Saint Nicholas of Tolentino
St. Nicholas was born in 1245 in Ancona, Italy. His parents had waited long and anxiously for a child. Nicholas was the answer to prayer and a pilgrimage the couple had made to the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari. The couple was so grateful to the saint that they named their baby after him. When the boy grew up, he talked about becoming a priest. He was prayerful and wanted to live close to God. Friends of his family wanted him to be a priest in a wealthy parish where Nicholas would be promoted. Nicholas didn’t say much, but he quietly searched and prayed.
One day he slipped into a church. A fervent Augustinian priest was preaching a sermon. He said: “Don’t love the world or the things of this world because this world is passing away.” Nicholas thought about this. He went away with the words dancing in his head. He realized how God had used that preacher to touch his own life. He became convinced of the importance of preaching God’s Word. He made up his mind to ask to join the same order to which that priest belonged. The order was the Augustinian Friars and the priest was Father Reginald who became his novice master. Friar Nicholas professed his vows when he was eighteen. Then he began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained around 1270. Father Nicholas performed his preaching ministry with love in various parishes. Then while praying in church one day, he seemed to hear a voice saying: “To Tolentino, to Tolentino. Stay there.”
Shortly afterward, he was assigned to the town of Tolentino. He spent the remaining thirty years of his life there. There was great political unrest in those times. Many people did not come to church to hear the Word and to worship the Lord. The friars of St. Augustine decided that street-preaching was necessary. St. Nicholas was chosen to be part of this initiative. He preached outside and in gathering places willingly. People listened and many repented of their sins and lack of caring. They led better lives. Father Nicholas spent hours in the slum areas of Tolentino. He visited the lonely. He brought the sacraments to the sick and dying. He took care of the needs of children and visited prisoners. Miracles were reported while St. Nicholas was still alive. He touched a diseased child and said, “May the good God make you well,” and the child was cured. St. Nicholas of Tolentino was sick for about a year before he died on September 10, 1305.
He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Eugene IV in 1446. St. Nicholas of Tolentino had been an answer to the prayer of his parents. Because he listened to the call of God in his heart, he could help many people find the Lord.