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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


In some periods of history,
the hatred of one man for another because of
some injury he had received

has been pushed to extremes.

A village of vendetta towers built in Vathia Mani, Greece.
Those with a price on their heads
could take refuge in the higher part of the tower
until the danger had passed.
Charity had obviously grown cold in this village.

Today's saint is easy to pass by.
He has a rather different sounding name
to the English speaker
and is not well known.
he is one of the most touching examples of
to be found in the lives of the saints.

Born into the noble Visdomini family in 993,
John Gualbert had no more thought of following
a life of austerity and humility than
did his noble Florentine friends and companions.

Raised to be a soldier, he spent his time in worldly amusements.
Indeed, so far from intending to follow
the precepts of Our Lord,
his one over-riding ambition was
to avenge the murder of his elder brother,

To him this was a matter of justice and,
more importantly,
a matter of honour.

It happened that one Good Friday
as he was riding through a narrow pass
on his way to Florence, John came face to face
with the man he had been seeking.

The man was alone and there was no means of escape.
John drew his sword and moved forward,
but at his approach the cornered
fell to his knees and then prostrated
himself on the ground in the form of a cross
and implored him,
for the sake of Our Lord's Holy Passion, to spare his life.

St John said to his enemy,
"I cannot refuse what you ask in Christ's name.
I grant you your life, and I give you my friendship.
Pray that God may forgive me my sin."

Grace had triumphed.

A humble and changed man,
he entered the Church of St Miniato,
which was near; and whilst he prayed,
the figure of Our Crucified Lord,
before which he was kneeling,
bowed its head toward him to ratify the pardon.

St John went to the monastery
of San Miniato del Monte
in Florence
where he asked the abbot
for permission to be admitted.
But the abbot delayed,
fearing the anger and resentment of
the noble convert's parents.

To demonstrate the seriousness of his call,
St John shaved his head himself
and put on a habit that he had borrowed.

He would become the founder of the Vallombrosian

branch of the Benedictines.

One grace offered to us by God,
can be the first link
of a long chain
of graces
that will lead us to Heaven.

Whatever that grace may be, don't miss it.

1 comment:

Holly Hall said...

Thank you for this greatly edifying post. Pray for those of us in the world who are enduring a never-ending series of abuse from our neighbor, who expect us to be nice to them in return! Charity has indeed grown cold in today's world; we always wonder where to draw the line and say "enough IS enough". St. John Gualbert, pray for us!

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