Saint of the Day – 1 February – Blessed Andrew of Segni OFM (1240-1302) Priest, Friar of the the Order of Friars Minor, Hermit, spiritual teacher, mystic, miracle-worker and exorcist. Andrew is best known for his humble life of solitude in which he was subjected to demonic visions and attacks, though his faith in God saw him emerge time and time again, as the victor. He lived his life in a small grotto in the Apennines. Born as Andrea De Comitibus dei Conti in 1240 in Anagni, Italy and died on 1 February 1302 at his Mount Scalambra Hermitage near Piglio, Italy of natural causes, aged 62. Additional Memorial – 3 February in the Diocese of Anagni and by the Franciscans. Patronage – against demonic possession, Diocese of Anagni.
Andrea De Comitibus of the Counts of Segni, was born in Anagni around 1240. He was a close relative of popes Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV and Boniface VIII, of the last two he was respectively Nephew and Uncle.
The road to high honour had opened its portals to him too but even as a young man, he recognised the vanity of the world and renounced it entirely. He left his father’s castle, worldly honour and riches and sought another home in the newly founded Franciscan convent of St Lawrence in the Apennines. There, he found a solitary grotto, where, with the permission of the superiors, he made his abode. The cavern was so narrow and low that, because of his tall stature, Andrew was obliged either to kneel or to bend over considerably when he was inside. But here he remained for the rest of his life and he became the perfect model of Franciscan humility and mortification, of modesty and piety. The cave in which he spent most of his day in prayer and in the most severe poverty and penance is still visible today.
In spite of this inconvenience he spent almost his entire life there in the contemplation of heavenly things, practicing great austerities and struggling almost continually against the evil spirits, over which, with the grace of God, he always emerged the victor. He was diligent also in pursuing the study of the sacred sciences and was the author of a treatise on the veneration of the Blessed Virgin, which was treasured by his contemporaries but which has, unfortunately, not survived to our day.
In the year 1295 his uncle, Pope Alexander IV, visited Blessed Andrew Segni with the purpose of presenting him with the Cardinal’s hat. But neither Alexander, nor later Boniface VIII, succeeded in inducing the saint to accept the dignity. This humility made such an impression on Boniface VIII, that he expressed the wish to outlive Andrew so that he might have the privilege of Canonising him. In 1295, his nephew, Pope Boniface VIII wanted again to appoint him Cardinal but he refused this dignity, preferring to serve the Church in his solitude.
In the last years of his life Andrew was favoured with the gift of miracles and of prophecy. On one occasion he was far too ill to eat and so a friend bought him a plate of roasted birds to assuage his illness. Andrew was too distressed to see the slain birds that he made the Sign of the Cross over them and – it has been said – bought them back to life.
On 1 February 1302, the humble servant of God went forth to receive heavenly honours. His body reposes with the Friars Minor Conventual at St Lawrence and he is still signally honoured by the people and invoked by them, as special protector against the attacks of evil spirits. His cult was recognised and approved by Pope Innocent XIII, a scion of the same noble family, on 11 December 1724. During the last World War, his tomb received damage from the allied bombing of 12 May 1944 and to repair it, a survey of the relics was carried out on 8 February 1945.
An ancient image of the Blessed dated to the 14th century can be seen in a fresco by Taddeo Gaddi in the Basilica of St Croce in Florence.
Blessed Andrew’s liturgical celebration is on 1 February in Piglio (Frosinone) and in the Diocese of Anagni, and in Franciscan Churches, on 3 February.
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