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Feb 3 | Blessed James of Viterbo, Bishop

The life of Blessed James of Viterbo, whom we commemorate today, reminds us of the importance of placing our gifts at the service of others. In this way we find, as he did, the path that leads to our own personal growth and holiness, while at the same time bringing enrichment to others. The gift you have been given, give as a gift - are the words of Scripture that come alive in the example of Blessed James.

Thought by some historians to be a descendant of the noble Capocci family, James was born in Viterbo, Italy, around 1255. He joined the Augustinians in 1272 at the monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in his native city, and was sent to study theology at the Order's newly opened General House of Studies in Paris. Among his teachers was Giles of Rome who held James in great esteem. After several years in Italy exercising various responsibilities in the Order, he returned to Paris for additional studies. He obtained his doctorate there in 1293 and, with the election of his former professor, Giles, to the office of Prior General, served as regent of studies until 1299. He then was assigned to Naples, Italy, where he taught and served again as regent. James was named Archbishop of Benevento by Boniface VIII in September, 1302 and the following December was transferred to the Archdiocese of Naples. During his tenure the cathedral of Naples was constructed. His single most important theological work, De regimine cristiano, is considered the first systematic treatise on the Church. James died in Naples at the end of 1307 or the beginning of 1308, known for his great love for the Church and the teachings of Saint Augustine. Pius X confirmed his cult in 1911.

James was a man endowed with intellectual and pastoral talents which he willingly put at the service of the Order - still in its formative years - and of the Church. At the same time he was a man in whom the grace of humility was also evident, gaining him the admiration and respect of his fellow religious and the people of his archdiocese, who held him in high esteem both in life and after his death.


June 12 | Saint John of Sahagún, Priest

John González was born in 1430 of a well-to-do family in Sahagún de Campos, Spain. He studied under the Benedictines in his native city, showing great promise. In 1454 he was ordained priest by the bishop of Burgos and held the office of chaplain at the church of Saint Gadea. When his bishop died in 1456, John resigned as chaplain and moved to Salamanca to pursue further studies in canon law and theology, obtaining degrees in both. He was named preacher of the city of Salamanca and a member of the University College of Saint Bartholomew. As preacher, he drew large crowds due to his clarity, eloquence and sincerity, while also incurring opposition and criticism for his denunciation of the sins of both nobles and commoners. On June 18, 1463, John renounced all his offices in order to join the Augustinian Order in Salamanca. He was professed the following year on August 28, and thereafter continued his preaching ministry while exercising various responsibilities in the Order as prior and delegate to various provincial chapters. Because of his renown in the city he became a principle agent of reconciliation between rival groups, thus bring peace to Salamanca. He was also respected as a defender of the rights of workers and the common folk. Characteristic of his personal life was his great devotion to the Eucharist, his humility and simplicity. John died on June 11, 1479 at the age of 49, was beatified in 1601 and canonized in 1691 by Innocent XII. It was thought by some of his contemporaries that he had actually been poisoned in retaliation for his condemnation of the immoral lifestyle of a public figure. His remains are venerated in the cathedral of Salamanca where he is honored as patron of both the city and the diocese.

Saint John's life bears witness to the necessity of being attentive always to the call of God and generous in responding, regardless of where the summons might lead. There can be no limits placed on one's availability when a person experiences within the force of God's love - whether in one's state of life or in the carrying out of one's responsibilities even at a high price.

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