Saint of the Day – 11 May – St. Ignatius of Laconi, O.F.M. Cap. (1701-1781) Religious Friar (born Vincenzo Peis) Known as “the holy friar,” “the apostle of the streets, “ and “Padre Santo.”
St Ignatius was a Sardinian Capuchin monk. Born into a peasant family, during a serious illness as a young man he vowed that if he recovered his health he would consecrate his life to God in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He did regain his health but put off fulfilling his vow. There is some indication that his parents raised objections to his entering the Franciscans. In 1721 his life was again threatened when a horse which he was riding panicked. Ignatius called upon the assistance of Saint Francis of Assisi and renewed the vow he had previously made. This time his parents did not raise objections to his becoming a Franciscan.
He asked for admission at the Capuchin friary at Cagliari but the superiors there hesitated because of his delicate health. Ignatius then called upon an influential friend who interceded for him and he was finally received into the novitiate. Despite his physical infirmities, his ardour allowed him to attend the spiritual exercises of the community and excel in perfection of his observance of the Rule of Saint Francis.
After being employed in the community for several years at various occupations, he was appointed quester of alms because of his edifying conduct. He had good relations with the citizens of Cagliari, who realized that although Brother Ignatius was begging alms, he was also giving back to them in a spiritual manner. His modest demeanour was seen as a quiet sermon for all who saw him going about. He seldom spoke; but when charity required it, he spoke with exceptional kindness. He would also instruct the children and the uneducated, comfort the sick and urge sinners to be converted and to do penance.
Ignatius was known for punctually obeying his superiors, even when it required the denial of his own will. He was accustomed to pass by the house of an usurer, because he feared that in accepting an alms from him he would share the guilt of this man’s injustices. But when the man complained and the superior commanded, Ignatius accepted alms from the man. On returning to the friary, St. Ignatius opened the sack offered by the usurer and blood flowed out. To those around him the saint said, “This is the blood of the poor squeezed from them by usury.”
Ignatius’ sister had often written to him asking him to pay her a visit, so she could get his advice in certain matters. Ignatius had no mind to heed her request but when his superior ordered him to do so, he at once undertook the journey. But he left again as soon as he had given the required advice.
When his brother was sent to prison, it was hoped that, in view of the reputation of Brother Ignatius, the latter could obtain his brother’s release. His superior sent him to speak to the governor but he asked merely that his brother be dealt with according to justice. Not for anything in the world would Brother Ignatius have kept anyone from doing his duty.
Despite his infirmity, Ignatius persevered in his work until he was 80 years old. Even after he became blind, he continued to make his daily rounds for two years. The veneration of the people increased and many sick persons attributed miraculous healings to him.
He died on May 11, 1781 and many miracles were said to have occurred at his grave. Brother Ignatius was beatified in 1940 and canonized in 1951 by Pope Pius XII.