Blessed Gandolph

Blessed Gandolph of Binasco

Feast Day – April 15

This blessed man was born in the little town of Binasco in Lombardy. He renounced the vanities of the world in the flower of his youth in order to become a religious of the Order of St Francis. This occurred during the lifetime of the holy Founder.

Blessed Gandolph of Binasco was remarkable for his deep humility, his great love of prayer, and his boundless zeal for the salvation of souls. His reputation for sanctity was widespread in Sicily. His life was one of continual penance and rigorous abstinence. Besides the fasts enjoined by the rule, he fasted three days in the week on bread and water. His only tunic was a hair shirt. He spent whole nights in prayer and was often rapt in ecstasy.

Such was his love of humility and his horror of the praise of men that, on learning that his brethren spoke in terms of admiration of his virtue, he determined to withdraw to a solitary place in order to escape the temptation to vanity.

Taking with him Brother Paschal, who shared his taste for solitude, he set out for the world and rugged mountains of Petralia. On their way they stopped at Polizzi. The people, hearing of their arrival, compelled Gandolph to stay and preach the Lenten course in that town.

A few days later, Brother Paschal fell ill and lost his speech before he could make his confession. He remained in this sad condition for five days, during which time he frequently made signs to Gandolph with his eyes and hands, as if to implore his help. When he seemed to be at the point of death Gandolph, moved with compassion at his dear brother’s affliction, Blessed Gandolph of Binasco betook himself to prayer, begging God to make known to him what the dying man desired.

He had scarcely ended his prayer, when the dying man recovered his speech and said: “I thank God and you, my Father, because through your intercession I have been delivered from hell. Through negligence, I had omitted to confess certain sins, for which the devil was about to lay hold of me, and he would have dragged me down to hell but for your charitable aid.”

He then made a most contrite confession and died in great peace.

In his sermons Brother Gandolph spoke with such burning zeal as to inspire his hearers with true devotion, while at the same time he taught them the practice of virtue. One Wednesday in Holy Week in the year 1260, while he was preaching in the church at Polizzi, he told his hearers that this would be his last sermon. As he was preaching the sparrows began chattering so loudly that the congregation could not hear the sermon. Bl Gandolph appealed to them to be quiet, and they did so until Mass was ended.

On his return to the hospital of Saint Nicholas, where he lodged, Blessed Gandolph of Binasco fell sick and prepared himself for death. On Holy Saturday he told those who were attending him that he would not see dawn of the next day.

And so it was. At the moment of his death, all the bells in Polizzi rang out of their own accord. His body diffused a marvelously sweet fragrance, which perfumed the whole house and lasted for a fortnight. During the night the sparrows returned to the church and parted into two groups and sung, in alternating choirs, a Te Deum of their own.

The clergy and the people of Polizzi assisted at his funeral, and he was buried in the beloved solitude which he had chosen for himself.

Many miracles occurred after his death. When his body had been buried about sixty years, it was decided to remove it to a more honorable resting-place. The exact spot where he had been buried was not known, but God pointed it out to the workmen in a miraculous manner. The body was found whole and incorrupt, and was then exposed to public veneration. God again honored it with many miracles, which made the name of Blessed Gandolph famed throughout Sicily. Pope Leo XIII confirmed the cult which has been paid to him since his death.

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

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