Saint of the Day – 28 June – Blessed Paolo Giustiniani ECMC (1476-1528) – Priest, Monk and Founder of the Congregation of the Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona, Reformer – born as Tommaso Giustiniani on 14 June in Venice, Italy and died on 28 June 1528, aged 52 in Monte Soratte.
He was a member of the noble Giustiniani family of Venice and was born there in 1476, the son of Francesco Giustiniani and Paola Malipiero. He studied theology, philosophy and law, at the University of Padua. when he had completed his studies, in 1507, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and upon his return he felt a call to follow the life of a the religious.
He joined the Order of the Camàldula, the Camaldolese, in 1510. The superior of the order, Pietro Delfino, asked him to assist in ending the irregularities that existed in some communities of the order, caused by the autonomy of each house and the lack of authority of the Prior General. Especially, the conventual branch (of cenobitic life) had relaxed in the application of the rule. In 1513, Pope Leo X, at the request of Giustiniani and Delfino, convened a General Chapter of the Camaldolese that decided the creation of the united congregation of the Sacred Hermitage and San Michele de Murano, with temporary general Priors and with a balance between the Conventual and Hermit branches.
In 1516 he was elected Prior of the Hermitage of Camaldoli until 1520 and in 1518 he was Ordained a Priest. Desiring a more hermit-like type of life and faithful to the primitive rule of the order, he obtained from Pope Leo X, permission to found other communities, which would follow the original rule of St Romuald. Pope Leo X granted him the necessary permission and allowed him to found a differentiated congregation, free from the jurisdiction of the Camaldolese Prior General and with its own constitutions, called the Company of Hermits of Saint Romuald, which would later be the Congregation of the Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona. This Order would come to considered as the most faithful expression of the original Charism of the Order of St Romuald.
On his return from Rome with permission, Giustiniani resigned as Prior and with a companion, Oliverio da Cortona, went to seek the spiritual guidance of a Hermit who lived in Monte Corona, near Perugia. Together with a Dominican, they went to live alone in a place in the Apennines, Pascialupo, where they lived in a Chapel and in 1521 founded the Hermitage of Monte Cucco.
Paolo was left alone with the Camaldolese monk who had accompanied him, as the other companion did not want to adopt the rule of St Romuald. The monks of Camaldoli asked him to be closer to them and he soon moved to a Hermitage near Massaccio, where he was joined by other monks of Camaldoli. These first Hermitages were followed by those of Cupramontana, San Leonardo de Monte Volubrio (diocese of Fermo) and San Benedetto de Monte Conero, near Ancona .
In 1522, Giustiniani drafted the constitutions of the new congregation, which consisted of the rigorous application of the original rule, modifying only the habit.
In 1523, the Order recognised the congregation of Monte Corona as independent, remaining in the Camaldolese family and in 1524 the first Chapter of the four hermitages of the congregation took place, which elected the Founder as Prior General. In 1527 he went to Rome for matters of order and was taken prisoner by the soldiers of the army of Charles V who occupied the city. with Gaietà de Thiene , also a prisoner, he was tortured but released. He returned to Venice and then to Massaccio.
In 1528 he returned to Rome and visited the Pope, obtaining confirmation of some privileges of the Order. In Viterbo he contracted the plague. He went to San Silvestro de Monte Soratte, near Rome, an ancient Benedictine Abbey that had been given to the Hermits of Monte Corona. He died there on 28 June 1528.
He was succeeded as the Prior General of the congregation by Agostino di Basciano.
He was buried in the crypt of San Silvestro. His relics were lost during the abandonment of the Hermitage and were only rediscovered in 1932. Although he has never been formally Beatified, he had always been considered a saint and was decribed as a “beati.” His cultus was formally confirmed allowing special veneration in his order.
Blessed Paolo Giustiniani’s Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona lives solely in Hermitages, usually with a very small number of monks comprising the community. There are three houses in Italy, two in Poland and one each in Spain, the United States and Colombia, as well as a new foundation in Venezuela. Unlike the other congregation, it is not a member of the larger Benedictine Confederation.