Saint of the Day – 30 March – Blessed Amadeus of Savoy (1435-1472) IXth Duke of Savoy, nicknamed “the Happy,” was the Duke of Savoy, from 1465 to 1472, apostle of the poor and ill, a pious, humble and gentle ruler. Born on 1 February 1435 in Thonon-les-Bains, France and died on 30 March 1472 at Vercelli, Italy of natural causes, aged 37. Amadeus was a particular protector of Franciscan Friars and endowed other religious houses, as well as homes for the care of the poor and suffering. Patronage – the Royal House of Piedmont.
Amadeus was the son of Duke Louis I of Savoy. He was born in 1435 in Thonon, Savoy and betrothed as an infant to Princess Yolanda, the daughter of Charles VII of France. They were married in 1451 and Amadeus succeeded his father as Duke of Savoy. They had 10 children, one whom, Blessed Louise of Savoy (1461-1503) , the 5th child, became a nun of the Franciscan Second Order, the Poor Clares, after being widowed at a young age, when her husband, the Prince of Chalon, died when she was 27 years of age. As she had no children, the young widow then determined to follow her calling as a nun, refusing many offers of marriage. She used her vast wealth to meet many needs of the poor and entered the Monastery of the Poor Clare nuns in Orbe, now part of modern Switzerland. In the cloister, she showed herself to be a model of humility and obedience, preserving nothing of her royal origins. Louise died at the age of forty-two. She was Beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839. Her Feast is observed on the date of her death, 24 July.
Duke Amadeus proved to be a wise and fair ruler who strived for peace and was known for his compassion and generosity to the poor. On one occasion when a visiting Ambassador proudly honoured himself to Amadeus by speaking of all the fine hunting dogs that his Monarch possessed, the Duke replied by pointing to a terrace filled with tables, at which the hungry were being fed. “These,” he said, “are my packs and my hunting dogs. It is with the help of these poor people that I chase after virtue and hunt for the kingdom of heaven.”
Duke Amadeus was a lifelong victim of epilepsy. Around 1471, his seizures became so incapacitating, that he entrusted the rule of his Duchy to his wife Yolanda. His subjects became discontented and started a revolution, imprisoning the Duke. Only the intervention of King Louis XI of France, his brother-in-law, secured his release.
Amadeus was also an avid collector of manuscripts, adding over sixty items to the Ducal library started by his great-grandfather, Amadeus VIII.
Duke Amadeus IX of Savoy died on 30 March 1472 at the age of 37.
A painting of Amadeus, (see below) created in 1474, was housed in the Dominican Church in Turin and acquired a miraculous reputation. In 1612 a brief text was published in the same City, by Girolamo Cordieri, Canon of the Cathedral chapter of Mondovi, extolling the holy Amadeus. Cordieri was later appointed theologian to Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy. Also that year, a Canon from Vercelli published a compendium of miracles attributed to the intercession of Amadeus IX. The cultus and cause of Amadeus, was actively promoted by Charles Emanuel’s son, Prince Maurice of Savoy, Cardinal of VercelLI.
In 1613, a Vita of Amadeus was composed by Fr Pietro-Francisco Malletta. Six years later, the Duke of Savoy issued nine-florin coins depicting Amadeus IX on one side. These appear to have been used as religious medals, particularly in the Chablais, where they were distributed by St Francis de Sales.
Amadeus IX was Beatified on 3 March 1677 by Pope Innocent XI.