Fidelis was not an early vocation: he had always been a devout Catholic—he even practiced severe mortifications—but a religious vocation was not his goal.
He began his adult life by studying at a university and was nearly thirty by the time he left school and took up tutoring in 1604. For the next seven years, Fidelis taught and traveled. Finally, he decided to enter the courts and study civil and canon law.
Corruption was so rampant in the courts that Fidelis left in disgust—and did not return to his former way of life.
He went to the Franciscan friars in Freiburg and asked to join them. A year later, at the age of thirty-five, he was ordained a priest. One of his repeated prayers was that he might die on behalf of the Church.
Fidelis soon became known as a zealous and powerful preacher. He took up the fight against the errors of Zwingli and Calvin, preaching and writing pamphlets that refuted their misguided teachings.
In 1621, the Franciscans sent him as a missionary to Switzerland, which had been overtaken by the Calvinists. With a few companions, he set out to reform the Swiss Church and banish heresy.
He was so successful that the Calvinist leaders became alarmed. They threatened and attempted to intimidate Fidelis. When he remained fearless, they incited the people against him, saying that he was motivated by politics and taking part in a power struggle.
Finally, in 1622, they attacked a church in which he was preaching. Refusing to flee and hide, Fidelis was struck on the head and dragged out of the church. There, before the doors, he was offered his life if he would only apostatize. Fidelis replied, “I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it.”
St. Fidelis triumphed in every spiritual conflict because he girded himself with the armor of God. Remind yourself to do the same with the Armor of God Wall Plaque. Inscribed with St. Paul’s famous verse and featuring shield, sword, and cross, this handsome plaque will always inspire you to face the day with spiritual strength.
The plaque makes a wonderful First Communion or Confirmation gift! Available today at The Catholic Company!
Fidelis of Sigmaringen, O.F.M. Cap. (b. 1577 Germany, d. 1622 Switzerland)