St. Salvatore of Horta (Feast day - March 18th) St. Salvatore is usually described as "of Horta" because he spent many years in the Franciscan Friary of that place. He was born at Santa Columba in the diocese of Gerona in Spain. He came of a poor family, and lost both his parents while still a child. Migrating to the town, he worked as a shoemaker in Barcelona. At the age of twenty, as his heart was set on the religious life, he became a Franciscan of the Observance. Employed in the kitchen, his virtue quickly matured in these humble surroundings, but he thirsted for greater austerity, and passed on, first to the convent of St. Mary of Jesus at Tortosa, and then to the solitude of St. Mary of the Angels at Horta in the same diocese. In that house of very strict observance, he made a protracted stay but eventually he returned to Barcelona, where his supernatural gifts attracted much notice, and where the blind, lame and deaf came to him to be healed. He always walked barefoot, scourged himself daily, and kept long and rigorous fasts. He was specially devoted to our Lady and to St. Paul who appeared to him on several occasions, notably on his death-bed. St. Salvatore had gone to Sardinia in compliance with the orders of his superiors when he was seized with an illness which proved fatal. He died at Cagliari, being forty-seven years of age, in 1567. He was venerated as a saint during his lifetime and was eventually canonized in 1938.
A reputation for holiness does have some drawbacks. Public recognition can be a nuisance at times—as the confreres of Salvator found out. Salvator was born during Spain’s Golden Age. Art, politics and wealth were flourishing. So was religion. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.
Salvator’s parents were poor. At the age of 21 he entered the Franciscans as a brother and was soon known for his asceticism, humility and simplicity.
As cook, porter and later the official beggar for the friars in Tortosa, he became well known for his charity. He healed the sick with the Sign of the Cross. When crowds of sick people began coming to the friary to see Salvator, the friars transferred him to Horta. Again the sick flocked to ask his intercession; one person estimated that two thousand people a week came to see Salvator. He told them to examine their consciences, to go to confession and to receive Holy Communion worthily. He refused to pray for those who would not receive those sacraments.
The public attention given to Salvator was relentless. The crowds would sometimes tear off pieces of his habit as relics. Two years before his death, Salvator was moved again, this time to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. He died at Cagliari saying, "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." He was canonized in 1938.
Medical science is now seeing more clearly the relation of some diseases to one’s emotional and spiritual life. In Healing Life’s Hurts, Matthew and Dennis Linn report that sometimes people experience relief from illness only when they have decided to forgive others. Salvator prayed that people might be healed, and many were. Surely not all diseases can be treated this way; medical help should not be abandoned. But notice that Salvator urged his petitioners to reestablish their priorities in life before they asked for healing.