Blessed Michele Pini: Monk, Anchorite, Chaplet Inventor

So seeing as I’ve never heard of this guy before, and his feast day is tomorrow, I thought I’d better research Brother Michele Pini.

History says he was from Florence, and of good family. He was born in 1440, 1445, or 1450.
Legend says that he was a courtier of Lorenzo de’Medici; this may or may not be true.

Either way, sources say that he went off and became a Camaldolese monk. After he was ordained a priest, he wanted more opportunity for contemplation, so he spent the last twenty years of his life as an anchorite in a little walled-up cell in the church.

(This was actually not all that lonely, as anchorites were always there in church for people to talk to, and worried people pretty much talked the ears off anchorites and anchoresses. Since he was a priest, he was probably busy hearing Confessions too. He was also sent many letters. So it was more like volunteering to be a sort of drive-thru councilor for the rest of your life than being a hermit. But there was also the chance to spend many hours in the company of God alone. Like the psalm says, “Happy are those who dwell in the house of the Lord.”)

An Italian saint site tells us that in 1510, a Venetian nobleman named Tommaso Giustiniani showed up at the Camaldolese monastery one day and begged to become a monk. Since he’d come out of nowhere, they said they couldn’t just take him right away; he’d have to spend some time at the monastery getting to know the life, and letting the monks get to know him. He passed some of the time by writing an account of the monastery and its personalities, including Br. Pini.

“He is a solitary, a secular priest too, a hermit for a little more than five years… I visited him on the day of my arrival, along with the most reverend Father General. In my view, he’s about sixty years old. He has a long white beard and looks like a second St. Jerome. He’s a little pale, but not too thin. He seems to have a sweet nature, and is full of holy humility. To judge by the few words that he gave
me when I made my visit, I find him full of prudence and very spiritual.

“When the Father General told him that I was the one of whom he had told him, he declared to me that I would do well if, following Our Blessed Lord’s words, I left everything to follow the Lord, who promised eternal happiness to those who followed him…

“At the moment… of farewell… he embraced me. Asked to pray for me, he replied, “And you, my son, pray that God answers the prayers that I have asked from you, and that I will ask again. And pray for
my salvation.”

A few months later, Br. Tommaso was accepted into the order. He hoped to have Br. Michele as his spiritual advisor, but his superiors sent him elsewhere to a very different fate. Still, this contemporary personality sketch is history gold. 🙂

During his life, he was known for his spiritual gifts and clear teaching. He was also known as a true prophet, which is probably not the most popular gift in Medici Italy. 🙂 He wrote a “Sermon on the Most Holy Sacrament”, and he started a “Mystical Alphabet” book, of which he finished the sections on A and B. There are also quite a few manuscript letters in existence, written by Bl. Michele to various people wanting his spiritual advice.

But he is best known today (at least in Italy) as the author of the “Corona del Signore”, known best in English as “the Rosary of Our Lord” or the Camaldolese Rosary. My post explaining it is directly below this one.

Another thing we know: Bl. Michele Pini died a happy death in 1522, telling his brothers, “For me, now faith has become true and certain knowledge.”

Many miracles ensued, and he was quickly beatified. A biography of him was published in Florence in 1604; it doesn’t seem to be online.

Here’s a prayer to Bl. Michele Pini from the Camaldolese monks, off somebody’s Italian Facebook page. Hopefully I translated it right:

O beloved of God, Blessed Michael, who in the depths of enclosure in your cell, out of humility and sincere mortification, served God and interceded for the brothers and the whole world:

and who, meditating on the mysteries of the life of Our divine Savior, fittingly were given the gift of “the Crown of Our Lord”, spread throughout Christendom and indulgenced by the Roman Pontiffs:

grant to my heart and to my person, a little of that joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, that filled you and shone from your face, for a testimony to the men who serve God with love and faithfulness; Him ruling us on earth Whom we will enjoy forever in Heaven.

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