This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25 -- Feast of Saint William of Vercelli

I saw a cartoon once captioned "The other way of Lao Tzu."  It showed an Asian monk commenting, "On the other hand, a journey of a thousand miles is a hell of a long way to go."  I wonder if that was part of the deliberation that led William of Vercelli to cancel his intended pilgrimage to the Holy Lands; his stated reason was that he could serve God better in Italy.  It's a slippery slope, of course, to serving God better from right here on my couch, but he was probably right. After all, his first miracle -- healing a blind guy on Monte Solicoli -- had been performed in Italy, not on his earlier pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.  William's first clue that the trip to Jerusalem might not be God's will came in form of an attack by wayside bandits.  Yup, Italy's not such a bad place to serve God after all.

The monastery at Montevergine today
Lupus cum sancto.
He set about making a hermitage on Montevergine.  He was quarrying rock and using a donkey to carry it to his building site, but a wolf killed and ate the donkey.  Undeterred, William ordered the wolf to take the donkey's place hauling the stone.  Recognizing that God's work was on the line, the wolf submitted. 

Although hermiting sounds like a lonely vocation, William was joined by his friend Saint John of Pulsano and a lot of disciples.  These other monks got tired of always trying to live up to the how austere William and John were.  The game of who-suffers-more-than-who gets old after a couple years.  There was some sort of big blow-out at the hermitage, resulting in John and William leaving (with a few of the other brothers). 

He moved from Monte Vergine to Monte Cognato, near Naples.  There, King Roger I of Naples built a new hermitage and sought William's advice and counsel.  His decision not to go to the Holy Land was probably not a bad call. 

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