AMIZO DI SOLAR
Saint Dominic preached in Milan with marvellous success on more than one occasion, the result of which was a number of splendid vocations to his Order. Among those whom he thus won for the ranks of his brethren in 1219 were three men of widespread reputations, who gave up their occupations and brilliant hopes for the future that they might more safely gain heaven as harvesters of souls among the Friars Preacher. The first of these was Amizo (sometimes called Amizio and Arditio) di Solar. Milan seems to have been his native place. Of the date of his birth one could only form a, conjecture, for the early Dominican annalists rarely treat us to the luxury of such facts.(1)
Father Amizo had been a notary in the palace of the Pope. But, in 1219, he was teaching canon law in Milan. With him were associated in the school of canon law at Milan two others of equal fame, who entered the Order at the same time -- Guido or Guidotto da Sesto and Roger da Merate. Tristan Calchi, in his History of Milan, assures us that all three were men of great learning and well known (viros doctrina claros, et juris scientia celebres).(2) All of them received the habit from Saint Dominic. They so grounded themselves in the principles of their new life, and strove so valiantly not only to perfect their own souls, but also to lead others to salvation, that they became as celebrated in the religious world as they had been in that of science.
Of Father Amizo, of whom we speak in an especial manner here, Taegio says that he was a religious, "whose soul was beautified with every virtue, possessed of rare prudence, most zealous to propagate the faith, and a conscientious observer of the rules of his Order."(3) Doubtless it was this that won him the affection of Saint Dominic, who took him on several of his missionary tours. In this way, he had a splendid opportunity to observe the founder's virtue, humility, and spirit of penance and mortification, as well as his consuming zeal for the salvation of souls. He worked hard for the canonization of the holy patriarch, and was the third of the nine Friar-Preacher witnesses called for that purpose. While his testimony is the briefest of all, it is sweet and beautiful. Indeed, we can not refrain from giving a part of it.
Master Dominic [he says] was an humble, mild, patient, kindly, pacific, and quiet man. He was sober, pious, modest, and full of wisdom in all his acts and words. It gave him pleasure to console others, especially his brethren; and he was most zealous for regular observance. His love of poverty was so great that he wished to see it observed by his confrères in their food, clothing, convents, and churches, and even in the vestments for divine worship. During his life he was very insistent that they should not use silk either at the altar or for other sacred purposes; and that only the chalices and other vessels for the Blessed Sacrament should be of gold or silver.(4)
The few records that have come down to our time show that Father Amizo di Solar held the office of prior both in the great Priory of San Eustorgio, Milan, and in that of Saint Augustine, Padua. His government was noted for his characteristic kindness and charity, no less than for the good discipline he maintained. In 1252 he was actively engaged in the ministry of preaching, when Innocent IV placed him on the commission appointed to deal with the murderers of Saint Peter of Verona and their accomplices. In this position he showed no little judgment and courage.
Father Amizo di Solar, it is generally stated, died at Saint Eustorgio's, Milan; but the date seems wrapped in more or less obscurity. Father John Baptist Feuillet, one of the first co-laborers on the Année Dominicaine, places his death on February 9, 1288. Father Michael Pio, an earlier writer, gives the same year.(5) This, however, appears to be too late; for Father Amizo was a professor of canon law at Milan when he entered the Order, and he had been a notary in the Pope's palace before he took up that work. Thus he was certainly not a very young man when he became a Friar Preacher. If he lived until 1288, he must have been at least a hundred years of age at the time of his death. This, of course, is not an impossibility. Bishop Peter Scaligeri, who remained active until the end, lived almost that long. Still it seems strange that, if Father di Solar attained so great an age, the earliest writers do not mention so singular an occurrence.
Of greater importance than such an extraordinary longevity is the fact that the Friar Preacher was a most faithful disciple of his Divine Master, and an earnest imitator of Saint Dominic. By all his confrères was he not only loved, but also considered a model religious. His death was as holy as had been his life. Miracles were attributed to him. An idea of the veneration in which his brethren held him may be gathered from the fact that, on one occasion, when a number of the older fathers discussed the question as to whom they would prefer to exchange places with among the living members of the Order, they all chose the venerable Amizo di Solar.(6) This alone should cause his memory to be cherished until the end of time.
1. MAMICHI, p. 513, 541-542, and col. (appendix) 110; PIO, col. 30; QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 48; TAEGIO, Monumenta Ordinis Praedicatorum (mss.).
2. Historia Mediolani or Mediolanensis, Book 13.
3. TAEGIO, as in note l -- quoted by Mamachi, 513.
4. Given in QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 48.
5. L'Année Dominicaine, II, 252; PIO, col. 31. We used the last edition of this noted Dominican hagiography. Father Touron used the first edition; so he refers to page 268. Doubtless the editors of the last edition, influenced by the remarks of Father Touron and Father Echard (op. cit., I, 48) simply give February 9 as the day on which Father Amizo di Solar died, but do not mention the year. (Ed. note).
6. See L'Année Dominicaine (last ed.), II, 254. Possibly Marchese does not mention Amizo because of the difficulty about his death. (Ed. note).