We remember today a brother of our Order, Gratia of Kotor, a sailor and laborer who responded to God's call to religious life and devoted his energies and talents to the life of his community. He is like so many other religious and lay men and women, who live their vocation in the simple, often humble, routine of each day, using the gifts given them by God to render him glory and to enrich the lives with which God has surrounded them.
Gratia was born in 1438 in the small town of Mula on the coast of Dalmatia near Cattaro (Kotor), not far from present-day Albania. He followed in the footsteps of his father who was a sailor and visited many port cities, being particularly drawn by the beauty of Venice. One day, after hearing a sermon of Simon of Camerino in the Augustinian church of Saint Stephen in that city, he entered the Order as a brother and took the name Gratia out of gratitude to God for the many gifts he had received. Simon of Camerino had founded a community near Padua where the friars lived in absolute poverty while ministering at a shrine dedicated to our Lady. Here Gratia lived a life of prayer and penance and devoted his energies toward the construction of the monastery and the cultivation of its garden. Later, when Simon established the friary of Saint Christopher in Venice, Gratia was transferred there, where he was greatly loved by the people and sought after by them for his prayer and counsel. Here he died on November 8, 1508. Within the church of Saint Christopher a marble monument was erected to his memory by a senator of the city, while Gratia’s remains were eventually taken back to Mula. Pope Leo XIII confirmed his cult in 1889.
Gratia might have been considered a belated vocation in his day, earning a living by the hard labor of an itinerant sailor. Following his entrance into religious life he continued to use his natural gifts in the service of God and his community, and by his simple but genuine demeanor drew others to also recognize the grace of God at work in their lives.