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STEADFAST PREACHER OF THE FAITH

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Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

A talented boy, quick to learn and strong in faith, was born in 1577 in Germany and, after studying philosophy and law at Freiburg University, he spent six years travelling around Europe as tutor to the sons of various wealthy noblemen. He supervised the general education of his young students, and lost no opportunity to teach them about spiritual matters both by instruction and by his own example.

Returning home and established as a successful lawyer, his services were available to everyone, even those who could not afford to pay legal fees, becoming known as 'the lawyer of the poor' when many of his profession did not share his principles.

Then he chose to join his elder brother as a Capuchin friar in 1612, at the age of 35, and received the name Fidelis. His aptitude for study helped him to complete his theological training quickly and he became a very effective preacher. Liked and respected by his brothers he was appointed Guardian within a short time.

Having experienced the destructive effects of greed, Fidelis insisted on strict observance of holy poverty, although he was always more severe with himself than with others. He was known for his kindness and charity, visiting the sick and caring for the poor. He also knew how to put wealth to good use, and he was able to call upon his contacts in high places to raise money for poor families.

In 1622 the Congregation of Propaganda, which had recently been set up in Rome, sent Fidelis to Switzerland where the heresy of Calvinism was gaining ground. His preaching skills were so impressive that he aroused bitter hostility in his opponents and, on 24 April 1622, a group of Calvinists stormed into the church where Fidelis was preaching and stabbed him to death. He was only 45 years old.

Canonised in 1746 in recognition of his martyrdom, we honour him today under the "Patron of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith" title.

He was a Capuchin through and through, preaching the word of God to relieve human suffering wherever he saw need. Above all, he lived up to his name Fidelis, the faithful one, for he was completely devoted to the Church and to his faith. Only a few days before his death he said, “This is the victory which overcomes the world - our Catholic faith."

We thank God for the life of Fidelis of Sigmaringen and his example of integrity, charity and faith. On this his feast day we ask him to intercede for us so that we may have the same ardent love for the Catholic faith that he had.