Saint of the Day – 19 July – St Peter Crisci of Foligno TOSF (c 1243-1323) Franciscan Tertiary, Penitent, Hermit, Pilgrim, Beggar, Preacher – called a “Fool for Christ” – born in c 1243 in Foligno and died on 19 July 1323 in the Cathedral of Foligno, Umbria, Italy of natural causes.
Peter Crisci, who was born in c 1243 in Foligno of a good family, sold his inheritance when he was about 30 and gave the proceeds to the poor. From this point, he dressed in sacking and lived as a Hermit in a cell in the campanile of the Cathedral (now the Cell of St Peter Crisci). He regularly preached in the Cathedral and became highly venerated.
He was regarded as a madman in some quarters. While saintly laymen like St Francis had been acceptable in the 13th century, they were generally only accepted in the 14th century when they had the patronage of the mendicant orders. Peter therefore received the attentions of the Inquisition but he was judged to be orthodox. Not all of his compatriots treated him kindly, for example, St Angela of Foligno records that, before her conversion (in 1285), “I used to make fun of a certain Petruccio but now I could not do otherwise than follow his example.”
Peter died in his cell in 1323 and was buried in the Cathedral.
Bishop Giovanni Angeletti (1364-92) commissioned a life of the Blessed Peter Crisci from the Dominican Brother Giovanni Gorini di San Geminiano. The first indication that a cult dedicated to the Blessed Peter Crisci emerged in Foligno dates to 1381, when the existence of a fair held on the anniversary of his death was first documented.
The cult seems to have been encouraged by Ugolino III Trinci (1386-1415) and it was probably at his instigation, that Pope Boniface IX granted indulgences (in either 1391 or 1400, according to different readings of the damaged document) to those praying before the relics “in festo sancti Petri”. (Boniface IX granted similar indulgences in respect of Blessed James of Bevagna, despite the fact that neither of these men had been Canonised.)
It is likely that pilgrims attracted by these relics would also have visited the Cell of St Peter in the campanile. The frescoes there are dated on stylistic grounds to the decade in which the indulgences were granted. The kneeling donor depicted in the fresco of the mystic marriage of St Catherine at the back o the arch in which Peter Crisci slept may well be Ugolino III Trinci. (The cell now forms part of the Museo Diocesano).