dimanche 29 janvier 2012

Bienheureux Frère JUNIPER

Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Frère Juniper et le mendicant, 1646, 176 X 221,5, Paris, Musée du Louvre

Servant of God Brother Juniper (1210- 1258) – “Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers,” said Francis of this holy friar. We don’t know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish “places” for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars !

Another time Juniper had been commanded to quit giving part of his clothing to the half-naked people he met on the road. Desiring to obey his superior, Juniper once told a man in need that he couldn’t give the man his tunic, but he wouldn’t prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away. He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/brother-juniper/

Brother Juniper

When one thinks of the great saints of peace, the Servant of God Brother Juniper (ca. 1210-1258) is usually not included in the list. This is in part because he is not a saint of the Universal Calendar; it is also in part because he was not known for preaching peace, or for rejecting military service, or for negotiating a treaty among warring kings, or anything of the sort.

If anything, Brother Juniper, who was one of St. Francis of Assissi's original followers, is known for being one of the most outrageous "holy fools" in the history of Christianity. He famously cut the foot off a farmer's pig when a sick brother admitted a craving for pig's foot soup, then avoided the farmer's wrath by his innocence and humility. He was also known for having little respect for private property: if a beggar asked him for something he did not have, he would return to the friary and pick up anything he found lying around, whether it was his or not.

Juniper was certainly a curious saint. And what, after all, does he have to do with peace? The many humorous stories about Brother Juniper which are recorded in the Little Flowers of St. Francis reveal a continuous theme of how Christian boldness offends, but Christian humility leads to reconciliation.

One illustration of this is the story of the beggar and the altar cloth. The Franciscans' sacristan, wanting a break, left Juniper to keep on eye on a richly adorned altar cloth while he went to get a bite to eat. While the sacristan was gone, a woman approached Juniper and asked him for money. Since Juniper had no money, he cut the front of the cloth off and gave it to the woman. When the sacristan discovered this, he brought Juniper before their religious superior so he could be disciplined. The superior yelled at Juniper for so long that his voice became hoarse. Juniper felt sorry for the superior's throat, and so he cooked a pudding in the middle of the night and woke his superior to give it to him. When the superior said that by no means would he eat a pudding in the middle of the night, Juniper asked if the superior would hold a candle so that he could eat it himself, as he didn't want it to go to waste! Touched by Juniper's innocence, the superior lit a candle and shared a meal with Juniper.

We have so much to learn about reconciliation through Juniper's radical humility and his joyful simplicity, which at first infuriated but finally transformed the people he met.

Brother Juniper, pray for us!