Image: The blessed Salvator à Horta of the Franciscan order | Etching | Wellcome Images
Saint of the Day for March 20
(1520 – March 18, 1567)
Saint Salvator of Horta’s Story
A reputation for holiness does have some drawbacks. Public recognition can be a nuisance at times—as the confreres of Salvator found out.
Salvator was born during Spain’s Golden Age. Art, politics, and wealth were flourishing. So was religion. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.
Salvator’s parents were poor. At the age of 21, he entered the Franciscans as a brother and was soon known for his asceticism, humility, and simplicity. As cook, porter, and later the official beggar for the friars in Tortosa, he became well known for his charity. He healed the sick with the Sign of the Cross. When crowds of sick people began coming to the friary to see Salvator, the friars transferred him to Horta. Again, the sick flocked to ask his intercession; one person estimated that 2,000 people a week came to see Salvator. He told them to examine their consciences, go to confession, and to receive Holy Communion worthily. He refused to pray for those who would not receive those sacraments.
The public attention given to Salvator was relentless. The crowds would sometimes tear off pieces of his habit as relics. Two years before his death, Salvator was moved again, this time to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. He died at Cagliari saying, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” He was canonized in 1938.
Medical science is now seeing more clearly the relation of some diseases to one’s emotional and spiritual life. In Healing Life’s Hurts, Matthew and Dennis Linn report that sometimes people experience relief from illness only when they have decided to forgive others. Salvator prayed that people might be healed, and many were. Surely not all diseases can be treated this way; medical help should not be abandoned. But notice that Salvator urged his petitioners to reestablish their priorities in life before they asked for healing. The liturgical feast of Saint Salvator of Horta is celebrated on March 18.