Saint of the Day – 9 February – Saint Raynald of Nocera (c 1150-1217) Bishop, Hermit, Monk, Abbot. Born in c 1150 smf died on 9 February 1217 in Nocera, Umbria, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, Italy. and City of Norcera. Also known as Rainaldus and Rainaldo. His body is incorrupt.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Nocera Umbra, St. Rainaldo, Bishop, formerly a Camaldolese Monk of Fonte Avellana, who, while carrying out the Episcopal office, firmly preserved the habits of monastic life.”
Raynald was a rather singular figure of a Hermit Monk and Bishop, who broke away from the mentality of his time, to radically change his life, becoming an admirable example of piety and charity, faith and obedience, in a world characterised by wealth and power, compromises and collusions between secular and spiritual powers.
He was the eldest son of one of the local Lords who dominated Nocera nd Foligno, heir to the fief of Postignano and already destined for posts of political and military importance of the first degree, Raynald received a refined education as befitted his rank.
But at the age of twenty, he abandoned all his possessions to give himself to the hermitage on the mountain of Gualdo, the Serrasanta, famous for the presence of men dedicated to prayer and penance. Here he was able to live “a perfect eremitical life.” However, he soon felt, in his heart the need to submit to a superior, who could guide him in constantly following God’s will and he then became a Monk at the Camaldolese Monastery of Fonte Avellana, where “together with his brothers, he served God perfectly and devoutly” and was also elected Abbot.
Raynald was associated in the Episcopate with Bishop Ugo,who was engaged in high juridical positions in the Roman Curia. In 1213, on the death of Ugo, the holy hermit became the Bishop of the Diocese.
The Episcopate of Raynald was distinguished by his unusual choice – to remain a Monk even as a Bishop and he did so with the typical obstinacy of Saints, always entirely dedicated to God and to his brothers, as the Minor Legend narrates: “he kept his life perfect, as when he was in the Monastery with fasts, vigils and prayers, dedicating himself to God and busy in the Bishop’s care as a celebrant of divine worship and a helper of the poorest and most needy people .”
To give a living example of Christian love, he adopted a child from Nocera, an orphan, keeping him in the Bishop’s palace and honouring him every day at the table, as if it had been Christ Himself Who was asking for help.
The presence of the holy Bishop was important at the promulgation of the Indulgence of the Portiuncula in August 1216, commissioned by St Francis of Assisi.
Raynald died on 9 February 1217 near Nocera Umbra and his body was immediately honoured. With a trial on miracles, promoted by his successor Bishop Pelagius, after a few months, he was raised on the main Altar of the Cathedral and, therefore, proclaimed a Saint according to the customs of the time.
The troubled political events soon dispersed, attributed to the intercession of the Saint. In 1248 Nocera, a Guelph City, was destroyed by the army of Frederick II who encamped in the aforementioned Cathedral. An extraordinary event was the discovery of the body of St Raynald, intact. St Raynald was then proclaimed Patron of Nocera and his tomb was transferred to the Church of Santa Maria dell’Arengo, now dedicated to St John the Baptist. The destroyed City was rebuilt and the devotion to the Saint persisted over the centuries.
When in 1448 the reconstruction of the Cathedral resumed again, the memory of St Raynald was added to the official title of the Church, which, for seven centuries had been dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption. His body was solemnly transported to the new Cathedral in 1456 and for centuries it was the centre of the cult that made St Raynald the protector of the City and of the Diocese of Nocera.
The Saint did not fail to help his faithful with protective intercession in the tragic moments of wars, destruction and calamitous events such as frequent earthquakes. Today, after the painful events of the 1997 earthquake, the Patron’s still incorrupt body was venerated in the Church of St Felicissimus.
On the anniversary of his death, St Raynald is commemorated by the Camaldolese Monastery.