SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN (1577-1622)
Roman Catholic Martyr
His feast transferred from April 24
Religion can bring out the best or the worst in people. Consider the era of the Reformations in Western Christianity, for example: Some relied on words to persuade, but others preferred violence. St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen was one of the former group, and he fell victim to members of the latter.
Switzerland was a hotbed of Protestantism, especially Calvinism, in the 1500s and 1600s. Into this mix came the former Mark Roy, formerly a philosophy professor then lawyer who became a Capuchin in 1612. He had taken the name Fidelis (Latin for “faithful”) upon entering the order. Even before 1612 he was famous for giving to the poor, living simply, being devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, attending Mass often, and avoiding invective.
St. Fidelis was convinced that Protestantism (in general) and Calvinism (in particular) were heresies, and he proceeded to work toward converting many Swiss Protestants to Roman Catholicism. He brought his piety and positive attitude to this work, which began in January 1622, on the Feast of the Epiphany. His efforts yielded results and inspired ire among some Calvinists. He preached in churches and on streets, met with town officials, and received many insults and threats along the way.
At Grusch, on April 24, at a church, a group of twenty Calvinist soldiers demanded that St. Fidelis renounce Catholicism. He refused, and they murdered him gruesomely.
Theological disagreements will occur, but they do not justify murder. Regardless of one’s religious opinions, anyone of good faith ought to admire the sincere and good-natured faith of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen and shun the violence and hatred of those who martyred him.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
FEBRUARY 17, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIE ADOLPHINE DIERKS, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR
THE FEAST OF SAINT FINAN OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS SERRANO, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MISSIONARY
THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGRID OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
The Collect and Lections for a Martyr from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and service book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth. Inspire us with the memory of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.