St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
As a lawyer, St. Fidelis gave special attention to the plight of the oppressed—in fact, he became known as The Poor Man’s Lawyer.
St. Fidelis was born as Mark Rey in Germany in 1577. The more he practiced law, however, the more disenchanted and disgusted he became with the lengths to which his colleagues would go in order to win a case. He decided to leave his life as a lawyer and dedicate his life to God in a religious community.
His brother was a Capuchin Franciscan, so he joined that order, took the name Fidelis, and was ordained a priest. He was zealous in his practice and proclamation of the faith, and once declared, “Woe to me if I should prove myself but a half-hearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned captain!”
He was sent to minister in several different regions of Germany, where he reformed whole cities with his preaching. He also cared for the sick, especially during a severe outbreak of disease. Because of his effectiveness, he was chosen to head a party of Capuchins to go to Switzerland to convert people back to the Catholic faith there.
His preaching was enhanced by his own witness and the hours he would spend in prayer, and many people were inspired by his example. Opponents threatened his life, and tried to arouse people against him by claiming that he was a spy.
One night, his adversaries even shot at him when he was in the pulpit, and tried to storm the church. Friends offered to shelter him, but he declared that his life was in God’s hands, and while he was walking on the road home, he was attacked by a mob of armed men. He asked God to forgive the attackers as they killed him.
The relics of St. Fidelis rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica, and his image is used here with permission from Catholic.org.
St. Fidelis, the “Poor Man’s Lawyer” who became a priest and was martyred for preaching the faith, pray for us!