Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen is the saint we celebrate on April 24. Known as Mark Rey and the “Poor Man’s Lawyer,” he was born in 1577 at Sigmaringen, Prussia.
Mark’s studies took him to the University of Freiburg and eventually to the position of tutor for Wilhelm von Stotzingen. Fidelis traveled with Wilhelm extensively throughout France and Italy before returning to Freiburg , where he earned a doctorate in canon and civil law. He became a prominent lawyer. However, he felt that this career endangered the salvation of his soul, so he abandoned law.
Mark joined the Capuchin Friars Minor, changed his name to Fidelis (meaning Faithful) and gave away his worldly wealth to the poor. As a Franciscan priest, he served his friary as guardian, and treated soldiers suffering from epidemics. He had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Trusting in her intercession, he frequently asked God for the grace to sanctify his life to defend his Catholic faith.
Saint Fidelis was tireless in his efforts to convert heretics and wrote several pamphlets against Calvinism and Zwinglianism. He was eventually appointed to undertake a mission in the country of the Grisons and to bring that district back to the Catholic faith. He met with terrible opposition, including many cries of, “Death to the Capuchins!” Despite this opposition however, he was extremely successful in bringing many people back to the Catholic faith. It was for this reason that he was bludgeoned to death while saying Mass at Sevins. His body was carried outside the Church where the heretics offered to save his life, if only he would renounce his religious beliefs. He replied, “I came to extirpate heresy, not embrace it.” He died on April 24, 1622 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746.
Saint Fidelis Quotes
“It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future.”
“Woe to me if I should prove myself but a half-hearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain.”
Lesson: If we desire to please God and give Him the gifts he truly desires, we will bring souls to Him, like St. Fidelis. We can do this through prayer, preaching, penance, and living out our daily lives as good Catholics. We must seek to save souls who but for us would otherwise be lost. By offering God these souls, we offer God the jewels of paradise. “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:15)
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