Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen
Saint Fidelis was born of noble parents at Sigmaringen in what is now Prussia, in 1577. In his youth he frequently approached the Sacraments, visited the sick and the poor, and spent many hours before the altar. For a time he followed the legal profession and was remarkable for his advocacy of the poor and his respectful language towards his opponents.
Finding it difficult to be both a rich lawyer and a good Christian, Fidelis entered the Capuchin Order and embraced a life of austerity and prayer. Hair shirts, iron-pointed girdles, and disciplines were penances too light for his fervor. At Weltkirchen, where he was Superior of the convent during an outbreak of the plague, he devoted himself indefatigably to the care of the sick soldiers and citizens. Animated by a desire for martyrdom, he rejoiced at being sent with several fellow Capuchins on a mission to Switzerland, which the newly-founded Congregation of the Propaganda named him to preside. There he braved every peril to rescue souls from the errors of Calvin.
When preaching one day at Sevis he was fired at by a Calvinist, but fear of death could not deter him from proclaiming divine truth. After his sermon, when leaving the city he was waylaid by a body of his enemies, who attacked him and tried to force him to embrace their so-called reform. But he said, I came to refute your errors, not to embrace them; I will never renounce Catholic doctrine, which is the truth of all ages, and I fear not death. On this they fell upon him with their daggers; and the first martyr of the Propaganda, losing his life for Christ, went to find in heaven the veritable life his Master promised to all who are losers for His sake.
Reflection. We delight in decorating the altars of God with flowers, lights, and jewels, and it is right to do so; but if we wish to offer to God gifts of higher value, let us, in imitation of Saint Fidelis, labor to save souls who would be lost; that is to offer Him the ornaments of paradise which He so ardently longs to acquire.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5