If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you may have noticed, as I did, the visibility and plenitude of bodies and crypts in the churches there.
Actually, last spring when we were visiting Germany for our Congregation’s anniversary celebration, a Church we frequented had a skeleton preserved up front. It was on the left-hand side as we faced the altar. This “Studientkirche” was actually the site of the special anniversary Mass.
To specify where, within the church, we were to be seated for the special day, we teasingly said “toward the front, by ‘Skeleton Man.” This nickname we had given to the remains held there for veneration. Little did I know that this was actually the Franciscan, Saint Fidelis!
Once I realized this, I dropped the nickname from my speech – it did not seem appropriate to refer to a canonized saint in such terms.
Now, as we mark his feast day (April 24), I am reminded of this, and think, too, of our Sr. Fidelis who would be celebrating her name day were she still living. The name they share fittingly means “faithful.”
This dear Sister of ours, who lived to be well over a hundred, actually immigrated from Germany herself, answering the call to serve in America.
She had to study the English language and then spent decades teaching young people in Minnesota and North Dakota. She actually went back to school in her eighties to receive computer training so she could teach this specialty as well.
Like her namesake, who was himself a German native, Sr. Fidelis strove to love God throughout her life and to spread His love to the young people in her care.
Toward the end of her life, she is actually quoted as questioning herself: “Have I loved God enough?” I take this as a real challenge. As I live my daily life, am I doing my utmost to love God and serve Him faithfully?