Saint William of Montevergine- Animal Parton Saint for June 25th
Today, on June 25th, we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint William of Vercelli, also known as Saint William of Montevergine.
Also known as William the Abbot, he was a Catholic hermit and the founder of the Congregation of Monte Vergine, or “Williamites.” He is a recognized saint by the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint William undertook a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
During this pilgrimage, he asked a blacksmith to make an iron implement that would encircle his body and increase his suffering to wear for the duration of the trip.
After he returned to Italy, he intended to go to Jerusalem, but while en route, he reached Southern Italy, where he was beaten up and robbed by thieves.
Saint William considered this misfortune a sign of God’s will to stay in that region to spread the message of Christ. So, he settled on Monte Vergiliana, located in the Province of Avellino, where he decided to live as a hermit.
The Monks of Montevergine
As a hermit, he embraced solitude.
But solitude was difficult to maintain. His fame as a holy man spread throughout the region, and people visited William’s eremitic cell. The hermit became the Abbot of a small community, the beginning of the Order of Monte Vergine, later recognized in 1126.
Originally, the group had few written rules. Saint William led more by example than by instruction. He undertook rigorous penances, was found constantly at prayer and served the poor great charity.
William’s desire to go on pilgrimage never went away. So, he entrusted the community he had founded to his disciples and returned to the pilgrim’s path. He traveled throughout southern Italy as far as Sicily. Rich or poor, those who met him were fascinated.
Stories of his miracles began to spread, including the famous “Miracle of the Wolf”: when a wolf killed a donkey that William had used for various tasks, the saint commanded the beast to take up the donkey’s burdens; the wolf became perfectly tame.
The Wolf of Saint William of Montevergine
St William’s best-known miracle is the “Miracle of the Wolf, which took place in 1591. Images of the saint often show him with a domesticated wolf. According to legend, a wild wolf was terrorizing the area around Montevergine, eating chickens and goats. The wolf even mauled Saint William’s donkey to pieces.
But St. William prayed to God for strength and tamed this wild wolf, making it his pack animal.
Saint William was a tamer of hearts, not only humans but also of animals. His pious ways and zeal guided his flock by example, enchanting them with his heart of service and compassion.