Saint of the Day – 27 April – Blessed Jakov Varingez OFM (c 1400–1496) aged 96, was a Croatian Roman Catholic professed religious of the Order of Friars Minor, apostle of charity, Mystic with a great devotion to the Cross of Christ, Marian devotee, he was noted as a miracle worker and levitated. He assumed the name of “Giacomo of Bitetto” after his profession into that order. Patronage – Bitetto. He is honoured in the Franciscan Order on 20 April. His body is incorrupt.
Jakov Varingez was born in Zadar around 1400 to Leonardo and Beatrice.
In 1420 he entered the Order of Friars Minor as a brother assistant after having relocated to Bari, in the Kingdom of Naples, to flee Turkish invaders and joined the order in neighbouring Bitetto at Saint Peter’s convent.
In 1438 his superior requested him to participate in the General Chapter for the order, in Bari as his aide. The friar decided to remain in Bari and lived in various monasteries until 1450 where he served as a cook, sacristan, gardener, porter and alms-beggar, before settling in Bitetto.
The friar remained in Bitetto until 1463 before moving to Bari where he remained until moving to Cassano delle Murge in 1469 at the Santa Maria degli Angeli convent. He returned to Bitetto from 1480-1483 before moving to the Santa Maria dell’Isola convent in Conversano until 1485 when he moved for the final time back to Bitetto.
He had a deep devotion to the Passion and to the Blessed Mother and was known to have fallen into ecstasies. He cared for patients infected with the plague during an epidemic in 1482 when he was already in his eighties.
He died in Bitetto in 1496 and his remains were interred in a chapel built for him. Public honour in his name is reported since 1505. Pilgrims have continued to visit his Shrine and pray for his intercession and a miracle attributed to him is currently under investigation.
He was Beatified on 29 December 1700 after Pope Clement XI confirmed his cultus and was a decree of heroic virtues was proclaimed on 19 December 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The cause for his Canonisation continues.