Saint of the Day – 11 March – Blessed John Baptist Righi of Fabriano OFM (1469–1539) Priest, Confessor, Friar of the Friars Minor, Ascetic, Ecstatic, renowned Preacher, Peace-maker, Hermit. Born as Giovanni Battista Righi in 1469 at Fabriano, Ancona, Italy and died on 11 March 1539 of natural causes. Also known as – Giovanni Battista da Fabriano, Giovanni da Fabriano, Giovanni Righi, Joannes de Fabriano, Johannes Baptista Righi, John Baptist of Fabriano. His body is incorrupt.
John was born in Fabriano of the Righi family. From an early age, he was very obedient to the teachings he received in his family. Reading the life of St Francis of Assisi, he decided to become a Franciscan Friar. And so, in the prime of his youth, our Blessed wore the Franciscan habit in the Convent of Forano, near Rieti. After his profession, he devoted several years to the study of philosophy and theology before being Ordained a Priest. For many years he was a very obedient and humble Friar. It is assumed that the young professed went from Forano to the solitary Convent of La Romita, a former Monastery of the Camaldolese.
Giovanni spent practically the rest of his life, about fifty years, up there in Romita, sometimes dedicated to the apostolate and more often, to silence and prayer, penance, reading the works of the Holy Fathers of the Church. In the solitude of La Romita, our blessed found what his heart desired. In the Church, there was a venerable image of Jesus Crucified, which belonged to St John of the Marches – John made it the object of frequent visits, ardent prayers, profound meditations and even,, by permission of the Lord, not rare ecstasies.
Emulating his seraphic Father, he ardently wanted to unite himself to the sufferings of Jesus, to transform himself into the Crucified Love, so little loved by much of the world. He found another object that touched his heart and fueled his filial piety: a terracotta image, which represented the Blessed Virgin contemplating the Child Jesus lying on her lap and which was flanked by the figures of the Apostle St James the Greater and St Francis of Assisi. And so, the solitary devotee spent long hours at the foot of the new and captivating image of the Mother of the Lord, exchanging affections and feelings. In the evening, after the Matins prayer, when his brothers retired to rest, he remained in the choir to continue his prayers which often ended in ecstasy. exchanging affections and feelings. In the evening, after the Matins prayer, when his brothers retired to rest, he remained in the choir to continue his prayers which often ended in ecstasy. exchanging affections and feelings.
In the dense forest that surrounded the solitary Convent, there was and still is, a small cave, like a hermitage inside the hermitage, where John went to devote himself to prayer and penance . For our blessed, Heaven on earth was in his retreat and solitude. But charity and obedience required him, from time to time, to undertake long journeys.
At that time, the different lords and noble families of the region were in conflict. Society and the Church experienced the ups and downs of the progress of a rebirth in all orders. And in high society, as well as among soldiers and ordinary people, demoralisation and the decline of good manners was the norm. John was not an eloquent orator but with his simple and persuasive word he managed to touch hearts and lead them to conversion.
He embarked on long journeys with joy of spirit to pacify the belligerents or to exhort both warring parties to convert and change their lives. When he travelled, always accompanied by another friar as was obligatory, he brought with him nothing but his peaceful poverty and his firm trust in God. his word was always a warm exhortation to the fulfillment of the divine Commandments, to the frequency of the Sacraments, to love one’s neighbour, to free the world from slavery. And he spoke with such zeal and persuasion that many were converted to God, reconciled, confessed, they did penance for their sins. The fame of the simple Friar spread throughout the Marches of Ancona.
Great was the charity of John with all those who met him on his travels or with those who came to him for spiritual guidance and Confession.. But what he practiced with the Friars of his Convent was even greater. He was attentive to their wants and needs and his greatest joy was to serve the sick, giving them every care promptly and gently.
His love for Jesus Crucified, the constant object of his love and contemplation, led him to practice the austerities and penances typical of the ancient anchorites, whose writings he read with pleasure, in particular those of St John Climacus. He continually fasted on bread and water, eating only one meal a day and even less during Lent. As a true son of St Francis, he loved poverty and practiced it, contenting himself with the patched tunic and the Breviary for the liturgical praise of the Lord. His cell, later transformed into an oratory, was small and sober. Indeed, his reputation for holiness soon spread throughout the region and when our Friar travelled, sick people were brought to him even from distant regions, to bless them,and there were numerous votive offerings that were and still are displayed.
One day he was seized by a great malaise. The Friars came, gave him first aid and looked after him until it seemed to them that the danger had passed, then they withdrew . Soon after, left alone in his small cell, he fell asleep peacefully in the Lord. His body was buried in the cemetery of the Convent but, ten years later, it was unearthed, found incorrupt and placed in an urn under the Altar of the Holy Christ. And there, in the Church of San Giacomo della Romita, he is still preserved and venerated today. His cult was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII on 7 September 1903.
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