It may surprise more than a few people that the most recently canonized Carmelite saint is also the national hero of Portugal. Although he is not widely known in the rest of the world, just mention “the Holy Constable” in Portugal, and everyone knows who you are talking about.
In the context of the Middle Ages, Andrew Corsini stands out as one who was ahead of his time as a church reformer and a saintly example of what a leader should be.
In a world like our own, where factionalism and deep religious and political divisions poison our relationships, a saint like Peter Thomas is like a breath of fresh air. His life as a devout Carmelite and a diplomatic healer and trouble-shooter reminds us that reconciliation and common ground are always possible with God’s help.
But Simon was a very real person – a BIG saint, to tell the truth. But his popularity has been somewhat opposed to finding an accurate portrait, since we have too many stories about him, and too few reliable facts.
Lorenzo de Vedruna and his wife Teresa Vidal raised their eight children to be very proper and perfect little aristocrats, and never dreamed that their fifth child, little Joachina, was anything out of the ordinary. But she was.
More than a few people have the experience of a traumatic event in their lives that becomes a blessing in disguise, as they struggle to cope with tragedy and suffering. Such a case applied to a young soldier from the Duchy of Lorraine.
Throughout the earliest centuries of the Carmelite Order, the vast majority of its religious women were cloistered nuns, who led very simple and austere lives. Their primary ministry to the Church was prayer and contemplation, so they had little or no contact with people outside their own walls. That all changed with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
The Carmelite friars managed to log over two centuries in Europe before there was any serious attempt to establish a structure for communities of women.
Individual men began to assemble on Mount Carmel during the Crusades, largely because that place was associated with the great prophet Elijah. We know that most of these individuals were Europeans who had come east with the crusaders, but there is no evidence how many may have been knights, hermits, pilgrims, merchants, sailors, or ordinary soldiers.
In a world known for its callous disregard for the poor and downtrodden, the example of Angelo Paoli is a refreshing breath of air. Angelo cared so well for his unfortunate brothers and sisters that he was known as “Father Charity” or “Father of the Poor.”