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st.Nicholas of Flue-Extraordinary hermit and civic leader in Switzerland

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st.Nicholas of Flue

Feast Day : March 21

 

 

Patronage: Switzerland

 

 

 

Name meaning: Victory of the people

 

 

 

Also known as: Brother Klaus

 

 

Nicholas of Flüe was born on March 21, 1417, to a peasant farmer family near Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Switzerland. He took his surname from the River Flueli nearby. As a boy, Nicholas was drawn to a life of self-denial and prayer, yet knew he was not destined to become a monk or priest. He married Dorothy Wissling and had 10 children. The Flüe family prospered, and Nicholas was widely respected. He served as a soldier and was elected to public office. He was magistrate and counselor, but declined several times to serve as governor. In 1465 he had a vision in which he was visited by Three Strangers who told him he would die at age 70 and to persevere in his devotion to God until then. Nicholas felt that the strangers were representatives of the Blessed Trinity, and he had been summoned to devote the remainder of his life to God. For two years, he spent much time in meditation on the passion of Christ. More visions confirmed his conviction, and Nicholas informed his wife that he would leave the family, which by then was able to support itself. On October 16, 1467, Nicholas left home as a pilgrim wearing only a robe, with no hat or shoes, and carrying no money. He took only a staff and a rosary, and set out toward Alsace. A vision convinced him to remain close to home, and he went into the woods to pray and fast and live as a hermit. Nicholas became known as Brother Klaus and “the living saint.” He was revered by many and had frequent visitors. He was called upon to help settle political disputes; he played an instrumental role in preventing civil war in 1481. According to legend Nicholas did not eat, but subsisted only on the holy Eucharist. This mystical fast lasted for 20 years. His neighbors built him a hut and a chapel, the latter of which he dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God, his special patron. Mary appeared often to him and conversed with him. Nicholas left his hermitage only once a year, to participate in the procession of the Feast of the Annunciation in Lucerne. Toward the end of his life, he had a glorious vision in which he was in a castle with people dressed in white robes. The Holy Trinity each personally thanked him for his love and devotion, and for teaching others to love and serve God. Nicholas died on his 70th birthday, March 21, 1487. His beatification and canonization were championed by SS. Charles Borromeo, Peter Canisius and Robert Bellarmine. Many credit the intercession of Nicholas with helping to keep Switzerland out of World Wars I and II. In 1917, the celebration of the 500th anniversary of his birth inspired people anew with his messages of peace and love. In 1940, when Hitler’s forces threatened to invade the country, hundreds of people saw a great hand in the sky protecting the land.

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