Dominicans are often noted for their joy. Yet, there was one Dominican blessed noted for his sorrow: Bl. Constantius of Fabriano (1401-1481, feast – Feb. 24).
Bl. Constantius entered the Dominicans at at the age of 15 in Fabriano, Italy, at the Convent of St. Lucy, which was noted for having Bl. John Dominici, Bl. Lawrence of Ripafratta, and St. Antoninus as successive priors. Just like Bl. Fra Angelico who knew those blesseds and that saint, Constantius was also formed in a more rigorous religious life, being part of the Observant movement within the Dominican Order. Some might think that a more strict observance of the religious life would lead to a sense of sorrow. Yet, that doesn’t appear to be the cause for Bl. Constantius. Rather, his tears appeared to have three causes: first that it was a gift of tears, secondly that it was related to an internal trial which was permitted by God for his personal sanctification, and thirdly he wept for the sins of others.
Yet, Bl. Constantius wasn’t only noted for his sadness. He was also revered for his holiness, especially with regard to his concern for the salvation of souls. He would daily recite the Office of the Dead. He also memorized all 150 Psalms which he frequently used in his preaching. Likewise, he was known for his obedience to the strict observances in the priories where he lived, including San Marco in Florence, which was likewise known to be the home of the friars mentioned above as well as other blesseds. When he died children ran through the streets of Ascoli shouting, “The holy prior is dead! The holy prior is dead!”
In this season of Lent, may Bl. Constantius be an intercessor for us that we may have sorrow over our own sins so that we might grow in holiness and be drawn closer to God.
O God, who did make the Blessed Constantius, thy Confessor, glorious amongst the people for his continual exercise of prayer and his zeal in the promotion of peace, grant, by his intercession, that, walking always in the paths of justice, we may attain to everlasting peace and glory. Through Christ our Lord.