ST. PATRICK'S RC CHURCH - Waterloo
The London Parish Run by the General Delegation of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Conventual
BLESSED AGNELLUS OF PISA - Patron of the OFM.Conv. in Great Britain and Ireland
Agnellus was born in 1195 in Pisa, from a noble family. Early on, he became attracted to the Franciscans and was personally received into the Order by St. Francis of Assisi in 1211, during the latter's sojourn in Pisa. Since he became known for his pursuit of holiness, he was sent first to Paris, where he erected a friary, and later to England. In between, Agnellus returned to Italy for the first ‘Chapter of Mats’ of the Order. It was from here that St. Francis sent him with eight other companions to England where he, in time, established several friaries and later united them into a Province.
Agnellus and the other eight greyfriars (from England, France and Italy) landed in Dover on the 10th of September 1224. They travelled from France with the charitable help of the Benedictine Monks of Fecamp. In England, they were taken to be French spies and were therefore arrested. Released, they lived on alms and charity of those they encountered. After months of walking in their first cold winter, they found a place to shelter in Canterbury, the ecclesiastical metropolis of the time. They soon established the first friary on an island in the River Stour, the present ‘Greyfriars’. Agnellus and his followers soon became known for their humble way of life. While five of the Friars stayed at Canterbury, the other four continued their journey to London.
For two weeks they stayed with the Dominican Friars on the north side of Blackfriars Bridge (in front of our Parish, on the other side of the Thames). A few months later they were given ‘Christchurch’ near St. Paul's Cathedral. Within months, Agnellus had secured a house also in Oxford.
Due to his zeal and to his virtuous life, many young men, some from prominent families in England, took the Greyfriars’ habit. In order to provide the young clerics with a thorough spiritual education he infused into them a great desire for holiness and fidelity to the rule of the Order, always leading them by his own example. Despite not being a scholarly man himself, Agnellus understood the importance of learning. He therefore, established a school of theology for the friars at Oxford. The English Franciscan Order by securing a friary in Oxford, subsequently played a large role in the establishment of the University of Oxford.
With friaries in Canterbury, London and Oxford, Agnellus had friars in the major ecclesiastical, political, and intellectual centres of England.
Agnellus contracted a fatal illness and died on the 7th of May 1236 in Oxford when he was 41 years of age. He was declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1882.
Feast Day - 17 March
Icon in Greyfriars - Canterbuty