St. Alexander Sauli

Apostle of Corsica

1533 - 1592

Dr. Jožko Šavli

As I mentioned already in the previous article, the surname Šavli (pronounce shauli), usually written in the form of Sauli, means "sun" in Lithuanian. I consider it a relic and a legacy from our ancestors, the Veneti, which preserved itself until today. Very probably, it relates to a farmhouse in a sunny place. The surname Šavli (Šauli, and also Šaule) is well spread in the area of the Upper Soca (Isonzo) Valley in Slovenia. Many of these surnames, in the form of Sauli or Saule, are also found in Trieste.

Surprisingly, this surname appears everywhere, also outside of Europe. Even in Egypt (Sawli). The word was obviously derived from "sunny". But in Sanscrit I found only surya, however, Möller's studies show the development of sur - sul - saul. At the foot of the Anapurna mountains in Nepal, at a height of 1140 m, is Shauli Bazar, where recently a medical centre was constructed for the surrounding area. I could not find a picture on the Internet, but I am sure, it is on the sunny side of the mountain range.

This surname is also well represented throughout the Italian territory. We encounter a "viale Sauli" in Genoa, a "piazza Sauli" even in Rome... Everything points to the fact, that the surname Sauli descends from Venetic roots. The German written form Schauli is found in Switzerland, Alsatia, Germany, Lithuania... Other forms are Schaulen, Schaulan, Shaulan, Shawle, Shaule, Siauliai, Shauli, Schawli.

Moreover, October 11th is the fete-day of a Catholic Saint with this very surname: St. Alexander Sauli, the apostle of Corsica.

Alexander Sauli was born in 1533, in Milan, as the son of an illustrious Lombard family. After some years of study under capable masters, he entered the Congregation of Barnabites, and at an early age he became teacher of philosophy and theology at the University of Pavia. Later, in 1565, he was elected Superior-General of the Congregation. He earned the reputation of a zealous preacher while in Pavia, and became the confessor of St. Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Sfondrato, who became Pope Gregory XIV.

Pope Pious V appointed him to the ancient see of Aleria, Corsica, where faith was almost extinguished and clergy and people were in a state of deplorable ignorance, involved in various corruptions. Bishop Alexander Sauli, by personally visiting all of the parishes, helped to rekindle the life of faith of the clergy and parishioners. With the aid of three companions, he reclaimed the inhabitants, corrected abuses, and rebuilt churches, founded colleges and seminaries. He would enlighten them, explaining the decrees of the Council of Trent. Despite of depredations of corsairs, and the death of his comrades, he placed the Church in a flourishing condition. His friend, St. Philip Neri, considered that Sauli's reform had transformed the disreputable Corsican diocese into a model for others.

In 1591, Alexander Sauli was made Bishop of Pavia. He was known to be a scholar with great aptitude for canon law, preaching, and catechism († 1592). He left a number of works, chiefly catechesical. It is reported, that he performed miracles of prophecy, healing, and calming of storms, both, during his life and after his death. Pope Benedict XIV declared him Blessed, in 1742. Pope St. Pious X canonized him, in 1904.