St. Angelo of Jerusalem ― a Saint You Should Know About

St. Angelo prophesied that St. Francis would receive the stigmata. St. Francis, on his part, praised Angelo for his impending martyrdom.

Antonio de Pereda, “San Angelo”, c. 1667
Antonio de Pereda, “San Angelo”, c. 1667 (photo: Public Domain)

Convert. Carmelite. Priest. Hermit. Mystic. Reformer. Thaumaturge. Missionary. Firebrand. Martyr. 

What else does a man need to do to become a saint? Like a husband who constantly pulls out all the stops in giving his wife presents, St. Angelo, also known as St. Angelo of Jerusalem, has the raised the standards for Catholics much too high.

With a name like “Angelo” you would think he was Patron Saint of Broken Legs and yet, no. He’s actually the Patron Saint of Converts and Those Who Don’t Beat Around the Bush.

He’s also patron saint of Palermo, Sicily.

No jokes, please. After all, he’s a holy man.

St. Angelo of Jerusalem even healed seven lepers. By the time he reached my age, he had already been dead 10 years.

Personally, I’m well behind on the whole miraculous healing thing so there’s little chance of anyone confusing me with St. Angelo. That, plus he was born in Jerusalem―as you can tell by his name―and I live in New York City―two totally different places. And those Christians who have been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land know it’s much easier to get a good bagel with lox and a schmeer in New York City than it is in Jerusalem. (No hate mail, please. I’m just telling the truth. If the Israelis aren’t open to criticism, they’ll never learn how to make a good bagel.)

Also known as Angelus, Angelo and his twin brother John were Jews born in 1185. Their parents were Jesse and Maria. The twins converted shortly after their mother did. Maria had apparently received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary who welcomed her to the Church. Unfortunately, they’re parents died when the boys were young. Patriarch Nicodemus oversaw their education until the twins turned 18, at which point they joined the Carmelite novitiate at St. Anne Convent near Jerusalem’s Golden Gate.

In 1210, the two were ordained priests. Whereas John chose the aesthetic life at Mount Carmel, Angelo traveled and preached in Palestine where many dozens of cures were attributed to his intercession. Realizing that his miracles were distracting him from his prayer and the sanctifying life, he withdrew to a hermitage in the desert near Mount Carmel. However, his reputation of miracles followed him there also. 

In 1218, he received a vision in which Jesus asked him to preach in Italy which was rife with heretics at the time specifically the Albigensians, the Bogomils and the Patarini. The Albigensians were sort of a 13th-century gnostic, New Age/sexual revolution cult that thought the universe was created by an evil god and abortion was the highest duty and act of love possible. 

Sound familiar?

The Bogomils, also known as the Bulgars, were also gnostics but more similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses in that they believed the Catholic Church was “evil incarnate” and refused to use the cross as a symbol representing Christianity.

The Patariniheld every wacky opinion in common with the Albigensians and Bogomils as well as resurrecting the ancient Donatist heresy, which held that only a priest in a state of grace could administer the sacraments. 

In addition, the Patariniwere working against the Crusaders by financially assisting Muslim rulers and leaking battle plans to them.

Again, sound familiar?

In his vision, Angelo was alsotold to ask Pope Honorius III to approve a new rule for the Carmelites which was posthumously granted in 1226.

Angelo was a busy man. He had things to do and nothing short of martyrdom was going to stop him. Technically even martyrdom didn’t stop him.

On April 1, 1219, Angelo set off on a Genoese ship stopping briefly at Messina, Sicily and then headed out to Civitavecchia and then onward to Rome to meet with the pope. 

Angelo preached in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran where he met both Sts. Francis of Assisi and Dominic, who congratulated him for his excellent preaching. 

He prophesied that St. Francis would receive the stigmata. St. Francis, on his part, praised Angelo for his impending martyrdom.

Angelo returned to Palermo where he was a guest of the Basilians priests for over a month. This is where he healed the seven lepers I alluded to early. He then healed the Archbishop of Palermo Bernardo de Castanea for good measure. He directed his attentions to the Jewish community in Sicily converting 200 souls to Christ.

He then moved on to Licata in southern Sicily where his reputation as a miracle worker still dogged him. 

It was in Licata where St. Angelo turned his steady, unwavering attention to a local Albigensian warlord/knight pervert named Berenger or Berengarius who was involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister. As I mentioned early, the Albigensians were a sex cult that held that no limits are acceptable.

Angelo, knowing exactly when to shut up and refusingto do so, made it clear in public exactly what Berenger was doing with his sister. The girl approached the saint asking for forgiveness and asked for his assistance in leaving her brother’s thrall. Berenger was furious because those who lead sinful lives hate to be told they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. 

On May 1, 1220, the knight went with several of his henchmen to attack Angelo in front of Sts. Phillip & James Church in Licata where he was preaching to the gathered crowd. Berenger stepped up to the unarmed friar running him through five times with his sword―the same number of Christ’s wounds. The saint died of his wounds on May 5, which became his feast day. 

While dying, he prayed incessantly to God asking Him to forgive his attacker and begging his defenders to not seek revenge for his murder. He was buried in the church in which he was attacked. 

Pope Pius II canonized Angelo as a martyr in 1459.

In 1486, his relics were translated from a simple wooden casket to a silver urn. His relics were once again transferred to an even nicer reliquary on his feast day, May 5, 1623. The Sicilians, still upset that their island was the site of Angelo’s martyrdom, built Santa Maria del Carmine, a much nicer church, 40 years later and had the saint’s relics moved in Aug. 15, 1662. The church is now his major shrine and a site of pilgrimage which sees many tens of thousands of pilgrims every year even to this day.

The end of a bubonic plague outbreak in Palermo in 1656 was attributed to Angelo’s intercession. He’s been the patron saint of the good people of Palermo ever since. Apparently, all is forgiven.

Like I said, Angelo is a busy man/saint. He’s still got saint stuff to do.

St. Angelo’s actions proves Christ’s own words, “To those who are given much, much more will be given. (Luke 12:48)

Frankly, Angelo is making the rest of us slackers look bad.