St. Romuald

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Romuald. St. Romuald was born about the year 950, and in his youth he lived a rather sinful life, and became a complete slave to his passions; yet sometimes, while he was hunting in the woods, he would stop and pray, and say, ‘How happy were the ancient hermits who served God.’
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Then something happened which would change his life. When he was 20 he heard that his father had an argument with a relative about some family property; his father challenged this relative to a duel: basically, a sword fight to the death. Forced to be present at this event, Romuald watched in horror as his father killed the man; he was so sicked by it, that he felt the need to do penance for his family. He fled to a nearby monastery, and there lived a life of prayer and austerity which even surprised the monks. Romuald’s example had such an influence on his father, that his father entered another monastery to atone for his sins, and stayed there the rest of his life.
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Romuald was graced with many gifts from God; he was often able to foretell future events, nevertheless he fought a life-long battle against temptation and the devil. More than once, people tried to kill him, and in another instance, out of envy, a man accused him of a scandalous crime. For a long time, many believed the story which he endured with patience, until he was ultimately vindicated.
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St. Romuald founded a number of very austere monasteries, the most famous of which is that of Camaldoli in northern Italy. It lies beyond a mountain very difficult to get to, the descent from which is a sheer precipice, looking down upon a pleasant valley. In this place Romuald built a monastery, which gave birth to a new, very strict order called the Camaldolese.
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A visitor said, ‘The very sight of this solitude in the midst of the forest helps to fill the mind with the love of God. The monk’s cells are built of stone, each having a little garden and a chapel for Mass.
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Romuald once passed 7 years in solitude and complete silence. While on a long trip, he died at a different monastery; 25 years earlier, he had predicted that he would die in that manner, in that place, on that day. When we think of the bad start St. Romuald had, living a life far from God in sin, we are inspired with the hope that it is never too late to begin again, and that penance is part of beginning again.

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