Feast Day : November 10
Patronage: against sudden death; apoplexy; for a holy death; strokes and stroke victims; Naples
Name meaning: strong, manly Also known as: Lorenzo Avellino; Lancellotto
Andrew was born at Castronuovo, near Naples, in 1521. He was christened Lorenzo, but his mother called him Lancellotto. The young man dedicated his life to Christ quite early, embracing chastity. After finishing his elementary studies in Castronuovo, Lancellotto went to Venice to study the humanities and philosophy. His vow of chastity was so challenged by the lovely Venetian girls that he assumed tonsure and quickly left for Naples, where he studied canon and civil law. Lancellotto received the Doctor of Laws and was ordained a priest in 1547 at age 26. For a while Lancellotto practiced canon law at the court in Naples. He was quite accomplished—so silvertongued, in fact, that he feared his preoccupation with argument weakened his devotion to meditation and prayer. The situation came to a head when, in the heat of a friend’s defense, he perjured himself. Filled with remorse, Lancellotto renounced the law and vowed to live as a penitent. But the archbishop of Naples had other plans for him, sending him to reform the Sant’ Arcangelo convent in Baiano. The nuns had become so lax in their vows that the convent was for all practical purposes a brothel. Through zeal and example Lancellotto brought the convent back to its rules, but he nearly died in the effort. Certain men of the area were so used to the services of the convent that in 1556 they captured Lancellotto and beat him severely. He was taken to the monastery of the Theatines to recover and there decided to join the order, only recently founded by St.Cajetan. At age 35 he was invested during the Vigil of the Assumption and took the name Andrew. Following his novitiate he visited the tombs of apostles and martyrs in Rome, then returned to the monastery as master of novices. His success at improving the quality of priests gained him promotion to superior of the Naples house 10 years later. In 1570, at the request of St. Charles Borromeo, Andrew traveled to Lombardy to found Theatine houses in Milan and Piacenza and became a close friend of Charles Borromeo. Other houses were founded throughout Italy, and Andrew attracted many disciples, including Lorenzo Scupoli, author of the book The Spiritual Combat. In 1582 Andrew returned to Naples, where he spent his last years teaching, preaching, writing, fighting heresy and converting Protestants. His many letters were published in two volumes in 1731, followed by five volumes of his other works in 1734. On November 10, 1608, while preparing the Mass, Andrew suffered a massive stroke and died after receiving the Holy Viaticum. He was 88. People who came to pay their respects clipped bits of his hair for relics. During this, his face was cut accidentally several times. When fresh-looking, red blood welled out of the cuts, some speculated that Andrew had not initially died but had been catatonic and actually buried alive. Physicians confirmed his death, and made more cuts in his skin and collected his blood for the next three days. Andrew was buried in the monastery church of St. Paul in Naples. The blood reportedly bubbled in a vial. On the anniversary of his death, the hardened blood was said to liquefy and bubble (similar to the blood of St. Januarius) when brought out for veneration. The blood is said to bubble every year on the anniversary of his death.