from “The Franciscan Book of Saints”
by Marion A. Habig. O.F.M.
Born at Sigmaringen of a prominent family in the principality of Hohenzollern, in the year of our Lord 1577, St. Fidelis received the name of Mark in baptism. He was fortunately endowed both by nature and by grace, so that while he progressed in learning, he made still greater progress in virtue and piety. When he had completed his studies in philosophy and jurisprudence at the University of Freiburg in Bresgau, the parents of several young noblemen were looking for a tutor who would accompany their sons on a tour through the various countries of Europe. The professors at the university drew their attention to Mark, who qualified for the position by his moral as well as by his mental gifts. Mark accepted the position, as a result of which he spent six years in traveling. To the young men who had been entrusted to him he pointed out, not only everything that was noteworthy from a worldly point of view, but he led them also to the practice of Christian virtue. He himself was to them an exemplary model, since all the vicissitudes of these six years they never saw him get angry.
Upon his return, Mark followed the profession of a lawyer. He was soon much in demand because of his ability. But when he noticed that many lawyers, corrupted by money, did violence to justice, and that an attempt was being made to lure him also into that course, he gave up the dangerous career.
He had an elder brother among the Capuchins and he, too joined them in the year 1612. At his investiture he received the name Fidelis; the faithful one, and in his address, the superior applied to him the words of Holy Writ: ” Be though faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Rev. 2, 10). The words were destined to be a prophecy concerning the new candidate in the order. After Fidelis had completed his studies in theology and had received holy orders, he preached the wod of God with great zeal. Meanwhile, he was a model in all conventual practices, and evinced such wisdom such wisdom that a few years later the superiors appointed him guardian.
In his position he strove earnestly he strove earnestly to promote in his subjects religious perfection; he especially insisted on a strict observance of holy poverty, tolerating no violation of it. But he was stricter with himself in this regard than with any of his brethren; towards all the others he cherished truly maternal solicitude and charity. Whenever the salvation of a soul was concerned, no sacrifice, was too great. When he was guardian at Feldkirch, a pestilential disease raged among the soldiers there; at once Father Fidelis betook himself to them and tendered them every possible service.
In the year 1622, the Congregation of the Propaganda, which had just been founded by Pope Gregory the XV, established a mission for the Grisons in Switzerland, to check the pernicious inroads of the Calvinists and Zwinglians. Father Fidelis was named the head of this mission. For a long time he had been begging God daily at holy Mass to grant him the grace to shed his blood for the Faith; now his prayer was about to be heard. Since Fidelis had the happiest results from the very first months if his mission activity, the rage of the heretics rose to great heights; his death was resolved upon. Fidelis was so convinced of it that on the morning of April 24 at Sevis he prepared himself for his last moments. Then he mounted the pulpit. During the sermon a band of armed heretics passed into church. They dragged him down from the pulpit, and inflicted so many blows and cuts on him that he died at their hands.
God almighty glorified His martyr by many miracles where Pope Benedict XIV solemnly canonized him in 1746
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