A Saint Who Was A Bishop – Saint Andrew Corsini

portrait of Saint Andreas Corsini, by Guido Reni, c.1633; Galleria Corsini, now Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy; swiped off Wikimedia CommonsNicholas and Gemma Corsini were very sad because they had no children. They prayed for many years for a child, and promised that if their prayers were heard, they would offer the little one in a special way to God through Our Blessed Lady.

Before their prayers were answered, Gemma had a strange dream. She thought she saw a savage wolf running to the church. She followed it, and after waiting for a while, she noticed that it slowly changed to a gentle lamb.

On the feast of Saint Andrew, 30th November, 1301, Nicholas and Gemma were able to thank God for having sent them a beautiful baby boy whom they named Andrew after the Apostle. Little Andrew belonged to a rich and noble family, and his parents sent him to the best schools where he always did well because he was very clever.

As he grew older, he noticed how the other rich people lived and he wanted to be like them; the world seemed a wonderful place to the young boy. He wanted his own horses and dogs, and more than anything else, he wanted a gun, because in those days, people were always fighting between themselves and Andrew thought it would be great if perhaps he could kill some of his enemies. He became more worldly than ever, he would not obey his mother and father, and laughed at them if they tried to correct him.

One day, when he had spoken very rudely to his mother, she answered him sternly: “I think, my son, that you must be the wolf I saw in my dream.”

She had never spoken about the dream before, and Andrew was surprised at his mother’s words. He asked her to explain them.

“Tell me, mother, what do you mean,” he said.

“Listen carefully to what I am going to say,” answered his mother, and she went on to tell him all about the wolf that had changed to a lamb, and how, because of her promise before he was born, Andrew really belonged more to Our Blessed Lady than to his own parents.

Poor Andrew! He was only fifteen and very upset to think of all the sorrow he had brought to his good mother and father, so he turned to Our Lady and begged her and the Divine Child to help him to behave as a lamb in future and not like a wild wolf.

Next morning Andrew went to the Carmelite Church, and in front of Our Lady’s altar, he repeated his prayer. Then he rose from his knees, and went straight to Father Jerome, the Provincial of the Carmelites. He knelt down before him and asked very earnestly to be received as a postulant in the Order.

Father Jerome, of course, was much surprised to see the worldly Andrew Corsini before him, and still more so to hear his request. He spoke kindly to the boy, but would not give him an answer immediately.

When Andrew left him, Father Jerome went quickly to the boy’s parents to tell them what had happened. Nicholas and Gemma were filled with joy, and told the priest that if their son could be a Carmelite, their dearest wish would come true. Very soon, though he was so young, Andrew was given the brown habit of the Carmelite Order, and from that time, he tried to live as a saint would live.

In the monastery, the Fathers remembered what a wild life their new novice had once led, and also how rich he had been, so they made up their minds to test him. He was given the hardest and humblest work about the place, and those who had once been his friends out in the world laughed at all he had to do now. But he took no notice of them, and tried his best – even though it was not always easy – to be faithful to his daily duties for the love of God and Our Lady.

At last, it was time for Andrew to be ordained a priest and to offer his first holy Mass. This is a wonderful day in the life of any priest, and it was particularly so for Andrew, because after Communion, Our Lady appeared to him, and said: “You are my servant, I have chosen you, and will be glorified in you.”

Father Andrew, who was so good at his school work when a boy, was now sent to the University of Paris, because when God makes a person clever it is good to use that cleverness for Him. Father Andrew wrote books, too, and he loved to explain the meaning of the writings of the Bible.

He was so wise and good that later on he was made Prior of the Carmelites in Florence, a beautiful Italian city, then Provincial of all Tuscany, and, finally, he was appointed Bishop of Fiesole. It was while he was Bishop that Andrew Corsini, who had once been a little boy longing to fight with a gun, became known as the peacemaker, because he tried so tirelessly to get people to live at peace with one another.

One Christmas when Bishop Andrew was offering Midnight Mass in the Cathedral at Fiesole, Our Lady appeared to him again. This time she came to tell him that he who had so faithfully served her on earth would soon be with her Divine Son forever in Heaven. The holy Carmelite was overjoyed to hear the news, and at once began to prepare for his death.

On January 6th, 1375, the Feast of the Epiphany, just as Our Lady had said, Saint Andrew Corsini died very peacefully with this prayer on his lips: “Now dismiss Your servant, O Lord, in peace.” After his death, many miracles were worked when people prayed to him, and Pope Urban VIII canonized him as a saint. His feast is kept on February 4th.

Boys with bad tempers can learn from Saint Andrew that with grace and perseverance it is possible to overcome their anger and impatience. They can also imitate him in his great devotion to Our Blessed Lady.

– from the pamphlet Hero Stories especially for Boys. (Girls too!), by Eileen Taylor, Australian Catholic Truth Society, #1258, 1957