(1577 - 1622)
Easter: April 24th
St. Fidelis was born at Sigmaringen in Swabia in 1577. He practiced at
first as a lawyer, and so took to heart the cause of the needy that he
was known as the poor man's lawyer. Then, he joined the Capuchin Friars
Minor and was sent by the Holy See to the Grisons in order to bring back
the inhabitants of this canton from Protestantism to the Catholic faith.
His great influence earned him enemies; he was murdered at Seewis on
April 24, 1622.
Fidelis has been called the "protomartyr of the Capuchin Order and
of the Propaganda in Rome." He was born in 1577, became a renowned
lawyer. But feeling that this profession endangered the salvation of his
soul, he decided to join the Capuchin Order, and employ his extraordinary
gift of eloquence in urging the faithful to lead holy lives and in
bringing heretics back to the true faith. An ardent admirer of the
founder of his Order, he was a great friend of poverty. Severe with
himself, he was most considerate towards others, "embracing them
like a mother does her children." When the Austrian army was
stricken by plague, he cared for the spiritual and bodily needs of the
soldiers in such a manner that he was honored with the title,
"Father of the Fatherland."
His devotion toward the Mother of God was truly remarkable. Trusting in
her intercession and that of other saints, he often begged God for the
grace of sacrificing his life in vindication of the Catholic faith. The
occasion came when he was appointed to lead the mission for the
conversion of Grisons (in Switzerland); heroically, he suffered a
martyr's death, and sanctified with his blood the first-fruits of
martyrdom in the Capuchin Order (1622).
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch