Saint William of Vercelli

statue of Saint William of Vercelli by Giuseppe Prinzi, 1878, Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, ItalyAlso known as

  • William of Monte Vergine



Born to the Italian nobility. Orphaned as an infant, and raised by relatives. Pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela, Spain at age 14. There he decided on a life devoted to God. Hermit for two years at Monte Solicoli where he healed a blind man. Friend of Saint John of Pulsano. Started a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, but discerned that he would be of more use to God in Italy.

Hermit at Monte Vergiliano (Monte Vergine). There his reputation for holiness attracted many disciples. In 1119 he formed them into the Hermits of Monte Vergine (Williamites) with a Rule based on the Benedictines; five other houses were formed by its members during William’s life, but only the original survives today. When some of the hermits began to grumble that William’s austerities were too hard to match, he, Saint John, and a small handful of brothers left in order not to be a cause of dissension.

When their hermitage burned, the Williamites moved to Monte Cognato, and into the area of Naples, Italy. Advisor to King Roger I of Naples who built him a hermitage at Salerno, Italy. Founded monasteries in the Naples region.

Legend says that William began mining the stone and digging the foundations for the church on Montevergine when his only companion and helper was a single donkey. One evening, a wolf charged from the forest, killed and ate the donkey. William ordered the wolf to take the donkey’s place. The wolf, understanding that he had interrupted God‘s work, bowed his head, and began hauling the loads of stone. Tradition says that the same wolf still prowls the mountain, ready to help those who are in danger and call upon the name of the Virgin Mary.





MLA Citation

  • “Saint William of Vercelli“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 June 2020. Web. 23 April 2021. <>