Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani, were childless until a prayerful visit to a shrine of St. Nicholas of Myra in Bari, Italy. In gratitude, the couple named their son Nicholas.
Nicholas became an Augustinian friar at age 18, and a student with Blessed Angelus de Scarpetti. He was first a monk at Recanati and Macerata in Italy. He was ordained at age 25 and became Canon of St. Savior’s. There he received visions of angels reciting the phrase “to Tolentino;” he took this as a sign to move to that city in 1274, and there he lived the rest of his life.
Nicholas worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by civil war. He preached every day and was a wonder-worker and healer. He also visited prisoners. He always told those he helped, “Say nothing of this.”
When he received visions, including images of Purgatory, friends ascribed them to his lengthy fasts. Nicholas had a great devotion to the recently dead, praying for the souls in Purgatory as he traveled around his parish, often late into the night.
Once, when severely ill, he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Augustine of Hippo and Monica. They told him to eat a certain type of roll that had been dipped in water. Cured, he began healing others by administering bread, over which he recited Marian prayers. The rolls became known as St. Nicholas Bread and still are distributed at his shrine.
Stories say Nicholas resurrected more than 100 dead children, including several who had drowned together. Another legend says that the devil once beat Nicholas with a stick; the stick was displayed for years in his church.
A vegetarian, an anecdote says Nicholas once was served a roasted fowl; he made the sign of the cross over the bird, and it flew out a window. According to nine passengers on a ship going down at sea, once asked for the aid of St. Nicholas. He appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit, radiating golden light, holding a lily in his left hand. With his right hand he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames.
Nicholas died on Sept. 10, 1305, in Tolentino following a long illness. His relics were re-discovered at Tolentino in 1926. In previous times his relics were known exude blood when the church was in danger
Adapted by A.J. Valentini