Saint Servulus of Rome
Invalid and Beggar
Saint Servulus was a perfect model of submission to the divine Will; it would be difficult to offer a more consoling example to persons afflicted by poverty, illnesses and the other miseries of life. It is Saint Gregory the Great who narrates for us his edifying story:
We have seen under the portico of the Church of Saint Clement, a poor man named Servulus, who is known to all the people of Rome as to Us. He was deprived of all the goods of this world; a long illness had reduced him to a pitiful state. From his youth he was paralyzed in all his members. Not only could he not stand up, but he was unable to rise from his bed; he could neither sit down nor turn himself from one side to the other, nor bring his hand to his mouth. Nothing in him was sound except his eyes, ears, tongue, stomach and entrails.
This unfortunate man, who had learned the mysteries of religion, meditated unceasingly on the sufferings of the Saviour, and never did he complain. He was surrounded by the loving care of his mother and brother. Neither the mother nor the children had ever studied, yet the paralytic had pious books bought for himself, in particular the Psalms and the Holy Gospels, and he would ask the religious who came to visit him on his cot to read from them to him. In this way he learned these books by heart; he spent days and part of the nights in singing or reciting them, and meditating them, and he constantly thanked the Lord for having taken him to be a victim associated with the pains and sufferings of Jesus Christ.
Many alms came to the little house of the paralytic, to such an extent that he became rich in his poverty. After having taken from these what was necessary for his subsistence and that of his mother, he gave the rest to the indigent, who often assembled around him to be edified by his words and his virtues. His bed of pain was a pulpit of preaching, from which he converted souls.
When the time came which was decreed by God to reward his patience and put an end to his painful life, Servulus felt the paralysis spreading to the vital parts of his body, and he prepared for death. At the final moment, he asked those in attendance to recite Psalms with him. Suddenly he cried out: Ah! Don’t you hear that melody resounding in heaven?’ At that moment his soul escaped from his body, which until his burial gave forth a marvelous fragrance.
Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).