19 NOVEMBER 2009. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed James Benfatti, Bishop of Mantua.
Born in Mantua, Italy, Blessed James also died there on 19 November 1332. He was both a doctor of theology and a priest.
In 1290 Blessed James entered the Dominican convent in his hometown. There he became the friend and brother friar of Nicholas Boccasino, who later became Pope Benedict XI. Under Pope Denedict XI, Blessed James held several important offices including Papal Legate. And, in the course of his service to the Pope, he also served as Papal Legate for Pope John XXII.
In 1303 Blessed James was consecrated as the Bishop of Mantua (some resources say he was consecrated in 1304). There Bishop James was known for his devotion to the poor, earning him the name "Father of the Poor." As bishop, Blessed James rebuilt the Cathedral and refurbished churches in his diocese. He also actively fought against the hatred and division that plagued the city at that time. After his death, Bishop James was credited with many remarkable miracles that occurred, and people began to call him Blessed James in gratefulness for his intercession.
Nearly 150 years after his death, in 1480, when repairs were being made to the church were he was buried, an accident opened his tomb and people were startled to find his body completely incorrupt. Again, in 1604, the same phenomenon occurred.
Blessed James' cult was confirmed in 1859 by Pope Pius IX.
You established Blessed James as a model for your flock
and made him renowned for his zeal for peace
and for his mercy towards your people.
By his prayers and example
may we be united in the truth of your word
and ever ardent in your divine love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.