St. Diogo of Alcala

“Dulce lignum, dulce ferrum, dulce pondus sustinet”

Born: 1400 San Nicolás del Puerto, Seville, Andalusia, Kingdom of Castile, Spain

Died: November 12, 1463 at Alcala, Castile, Spain of natural causes

Canonized: 1588 by Pope Sixtus V

Patronage: Franciscan laity, Franciscan lay brothers

Representation: Cross; lily


Saint Diogo of Alcala was born about 1400 at San Nicolas in Andalusia, of poor and God-fearing parents. He entered the Third Order of St Francis when he had scarcely reached young manhood, and under the direction of a devout Tertiary priest, he served God for a long time as a hermit. Consumed with the desire for still greater perfection, he later entered the Franciscan convent at Arizafa in Castile and was there admitted to solemn vows as a lay brother.

His rapid progress in virtue made him a model to all his companions. His soul was continually occupied with God in prayer and meditation. From this source he gathered such supernatural insight concerning God and the mysteries of Faith that learned theologians listened with astonishment to the inspiring conversations of this uneducated lay brother.

Since Brother Diogo manifested great zeal for souls and willingness for sacrifice, his superiors sent him with other brethren to the Canary Islands, which at that time were still inhabited by wild infidels. Diogo was eager for martyrdom, and in the spirit bore with dauntless patience the many hardships that came his way. Both by word and example he helped in converting many infidels. In 1445 he was appointed guardian of the chief friary on the islands at Fortaventura.

Recalled to Spain, Saint Diogo of Alcala went to Rome in 1450 at the command of the Observant Vicar general, St John Capistrano, to attend the great jubilee and the canonization ceremonies of St Bernardin of Siena. On this occasion an epidemic broke out among the many friars assembled in the large convent of Apace. Diogo attended the sick with great charity and trust in God. And God did not fail him. Despite the lack of supplies in the city at the time, Diogo always had ample provisions for his patients. He miraculously restored many of them to health by merely making the Sign of the Cross over them.

As he was dying, Diogo looked at a crucifix and said: O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven”. He then gave up his soul to God, on the day before the Ides of November, in the year of our Lord 1463. His body was left unburied for several months, in order to satisfy the pious devotion of the numbers who came to see it; and, as though already clothed with immortality, it exhaled a sweet odour. He was renowned for many striking miracles, and was enrolled among the Saints by Pope Sixtus V.

(Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834)