SAINT NICHOLAS VON FLÜE (1417-1487), holy man and hermit – Patron saint of Switzerland, large families, separated spouses and the Pontifical Swiss Guard
Today, the Church honors Saint Nicholas Von Flüe, a man who felt a great devotion to God living a moral lifestyle for all to emulate, and who ultimately embraced the life of a hermit so that He could devote all his time to prayerful contemplation.
Nicholas was born on March 21, 1417 near Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. He was the oldest son of pious and affluent peasants, and, from his earliest youth, Nicholas was fond of prayer, personal mortification, and he conscientiously performed the labors asked of him as a peasant boy.
At the age of twenty-one, he entered the army for a period of time. Though willing to perform his military service, Nicholas condemned as immoral all wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants, recognizing its inevitability in any major military campaign.
After leaving the military and heeding the advice of his parents, Nicholas married Dorothy Wiss when he was about the age of thirty. Dorothy bore him five sons and five daughters. In addition to his duties as a husband and a father, Nicholas donated his talents and time selflessly to the community and always strove to give an excellent moral example to everyone his life touched.
He was also able to devote much of his private life to developing a strong relationship with the Lord. He had a strict regimen of fasting and he spent a great deal of time in contemplative prayer.
Around the year 1467, when he was fifty years old, Nicholas felt called to retire from the world and become a hermit. His wife and children gave their approval, and he left home to live in a hermitage a few miles away. While living as a hermit, Nicholas soon gained a wide reputation on account of his personal sanctity, and many people sought his assistance in prayers and spiritual advice.
Nicholas lived the quiet life of a hermit for more than thirteen years. However, in 1481, a dispute arose between the delegates of the Swiss confederates in the village of Stans, Switzerland, and a civil war seemed imminent. The people called on Nicholas to settle the dispute, so he drafted several proposals, upon which everyone eventually agreed.
Nicholas’ involvement prevented civil war and solidified the country of Switzerland. But, true to his calling as a hermit, he then returned to his hermitage after settling the dispute.
He died six years later on his 70th birthday on March 21, 1487, surrounded by his wife and children. He is considered by many to be the father of his country, honored by both Swiss Protestants and Catholics for his wisdom, holiness and work to unify Switzerland.
Nicholas Von Flüe was canonized a saint in 1947 by Venerable Pope Pius XII.
We commemorate his feastday on March 21.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, ewtn.com/library and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Men)
“All-powerful God, help us who celebrate the memory of Saint Nicholas to imitate his way of life. May the example of Your saints be our challenge to live holier lives.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”