Blessed Simon Fidati of Cascia
The characteristics of Blessed Simon Fidati’s holiness are love of contemplation, gospel simplicity, and religious obedience.
Simon was born in Cascia, Italy, about the year 1295, and entered the Augustinian Order in his youth. Initially he dedicated himself to the study of the natural sciences, but later gave up this interest to devote all of his energy to purely religious concerns. He became a renowned preacher with a reputation that attracted large crowds wherever he spoke. His words had a powerful effect on the social and public affairs of his day, though personally his preference was always for a life of solitude, prayer, and study. Simon was also a much sought after master of the spiritual life who consequently became a prolific letter writer as well, spending many of his nights engaged in the spiritual guidance of others by correspondence.
His love for simplicity and gospel poverty was evident in his style of life as much as in his preaching and writing. He continually avoided every position of authority both inside and outside the Order, and is known to have severely reprimanded a friend who had been influential in having him nominated for a bishop’s see. He considered religious obedience, however, as the greatest of all virtues, provided that it was not in opposition to the demands of charity.
Simon was also an accomplished theologian and excellent student of sacred scripture. His most important writing, The Works of Our Savior (De Gestis Domini Salvatoris), is, in fact, a life of Christ written almost entirely as a commentary on scriptural passages. His other more popular work, The Order of the Christian Life, is an invitation to a more perfect conformity to Christ, and is considered one of the first writings in the Italian language.
Simon died in Florence during the great plague of 1348, on 2 February 1348. His remains, however, were later transferred to Cascia, where they were originally kept in the church of Saint Augustine. More recently, they have been preserved in the Basilica of Saint Rita, where they are now venerated in a crypt chapel. The Augustinian Family celebrates Blessed Simon’s feast on 16 February.
Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
The Madonna delle Libere by Pier Paolo Agabiti (1470-1540) depicts Blessed Simon of Cascia (1285-1348) and Saint Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) with Mary and the child Jesus, Monastery of Saint Rita of Cascia, Italy.