St. Conrad of Piacenza, Holy Hermit and Healer
Today is the feast of St. Conrad of Piacenza, a Third Order Franciscan hermit celebrated for his piety and miraculous cures at Noto in Sicily.
St. Conrad was a noble, born at Piacenza, Italy. As a young man, he married the beautiful Euphrosyne, daughter of a nobleman.
One day while hunting, Conrad made a fire that quickly spread throughout the area. The wind carried the flames to nearby fields, forests, towns and villages. An innocent peasant was arrested as an arsonist and condemned to death, but Conrad stepped forward to admit his guilt in the matter, saving the man’s life. Consequently, he had to sell his possessions to pay for the damages. He and his wife gave everything they owned to the poor in recompense.
Conrad and his wife then decided to enter the religious life. She became a Poor Clare, and he entered the Franciscan Third Order as a hermit. Conrad went to Noto, in Sicily, where he lived the next three decades at St. Martin’s Hospital and in a hermitage built by a wealthy friend. Word spread of Conrad’s holiness, piety and gift of healing. Due to his many visitors, he moved to a more remote spot in Sicily, where he had more privacy to live out his vocation as a hermit.
Conrad spent his life in prayer and penance. He died in 1351, kneeling before a crucifix, surrounded by a bright light, in the presence of his confessor. He was canonized in 1625.
Patronage and Miraculous Cures
St. Conrad is invoked for the cure of hernia. This comes from miracles attributed to him. Legend has it that he was visited at his hermitage by an old friend, Antonio de Stessa, who was suffering from the pain of a hernia he had developed. Seeing the pain he was in, Conrad was moved to pity and prayed for him. Stessa was immediately cured of the hernia.
He also prayed for a local tailor, who suffered severely from several hernias and the man was instantly cured.
The miracle for which Conrad is best known is the “Miracle of the Bread”. This occured during the great famine in Sicily (1348-49). During that catastrophe, anyone who came to St. Conrad for help was given a loaf of bread, still warm, which, it was said, he had received from the angels.
Almighty God, You attracted Saint Conrad through his zeal for justice to serve You faithfully in the desert. Through his prayers may we live justly and piously, and happily succeed in coming to You.