Nicholas of Tolentino

Nicholas of Tolentino
Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Pietro Perugino, 1507, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.
Born c. 1245
Died September 10, 1306[1]
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized June 5, 1446 by Eugene IV
Feast September 10
Attributes Augustinian giving bread to a sick person; Augustinian holding a container of bread; Augustinian holding a container of money; Augustinian holding a lily; Augustinian holding crucifix garlanded with lilies; Augustinian with a star above him; Augustinian with a star on his breast; basket with bread rolls; crucifix garlanded with lilies; lily
Patronage animals; babies; boatmen; diocese of Cabanatuan, Philippines; dying people; Lambunao, Philippines; Guimbal, Iloilo, mariners; diocese of Mati,Holy souls; Philippines; sailors; sick animals; souls in purgatory; diocese of Tandag, Philippines; watermen; St. Nicolas de Tolentino Parish, Naujan Or., Mindoro Philippines,; patron saint of La Huerta, Parañaque City; patron saint of Dimiao, Bohol, Philippines (,_Bohol)

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (Italian: San Nicola da Tolentino, Spanish: San Nicolás de Tolentino) (c. 1246 – September 10, 1306), known as the Patron of Holy Souls, was an Italian saint and mystic.



Born at Sant'Angelo in Pontano in Italy, in what was then the March of Ancona, Nicholas was the son of parents who had been childless into middle age. Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani, prayed at the shrine of Saint Nicholas of Myra for his intercession, and when Amata became pregnant they named their son after the saint.

A studious, kind and gentle youth, at the age of 18 Nicholas became an Augustinian Friar and was a student of the Blessed Angelus de Scarpetti. A monk at the monasteries at Recanati and Macerata as well as others, he was ordained in 1271 at the age of 25, and soon became known for his preaching and teachings. Nicholas, who had had visions of angels reciting "to Tolentino", in 1274 took this as a sign to move to that city, where he lived the rest of his life.

In Tolentino, Nicholas worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by strife between the Guelfs and Ghibellines who, in the conflict for control of Italy, supported the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor respectively. He ministered to his flock, helped the poor and visited prisoners. When working wonders or healing people, he always asked those he helped to "Say nothing of this", explaining that he was just God's instrument. Towards the end of his life he became ill, suffering greatly, but still continued the mortifications that had been part of his holy life.[2] Nicholas died in 1306.

During his life, Nicholas received visions, including images of Purgatory, which friends ascribed to his lengthy fasts. He 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 very ill, he received a vision of Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints Augustine and Monica who told him to eat a certain type of bread roll that had been dipped in water. Upon doing so he was immediately cured. He started distributing these rolls to the ailing, while praying to Mary, often curing the sufferers; the rolls became known as Saint Nicholas Bread and are still distributed at his shrine.


Statue of Nicholas of Tolentino on the Charles Bridge.

At his canonization, Nicholas was credited with three hundred miracles, including three resurrections.[3]

There are many tales and legends that relate to Nicholas. One says that the devil once beat him with a stick, which was then displayed for years in his church. In another, Nicholas, a vegetarian, was served a roasted fowl over which he made the sign of the cross, and it flew out a window. Nine passengers on a ship going down at sea once asked Nicholas' aid and he appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit, radiating golden light, holding a lily in his left hand, and with his right hand he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint, it is said, once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames. He was also reported to have resurrected over one hundred dead children, including several who had drowned together.


Nicholas was canonized by Pope Eugene IV(also an Augustinian) in 1466. St Pius V did not include him in the Tridentine Calendar, but he was later inserted into the calendar and given September 10 as his feast day. Judged to be of limited importance worldwide, his liturgical celebration was no longer included among those to be commemorated universally in the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, wherever the Roman Rite is celebrated.[4] St Nicholas of Tolentino is still recognized as one of the saints of the Roman Catholic Church.[5] His saint's day is the date of his death, September 10.

A number of churches and oratories are dedicated to him, including the church of San Nicolò da Tolentino in Venice; San Nicola da Tolentino agli Orti Sallustiani in Rome; the Oratorio di San Nicola da Tolentino (Oratory of San Nicola da Tolentino) in Vicenza; and finally the Basilica di San Nicola a Tolentino in the saint's hometown of Tolentino in the province of Macerata. St. Nicholas de Tolentino in Plaridel, Philippines, San Nicolas de Tolentino Cathedral Parish (Surigao City, Philippines) and St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Atlantic City, NJ are also dedicated to him, it also celebrated the first Mass on Absecon Island.


  1. ^ Garesché, E. (1911). St. Nicholas of Tolentino. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from New Advent:
  2. ^ Garesché, E. (1911). St. Nicholas of Tolentino. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from New Advent:
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, Volume 2. By André Vauchez, Richard Barrie Dobson, Michael Lapidge. (Chicago: Fitzroy, Dearborn, 2000)
  4. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 138
  5. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)

External links

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