Saint Nicholas of Tolentine

Many of the cures obtained through Saint Nicholas’ prayers were received while he himself was infirm.

Nicholas Gurrutti was born in the village of Sant’Angelo in Pontano, Italy in 1245. His parents, middle-aged and childless, made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Nicholas of Bari, their special patron, to ask his intercession on their behalf. Shortly thereafter, a son was born to them whom they named Nicholas out of gratitude.

saintnicholasoftolentineAt an early age Nicholas was greatly moved by the preaching of the Augustinian, Father Reginaldo do Monterubbiano, prior of the monastery of Sant’Angelo, and requested admission to the community.

He was accepted by the friars and made his novitiate in 1261. Nicholas directed his efforts to being a good religious and priest, and soon became renowned for his charity toward his confreres and all God’s people. His religious formation was greatly influenced by the spirituality of the hermits of Brettino, one of the congregations which came to form part of the “Grand Union” of Augustinians in 1256. whose communities were located in the region of the March where Nicholas was born and raised.

Characteristic of these early hermits of Brettino was a great emphasis on poverty, rigorous practices of fasting and abstinence and long periods of the day devoted to communal and private prayer. As Nicholas entered the Order at its inception he learned to combine the ascetical practices of the Brettini with the apostolic thrust which the Church now invited the Augustinians to practice. At times, Nicholas devoted himself to prayer and works of penance with such intensity that it was necessary for his superiors to impose limitations on him. At one point he was so weakened though fasting that he was encouraged in a vision of Mary and the child Jesus to eat a piece of bread signed with the cross and soaked in water to regain his strength. Thereafter he followed this practice in ministering to the sick himself. In his honor the custom of blessing and distributing the “Bread of Saint Nicholas” in continued by the Augustinians in many places today.

Nicholas was ordained to the priesthood in 1271. He lived in several difference monasteries of the Augustinian Order, engagedsaintnicholasoftolentine principally in the ministry of preaching. In 1275 he was sent to Tolentino and remained there for the rest of his life. Nicholas worked to counteract the decline of morality and religion which came with the development of city life in the late thirteenth century. He ministered to the sick and the poor, and actively sought out those who had become estranged from the Church. A fellow religious describes Nicholas’ ministry in these words: “He was a joy to those who were sad, a consolation to the suffering, peace to those at variance, refreshment to those who toiled, support for the poor, and a healing balm for prisoners.” Nicholas’ reputation as a saintly man and a worker of miracles led many people to the monastery of Tolentino.

When in 1884 Nicholas was proclaimed “Patron Saint of the Souls in Purgatory” by Pope Leo XIII, confirmation was given to a long-standing aspect of devotion toward this friar which is traced to an event in his own life. On a certain Saturday night as he lay in bed, Nicholas heard Fra Pellegrino of Osimo, a deceased friar who Nicholas had known. Fra Pellegrino revealed that he was in purgatory and he begged Nicholas to offer Mass for him and for the other suffering souls so that they might be set free. For the next seven days, Nicholas did so and was rewarded with a second vision in which the deceased confrere expressed his gratitude and assurance that a great number of people were now enjoying the presence of God through Nicholas’ prayers. As this event became known, many people approached Nicholas, asking his intercession on behalf of their own deceased relatives and friends.

Nicholas died in Tolentino on September 10th, 1305. He was declared a saint in 1446, the first member of the Augustinian Order to be canonized. Saint Nicholas’ body is venerated in the basilica in Tolentino which bears his name. His feast is celebrated by the Augustinian family on this day each September.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
Saint Nicholas of Tolentine listening to the preaching of Father Reginaldo, Bascilica of Staint Nicholas of Tolentino, Italy.
Saint Nicholas of Tolentine.

OSA Saints

Canonized and Beatified Augustinians

Augustinian Mural at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church – Los Angeles, CA.

Blessed Stephen of Bellesini. O.S.A. St. Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A. St. Rita of Cascia, O.S.A. St. Monica Our Mother of Good Counsel St. Augustine St. Clare of Montefalco, O.S.A. St. Nicholas of Tolentine, O.S.A. St. John Stone, O.S.A.

Click on a saint’s image to go to a biography of that saint. In order, left to right, they are:
Bl. Stephen Bellesini, St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Rita of Cascia,
St. Monica, Our Mother of Good Counsel, St. Augustine,
St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Nicholas of Tolentine, and St. John Stone.

Art work created by Isabel Piczek (2008).

Click here for larger images of the mural

Parts of this text with graphics are from the Book of Augustinian Saints,
John Rotelle ᴏsᴀ, editor, Augustinian Press 2000.

Holy Augustinians of recent note:

John McKniff ᴏsᴀ

Bill Atkinson ᴏsᴀ

Augustinian Saints and Blesseds

NameStatusDetailsFeast Day
Fulgentius of RuspeSaintBishop (462-527)01/03
Christine of S. Croce sull'ArnoBlessed01/04
Ugolino of Gualdo CattaneoBlessed(early 13th Century-1260)01/08
Veronica of BinascoBlessed(1445-1497)01/13
Christine of L'AquilaBlessed(1480-1543)01/18
Josephine Mary of Saint AgnesBlessed(1625-1694)01/23
Anthony of AmandolaBlessed(1355-1460)01/29
Stephen BellesiniBlessedPriest (1774-1840)02/03
Angelo FurciBlessed(1246-1327)02/06
Anselm PolancoBlessed(1881-1939)02/07
Christine of SpoletoBlessedAugustinian Laywoman02/13
Julia of CertaldoBlessedSecular (1319-1370)02/15
Simon of CasciaBlessedPriest (1295-1348)02/16
Jerome of RecanatiBlessed(d. 12 March 1350)03/12
Ugolino ZefferiniBlessed(1320-1367)03/22
Mariano de la Mata AparicioBlessed(1905-1983)04/05
Andrew of MonterealeBlessed(1397-1480)04/18
Simon of TodiBlessed(d. 1322)04/20
Helen of UdineBlessedAugustinian Laywoman (1396-1458)04/23
Our Mother of Good Counsel04/26
Marie Catherine of Saint AugustineBlessed(1632-1668)05/08
Our Lady of Grace05/08
Gregory CelliBlessed(1225-1343)05/11
William TirreyBlessedMartyr (1608-1654)05/12
Our Lady of Help05/13
Alypius of ThagasteSaintBishop (late 5th Century)05/16
Possidius of CalamaSaintBishop (late 5th Century)05/16
William of ToulouseBlessed(1297-1369)05/18
Augustine of TaranoBlessed(d.1390)05/19
Clement of OsimoBlessed(d. 1291)05/19
Rita of CasciaSaintReligious (1380-1456)05/22
James of ViterboBlessedBishop (1255-1307)06/04
John of SahagunSaintPriest (1430-1479)06/12
Philip of PiacenzaBlessed(d.1306)06/20
Peter of FriedhofenBlessed(1819-1860)06/23
Peter James of PesaroBlessed(d. 1496)06/25
John and Peter Bechetti of FabrianoBlessed(d. 13th Century)07/02
Magdalene AlbriciBlessedVirgin (1415-1465)07/17
Anthony della TorreBlessed(1427-1494)07/24
Lucy Bufalari of AmeliaBlessed(d. 1350)07/27
John of RietiBlessedReligious (1299-1316)08/02
Clare of the Cross of MontefalcoSaintVirgin (1268-1308)08/17
Ezekiel MorenoSaintBishop (1848-1906)08/19
The Martyrs of GafsaMartyrs08/26
Monica, Mother of AugustineSaint(331-385)08/27
AugustineSaintBishop and Doctor (354-430)08/28
Our Mother of Consolation09/04
Angelo Conti of FolinoBlessed(1256-1312)09/06
Nicholas of TolentineSaintPriest (1250-1305)09/10
Alonso de OrozcoSaintPriest (1500-1591)09/19
The Augustinian Martyrs of JapanMartyr(early 17th Century)09/28
Angelo Scarpetti of San SepolcroBlessed(mid-13th Century)10/03
Sante of CoriBlessedmid-14th Century-139210/05
Anthony PatriziBlessed(early 13th Century)10/09
Thomas of VillanovaSaintBishop and Patron of Studies in the Order (1486-1555)10/10
Elias del Socorro NievesBlessedPriest, Martyr (1882-1928)10/11
Maria Terese FasceBlessedreligious10/12
Gonzalo of LagosBlessedPriest (1360-1422)10/14
Magdalene of NagasakiSaintvirgin, martyr (1611-1634)10/20
William the HermitSaintReligious (12th Century)10/23
John the GoodBlessedReligious10/23
John StoneSaintMartyr ( - 1539)10/25
Peter of GubbioBlessed(d. 1306-1322)10/29
James of CerquetoBlessed(approx. 1284-1367)10/31
Gratia of KotorBlessedReligious (1438-1508)11/07
Frederick of RegensburgBlessedReligious ( - 1329)11/29
Martin of Saint Nicholas and Melchior of Saint AugustineBlessed12/11
Cherubin Testa of AviglianaBlessed12/16

Augustinians

We Augustinians take our name and our spirit from St. Augustine of Hippo. (Hippo is in present-day Algeria). Early church monk, bishop, and theologian, he lived from 354 to 430 A.D., a time of challenge and change for Christianity. Brilliant, articulate, successful; he was well on his way to achieving fame and fortune when he realized there was something terribly absent from his life — God, and real happiness.

St. Augustine“How lovely I suddenly found it to be free from the loveliness of those vanities, so that now it was a joy to renounce what I had been so afraid to lose.”  The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book Nine, Chapter One. In his early thirties he found himself able to discern that God had always been with him but he had been unable to admit God into his life.

He chose to dedicate himself totally to God and gathered around him like-minded friends to live a life of Gospel dedication and community witness. The local church of Hippo called him to public service in the Church as a bishop. He responded to the challenges presented to the Church at that time by preaching and writing letters in response: much as St. Paul did to the infant church as it began its still-growing expansion. Religious communities in the area of Tuscany, in Italy, adopted the Rule of Augustine. Still existent monasteries, as well as ruins, are in that area of Italy.

The Augustinians were called into existence by Pope Innocent IV in the 13th Century and from that moment on have sought to follow in the footsteps of Augustine. From the very beginning the church asked the Augustinians to be an “apostolic fraternity.” Like St. Augustine they were to be known for their gospel-inspired service to others and for their living witness of fraternity and community centered in God. Throughout the course of the centuries preaching, teaching, and missionary endeavors have been the heart of the Augustinians’ labors. This striving to follow the Gospel call after the example of St. Augustine has produced outstanding models of holiness: St. Nicholas of Tolentine – preacher and healer; St. Clare of Montefalco – mystic; St. Rita of Cascia – wife, mother, and contemplative; St. Thomas of Villanova – bishop and reformer. This list could go on. Today the Augustinians are in every part of globe. Communities of men and women striving to be “one heart and one mind intent upon God.”

In 1795 the Augustinians came to the then, young United States of America, to engage in pastoral work among a scattered and minority Catholic faith. From these modest beginnings on the East coast, the Augustinians in America firmly established themselves extending from Lawrence, Massachusetts to San Diego, California and British Columbia to Florida, with missionary activity in Peru and Japan. The Augustinians have three Provinces in the United States and Canada: The Villanova Province on the east coast, Our Mother of Good Counsel Province centered in Chicago, IL which includes the Canadian Province, and ourselves, the Province of St. Augustine, on the west coast.namap4

Blessed Philip of Piacenza

Blessed Philip, a contemporary of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, was one of those who bore witness to the tradition of holiness which the Order has had since its very beginnings.

The Anonymous Florentine in A Brief Life of Some Hermit Friars offers the following information concerning Philip:

Friar Philip, who spent his ministry in the city of Piacenza, Italy, practices an admirable asceticism. For he used an iron breastplate to subdue his flesh instead of the wool or haircloth employed by other servants of God. It was, therefore, fitting for God to work miracles on his behalf. I heard what I am narrating from Friar Albertino of Cumi, who actually experienced it. More than once when I was a student at Genoa he told me how he had recovered from a severe fever by commending himself to both the renowned miracle worker, Friar Philip, and our patron, Saint Augustine. Friar Philip also freed Master William of Cremona, the present prior general of the Order, from an infirmity of the leg. And he conferred the blessing of health on many other sick people, especially those suffering from melancholy. All this is well known at the Augustinian monastery in Piaccenza.

Philip lived and worked in the Augustinian monastery of Saint Lawrence in Piacenza, Italy. After his death on 24 May 1306, the people remembered him for many years. Since the suppression of religious houses is 1808, his body has been preserved and venerated in the cathedral church of Piacenza.

The Augustinian Family celebrates his feast on 20 June.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000

Blessed Clement of Osimo

Blessed Clement of Osimo was a contemporary of St. Nicholas of Tolentine and shared Saint Nicholas’ love of the poor.

Clement, called Osimo, Italy, his birthplace, or called of Sant’ Elpidio, where he became an Augustinian, was prior general of theblessedclementofosimo Province of the Marches in 1269. It is likely that he already belonged to the Congregation of Hermits of Brettino when this group joined with several others to form the Grand Union in 1256. This was the region of the Augustinian Orderwhich produced Saint Nicholas of Tolentino.

On Pentecost Sunday, 1271, Clement was elected the Augustinian Order’s third prior general. During his term of office he visited many houses of the Augustinian Order, not only in Italy but also in France, and participated in the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. At the general chapter held that same year he resigned from office. In 1284, however, he was once again elected prior general and continued as such until his death. It was at the chapter of 1284 that Clement was given the task of overseeing a revision of the Augustinian Order’s Constitutions or book of laws. In this task he relied on the assistance of Blessed Augustine of Tarano, with whom his name has been associated with ever since. The results of their combined efforts were the Constitutions of Regensburg (Ratisborn), which guided the Augustinian Order in its legislation until the Council of Trent.

Clement was a great promoter of studies in the Augustinian Order, and did much to foster a spirit of unity and universality among the still newly united congregations. He was described by the Augustinian, Henry of Friemar, as “a man of admirable clemency, piety, prudence, and holiness of life through whom God worked many miracles in the chapter of Ratisbon, at which I was present.”

Clement died at Orvieto on 8 April 1291. The fame of his sanctity and the extraordinary numbers of people who came to pay their respects caused Pope Nicholas IV to order that his body remain unburied for several weeks. Originally preserved in the church of Saint Augustine in Rome at the beginning of the nineteenth century. On 4 May 1970 they were solemnly placed in the chapel of the Augustinian General Curia in Rome.

The Augustinian Family celebrates his feast on 19 May together with Blessed Augustine of Tarano.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
Blessed Clement of Osimo by Mario Ferrari, Rome, Italy.