St. Nicolas of Tolentino
St. Nicolas appears with a star on his chest. He was born in S. Angelo in Pontano and lived for thirty years in Tolentino. He is the first great fruit of the holiness of the Order of St. Augustine. In 1256, the year of the Great Union, Nicola was eleven years old. Some time after this, he embraced the religious life. Austerity of life, incessant prayer, voluntary penance, perfect common life united with an exquisite charity and delicateness towards all, a sincere and profound sensibility for the misery — both material and spiritual — of human beings — these were the characteristics of his holiness.
He is invoked as a miracle worker for his efficacious intercession before God, protector of the souls in purgatory, patron saint for diseases and fires. From his tender devotion to the Mother of God originates the "bread of St. Nicolas". The iconography of the saint expresses in many varied forms these characteristics.
His figure slender and slim, his face smiling and compassionate, his gaze, serene and sweet — just as we see them in the paintings of Giotto, made just after his death — reveal his personality, and make us feel him like a brother who stimulates, encourages and helps us to follow the path he traveled.
The Augustinian family finds in St. Nicolas the perfect model of its spirituality. St. Nicolas in fact realized the purpose which the Holy See proposed to itself in reuniting varied eremitic groups in just one Order: that of offering a synthesis between contemplation and apostolate, search for God and participation in the problems of human beings, of making the religious life a ferment of Christian life for the people of God.
"For the sorrowful, he was a joy; for the afflicted, a consolation; he was peace for those who were divided; rest for the tired; help for the poor; a special remedy for prisoners and the sick. He had a lot of compassion for sinners. He prayed, fasted, celebrated the mass and wept before God for those who confessed to him so that they may be freed from the darkness of sin" (Jordan of Saxony).
His death was an apotheosis. Twenty years after, in 1325, the process for his canonization was begun. The acts, with the deposition of 371 texts, were presented to the Pope in 1326, but the solemn canonization was held only in 1446.
His remains lie in state in the sanctuary of Tolentino.
Translated from Pietro Bellini, OSA, "S. Nicola da Tolentino (1245-1305)" in Il Fascino di Dio: Profili di Agiografia Agostiniana, pp. 57-58
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