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Saint Angiolo Paoli

Category: Religious

Painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

The Carmelite, Saint Angiolo Paoli was born of a humble family in Tuscany in 1642, and died in Rome in 1720. 

He is principally known for his kindness and his untiring work for the sick and poor - so much so that in Sienna they gave him the name of "Father Charity". He cared for and administered to his ‘flock’ wherever he happened to be, but he is said to have worked especially hard in Rome   ‘where he had the care of the two hospitals (for men and for women) of St. John and established the hospice for the convalescent poor on the street that led from the Colosseum to the basilica of St. John Lateran.’

He is said to have said that: "Whoever loves God must go to find Him among the poor". Not only did he work hard himself for charity, but by his example, he inspired many others to imitate him in helping the needy. This was especially apparent in times of public calamity, like those of the earthquakes and floods that afflicted Rome in the years 1702-03, at a time ‘when the pomp of a few contrasted with the misery of the many’. 

The cause of his beatification was introduced, the depositions of witnesses were duly taken upon oath, and a full Life published which is based upon "the Ordinary and Apostolic processes, already approved by the Holy See." Father Angiolo is, therefore, described therein as "the Venerable Servant of God".  Three years after his death the informative diocesan process was begun at Florence, Pescia and Rome; the apostolic process was carried on from 1740 till 1753. The heroicity of his virtues was recognized by Pope Pius VI in 1781.

Angelo Paoli was beatified at the basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome on 25th April 2010.

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale - Angels leading the sick and poor

Miracles and spirituality

Saint Angelo could remote view – although it is a little unclear whether he did this via out of body experiences or via telepathy [inter composer communication].  He also prophesied

Order of Carmelites - Louis Saggi O.Carm., Saints of Carmel, Carmelite Institute Rome, 1972
At times the Lord granted him knowledge of distant events (like the death of Louis XIV and the victory of Prince Eugene of Savoy at Petrovaradin) or of future ones (like the time of his own death and that of others). Several persons attributed signal graces to him while he was still alive.

But one of the more extraordinary things that Saint Angelo was able to achieve was the multiplication of food.  There is a long chapter in his Life which deals with "his gift of multiplying food and drink in the service of the poor and the sick," confirmed, as it seems to be, in each recorded example, by a reference to the evidence given in the processes.

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

Still more surprising are some of the innumerable incidents of the same kind which Father Cacciari has recounted, so surprising, in fact, that one asks oneself whether the whole Life is not an audacious fiction. This, however, is impossible. It is a substantial volume printed in Rome in the pontificate of Benedict XIV dedicated to the Cardinal Archbishop of Ferrara, and furnished with the necessary imprimatur, as well as with a number of highly laudatory approbations. Many people are cited as witnesses who must have been well known in ecclesiastical circles, and there is a series of references to the Sommario of the beatification process, a printed volume which I know to exist, though, unfortunately, I have not had access to a copy.

Over and over again we have accounts of the division of some delicacy into portions which it was easy to count, and then of its subsequent distribution to three or four times the number of hospital patients, each receiving one of these portions entire. But perhaps the most curious feature of all is the assured conviction Father Angiolo seems to have possessed that, if he wished to give to the poor, or only to refresh his thirsty friends with a cup of wine or a handful of fruit, supernatural means would always be forth coming-and, in fact, according to the testimony of many respectable eye-witnesses, always were forth coming to enable him to gratify his desire, no matter how great the number of recipients.


Angelus was born on September 1, 1642, at Argigliano, then a section of the commune of Fivizzano, now of Casolà in Lunigiana (Massa, Italy); at Baptism he received the name Francis. In 1660 he received the tonsure and the first two minor orders. After some months spent with his family, he took the habit of the Carmelites at Fivizzano and was sent to Siena for his novitiate. There he pronounced his vows on Dec. 18, 1661. He studied philosophy and theology at Pisa and Florence; and here, on Jan. 7, 1667, he celebrated his first Mass. 

His life can be divided into two periods: the years spent in his religious province of Tuscany, and those spent in Rome.

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

The first period is characterized by frequent transfers: in 1674 to Argigliano and to Pistoia; in 1675, again to Florence, as master of novices; after eighteen months, to Carniola as pastor; and after another ten months, in 1677, he was transferred to Siena. Then, in 1680, he was sent to Montecatini, where, two years later, he was charged with teaching grammar to his young confreres. But in the same year he was transferred to Pisa and, after a few months, to Fivizzano, to act as organist and sacristan.

In 1687 the general of the Order called him to Rome, where, in the convent of St. Martin of the Mountains, he spent the thirty-two years of life that remained to him, first, as novice-master, then as bursar, sacristan and organist, and also as director of the conservatory for girls founded by Livia Viperaschi. 

He died on Jan. 20, 1720, and was buried in the church of St. Martin of the Mountains, where he still lies in the left nave.

Order of Carmelites - Louis Saggi O.Carm., Saints of Carmel, Carmelite Institute Rome, 1972
In him the wealthy found a generous counselor. They esteemed him, followed his advice and made him the intermediary of their charity. He taught the poor to be grateful and to find in their concrete circumstances incentives for moral perfection. He was the counsellor and guest of princes and of other important people of Rome. Cardinals and high prelates held him in high esteem. He refused the cardinalate offered to him by Innocent XII and Clement XI, because — as he said — «it would have been hurtful to the poor, whom I would not have been able to help»…..

His deep union with God was sought out in solitary prayer whether in a cave, as when he was a child at Argigliano, or in the unlimited spaces of the Alps of St. Pellegrino, in a basement of the convent of Florence or in the Roman catacombs, in his cell or in the small choir of the church of St. Martin; here the night passed like a flash for him while he reposed,— as he loved to say — «on the breast of Christ in prayer».

 Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale - from Golden book of famous women 


BIBLIOGRAPHY: The documents relative to the process of beatification are in Rome, Vatican Archive,

SS. Rituum Congregationis, Processus nn. 2309-2318; Rome Archive of the Postulator General of the Carmelite Servants of God, IV. 90, 92-95 97-99; IV. A. 1-8, 10, 13, 15-17, 20-24; Paris, Bibl. Nat., series H 359 A, nn. 574-601.

The first biographer was P. T. Cacciari, Delia vita, virtu e doni soprannaturali del ven. servo di Dio P. Angiolo Paoli carmelitano dell'Antica Osservanza libri III... da processi ordinari ed apo-stolici com un'appendice de' miracoli Rome 1756; see also: A. Sterni, Compendio delta vita del ven. P. Angiolo Paoli, Rome 1883; G. Wessels, Vita ven. Angeli Pauli (ex processu beatifioationis), in Analecta Ordinis Carmelitarwm, I (1909-10), pp. 39-44, 71-77 102-107, 135-41, 159-63, 203-207, 230-35, 259-63: A. Vian II ven. P. Angela Paoli, un apostolo romano di carita del Settecento, Rome 1937; G. Papasogli — G. Verrienti, Un apostolo sociale: Paidre Angiolo Paoli, Milan (1962). 


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