Today, Tuesday 18 May 2021, is the feast of the Capuchin lay brother St Felix of Cantalice (+1587). Certainly Brother Felix has been foundational not just for the Capuchin reform but also for the renewal of the Church, as rightly demanded by the Council of Trent. On May 12, 1712, Pope Clement XI raised to the honours of the altar Saints Pius V, Andrea Avellino, Caterina da Bologna and, the great Felix da Cantalice, the first saint of the Capuchin Franciscan reform.
Felix was born in 1515 at Cantalice in Rieti. Coming from a pious parents it was natural that the little Felix absorbed their spirit of devotion and prayer, to the extent that his friends, as soon as they saw him coming, would shout: “Here comes Felix the saint!” While herding his parents’ cows in the field the young Felix took the opportunity to unite himself with God in hours of meditation, growing in the ‘art of prayer’ under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. His favorite theme was reflection on the suffering and death of Jesus, and from his earliest age Felix was granted that most important grace of praying for those who insulted him.
As time passed he started to wonder what was the vocation God was calling him to pursue in his life. His life story tells us that one day, while plowing a field, something terrified the oxen with which he was working. Felix did his very best to hold them back. As he tried to hold them back it happened to him that he fell below them. Felix was trampled and the plow even passed over his body. However, he was miraculously unharmed. This life-shaking experience might have helped him to seriously consider consecrated life.