Nicholas, familiarly known as "Little John," was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits. Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith. Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.
After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.
After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, "Little John" went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.
He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.
Nicholas was a clever builder and architect who used his skills to protect endangered priests. Without his help, hundreds of English Catholics would have been deprived of the sacraments. His gift for spotting unlikely places to hide priests was impressive, but more impressive was his habit of seeking support for his work in prayer and the Eucharist. If we follow his example, we may also discover surprising ways to put our skills to God’s service.
from the American Catholic Website
(San Benvenute di Osimo
Feast Day – March 22
The holy prelate Saint Benvenute of Osimo was born at Ancona, of the distinguished family of the Scotivoli. He studied theology and law at the University of Bologna. After his return to Ancona and his ordination to the holy priesthood, the bishop made him archdeacon or auxiliary in the administration of the diocese, because of his eminent knowledge and striking virtues. In this capacity he rendered such remarkable service to the Church that the attention of Pope Urban IV was drawn to him, and the Holy Father believed that he could find no more capable person to whom he could entrust the administration of the diocese of Osimo.
The city of Osimo, which belonged to the Papal States, had formed an alliance with Emperor Frederick II against the pope and the Church. In penalty, it had, for the space of twenty years, been deprived of a bishop. Governing the people gently yet firmly, Benvenute pacified them and succeeded in convincing them of what was for their best interests, so that they repented and returned to the obedience of the pope.
Now that they desired to have a bishop again, the pope chose the former administrator Benvenute, whom he called “a man according to his own heart.” Far from allowing himself to be elated over the preferment, Benvenute asked the Holy Father for permission to be invested with the holy habit of St Francis and to profess the rule before he was consecrated bishop, for he believed that in the practice of poverty, humility, penance, and constant prayer, he would best be able to govern his diocese properly.
Touched by this request, the Holy Father gave his consent, and Benvenute wore the habit of the Friars Minor from that day until his death, observing the rule most faithfully.
Saint Benvenute of Osimo continued to govern the diocese of Osimo for thirteen years with so much wisdom, and succeeded in putting such order into affairs, that at the end of his administration the words of the Psalmist could be applied: “Mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed” (Ps. 84,11).
When he felt that his end was drawing near, he caused himself to be carried into the cathedral, and there, after the example of his holy Father St Francis, he begged to be laid upon the bare earth, where, amid the prayers of the priests, he passed away peacefully on the twenty-second of March, 1282.
Saint Benvenute of Osimo was buried on the spot where he died, and God at once glorified his tomb with so many miracles that Pope Martin IV canonized him within three years after his death.
from: The Franciscan Book Of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, OFM
Patron of Switzerland, Pontifical Swiss Guards
Hermit and Swiss political figure. Born near Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Switzerland, he took his name from the Flueli river which flowed near his birthplace. The son of a peasant couple, he married and had ten children by his wife, Dorothea Wissling, and fought heroically in the forces of the canton against Zurich in 1439. After serving as magistrate and highly respected councilor, he refused the office of governor several times and, in 1467, at the age of fifty and with the consent of his wife and family, he embraced the life of a hermit, giving up all thought of political activity. Nicholas took up residence in a small cell at Ranft, supposedly surviving for his final nineteen years entirely without food except for the Holy Eucharist. Renowned for his holiness and wisdom, he was regularly visited by civic leaders, powerful personages, and simple men and women with a variety of needs. Through Nicholas� labors, he helped bring about the inclusion of Fribourg and Soleure in the Swiss Confederation in 1481, thus preventing the eruption of a potentially bloody civil war. One of the most famous religious figures in Swiss history, he was known affectionately as �Bruder Klaus,� and was much venerated in Switzerland. He was formally canonized in 1947. He is considered the patron saint of Switzerland.
From Catholic Online Website