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Walfrid or Galfrido della Gherardesca was born in Pisa, of which he became a prosperous and honored citizen. He married a wife to whom he was deeply attached, and they had five sons and at least one daughter. After a time, Walfrid and his wife Thesia felt that God was calling them to enter the religious life. Walfrid had two friends - A kinsman named Gunduald and a certain Fortis, a native of Corsica: like him they were living in the world, but were drawn to a closer service of God under monastic discipline. Together they discussed the future, and were led by a dream to choose Monte Verde, between Volterra and Piombino, as the site of their future monastery. They decided to follow the Benedictine Rule of Monte Casino and, besides their own Abbey of Palazzuolo, they built at a distance of about eighteen miles a convent for women, in which their wives and Walfrid's daughter Rattruda took the veil. The new foundation attracted many novices, and before long there were sixty monks including Walfrid's favorite son Gimfrid and Gunduald's only son Andrew, who became the third Abbott and wrote the history of St. Walfrid. Gimfrid was made priest, but in an hour of temptation he flew from the monastery, taking with him men, horses and papers which belonged to the community. Walfrid, greatly distressed, sent a search party after the fugitive. On the third day, when he was praying in the midst of his monks for his son's repentance and return, he besought God also to send Gimfrid a sign which would be constantly before him as a reminder and a warning for the rest of his life. That same day Wimfrid was caught and brought back penitent, but with the middle finger of his right hand so mutilated that he could never use it again. Walfrid ruled the Abbey wisely and well for ten years, and after his death, was succeeded by Gimfrid, who inspite of his earlier lapse became, as Andrew records, a great and good pastor. St. Walfrid's cultus was confirmed in 1861. His feast day is February 15th.
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By Deacon Frederick Bartels
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