Fidelis was born in Sigmaringen, Germany, in 1578 and martyred in Seewis, Grison, Switzerland, in 1622. The tribute to him by Pope Benedict XIV says it all.
The abundance of his charity led him to care for the bodily needs of his neighbours: he gathered all who suffered into his fatherly embrace, and supported a great number of poor people by collecting alms for them from many sources.
He relieved the loneliness of widows and orphans by arranging help for them from powerful men and princes; he assisted prisoners by all the means, physical and spiritual, that were in his power; he was tireless in visiting the sick in order to comfort them, to reconcile them to God, and to prepare them for their last agony.
He was never more fruitful in works of mercy than when the Austrian army, stationed in the Alps was struck by an epidemic and presented a miserable spectacle of pain and death.
Not only was he filled with such great charity. Being a man faithful in name and in deed, he was a notable defender of the Catholic faith, which he tirelessly preached. A few days before he sealed his faith with his blood, in his last speech, as though in a will, he spoke of the Catholic faith in these words:
“O Catholic faith, how stable, how firm you are, how well-rooted, how well-founded on a strong rock. Heaven and earth will pass away, but you can never perish. From the beginning the whole world has spoken against you, but you have triumphed mightily over all.
For this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith; this is what has brought the most powerful kings under Christ’s rule and made peoples the servants of Christ.
What was it that made the holy apostles and martyrs undergo fierce struggles and terrible agonies, if not faith and above all faith in the resurrection?
What was it that has made hermits spurn pleasure, honour and wealth, and live a celibate life in solitude, if not living faith?
What is it that in these days causes true Christians to turn aside from what is easy and pleasant and undergo hardship and labour?
Living faith working through love – this is what leads men to put aside the goods of the present in the hope of those of the future, and to look to the future rather than to the present.”
Elogium of St. Fidelis, by Pope Benedict XIV