John of Sahagun

(c. 1430—1479)

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Austin friar. Born at Sahagun (near Leon, Spain), also called St Facundo, John was educated in the Benedictine monastery of this town and while still a cleric held several benefices without residence in them. This was made possible by the patronage of his wealthy family and a friendly bishop of Burgos, who realized he was of outstanding promise. In 1453 he ordained John a priest, and made him a canon and major-domo of his household. After the bishop's death in 1456, John resigned all his benefices except one, which financed him to study theology at Salamanca University for four years. This enabled him to preach and take on the cure of souls, for which earlier he had felt inadequate. Salamanca, his chosen field of the apostolate, was deeply divided as well as being infamous for crime and immorality. John tirelessly preached reconciliation, and followed up his preaching with individual counselling in the confessional.

A year's grave illness with an operations for gallstones interrupted this apostolate. This became the occasion for his joining the Austin Friars in 1463. Soon he became novice-master but continued his public preaching and worked for peace to such effect that a pact of peace between the hostile factions was signed in 1476. Now he was elected prior of his community, but he did not have very long to live. In 1479 he prophesied his own death, which took place on 11 June that same year. Miracles and pilgrimages followed at his tomb. Popular acclaim described him as the apostle of Salamanca. He was beatified in 1601 and canonized in 1691. His relics survive in a feretory in Salamanca cathedral, whose patron he is. Artists portray him with a host in his hand in memory of his Eucharistic devotion. Feast: 12 June.

AA.SS. Iun. II 112–57 (contemporary) Modern Life by L. Camblor (1962); Bibl. SS., vi. 899–901: B.L.S., vi. 97–9.

Subjects: Christianity.

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