Blessed Angelo from Foligno - 6th September

In one of his treaties St. Augustine, an expert on both nature and the human being, exclaimed: “Return to your heart! Where do you want to go? If you go far away you will be lost. Why do you wander in the desert? Come back from your wandering that has made you go astray; come back to the Lord. You who have become an alien to yourself because of your wandering, you do not know yourself, and you are seeking the one who made you? Come back, come back to your heart”. (St. Augustine. Treatise on the Gospel of St. John, 18, 9, 10). These words encapsulate in a few phrases the spirituality of Blessed Angelo from Foligno.  

We have little information regarding his life. We know that he was born in the city of Foligno, near Perugia in the year 1226. This same city in the heart of Italy saw the birth of another saint, the mystic Franciscan St. Angela of Foligno.

There is little we know about the childhood of Blessed Angelo. It appears that he formed part of the noble family Dei Conti. He felt the call to serve God in a life of penance and humility and, with these sentiments in his heart, he decided to join the congregation of Gamboniti, established by Blessed John Bono. When, by decree of Pope Alexander IV, this congregation was incorporated with the order of the hermits of St. Augustine of Tuscia in 1256, Blessed John became a member of that new Order. He lived through the enthusiasm, but also the difficult moments of this union between different congregations that comprised a new Order of Friars, that is the Order of Brothers of Itinerant Hermits of St. Augustine. Every congregation, including that which Blessed Angelo joined, brought with it its experience and spirituality,and gradually also, as a result of the determination of the Pope’s delegate, Cardinal Rikkardu degli Annibaldi, and of the leading Prior Generals and the brothers of the Order, an Augustinian Order identity started to be created for the service of evangelization. The first generations of Augustinians, notwithstanding the difficulties encountered, were persons consecrated with such great enthusiasm that the Order attracted many vocations towards it and grew in a short space of time.

It is known that Blessed Angelo, always subject to the orders of his superiors and the needs of the Church, was sent to the City of Gubbio between 1293 and 1297. In that historic city in Umbria, known mainly for the happening of St. Francis’ meeting with a wolf.  There the Augustinians until this very day have a church dedicated to St. Augustine, just outside the city’s walls.

Blessed Angelo, led by a spirit of service and immense zeal which he had acquired from his life of prayer, was a protagonist in the Order’s early years in the region where he lived. Amongst others, in his quest for the salvation of souls, he established an Augustinian convent at Foligno itself, his birthplace.

His untiring work in favour of the Order and the Church, his preaching and ministry at the confessional remained close to his heart until the end. His health deteriorated and he gave back his soul to God to whom he had consecrated his life in the order of St. Augustin. For the generations of the early Augustinians, he was an example of a life of fidelity, notwithstanding the difficulties that certainly existed in the early life of the Order. For Christians of all times, he remains an example of a good and faithful servant who, after a life of service to others, was given a crown of happiness in heaven. It was Pope Leo XIII who, after assuring himself of the immemorable cult towards this loyal servant, confirmed his cult in 1881, and his memory is celebrated on the 6th of September. His remains are found in the church of the convent that he himself set up in the city of Foligno.

Fr. Josef Sciberras osa

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