Blessed Simon Ballachi: Dominican Lay Brother
Today is the memorial of Blessed Simon Ballachi –1250-1319. Born to Italian nobility, Simon was trained in his youth to be a soldier. His family expected him to assume administrative responsibility for the estates, but, instead, he joined the Dominicans as a lay brother at age 27. Simon was assigned to care for the priory garden — something he knew nothing about, but which he instantly loved, as working in the garden and cleaning around the priory allowed him the opportunity to meditate and practice humility. Simon was noted for his simple life, his strict adherence to the Dominican rule and his excellent work as a catechist to children. He was gifted with visits from St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Dominic, St. Peter Martyr, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Blinded at age 57, he was nearly helpless during the last years of his life, but he never despaired, and spent the time in prayer. Simon died on November 3rd, 1319. He was beatified in 1817 by Pope Pius VII. Blessed Simon Ballachi is the patron saint of gardeners.