Saint of the Day – 5 May – Saint Angelus of Jerusalem O.Carm (1185-1220) Priest, Martyr, Hermit, Mystic, Reformer, Thaumaturge, Missionary, convert from Judaism and a professed Priest of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel – also known as St Angelus of Sicily and St Angelo. Born in 1145 at Jerusalem and died by being stabbed to death in 1220 at Licata, Sicily, Italy. Patronages – Palermo, Sicily, Licata and Sant’Angelo Muxaro, all in Italy. Today is the 800th Anniversary of his death.
St Angelus was born in Jerusalem to a Jewish family. His mother converted to Christianity and Angelo, along with his twin brother John, was Baptised and converted along with her. His parents died while he was in his childhood and the Patriarch Nicodemus oversaw their education until the twins turned eighteen. He and his brother John entered the Carmelites then, at the Saint Anne convent near the Golden Gate to commence their novitiate.
They were well learned and already spoke Greek, Latin and Hebrew. In 120, when he was twenty-six, Angelo was Ordained in Jerusalem and travelled throughout Palestine. Various miraculous cures were attributed to him as he travelled. His “Acta” tells us that he sought to avoid fame and when he was becoming known for his miracles, he withdrew from society to a hermitage to avoid the pilgrims who were following him. Angelus withdrew to a hermitage on Mount Carmel, until he was instructed by Christ in a vision, to leave Mount Carmel for Italy to preach against the Albigensians, Bulgars and other heresies.
He set off on a Genoese ship on 1 April 1219 and stopped first in Messina before heading off to Civitavecchia before he ended up in Rome to meet with the pope. The friar preached in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran while in Rome where he met both Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic. He foretold that Francis would receive the stigmata while Francis foretold his premature death.
From there he was a guest of the Basilians in Palermo where he was for about a month, before preaching in Agrigento for over a month before settling in Licata. He had healed seven lepers and the ailing Archbishop of Palermo Bernardo de Castanea while in Palermo. He settled on the Sicilian island though his fame as a wonderworker caused crowds to flock to him. He also had success in converting some Jews though most Jews in Palermo came to despise him for this since he himself was once Jewish.
He wanted to convert a Knight named Berenger. Catholic tradition states that Berenger was living in incest and that Angelo convinced the knight’s companion to leave him. Berenger became enraged and arranged to have him attacked and murdered, in front of the Church of Saints Filippo and Giacomo in Licata. He didn’t die from the attack until four days after the attack and during that time, he prayed for his assassin and asked the civil authorities to pardon him. He showed the ultimate in forgiveness, setting an example for all those that he preached to. He was buried at Saints Filippo and Giacomo Church. His sepulchre at Licata quickly became a site of Pilgrimage.
The Carmelites venerated him as a saint from 1456 and Pope Pius II Canonised him in 1459. His relics were translated to a new Church in Licata, Saint Maria del Carmine. It was through St Angelo’s intercession that the plague in the Kingdom of Naples was halted.