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The Catholic Defender: Blessed James Oldo


saint of the Day: Blessed James Oldo

Blessed James Oldo obtained from God the gift of prophecy; repeatedly he foretold wars, which always took place as predicted. He also announced the time of his own death, and died in the fullest hope of divine mercy in the year of Our Lord 1404. Seven years after his death his body was found still incorrupt.




James Oldo experienced a radical conversion that led him to become a Franciscan tertiary, and later a priest.

He was born in 1364 into a rich family in Lodi, Italy. He married at a young age, and he and his wife both led a very self-indulgent lifesyle. One day, a traveling reproduction of the Holy Sepulchre came to thier town. As a joke, James lay down on it to compare his height to Christ's.


As soon as he laid down on it, he was instantly converted, and became a tertiary soon after.

At first, his mother and wife were opposed to the change they saw in him, but soon they grew attracted to his new ways and became tertiaries as well. The family turned their mansion into a chapel and worked with the sick and with prisoners.

You’ve heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse.


James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of the plague drove James, his wife, and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague. James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth.


Blessed James Oldo made a general confession, joined the Third Order of St Francis, and began a penitential and devout Christian life. Gladly would he have led his wife on a similar course, but his own mother detained her amid the vanities of the world. But later, the mother had a vision in which it appeared to her that she and her son had been snatched from their worldly amusements to appear directly before the judgment-seat of God. She was so strongly affected by the vision that she herself spoke to her daughter-in-law and urged her to follow the example of her husband. Both women were likewise received into the Third Order.


The fashionable family mansion, which until then had so often been the scene of extravagant pleasure, served now as an edification to the whole city. When his spouse died, James became a priest and then began to lead a still more rigorous life of penance. On his bare body he wore a coarse penitential garb, ate neither mean nor drank wine, and observed an almost continual fast. Sometimes he ate only once a week, until Blessed James Oldo received an order from his bishop to take food at least three times a week He slept on the bare earth with a stone under his head. Incessantly he preached to the people, admonishing them to do penance. Many turned from their worldly ways to a Christian life, many even left the world to serve God in the religious state. Thus a prominent lady named Mirandola founded a convent of Poor Clares, provided sacred vessels for the church from the sale of her jewels, and herself entered the convent as a Poor Clare.


He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients. James Oldo was beatified in 1933.


In 1397 Caterina passed away, and soon thereafter, Giacomo was ordained a priest by the bishop of Lodi. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. He became a celebrated preacher, and was known to have inspired many to enter consecrated religious life.


When James’ wife died, he became a priest. His acts of penance were so severe that his bishop had to order him to eat at least three times a week. He was a celebrated preacher, who inspired many to enter the religious life. He also prophesied wars and his own death. He died at the age of 40 in 1404. When his body was moved seven years after his death, it was found incorrupt.


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