Friday, February 17, 2006
Seven First Fathers of the Order of Servites

Greater Double (1954 Calendar): February 12
Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): February 17

Today the Church remembers the Seven First Fathers of the Order of Servites from the 13th Century. As Dom Gueranger relates, "February 11, the day first chosen as their common feast, is not the anniversary of the death of any one of them, but the day on which, in the year 1304, after passing through many vicissitudes, their Order obtained the definitive approbation of the Church."

In the mid-13th Century, morals were low and religion seemed nearly meaningless in the political city of Florence. In 1233, seven men from that city decided to form into a small group and go off to a silent place to serve God direct. The Order was founded that day on the Feast of the Assumption as Mary appeared to the seven men. As such, the Blessed Virgin Mary has always been held as the founder of the Order, which was established with these seven first members.  Two of them were widowers and two were still married and brought their families to live together in faith.

They meant to live in solitude, but the group was continually disturbed by visitors. They all left Florence and went to Monte Senario. In 1244, under the direction of St. Peter of Verona, O.P., this group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominicans and chose to live in accord with the Rule of St. Augustine. They adopted the name of the Servants of Mary.

The men were beatified on December 1, 1717, and canonized in 1887. The original founders were the following:
  1. Saint Alexis Falconieri
  2. Saint Bartholomew degli Amidei
  3. Saint Benedict dell'Antella
  4. Saint Buonfiglio Monaldi
  5. Saint Gherardino Sostegni
  6. Saint Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni
  7. Saint John Buonagiunta Monetti
Learn how to pray the special Servite Rosary today.

The Traditional Divine Office lessons at Matins for this day recount their lives:
When in the thirteenth century the most cultured peoples of Italy were divided by factions, and the schism fostered by Frederic 11, the merciful providence of God raised up many persons remarkable for their holiness, among whom were seven noble Florentines whose union of spirit gave to the world a striking example of fraternal love. They were Bonfilius Monaldi, Bonagiunta Manetti, Manettus dell' Antella, Amadeus de Amadei, Hugo Lippi, Gerard Sostegni, and Alexis Falconieri. The Mother of God appeared to each of them on the feast of her Assumption, 1233, when they were praying fervently in the Chapel of the pious Confraternity of the Laudesi, and exhorted them to embrace a more perfect life. They took counsel with the Bishop of Florence, and at once bade farewell to their wealth and rank, clothing themselves in hair cloth and old and ragged garments. On September 8 they established themselves in a humble retreat outside the city, desiring to begin their new life on the day when the Mother of God began her own most holy life upon earth. 
God showed by a miracle that their resolution was pleasing to him. One day shortly afterwards, when all seven were begging from door to door in Florence, they were hailed by the voices of children, among whom was St. Philip Benizi, then only five months old, as the “Servants of Mary,” which was for the future to be their title. This prodigy and their love of solitude led them to choose Monte Senario as a place of retreat, that thus they might avoid great concourse of people. Their life was truly heavenly. They lived in caves, took no food but herbs and water, and subdued their bodies by vigils and penances. The Passion of Christ and the Dolours of his afflicted Mother were the subject of their continual meditations. One Good Friday, when they were absorbed in fervent prayer, the blessed Virgin appeared to them all in person a second time, showed them the sombre habit they were to adopt, and told them that she wished them to found a new Order of Religious, whose mission was to cultivate and spread devotion to the sorrows which she endured at the foot of the Cross. They were aided in this work by Peter, an illustrious Friar Preacher, who died the death of a martyr. He was their intimate friend, and had been instructed about the new Order in a vision by the blessed Virgin herself. The Order received the name of Servites, or Servants of the blessed Virgin Mary, and was approved by Innocent IV. 
The holy Founders were soon joined by many disciples, and began to preach Christ Crucified in the towns and cities of Italy, especially in Tuscany. They brought civil feuds to an end, and recalled numbers of sinners to the paths of virtue. Not only Italy, but France, Germany, and Poland benefited by their apostolic labours, and their miracles made them famous. Finally, after having carried the good odour of Christ into distant lands, they went to God. In life they were one in their love of religion and of the brotherhood, in death they wore united in one tomb and in the veneration of the people. Popes Clement XI. and Benedict XIII. confirmed the cultus which had been paid to them unitedly for many centuries. Leo XIII., having approved this devotion, and recognized the miracles wrought by God in answer to this collective invocation, proceeded to their formal canonization in the fiftieth year of his priesthood, and ordered that their Office and Mass should be said every year throughout the Church.


O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, to honor the memory of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother, didst through seven blessed Fathers enrich Thy Church with a new family of her Servants: mercifully grant that we may be so linked in fellowship to them in their sorrows, as to share also in their joys: Who livest and reignest.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

1 comment(s):

del_button April 17, 2013 at 6:46 PM
Jack Joe said...

I read this great book called: Behold Thy Mother when I was 21 years old. it was given to a friend then to me from The Most Holy Father Peter Mary Rookey of Chicago.
I knew right away that THIS was The Order for ME!

Sadly however, much sadly, I also felt it was not a Holy-Choice for me to Join and live in Community. Nor would it be now about 20 years later.

But I am presently in search of finding out whether or not one can become a Fully-Vowed Servite without living in Community.. Not as a Third Order, but as a regular Brother or Sister would, with the same Vows and Rules and Prayer and so on - just Not IN Community.

Anyone know if this is possible?
2. Anyone know of Servite/Servites living in either Mid/Upper New York State or near Ft. Lauderdale Florida to speak with in person?

time goes by so quickly i can't continue to place this desire on-hold much longer! I would like to "Live My Life as a Servite".. But at this pace (am now 43 yrs old) I'll be cutting it close to simply Die as One!
I'd like the chance to LIVE as One!

In Jesus through Mary.


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