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Peregrine Laziosi (1265-1345) was born in Forli, Italy, the only son of well-to-do parents. In his teens he joined the enemies of the Pope in his hometown and soon became a ringleader of rebels.
Pope Martin IV had placed Forli under a spiritual interdict which closed churches in the city, hoping to bring its citizens to their senses. That failing, he sent Philip Benizi, of the Order of Servites (Servants of Mary), as his personal ambassador to try to bring peace to the angry rebels.
No welcome mat was spread for the papal delegate. While addressing crowds of malcontents one day, he was dragged off the rostrum, beaten with clubs and pelted with rocks. Peregrine knocked him down with a vicious blow to the face. Moments after, stricken with remorse, the youth cast himself at the feet of the bruised and bleeding priest and asked for his forgiveness, which was granted with a smile.
Peregrine became a staunch champion of Philip Benizi. He heeded Philip’s suggestion and often prayed in Our Lady’s chapel in the Cathedral. While kneeling there he had a vision of the Blessed Mother holding in her hands a black habit like the one the Servites wore. “Go to Siena,” Mary told the astonished Peregrine. “There you will find devout men who call themselves my servants. Attach yourself to them.”
The Servites gave him a warm welcome. He was clothed ceremoniously in the religious habit by Philip Benizi himself.
One of Peregrine’s slogans as a Servite may well have been: “Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today!” Daily he sought to become a more fervent religious man. To atone for past misdeeds he treated himself harshly and worked hard for the poor and afflicted.
People took to calling him the “Angel of Good Counsel,” so grateful were they for his wise advice so freely given.
After being ordained a priest he went to Forli to found a Servite monastery. A few years later a cancerous growth appeared on his right foot. It was so painful that he finally agreed with the surgeon who wanted to amputate.
The night before the scheduled surgery, Peregrine spent hours in prayer. Then he dozed off and dreamt that Christ was touching him and healing his foot. The thrill of it woke him up. In the dim moonlight he saw that his foot, carefully bandaged a few hours earlier was completely healed.
The Forlineses appreciated him still more after learning of the miraculous cure. When they were sick they appealed to his prayers. Some were cured when he whispered “Jesus” into their ears. The Church has since appointed him patron of persons with cancer, foot ailments, or any incurable disease.
Peregrine died on May 1st, 1345 and was ranked with the saints in 1726. Thousands of clients pay him special honor on May 1st each year.