February 16, 2017

The Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

The following seven saints Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Alexis Falconieri, John Bonagiunta, Benedict dell'Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Gerard Sostegni, and Ricoverus Uguccione were the founders of the Servite Order, a religious community dedicated explicitly to helping foster the practice of reparation and contemplating the Passion of our Lord and the Blessed Mother's Seven Sorrows. The Servites accomplishments are not widely known, due to the spirit of humility cherished by its members. Their work in home missions promoting reverence for Christ’s suffering on Calvary and inspiring devotion to the Mother of Sorrows has benefited innumerable souls. Their divine ministry began in a period of turmoil.

When Florence and all Italy was beset by civil strife, during the 13th century, God called seven men from the nobility of Florence. In 1233, they met together and prayed for guidance. The Blessed Mother appeared to each of them individually and extolled them to pursue lives of heroic virtue. Forsaking wealth and privilege, wearing the well-worn clothing of peasants, they withdrew to a small dwelling in the country to live as hermits. It was September 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; a date selected so that they might begin to live a more holy life on the very day when the Mother of God began to live her holy life.

Seven years later, on April 13, 1240, the hermits were gathered in fervent prayer, when they received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand a black habit, and a nearby angel held a scroll on which was written "Servants of Mary."

Mary said to 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 your distinctive sign shall be the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings."

Providentially, soon after, when the seven were begging for alms in the streets of Florence, they heard children's voices calling to them, "Servants of holy Mary." Among these children was Saint Philip Benizi. Hereafter they were known by this name, first heard from the lips of children. Eventually, they retired into solitude on Monte Senario and gave themselves wholly to contemplation and atonement.

All seven were beatified in 1717 by Pope Clement XI and canonized in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. The Church celebrates their optional memorial on February 17th, because on that day, Saint Alexis Falconieri, one of the seven, died in 1310. The aforementioned St. Philip Benizi was the general superior of the Servites credited with reviving the Order following its temporary suppression. Impart to us, O Lord, in kindness the filial devotion with which the holy brothers venerated so devoutly the Mother of God and led your people to yourself. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

◗ The prophecy of Simeon

◗ The flight into Egypt

◗ The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple

◗ The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross

◗ The Crucifixion

◗ The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross

◗ The burial of Jesus

Prayer for the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order

O Lord Jesus Christ Who,
in order to renew the memory
of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother,
has through the seven blessed fathers
enriched Thy Church with the new Order of Servites;
mercifully grant that we may be so united
in their sorrows as to share in their joys.
Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

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