Saint of the Day – 24 March – Blessed John dal Bastone OSB Silv. (c 1200-1290) Priest, Monk. Born Giovanni Bonello Botegoni on 24 March c 1200 in Paterno, Fabriano, Italy, died 24 March 1290 in Fabriano, at the age of 90 years. Also known as Giovanni Bonello Botegoni, John Bottegoni, John of the Staff, John of the Club.
John was born into a wealthy farming family. His father Bonello and mother Superla, had five children and John was the youngest. Because of his studious nature, his parents sent him to Bologna to study Humanities. There, he became afflicted with a purulent sore on the side of one of his hip bones. On his way home, he rode on a donkey, which made his thigh on the afflicted side, painful too. Thereafter, he was crippled for the rest of his life and was forced to walk with a staff, for this he was sometimes called John of the Staff.
John became attracted to the fame and sanctity of the venerable Saint Sylvester Gozzolini (1177 – 26 November 1267), who was the Founder of the Order of the Sylvestrine Congregation, and went to meet him for spiritual direction. In 1230 he was admitted to the Congregation and adopted the monastic life. He lived for 60 years in a small cell of the Hermitage of Montefano. He became renowned for his love of humble solitude, for prudence and for his counsel. After this long period, Sylvester raised him to the Priesthood.
During all these years, John’s body was racked with pain but, he nevertheless, continued to live a life of asceticism. He lived in extreme poverty and had no possessions beyond those of his basic needs. His fellow Monks confidently sought his advice in their difficulties and doubts. He continued to preach and offer solace to all who sought his counsel.
After Sylvester died in 1267, John’s illness became more severe and he was taken to a hospital at Fabriano, where he died. His body was laid in the Church of St Benedict in Fabriano.
On 29 Aug 1772, he was Beatified by Pope Clement XIV. On 27 October 1872, in the centenary year of his Beatification, the first Foundation stone was laid for a Church in his honour in Pelawatte, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. The Church was completed in 1881. It was originally administered by the Silvestrines but in 1972 it was entrusted to the Franciscans.
In 2006, the Sri Lanka Post issued a stamp commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Church, which is the only one in the world, to be dedicated to Blessed John dal Bastone.