Alexander Sauli


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Antony Zaccaria (1502—1539)

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bishop of Pavia. Born at Milan of a Genoese family, he joined the Barnabite Congregation in 1551, recently founded by Antony Zaccaria. He studied in their college at Pavia and endowed it with a library. Ordained priest in 1556, he taught theology at the university and was known as an effective and challenging preacher. In 1567 he was elected provost-general of the Barnabites. About the same time Charles Borromeo had become protector of the Humiliati with a mandate to reform them: he wished to merge them with the lively, observant Barnabites. This plan had the support of Pope Pius V. Alexander however opposed them both because the plan would have reduced the quality of the Barnabites. In 1571 the attempted assassination of Borromeo by one of the Humiliati led to their suppression soon afterwards.

At this time priests of Sauli's zeal and ability were rare: Pius V appointed him bishop of Aleria in Corsica. The clergy were ignorant and the people irreligious; vendettas were rife and brigandage widespread. As Aleria was in ruins, he made Cervione the centre of the diocese. He visited it systematically, established new reforms, and promulgated the decrees of the council of Trent with due severity. After twenty years, his diocese was considered a model for its time, not least by his friend Philip Neri. Sauli was offered the sees of Tortona and Genoa, but he refused them both; in 1591 however Gregory XIV insisted on his becoming bishop of Pavia. Only a year later he died while visiting Calozza.

A learned man with special skill in canon law, preaching, and catechesis, he was also believed to have the gift of prophecy, healing, and quelling storms at sea. Less famous than the more charismatic saints of the Counter-Reformation, Sauli is notable as an exemplary religious and pastor in an age of much abuse and corruption. He was canonized in 1904. Feast: 11 October.

AA.SS. Oct. V (1857), 806–34;Lives by F. Moltedo (1904), O. Premoli and others (1905);B.L.S., x. 73–4; Bibl. SS., s.d.

Subjects: Christianity.

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