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Anthony Baldinucci, Blessed

Jesuit missionary, missionary and preacher (1665-1717)

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Baldinucci, ANTHONY, BLESSED, b. June 19, 1665, at Florence; d. November 6, 1717. He entered the Society of Jesus April 21, 1681, and was ordained priest October 28, 1695. After his third year of probation he began his missionary career at Monte Santo. The field of his labors were the towns of Frascati and Yiterbo, in which, with the exception of some more distant places, he labored for the rest of his life. His methods of preaching were of the most unusual and startling character. Splendid processions were organized which proceeded from various parts of the country to the place where the mission was being given. Many of the people wore crowns of thorns and scourged themselves as they went along. When Baldinucci preached he frequently carried a cross, and was loaded down with heavy chains. He often walked up and down among the people scourging himself to blood. The exercises were usually brought to a close by the burning in the public square of cards, dice, musical instruments, etc. He always carried with him a miraculous picture of the Madonna which was borne before him as he proceeded from place to place. The propagation of devotion to the Blessed Virgin was one of his special aims. To keep order among the vast throngs who flocked to hear him, he always employed a number of laymen whom he called deputati. They were not unfrequently men of very bad lives whom he chose purposely in order to conciliate and convert them. His work among the clergy was marked by great prudence and success. Though his preaching was incessant, he found time to write two courses of Lenten Sermons, to gather materials for many more, compose hundreds of discourses, and carry on an immense correspondence. The effect of his apostolic work on the excitable people among whom he labored was stupendous. At times, when approaching a city, he found crowds covering the walls awaiting his arrival. His peculiar methods are explainable as those best adapted to his surroundings and times. After twenty years of labor he died at the age of fifty-two. He was already canonized in public estimation, but, although the official ecclesiastical process was begun in 1753, the decree of his beatification was issued only on April 23, 1893.


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