Blessed Juvenal Ancina was born John Juvenal Ancina in 1545, the son of a successful Spanish businessman. His father sent him to France to study medicine, but his excellent study habits earned him the prestigious opportunity to end his studies at the University of Turin with doctorates in both medicine and philosophy.
By age 24, he had built a thriving medical practice in Turin largely due to his love for the poor, whom he treated without charge. In his spare time, he immersed his love of philosophy through his hobby of poetry-writing, scripting lovely sonnets in Italian and Latin. In those days, his attitude towards spiritual things could be described at best as lukewarm.
His transformation arrived in his own “awakening” at a funeral mass, when the words from the solemn Dies Irae opened his eyes. In an instant, he saw that while he was good, God expected best. From that moment, he began to engage in a life of prayer. He was offered a position as the personal physician of an ambassador and therefore moved to Rome in 1575. There, Juvenal met and began theological studies with Saint Robert Bellarmine. Through this friendship, he began spiritual direction under St. Philip Neri and eventually was ordained a priest with the Oratory.
A successful preacher, he was credited with the transformation of many lives just by the words of his powerful sermons. He is also noted for promulgating the “40 hours devotion,” a practice of continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He befriended St. Francis de Sales and often became the subject of Francis’ writings.
Despite his inner protesting and his attempts to escape the ordination, Juvenal was named Bishop of Saluzzo in 1602. Through this apostolate, he was able to use many of his charisms such as healing and prophecy. One of his last prophecies foretold of his own death.
A friar, upset by the fact that Bishop Juvenal had uncovered his affair with a nun, poisoned him with tainted wine at his monastery. He died a few days later. Juvenal Ancina was declared “blessed” in 1869, as a bishop-confessor.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Rose of Lima (1617), Virgin, first canonized saint of the Americas, Patroness Saint of South America and gardeners
Saints Felix and Adauctus (304), Martyrs
St. Fiacre of Brie (670), Hermit, Patron of gardeners and cab-drivers
Blessed Bronislava (1259), Virgin, Patroness of a happy death, prevention of disease