Saint Peregrine Laziosi (~1260-1345)
Born: Forlì, Italy
Canonized:December 27, 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII
Patronage: Cancer patients, AIDS patients, and the chronically ill in general.
Feast Day: May 4th†
Italy spent much of The Middle Ages mired in civil warring between two factions: The Guelphs and the Ghibellines. While this conflict can be distilled into a struggle for political supremacy between German imperial leaders (supported by the Ghibellines) and the Catholic Church (supported by the Guelphs), the reality of the situation was far more complex. Local feuds and territorial disputes were taken up under the pretense of participating in the larger fight, and it was amidst this tension that Peregrine Laziosi was born.
Conversion and Ministry
The son of wealthy Ghibelline leaders, Peregrine is said to have reviled the Church in his youth, participating in the struggle in opposition to Pope Martin V. St. Philip Benizi was dispatched to Northern Italy to keep the peace, where he was insulted and struck by the young Peregrine. Benizi is said to have turned the other cheek and said a prayer for the young man, who was so touched by the incident that he converted to Catholicism.
Following in St. Philip Benizi's footsteps, in 1283 he was accepted into the Order of Servites. Shortly thereafter he founded a monastery in his home town and gained popular renown for his kindness and humility.
As a special penance, Peregrine is said to have chosen to stand at all times (unless sitting was necessary.) Some accounts go so far as to suggest that he spent every waking hour on his feet for 30 years of his life. Regardless of the specifics, this penance clearly took a toll on his health: he developed varicose veins, open sores, and cancer in his leg and foot. Doctors called for amputation, and the night before the surgery he prayed fervently for hours. It is said that Peregrine received a vision that night, one of Christ coming to him from the cross and touching his foot. By morning, he had recovered completely, and would live for 30 more years.
Miracles and Modern Impact
Upon his death, the tomb of Peregrine became the site of countless reported miraculous healings. In fact, ecclesiastical authorities have verified hundreds of miraculous healings attributed to the intervention of St. Peregrine. Pope Benedict XIII solemnly canonized Peregrine in 1726, and at that time his body was exhumed. The Catholic Church holds the official position that the body was (and still is) not only incorrupt, but emits a sweet fragrance.
Traditionally a more famous figure in Europe than elsewhere, St. Peregrine has recently seen a rise in popularity world-wide as is often addressed in the prayers of cancer patients and those interceding for cancer patients.
St. Peregrine typically features a staff and an open, cancerous sore on one leg.
† Occasionally listed in some sources as April 30th or May 1st.
Online Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13736a.htm
Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=237