St Nicholas of Tolentino healing oil
St Nicholas of Tolentino healing oil is dedicated to the 14th century Augustinian.
Nicholas of Tolentino known as the Patron of Holy Souls, was an Italian saint and mystic. He is particularly invoked as an advocate for the souls in Purgatory. In many Augustinian churches, there are weekly devotions to St Nicholas on behalf of the suffering souls.
Born in 1245 in Sant’Angelo, St. Nicholas of Tolentino took his name from St. Nicholas of Myra. His parents had prayed at his shrine to have a child. Nicholas became a monk at 18, and seven years later, he was ordained a priest. He gained a reputation as a preacher and a confessor. In.1274, he was sent to Tolentino, near his birthplace. Nicholas was primarily a pastor to his flock. He ministered to the poor and criminals. Nicholas is said to have cured the sick with bread over which he had prayed to Our Lady. He gained a reputation as a wonder-worker. Nicholas died in 1305 after a long illness. People began immediately to petition for his canonization. Eugene IV canonized him in 1446, and his relics were rediscovered in 1926 at Tolentino.
A studious, kind and gentle youth, at the age of 16 Nicholas became an Augustinian Friar. He was ordained in 1270 at the age of 25. He soon became known for his preaching and teachings. Nicholas, moved to Tolentino, where he lived the rest of his life. He worked to counteract the decline of morality and religion.
On account of his kind and gentle manner his superiors entrusted him with the daily feeding of the poor at the monastery gates. He was so free with the friary’s provisions that the procurator begged the superior to check his generosity. Once, when weak after a long fast, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine. They told him to eat some bread marked with a cross and dipped in water. Upon doing so he was immediately stronger. He started distributing these rolls to the ailing, while praying to Mary, often curing the sufferers. This is the origin of the Augustinian custom of blessing and distributing Saint Nicholas Bread.
Nicholas the peacemaker
In Tolentino, Nicholas worked as a peacemaker in a city torn by strife between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. They were in conflict for control of Italy. They supported the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor respectively. He ministered to his flock, helped the poor and visited prisoners. When working wonders or healing people, he always asked those he helped to “Say nothing of this”. He explained that he was just God’s instrument.
During his life, Nicholas is said to have received visions, including images of Purgatory. Prayer for the souls in Purgatory was the outstanding characteristic of his spirituality. Because of this Nicholas was proclaimed patron of the souls in Purgatory in 1884 by Leo XIII.
Towards the end of his life he became ill, suffering greatly. However, he still continued the mortifications that had been part of his holy life. Nicholas died on September 10, 1305.
There are many tales and legends which relate to Nicholas. One says the devil once beat him with a stick. This stick was then displayed for years in his church. In another, Nicholas, a vegetarian, was served a roasted fowl. He made the sign of the cross, and it flew out a window. Nine passengers on a ship going down at sea once asked Nicholas’ aid. He appeared in the sky, wearing the black Augustinian habit. He radiated golden light, holding a lily in his left hand. With his right hand, he quelled the storm. An apparition of the saint, it is said, once saved the burning palace of the Doge of Venice by throwing a piece of blessed bread on the flames. Also, he was reported to have resurrected over one hundred dead children, including several who had drowned together.
It was St. Nicholas of Tolentino who made possible a permanent Spanish settlement in the rigorous, high-altitude climate of Potosí, Bolivia. He reported that all children born to Spanish colonists there died in childbirth or soon thereafter, until a father dedicated his unborn child to St. Nicholas of Tolentino. The colonist’s son, born on Christmas Eve, 1598, survived to healthy adulthood, and many later parents followed the example of naming their sons Nicolás.
Nicholas was canonized by Pope Eugene IV on the 5th of June in 1446. He was the first Augustinian to be canonized. At his canonization, Nicholas was credited with three hundred miracles, including three resurrections.
St Nicholas of Tolentino 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.