Saint of the Day – 15 May – Blessed Andrew Abellon O.P. (1375-1450) Dominican Priest, Confessor, Preacher, Apostle of the Sick, noted Artist in his day, he was especially known for his manuscript illuminations. Blessed Andrew was born in 1375 at Saint Maximin, Provence, France and he died on 15 May 1450 at Aix-en-Provence, France of natural causes. Patronages – of Artists and against fevers.
Blessed Andrew was born near the world-famous shrine of Mary Magdalen. His entire life was centred around the shrine and it is greatly due to his efforts that devotion to the great penitential has become so well established.
As a young man, Andrew may have heard the stirring sermons of Saint Vincent Ferrer, who was at that time preaching in France. Perhaps the purity and penitential zeal for which this great preacher was renowned gave the young Andrew the pattern for his own life. He soon demonstrated his choice of purity and penance by joining the Dominicans in his home town. After a happy and holy novitiate, he made his profession and was ordained. In a few years, a preacher and a guide for souls, he turned his attention to the neglected shrine of Saint Mary Magdalen.
This rugged and penitential region of France had been honored from the time of the Apostles as the chosen retreat for Mary Magdalen, who did penance there for the sins of her youth. From earliest days, it had been a place of pilgrimage but had no definite arrangements for the care of pilgrims, nor any way of supplying their spiritual needs. In Blessed Andrew’s time, Dominican fathers from Saint-Maximin had taken over the spiritual care of the pilgrims as a mission work but without financial help and in the face of great trials.
Seeing the need of a permanent foundation at the shrine, Andrew set about creating one. He interested the queen in his project and obtained enough money from her to build a monastery, which was a gem of architecture as well as a source of spiritual power. Andrew had studied art before his entry into the order and he used his talents in building, beautifully and permanently, whatever he was called upon to do.
A lover of great beauty in the physical order, Andrew was the same in the spiritual. He was famous as a confessor and his wise government as prior, gave help to the spiritual growth of the new convent. A practical man as well as deeply spiritual, Andrew established two mills near the shrine that would provide the people with a means of earning a living while remaining there. Quite naturally, a priest who interested himself in the welfare of the people to this extent could hope for great influence with them and this he had, both at Saint Maximin and at Aix, where an altarpiece he painted may still be seen.
After his death, Blessed Andrew was buried in the Church of the Magdalene. His tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage,his help especially was sought in the cure of fevers and many miracles were reported. His beatification was approved on 19 August 1902 after Pope Leo XIII signed a decree, that recognised the late priest’s longstanding and popular “cultus” – or veneration – which acted as a prerequisite for beatification for older causes of sainthood.