Saint Nicholas of Flue

St. Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487) was born in Switzerland, a devout child of pious parents. At the age of 21 he joined the army and fought in local battles. In his mid-twenties, at the advice of his parents, he married a similarly pious woman and had five sons and five daughters. He served the public by holding various civil offices, and was esteemed by all for his moral integrity. After 25 years of marriage, upon discerning a special call from God, and with the consent of his wife, he went to live in a nearby valley as a hermit. He built a dwelling out of branches and left it only for daily Mass. He wore a tunic and kept his head and feet bare, spending his days in prayer and penance on behalf of the local people. With permission from the parish priest he abstained totally from food and drink, without any negative effect on his health, which was confirmed by the Church as a miracle. He lived in this manner for 20 years and became known as a visionary and a prophet. Distinguished persons from all over Europe came to him for counsel. The civil authorities built him a cell and chapel and assigned him a chaplain. The saint intervened as an arbiter when a civil war was imminent, resulting in the enduring union of the French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland. His hermitage became a place of pilgrimage after his death. St. Nicholas of Flue is the patron saint of Switzerland. His feast day is March 21st.
 
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