Blessed Waldo

Another Saint of the Day for January 1


 

Blessed Waldo’s Story

Waldo (also known as Vivaldo or Ubaldo) was a disciple of a saintly priest, Bartolo, both of them natives of northern Italy. When Bartolo contracted leprosy and entered a hospital, Waldo accompanied his friend and nursed him until Bartolo died 20 years later. In return, Waldo’s religious education was enriched by instruction from the holy priest. It was at his suggestion that Waldo joined the secular Franciscans.

Following the death of his spiritual father in 1300, Waldo determined to withdraw from the world altogether and to devote himself to conversing with God and focusing on heaven. Accordingly, he set out for a large forest not far from his birthplace and found a large hollow chestnut tree. The cavity of the tree offered barely enough room for him to kneel, but it became the hermitage in which he spent the next 20 years in complete solitude.

It is said that one day in May in the year 1320, the bells of the church from the adjacent village began to ring of their own accord. As local residents ran to the church seeking to unravel the mystery of the bells, a hunter emerged from the forest. He reported to the assembled crowd that his hounds had circled a hollow chestnut tree nearby and that they began barking excitedly. When the hunter approached the tree to investigate the matter, he found a recluse in the cavity of the tree, dead on his knees. Just as the hunter finished recounting the story, the bells ceased ringing.

For the inhabitants of the town, it was utterly clear that their humble, solitary neighbor was indeed a holy man. They processed to his cell, brought his body back to the church and laid it to rest beneath the high altar. As years passed, many miracles occurred at the tomb of Waldo, while his former cell in the chestnut tree was converted into a chapel in honor of the Blessed Mother.


Reflection

Waldo would be considered a strange fellow in our world. He was a total misfit by modern standards! Yet his prayers bound him to the rest of the world. His neighbors realized at his death how much they depended on his prayers; perhaps they even provided him with food and water for those 20 years he spent in his chestnut tree.

However little we understand his chosen lifestyle, he reminds us we also serve when we spend time alone with God.