Story of Origin
During the 13th century, Florence rose to prominence as among the richest of the Italian city-states. Florentine society is also dominated by wealthy traders and merchants – most of which are attached to rampant materialism and capitalism. 13th century is also a time when conflict and discord prevailed in various Italian cities primarily due to the strife between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. It was during this time when seven Florentine merchants namely – Bonfilius, Bonajuncta, Manettus, Amadeus, Hugh, Sostene, and Alexis – chose to live a common life of solitude away from the turmoil of the mundane society where they’re living in. Currently known in history as the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, these seven merchants set aside their material wealth, left their homes, and moved into a small house outside the city walls, and eventually to their first monastery – Monte Senario -which is found in Vaglia, miles away from Florence.
Story of Selflessness and Abandonment
A follower of Christ is selfless. He is ready to abandon everything he have – his material possessions and even his family. The story of the Seven Holy Founders is a story of selflessness and total abandonment. Abandonment of the world is not a sign of hopelessness but is a sign of faithfulness and total reliance to the will of God. This is the essence of the Lord’s prayer when we say – ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is most important virtue Mary said when she professed ‘be it done unto me according to thy word.’ Thus, abandonment is not a feeling of despair and helplessness but rather an act which leads to charity and hope. This virtue is what the Seven Holy Founders exercised amidst the selfish world they are living in during their time. Despite the material possessions and wealth which they had, they opted to abandon all of these things so that they could serve Mary and follow God.
In choosing to abandon the world, the Seven Holy Founders chose to live a fraternal life which is full of prayer and penance. Service to one another and to others, especially the poor and the sick became part of their lives. The challenge for us then is this – amidst the rampant materialism and selfishness which we currently encounter in our daily lives, how many among us could totally surrender to the will of God? Abandonment to something which is unknown could not be a wise thing for most of us. However, we are reminded that if we totally resign to the mysterious ways of God, that is abandoning what we currently have for the spread of the Kingdom, He would prepare a generous reward for us – a reward which not of this world, but that of the world to come.
by: Jasper Christian Gambito