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Bl. Agostino Novello
(Matteo Di Termini), born in the first half of the thirteenth century, at Termini, a village of Sicily, from which he derived his surname. As that village belonged to the Archdiocese of Palermo, he is sometimes called Panormitano, the Breviary says of him quem Thermenses at Panormitani civem suum esse dicunt. On entering religion he changed his name to Agostino, and later was given the additional name of Novello, a title suggested by his great learning and virtue. His parents, of a noble family originally from Catalonia in Spain, educated him most carefully and had him instructed in all the then known sciences, first at home and afterwards in the city of Bologna, where he carried off high honors, especially in civil and canon law. Returning to his native land, he held many positions of honor in the magistracy, fulfilling all the duties of these posts with such prudence and exactitude that the King of Sicily, Manfred, made him one of his counselors. In this capacity he accompanied the King in the war against Charles of Anjou, who disputed Manfred's right to the crown of Sicily, and in the battle in which Manfred was killed and his army routed Agostino, thought to be dead, was left on the battlefield among the corpses of other soldiers. Regaining consciousness, he was able to reach his home, and, disillusioned with the world, and the lightness and evanescence of all earthly glory, he determined henceforth to serve the King of kings, Jesus Christ, and forsake all worldly honors and dignities. Following this special inspiration of Heaven. he asked admission as a lay-brother into the Order of St. Augustine, and was received in a convent in Tuscany, where he could live unknown to the world, far from his home and his people. Here, devoted to exercises of piety, he lived tranquilly until an unforeseen incident brought him once more before the world. The title to some property belonging to the convent was claimed by a rich and learned lawyer of Sienna, Giacomo Pallares. Agostino, in a written document, defended the rights of his brethren. Pallares, who at once perceived that the humble habit of a lay-brother concealed a most learned jurist, asked to see him, and to his astonishment recognized his former fellow-student of the University of Bologna, Matteo di Termini. He lost no time in acquainting the ecclesiastical authorities with his identity, begging them to keep no longer in obscurity such a wealth of learning. When Clement of Osimo, General of the Order, heard of this, he compelled Agostino, under obedience, to receive Holy Orders, and, moreover, appointed him one of his associates. Agostino reformed the Constitutions and brought much splendour on his Order, of which he became General, a charge which he finally resigned to live in retirement, giving all his time to study, prayer, and penance, whereby he reached a high degree of perfection. Before he was made General, Nicholas IV appointed him his confessor and Grand Penitentiary, a charge which he accepted only under obedience, and with such manifest reluctance and so many protestations of his unworthiness that the Pope and the cardinals were visibly affected. In his retreat in the convent of San Leonardo, near Sienna, he not only dedicated himself to the practice of the virtues proper to the religious state, which he carried to an heroic degree, but, impelled by an ardent and almost consuming charity, he began collecting alms and was able to enlarge and practically rebuild an excellent orphanage and hospital for the sick and aged who had neither means to care for themselves during sickness, nor a place in which to pass their last days. Many of the miracles wrought through the intercession of Blessed Agostino were verified and authenticated. Clement XIII solemnly beatified him, and Clement XIV authorized his cult on 23 July, 1770.