May 4, 2017

St. Peregrine Laziosi, the "Angel of Good Counsel"

St. Peregrine Laziosi

The story of Saint Peregrine Laziosi is actually one of two healings—the first occurring when he was a young man, and the second when he was in his mid-60s. Had the first healing not taken place, the second might not have, either.

St. Peregrine was born around the year 1260 in Forli, Italy, the only son of an affluent and politically active family. Forli was part of the Papal States at the time, and was the center of a medieval partisan conflict over who should rule in Italy. The Ghibelline faction, of which the Laziosi family was a part, supported the the Holy Roman Emperor, while the Guelphs supported the popes. Because of its stand, Forli was under interdict and Peregrine himself was strongly anti-Catholic.

In an attempt to reconcile their differences, Pope Martin V sent St. Philip Benizi, the head of the Servite Order, to Forli to act as a mediator between that city and the pontiff. Peregrine was 18 and inclined to hotheadedness when St. Philip arrived, to the point where he not only heckled the papal envoy, but also struck him full in the face. Peregrine was overcome with remorse for his actions when Philip calmly refused to retaliate and instead, turned the other cheek to him.

Begging the saint for forgiveness marked the beginning of both a spiritual healing and a new life for Peregrine. He began channeling his political energy from rebellion to doing good works and, within a few years, not only had he become a fervent Catholic, but a member of the same Servite Order of which Philip was the head. His humility was such that he had to be persuaded to become a priest but, once ordained, he became an ideal for that vocation, known for his preaching, holiness, and gentleness as a confessor. Some miracles were attributed to him, including the multiplication of grain and wine when there was a severe shortage of both in the area in which he lived. Because of his wisdom, the people of Forli began to call him the "Angel of Good Counsel."

Peregrine also imposed an unusual penance on himself to atone for the sins of his youth. For 30 years, as much as possible, he would sit only when absolutely necessary. If he became fatigued, he would lean against a choir stall. This particular penance eventually led to the development of severe varicose veins in his legs when he reached the age of 60, which in turn degenerated into a cancer of his left leg. As the cancer spread, his doctors decided that the only course of action open to them was amputation. Tradition holds that the night before the surgery was scheduled to be performed, Peregrine prayed before a fresco of the crucified Christ, asking that the leg be saved if it was God’s will. Falling into a deep trance, Peregrine had a vision of Christ descending from the cross to touch his cancerous leg. When the doctor arrived the next morning to perform the surgery, he discovered the cancer gone and that Peregrine had been fully cured.

When the doctors proclaimed this miracle, the peoples’ esteem for Peregrine only increased. St. Peregrine Laziosi lived for another 20 years, dying of a fever at the age of 85 in 1345. An extraordinarily large number of people honored the saint at his death, and some of the ill who came were cured by virtue of his intercession.

Saint Peregrine Laziosi is the patron saint of AIDS and Cancer Patients. His feast day is May 1st. Almighty God, who gave to Saint Peregrine an Angel for his companion, the Mother of God for his teacher, and Jesus as the Physician of his malady, grant we beseech You through his merits that we may on earth intensely love our Holy Angel, the blessed Virgin Mary, and our Savior Jesus Christ.

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