Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


While Gerard Mecatti was edifying Tuscany, there lived at the court of Frederick II, King of Sicily, a Knight called Gerland of Apollonia. Some say he was a German or a Pole; his origin is uncertain. We do know, however, that he had been sent to Sicily by the Grand Master of the monastery of Jerusalem to take care of the property that the Order possessed there. In the city of Caltagirone, near Licata in which the court of the king resided, no one could have believed that the illustrious Gerland of Apollonia wore a hair shirt under the magnificent uniform of his rank; the wonder would have been even greater if the court had discovered that in the solitude of his room the Knight administered to himself painful scourgings. His fasting and abstinences were frequent and prolonged. But where his sanctity clearly appeared was in his liberal alms, the help and consolation he gave to the wretched and all those who stood in need of his charity. He did not hesitate to aid those who suffered from injustice and abandonment. At his death, which occurred in 1242, there was great grief among all the poor. He was buried outside the Walls of Caltagirone, rather near the city, and miraculous cures glorified his tomb.

After nearly a century of neglect, the venerable body was brought to the church of Saint James the Apostle, patron saint of the city, amidst manifestations of popular enthusiasm. The bones were cleaned and washed in a wine which afterwards operated great cures to the number of 95, as is witnessed by a story written in a book attested to and signed by the magistrates and notaries of Caltagirone; this book is preserved in the town's archives. It was decided that the image of the holy man would be painted in the church where he rested and that his feast would be celebrated like the most solemn of the city; the feast day was to be observed on the 18th of June, the anniversary of the discovery of the holy body.

Collect of the Mass: Lord God, who brought blessed Gerland from the north to Sicily and inspired him to wear a hair shirt in place of the armour of the knights of our Order, arouse in us a zeal like his so that our lives may always aim at perfection. Tthrough our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 
Blessed Gerland, pray for us