A Garner of Saints – Saint Nilus

detail of a photograph of portrait of Saint Nilus the Younger, Sanctuary of San Nicodemo, Mammola, Italy; artist unknown; photographed on 17 May 2007 by GJo; swiped off WikipediaArticle

Born in 910 at Rossana in Calabria. He married but lived a life of regular devotion, and on the death of his wife he gave himself entirely to the religious life. When the Saracens invaded Italy he fled to Capua and took refuge in the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, the monks soon after assigning to him and his followers a small monastery hard by. Pandolfo prince of Capua left a widow and two sons. She instigated the sons to murder their cousin, and now in remorse came to Nilus to entreat absolution. The saint refused unless she would deliver up one of the sons to the family of the murdered man. She refused, and though she offered Nilus rich gifts, he declined to give her absolution, denounced her crimes and flung her money on the ground. Soon afterwards the younger of the brothers assassinated the elder, and was put to death by Hugh Capet, king of France. Nilus left Capua and went to live at Rome in the convent of Saint Alexis on the Aventine. He wrought many miracles there, curing a poor epileptic boy. The Emperor Otho happened to be in Rome at the same time, and Nilus went to this prince and to Pope Gregory V to ask them to have mercy on the antipope who had just been expelled. He looked upon both Otho and Gregory as the enemies of God, and having addressed to them a letter full of reproaches, he fled from Rome. During his absence the pope died, and on his return the emperor came to visit Nilus in his cell and was much edified by his piety. He wished to rebuild and richly endow the monastery, but Nilus declined all his offers, urging him to think of the salvation of his soul. Not long afterwards Otho died at the early age of twenty-six. The saint also died about the same time, at the age of ninety-five, in the year 1005. The gifts which he had refused were accepted by his disciple Bartolommeo, who erected the church and convent of Saint Basil of Grotta Ferrata. It is said that the site was indicated to Nilus and Bartolommeo by the Virgin, who appeared and presented them each with a golden apple. One day as Nilus was kneeling before the crucifix, the figure held out its arm and blessed him. He used oil from the lamp of the altar in performing his miracles in order that they might not be attributed to him. 26th September.


  • Dressed in the Benedictine habit, holding a lamp containing oil, or else with a crucifix, the right hand of which is extended in the attitude of benediction.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Nilus”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 April 2017. Web. 16 July 2018. <>