Agnellus of Pis
Blessed Agnellus of Pisa died the death of the saints in the year 1232, when he was but thirty-eight years old. His grave and the church in which he was buried were destroyed during the persecution of the Catholics in the reign of Henry VIII.
It was the privilege of Blessed Agnellus to have been received into the order by St Francis himself. He descended from an ancient noble family at Pisa. The government of the Parisian province of the order was entrusted to him. Later on the holy Founder sent him to England with eight companions. Here Agnellus found it possible to establish several convents of his order and to unite them into a province. Due to his zeal and to his virtuous life, many young men, some from the most prominent families in England, took the habit of the Poor Man of Assisi.
In order to provide the young clerics with a thorough education he established a school of theology at Oxford. Meanwhile, however, he infused into them a great desire for perfection and a holy fidelity to the rule of the order, in all of which he led them by his own good example.
His humility was so profound that under no circumstances could be be prevailed upon to receive holy orders. Finally, however, he yielded in obedience to the general chapter. A great part of his time was devoted to meditation. At holy Mass and in choir he was so overcome with interior affections that he was frequently found weeping.
Blessed Agnellus of Pisa knew that while the ambitious are always ill at ease as to whether or not they will be properly esteemed, or whether their dignity will be duly acknowledged, the humble live in continual peace of soul. They do not wait for approval and do not fear ill success. Their will is directed solely to the honor of God. They expect a reward from Him alone.
His health is said to have been undermined by his efforts in this cause and by a last painful journey to Italy. Opon his return he was seized with dysentery at Oxford and died there, after crying out for three days, "Come, Sweetest Jesus." The cult of Blessed Agnello was confirmed in 1892; his feast is observed in the Archdiocese of Birmingham today and by the Friars Minor on the eleventh.
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