Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint John Colombini

Blessed John ColombiniArticle

The holy confessor, Saint John Colombini, was founder of the Order of Jesuati. He was a native of Sienna, in Tuscany, and his parents were of the celebrated family of the Colombini. Having attained to manhood he married a noble lady, named Blasia, who gave him a son and a daughter. The son was called in early life to a better world; the daughter took the habit in a convent. Saint John, by his talents, raised himself to the highest offices in the city. He amassed great riches, particularly by commerce, which at that period was, for the most part, in the hands of the nobility. His greatest care was daily to increase his fortune. He himself confessed, after his conversion, that the low ambition of gaining riches had taken deep root in his heart, from which only the mercy of God had at length freed him. The cause of his conversion was as follows: – He returned one day to his home earlier than usual, and as he found the dinner not yet ready, he became so angry that he threw everything down that was in his way, and cursed and swore m a most frightful manner. Blasia, his spouse, excused herself as well as she could, and gave him the Lives of the Saints that he might read until the dinner was ready. But Colombini cast the book from him, and continued to give vent to his ill-humor. When he had exhausted his fury, he repented of having treated the book so badly, and, taking it up, he began to read. God so disposed it that he opened it at the description of the conversion of Saint Mary of Egypt. At first, he read only to pass away the time, but gradually he became so deeply interested in it, that his dinner had to wait for him. He felt a change in his heart, and once having resolved to lead a better life, he went immediately to work. After having made a general confession, he visited the church oftener, gave more time to prayer, and practised other good works with greater zeal than he had formerly done. As he knew that he had done great wrong by his inordinate ambition and love of money, he became extremely generous to the poor, and sought all possible means to make himself despised by others. With the permission of his spouse, he took the vow of chastity, mortified his body by watching, fasting and other penances, and allowed himself not even the most innocent recreation. The costly garments which he had worn until now, in accordance with his station, he put aside, and substituted very plain ones, and he frequently visited the hospitals, waiting most tenderly on the sick. Many thought this sudden change in his conduct ridiculous, and others believed him insane, while others again derided and mocked him. Even Blasia, his pious spouse, could at last no longer endure his changed conduct, and told him to remember who he was, and not make himself an object of contempt to the whole city. Perceiving, however, that she could not induce him to alter his conduct, she commenced to scold and deride him, as the wife of the patient Job had done. This lasted until, one day, she saw, through an opening of the door, that Colombini was surrounded by a divine light during his prayer. From that moment she began to esteem his virtues and joined him in practices of piety. Colombini, whom neither the reproaches of Blasia, nor those of many others, had disturbed, had, in the mean time, found several persons who assisted him in serving the sick and other works of charity. The first of these was Francis Vincent, one of the most aristocratic men of the city, who gave all his possessions to the poor, and submitted himself to the direction of Colombini. Both one day went to the Cathedral to assist at holy mass. At the door of the sacred edifice, they saw a beggar who was covered with ulcers. Saint Colombini took him upon his shoulder, carried him into his house, laid him on his own bed, and requested Blasia to wait on him until he himself should return from church. Blasia went into the room where the beggar had been laid, but when she opened the door so delightful a fragrance streamed out of it that, perplexed and astonished, she had not the heart to enter. When Colombini returned home after mass, he immediately perceived the same refreshing odor, but when he and Blasia went to see the sick man, they found the bed empty. Both were filled with surprise, but, a few days later, Christ our Lord appeared to the Saint, revealing to him that it had been He whom he had so kindly treated. This animated the Saint to still greater love to the poor and sick, and also to a greater desire to live a perfect life. Hence he deprived himself of all his possessions, lived on alms, gave to the sick all possible aid, and endeavored to win others for equal works of Christian love. He was never weary of doing good, but was always full of fervent zeal. More than sixty men, all either of noble blood or noble by education and learning, became imitators of his holy life.

With these he founded a new Order, which was confirmed by Pope Urban V. The members of this order were called Jesuati, because they constantly had the holy Name of Jesus in their mouth. It is related of the holy founder, that he was often heard to say, while employed in his usual deeds of kindness: “Long live Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ be blessed and praised through all eternity!” As long as the holy man lived at Sienna after nis conversion, so long did he endeavor to draw others by devout discourses, not only from sin and vice, but also from the love of all dangerous enjoyments. God gifted him with great powers of persuasion; for it is known that he not only converted many hardened sinners, but also reformed the conduct of a great number of young men of the nobility. But on this account he suffered much from persecution. Finally, he was accused of being a disturber of the peace of many families, and was ordered! to leave the city. The Saint, rejoicing to have the opportunity to suffer for the love of God, left the city without a murmur, and went to Rome to receive the confirmation of his Order. The Almighty, however, did not allow the wrong done to His servant to go unpunished. A terrible storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning, which filled all the inhabitants with fear and trembling, took place at his departure. This was soon followed by divers diseases, by which a great many lost their lives; and the people unhesitatingly said that God had sent this punishment because they had driven His servant away, and they rested not until he was most humbly requested to return. The Saint sent some of his companions back, but he himself continued on his way to Rome. When he had happily concluded his affairs, he started for home, but reached it not; for, while on his way, he was seized by a fever on the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen. He desired to receive the last sacraments, and when the holy Eucharist was brought into his room, he gathered all his strength, and, rising from his bed, he adored his Saviour on bended knees, made a public confession of his faith, and after the most devout exercises, he received the blessed Sacrament with angelical piety. He then gave his religious the most wholesome exhortations, had the passion of Christ read aloud, and ended his holy life on the 31st of July, 1367. His last words were: “Into Thy hands, O Jesus, I commend my soul.” God had honored him by the gifts of prophecy and miracles. After his death, many miracles were wrought by his intercession.

Practical Considerations

• You have observed, in the life of Saint Colombini, how beneficial it is to read the Lives of the Saints. You have also heard that the Saint, in the practice of his works of charity, was never weary, but always cheerful and zealous. You sometimes commence to do good works, but do not continue in them and become tired and ill-humored. Whence is this? Is God unworthy of your continuing to do good out of love to Him? or is the reward He offers you not great enough? You surely will not dare to pretend that this is the case. What then? Perhaps it is too slow in coming? But who knows if death be not standing before the door? Rouse yourself, then, and continue with energy in the good works you have begun: and if coldness, dissatisfaction, or weariness comes over your spirit, say to yourself: “Perhaps only a short time is left to me wherein to work out my salvation; therefore, I will faithfully continue in the work I commenced for the love of God and for the salvation of mv own soul.” Heaven is worth the effort, and God deserves infinitely more. “If you become weary,” writes Saint Bernard, “consider that today you are still able to do the work which to-morrow may be impossible.” Think that God calls to you in the words of the Apocalypse: “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his. works.” (Apocalypse 22)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint John Colombini”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 March 2018. Web. 19 September 2018. <>