Blessed Benvenute of Gubbio
(Beata Benvenute di Gubbio)
Feast Day – June 25
In the Umbrian town of Gubbio, north of Assisi, there lived a knight named Benvenute, who had achieved great martial fame for his valor. When St Francis came to Gubbio in 1222 in order to preach in that vicinity, Benvenute saw him and listened to him with astonishment. His martial spirit took great pleasure in the saint’s perfect mortification and contempt of the world.
The grace of God so touched his heart that, after a few days, Benvenute presented himself to St Francis in complete knightly attire and entreated him humbly to admit him as a lay brother. Francis always had great esteem for soldiers who distinguished themselves for obedience, self-denial, and fearless courage, for he considered such training a very good preparation for the religious life. Since Benvenute evinced in addition to these good qualities a very profound humility, Francis recognized in him the true soldier of Jesus Christ and gladly received him among his brethren.
Clad in a poor garment and girded with a cord, the stately warrior was now seen heroically overcoming himself. The poorest in clothing, dwelling, and food was his choice. The purity of his heart shone in his countenance and in his entire external appearance. He seemed to have no will whatsoever of his own, so perfect in obedience was he at all times.
St Francis charged him with the care of the sick in a leper hospital. The he had, in truth, daily and hourly opportunities to practice heroic charity and self-denial. But Benvenute was always seen to wait upon the patients, even the most repulsive among them, with such cheerful devotion and care as if he were serving his Divine Lord. Otherwise very serious and reserved, he was very sociable when he spoke to the sick and the depressed in order to cheer them up.
Benvenute was also favored by God with a high degree of contemplation. Sometimes he spent whole nights in prayer, pleading with God with burning tears for the conversion of sinners. Towards the Blessed Sacrament he entertained an ardent devotion filled with lively faith, and frequently our Diving Lord descended into his arms in the form of a charming child. He also had a very special devotion to Mary, the Blessed Mother of God.
The more completely to purify his soul and increase his merit, God allowed Blessed Benvenute of Gubbio to be seized with a severe illness, after he had himself tended the sick for many years. As his active charity formerly edified everybody, so his patience and perfect resignation to God’s holy will did so now in a greater degree. Blessed Benvenute of Gubbio died ten years after his entrance into the order, on June 27, 1232, in the city of Corneto.
Astonishing miracles wrought at the grave of Blessed Benvenute of Gubbio gave evidence of his holiness, and attracted a great concourse of pilgrims, so that only a few years after his death Pope Gregory IX sanctioned his public veneration in Corneto and the surrounding country. Pope Innocent XI extended the devotion to the entire Franciscan Order in the year 1697.
From: The Franciscan Book of Saints, Marion A. Habig, OFM
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