On this day we celebrate the feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order: Sts. Bonfilius, Bonajuncta, Manettus, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostene, and Alexis.
"About the year 1240, while the struggle between Emperor Frederick II and the Apostolic See left Italian cities torn by rival factions, seven Florentine merchants decided to retire in solitude to [live] a common life marked by penance and prayer. They were already members of a lay group called Servants of Saint Mary and were noted for their special devotion to Our Lady, and for a close adherence to the gospel ideal of fraternal love and service to one another and to others, especially the poor and the sick.
"Consequently, they put aside their commercial activities, left their homes and distributed their personal possessions among the churches and the poor. The grey cloth commonly worn by penitents became their regular dress. They moved into a small house outside the city walls where they continued to minister to the spiritual and material needs of those who came to them for help."
". . . in the year 1304, Pope Benedict XI definitively approved the Order of Servants of Saint Mary with the Bull 'Dum levamus.' He wrote concerning the original spirit of the Order: 'Because of the devotion you have for the glorious Blessed Virgin Mary, you have taken her name, humbly calling yourselves her Servants.'"
--from the Office of Readings "for the Solemnity of the Seven Holy Fathers of Our Order".
Their names in the world were Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Amadeus de Amidei (Bartolomeus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell' Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sostene), and Alessio de' Falconieri (Alexius).
St. Alexius lived to be a hundred years old. He died on February 17, 1310. The Seven Holy Founders share a common feast, just as they share a common grave.
Click here for the web site of the Servite Order. To find the Eucharistic Liturgy and the Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity, click Spirituality at the top, then Servite Hagiography, then Saints of the Order, then Seven Holy Founders, then Liturgy. To see some pictures of the Seven, click on Photos at the top, then Santi e Beati.
"The solemnity of our Seven Holy Founders, which coincides this year with the conclusion of a year-long celebration of Alexis, their longest-living member, is a providential occasion to return [thanks to] the Lord and our Lady for our vocations, and to reflect once more on the beauty of our charism."
--from Cosmo On Line, February 2011 (Scroll to the bottom for information about obtaining a comic book about the Seven Holy Founders.)
For information about the USA Province of the Friar Servants of Mary, click here. Click Servite Family at the top for information about the Secular Order and the Confraternity.
A very happy feast to all members and friends of the Servite Family!