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(Stained glass shrine of St. William -- read more about its design and construction.)

Who is St. William?

Our parish was named to honor a local bishop named William, but also associates itself with St. William of Vercelli.

Born in Vercelli, Italy in 1085, St. William was the Abbot and founder of a religious congregation known as the Hermits of Monte Vergine.

At fourteen he is said to have left his home and set out as a poor pilgrim for Compostela in Spain.  He wanted to live a life in solitude, although he did end up discovering his need for companions.  His life was engaged with doing penance, not in a negative way, but in a way which acknowledged that God's mercy is beyond our comprehension -- it is generous beyond measure.

Detail of St. William stained glass

St. William pray for us
that we might have our sight restored -- that we might see with the eyes of our hearts and souls God's presence in and around us.

Teach us to nourish our spiritual journeys with prayer so that we too might be instruments of God's light and love to others. 

In the spirit of St. Benedict help us to be people of hospitality who let our work become prayer.  Let us find God in each other.



 


St. William is credited with the miracle of restoring sight to a blind man.  Thus he must have let himself be a true instrument of God's presence, being concerned about the way in which people see.  After this cure occurred, he did not seek fame as a wonder worker, but left the neighborhood to go live with St. John of Matera.

Attacked by robbers while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he took this as a sign from God that God had a different type of work for him to do.  He once again went to a mountainside and lived as a hermit.  Soon priests and lay people came to him and wanted to learn from him and pray with him.

As the people multiplied, he began a religious community and built a church named after Mary.  The mountain has received its present name - Monte Vergine - from this community and church.  He laid down a rule which encouraged fasting.  Perhaps he saw that fasting invites us to clear out the clutter in our lives and make space for God.  He then found a prior to lead that community and left to start other communities in various areas.

King Roger II of Naples saw the Spirit's presence in St. William and drew him to Salerno where he sought his counsel and help.  Thus St. William's life of solitude, prayer, fasting and sharing faith had made a light to shine forth from him -- it was the light of Christ.

St. William died at Guglietto on June 25, 1142.  He left no written constitutions, but a code of regulations bringing the order into conformity with Benedictine rule.  The only monastery of William's foundation which exists at the present day is that of Monte Vergine.  It now belongs to the Benedictine congregation of Subiaco, and has a much venerated picture of our Lady of Constantinople, to which pilgrimages are frequently made.

Other St. Williams and their feast days:

bullet St. William Pharmacies (April 24)
bullet St. William of Bourges (January 10)
bullet St. William of Eskilsoe (April 6)
bullet St. William of Gellone (May 28)
bullet St. William of Maleval (February 10)
bullet St. William of Norwich (March 24)
bullet St. William of Rochester (May 23)
bullet St. William of Roskilde (September 2)
bullet St. William of Saint Benignus (January 1)
bullet St. William of Saint-Brieuc (July 29)
bullet St. William of Toulouse, martyr (May 29)
bullet St. William of Vercelli (or Monte Vergine) (June 25)
bullet St. William of York (or of Thwayt) (June 8)