Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521 – 1608) Theatine Priest (Cong of the Clerics Regular of Divine Providence founded by St Cajetan 1480-1547), Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Confessor – born in 1521 at Castronuovo, Sicily as Lorenzo (called Lancelotto by his mother) and died on 10 November 1608 at Naples, Italy of a stroke. Patronages – against apoplexy or strokes, against sudden death, for a holy death, Badolato, Naples, Sicily, Italy.
After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples. He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform, his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties and regular observance was restored in the monastery. Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts. He lost much blood but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege but the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them. One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonour to his house.
He was still practising law, which he had studied in Naples, one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defence of a client and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer. In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross. After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community.
After holding this office for ten years, he was elected superior. His zeal for strict religious discipline and for the purity of the clergy, as well as his deep humility and sincere piety, induced the General of his Order to entrust him with the foundation of two new Theatine houses, one at Milan and the other at Piacenza. By his efforts, many more Theatine houses rose up in various dioceses of Italy. As superior of some of these new foundations, he was so successful in converting sinners and heretics by his prudence in the direction of souls and by his eloquent preaching that numerous disciples thronged around him, eager to be under his spiritual guidance. One of the most noteworthy of his disciples was Lorenzo Scupoli, the author of The Spiritual Combat. St Charles Borromeo was an intimate friend of Avellino and sought his advice in the most important affairs of the Church. He also requested Avellino to establish a new Theatine house in Milan.
Though indefatigable in preaching, hearing confessions and visiting the sick, Avellino still had time to write some ascetical works. His letters were published in 1731 at Naples in two volumes and his other ascetical works were published three years later in five volumes.
On 10 November 1608, when beginning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he was stricken with apoplexy and, after receiving the Holy Viaticum, died at the age of 88. In 1624, only 16 years after his death, he was Beatified by Pope Urban VIII and in 1712 was Canonised by Pope Clement XI. His remains lie buried in the Church of St Paul at Naples.