I absolutely love the name, Crispin! He was celebrated by the Franciscan’s on Thursday May 19, but in some searches I have seen his feast stated as May 23; regardless I will assume that it was the 19th and this post was meant to be. I feel the Holy Spirit must want us to learn something from this holy man, may he be an example to us all.
Crispin accomplished a remarkable amount of good in the area of social and spiritual assistance, energetically ministering among the sick, the imprisoned, sinners, unwed mothers, families experiencing hardship and those on the brink of despair. He was a skilled peacemaker both within his own Capuchin community and with others. Before beginning any task, Crispin always prayed first to Mary, his mother. He possessed a contagious joviality and his ministry was marked by a profound sense of joy. Nothing escaped his notice, particularly in discerning what people really needed. Daily he visited the sick and local prisoners, pleading their cause, urging the guards to respect their human dignity, bringing them bread, chestnuts and tobacco, and arranging for families to take turns providing the prisoners with good, home cooked meals. Babies were often abandoned on the doorstep of the friary and then placed in the care of Our Lady of the Star Shelter. Crispin took a personal interest in these foundlings, arranging for their being apprenticed in one or the other trade, and keeping in touch with many of them well into their adult lives. Crispin was filled with intuition and insight which prompted many learned people to seek his counsel.
Crispin was convinced that much of human misery, both material and spiritual, was due to injustice. He therefore set about to confront social injustice by admonishing merchants, reminding people of workers’ rights, and asking forgiveness of debts whenever possible. He used his sense of humor to lighten people’s burdens. Every little occurrence found its way quickly to Crispin’s ears. Without hesitation, he would offer himself as a mediator, friend, and counselor. Nonetheless, he was not without his critics and crosses, both within and outside the friary. Some called him opinionated and aggressive; others, a hypocrite. Some friars expected Crispin to make their life easier. When their expectations were not met, they became embittered. Besides many letters, Crispin left a treasury of maxims, among them, “One doesn’t get to heaven in a taxi.”
During the winter of 1747-48, Crispin fell gravely ill and was transferred to the provincial infirmary at Rome. Recovery was but temporary, and on May 19, 1750, the 82-year-old Crispin died of pneumonia at the Friary of the Immaculate Conception located near the Piazza Barberini on Rome’s famous via Veneto. Among the many sayings attributed to him was the exhortation, “Let us love God who deserves it!”
Crispin’s simple, humble holiness brought many local lay people to him for spiritual guidance. As word of his wisdom spread, his visitors became priests, bishops, then cardinals, and even a pope. Crispin was noted for paying little attention to the rank or status of a visitor, either high or low, but concentrating on talking to them all as equal children of the same God.
Beatified by Pius VII on September 7, 1806, Crispin was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 20, 1982.
Below is the homily 05-19-2011 – Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ – Feast of St. Crispin of Viterbo.