St Conrad Healing Oil
The St Conrad healing oil dedicated to the 14th century Italian saint.
Conrad of Piacenza, was an Italian penitent and hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, who venerated as a saint.
He was born Corrado Confalonieri. He was a member of one of the noblest families of Piacenza. The date of his birth is uncertain. He married an aristocratic young woman named Ephrosyne when he was quite young. Though pious, he led the normal way of life for a man of his station.
Conrad admits his guilt
One day, while out hunting, he ordered his attendants to set fire to some brushwood. This was to draw out game that had taken refuge. The prevailing wind caused the flames to spread rapidly to the surrounding fields and forest. A peasant who happened to be found near where the fire began accused of starting the blaze. He imprisoned, tortured to confess, and condemned to death. A remorseful Conrad publicly admitted his guilt to the Signoria of the city. As punishment and reparation for the damages he had caused, the city seized all his assets. They spared his life due to his noble status.
Reduced to poverty, and seeking penance for his act of cowardice, Conrad and his wife saw the hand of God in this event. As a result, in 1315 they agreed to separate. Conrad retired to a hermitage joining a community of hermits, who were Franciscan tertiaries. Also, his wife became a nun of the Order of Poor Clares at their monastery in the city.
Conrad leads a holy life
Conrad soon developed a reputation for holiness, and the flow of visitors left him unable to keep the solitude he sought. Consequently, he then embarked on the life of a pilgrim, going to Rome. From there he went to the Holy Land and Malta and, about 1340, to Palermo in Sicily. There he directed to an isolated site in the Val di Noto. After many years of an itinerant life, he settled there in a grotto now named for him. Subsequently, for the rest of his life spent a most austere and penitential life of solitude. He worked numerous miracles, and gifted with prophecy.
In 1343 Conrad felt called by God to serve the local people more directly and in 1343 went to the city of Netum. There he cared for the sick at the Hospital of St. Martin there for the next two years. He lived in a hermitage attached to the Church of the Crucified Christ. Conrad would regularly return to his grotto for silent prayer. His fame was such that in 1348 the Bishop of Syracuse, Giacomo Guidone de Franchis, went to his hermitage to beg his prayers for the relief of a famine afflicting the island.
Conrad died while in prayer, kneeling before a crucifix, on 19 February 1351, the day he had predicted. At his request, his body buried at the Church of St. Nicholas, the principal one of the city. After the city leveled in an earthquake in the 1690s, it transferred to the new church of the same name built in the relocated city, now called Noto, which now serves as the cathedral of the region.
Conrad especially invoked for the cure of hernia. This comes from miracles attributed to him. The legend relates that he visited at his hermitage by a former friend and companion in arms, Antonio da Stessa, from Daverio. His friend was suffering from the pain of a hernia he had developed. Seeing the pain his old comrade suffering, Conrad moved to pity and prayed for him. Stessa immediately cured of the hernia.
The same outcome accomplished for a local tailor, who suffered severely from several hernias.
The miracle for which Conrad best known is the “Miracle of the Bread”. This developed during the aforementioned famine which afflicted Sicily as a result of a severe outbreak of the bubonic plague on the island during 1348-49. During that catastrophe, anyone who approached the hermit for help given a loaf of bread, still warm, which, it was said, he had received from the angels.
St Conrad healing oil/Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.