May 23 ------ Blessed Gerard Mecatti of Villamagna (1174-1254)
Gerard of Villamagna could rightfully be called a warrior saint because he participated in not only one crusade but in two. Born in 1174, Gerard lost his parents at age twelve and was then cared for by a noble family from Folci.
His protector esteemed him so much that he allowed him to accompany him on the Third Crusade. They endured many sufferings, including imprisonment from which they were ransomed and then returned to Florence. Twelve years later, another knight asked Gerard to accompany him to the Crusade.
This time they had to face Muslim pirates of superior abilities. Nonetheless, Gerard's dedication to Our Lady gave him the sagacity to bring the infidels to a resounding defeat. Many accolades were heaped on Blessed Gerard but this only made him fearful for his eternal salvation. He feared neither Moor nor privation and suffering but he did fear eulogies. In response, he became a hermit but always wore on his garments the white crusader cross.
So Blessed Gerard remained a warrior in the solitude of the hermitage, always ready to battle the world, the flesh and the devil, whether on the battlefield or in the cloister. The population of Tuscany came in multitudes to his funeral giving testimony to their love of this veteran crusader. During his life, he was the protector of the region and prevented many disasters and pestilences by his works and prayers.
After his death, he would continue his vigilance for the good against the evil by sending the graces necessary for the victories of the Church Militant. Let us pray to Blessed Gerard Mecatti for the admiration of the military fight for the glory of God and His Immaculate Mother.