Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

"Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

St. Nicholas of Tolentino
and the Birds

Born in 1246 and named after St. Nicholas of Myra ("Santa Claus"), St. Nicholas of Tolentino was the son of pious but poor parents. Nonetheless, he excelled at school and was made a canon even before his studies were finished. Then, after hearing a sermon by an Augustinian hermit, he decided to become an Augustinian himself.

He made his vows by the time he was nineteen years old, and then went on to receive holy orders. Throughout his life as an Augustinian priest, he became known for his piety, mortifications, gentleness, care for the poor, and use byGod as a miracle worker. He was also especially devoted to the Holy Souls -- so much so that he was made patron Saint of the souls in Purgatory by Pope Leo XIII in 1884.

Once, after a long fast, and weak with hunger, he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin and St. Augustine, who told him to eat bread that's been marked by a Cross and then dipped in water. He did, immediately felt better, and began giving this bread to the sick, thereby curing many (from this comes the Augustinian practice of giving out "St. Nicholas Bread").

Many other fantastical tales are told of his life and intercessions -- for ex., his having calmed the seas after a group of people on a ship prayed to him as a storm raged, and appearing to them in the sky wearing his habit and bearing a lily -- but the story relevant to the animal world is this one: Toward the end of his life, he underwent prolonged illness. Despite this, he kept up his intense mortifications, including foregoing the eating of flesh. His Augustinian brothers, though, out of concern for his health and wanting to restore him, brought to him roasted birds to eat. But instead of dining on them, St. Nicholas  made the sign of the Cross over them -- and they resurrected and flew away.

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