Saint of the Day – 18 April – Blessed James Oldo OFS (1364-1404) – Priest, widower, Apostle of Charity, Preacher, painter, musician – born in 1364 in Lodi, near Milan, Italy and died on 18 April 1404 of an unknown natural cause, though it is believed it was the plague. He is also known as James of Oldo, James D’Oldo, James of Lodi, Jakob, Jacopo, Giacomo. His body is incorrupt.
Blessed James came from a wealthy family. He was a painter, a singer, a musician and – it was said at the time – the best dancer in town. James fell in love with Catherine in their home town and they found each other equally in love with the amusements that made up so much of their lives. All was directed towards the finer goods of this world.
The plague broke out in Lodi, however and the, by now, parents of three young daughters, found themselves in danger. So they left their city dwelling for Catherine’s father’s place in the country. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague. James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth. From then on he avoided the luscious pleasures of this life. At that point he realised what a fool he had been in chasing down all these passing things. He still painted but now it was only religious art designed to point the soul to Christ Jesus . He spent the rest of this time in prayer, study, penance and in serving the poor and the sick, in doing all he could to make up for lost time.
His wife too turned to God in her sorrow. She and her husband James, took vows of continence and became Secular Franciscans. They converted their home into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. They tore up all their fine clothing making vestments. They dismantled their jewellery in order to decorate the sacred vessels.
There home became a place of succour for all who needed care, one was a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. He worked diligently until his dying day for the ill, the lonely, the imprisoned. Indeed, he contracted the illness that killed him because he was so careless in embracing those who were suffering from unknown deseases.
Blessed James was beatified on 26 March 1934 by Pope Pius XI (cultus confirmed). When his relics were moved seven years after his death, his body was found incorrupt and was then re-interred in the nearby Church of Sant’Egidio in 1580 and again it was re-interred in the Cathedral of Lodi in 1789, where his shrine now resides.