Saint of the Day – 28 April – Blessed Luchesius TOSF (c 1180 – 1260) Married Layman, Apostle of the poor and the sick, the first Franciscan Tertiary, Penitent. Born as Luchesius Modestini at Poggibonsi, Umbria, Italy and died in 1260 at Poggibonsi, Umbria, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – death of children, lost vocations, of Poggibonsi, Italy. Also known as – Lucchese, Luchesio, Luchesius of Poggibonsi. Beatified in 1273 by Pope Gregory X (cultus confirmed).
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Poggibonsi in Tuscany, the blessed Lucchese, who, at first greedy for profit and then converted, wore the habit of the Third Order of Penitents of St Frances, sold his goods and distributed them to the poor, serving God and neighbour in poverty and humility, according to the spirit of the Gospel.”
A contemporary of Saint Francis, Luchesius Modestini was born around 1180 in a small village in Tuscany. In his early life he was a soldier. He was stationed at one point in Poggibonsi, a small but thriving town between Florence and Siena. When he abandoned his military career, he settled there and married a local woman named Buona.
Luchesius became a merchant, selling provisions to the many pilgrims travelling the Via Francigena, the main highway from the north to Rome, who passed through the town. He became very successful and also engaged in moneylending. Both he and his wife, gained the reputation as grasping, unfeeling people.
In his early 30s, Luchesius underwent a religious conversion and began to reach out to help the poor of the area. His wife followed his example and the two of them began to think about separating in order to devote themselves to God in religious life. Saint Francis visited Poggibonsi shortly afterward and the couple approached him for advice. Perhaps at his recommendation, they decided to remain together as a married couple and persevere in their life as penitents living in the world.
According to tradition, Francis clothed them with the habit, thus making them the first people to become lay Franciscan penitents. They retained only a small piece of farmland for themselves and devoted the rest of their lives to sharing what they had with the poor and needy.
Dedicated to penance and prayer, he frequently approached the Sacraments and spread the perfume of his holiness in the village and its surroundings, confirmed, even in life, by the gift of miracles. He was assiduous in listening to and meditating on the Word of God, in being present at the Liturgy and in all the fraternal and community celebrations,. Luchesius was dedicated to all sorts of penances, in silence, in detachment from things and from the world, in humility, in patience and in enduring crosses and temporal miseries.
Thus he spent the rest of his life loving God, the poor and the sick and spreading the sweet perfume of Christ everywhere through his goodness and mercy.
As they grew older, according to tradition, when Buonadonna saw her elderly husband failing, she begged him not to die before her; shortly after, she fell victim to a fever and they died the same day, 28 April 1260. They were buried in the Franciscan Church , which was later dedicated to him (see below)and a popular cult began immediately, which was officially recognised by the Church in 1274.