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THE BEGGAR WHO GAVE BACK MORE THAN HE WAS GIVEN

Father Francis's picture
Saint Ignatius of Laconi

Ignatius became a Capuchin Friar in order to keep a long-standing promise. Born in Laconi in Sicily in 1701, the son of pious parents, he was a young man when he became seriously ill and vowed that, if his life were spared, he would dedicate it to God.

He recovered, began to enjoy life again and the fulfilment of his promise was constantly postponed. Then one day, when Ignatius was out riding, his horse shied and he narrowly escaped death. Was this a gentle reminder from God? Ignatius certainly thought so because he immediately renewed his vow and called on St. Francis to help him.

With his parents' blessing, Ignatius applied to join the Friary at Cagliari. At first the friars were hesitant because of his poor health but an influential friend persuaded them to accept him. Ignatius carefully observed the Rule and attended all the services with the community. He busied himself with a variety of jobs in the friary but after a few years was given the very important task of begging for food for the friars. He soon became a familiar and well-loved figure in the town. People appreciated his gentle, quietly spoken manner, and the interest he showed in everyone. They felt that Brother Ignatius had given more to them than they had got him.

He provided instruction to children and to those adults who lacked education, sick people received comfort from him and sinners were persuaded to do penance. On the rare occasions when he was met with mockery, he would respond with nothing but kind words.

Ignatius had a keen sense of honesty. On his rounds he took care not to call at the house of a notorious money-lender because he did not want to involve himself in the man's unscrupulous dealings. The money-lender complained and Ignatius was told to go and visit him. In obedience he went and, as a result, the man changed his ways.

Later, when his brother was sent to prison Ignatius visited the governor, and asked not for his release but that his brother be treated with justice and kindness.

Ignatius continued his work until the day he died at the age of 80 and, although blind for the last two years of his life, he continued doing his daily rounds. In a long lifetime, he turned a humble occupation into an opportunity for pastoral care. He was loved and respected by the local people, and after his death on 11 May 1781 there were many reports of healing miracles at his grave.

Ignatius can teach us the importance of not missing opportunities in our daily lives of bringing God's message to others. We meet many people in our daily lives - are they the better for having known us? Today let us try to make a difference to them and ask this humble Capuchin Brother to help us.

St. Ignatius of Laconi, pray for us.