Fidelis, born in 1577 at Sigmaringen, Prussia, was a man of many names. Mark Roy was his baptismal name, Fidelis his religious name, and poor man’s lawyer his nickname. All his life, Mark Roy was known for his generosity.
After receiving his doctorate in philosophy and law, he tutored young boys from noble families. But his heart was with those who were poor. He established himself as a lawyer and took only those cases that upheld the cause of those who were poor and oppressed. Inspired to search for a deeper, more committed life of serving God, Mark decided to enter the Franciscans. He distributed his wealth among people in need and made religious vows. He was soon chosen as superior.
While Fidelis was guardian of the monastery, an epidemic broke out in the city, and Fidelis opened up the friary to care for those who were sick. He cured many soldiers staying there. In 1608, Protestantism swept through Switzerland, and because Fidelis was a good preacher, he was sent by the Propagation of the Faith to bring the Swiss people back to unity with the Church of Rome. People claimed his best results came from the hours he spent in prayer late at night. It was a dangerous mission. The people in revolt against the Catholic Church hated anyone connected with it. But Fidelis put his life in the hands of God. At Seewis in 1622, a gun was fired at him as he preached, but he escaped unharmed. Later, however, he was slain in the church by angry peasants.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen by Andreas Praefcke, 2006. Public Domain via Wikimedia.