St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
He was born Mark Roy or Rey in 1577, in Sigmaringen, a town in modern-day Germany, then under the Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. His father’s name was John Rey. He studied law and philosophy at Freiburg.
Roy subsequently taught philosophy at the same University of Freiburg, ultimately earning the degree of Doctor of Law. During his time as a student he did not drink wine, and wore a hair-shirt. He was known for his modesty, meekness and chastity.
In 1604, as their preceptor, Roy accompanied three young Swabian gentlemen on their travels through the principal parts of Europe. During six years of travel, he attended Mass very frequently. In every town where he came, he visited the hospitals and churches, passed several hours on his knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and gave to the poor sometimes the very clothes off his back.
Upon his return he practiced law as a counsellor or advocate, at Colmar, in Alsace.
where he came to be known as the ‘poor man’s lawyer’. He scrupulously forbore all invectives, detractions, and whatever might affect the reputation of any adversary. Disenchanted with the evils associated with his profession, he was determined to enter the Capuchin friars.
It is said that a Catholic woman lay concealed near the place during his martyrdom; and after the soldiers were gone, coming out to see the effects of it, found the martyr’s eyes open, and fixed on the heavens. He was buried by the Catholics the next day. The rebels were soon after defeated by the Imperial troops, an event which the martyr had foretold them. The minister, who participated in St Fidelis’ martyrdom, was converted by this circumstance, made a public abjuration of his Calvinism and was received into the Catholic Faith.
After six months, the martyr’s body was found to be incorrupt, but his head and left arm were separated from his body. The body parts were then placed into two reliquaries, one sent to the Cathedral of Coire, at the behest of the bishop, and laid under the High Altar; the other was placed in the Capuchin church at Weltkirchen, Feldkirch, Austria.
Saint Fidelis’ feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is commemorated on April 24.