SAINT NICHOLAS OF TOLENTINO (1246-1306), priest – Patron saint of animals, babies, mariners, holy souls in Purgatory and Tolentino, Italy
Today, the Church honors Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, an Augustinian friar who was known for his holiness and his ardent charity for the holy souls in Purgatory.
Nicholas was born in 1246 at Sant’Angelo, near Fermo, Italy, in response to his mother’s prayers, who was middle aged and childless. She and her husband had made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Nicholas of Bari to ask for a son whom she promised to dedicate to God’s service. When her wish was granted, she named the boy Nicholas and, at a very early age, he showed signs of being especially drawn to the Love of God.
He excelled in his studies, and, as soon as he was old enough, he was received into the Order of Augustinian friars. On account of his kind and gentle manner, his superiors entrusted him with the daily feeding of the poor at the monastery gates, but at times he was so free with the friary’s provisions that the procurator begged the superior to oversee Nicholas’ generosity.
Nicholas was ordained to the priesthood in 1271 and would always celebrate Mass with exceptional fervor. His preaching, instructions and pastoral love in the confessional brought about numerous conversions, and the many miracles attributed to his intercession were responsible for even more. Yet, he was careful never to take any credit for any of the special blessings which people would receive. He would insist, “Say nothing of this; give thanks to God, not to me. I am only a vessel of clay, a poor sinner.”
Father Nicholas spent the last thirty years of his life in Tolentino, Italy, and worked as a peacemaker in a city torn apart by civil war. He would preach in the streets everyday, in addition to ministering to the sick and visiting prisoners. He was also blessed with experiencing visions of those in Purgatory, and he developed a great devotion to praying for their holy souls.
During the last years of his life, Father Nicholas was bedridden and suffered grievously. He died on September 10, 1306, surrounded by his community of friars.
He was canonized a saint on June 5, 1446 by Pope Eugene IV. His remains are entombed in a shrine dedicated to his name in Tolentino.
Saint Nicholas’ Bread, a roll of dough with a cross in the center, has its origin in the bread he used to give to the sick to eat after he had prayed for the Virgin Mary’s healing intercession. It is still being distributed at his shrine even to this day.
We commemorate his feastday on September 10.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, ewtn.com/library and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors)
“Lord God, You gave Saint Nicholas of Tolentino the Spirit of Truth and Love to shepherd Your people. May we honor him on this feast, learn from his example and be helped by his prayers.
“We ask 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.”