SAINT CONRAD of PIACENZA (c.1290-1351), holy man and hermit – Patron saint of those suffering from hernias
Today, the Church honors Saint Conrad of Piacenza, who followed the will of God guiding him to a life of prayer, contemplation, suffering, and finally great holiness.
Born from one of the noblest families of Piacenza in northern Italy about the year 1290 A.D., Conrad, as a young man, married Euphrosyne, the daughter of a nobleman.
On one occasion, when he was engaged in his usual pastime of hunting, he ordered attendants to set fire to some brush in order to flush out the game. A strong wind carried the flames to a nearby grain field, where it continued to spread, destroying the entire crop as well as a large forest. Conrad fled in panic.
An innocent peasant, who happened to be found near the place where the fire had originated, was accused of starting the fire. He was imprisoned, tortured into a confession and condemned to death. Remorseful, Conrad stepped forth to confess, saving the man from an unjust execution. Conrad explained what had happened and then paid for the damaged property through liquidation of his own fortune. His wife joined her husband and sacrificed her dowry to assist in making restitution.
Conrad and his wife saw the hand of God in the unfolding of these dramatic events and chose to give all that they had left to the poor. Still in love, they then separated and gave the remainder of their lives to God: she to the convent of Poor Clares where she received the veil, he to a group of Franciscan hermits who followed the Third Order Rule.
Conrad lived such a life of piety that his reputation for holiness quickly spread, and he was also known for having received the gift of healing. In time, constant visitors ended his solitude, so he fled to a more remote location in the valley of Noto near Syracuse in Sicily where he lived 36 years in prayer as a hermit, praying for himself and for the rest of the world.
Prayer and penance were his answer to the temptations that beset him, for he grew in sanctity, despite being subjected to some of the most terrible assaults by the devil. While in Noto, Conrad died kneeling in prayer before a crucifix on February 19, 1351. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in the church of Saint Nicholas at Noto, where his remains still repose in a silver shrine. It is reported that many miracles have taken place there.
In 1515, Pope Leo X permitted the town of Noto to celebrate his feast. In 1625, the permission was later extended by Pope Urban VIII to the entire Order of Saint Francis.
His feastday is commemorated on February 19.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, newadvent.org and franciscan-sfo.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 Conrad 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.”