Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
Feast day: April 24
If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the
clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized
this saint's life. Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his
religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the
poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis
soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his
colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his
brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided
between needy seminarians and the poor.
As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and
needy. Once, during a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of
a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers.
He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the
Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence
threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more
attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his
sermons and instructions.
He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for
independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he
had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but
he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he
declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was
set upon by a group of armed men and killed.
He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the
Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him
as its first martyr.