Silvestro Guzzolini (1177 – 26 November 1267) was an Italian Catholic priest and the founder of the Silvestrini. He served as a canon in Osimo but respectful rebukes of his bishop's inappropriate conduct led him to leave for a hermitage before the bishop could strip him of his position. He remained in his hermitage with a determination to found a religious congregation and based it upon the Order of Saint Benedict after having a dream of Benedict of Nursia. His order received papal approval from Pope Innocent IV which allowed his order to expand across Italian cities to a significant degree.
Osimo, Papal States
|Died||26 November 1267 (aged 90)|
Fabriano, Papal States
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Beatified||1267/69 by Pope Clement IV|
|Canonized||1598, Rome, Papal States by Pope Clement VIII|
|Major shrine||Chiesa di Monte Fano|
Guzzolini was sent in 1197 to learn jurisprudence in the college at Bologna (for law) and the college in Padua but felt called to the ecclesiastical state (finding no satisfaction in his studies and deeming them too secular) and abandoned his studies in law for theological and scriptural studies. On his return home in 1208 it is said that his father – angered at his change of purpose – refused to speak to him for one decade. Guzzolini accepted a position as a canon at Osimo (after the diocesan bishop ordained him in 1217) and devoted himself to pastoral work with such zeal as to arouse hostilities from his bishop whom he had rebuked with respect for the scandals that the prelate's irregular life had caused.
The prelate threatened to strip him of his position but the canon decided to leave the world upon seeing the corpse of one who had once been noted for their looks while presiding over a funeral. He retired to a desert place far from Osimo in 1227 and lived there in strict poverty until the owner of the land – the nobleman Corrado – recognized him and offered him a better site for his hermitage. The dampness drove him from that place and he established himself next at Grotta Fucile where he later built a convent for his future religious order. In this place his penances were most severe for he lived on raw herbs and water and slept on the bare ground. Disciples flocked to him seeking his direction and it became vital for him to choose a Rule. His fame worried Pope Gregory IX in 1228 and he decided to send the Dominican friars Riccardo and Bonaparte to him to invite him into their order but he refused. Legend suggests that the various founders appeared to him in a vision each begging him to adopt his Rule. Guzzolini chose for his followers that of Benedict of Nursia in 1231 (after having a vision of him) and built his first convent on Montefano near Fabriano after first removing the remains of a pagan temple.
On 27 June 1248 he obtained from Pope Innocent IV a papal bull confirming his order as being canonical and before his death founded eleven monasteries after this approval. He died on 26 November 1267 due to a severe fever; Doctor Andrea embalmed him and the room was filled with a sweet fragrance when he removed Guzzolini's bowels. His remains were later disinterred and placed in a shrine still present at the church of Monte Fano.
The account of his miracles and the growth of his "cultus" (or longstanding veneration) can be found in Bolzonetti. Pope Clement IV beatified Guzzolini and Pope Clement VIII later canonized him in 1598. Pope Leo XIII included his Mass and office in the General Roman Calendar in 1890 with the rank of Double (third-class feast in the 1960 reform of Pope John XXIII) therefore reducing to the status of a commemoration that of Pope Peter I of Alexandria who shared that date. In 1970 that celebration was removed and relegated to the local calendar since it was not a feast of universal importance.
- "St. Sylvester Gozzolini". catholic.org.
- "Saint Sylvester Gozzolini". Saints SQPN. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
- Webster, Douglas Raymund (1912). "St. Sylvester Gozzolini". The Catholic Encyclopedia. XIV. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "San Silvestro Guzzolini". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
- Alban Butler. "Lives of the Saints".
- Calendarium Romanum, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969, p. 147
- "St. Sylvester Gozzolini". Catholic Online. Retrieved 11 October 2017.