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John Gualbert, St.


Abbot, founder of the vallombrosans; b. Florence, Italy, c. 995; d. S. Michele Arcangelo Abbey, Passignano, Italy, July 12, 1073. A member of the Visdomini family, John was a knight until the murderer of one of his kinsmen asked his forgiveness on Good Friday. He spared the man's life and was soon after professed as a Benedictine monk at S. Miniato, Florence. Seeking a more austere life, he went to camaldoli sometime before the death of St. romuald (d. 1027). But John wished to found an order aimed directly at promoting Church reform, and c. 1030 he withdrew to vallombrosa to lead an eremitic life. In 1038 he founded a monastery there, which he placed under the benedictine rule but with special statutes. He made provision for conversi in order to free the choir monks from manual labor. Vallombrosans soon reformed or founded other communities, such as those of S. Salvi, Moscheta, and Passignano, to which hospices were attached for the care of the poor and the sick. All these houses were placed under the authority of a single abbot general. John's reforms brought him into bitter conflict with the archbishop of Florence, Peter Mezzabarba, the notorious simoniac. John is buried at Passignano. In 1193 he was canonized by Pope celestine iii.

Feast: July 12.

Bibliography: Two lives of John and prayers attributed to him, Acta Sanctorum July 3:297433. s. casini, Storia di S. Giovanni Gualberto Fiorentino (Florence 1934). b. quilici, Giovanni Gualberto e la sua riforma monastica (Florence 1943). e. lucchesi, S. Giovanni Gualberto. Dai boschi d'Italia alle foreste del Brasile (Florence 1959). a. salvini, S. Giovanni Gualberto, fondatore di Vallombrosa (Livorno 1972). g. spinelli and g. rossi, eds., Alle origini di Vallombrosa (Novara 1984).

[b. hamilton]

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