Blessed James Oldo

Blessed James Oldo

(Beato Giacomo Oldo)

Confessor, Third Order

At Lodi in the territory of Milan, there labored at the end of the fourteenth century a very zealous preacher of penance, who at the same time did strict penance in atonement for the transgressions of earlier years. It was James Oldo, who was born in 1364. Descended from a distinguished family, and reared according to the spirit of the world, James, after the death of his father, gave himself up unreservedly to the enjoyment of the world. Even after he was married, he and his pleasure-loving wife knew no other purpose in life but to give themselves up to every amusement. But a friend os his died, and he accompanied the corpse to the grave. There at the open grave of his friend divine grace seized his heart. He though to himself: If your body were lying here, where would your soul be? Immediately he resolved on a radical change in his way of living.

Blessed James Oldo made a general confession, joined the Third Order of St Francis, and began a penitential and devout Christian life. Gladly would he have led his wife on a similar course, but his own mother detained her amid the vanities of the world. But later, the mother had a vision in which it appeared to her that she and her son had been snatched from their worldly amusements to appear directly before the judgment-seat of God. She was so strongly affected by the vision that she herself spoke to her daughter-in-law and urged her to follow the example of her husband. Both women were likewise received into the Third Order.

The fashionable family mansion, which until then had so often been the scene of extravagant pleasure, served now as an edification to the whole city. When his spouse died, James became a priest and then began to lead a still more rigorous life of penance. On his bare body he wore a coarse penitential garb, ate neither mean nor drank wine, and observed an almost continual fast. Sometimes he ate only once a week, until Blessed James Oldo received an order from his bishop to take food at least three times a week He slept on the bare earth with a stone under his head. Incessantly he preached to the people, admonishing them to do penance. Many turned from their worldly ways to a Christian life, many even left the world to serve God in the religious state. Thus a prominent lady named Mirandola founded a convent of Poor Clares, provided sacred vessels for the church from the sale of her jewels, and herself entered the convent as a Poor Clare.

Blessed James Oldo obtained from God the gift of prophecy; repeatedly he foretold wars, which always took place as predicted. He also announced the time of his own death, and died in the fullest hope of divine mercy in the year of Our Lord 1404.

Seven years after his death his body was found still incorrupt. The confirmation of his cult as Blessed, or equivalent beatification, is now being sought.

*from The Franciscan Book of Saints, by Fr. Habig, OFM

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