The Italian monk and abbot St. Romuald (950?-1027) was very influential in reforming monastic life in the eleventh century. When, as a young man, Romuald witnessed his father kill a relative in a property dispute, he fled to a nearby monastery and adopted a life of penance and prayer. His example of piety, however, put the other monks to shame, and they forced him to leave — an event which helped convince him of the need for monastic reform.
Romuald spent the next thirty years traveling throughout Italy, establishing monasteries and promoting the virtues of a solitary life. He had a great desire to be a martyr, and, with the pope’s permission, set out to preach the gospel in Hungary, but was struck by a serious illness. This condition ended as soon as he halted his journey, but immediately returned every time he tried to continue.
Accepting this as a sign, Romuald returned to his efforts to reform monastic life, sometimes encountering great opposition. On one occasion he was falsely accused of a scandalous crime; his fellow monks believed the accusation, and Romuald humbly accepted the punishment he was given. When a prince gave him a fine horse, the monk exchanged it for a donkey, remarking that he would feel closer to Christ on such a mount.
Romuald’s own father eventually became a monk in one of his monasteries; when he later wavered in his vows, his son’s encouragement helped him remain faithful. St. Romuald died in 1027, and was canonized in 1595.
1. Sometimes, as shown by St. Romuald’s mysterious illness, God gives us very clear signs that a proposed course of action — even a commendable one — is against His will for us.
2. Humility is not only essential for true holiness, but it can also help us influence others. St. Romuald’s humble nature aided his efforts to reform monasticism, and even encouraged his own father to repent.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Juliana Falconieri (1340), Virgin, “Saint of the Holy Eucharist”
Saints Gervase and Protase (165), brothers, Martyrs