Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Andrew Avellino

Article

Born 1521 at Castronuovo, a small town in Sicily; died 10 November 1608. His baptismal name was Lancelotto, which out of love for the cross he changed into Andrew when he entered the Order of Theatines. From his early youth he was a great lover of chastity. After receiving his elementary training in the school of Castronuovo, he was sent to Venice to pursue a course in the humanities and in philosophy. Being a handsome youth, his chastity was often exposed to danger from female admirers, and to escape their importunities he took ecclesiastical tonsure. Hereupon he went to Naples to study canon and civil law, obtained the degree of Doctor of Laws and was ordained priest at the age of twenty-six. For some time he held the office of lawyer at the ecclesiastical court of Naples. One day, while pleading the cause of a friend, a lie escaped his lips in the heat of argument. When, soon afterwards, his eyes fell upon the passage in the Bible, “The mouth that belieth killeth the soul” (Wisdom 1:11), he felt deep remorse, renounced his profession as ecclesiastical lawyer and for some time devoted himself entirely to holy meditation and other spiritual exercises. The Archbishop of Naples now commissioned him to reform a convent at Naples, which by the laxity of its discipline had become a source of great scandal. By his own example and his untiring zeal he restored the religious discipline of the convent but not without many and great difficulties. Certain wicked men who were accustomed to have clandestine meetings with the nuns became exasperated at the saint’s interference, and one night he was assaulted and severely wounded. He was brought to the monastery of the Theatines to recuperate. Here, however, he resolved to devote himself entirely to God and he entered the Order of Theatines, which had but recently been founded by Saint Cajetan. On the vigil of the Assumption he was invested, being then thirty-five years of age. After completing his novitiate, he obtained permission to visit the tombs of the Apostles and the Martyrs at Rome, and, upon his return was made master of novices. After holding this office ten years he was elected superior. His holy zeal for strict religious discipline, and for the purity of the clergy, as well as his deep humility and sincere piety induced the General of his Order to entrust him with the foundation of two new Theatine houses, one at Milan, the other at Piacenza. By his efforts many more Theatine houses rose up in various diocese of Italy. As superior of some of these new foundations he was so successful in converting sinners and heretics by his prudence in the direction of souls and by his eloquent preaching, that numerous disciples thronged around him, eager to be under his spiritual guidance. One of the most noteworthy of his disciples was Lorenzo Scupoli, the author of that still popular book “The Spiritual Combat”. Saint Charles Borromeo was an intimate friend of Avellino and sought his advice in the most important affairs of the Church. Through indefatigable in preaching, hearing confessions, and visiting the sick, Avellino still had time to write some ascetical works. His letters were published in 1731, at Naples, in two volumes, and his other ascetical works, three years later in five volumes. On 10 November 1608, when beginning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he was stricken with apoplexy, and after devoutly receiving the Holy Viaticum, died the death of a saint at the age of eighty-eight. In 1624, only sixteen years after his death, he was beatified by Urban VIII, and in 1712 was canonized by Clement XI. He is venerated as patron by Naples and Sicily and invoked especially against a sudden death. His earthly remains lie buried in the Church of Saint Paul at Naples.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Andrew Avellino”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907. Saints.SQPN.com. 19 July 2012. Web. 27 December 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/catholic-encyclopedia-andrew-avellino/>