SEVEN FOUNDERS of the ORDER of SERVITES (13th century), religious
Today, the Church honors the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites. These seven men were born in Florence, Italy, and led lives as hermits at the monastery on Monte Senario in northern Italy, giving glory to God through veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
These seven saints are named: Alexis Falconieri, Bartholomew degli Amidei, Benedict dell’Antella, Buonfiglio Monaldi, Gherardino Sostegni, Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni and John Buonagiunta Monetti.
On Friday, April 13th, in the year 1240, the hermits received a vision of the Blessed Mother. She held in her hand the black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading “Servants of Mary”. Mary told them, “You will found a new Order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.”
They accepted the commission of Our Lady, wrote a Rule based on Saint Augustine and the Dominican Constitutions, adopted the black habit of an Augustinian monk, and lived as mendicant friars, a religious order depending upon the charity of the people for their livelihood, and who devoted their lives to absolute poverty and dedication to the ascetic way of life. These seven religious brothers preached throughout Tuscany, Italy, founding the Order of Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
One could see the Divine hand in Mary’s wishes, as the Order grew so rapidly that, by 1285, there were 10,000 members with houses in Germany, France, Italy and Spain; and early in the 14th century, it numbered 100 abbeys, besides missions in Crete and India. The Order received official approval from the Holy See in Rome in 1304. Members from the Order came to the United States in 1852 and settled in New York and Philadelphia, and later in Wisconsin.
These seven founders are venerated on this day which is said to be the day on which Friar Alexis Falconieri, one of the original seven, died in the year 1310. All seven were beatified on December 1st, 1717 by Pope Clement XI and canonized as saints in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII as “The Seven Holy Founders”.
We commemorate their joint feastday on February 17.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for the Seven Founders of the Order of Servites)
“Lord, fill us with the love which inspired the seven holy Brothers to honor the Mother of God with special devotion and to lead Your people to You.
“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.”