Amid Milan politics, heresies
Italian saint staunchly preached Jesus' humanity
By Tony Staley
Where: Milan, Italy
What: Archbishop and cardinal
Feast: April 18
Ever want to go out in a blaze of glory? Whether he wanted to is unclear, but St. Galdinus certainly did.
This 12th century Italian saint was born in Milan into the Della Scalla family. He later served as chancellor and archdeacon under two archbishops.
After the election of Alexander III as pope in 1159, a few dissident cardinals decided to pick another pope, one favored by Frederick Barbarossa, Holy Roman emperor from 1152 to 1190.
Frederick was already annoyed with the people of Milan because they claimed they had the power to choose their own judges. When the people of Milan also accepted Alexander III as pope, Frederick became even more angry.
He forced Abp. Hubert and Galdinus, who was archdeacon, to flee the city. The next year, Frederick encircled Milan with a large army, blockading the city until the people surrendered.
Next, Frederick ordered what the people believed to be the remains of the Three Magi removed from St. Eustorgius Church and taken to Cologne, where they still remain.
Galdinus was elected a cardinal in 1165 and, the next year, elected Archbishop of Milan, succeeding the deceased Abp. Hubert.
As archbishop, Galdinus devoted much of his energy to comforting and encouraging the people of Milan by preaching and seeking out the poor to help them. He also assisted the Lombard states in their effort to rebuild Milan.
Galdinus also worked with the city's priests to restore discipline, which had been shattered during the upheaval led by the emperor.
At first, he worked exclusively at restoring Milan, but gradually he devoted more and more of his energy to combating Catharism, a heretical offshoot of Manichaeism, a third century heresy originating in Persia. Catharism was dualistic and held that matter is evil and that Jesus was an angelic being who did not really undergo human birth or death.
The heresy was particularly common in Lombardy and began to spread to Milan when the Lombards helped rebuild Milan. Galdinus preached against Catharism for many years.
Finally, one day, the already weakened Galdinus, too ill to celebrate Mass, took to the pulpit to deliver another impassioned denunciation of Catharism. Just after he finished the homily, and before he could leave the pulpit, he lost consciousness. He died as the Mass ended.
(Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints, Catholic Almanac, Catholic-forum.com, Catholic Online, Dictionary of Saints, Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary, www.fiu.edu, www.op.org and www.stpatrickdc.org.)