Saint of the Day – 24 January – Blessed Marcolino Amanni of Forli OP (1317-1397) Priest and Friar of the Dominican, the Order of Preachers, Mystic, Assistant Prior and Procurator of his Convent. Born in 1317 in Forli, Emilia, Italy and died on 24 January 1397 in Forli, Emilia, Italy of natural causes, seventy years after his entry into the Order of Preachers. Blessed John Dominici (1356-1419), Archbishop and Cardinal, wrote the life of Blessed Marcolino of Forlì . Also known as – Marcolinus of Forli, Marcolino Amannai da Forli.. Additional Memorial – 21 January in the Diocese of Forli, in order not to clash with the Novena to the Madonna del Fuoco (Our Lady of Fire).
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Forlì, blessed Marcolino Amanni, Priest of the Order of Preachers, who lived his whole life in great humility and simplicity, in silence, in solitude, in the service of the poor and in the care of children.”
Born in Forli, Italy in 1317, Marcolino Amanni entered the Dominicans at the tender age of 10 years. He occupies a place unique in Dominican annals because he was almost purely contemplative . There is outwardly little to record of Marcolino;s life within the Order, except that for 70 years he kept the Dominican Rule in all its rigour. That is a claim to sanctity that can be made by very few, and is of itself enough to entitle him to sainthood. He did accomplish the reform of several Convents which had fallen from their primitive fervour but this he did by his prayers and his example, rather than by teaching or preaching.
However, from 1367 to 1370, he acted as Procurator and also as Assistant-prior of San Giacomo. Between 1371 and 1395 he is attested as a participant in Chapter assemblies or as a witness in notarial deeds concerning the life of the Convent.
But, for the most part, it is said that Marcolino was most at home with the lay brothers, or with the neighborhood poor, the sick, the needy and children, who enjoyed talking to him. He seldom went out of his cell, neither did he leave any writings. His work was the unseen labour presided over by the Holy Spirit, the work of contemplation. “To give to others the fruits of contemplation,” is the Dominican motto and one might be curious to know how Blessed Marcolino accomplished this.
In order to understand the need for just such a type of holiness, it is well to remember the state of the Church in the 14th Century. Devastated by plague and schism, divided and held up to scorn, preyed upon by all manner of evils, the Church militant was in need, not only of brave and intelligent action but also of prayer. Consistently through the Centuries, God has raised up such saints as could best avert the disasters that threatened the world in their day, and Marcolino was one answer to the need for mystics who would plead ceaselessly for the Church.
Marcolino’s interior life was not recorded by himself or by others. He lived the mystical life with such intensity that he was nearly always in ecstasy and unconscious of the things around him. One of his fellow friars recorded that he seemed “a stranger on earth, concerned only with the things of Heaven.” Most of his brethren thought him merely sleepy and inattentive but actually he was, for long periods, lost in converse with God. Some had heard him talking earnestly to the statue of Our Lady in his cell; some fortunate few had heard Our Lady replying to his questions, with the same simplicity.
At the death of Marcolino, on 24 January, 1397, a beautiful child appeared in the streets, crying out the news to the little town that the saintly friar was dead. As the child disappeared when the message was delivered, he was thought to have been an Angel. Many miracles were worked at Marcolino’s Tomb. One was the miraculous cure of a woman who had been bedridden for 30 years. Hearing of the death of the blessed, she begged him to cure her so that she could visit his Tomb.
Upon his death, popular devotion, which considered him a saint, obtained that Marcolino, after a solemn funeral, was buried in the Dominican Church and for two months, it was not possible to close the Church, day or night, due to the large influx of faithful .
A little less than a month after Marcolino’s death, on 20 February 1397, Bello de’ Giuliani da Forlì, Vicar of the Bishop of Forlì Scarpetta Ordelaffi, sent a letter to Leonardo Dolfin, Bishop of Castello, informing him of the death of the Dominican religious, who he was described as a brother of exemplary life and full of charity.
Bello also gave news of about fifty miraculous cures performed by the intercession of Marcolino. Subsequent investigations brought this exceptional series of miracles up to 80 (report to Raimondo da Capua, general of the Order, who had been spiritual director and then biographer of Saint Catherine of Siena) and then to 188 (report from Forlì notaries to the Bishop of Forlì, Scarpetta Ordelaffi).
In 1457 Marcollino’s body was transferred to a marble monument by Antonio and Bernardo Rossellino, which had been commissioned by the fellow citizen of Forlì, Nicolò Dall’Aste, Bishop of Recanati. Marcolino’s body was then enshrined in the Forli Cathedral.
He was confirmed as a saint on 9 May 1750 by Pope Benedict XIV.