Saint of the Day – 22 July – Blessed Augustine Fangi O.P. (1430-1493) – Dominican Friar and Priest, Confessor, Mystic, known as “The Miracle Worker”, Augustine of Biella. He was commonly regarded, even in his time, as a miracle worker and, in serving as the Prior of several of his Order’s monasteries, was concerned with restoring and maintaining a faithful observance of the Rule of Saint Dominic. He was born in 1430 at Biella, Piedmont, Italy and died on 22 July 1493 at Venice, Italy of natural causes. In the 1530s, workmen found his coffin floating in the water that had seeped into the burial chamber – when opened, Augustine’s body and clothing were found to be Incorrupt and remains so.
Blessed Augustine’s father was a member of the Fangi family, who were wealthy and noble and, because of this, he had planned a secular career for his son. But when the Dominicans came to Biella, his plans were changed, for Augustine was completely charmed by their way of life and begged to be admitted. He entered, while quite young, the new convent that the Dominicans had built at Biella.
Augustine had a reputation for penance, even at a time when people were not as squeamish as they are today. Not only did he inflict harsh penances upon himself, he also bore with patience whatever pain and annoyance life granted him gratuitously.
One remarkable characteristic noted of Augustine, was his equanimity and ability to concentrate intensely on spiritual matters. One incident recorded, involves a surgical procedure, which he was required to undergo without anesthetic, as such an aid was not available in the fifteenth century. He did so without crying out at all. Afterwards, he simply stated that his mind was so intensely focused on something else that he hardly noticed what was being done. In prayer he was often seen levitating in ecstasy.
In 1464, Augustine was made Prior at Soncino. Several of his best known miracles were performed there. At one time, a deformed child, who had died without baptism, was restored to life, by Augustine’s prayer, long enough to be baptised. At another time, when he was passing down the street, he met a little boy who was crying bitterly, because he had broken a jug of wine. Augustine gathered up the shards and put them back together again. Then, with a prayer, he refilled the jug and handed it back to the startled child. Still another time, through his intercession, a woman was delivered from possession of five devils.
When his coffin, was opened in the 1530s and his body was found to be Incorrupt, interest was again revived in Blessed Augustine. Nevertheless, it was more than three centuries before his cultus was confirmed in 1872 by Pope Pius IX he was finally beatified in 1878 by Pope Leo XIII. His Shrine is at the Chapel of St Dominic in Venice (below).