Saint Felix of Cantalice
Saint Felix of Cantalice, born Felice Porri, is a great saint within the Roman Catholic faith, and the first Capuchin friar to be named one. Portrayed by Peter Paul Rubens and Guercino, he is definitely the most worshipped by his fellow citizens.
Felix was born in Cantalice in 1513 from a family of poor farmers. Already as a child, when he was working as a shepherd for the noble Pichi family of Cittaducale, he distinguished himself for his faith and humility, leading such an exemplar life of penance that his master asked for him to live with his family as a role model for his own children. It also seems that he had the gift of ubiquity, since he was once seen both in church and working in a field. Then an angel told him that his place was among the Capuchin friars and, after donating all his belongings to the poor, Felix went to the Capuchins and became a novice.
He spent his life as a questor begging in Rome. He would eat grass and roots and he only wore, throughout his life, one habit continuously patched up, always walking barefoot. He would fast and flagellate himself and he could predict the future, like the Christians’ victory in 1571 against the Turks in Lepanto. He was particularly appreciated both by the pope and Saint Philip Neri, with whom he would improvise sketches and quips in the streets of Rome in order to educate and entertain the people passing by. Saint Charles Borromeo trusted in his advice and went to him when writing the Rule of his congregation in Milan, but found him hoeing the ground of his vegetable garden. Felix was also constantly helping young, poor, sick and foreign people in need, and he managed to convince the pope to revoke the excommunication of Cantalice after its inhabitants had assaulted the Episcopal Palace of Cittaducale and hit the bishop.
When he died in 1587, it is said that a strange silver liquid came out of his body, and that it was able to cure people. Today his relics are in Rome, in the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins, and the saint is patron of Cantalice and second patron of Rieti’s diocese. In May, all five brotherhoods in Cantalice take part in the celebrations in his honour: the brotherhoods of St. Anthony, Mercy, St. Felix, Our Lady of Graces and the ‘Buona Morte’ (good or easy death); the brothers wear they typical long habit with a hood.