Patron Saint Against a Sudden Death
St. Joseph is the patron of a happy death which we all hope to have. And, St. Andrew Avellino (1521 - 1608) is the patron against a sudden death of which we all need to be prepared for because we do not know when the Lord will call us.
A Legal Career
Avellino was born in Sicily with the given name of Lorenzo. As a teenager, he was sent to Venice where he studied the humanities and philosophy. Apparently, he had a number of female admirers, and to make clear his intentions, he took a vow of chastity which was sealed by receiving the tonsure.
Avellino continued his studies in Naples where he earned a doctorate in both civil and ecclesial law. At the age of twenty-six, he was ordained a priest. He then began a promising career as a lawyer in the ecclesiastical court of Naples.
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Abandoning Law and Reforming a Convent
However, his life took a dramatic turn, when Avellino found himself telling a lie in one of his court cases as he defended a friend. The experience of committing perjury led him to abandon law and take up a life of penance.
Soon, however, the archbishop of Naples assigned him the job of reforming a convent which had become a source of embarrassment and scandal to the diocese. Through great effort and against terrific opposition, Avellino was able to bring about some return to religious discipline and moral behavior.
Discovering the Theatine Clerks Regular
Nonetheless, the opposition was not going to go down without a fight. One night, some of the religious who had been ordered to leave, returned and attacked the unsuspecting Avellino. Having wounded him, he escaped to a house run by the Theatine Clerks Regular which was relatively new order of priests established by St. Cajetan.
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A Life of Priestly Service
As he recovered from his wounds, Avellino was so impressed by the Theatines that he asked to be allowed to join the order. He was granted permission, and at the age of thirty-five, he began his novitiate. He took the name of Andrew in honor of the Apostle.
Following his novitiate, he visited the tombs of the apostles in Rome. Upon his return, he was made master of the novices which is a position that Avellino held for ten years before being name superior.
Throughout this time, Avellino helped prepare the novices while also celebrating mass, hearing confessions, and preaching. He became well-known for his dynamic preaching which helped bring about many conversions. However, the fame always troubled the humble priest.
In part based on his previous experiences, Avellino was known for his commitment to helping the clergy to be pure. His organizational skills and abilities to lead were used in establishing new homes for the Theatines in Milan and Piancenza.
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The Need to be Ready
The end of his life demonstrates the need to be prepared. At the age of eighty-eight he had a stroke while celebrating mass. The stroke would prove to be fatal as he died several days later. St. Andrew Avellino is invoked as the patron of Sicily, Naples, and against a sudden death.
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