Saint Elzear and Blessed Delphina

Saint of the Day for 1/11

This is the only Franciscan couple to be canonized or beatified formally.

Elzear came from a noble family in southern France. After he married Delphina, she informed him that she had made a vow of perpetual virginity; that same night he did the same. For a time Elzear, Count of Ariano, was a counselor to Duke Charles of Calabria in southern Italy. Elzear ruled his own territories in the kingdom of Naples and in southern France with justice.

Elzear and Delphina joined the Secular Franciscans and dedicated themselves to the corporal works of mercy. Twelve poor people dined with them every day. A statue of Elzear shows him curing several people suffering from leprosy.

Their piety extended to the running of their household. Everyone there was expected to attend Mass daily, go to confession weekly and be ready to forgive injuries. After Elzear’s death, Delphina continued her works of charity for 35 more years. She is especially remembered for raising the moral level of the king of Sicily’s court.

Elzear and Delphina are buried in Apt, France. He was canonized in 1369, and she was beatified in 1694.

Like Francis, Elzear and Delphina came to see all creation as pointing to its source. Therefore, they did not try ruthlessly to dominate any part of creation but used all of it as a way of returning thanks to God. Though childless, their marriage was life-giving for the poor and the sick around them.