Posted by: Fr Chris | March 16, 2018

Blessed Torello of Poppi – March 16

Image result for the rooster shall crow three times

This life reads like that of an Eastern anchorite! This Italian man was prompted by a most unusual event to withdraw into the mountains of Italy and live as a hermit. He achieved not only great holiness, but wolves responded to his prayers, like Saint Francis, his patron.

Born 1202 in the Tuscan town of Poppi, Blessed Torell of Poppi came from the noble family of Torelli. When he lost his parents at the age of eighteen, he was thinking of devoting himself to the service of God and gave generous alms to the poor. But he had two bad friends and was soon corrupted by their example and influence, so that he became the scandal of the town. One day, when he was about thirty-six years old, Blessed Torello of Poppi was amusing himself with his associates at the game of bowling. During the game a rooster perched on his arm and crowed three times. Torello took this as a warning from heaven, deserted his friends without delay, and went to confession to a priest at the abbey of San Fedele, one of the houses of the Vallombrosan Benedictines. He later joined the Third Order of Saint Francis.

File:Beato Torello da Poppi di Arezzo.jpg

After purchasing the land around this cave and giving what remained of his property to the poor, he built a little hermitage at the cave and cultivated a small vegetable garden to provide himself with food. But he ate very little and fasted for days at a time. He limited his sleep to three hours daily, and slept on a bed of brushwood and thorny twigs. To overcome the persistent temptations of the flesh and the devil, he scourged himself unmercifully and sometimes immersed himself in freezing water.

Like St Francis, he possessed a supernatural power over the wolves, of whom there were many in the Casentino mountains during the thirteenth century. He worked several miracles in behalf of children who were carried off by wolves, and for others who were attacked and bitten by wolves, both before and after his death. When he was eighty years old, Blessed Torello went back to the abbey of San Fedele to make a general confession of his whole life and to ask that his body be buried at the abbey. He died this day in 1282 while he was at prayer.                  – edited from: The Franciscan Book Of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, OFM

A question for us: Torello was moved to repentance by the striking event of the rooster crowing three times, as it did for Saint Peter during the Passion of Christ. So what will it take to move us to permanent repentance over our habitual sins?  The Crucifix? Good Friday? The stillness of the tomb on Holy Saturday? Without repentance and conversion, the celebrations of Easter Sunday will be empty. 

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