Saint of the Day – 19 March – Blessed Andrea Gallerani (Died 1251) Layman, Penitent, Founder of a Lay Apostolate known as “The Friars of Mercy” (Frati della Misericordia). Born in the 13th century in Siena, Italy and died on 19 March 1251 in Siena of natural causes. Patronage – Parma, Italy, Also known as – Andrew Gallerani, Andrew de’Gallerani, Andre d’Gallerani. Additional Memorial – 20 June (Siena, Italy).
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Siena, Blessed Andrea Gallerani, who visited and consoled the sick and afflicted with care and gathered the Brothers of Mercy, so that, as lay people without vows, they would serve the poor and the sick.”
Andrea of the noble Sienese Gallerani family, was born in Siena in the 13th century and as a young man, as a Soldier, for unknown reasons, killed a man; the justice of the Ghibelline Municipality of Siena condemned him to exile from the City. It is not known when but as soon as he was able to return to Siena, regretting his perhaps impulsive crime, he devoted himself completely to the service of the sick and the needy.
Having possessions and precious goods, he destined them to the foundation, or he refinanced a public hospital, called della Misericordia, gathering around him a group of fellow citizens, who, following his example, dedicated themselves to charitable and assistance works and ,at the same time, conducted a life of poverty.
They were called “Friars of Mercy”, which, however, was not a true religious order but only a charitable apostolate whose individual members followed a standard of spiritual life, according to their own wishes.
It was the characteristic of the Franciscan or Dominican Tertiaries. After the death of the blessed Andrea, the Friars, partially transformed into a religious Order in 1201 and was suppressed in 1571 and thereafter, took on a precedence in Siena over the lay apostolate, so it was claimed that Gallerani belonged to this Order, which he had not.
Already in life he enjoyed the fame of holiness, a fame that increased considerably after his death, which took place in Siena on 19 March 1251, so much so, that in 1274, the Bishop of the City, granted a special indulgence to those who visited his tomb on Holy Monday which was placed in the Church of the Order of Preachers.
Later, by order of Pope St Pius V (1504-1572), this indulgence was postponed to the Monday after Easter, as it is still in force today. A special Association named after him also arose in Siena, which united the nobles of the City as members.
The cult of Andrea was confirmed on 13 May 1798 by Pope Pius VI.