Double Feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites
Missa "Justi decantaverunt"
There were seven concilors of Florence who founded the Servants of Mary or Servites in 1233. The best known were Saint Buonfiglio dei Monaldi
and Saint Alessio de' Falconieri
, who served as a lay brother all his life.The other five were also from influential families in Florence and were all members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
. Through this association, they grew spiritually and longed for something more. Thus, under the direction and advice of their bishop, the majority became priests, forming the Servants of Mary or Servites.
Can you imagine seven prominent men of any large modern city banding together, leaving their homes and profession, and going into solitude for a life directly given to God? That is what happened in the cultured and prosperous city of Florence in the middle of the 13th century. At this time, the city was torn with political strife as well as by the heresy of the Cathari; morals were low and religion neglected.
On the feast of the Assumption in 1233, seven of the members of a Florentine Confraternity devoted to the Holy Mother of God were gathered in prayer under the presidency of Alessio Falconieri. The Blessed Virgin appeared to the young men and exhorted them to devote themselves to her service, in retirement from the world. It was in 1240 that they decided to withdraw together from the city to a solitary place for prayer and the service of God. Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by increasing numbers of visitors.
They adopted the Rule of Saint Augustine, wore black cassocks and strove to emulate the mendicant friars like the Franciscans and Dominicans. They next retired to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario near Florence, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to them again. There the nucleus of a new Order was formed, called Servants of Mary, or Servites, in recognition of their special manner of venerating the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
In 1244, under the direction of Saint Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the rule of Saint Augustine. The new Order took a form resembling more the mendicant friars than the older monastic Orders. One of the most remarkable features of the new foundation was its wonderful growth. Even in the fourteenth century, the Order had more than one hundred convents in several nations of Europe, as well as in India and on the Island of Crete. The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is one of their regular devotions, as is also the Via Matris, or Way of the Cross of Mary.
Their Order was officially approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1259; canonically approved by Blessed Pope Benedict XI in 1304.
There was also a contemplative order of Servite nuns founded by two penitents of Saint Philip Benezi and a Third Order of nuns dedicating to treating the poor and sick as well as educating children. This was founded by a relative of St. Alessio's, Saint Juliana Falconieri in 1306. The Seven Servite Founders were canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, establishing their feast to be celebrated in Church Liturgy on February 12th.
We want to thank the Friends of Our Lady of Fatima for expediting these resources of the Propers. Sources: The Liturgical Year,Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945 and Butler's Lives of the Saints as well as the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908
Missa "Justi decantaverunt"
Go to the ORDINARY OF THE HOLY MASS THE MASS OF THE CATECHUMENS
INTROIT: Psalm 44: 8