Short Lives of the Dominican Saints – Blessed James Benefatti, Bishop and Confessor

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(A.D. 1338)

Blessed James was born at Mantua, and entered the Dominican Order in the Convent of that city, in which he became a mirror of learning and holiness. His virtue and talents greatly endeared him to Cardinal Nicholas Boccasino, who had been General of the Order, and who subsequently was raised to the See of Saint Peter under the title of Benedict XI, and to the altars of the Church by solemn beatification. Blessed James became the chosen companion of his journeys when Cardinal, and was retained near his person after his elevation to the pontificate. He was also held in great esteem by Pope John XXII, who (A.D. 1320) consecrated him Bishop of his native city of Mantua. Blessed James governed the diocese committed to his care with the utmost justice, zeal, and charity for the spsice of eighteen years, earning for himself the character of a faithful shepherd and a true father of the poor, and universally regarded as a model of sanctity. His death took place on November 19, 1338, and he was laid to rest, according to his own desire, in the Church of his Order at Mantua, which he had enriched with valuable altar furniture.

So numerous and remarkable were the miracles worked immediately after his death, that the title of Blessed was at once popularly bestowed upon him and was even inscribed on his tombstone; and his picture, with his head surrounded by rays of light, was placed in the Choir of the religious. In course of time, however, his memory fell into oblivion, until the year 1483, when, as some rei)airs were being made in the church, his tomb was accidentally opened and his body was found perfectly incorrupt, the coffin and windingsheet being as fresh and unsoiled as though he had just been buried. A number of miracles again attested the sanctity of the holy Bishop, and his sacred remains were removed to a more suitable place near the High Altar, where the faithful were in the habit of burning many lamps and tapers in his honour.

The devotion to Blessed James again somewhat cooled down, probably owing to the fact that no particulars of his life had been preserved, but it was revived once more in the year 1604, when the tomb was again opened, two hundred and sixty-six years after his death, and the body was once more found almost entire. The Bishop of Mantua assisted at this second translation; and, declaring Blessed James to have enjoyed from time immemorial the honours of a Saint, he solemnly chanted the Antiphon and Prayer of a Bishop and Confessor in presence of a great concourse of people. The holy remains were then carried in procession to the Sacristy, where they were deposited until the repairs of the church were completed. Wonderful to relate, whilst they reposed there, fresh blood flowed from a part of the body where the skin had been broken, and worked many miracles. Blessed James appears to have special power to deliver those who are possessed by evil spirits. He was beatified by Pius IX.

O God, who didst grant to Blessed James, Thy Confessor and Bishop, faithfully to discharge all the duties of a good shepherd, grant us, by his intercession, that, walking by the way of Thy commandments, we may deserve to find a home for ever among the sheep of Thy pasture. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

MLA Citation

  • A Sister of the Congregation of Saint Catherine of Siena. “Blessed James Benefani, Bishop and Confessor”. Short Lives of the Dominican Saints, 1901. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 November 2015. Web. 23 October 2016. <>