Saint Conrad of Piacenza
Born circa 1290 to a noble family in northern Italy, Conrad as a young man married Euphrosyne, daughter of a nobleman. One day while hunting he ordered attendants to set fire to some bush in order to flush out the game. The fire spread to nearby fields and to a large forest. Conrad fled. An innocent peasant was imprisoned, tortured to confess, and condemned to death. Conrad confessed his guilt, saved the man’s life, and paid for the damaged property. Soon after this event, Conrad and his wife agreed to separate: she to a Poor Clare monastery and he to a group of hermits following the Third Order Rule. Since his many visitors destroyed his solitude, Conrad went to a remote spot in Sicily where he lived 36 years as a hermit, praying for himself and the world. Conrad died kneeling before a crucifix on 19 February 1351 and was canonized in 1625.
REFLECTION FOR THE DAY
Will you call this a fast…? Isaiah 58:5
God’s stinging rebuke of Israel’s false piety redefines the very notion of fasting. “On your fast day, you carry out your own pursuits” (verse 3). Penance itself is repellent: “Is this the manner of fasting” I would choose? (verse 5). Afflicting oneself, bowing your head, sackcloth and ashes? No! For our God, fasting means a feast of freedom for the oppressed, “releasing those bound unjustly” (verse 6). Maybe that is why the liturgy calls Lent “this joyful season.” A big parish fish-fry may seem hardly penitential, but the festivity of it all—welcoming neighbors near and far, any faith, any style, any smile—must be dear to the heart of God, who promised Israel, once they released every unjust or oppressive yoke: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (verse 8).