Blessed Simon Ballachi
Blessed Simon Ballachi was born to the nobility in 1240, the son of Count Ballachi. His family had a close association with the Church clergy; two of his uncles became archbishops of Rimini, Italy, and a younger brother was a priest. Trained as a soldier and in administration, he was expected to take over the family estates. Against his family wishes, he joined the Dominicans as a lay brother at age 27.
Assigned to work in the garden of his friary, something he knew nothing about but which he loved instantly. He saw God in everything, and prayed constantly as he worked. Noted for his simple life, his strict adherence to the Dominican Rule, and his excellent work as a catechist to children. A visionary, Simon was visited by the devil, by Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Dominic de Guzman, Saint Peter Martyr, and the Blessed Virgin Mary; other brothers saw his cell glowing, and heard angelic voices. Blinded at age 57, he was nearly helpless during the last years of his life; he never despaired, and used the extra free time for prayer. He died on 5 November in 1391.
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