“[On]…21st March one of the saints celebrated by the Church is St Nicholas of Flue, known also as Brother Klaus. He was born in 1417 in the Swiss canton of Unterwalden. At the age of 21 St Nicholas entered the army and took part in the Battle of Ragaz, distinguishing himself as a soldier. He became a member of the lay organisation called the Friends of God. Members sought closeness to Jesus through a disciplined life, especially meditation on His Passion.
Closeness to Jesus
At the age of 30 St Nicholas married Dorothy Wissling, and during twenty years of happy marriage they had ten children. St Nicholas left the army at the age of 37, having always carried his rosary beads with him wherever he travelled. After leaving the army he became a councillor and a judge for his canton.
His Divine Calling
At the age of 50 St Nicholas sensed the call of God to lead a more contemplative life. His wife and children believed that he had this divine calling and did not oppose him. St Nicholas left his family and spent the next 20 years in a remote cottage in Ranft. He prayed most of the night, but in the afternoon was happy to receive visitors.
He prayed most of the night
Although unable to read or write, St Nicholas had the gift of spiritual counsel and natural good judgement. Even top leaders sought his direction on spiritual, personal or political matters. In 1481 St Nicholas played a major role in solidifying the unity of Switzerland through his advice given to those involved in this endeavour. St Nicholas died on 21st March 1487 in Ranft after a short illness. He was beatified in 1669 and canonised by Pope Pius XII in 1947. He is the Patron Saint of Switzerland and of the Swiss Guards who protect the Pope.
A document from that time preserved St Nicholas’ fundamental wisdom:
Always put God first… do not mix in the affairs of others or ally yourself with a powerful stranger. Guard against discord and self-interest… do not let grow among you self-interest, jealousy, hatred, envy and factions, or these will work against you… don’t let innovations and roguery seduce you. Hold on to the good and stay on the road in the footprints of your pious ancestors. If you do that, neither storm nor tempest can harm you and you will overcome much evil.”
– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr. Chris 3/2017