SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI
St. William was born in 1085 at Vercelli in the Piedmont region of Italy of noble and wealthy parents. From his childhood he was determined to renounce the world and become a hermit. At fifteen years of age, having a desire to lead a penitential life, he left his native region and made a long pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin Mary founded by Saint James at Saragossa.
God made known to him that he was calling him to a solitary life, so he decided to move to the Kingdom of Naples. He built a hermit’s hut on a mountain and many disciples came to him there, attracted by the sanctity of his life and many miracles he performed. Soon a community was formed, of which he became the Abbot and they lived in perpetual contemplation and practiced the exercises of rigorous penitential austerities. After a miracle of healing and their privacy was interrupted, so he decided to move to another mountain, where he built a very beautiful church in honor of Our Lady. He began the establishment of the Congregation of Monte Vergine, or Mount of the Virgin.
After a while, the monks began to complain that St. William’s rule was too strict. William decided to leave and founded new monasteries both for men and women, in various places in the kingdom of Naples.
He became an adviser to King Richard I of Naples, who greatly venerated him. When Saint William died on the 25th of June, 1142, he had not yet written a Rule for his religious brothers and sisters. His second successor, fearing the dissolution of the community without constitutions, placed them under the order of Saint Benedict, where they remain today.
Feast Day:June 25