February 17, 2016

Optional Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order

Founders of the Servite Order

Today, February 17, the Church in some dioceses remembers the seven noble Florentines who in the thirteenth century, at a time when Florence and all Italy was plunged in civil strife, joined together to found the Order of Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These holy and devout young men; Bonfilius, Bonajuncta, Amideus, Hugh, Manettus, Soseneus, and Alexius, did so in the year 1240 after repeated apparitions from our Lady. The Servites are especially dedicated to penance and meditation on the sorrows of Mary in relation to the passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The order was approved by the Holy See in 1304. The first of the seven founders to be born into eternal life was Alexis Falconieri, who died on this date in 1310.

Members of the Servite Order came to the United States in 1852 and established houses in New York and Philadelphia. The Servites combined monastic life and active ministry. In the monastery, their lives consisted of prayer, work and silence. Their mendicant work included parochial work, teaching, preaching and caring for the sick the aged and the impoverished.

The Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

These seven men were the founders of the Servite Order, a community instituted for the special purpose of cultivating the spirit of penance and contemplating the passion of Christ and Mary's Seven Sorrows. Due to the spirit of humility cherished by the members of the Order, their accomplishments are not too widely known. But in the field of home missions great things are to their credit, and certainly they have benefited millions by arousing devotion to the Mother of Sorrows.

The Breviary tells us that in the midst of the party strife during the thirteenth century, God called seven men from the nobility of Florence. In the year 1233 they met and prayed together most fervently. The Blessed Mother appeared to each of them individually and urged them to begin a more perfect life. Disregarding birth and wealth, in sackcloth under shabby and well-worn clothing they withdrew to a small building in the country. It was September 8, 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.

Soon after, when the seven were begging alms from door to door in the streets of Florence, they suddenly heard children's voices calling to them, "Servants of holy Mary." Among these children was St. Philip Benizi, then just five months old. Hereafter they were known by this name, first heard from the lips of children. In the course of time they retired into solitude on Monte Senario and gave themselves wholly to contemplation and penance. Leo XIII canonized the Holy Founders and introduced today's feast in 1888.

Excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

To join the Servites go here. For more about their founders see EWTN.

Collect Prayer

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, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Meditate on 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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