Giovanni Colombini was a rich cloth-merchant of Siena, a shrewd, successful, worldly man, fond of gain, and absorbed from his boyhood in commercial affairs. One day he took up a book which he had just thrown down in anger, and found it to be the life of Saint Mary of Egypt. The story of her conversion pierced his soul, and he embraced a life of poverty. He took pains to mortify himself precisely where he had received honour. In the palace where he had lived when chief magistrate of Siena he became the lowest kitchen servant for a period corresponding to his term of office, begging his food meanwhile in the streets. Touched by his humility and fervent charity, many sinners were converted, and many left the world and joined him. It was a time of strife, pillage, and bloodshed; but Giovanni and his little band of followers went about the towns and villages of Tuscany preaching Christ crucified, reconciling enemies, winning hearts to God, and kindling in them the flame of Divine love. Pope Urban V, on his return from Avignon, constituted these poor little ones of Jesus into a religious Order, now extinct, called the ‘Gesuati’; not, however, before they had been accused of heresy, formally examined and acquitted, their Divine Master prompting their answers. Soon after, Giovanni fell sick, and on 31 July 1367, he passed to eternal peace.
When Saint Philip undertook the conversion of the condemned heretic Paleologus, he merely gave him the life of the Blessed Giovanni to read; and the apparently obdurate sinner was melted, as the Saint had foretold, by this simple tale of Divine love.
Let us, dearly beloved, mourn and weep, and take bitter vengeance on ourselves: for if we were guilty of no other sin but that of ingratitude and of despising and almost refusing God, who, whether we will or no, gives Himself to us, while we, proud ungrateful wretches that we are, wanting in faith and ardour, receive this immeasurable gift with irreverence and coldness, and keep it carelessly, we ought to seek to die for Him a thousand times, if that were possible. – Blessed Giovanni Colombini
Blessed Giovanni was by nature weak and chilly, and used to live delicately and dress warmly; but after his conversion he went barefoot and bareheaded, his chest exposed. A friend therefore said to him, ‘Art thou not cold, Giovanni?’ But the Saint took his friend’s hand, and placed it in his bosom, saying, ‘Thinkest thou I am cold?’ ‘Nay,’ said the other, ‘thou art so hot that I can scarcely bear my hand there.’
In this is, charity: not as though we had loved God, but because He hath first loved us. 1st John 4:10
- Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Blessed Giovanni Colombini”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 March 2015. Web. 26 April 2017. <>