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Article: June 25 + Saint William of Vercelli

June 25 + Saint William of Vercelli - VENXARA®

June 25 + Saint William of Vercelli

Born in Vercelli, Italy in 1085 of noble and wealthy parents, William was orphaned as a baby and brought up by relatives. He decided to devote his life to God after he completed a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain at the age of 14. He was a generous friend to the poor and his holiness and wisdom drew to him peasants and kings, rich and poor.

William lived as a hermit for two years, and miraculously healed a blind man. He embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was attacked by bandits before he reached his destination. William took the attack as a sign that he would be of more use to God in Italy than in the Holy Land. He lived life as a hermit and his holiness brought him many followers. He formed the Hermits of Monte Vergine (the Williamites), whose rule was very similar to the Rule of Benedict. From among this first group of followers, a community soon formed. William became their Abbot and a church dedicated to Our Lady was built on the site. For this reason, the mountain became known as Monte Vergine or the Mount of the Virgin.

William built the church on Monte Vergine with only a donkey for assistance. One night, a wolf devoured the donkey. William commanded the wolf to take the donkey's place and the wolf complied, not wanting to interrupt God's work.

After a while, however, the Hermits began to complain that William’s rule was too strict and life too austere. He and a small group of brothers decided to leave Monte Vergine in order to avoid conflict. After leaving his community, William continued to found monasteries in Basilicata, Conza, Guglietto, and Salerno and became an adviser to King Roger I of Naples. He died in 1142 at the Guglielmo monastery near Nusco, Italy.

The first congregation of Monte Vergine dissolved years later. 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.

William teaches us, among many other lessons, that even when bad things happen we can be certain that God is with us. When he was robbed, when he had to leave his initial hermitage, and when his donkey was killed, William saw God's plan and trusted that God was speaking to him even through unfortunate and trying events.

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