23 Dec Saint Servulus of Rome, Confessor
Today is the feast day of Saint Servulus. Ora pro nobis.
In this holy man was exemplified what our divine Redeemer taught of Lazarus, the poor man full of sores who lay at the gate of the rich man’s house. Servulus was a beggar, afflicted with the palsy from his infancy, so that he had never been able to stand, sit upright, lift his hand to his mouth, or turn himself from one side to another.
It is Saint Gregory the Great who narrates for us his edifying story:
We have seen under the portico of the Church of Saint Clement, a poor man named Servulus, who is known to all the people of Rome as to Us. He was deprived of all the goods of this world; a long illness had reduced him to a pitiful state. From his youth he was paralyzed in all his members. Not only could he not stand up, but he was unable to rise from his bed; he could neither sit down nor turn himself from one side to the other, nor bring his hand to his mouth. Nothing in him was sound except his eyes, ears, tongue, stomach and entrails.
This unfortunate man, who had learned the mysteries of religion, meditated unceasingly on the sufferings of the Saviour, and never did he complain. He was surrounded by the loving care of his mother and brother. Neither the mother nor the children had ever studied, yet the paralytic had pious books bought for himself, in particular the Psalms and the Holy Gospels, and he would ask the religious who came to visit him on his cot to read from them to him. In this way he learned these books by heart; he spent days and part of the nights in singing or reciting them, and meditating them, and he constantly thanked the Lord for having taken him to be a victim associated with the pains and sufferings of Jesus Christ.
St. Gregory the Great concludes the account he gives of Servulus, in a sermon to his people, by observing that the behaviour of this poor sick begger loudly condemns those who, when blessed with good health and fortune, neither do good works nor suffer the least cross with tolerable patience. He speaks of him as one who was well known both to himself and his hearers, and says that one of his monks, who was present at his death, used to speak of the fragrant smell which came from the dead beggar’s body. Servulus was a true lover of God, not careful and troubled about his own life, but solicitous that God be honoured, and all that he could suffer for this end he looked upon as reward. By his constancy and fidelity he overcame the world and all bodily afflictions.
Image: Roma San Clemente, where Saint Servulus sat many a day. (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINAS Staff