A Garner of Saints – Saint Ranieri of Pisa

Blessed Ranieri ScacceriArticle

(French: Regnier) Born at Pisa in 1118 of the illustrious family of the Scaccieri. As a boy he made marvellous progress in the Humanities, but afterwards devoted himself to worldly pleasures, such as music, singing and dancing, so that he attended to nothing else. Now it chanced that a rich man of holy life name Alberto had come to Pisa from Corsica, and while there he learned that his only brother had been assassinated. Moved by this event, he gave all his wealth to God and withdrew with some other monks to the monastery of San Vito, spending all his time in prayer and meditation. Soon he became known throughout Pisa as the Saint, and for some time he lived in Paris, where he performed many miracles. When Alberto returned to Pisa for a short time, Ranieri happened to be one day at the house of a kinswoman, passing the time in pleasure, when the saint passed by, followed by a great multitude. Rising up Ranieri went out to follow him but did not come up with him until they had reached San Vito. The saint dismissed the crowd that was following and turning to Ranieri said that he would be blessed indeed if he served God as he was serving the world. On the following Saturday Ranieri went again to Alberto, who took him aside and showed him the way of God. And suddenly there shone a great light, which lasted for an hour, leaving oil upon their heads, being a visitation of the Holy Spirit. The following day Ranieri went to confess his sins, omitting one which he was ashamed to mention; but a voice came from heaven and declared it. After’this he confessed everything and received absolution from the priest, but when he asked what penance he should perform, the priest would say no more but that God would set him the penance. Upon this the youth returned home in a state of great penitence and grief, and for three days he wept sorely, until he lost the sight of his eyes. His parents were greatly distressed at his afiliction, for he was their only son. After the three days a voice came from Heaven to answer Ranieri’s prayers saying that his sins were pardoned, that the Lord would be with him, but that he should not do any thing without receiving a direction from Heaven. And he arose and his sight was restored, whereupon he ran to his parents to relate the miracle. From this time Ranieri completely changed the course of his life, visiting the churches, helping the poor and calling sinners to repentance. Having prayed the Lord to permit him to go as a pilgrim to Mount Calvary, his petition was at length granted, and bidding farewell to his parents he embarked on a galley for the Holy Land. After a prosperous voyage he reached Jerusalem, where he performed many acts of piety, receiving from the priests a slave shirt which he wore in token of his humility. After he had been in the Holy Land for some years and had visited all the holy places, he happened to be travelling one day through a thick wood, when he came upon two hyenas. Making the sign of the cross he went boldly up to them, commanding them in Christ’s name to do him no harm. And immediately they became tame and gentle, wagging their long tails and licking his feet. After he had given them his benediction, he pursued his journey. He thus passed many years living the life of a hermit. One night as he was feeling the effects of his abstinence he saw a rich vessel of gold and silver, but it was filled with pitch and oil and sulphur, which flamed up so that none could quench it. And one put into his hand a ewer full of water so that after he had poured some drops on the flames they were totally extinguished. By this he understood that by the vase the human frame was signified, by the pitch, the passions, and by the water, temperance. From that time he ate nothing but bread and water. While he was at the Holy Sepulchre, some Pisans arrived there, who, when they recognised him, greeted him joyfully and begged him to return with them. After he had taken counsel with the Lord, he agreed to do so. As he departed, a multitude of people came to the port, lamenting the loss of such a treasure, and he blessed them all. On the way they fell in with two ships and feared that they were pirates, but Ranieri comforted them, and soon they perceived that the vessels bore the white cross on the scarlet ground of the city of Pisa. At the city of Messina there was a fraudulent innkeeper who mixed water with his wine. Ranieri discovered to this man the figure of Satan, sitting on his casks in the shape of a great cat with wings, to the horror of the host, and the wonder of all present. When Ranieri reached Pisa the whole city flocked to meet him, including the archbishop himself. After visiting the tomb of his parents, who had died during his absence, he preached to the people, exhorting them to penitence. Going to the monastery of San Vito, he took up his abode there, being admonished by a heavenly vision, and he began to heal many sick by making the sign of the cross, so that people were brought to him from every hand. On one occasion when the dearly loved daughter of a doctor of medicine named Soffredi had died, Ranieri made the sign of the cross over the body, and soon after they had taken it to the house, the child spoke and in a few days was quite well. The bread and water blessed by him had great efficacy to cure diseases, and mariners took such food with them when they went on their voyages, to preserve them from danger. After his return from Pisa, Ranieri lived seven years, not a day passing that he did not perform some act of mercy, so that he came to be much loved and reverenced by all. The time of his death having been revealed to him, he spent his days in prayer, and, having taken the sacrament in the presence of his friends and disciples, he passed away, in the year 1161. As soon as he was dead all the bells of San Vito and other churches in Pisa rang of themselves, while many sick people came to touch the body and were healed. The archbishop of Pisa, who had not risen from his bed for two years, was healed at the hour of Ranieri’s death and felt so strong that he was able to go and see the body, and offered to sing the mass at the funeral. The body was deposited in a marble tomb in the principal church of the city, remaining there for a hundred years, after which time it was placed upon an altar beside the large chapel of the Annunciation. 17th June.

Attribute

  • The leaning tower of Pisa. Patron saint of Pisa.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Ranieri of Pisa”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 April 2017. Web. 21 August 2017. <>