Apr 18 – Blessed James Oldo (1364-1404), Priest & Confessor

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Another married saint, born to a well-to-do family at Lodi, Italy, James Oldo knew how to have a good time in his youth.  He was the life of the party.  Self-indulgent and pleased with himself and quite self-satisfied, James sought out the company of others like himself, eventually marrying his wife, Catharine, who also liked to have a good time and enjoyed being popular.  With their soon-to-be-born three children, all seemed well and the future seemed bright for the Oldos.  But, God had other plans for James and Catharine, who might not have agreed with God’s intentions for them, had they known.  Regardless of their would-be displeasure, God has a way of getting His way.

An outbreak of plague drove James, his wife and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague.  Faced with his own mortality, James began to reevaluate.  Still, only slightly shaken from the death of his children, a traveling replica of the Holy Sepulchre came to town one day for veneration by the people.  Thinking it a huge joke, James decided he would test to see who was taller, him or Christ.

James climbed into the shrine and lay in the mock tomb, attempting to mock it.  We do not know exactly what happened next to James Oldo at that very moment, but we do know he had a profound instantaneous conversion experience, while laying where it was intended the Resurrected Body of the Lord was supposed to have lain, James emerged a changed man.

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James decided he would become a secular Franciscan.  His wife and his mother could not comprehend what had happened to their son and husband.  They opposed this new direction and radical change in the life of James.  That is, until James’ mother had a vision of being before the judgment seat of God.  Both women became secular Franciscans along with their son and husband.  They converted the Oldo mansion into a chapel and center for prayer.  They spent the rest of their years working with the sick and the prisoners taken in the civil war that devastated Lodi.

James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. His acts of penance became so severe that his bishop had to order him to eat at least three times a week.  He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of Catharine, James himself became a priest. James became an excellent preacher whose life and words moved many to enter the religious life. He displayed the gift of prophecy by predicting wars and the timing of his own death. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients.  When his body was moved seven years later, it was found to have suffered no corruption.

Love,
Matthew

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