitary grotto, where, with the permission of the superiors, he made his abode. The cavern was so narrow and low that, because of his tall stature, Andrew was obliged either to kneel or to bend over considerably when he was inside.

In spite of this inconvenience he spent almost his entire life there in the contemplation of heavenly things, practicing great austerities, and struggling almost continually against the evil spirits, over which, with the grace of God, he always emerged the victor. He was diligent also in pursuing the study of the sacred sciences, and was the author of a treatise on the veneration of the Blessed Virgin, which was treasured by his contemporaries, but which has, unfortunately, not survived to our day.

In the year 1295 his uncle, Pope Alexander IV, visited Blessed Andrew Segni with the purpose of presenting him with the cardinal’s hat. But neither Alexander, nor later Boniface VIII, succeeded in inducing the saint to accept the dignity. This humility made such an impression on Boniface VIII that he expressed the wish to outlive Andrew so that he might have the privilege of canonizing him.

In the last years of his life Andrew was favored with the gift of miracles and of prophecy, and on February 1, 1302, the humble servant of God went forth to receive heavenly honors. His body reposes with the Friars Minor Conventual at St Lawrence, and he is still signally honored by the people and invoked by them as special protector against the attacks of evil spirits. The uninterrupted veneration accorded Blessed Andrew Segni was solemnly approved and confirmed by Pope Innocent XIII, a scion of the same noble family.

*from The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion Habig, OFM

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