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St Richard “King”
(entered heaven in 720)
I was shocked by a note I recently received from your sister. She dutifully informed me that you are living like a squalid caliph – sloppy, slovenly, and self-indulgently. My dear nephew, if you can’t keep your clothes clean and your room in order now, when you alone are master of your time, do you think you will be able to keep your life in order later when heavy responsibilities pull you in every direction? Make no mistake about it, this first year living on your own is both an opportunity to get to know your own selfish and lazy tendencies (now that you don’t have your wise parents gently pushing you along), and a chance to bridle them. Perhaps you should take a surprising lesson from today’s saint.
He was the father of some of St Boniface’s most illustrious assistants, St Willibald and St Winebald (St Walburga was his daughter). He and these two sons had left the homeland of England on a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, but the father only made it to Lucca, a lovely Italian town a few days’ walk north of the Eternal City. There they stopped to recover their strength, and during a few days, they got to know the Luccans fairly well. Unfortunately, instead of recovering his strength, Richard (the father) seemed only to get weaker. He soon fell ill, and after a time, he died. Immediately, the Luccans hailed him as a saint. Going farther, they began calling him Richard, “King” of the English. When his sons tried to explain that he was not a king, they would hear nothing of it. The name stuck: to the Italians, Richard had acted like a king, and that was enough to be a king. The holy man was buried there amid his devotees.
It is a quaint story, I’ll admit, but there is something to it – nobility is not just something we inherit, it’s something we live. If we are God’s own children, sons, and daughters of the eternal King, it ought to show even in the small details of our life (like how we keep our room, and our things, and our person); if it doesn’t, we will soon find ourselves acting ignobly in the bigger things as well.
Your concerned uncle, Eddy