Feast Day : January 6
Charles of Sezze was born John Charles Marchioni in Sezze, Italy, on October 19, 1613, to humble parents. His family name may also have been Melchior. He was raised by his grandmother, who instilled in him a love of God. As a boy Charles worked as a shepherd and dreamed of becoming a priest. At age 17 he made a vow of chastity. His priestly ambition was thwarted by his lack of education, so instead he became a Franciscan lay brother at Naziano. He was given various menial jobs, such as cook, porter and gardener at different monasteries near Rome. Charles had numerous mystical experiences and was given the gift of mystical knowledge. His wisd impressed learned theologians. Among those who sought his advice were cardinals and Pope Clement IX (r. 1667–69). Charles became renowned for his holiness, simplicity and charity, and for his severe mortifications. One day while meditating on the Eucharist, a ray of light shot like an arrow from the host and pierced his left side, leaving a wound that remained even after his death. When plague struck in 1656, Charles worked tirelessly for the victims. He also wrote several mystical works.