Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Patron saint of fencers

"Nor was [Ignatius Loyola] the only swordsman turned religious.... Even more formidable was Philip Latini (1605-67) of Corleone, Sicily, an illiterate cobbler turned swordsman. He learned to fence from the Spanish mercenaries based in Palermo (Spain then ruled Sicily), and became so expert that he was known as "Corleone, the best blade of the Island." A local crime boss named Vinuiacitu (literally, "wine-turned-vinegar") sent one of his followers, Vito Canino, to see if the man could best Corleone at swordplay. The issue was soon settled: Corleone cut off the assassin's arm. Terrified that Vinuiacitu would wreak revenge, he took sanctuary in the local church until the coast was clear, staying there for a week, during which time he repented his swordfighting ways and in 1632, at age twenty-seven, became a Capuchin friar. In June of 2001, he was canonized for his piety and good words as Saint Bernard of Corleone."

~Richard Cohen, By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers and Olympic Champions, 2002

Via the Holy Whapsters

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