December 1st - Blessed John of Vercelli, OP (AC)
- From: "Traudel" <richarra@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 12:18:13 -0600
December 1st - Blessed John of Vercelli, OP (AC)
(also known as John Garbella)
Born at Mosso Santa Maria (near Vercelli), Italy; died at Montpellier,
in 1283; cultus approved in 1903.. He studied at Paris and was ordained
before 1229. He taught canon law at the University of Paris. While he was
professor there, Jordan of Saxony (who was a friend of Saint Albert the
came to Paris, and John saw one after another of his best pupils desert
careers to join the Dominicans. He seems to have considered them quite
objectively, without reference to himself, until the day an interior voice
to him that it was God's will for him to join the Dominicans. No one can say
that John did not respond with alacrity; he dropped everything and ran down
street. ("Let me go; I am on my way to God!") Jordan received him happily
gave him the habit.
In 1232, John was sent to Vercelli to establish a convent there. He built
and several other convents in Lombardy as houses of regular observance.
provincial of Lombardy, he also became inquisitor. It was a particularly
difficult moment. His brother in religion, Peter of Verona, had just been
by the heretics in Como. The entire countryside was in a state of war, with
roving bands of heretics and robbers. It was the task of the new inquisitor
try to bring order out of this chaos, and what John did was remarkable,
considering the situation. In spite of his heavy labors, which included the
supervision of 600 friars in 28 different cities (he reached them only by
walking), John of Vercelli established the ideals of study and regular
observance in all of his houses.
It was the good fortune of John of Vercelli to live in an age that was well
peopled by saints. He formed a close friendship with Saint Louis, the king
France. Several of his tasks in the order, particularly the Commission on
Program of Studies, he shared with Saint Albert the Great, Saint Thomas
and Peter of Tarentaise (the future Pope Innocent V). In such company one
need to have a superior set of talents; John did.
In 1264 the chapter of the order met at Paris. Blessed Humbert had resigned
master general of the order. John went to the chapter hoping that he could
resign as provincial of Lombardy. Instead of escaping one office, he fell
to a still more difficult one. He was elected master general in 1264 and
in that capacity until 1283. John was then a man in his sixties and was,
moreover, handicapped by a crippled leg. However, he accepted the office
would require him to walk, not only all over Lombardy, but all over Europe.
took a brand of courage and obedience that was little short of heroic.
During the generalate of John of Vercelli, the relics of Saint Dominic were
transferred to the new tomb that had been prepared for it by Nicholas of
When the transfer was made, John of Vercelli fixed his seal on the tomb; the
seals were still intact on their examination in 1946. During the translation
the relics, according to the account in the "Vitae Fratrum", when the body
Saint Dominic was exposed to view, the head was seen to turn towards John of
Vercelli. John, embarrassed, moved to another part of the church and gave
place to a cardinal. Whereupon, the head of Saint Dominic was seen by all to
turn again in John's direction.
On the death of Clement IV, John of Vercelli was very nearly elected pope.
warned of the possibility, he fled in fright. However, his good friend
Visconti, was elected and took the name Gregory X. He appointed John as
on several different missions.
He was commissioned by the pope to draw up the Schema for the second
council of Lyons in 1274-that council to which Saint Thomas Aquinas was
when death found him on the road. At the council John distinguished himself
his assistance by offering to the council the talents of his best men. At
council, he accepted for the Dominican Order the special commission of
reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus and fighting blasphemy, which was, in
day as in ours, a prevalent vice. He can thus be considered the founder of
Holy Name Society, even though the Confraternity was not formed until 1432.
Several precious relics were suitably enshrined by John of Vercelli. These
included several thorns from the Crown of Our Lord, which had been given him
Saint Louis of France. The cord of Saint Thomas, with which he had been
by the angels and which he had worn until death, was given into the care of
master general, who gave it to the convent of Vercelli for safe keeping.
John's career was rapidly reaching its end. In 1279, he presided over the
chapter of Paris at which the order made the doctrine of Saint Thomas
its own. The following year he laid the foundations of the Church of Santa
Sopra Minerva. One of his last official acts was to provide for a work on
instruction of novices (Benedictines, Dorcy).
"For He came to save all through means of Himself-all, I say, who through
are born again to God-infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old
-Irenaeus, Against Heresies,2,22:4 (A.D. 180),
Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is the
of her. 11 The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no
of spoils. 12 She will render him good, and not evil, all the days of her
A prayer to the Holy Ghost to be freed from evil habits:
Give to me, I beseech Thee O Holy Ghost, Giver of all good gifts, that
powerful grace which converts the stony hearts of mortals into burning
furnaces of Thy love. By Thy grace, free my captive soul from the thraldom
of every evil habit and concupiscence, to restore to it the Holy
liberty of the children of God, Give me to taste how sweet it is to serve
the Lord and crucify the flesh with its vices and concupiscences. Enlarge
my heart that I may ever cheerfully run the way of Thy commandments until I
reach the goal of my aspirations: the joy and bliss of Thy habitation in
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