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June 25

St William of Vercelli - June 25

Saint William of Vercelli

Abbot, Hermit

Founder of “Williamites”

(1085 – 1142)

No Quotes available from St William of Vercelli

Saint William of Vercelli

Saint’s Life Story

An Orphan 

William was born to nobility in Vercelli, Italy around 1085. He was orphaned at a young age when both his parents were killed.   Subsequently raised by a pious family member, William matured into a contemplative young man with only one desire—to devote his life to the Lord.

Pilgrimage to Santiago as a Teenager

At the young age of 15, William left home, setting out on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.   As the journey was not difficult enough for him, he encircled his legs with tight iron bands, causing pain and making walking difficult, his suffering bringing him closer to God.

Beaten up in Italy

After he returned to Italy, William intended to go to Jerusalem. When William reached South Italy, he was beaten up and robbed by thieves near Orla (Brindisi). William considered this misfortune a sign of God’s will to stay in South Italy and spread the message of Christ. Because of this event, he decided not to travel to Jerusalem anymore and to settle in South Italy, between Nola and Benevento. William lived as a hermit for two years at Monte Solicoli, where he was credited with healing a blind man.

Hermit in Mount Vergine

William retired to Monte Vergiliano (today known as Monte Vergine, named for Our Blessed Mother) and became a hermit.   There, he spent his days in prayer, fasting and contemplation of the Lord.   One day, when his mind was absorbed in heavenly thoughts, the Redeemer appeared to him, who ordered him to erect a church to worship his divine Mother, with the help of the disciples who had gathered around him in poor cells.

Wolf Legend

William began construction of a Church in her honor, mining the rocks from the mountain by hand with the assistance of a lone donkey. As holy legend tells us, one evening, the donkey was killed and eaten by a wolf.   Saint William called the wolf to him, ordering it to take the donkey’s place.   The wolf, bowing in respect and realizing that it had interrupted the work of God, immediately took up the task of dragging rocks from the quarry.   The faithful, who continue to travel on pilgrimage to Monte Vergine, report that the wolf is still spotted today, visible to those who call upon the name of the Blessed Virgin.

Founded Hermits of Monte Vergine (“Williamites”)

The faithful began to go up in large numbers to the hermitage of the saint, both to be instructed by him in the ways of salvation and to commend himself to his prayers. Clergymen also asked to live under his direction and to share his kind of life. In 1119, William, although he felt inclined to solitary life, formed his followers into the Hermits of Monte Vergine (Williamites) with a Rule based on the Benedictines.

Controversy

William wrote no rules for those who wanted to go to his school. He demanded only with a loud voice, and by his daily example, that everyone give themselves to austere penances, do not eat meat and do not use dairy products throughout the year, work with their own hands, cultivate choral prayer and study, observe the most rigorous poverty. It was therefore not long before those hermits began to complain about the too austere regime to which William obliged them. The faithful, who went up to the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, left in William’s hands abundant alms, but he reserved only a small part of it for his community and the rest was distributed to the poor.

Founded Monasteries

With the members of the new order growing more disgruntled, William humbly removed himself from the situation to remove controversy and ensure the future of the order.    William travelled to Naples, where he served as adviser to the King Roger I. William founded monasteries in Conza, Guglietto and Salerno, Italy.

Legend with the Prostitute

According to a 1591 written word by Tommaso Costo, while visiting King Roger, a prostitute wanted to prove the genuineness of St. William’s faith. So she tried to get into William’s bed. In response, William put burning embers on his bed and laid down, inviting the prostitute to follow his example. Legend states that the woman repented of her mistake and switched to a more religious life. Other sources state that the prostitute’s name was Agnes and, after her conversion, she built a monastery in Venosa, where she led a monastic life with other women. 

His Death

William died June 25, 1142 at Guglietto, Italy of natural causes at the Guglielmo monastery, where he was buried. On September 2, 1807, the king of Naples, Gioacchino Murat, ordered for the remains of William of Montevergine to be transported back to Montevergine.

White Robes

At the time of his death, he had not yet written a Rule for his religious to govern their affairs.   His successor, fearing the dissolution of a community without constitutions, placed them under the Rule of Saint Benedict. While Benedictine monks generally wear black robes, the Monks who reside at Monte Vergine today continue to wear the white robes of the Williamites. Saint William of Vercelli is also known as Saint William of Montevergine.

Beatified:           Unknown

Canonized:        1224 by Pope Pius XII

Feast Day:          June 25

Patron Saint:     Irpinia, Italy

Source:

Reflection

Saint William of Vercelli teaches us, among many other lessons, that even when bad things happen we can be certain that God is with us. When he was robbed, when he had to leave his initial hermitage, and when his donkey was killed, Saint William saw God’s plan and trusted that God was speaking to him even through unfortunate and trying events.

What bad things have happened in your life that have actually led to good things in your life? Try always to trust in God and see how God is speaking to you through your misfortunes.

Source: Saint William of Vercelli (1085-1142) | Saint Mary’s Press (smp.org)

Prayers

St. William of Vercelli,
You were a father to your monks
and a shepherd to your people.
Pray for us that we might have our sight restored,
that we might see with the eyes of our hearts and souls,
God’s presence in and around us.
Teach us to nourish our spiritual journeys with prayer
so that we too might be instruments
of God’s light and love to others.
In the spirit of St. Benedict help us
to be people of hospitality
who let our work become prayer.
Let us find God in each other.

Saint William of Vercelli, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Prayer to St. William of Vercelli | Missionary Society of St. Columban US

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the day – 25 June – St William of Vercelli (1085-1142)

Angelus – Saint of the day: William of Vercelli

Bartleby.com – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. June 25 St. William of Monte-Vergine

Catholic Exchange – St. William of Vercelli (Abbot)

Catholic Fire – St. William of Vercelli, Hermit, Abbot, and Founder

Catholic News Agency – St. William of Vercelli Feast Day: Jun 25

Catholic Online – St. William of Vercelli

New Advent – Brookfield, P. (1912). William of Vercelli. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint William of Vercelli

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint William of Vercelli (1085-1142)

Saint of the Day – June 25 St. William of Montevergine

St. William Catholic Church – Our Patron – Saint William of Vercelli

uCatholic – St. William of Vercelli

Wikipedia – William of Montevergine

Video Link

Homily: St William of Vercelli – YouTube Video (franciscanfriars)

St William of Vercelli (Feast Day 25 June) – YouTube Video (Sensus Fidelium)