Key to Umbria: Orvieto

Blessed Thomas of Orvieto (21st June)

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Blessed Thomas (15th century)

Sacristy, Santa Maria dei Servi, Orvieto

The Blessed Thomas, who was born in Orvieto, felt a profound love for the Virgin from an early age.  It was perhaps inevitable therefore that he would be drawn to the Servite Order.  His earliest spiritual guide was the Blessed Bonaventura da Pistoia, who became Prior of Santa Maria dei Servi in ca. 1285.  As a layman close to the Order, he collected arms in Orvieto for the friars. 

The Blessed Thomas famously came to the help of a pregnant woman who had a craving for figs, which were out of season.  After fervent prayers, he went to the orchard and duly found three ripe figs on a tree there, which he gave to her.  He is therefore known as “il frate del fico” (the brother of the fig).  His humility allowed him to perform other miracles, which continued after his death in 1343.

Pilgrims continued to venerate his relics in Santa Maria dei Servi.  A civic cult dedicated to him is first recorded in 1463.  Prior Luca Pucci di Foligno (1698-1701) arranged the recognition of these relics and those of Blessed Bonaventura da Pistoia, with a view to the formal beatification of both men.  The relics of Blessed Thomas were recognised again in 1738, at which point a document of 1343 was found, together with some fig twigs.  Pope Clement XIII duly confirmed the cult in 1768.  The relics were subsequently translated to the high altar.

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