Blessed Thomas of Florence
Saint of the Day for 10/31
The son of a butcher in Florence, Thomas led such a wild life for a time that parents warned their sons to stay away from him. A rich man in town befriended him and led him deeper into depravity. Accused of a serious crime that he had not committed, Thomas went to his friend for protection. The man would not even see him and told him to stay away. Crushed, Thomas wandered the streets until he met a priest who listened to his story and took Thomas into his home. Ultimately, he was able to get Thomas declared innocent of the crime.
Thomas broke off his former associations and began to lead a life of prayer and penance. Filled with grace, he asked to be admitted to a Franciscan friary as a lay brother. He went on to become a model friar, fasting, keeping vigils, disciplining himself. He wore the cast-off clothes of his brothers. He was frequently wrapped in ecstasy. Though he was never ordained a priest and remained content to serve as a lay brother, Thomas was appointed novice master. Many young men followed in his path of holiness.
Thomas founded numerous convents of friars in southern Italy. And Pope Martin V called upon him to preach against the Fraticelli, a branch of heretical Franciscans. He was also asked to go to the Orient to promote the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches. There he was imprisoned and expected to receive the crown of martyrdom. But the pope ransomed him for a large sum of money. Thomas returned to Italy and died on a journey to Rome, where he had hoped to receive permission to return to the Orient.
When Thomas needed a compassionate listening ear, he found one in a stranger. Had the priest not heard him out, he might never have achieved a place among the blessed. Who knows what God has in mind for the person who wants to bend our ear and find a compassionate listener?