Saint of the Day – 27 January – Blessed Manfredo Settala (12th Century-1217) Priest and Hermit, known as “The Hermit of Monte San Giorgio,” miracle-worker – born in the latter 12th century in Milan, Italy and died on 27 January 1217 in Riva San Vitale, Lombardy, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – Riva San Vitale. His body is incorrupt.
Manfredo belonged to the ancient Milanese Settala family and was born at the end of the 12th century.
He was Ordained and became the Parish Priest of Cuasso in the Diocese of Milan near the south-western branch of Lake Lugano.
Manfredo felt a deep call to the hermit life and after gaining permission, he left pastoral care and withdrew to the heights of San Giorgio, the solitary mountain wedged between the southern arms of the Ceresio, where he led a life of solitude, prayer and contemplation of the Divine Mysteries.
Attracted by the fame of his holiness, many faithful of the surrounding regions, flocked to him, begging for advice and intercession for their illnesses both spiritual and bodily. The holy hermit exhorted them to make pilgrimages to the tomb of St Gerardo, who had recently died in Monza (6 June 1207). Once the pious pilgrimage was done devoutly, the disease suddenly disappeared and the people of Olgiate, with unanimous decision raised in the village, in honour of St Gerardo a beautiful Church, which later became a destination for devotion and pilgrimages and which, in 1938 was restored and embellished. The people of Olgiate, every year, process to the tomb of the saint, in memory of the miracles.
Manfredo’s historiography, based on ancient traditions and respectable documents, is full of wonders attributed to the intercession of the holy hermit. It is certain, that the blessed died on 27 January 1217. It is reported the miraculous sound of the bells of the neighbouring villages at the hour of his death and the choice of the place of burial, claimed by many of the area’s Churches – left to the whim of the oxen yoked to the hearse.
Settala’s body was buried in the Church of Riva San Vitale, at the foot of Mount San Giorgio. In 1387, by order of the Bishop of Como, Beltramo da Brossano, the body of the Blessed was placed in a marble tomb at the foot of the Altar, so that in the future, all the faithful Christians may be given greater devotion and reverence to the memory of Blessed Manfredo.
In 1633, the body was placed in a precious urn and given the place of honour under high altar, where it is currently venerated and where various Parishes in the region, on separate Sundays, meet on a annual pilgrimages.
On the walls of the Baptistry, there are two beautiful paintings by Giovanni Battista Bagutti (1774-1823) of Rovio, depicting the passage of the blessed into mountain of solitude and his transport from San Giorgio to the Church of Riva. The liturgical feast is celebrated on 27 January, which in Riva, is considered a public holiday; while on the following Sunday, a procession and Holy Mass, is celebrated, with large numbers of pilgrims attending. The streets are decorated for devotion to the blessed, is still very much alive in the region.
One of Bl Manfredo’s most famous miracles was the transformation of stones into bread during a period of famine. On the eve of his feast, it is still customary, to distribute blessed bread to all families.
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