John Gualbert

Saint John Gualbert

St John Gualbert. Fresco by Neri di Bicci, Santa Trinita in Florence
Born 985
Florence, Italy
Died 1073
Badia a Passignano, Province of Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Venerated in Catholic Church
Canonized 1193, Rome by Pope Celestine III
Feast 12 July
Patronage forest workers; foresters; park rangers; parks

John Gualbert (985 or 995 – 12 July 1073), also known as Giovanni Gualberto or John Gualberto, was an Italian Roman Catholic saint, the founder of the Vallumbrosan Order.


A member of the Visdomini family of Florentine nobility, one Good Friday he was entering Florence accompanied by armed followers, when in a narrow lane he came upon a man who had killed his brother. He was about to kill the man in revenge, when the other fell upon his knees with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and begged for mercy in the name of Christ, who had been crucified on that day. John forgave him. He entered the Benedictine Church at San Miniato to pray, and the figure on the crucifix bowed its head to him in recognition of his generosity. This story forms the subject of Burne-Jones's picture "The Merciful Knight", and has been adapted by Shorthouse in "John Inglesant".

John Gualbert became a Benedictine monk at San Miniato. He fought actively against simony, of which both his abbot, Oberto, and the Bishop of Florence, Pietro Mezzabarba, were guilty. Unwilling to compromise with them, he left the monastery to lead a more perfect life. His attraction was for the cenobitic, and not eremitic life, so after staying for some time with the monks at Camaldoli, he settled at Vallombrosa, where he founded his monastery. The area surrounding his monastery at Vallombrosa was wild and deserted when he first arrived. John thought that it would be more conducive to contemplation and discipline if the grounds were better kept. But instead of a traditional garden, he opted to have his monks plant trees (firs and pines mostly), creating a park and nature preserve to enhance the prayerful environment.[1] Mabillon estimates its foundation before 1038.


He was canonized in the year 1193 by Pope Celestine III.

St John Gualbert's feast was not included in the Tridentine Calendar, but was added to the General Roman Calendar in 1595. Owing to its limited worldwide importance, his feast was removed from that calendar in 1969.[2] 12 July continues to be his feast day, as indicated in the Roman Martyrology.[3] and, according to the new rules given in the Roman Missal of the same year, he may now be celebrated everywhere with his own Mass on that day, unless in some locality an obligatory celebration is assigned to the same day.[4]

He is the patron of foresters, park rangers, and parks.[5]

See also


  1. DAILY SAINTS: Saint John Gualbert, Abbot
  2. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 129
  3. "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  4. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 355 c
  5. Patron Saints Index: St John Gualbert


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

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