Saint of the Day – 8 July – Blessed Giulio of Montevergine (Died 1601) Hermit, Scholar,Penitent, Apostle of Prayer and Charity. Born in the 16th century Nardò, Lecce, Italy and died on 8 July 1601 at the Abbey of Montevergine of natural causes. His body is incorrupt.
For centuries, people referred to Friar Giulio as “Blessed”, although the Church has never officially Beatified this Servant of God.
The renowned Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montevergine, a famous Benedictine Abbey, founded by Saint William of Vercelli in the Twelfth Century, has been a noted Pilgrimage Site, for centuries. Apart from the Effigy of Our Lady of Montevergine, the Shrine also houses the incorrupt remains of Blessed Giulio.
Giulio was born in the Sixteenth Century in Nardò, Lecce, to a wealthy family and studied Letters, Science and Music, in which he distinguished himself through his impeccable talent.
At an early age, he distributed all his material possessions to the poor and lived as a Hermit, dressed in a Pilgrim’s Habit, together with another saintly Hermit, by the name of Giovanni.
The Carafa Nobles, noting their keen life of mortification and contemplation, built for them a Hermitage and a Church, dedicated to the Crowned Virgin Mary, known among the locals to these days as L’Incoronata.
Pope Gregory XIII (1502 – 1585), understanding the fact that several Pilgrims visited the Hermitage for prayer, sent the Benedictine Camaldolese Monks, to establish a Community there.
But, by now, the “Blessed” Giulio had become too well known and moreover the possibility of becoming Superior was proposed. He chose rather to return to hiding and remain unknown to all. He left the Hermitage and went knocking at the Abbey of Montevergine – images below, not so far away and was welcomed with joy by the Monks. Here he passed his remaining years under the shade of the Virgin Mary, serving as the Monastery Organist for 24 years.
Again through his profound humility, he never wanted to be Ordained to the Priesthood and asked his Superiors to bury him under the pavement of Our Lady’s Chapel, so that Pilgrims would pass over his Vault, as if he was a great sinner, trampled on by everyone.
His wish was granted when he died on 8 July 1601. Twenty years later, in 1621, when the pavements where undergoing restorations, his body was found remarkably preserved and, even today, over over four centuries later, his remains, preserved in an glass cask, are still visibly incorrupt.