- SAN NICOLA WAS BORN 900 YEARS AGO ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1117
- HE WAS BORN IN AFTERLIFE ON AUGUST 17, 1167 AT THE AGE OF 50
- CANONIZED A SAINT BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 1507 AD
- CELEBRATED THE 500th ANNIVERSARY OF SAINTHOOD IN 2007 IN ALCARA LI FUSI
- THE SOCIETA ALCARESE WAS ESTABLISTED IN 1907 AND IT’S MEMBERSHIP FOLLOWING HAS EXISTED FOR 110 YEARS IN 2017
SAN NICOLA September 6, 1117 - August 17, 1167
The Life and times of San Nicolo` Politi
In Adranò, in the XII Century, lived the noble and historic family of the Politi, represented mainly by Almidoro and his wife Alpina. This couple, living a pure and Christian faith, was wealthy beyond belief and yearned for a child to inherit their many riches. Almidoro and Alpina incessantly prayed to the Lord to grant them the grace of having a child. As the story is told, following a devout tradition that on December 1, 1116, the Politi couple traveled to Alcara in order to help with the huge festivities that that followed on December 6th of each year. This was a celebration in honor of Saint Nicola Vescovo Bishop. Many foreigners came in honor of his many miracles. With love and deep devotion Almidoro and Alpina prayed to Saint Nicola Vescovo for the Lord to grant them the grace of having a child promising that they would name him Nicola. After nine months, on September 6, 1117, the Politi Palace was blessed with the joy of a new baby boy whom they, as promised, named Nicola. The historians narrate that the water of the first tear that he cried, miraculously forged a fountain of fresh spring water. They also write that from the tender age for three days to one week old, he refused to eat.
As he grew older, he revealed the goodness of his mind and heart, the purity of his soul, his charity for the poor and the sufferers, his mercy, vivid intelligence and his love to study. His teacher, don Andrea, was amazed with his intelligence and that Nicola learned several disciplines, particularly the languages Greek and Latin, and the works of the Bizantini Fathers. At the age of 17, Nicola was already a sturdy, prudent young person, admired by all for its exemplary gifts, his works of beneficence and his traditions. In the year 1134, his proud parents, decided he should marry. Nicola, as soon as he heard the news, opposed their decision and refused his parents’ wishes. Even though he was a very devoted son, he told them he planned only to serve the Lord with purity of spirit and body for the remainder of his life. Hoping that Nicola would change his mind, his parents found a beautiful, rich and noble young woman. They spoke to her family and arranged the wedding. But Nicola, the night before the wedding, escaped from his parent’s home and settled on a life of solitude, sheltered in a cavern on the outskirts of the city of Etna, in Sicily.
Three years later, in 1137, Almidoro was coming close to finding his son. Nicola, receiving a warning from the Heavens, and with the guide of an Eagle, left Etna and headed towards Alcara. In the evening, he reached Maniace and stays overnight in the Monastero Basiliano where he meets young Lorenzo from Frazzanò. The next morning, he goes to confession, listens to the Mass and takes communion and together with Lorenzo sets out again on foot. At the top of the mountain of Moele, the two young men separate: Lorenzo continues for Frazzanò and Nicola follows the Eagle that will guide him to his new home. Reaching the western stratums of Monte Calanna, tired and thirsty, he turns and implores the Heavens for divine intervention. He pokes a cross-shaped stick at a pebble and a of gush a fresh water emerged that still exists today named “Aqua Santa.” A little later that day, the Eagle landed on top of a grotto where Nicola would then live. The day after, according to directions from Lorenzo, Nicola came upon the Monastery of the Rogato, where he knew Father Cusmano d’ Alcara, the most scholarly clergyman, theologian and holyman. He became Nicola’s spiritual father in which for thirty years he would go to Mass every Saturday at the Rogato to confess and take communion from him.
In his grotto, Nicola lived in prayer, meditation and penance, feeding himself off the grass and the bread that every day the protective Eagle carried to him. In 1162 at the Rogato, he found his friend Lorenzo, now a member of the convent of Fragalà. He wanted to accompany Nicola to his grotto where he remained astonished at the serious state of poverty in which Nicola lived. That day the Eagle carried an entire loaf of bread and not the usual half. In the morning Lorenzo left for the Rogato. On the August 14, 1167 Nicola, received another warning from the heavens and learned that in 3 days he would die.
The next morning, Feast of Assumption, he goes to the Rogato where he confides with joy to l’Abate Padre Cusmano that on day 17 he will render his spirit to God. He listens to the mass, takes Communion, says goodbye to the nuns and then returns to the grotto. Before arriving, he stops beside the road tired and thirsty. Two women with baskets full of fruit pass by. Nicola asks the women, in the name for God, for the charity of one fruit. The first one refuses and makes fun of him and her fruit turns rotten and full of worms. The second one kindly offered the fruit and her basket was filled with roses and calla lilies. Finally reaching the grotto, exhausted, Nicola gets ready to pass on with fervent prayers to the Lord and with vocation to the Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. On Thursday, August 17, 1167, the pure and Holy Spirit of Nicola leaves his body and ascends to Heaven. At the moment of his blessed passing, the bells of Alcara and the Rogato, not being moved by anyone, begin to ring festively for about an hour. The clergy, the magistrates and the people ran into church, but nobody could offer an explanation of the blessed event. A message arrived that l’Abate Don Cusmano from Rogato had died from his holy devotion. Instead, l’Abate Don Cusmano realized Nicola had died, but did not know where the grotto was in which Nicola lived. Many in Alcara and at Rogato began a novena of prayer to the Virgin Mary, the then protector of the town, asking for confirmation on what was making the bells ring miraculously.
At the end of the novena, Saturday, August 26, the bells began ringing again on their own just as Leone Rancuglia reaches Alcara and reports to the clergy and the people re-united in church of having recovered, in a grotto, the body of a hermit and to have touched it with a stick which left his arm paralyzed. The clergy, the magistrates and the people left immediately and met up with the nuns of Rogato at the Canale. Together going to the grotto, Rancuglia points to the body of the Saint and his affected arm returns to normal functioning. The Body, still kneeling, with the cross and the book opened on his hands, is carried outside and placed in an open arch. Then l’Abate Cusmano stands on a rock and is inspired to narrate the story of the blessed life of San Nicola to whom for thirty years he had been a confidante and spiritual father. While numerous miracles happened: the crippled ones walked normally, and the people that were blind, deaf and the disabled got back their sight, their hearing and their senses.
The people screamed: “Our Patron lives! Nicolò Politi! The townspeople gathered to take him to Alcara, but as they arrived near S. Ippòlito the arch becomes heavy and the bearers had to stop. Amazed at what was happening, the clergy and the faithful asked for God’s help. That is when a baby wrapped in cloth, son of the woman who had offered the fruit to Nicola, sat up in his mother’s arms and yelled in a strong and clear voice: “To the Rogato!! To the Rogato!!” L’Abate Cusmano cried out to all in the commotion that he promised Nicola, during his last visit, that alive or dead he would be returned to the Rogato. The arch became light again, and he was brought to the monastery and placed to rest in the Church of Rogato. His remains are now behind gates in the main church, Chiesa Madre, in Alcara Li Fusi.
Below is a rare photo of our Patron Saint in the Capella of the Chiesa Madre in Alcara li Fusi. Ph-DF