Saint of the Day – 7 January – Blessed Matthew of Agrigento OFM (c 1377-1450) “Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus”

Saint of the Day – 7 January – Blessed Matthew of Agrigento OFM (c 1377-1450) “Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus” Bishop, Priest and Friar of the Friars Minor, Missionary Preacher often with St Bernardine of Siena, Provincial Vicar and General Commissioner of the Order, founder of many Convents. The Etymology of the name Matthew is “man of God,” from Hebrew. Born in 1377 as Matteo Guimerà on the Via Arco di San Francesco di Paola in Rabbato, Agrigento, Italy and died on 7 January 1450 in the Franciscan Monastery (which he had founded) of Santa Maria di Gesù, Palermo, Sicily, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Matteo/Matthew Guimerà.

The Roman Martyrology states: “In Palermo, transit of Blessed Matteo Guimerá, Bishop of Agrigento, of the Order of Minors, lover and advocate of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Matthew was born on the southern coast of Sicily in c 1377. His parents were pious Catholics and they educated and instilled in him, a fervent love of the Faith.

He entered the Seraphic Order in 1391-92 at the Convent of St Frances of Assisi in Agrigento where he made his religious profession in 1394. He studied theology in Bologna, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, where he earned his doctorate and was Ordained a Priest in 1400.

Matthew became a travelling missionary preacher in the region of Tarragona, Spain from 1400 to 1405 and was then appointed Novie Master. In 1417, Matthew returned to Italy, desiring to work with St Bernardine of Siena, who was leading the observant reform movement of the Franciscan Order which gave rise to the Observant Franciscans. They met in 1418, perhaps at the General Chapter of the Order held at Mantua and Matthew, soon afterwards, asked his superiors for permission, to transfer to the Observing branch of the Order.

Matthew’s friendship with St Bernardine had a profound effect on his life. The two were fellow preachers and shared a desire for reform. Both preached tirelessly and led an austere life, in keeping with the spirit of Franciscan rule. Likewise, both encouraged devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus – in the case of Matthew, joined to the name of Mary, the Mother of God – for this reason, many of the Convents he founded in Italy and Spanish lands bear the name of Santa Maria de Jesús.

Matthew had the support of King Alfonso the Magnanimous and Pope Eugene IV, for the expansion of the reform movement. . In 1425, Pope Martin V granted him the power to found observant convents, in addition to those he had already reformed: Messina , Palermo , Agrigento, Syracuse , Barcelona , Valencia , etc. In addition, he was Provincial Vicar of the Order in Sicily between 1425 and 1430 and General Commissioner from 1432 to 1440.

Invited by the King of Spain, in 1427-1428, he preached in Valencia , Barcelona, Vic and other places. Invited again, he returned in 1430 to preach and perform peacekeeping missions, spreading devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and founding new observant convents. He was chosen Bishop of his native City, Agrigento which he wanted to refuse but at the insistence of King Alfonso, he was appointed Bishop on 17 September 1442 and Consecrated the following year.

Cathedral of Agrigento, where Blessed Matthew was Bishop.

He was a reformist and a zealous Bishop of the ecclesiastical discipline of the clergy, which pitted him against a section of the clergy and the nobility, who slandered him (accused him of squandering Church property by exercising charity to the poor) and having illicit relations with a woman) and asked the Holy See to investigate. Prosecuted by the Papal Curia, he was found innocent and acquitted, regaining the Pope’s confidence. Again, however, his enemies provoked new conflicts and Matthew, realising that he was unable to maintain order, presented his resignation from the Bishopric.

When this was accepted in 1445, he retired to the Convent of Palermo, where he lived as a Friar until his death on 7 January 1450. He was buried in the same Convent.

Convent of St Mary of Jesus of Palermo, founded by the Blessed and where he died and was buried.

The people soon considered him a saint and began to venerate him. In 1759 the Diocesan process of Beatification began , which led to the confirmation of the immemorial cult, equivalent to the Beatification by Pope Clement XIII on 22 February 1767.

Around a hundred of Blessed Matthew’s sermons are preserved, which were found during the twentieth century and only from 1960 began to be published by Agostino Amore. Written in Latin and the vernacular, they comment on biblical texts with great theological depth.


Our Lady of Egypt, Madonna delle Grazie / Our Lady of Grace, Costa Folgaria, Italy (1588) and Memorials of the Saints – 7 January

Second Day of the Epiphany Octavv

Our Lady of Egypt and the Return of the Child Jesus from Egypt — 7 January:

Madonna delle Grazie / Our Lady of Grace, Costa Folgaria, Italy (1588) – 7 January, 8 September:

Brother Pietro Dal Dosso di Folgaria – a young Hermit Friar of the Order, Saint Jerome of Vicenza – was inspired directly by the Virgin Mary into building a small Church in her honour on the Echen Peak during the second half of the 16th century. Obediently, the Friar began his work and built a small Chapel, occupying what is now the Apse of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie. In the 17th Century, the Magnifica Comunità di Folgaria expanded the small building and endowed it with a Bell Tower (1662). The Sanctuary currently hosts the miraculous Madonna, which was declared Holy Patron of Skiers by Papal Decree.
The Terracotta statue of the Virgin Mary dates to the second half of the 16th century and is venerated by thousands of believers, who hold an ancient feast – as well as a solemn procession – on the 8th of September every year, when the Statue is carried by ski instructors. All along its age-old history, the Sanctuary of Echen has always been a pilgrimage destination and numerous faithful have put up their own votive offers for graces received in the small Church. The Sanctuary is approximately 2 km away from Folgaria, near the hamlet of Costa and can be easily reached on foot after an easy walk. I am not sure why this Title is listed for today, 7 January but there must be a good reason.

St Raymond of Peñafort OP (1175-1275) “Father of Canon Law” Master of the Order of Preachers, Archbishop, Confessor, Evangelist, Missionary, (Memorial)
His Feast Day is 23 January although he died on 7 January

St Aldric of Le Mans
Bl Ambrose Fernandez
St Anastasius of Sens
St Brannock of Braunton
St Candida of Greece
St Canute Lavard
St Cedd
St Clerus of Antioch
St Crispin I of Pavia
St Cronan Beg
St Emilian of Saujon
St Felix of Heraclea
Bl Franciscus Bae Gwan-gyeom
St Januarius of Heraclea
St Julian of Cagliari
St Kentigerna

Blessed Lindalva Justo de Oliveira DC (1953-1993) Virgin Martyr, Religious Sister of the Vincentian Sisters.
Her Life and Death:

St Lucian of Antioch
Bl Marie-Thérèse Haze
Blessed Matthew of Agrigento OFM (1377-1450) “Apostle of the Holy Name of Jesus,” Franciscan Priest and Friar, Bishop, Missdionary Preacher often with St Bernardine of Siena.
St Pallada of Greece
St Polyeuctus of Melitene
St Reinhold of Cologne
St Spolicostus of Greece
St Theodore of Egypt
St Tillo of Solignac
St Valentine of Passau
St Virginia of Ste-Verge
Bl Wittikund of Westphalia