05 November 2009
Blessed Simon Ballacchi
5 NOVEMBER 2009. Today we celebrate the optional memorial of Blessed Simon Ballacchi, an Italian cooperator brother. His life of service and penance is an example to us all of loving God through simple actions.
Blessed Simon was born around 1240 A.D. in the village of Sant'Archangelo in the Diocese of Rimini, Italy. He was the son of Count Ballacchi and the nephew of two Archbishops of Rimini, and his brother became a priest. It was in Rimini that Blessed Simon received the the habit of a cooperator brother at the age of 27. Apparently Brother Simon's family was not happy about his entry into the Order, as they had expected him to manage the family's property.
Tradition tells us that Blessed Simon led a life in Rimini that was distinguished for humility and kindness.
Blessed Simon was also known for his strict penances for the conversion of sinners, imitating Saint Dominic. He wore an iron link around himself for twenty years and whipped himself every night. During Lent, Blessed Simon lived on only bread and water, and found time for additional prayer by giving up sleep. However, despite the strictness of his penances, Brother Simon was also famous for his sweetness of life, particularly in his dealings with the poor, to whom he taught the basics of Christian life with wisdom.
Brother Simon would leave the monastery to walk around the village carrying a cross in his hand, calling the children to catechism. He often volunteered for the simplest tasks around the monastery, working mainly in the garden, even if the weather was bad.
At the age of 57 Blessed Simon became blind. For the last several years of his life he was bedridden. However, he bore these afflictions with great courage and was always in good spirits. Blessed Simon died in Rimini on 3 November around the year 1319 A.D. After his death, Brother Simon was honored by a great number of people for several days.
Simon Ballacchi was beatified on 14 March 1820 when his cult was confirmed by Pope Pius VII.
O God, you adorned blessed Simon
with the desire to be joined
in prayer and the prerogative of humility,
having turned away from the vanity
of the world;
grant that we may imitate him
and seek you alone, so that we
may be able at last to reach
the rewards promised to the humble in heaven.
Through our Lord.