Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Romanus, Hermit and Monk

illustration of Saint Romanus, Hermit and Monk, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberBrother could not be more like to brother in every respect, than was Saint Romanus to Saint Lupicinus, except that the stern severity of the latter was tempered in the former by sweetness of disposition. His father, as we have seen, compelled Lupicinus to enter the marriage state; but, thinking he had made sufficient provision for the continuance of his line by the marriage of his eldest son, he acquiesced in the younger brother’s opposition to wedlock. The story of their flight to the desert of the Jura Mountains, of their conflicts with the Devil, and of the foundation by them of three monasteries has been already related. While the care of these monasteries kept Lupicinus constantly engaged, Romanus had leisure to give himself entirely to works of piety, with such success in the sight of Heaven that he was permitted to perform many marvellous cures. All the sick of the neighbourhood came to him for relief, and found his prayers more efficacious than drugs.

The strictness with which Lupicinus insisted that the Rule should be observed in every detail – silence, regular office, manual labour, domestic harmony, and coarse food – had caused twelve of the monks in one of the monasteries to rebel against what they called the Abbot’s inhumanity and to leave their house. Saint Romanus interceded for them with his brother, saying it was not given to everybody to endure the same hardships as he could himself. When the Abbot proved obdurate, Romanus did not cease, with prayers and tears, by night and by day, to beseech the pardon of the Almighty for his weak brethren. At length, conscience-stricken the twelve returned. Romanus welcomed them so tenderly, that, of their own accord, they submitted themselves to more rigid discipline; and such progress did they make in virtues that, we are told, each of them became the founder of a house noted for the strict practice of the monastic Rule.

It was the duty of Saint Romanus to attend to the wants of the sick, both in the houses for men and in those for nuns, and also to have the care of the leper houses, which, according to the old custom of the Order, were established at the Jura monasteries. Once their kind attendant visited the lepers at a rather late hour. He spoke to them with gentleness, and recommended them to bear their afflictions patiently for the love of Christ. Then having bathed them, he saw them to their couches. Never did they sleep more soundly or more sweetly. They were not disturbed, as usual, by the pain and irritation of their suffering limbs. When they were all deep in slumber, Romanus approached the couch of each, and, making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads, kissed their faces, all covered as they were with scales and ulcers. Great was the surprise on the following morning when they saw their faces perfectly clean and smooth, and every trace of leprosy gone. Rightly did they attribute this wonderful miracle to Romanus.

Lupicinus asked his brother, when he was now advanced in years and weighed down by old age, where he wished to be buried, whether in the cemetery of the monastery or elsewhere. Romanus requested that, as God had deemed him worthy to be the instrument of healing so many, both men and women, his grave should be where all could have access to it. This would not be possible in the burial-place of the community, to which only men were admitted. His desire was granted. On a hill not far from the monastery a tomb was raised, in which the Saint’s body was laid. Over it a splendid shrine was afterwards erected, as the same power of effecting cures which had been vouchsafed to Saint Romanus in life was permitted to his remains after death.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.