Every May 5, the Church celebrates Saint Angel of Sicily, a Catholic Christian born in Palestine and one of the first members of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelites). At the side of San Bartolo, founder of the Order, Angel traveled from his native land to Rome with the purpose of requesting the approval of the Rule for his Order. He died a martyr in 1226 in Sicily, Italy.
The path of prayer and proclamation
This saint was born in the city of Jerusalem in 1185. His parents were Jewish converts to Christianity. According to an ancient tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to her parents to make them disciples of her Son.
Angel showed from childhood a great interest in the things of God and that his heart was made to give himself to his service. With little more than 10 years he began to study and at 15 he already mastered Greek, Latin and Hebrew. Upon reaching 25, more mature in faith, he requested incorporation into Carmel, in the monastery of Santa Ana in Jerusalem.
For the next five years he lived as a hermit and Jesus himself appeared to him to show him the evil that awaited the Holy Land because of the Muslim invasion. The Lord then entrusted him to go to the West to preach and convert sinners, and thus awaken in the people the desire to watch over the land where he was born and lived. Ángel, after being ordained a priest in 1218, received from his Order the mission of traveling to Rome and obtaining the pontifical approval of the new Rule of Carmel. This would later come by mandate of Pope Honorius III in 1226.
The saint to whom Christ showed the future of the Church
By order of the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Angel preached for a time in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran (Rome) with abundant fruits of holiness. These intense days of prayer and preaching became a propitious occasion for an unexpected meeting. San Ángel had a vision of Christ that showed him the faces of two great saints: Santo Domingo de Guzmán and San Francisco de Asís. Then the Savior told him: “There are two new and firm columns of the Church”, alluding to the two great founders of the mendicant orders: Dominicans and Franciscans, respectively.
Abundant fruits of conversion
Once this stage was concluded, Saint Angel would be sent as a preacher to the island of Sicily (Italy), with the purpose of instructing and converting the followers of Catharism (a heresy that condemned the sacrament of marriage, denied the resurrection of the dead and proposed an understanding erroneous part of Christian moral doctrine). With the help of God, the saint was successful in converting many heretics; and thanks to his Jewish ancestry, he was able to bring the Gospel to many of his countrymen. It is even said that he managed to convert more than 200 Jews in Palermo.
The life of our saint ended in the city of Licata, in southwestern Sicily. As he finished preaching to the crowd, he was stabbed to death by a gang of thugs. Mortally wounded, he fell to his knees, forgave his murderers and offered his death for the conversion of sinners.
The devotion to Saint Angel of Sicily became very popular from the mid-15th century, when his cult was officially recognized by Pope Pius II in 1459.
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