Blessed Benedict Sinigardi from Arezzo
March 3 (August 13)
Arezzo approx. 1190 – 1282
The call of Lord Benedict Sinigardi happened during a sermon that Saint Francis of Assisi held in 1211 in Arezzo. The fame of the poor man attracted huge crowds everywhere, and that day the Piazza Grande all’inverosimile was full. Among the listeners was Benedict, son of Thomas de Sinigardo Sinigardi and Countess Elizabeth of Tarlati Pietramala. He was representative of two of the most important families of the city, but the words of Francis moved his heard and he decided to change his life.
He had received a good education and was a good Christian, he attended the functions, fasting three times a week. His mind was thus prepared to accept the words of the Seraphic Father and his choice was radical, as he left comforts and riches to joyfully embrace poverty. Hhe received the habit directly from the hands of Francis. He was happy and had excellent qualities that made him loved and esteemed by the brethren and the people. At only 27, he was appointed Minister Provincial of the Marche, a region that had much importance to the Franciscan movement. His zeal to pronounce the Gospel made him ask, then, to go as a missionary in distant lands, even among the infidels and at the risk of his life. He went to Greece, Romania and Turkey, and touched hands with the realities caused by the schism between the Church of the East and West. The final stages of his mission were the places where the Son of God was embodied and lived; he was elected Minister Provincial for the Holy Land and in the sixteen years of his stay in those lands, he built the first Franciscan monastery in Constantinople, having cordial relations with the Emperor. According to tradition John of Brienne, Emperor of Constantinople, following the example of St. Louis of France and S. Elizabeth of Hungary, wanted to receive the Franciscan habit from the hands of Benedict.
After this intense apostolic activity, now elderly, he was called home to his birthplace,Arezzo, where the convent of the Friars Minor was located in Poggio del sole. He died here of old age in 1282, surrounded by the fame of holiness. Miracles were attributed to his intercession by those who had suffered and he was proclaimed blessed by the people before by the Church. We received his writings, but we have two testimonies of his spirituality, centered on devotion to the Passion of Jesus and the Holy Virgin. Commissioned in recent years, was the Crucifix of “Blessed Benedict” which now stands on the high altar of the Basilica of St. Francis, in the center of Arezzo, where his body was moved after the demolition of the convent where he died. It was he who pointed to the painter, the so-called Master of St. Francis, with all the details which had to be performed. In the same Basilica, the chapel, there is also the cycle of frescoes of the “Legend of the Cross”, painted by Piero della Francesca, two centuries later.
Blessed Benedict also gives you the wonderful practice of daily recitation of the antiphon “Angelus locutus est Mariae”, pondering the mystery of salvation of the incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Angelus became a pious practice dear to the whole first Franciscan order, then to the whole Church, as it is today.
In his visit to the city of Arezzo John Paul II, on May 23 1993, after having paused in prayer before the tomb of Blessed Benedict, in his speech said: ‘It is very suggestive that we stop in the middle of the day for a moment of Marian prayer. It is now unique, because we are the place where according to tradition, it was the custom to recite the Angelus Domini. “
The memory of Blessed Benedict Sinigardi is celebrated August 13. In Bibliotheca Sanctorum he is recalled on March 3.
Author: Daniele Bolognini
Source: Santi e Beati