Saint of the Day – 17 February – Saint Alexis Falconieri (13th century –1310) Religious, one of Seven Founders of the Servites, who are celebrated together on the anniversary of his death. Born 13th century at Florence, Italy and died on 17 February 1310 at Monte Sennario, Italy. Patronage – Orvieto, Italy.
He was the son of Bernardo Falconieri, a merchant prince of Florence and one of the leaders of the Republic. His family belonged to the Guelph party and opposed the Imperialists.
Falconieri grew up in the practice of the most profound humility. He became a wealthy noble in one of Italy’s most wealthy and cultured cities. He joined the Laudesi, a pious confraternity of the Blessed Virgin and there met the six future companions of his life of sanctity. He was favoured with an apparition of the Mother of God on 15 August 1233, as were these companions. She asked these seven young nobles to dedicate their lives to God and they did, founding a religious order.
They took up a common life together and were later again visited by Mary, who held a black habit and told them, “I have chosen you to be my first Servants, and under this name you are to till my Son’s vineyard. Here, too, is the habit which you are to wear, its dark colour will recall the pangs which I suffered on the day when I stood by the cross of my only Son.”
Falconieri at once abandoned all and retired to La Camarzia, a house on the outskirts of the town and was bestowed the title of Founder and Mystic.
With humility, he traversed, the streets of the city through which he had lately moved as a prominent citizen, as a mendicant, in quest of alms for his brethren. So deep and sincere was his humility that, though he lived to the great age of over 100 years, he always refused to enter the Priesthood, of which he deemed himself unworthy.
His duties were confined principally to the material needs of the various communities in which he lived . In 1252 the new church at Cafaggio, on the outskirts of Florence, was completed under his care, with the financial assistance of Chiarissimo Falconieri. Saint Giuliana Falconieri, his niece, was trained in sanctity under his personal direction.
The influence exerted on his countrymen by Falconieri and his companions may be gathered from the fact that in a few years ten thousand persons had enrolled themselves under the banner of the Blessed Virgin in the Servite Order.
He died in Monte Senario on 17 February 1310.
His shrine and entombed body is near the church of the Santissima Annunziata in Florence. Pope Clement XI declared Falconieri worthy of the veneration of the faithful, on 1 December 1717 and accorded the same honour to his six companions on 3 July 1725.