Nicholas of Tolentine (1245-1305) was a simple priest and Augustinian Friar who touched the lives of many.
His spirit of prayer, penance, austerity of life and devotion to the Holy Souls were notable. His preaching brought many to Christ.
Nicholas Gurutti was born in 1245 in Sant’Angelo, Pontano, Macerata, Italy. His family was rather poor.
He joined the Augustinian Order while a young man, after hearing the inspired preaching of Reginaldo da Monterubbiano, Prior (local superior) of the Augustinian monastery in Sant’Angelo.
As a priest and religious, he was full of charity towards his brother Augustinians as well as towards the people to whom he ministered. He visited the sick and cared for the needy. He was a noted preacher of the Gospel. He gave special attention to those who had fallen away from the Church. People considered him a miracle worker.
He often fasted and performed other works of penance. He spent long hours in prayer.
The story is told that, one day, having fasted for a long time, Nicholas was physically weak. While at prayer, Jesus told him to eat some bread marked with a cross and soaked in water in order to regain his strength. Thus arose the Augustinian custom of blessing and distributing Saint Nicholas Bread in his memory.
Another story relates that Nicholas, while asleep in bed, heard the voice of a deceased Friar he had known. This Friar told Nicholas that he was in Purgatory, and urged him to celebrate the Eucharist for him and other souls there, so that they would be set free by the power of Christ. Nicholas did so for seven days. The Friar again spoke to Nicholas, thanking him and assuring him that a large number of souls were now with God. Because of this Nicholas was proclaimed patron of the souls in Purgatory.
He is also considered the patron saint against epidemic disease and against fires.
During most of his adult life, Nicholas lived in Tolentine, Italy. There he died September 10, 1305. Canonized in 1446 by Pope Eugene IV, Nicholas is the first Augustinian Friar to be canonized after the Grand Union of the Order of St. Augustine in 1256.
The remains of St. Nicholas are preserved at the Shrine of Saint Nicholas in the city of Tolentine.