St. William of Vercelli (Feast: June 25)
William was born in 1085 at Vercelli in the Piedmont region of Italy of noble and wealthy parents.
When he was still very young, he was determined to renounce the world and become a hermit.
He built his first hermitage on Monte Solicoli, and then went to Monte Vergine. Many disciples came to him there, attracted by the sanctity of his life and the many miracles he performed.
From among this first group of followers, a community soon formed. William became their Abbot and a church dedicate to Our Lady was built on the site. For this reason, the mountain became known as Monte Vergine or the Mount of the Virgin.
After a while, however, their ardor growing tepid, the monks began to complain that William’s rule was too strict and life too austere. He therefore decided to leave Monte Vergine. He traveled south and founded a new hermitage on Monte Laceno, then others at Basilicata, Conza, Guglietto, and Salerno. He also became an adviser to King Roger I of Naples. William died at Guglietto on June 25, 1142.
The first congregation of Monte Vergine dissolved. The monastery, however, remained and came into the hands of the religious of Our Lady of Monte Cassino, who wear the white habit of St. William in commemoration of the founder of the monastery.
The following extraordinary fact is recorded about the Monte Vergine monastery, where the monks still lead a life of penance and austerity.
According to the rule, it is not permitted to eat meat, eggs, milk, or cheese. If someone tried to violate this regulation, storm clouds would appear in the sky and the lightning would destroy the illicit foodstuff that had been brought into the monastery. This happened on many occasions, and always with the same result.
It is the way God chose to show that He desires the traditions of penance and austerity of the great St. William to be maintained.
SAINT OF THE DAY
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks.