Today, 11 Mar 2012, is the feast day of Blessed John Baptist Righi of Fabriano, a Franciscan priest and hermit of 16th century Italy. His holy life had a big impact upon the region in which he lived.
Blessed John Baptist Righi was born in Fabriano, Italy in 1469. By the age of 15 he had entered the Franciscan Order at Forano. Later he was ordained to the priesthood. Unfortunately there is very little about John’s life available online.
From what Marion Alphonse Habig OFM relates in his ‘The Franciscan Book of Saints’, the special Franciscan charism that John possessed was devotion to the Passion of Jesus. Deeply meditating upon what Jesus suffered to redeem our souls led John step by step to greater holiness. The first step was a greater desire for mortification and penance. The second step was the increasing desire for prayer and silence. Naturally these steps led to John emracing the life of a Franciscan hermit in a cave. What wonders must have passed between the heart of John and the Heart of Jesus when free from curious eyes and curious ears!
The more John meditated upon the sufferings of Jesus the more he felt the power of the Redemption won for us and the more he desired to bring that power for conversion to souls. Because he knew the power of the Cross to save, just like the Desert Fathers of old when he made the Sign of the Cross over sick people, the causes of the sicknesses fled leaving them healed. Being profoundly aware of the Divine Mercy which won for us so great a salvation through the wounds, sufferings and bitterness experienced by Jesus, John was able to remind all those he preached to of this abundant Mercy. The more he proclaimed the utter Mercy of God, and reminded his listeners of the welcome that awaited them when they repented, the more sinners were converted.
John’s love for Jesus didn’t just have an impact upon the crowds who flocked to hear him preach. His longing for greater austerity and greater authenticity in living out the life traced out by St Francis of Assisi renewed his fellow Franciscans in zeal.
When John’s life came to its happy end on 11 March 1539 at Massaccio (now Cupramontana) an abundance of miracles and cures occurred at his gravesite.
Given that meditation upon the Passion of Jesus was the fountain of graces for John, in this season of Lent it is good for us to review how often we ponder the mystery of the sufferings of Jesus and to seek to make this practice a more regular and frequent part of our lives.
Blessed John Baptist Righi of Fabriano, pray for us.