St. Thomas of Villanova
Thomas was born in Spain in 1488. From his kind parents, he learned to be very charitable with the poor. He did well in school and became a teacher of philosophy when he finished his studies. Next he joined the Augustinian order. After he became a priest, he was given many important responsibilities. Finally, he was made archbishop of the city of Valencia.
His priests tried to convince him to change his old, mended habit for more dignified robes. However, St. Thomas told them his old clothes had nothing to do with his duty. He would take good care of the spiritual needs of his people. Every day he fed hundreds of poor people. When he received a large sum of money to buy furniture for his house, he gave it to a hospital, saying, "What does a poor monk like me want with furniture?" No wonder he was called the "father of the poor"!
St. Thomas was very gentle with sinners at a time when most people were not. Once when he tried to encourage one man to change his sinful ways, the man angrily insulted him and stormed out of the room. "It was my fault," said the humble archbishop. "I told him a little too roughly." Never would he permit anyone to criticize someone who wasn't there. "He may have had a good reason for doing what he did," the saint would say. "I, for one, believe he did."
Before he died, St. Thomas of Villanova gave to the poor everything he had. He even directed that his bed be sent to the jail for prisoners to use.
St. Thomas died in 1555. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VII in 1658.
How have I shown charity towards someone today?