Illuminatus of Rieti


The Servant of God Illuminatus of Rieti, Confessor, First Order

Illuminatus was the son of wealthy and distinguished parents but was born blind. Once when St. Francis preached at Rieti, the father of Illuminatus invited him to lodge at his home. Now when St. Francis came into the house, the parents brought the blind boy to him and urgently begged St. Francis to bless him. Filled with compassion, St. Francis made the Sign of the Cross over the child’s eyes, and at once the child could see. St. Francis also told the parents in advance that later the boy would join his order, and thus it happened.

When the boy had grown to young manhood and had gained a splendid education, he recognized that all the glamor the world offered him in his eminent position was in reality only passing and dazzling tinsel. He desired better and more lasting treasures, and therefore earnestly begged St. Francis for admission into his order as a Franciscan. St. Francis gave him, with the habit, the name of Illuminatus, that is, the enlightened one, not only because he had miraculously received the sight of his bodily eyes, but more so because the grace of God had enlightened his mind to recognize the vanity of the world and devote himself to the service of God.

The Servant of God Illuminatus of Rieti


Illuminatus of Rieti did indeed evince a fine understanding of higher things and with it lively zeal to advance in perfection. He became one of the most beloved disciples of St. Francis, who chose him as his companion on his journey to Syria. When they arrived at Damietta, they came upon the camp of the Crusaders, who were just then getting ready for battle against the unbelievers.

St. Francis said to his companion: “God has revealed to me that if they launch this offensive, great misfortune will befall the Christians. If I tell them this, they will laugh me to scorn, but if I remain silent, my conscience will reprove me. What do you think about it?” Illuminatus of Rieti answered, “Brother, be not disturbed about the judgment of men; act according to your conscience and fear God more than men.” And so St. Francis announced to the Christians the revelation that had been granted him and warned them against making the attack. He was scoffed at, but the battle terminated in defeat for the Christian army.

Illuminatus was so trusted by St. Francis that he disclosed to him the miraculous way in which he had received the sacred stigmata, so that Illuminatus could bear witness to the fact after the death of St. Francis. He lived forty years after the death of his spiritual father and was one of the most reliable witnesses of his admirable life. In 1266 he died on the fifth day of May, regarded by all as a saint, and was laid to rest in the church of St. Francis of Assisi.

God granted Illuminatus the gift of true enlightenment, which is nothing but true knowledge of things, and he is truly enlightened who has a knowledge of things that corresponds with reality. There can be no truer knowledge than that which faith and grace bestow upon us because his knowledge proceeds from the Father of light and the source of all truth. It was this light that made an enlightened man of Illuminatus of Rieti in his estimation of the glamor of the world.

How idle is the false enlightenment of those who regard themselves as the enlightened class. They despise faith and divine revelation and hold as right and true only what they can comprehend with their puny intelligence. They act as a person who heavily curtains the windows of his home so that no ray of sunshine can penetrate, and then lights an oil lamp, declaring that he can trust only the light of his own lamp.

Consider how enlightened the advice was that Illuminatus gave St. Francis – to follow the voice of God and his conscience and not heed the judgment of men. The fruit of true enlightenment is ours when we carry out in our lives the truths revealed by God and our faith. The reason why so many people end up with false enlightenment is because they refuse to apply the truths of Christian revelation in their lives. That is why they hate and deny the truth and end up in folly. Christ is our teacher as well as our leader. He says: “He who follows Me, walks not in darkness.” (Jn. 8,12)

Prayer of the Church

We beseech Thee, O Lord, incline Thine ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds through the grace of Thy visitation. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen

*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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