St. Thomas of Cori

On January 11, Franciscans honor the memory of St. Thomas of Cori (1655-1729), one of the more recently canonized Franciscan saints, who is not well known outside the region of Rome. Thomas was born into a family of poor shepherds; orphaned at the age of 14, he worked to support his sisters until their marriages, and then entered the Friars Minor. His deep spiritual discernment was evident at an early age; his first assignment after his ordination was to help with the formation of the novices. Very soon, though, Thomas asked to join one of the houses of prayer then springing up in the Order, which were attempting to revive a life according to Francis's Rule for Hermitages. In 1684, he went to the hermitage of Civitella (Bellegra), in the rugged mountainous area around Subiaco, where he spent almost all the rest of his life.

Thomas reminds us of the central place prayer should occupy in the Franciscan life. As Francis stated in his Rule: "The brothers should work faithfully and devotedly, so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute" (5.1-2). And so Thomas devoted himself to prayer and the humble daily rhythms of fraternal life, but also went out to preach effectively throughout the villages of the Subiaco region in a simple, direct style. He died at Bellegra on January 11, 1729. The friary there still remains a "retiro" or house of prayer of the Order. Thomas was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1999. A fuller biography is available on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_19991121_tommaso-da-cori_en.html

Written by : Dominic Monti

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