Feastday: April 24
1577 - 1622
1577 - 1622
Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, Germany, in 1577. A practicing lawyer, he traveled across Europe as a tutor to aristocrats but then started defending the poor. In 1612, he became a Franciscan Capuchin monk, taking the name of Fidelis. A missionary to Grisons, Switzerland, Fidelis was so successful that local Protestants claimed that he was a spy for the Austrian Emperor. Fidelis was stabbed to death in a church id Seewis. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV. Fidelis served also as the head of the Congregation for the Spreading of the Faith.
Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577 – 24 April 1622) was a Capuchin friar martyred in the Counter-Reformation at Seewis im Prättigau, Switzerland.
He was born Mark Roy or Rey and took the name of "Fidelis" when he joined the Capuchin Order at the age of 35 in 1612. He was born at Sigmaringen, a town in modern-day Germany, in the then Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. His father's name was John Rey. He studied law and philosophy at Freiburg.
St Fidelis subsequently taught philosophy at the University of Freiburg, ultimately earning a "doctor of laws". During his time as a student he did not drink wine, and wore a hair-shirt. He was known for his modesty, meekness, and chastity.
In 1604, he accompanied three young gentlemen of Switzerland on their travels through the principal parts of Europe. During six years of travel, he attended Mass very frequently; in every town where he came, he visited the hospitals and churches, passed several hours on his knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and gave to the poor sometimes the very clothes off his back.
Upon his return to Switzerland, he practiced law as a counsellor or advocate, at Colmar, in Alsace. He scrupulously forbore all invectives, detractions, and whatever might affect the reputation of any adversary. His charity procured him the surname of "counsellor and advocate for the poor". Disenchanted with the evils associated with his profession, he was determined to enter the Capuchin friars.
Life as a friar
Upon entering the convent, the guardian gave him the Latin religious name of "Fidelis", meaning Faithful, alluding to that text from the Scriptures (Book of Revelation) which promises a crown of life to him who shall continue faithful to the end. He finished his novitiate and studies for the ministry, offering his first Mass at the Capuchin convent at Fribourg, on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4), in 1612.
As soon as St Fidelis finished his course of theology, he was immediately employed in preaching and in hearing confessions. After becoming guardian (superior) of the Capuchin Convent of Weltkirchen, Feldkirch, many residents of town and neighboring places were reformed by his zealous labors, and several Calvinists were converted. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith commissioned Fidelis to preach among the Grisons. Eight other Capuchin fathers were to be his assistants, and they labored in this mission under his direction.
The Calvinists of that territory, being incensed at this attempt to convert their brethren, loudly threatened Fidelis' life, and he prepared himself for martyrdom. Ralph de Salis, and another Calvinist gentleman, were both converted by his first conferences. Fidelis and his companions entered into Prättigau, a small district of the Grisons, in 1622, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. The effects of his ardent zeal, where the Bishop of Coire sent a lengthy and full account to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, enraged the Calvinists in that province.
On April 24, 1622, St Fidelis made his confession, said Mass, and then preached at Grüsch. At the end of his sermon, which he had delivered with more than ordinary zeal, he stood silent all of a sudden, with his eyes fixed upon Heaven, in ecstasy. He foretold his death to several persons in the clearest terms, and began signing his letters, "P. Fidelis, prope diem esca vermium" ("Father Fidelis, in days ahead to become food for worms"). After the service at Grüsch he and several companions traveled to Seewis. His companions noted that he was particularly cheerful.
More at http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3355