Saint of the Day – 4 February – Saint Andrew Corsini O.Carm (1302-1373) Bishop of Fiesole from 1349 until his death, known as the “Apostle of Florence,” Carmelite Friar, Penitent, apostle of the poor, peacemaker, Papal Legate. Born as Andrea Corsini on 30 November 1302 in Florence, (Republic of Florence) current Italy and died on 6 January 1373 (aged 70) in Fiesole, Italy. Additional Memorial – 9 February (Carmelites). Patronages – Florence,Fiesole,Diplomats, against civil disorder, against riots. His body is incorrupt.
Andrew Corsini was born in Florence on 30 November 1302 into the noble and illustrious Corsini family, one of twelve children born to Nicholas Corsini and Peregrina degli Stracciabende. He was named in honour of Saint Andrew whose Feastday it was. Before his birth, his parents dedicated him to God, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin.
He was wild in his youth, extravagance and vice were normal to him and it pained his devout mother. His parents severely rebuked him for his behaviour and he resolved to amend his ways and try to live up to their expectations. He went to the Carmelite Monastery at the Santa Maria del Carmine Church to consider what course to take and despite the entreaties of his dissolute friends, decided to become a Carmelite friar.
He joined the Carmelites in Florence in 1318 for his novitiate and began a life of great mortification. He was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1328 and said his first Mass in a hermitage so as to avoid the customary family celebrations. Corsini began preaching in Florence and was then sent for his studies to the University of Paris and later to Avignon, where he resided with his cousin, Cardinal Pietro Corsini. He returned to Florence in 1332 and was chosen as Prior of his convent. He became known as the “Apostle of Florence.” In 1348 he was appointed as the order’s Tuscan Provincial during the General Chapter meeting in Metz.
On 13 October 1349, Pope Clement VI appointed him Bishop of Fiesole. Upon learning of this appointment, the reluctant Corsini went into hiding. An inscription on his tomb states that “he was snatched from the Carmel to the Church and the mitre of Fiesole.” A child discovered him at the charterhouse at Enna and he later accepted the nomination as Bishop as the result of a vision.
He redoubled his austerities as Bishop, wearing a hair shirt and sleeping on a bed of vine-branches. At Fiesole, just northeast of Florence, he gained a reputation as a peacemaker between rival political factions and for his care of the poor. Pope Urban V sent him to Bologna as a Papal Legate to heal the breach between the nobles and the people. “His family connections made him acceptable to the nobility and his life of poverty, endeared him to the poor and he did succeed in bringing peace.”
Corsini appointed two vicars to aid him in governing his Diocese and enforced discipline amongst the Diocesan Priests. A number of miraculous cures were attributed to his prayers.
It was reported that in 1372 or 1373, as he celebrated Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he would leave this world on the Three Kings’ feast. It came to pass, that he fell ill on Christmas night and died as foretold, on 6 January 1373 or 1374 (the discrepancy in the dates is due to a different date in the Florentine calendar). His remains were moved to Florence in the evening of 2 February 1374 and were later found to be incorrupt upon exhumation in 1385. The location of his burial was damaged in 1771 but his remains were left undisturbed.
Miracles so multiplied at his death, that Pope Eugene IV permitted a public devotion to him, although it was not confirmed until later. Pope Eugene IV Beatified Andrew Corsini on 21 April 1440. Among the miracles attributed to Corsini’s intervention was the Florentine victory over the Milanese at the Battle of Anghiari on 29 June 1440. Petitions were lodged in 1465 and 1466 to Pope Paul II, requesting his Canonisation and the pope appointed a commission to investigate the matter. Pope Urban VIII Canonised St Andrew Corsini, on 22 April 1629.
In 1675 after his Canonisation, the members of the Corsini family had the Corsini Chapel built in the Carmelite church of Santa Maria del Carmine as a more suitable resting place for his remains. Pope Clement XII – born Lorenzo Corsini – erected in the Roman Basilica of Saint John Lateran a magnificent Chapel dedicated to his kinsman.
In 1702 or 1703 a Statue in his honour was commissioned and placed along the colonnade in Saint Peter’s Square.
God our Father,
You reveal that those who work for peace
will be called Your children.
Through the prayers of St Andrew Corsini,
who excelled as a peacemaker,
help us to work without ceasing
for that justice, which brings truth and lasting peace.
We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
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