Saint of the Day – 2 March – Saint Luke Casali of Nicosia (Died c 800) Priest, Abbot Born in Nicosia, Sicily, Italy and died in c 800 at the Monastery of Saint Philip in Agira, Sicily, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Luke Casalius, Lucad Casali. Lucad of Nicosia. Patronages – Nicosia, Sicily, Italy.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Agíra in Sicily, Saint Luke Casale of Nicosía, a Monk, full of humility and virtue.”
Luke Casali was born in Nicosia in Sicily in the ninth century. At around the age of twelve, he was led by a Monk to the Monastery of Santa Maria Latina di Agira, where he took the Habit and was later Ordained Priest.
He grew up and lived endowed with spiritual virtues and the population of the faithful willingly went to the Monastery to consult him.
In adulthood he was elected Abbot of the Monastery of Agira, but he refused the position out of humility. However, the Monks did not surrender and asked the Pope to intervene. Luke then accepted out of obedience.
Years passed, in which he showed great humility and prudence in the office of Abbot, until he was struck by blindness but this serious limitation, especially for those times, did not stop him and he continued to carry out his apostolate, by being accompanied in his travels by his confreres.
His holiness was revealed to the incredulous Monks, when one day, returning from Nicosia where he had visited his relatives, he was made to believe that he had a large crowd of faithful in front of him and he began to preach. But there was no-one before him and the place was deserted! At the end of the sermon, he gave the blessing, to which the stones responded with a resounding “Amen!” Faced with this prodigy, the Monks who accompanied him, asked him for forgiveness.
He died a holy death in sanctity and peace in the Monastery of Agira,and was buried in the Church of St Philip. His fame as a Saint grew so much, that his body was placed in the same urn as St Philip of Agira, a great Exorcist Priest, who died in Agira around 453.
Later the memory of his sepulchre was lost but the cult continued. In 1575 at the end of the plague epidemic, the people and the Senate of the City of Nicosia, in gratitude to St Luke Casali, decided to celebrate his feast at the expense of the Municipality, asking the Pope to recognise him as the Patron saint of the City.
Twenty years later in 1596, during some renovations, the remains of sSt Luke Casali, of St Eusebius, a Monk and of St Philip of Agira, evidently hidden at the time of the Saracen invasions,were found. On that occasion, St Luke’s birthplace Nicosia, asked for and obtained, a relic of the holy Abbot, which was received with great solemnity.
For the rest, the historical sources concerning hSt Luke differ; the year of his death according to some scholars is in the year c 900. others say around 1164, however, he seems to have lived before the Arab invasions in Sicily, which began in 827.
Even the religious Order to which he belonged is questioned, there are those who consider him a Benedictine, others a Basilian. But, none of these details truly matter. St Luke’s efficacious intercession has been experienced by the faithful of Nicosia for centuries – he is always there to help when needed and the City celebrates him each year on his Feast Day today.