St. William of Montevergine
William of Montevergine was born in 1085 A.D. in Italy. He is also knownas William the Abbot or William of Vercelli. A famous Catholic hermit,he also founded the Congregation of Monte Vergine. This congregationalso became known as the Williamites.
Life and Works of William of Montevergine
Born of noble parents, William of Montevergine lost his parents at avery young age. As a result of this, a family member raised him. When hereached a suitable age, he undertook a pilgrimage to Santiago deCompostela.
While on this pilgrimage, he came across a blacksmith. He instructed theblacksmith to make an iron implement. This iron implement was toencircle his body, causing pain to William of Montevergine. Hesitantly,the blacksmith made the iron implement. With this implement, William ofMontevergine continued his pilgrimage.
Upon returning to Italy, he was beaten up and robbed by thieves. He hadintended to continue his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. However, once thethieves beat him up, it was taken as a sign by God to remain in Italyand spread the word of Christ instead.
With this sign of God to remain in Italy, William of Monteverginesettled on the summit of Mount Vergine. Here, he lived as a hermit andspread the word of Christ. Soon after this, he gained several followersand founded the Monastery of Montevergine.
Roger II of Sicily served as a patron to William. He also built andfounded several monasteries around Sicily in order to continue spreadingthe word of Christ and help women and men who needed it. When becomingpatron to William, he built a monastery opposite his palace. This wasdone to ensure that William always remained near him. It is also said,by Roger II, that William was able to perform miracles.
One of his most notable miracles that he performed is known as the“Miracle of the Wolf.” This miracle was performed in 1591. One day atthe monastery in Montevergine, a wolf killed a donkey. At the monastery,donkeys are seen as saints and are very valuable. They are used fortowing and other tasks around the grounds of the monastery. Upset by thekilling of the donkey, William of Montevergine ordered the wolf toperform the tasks of the slain donkey. The donkey immediately becametame and docile, performing all the tasks of the donkey he had slain.The people at the monastery were shocked to see this happen but praisedWilliam for his doing.
One of the duties of a priest is to exercise their ministry and continueto spread the word of Christ. Being a hermit, this compromised hischosen way of living. His way of life was also not agreed upon by hisfellow priests in the area; saying that his chosen way of life was tooprivate and strict.
As a result of these disagreements with his way of living, William ofMontevergine decided to leave Montevergine. In 1128, he left and settledon the plains in Goleto. Here, he founded several monasteries and beganto experience a new way of monastic life. He lived with a doublemonastery, built mostly by the women in the area.
While living and experiencing this new way of monastic life, William ofMontevergine also undertook several trips to Apulia. Here, he continuedto spread the word of Christ.
The Death of William of Montevergine
On 25 June 1142, William of Montevergine passed away in Goleto ofnatural causes. His remains stayed in Goleto. 2 September 1807, the kingof Naples Gioacchino Murat ordered for the remains of William ofMontevergine to be transported back to Montevergine.
In 1224, William of Montevergine was canonized by Pope Pius XII andbecame the patron saint of Irpinia. He is venerated in the RomanCatholic Church, often being attributed to having a wolf and crosier byhis side.
5 Interesting Facts About St. William of Montevergine
- In Italian, William of Montevergine is known as Gulielmo.
- The miracle performed by William at Ouse Bridge is believed to
have led to him being canonized.
- He undertook his first pilgrimage at the young age of fourteen.
- He is known for being barefoot, choosing to not wear shoes.
- His relics can still be seen in Montevergine today
Prayer to St. William of Montevergine
St. William of Vercelli,You were a father to your monksand a shepherd to your people.Pray for us that we might have our sight restored,that we might see with the eyes of our hearts and souls,God’s presence in and around us.Teach us to nourish our spiritual journeys with prayerso that we too might be instrumentsof God’s light and love to others.In the spirit of St. Benedict help usto be people of hospitality who let our work become prayer.Let us find God in each other.Amen.