Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

March 31
  March 21

Saint Nicholas of Flue

Hermit
(1417-1487)

Saint Nicholas of Flue
Saint Nicholas of Flue

Saint Nicholas of Flue was born in Switzerland of pious parents. One day, when he saw an arrow launched on a neighboring mountain, he was filled with a desire for Heaven and with love for solitude. He married, to obey the formal will of his parents; he and his wife Dorothy became the parents of ten children. His merit and virtue caused him to be chosen by his fellow citizens to exercise very honorable public functions.

He was fifty years old when an interior voice said to him: Leave everything you love, and God will take care of you. He had to undergo a distressing combat, but decided finally to leave everything — wife, children, house, lands — to serve God. He left, barefooted, clothed in a long robe of coarse fabric, in his hand a rosary, without money or provisions, casting a final tender and prolonged gaze on his loved ones. His habitual prayer was this: My Lord and my God, remove from me all that can prevent me from going to You. My Lord and my God, give me all that can draw me to You.

One night God penetrated the hermit with a brilliant light, and from that time on he never again experienced hunger, thirst or cold. Having found a wild and solitary place, he dwelt there for a time in a hut of leaves, later in a cabin built with stones. The news of his presence, when it spread, brought him a great influx of visitors. Distinguished persons came to him for counsel in matters of great importance. It may seem incredible that the holy hermit lived for nineteen years only by the Holy Eucharist; the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, startled by this fact, had his cabin surveyed and verified this fact as being beyond question.

When Switzerland for a moment was divided and threatened with civil war in 1480, Saint Nicholas of Flue, venerated by all, was chosen as arbiter, to prevent the shedding of blood. He spoke so wisely that a union was reached, to the joy of all concerned, and the nation was saved. Bells were set ringing all over the country, and the concerted jubilation echoed across the lakes, mountains and valleys, from the most humble cottage to the largest cities.

At the age of 70, Saint Nicholas fell ill with a very painful sickness which tormented him for eight days and nights without overcoming his patience. He was beatified in 1669 by Pope Clement IX, canonized in 1947, by Pope Pius XII.

Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).