Laurence Loricatus

(c. 1190—1243)

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St Benedict (c. 480—550) Italian hermit


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hermit of Subiaco. Born at Facciolo (Apulia), he killed a man accidentally in his youth and decided to expiate for it, first by a pilgrimage to Compostela and then by becoming a hermit at Subiaco, hallowed by Benedict long before. Discovered by shepherds and pilgrims, he received and trained disciples into a small community. He himself habitually wore not a hairshirt but a coat of chain-mail next to the skin (hence his name), and also practised the strictest poverty, giving away to the poor the offerings made by visitors.

A book of prayers written by him survives. His fame attracted a visit from Cardinal Hugolino (later Pope Gregory IX) who in 1224 persuaded him to abandon his breastplate. He died in 1243 after 34 years of eremitical life. He was succeeded by his disciple Amico de Canterano, who had shared his way of life for 24 years.

An enquiry into his life and miracles initiated by Innocent IV in 1244 did not lead to an immediate formal canonization, but a popular cult flourished which was approved by Pius VI in 1778. Laurence's relics, including a manuscript in his own hand and his breastplate, are enshrined in St Benedict's Cave at Subiaco. Feast: 16 August.

H.S.S.C., vi. 277; B.L.S., viii. 162; Bibl. SS., viii. 136–41.

Subjects: Christianity.

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