The Carmelite Review – Saint Andrew Corsini

portrait of Saint Andreas Corsini, by Guido Reni, c.1633; Galleria Corsini, now Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy; swiped off Wikimedia CommonsThe illustrious house of Corsini gave a great saint to the Order of Carmel in the person of the holy Bishop Andrew, whose feast occurs on the fourth of February. The parents of the saint had lived many years without any prospect of an heir. They invoked our Lady of Mount Carmel and vowed if they received a son the same should be consecrated to the service of God and His holy Mother. Their prayer was heard – Andrew was the answer.

The day before his birth his mother dreamed that she had brought forth a wolf, then she beheld it running into the church of the Carmelites where it was changed into a lamb. The meaning of this dream found its interpretation in later years. Andrew’s early days were anything but edifying. One day his mother brought him to task, and said to him: “In truth you are like a wolf, and the first part of my dream has turned out to be true.” Andrew was surprised and begged his mother to tell him all about the dream. His mother explained the dream, and moreover told him that she had consecrated him to God and the Blessed Virgin. She begged her son to change his ways and carry out what she had vowed. After receiving his mother’s pardon, Andrew went without delay to the church of the Carmelites in his native town of Florence. lie prostrated himself before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and having bewailed his past disedifying life, consecrated the balance of his life to the service of Mary. He proceeded to the adjoining monastery and begged admittance. He was welcomed by the monks. After an edifying novitiate, Andrew was sent to Paris in order to finish his studies, and returned to Florence with the title of Doctor of Divinity. When he was to celebrate his first holy Mass, his friends decided to expend a large sum of money for music and decoration. In order to prevent all this display the saint quietly withdrew to a little monastery outside of Florence, where he offered up the holy sacrifice with great devotion. It is said that the Queen of Carmel, to whom he ascribed his conversion and all other graces, appeared to him during the Mass, and addressed him in the words of the prophet: “Thou art my servant; thee have I elected and in thee will I be praised.” At this period of his life the saint began to prophesy and to work miracles. By his prayers and blessing one of the friars in his own monastery was cured of dropsy. In later years Saint Andrew was Prior of the monastery at Florence. On the death of the Bishop of Fiesole, Saint Andrew was appointed to succeed him. Not wishing this exalted position the saint went to a neighboring hermitage m hopes of escaping the mitre. He was searched for in vain. A new election was about to be held, but Providence had already chosen Andrew for the office of Bishop. One day a three-year-old child was heard to cry out: “God has chosen Andrew. He is in the hermitage and is praying.” The child’s words were verified and the saint was found. He did not refuse to take the office now, since he had been admonished by God to accept the vacant See. Saint Andrew was consecrated Bishop in his 58th year and fulfilled his functions with unabating zeal until his 71st year. He did not change his life as a strict religious, being well aware of the perfection that is required in a Bishop. The daily penances inflicted upon himself were most severe. He always kept in his house a list of the poor of the city, in order that he might overlook none when distributing alms. Imitating our Lord on every Thursday he washed the feet of the beggars who flocked to his door. His exhortations and admonitions had the effect of converting the most hardened sinner, and he was always successful in reconciling to love and harmony those who were living at variance. As the saint was saying Mass on Christmas day of 1372, the Blessed Mother again appeared to him, telling him he was to die on the coming Feast of Epiphany. No invalid could be happier on hearing that he was on the way to recovery, than was our saint when he heard that the hour of his death was near. On January 5th Saint Andrew was prostrated by a violent fever. During his illness he refused all refreshments and everything that would soothe his pain, in order that he might suffer for the sake of Christ. After receiving all the Sacraments of holy church he peacefully and happily went to his reward on January 6, 1373. After death his face bore on it an expression of much joy, an indication that death is a comforter when it has been preceded by a holy life. The body of Saint Andrew exhaled a delightful fragrance, and his resting-place was illuminated with a heavenly light. The saint, arrayed in celestial glory, appeared to many of his friends. The town of Florence has often experienced his protection, and therefore honors him as its patron Saint. The gorgeous and imposing tomb of Saint Andrew Corsini in the Carmelite church at Florence is the admiration of all beholders.

– text taken from the article “Our Saints” in the February 1893 edition of The Carmelite Review magazine, authored by P.A.B.