Nov 3 – Bl Simon Ballachi, OP, (1250-1319) – Swords? Plowshares? WTF?

Bl Simon Ballachi

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares,

   and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2:4)

-by Br Martin Davis, OP, Br Martin was born in Georgia, attended college in Michigan, and there converted to the Catholic faith.

“The prophet Isaiah predicts that the coming of Jesus Christ will usher in a time when the tools of war will be turned into tools for fruitful harvests. But when exactly will the coming of Christ that leads to this disarmament take place?

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of three comings of Christ: the incarnation, the coming of Christ at the end of the world, and the coming of Christ into the hearts of believers in the time in between. During the first coming of Christ, Jesus told us that to live by the sword would mean to die by the sword, and he told Peter to put away his sword in the garden of Gethsemane. At the end of the world, there indeed will be an end to warfare altogether. In the meantime, the coming of Christ into our hearts can help us to put away the sword of sin, guile, and malice.

An example of this that is both literal and spiritual is found in Blessed Simon Ballachi. Blessed Simon was born into nobility in 1250 in Rimini, a city on the Adriatic Sea in what is now Italy. His homeland was filled with fruitful farmland and orchards, benefited from a strategic trade position, and often experienced warfare involving mercenary armies. His family expected him to assume, upon an appropriate age and maturity, administrative responsibility for his family’s estates. From an early age, Blessed Simon was trained to serve in the military, and he would become a mercenary as a young man. But at the age of 27, he put away the sword and joined the Order of Preachers as a cooperator brother.

After joining the Order, Simon’s superiors gave him the task of tending to the garden. Simon spent long hours working in the garden, doing penance, and praying. After many years of humble service to his fellow friars, he had to retire from his physical work after losing his sight at the age of 57.

Although his physical eyesight failed, he received many spiritual visions late in life. Jesus, Mary, Dominic, Peter of Verona, and Catherine of Alexandria all came to speak with him directly. Blessed Simon peacefully passed on to his heavenly reward on November 3, 1319.

Blessed Simon literally put away the sword and took up the tools of the garden, but he also hammered the sword in his heart into a plowshare of charity. The tools of war, malice, and anger were turned into tools of peace and spiritual fruitfulness. Blessed Simon was known for praying fervently in the garden while working. He also wore the chains with which he used to bind prisoners as a penance for the sins he had committed as a mercenary. (I recently visited Sinsinawa, WI where I saw the penitential chain worn by Ven Samuel Mazuchelli, OP, the cause of a modern miracle in the cure of lung cancer in Robert Uselmann of Monona, WI in 2001, when he traveled the 75 miles to Sinsinawa to pray with Ven Fr Mazuchelli’s penitential chain, found on his body immediately after death.) From all of this he grew deeply in charity. Blessed Simon invited Jesus Christ to reshape the sword in his heart after he had given up the sword in his hand.

While most of us do not need to put the physical sword away to avoid the sins of pillaging and unjust war, we do have a need for Jesus to come into our hearts to replace the evils and malice there with charity. Blessed Simon is an eschatological sign in that he was transformed by the spiritual coming of Jesus into his heart ahead of the coming of Jesus at the end of the world.

Consecrated religious, such as the cooperator brothers of the Dominican Order, embrace God’s call to become an eschatological sign on earth in order to fulfill now, in a limited and spiritual way, what will be brought to complete perfection at the end of the world.”

First Vespers:

Ant. Strengthen by holy intercession, O Simon , confessor of the Lord, those here present, have we who are burdened with the weight of our offenses may be relieved by the glory of thy blessedness, and may by thy guidance attain eternal rewards.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Ant. Well done, good and faithful servant, because Thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will set thee over many, sayeth the Lord.

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily.

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord.

Second Vespers:

Ant. I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock..

V. Pray for us. Blessed Simon

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Let us Pray: O God, Who, among his other virtues, didst adorn Blessed Simon Thy Confessor, with constant diligence in prayer and a singular prerogative of humility, grant us so to imitate him that, despising all the things of the world, we may here seek Thee alone, and hereafter attain the rewards in heaven promised to the humble. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Love, and His peace, which surpasses all human understanding and expression,