Father of the poor

Vanity of Vanities
All is Vanity.
Ecclesiastes 1:2

Saint Thomas of Villanova, whose feast is celebrated today, had all the reasons in the world to boast – a good family, a good education, a professorship in philosophy at twenty-six, prior and provincial of the Augustinians, archbishop. But I think he would more likely glory in being called “father of the poor” and “the almsgiver.”

When he was named archbishop of Valencia in 1544, he walked to his new archdiocese on foot, in his well-worn Augustinian habit with an old hat. The canons of the cathedral raised money to buy furniture for his dwelling, but he donated it to a local hospital. All that he accepted was a new hat.

He proceeded to reform his diocese, but he was most known for his generosity to the poor. Hundreds were fed every day. When someone complained that there were “unworthy poor,” taking advantage of his largesse, he noted that this is a concern for the police; he was called “to assist and relieve those who come to my door.”

He was, like many bishop saints, concerned for the poor – not only fed them but caring for foundling and poor brides. As he approached death he gave all his goods to the poor. He donated his bed to the prison but borrowed it until his death on September 8, 1555.

All is vanity – unless it is given to God and the poor.


Statue on the grounds of Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania 


One response to “Father of the poor

  1. Pingback: “Brother” Jacoba and Saint Francis | walk the way

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