He was born in Florence on 30 November in 1301, one of a family of twelve. The Corsini family was fairly well off and devout. We know little about Andrew’s youth. He was drawn to religious life, and some time about 1316, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, he entered the Carmelite Priory in Florence. He rose through the ranks unremarkably until at the General Chapter in Metz, he was appointed Provincial of the Tuscan Province in 1348 – a fateful year because the Black Death (i.e. Plague) broke out in Florence. So, Andrew had a lot on his plate as Provincial.
In 1350 the Bishop of Fiesole – an ancient town in the hills above Florence – died of the plague (he was living in Florence). The Canons of the Cathedral elected Andrew to be bishop, and the Pope confirmed the election. From this moment a new and more forceful Andrew becomes visible.
He immediately went to Fiesole to reside there – the first bishop of the place to do so in over 100 years! With 2 friars from Florence, he formed a mini-Carmelite community in the bishop’s palace, always wearing his Carmelite habit and not Episcopal apparel.
Bishop of Fiesole for 24 years, he acquired a reputation for holiness and fairness in four spheres.
· Charitable works for the poor and the sick. Not only did he institute such works but was careful to see that donations and legacies for such things went to the charities.
· Raising the standard of the clergy by training, and examining them, dismissing those he found unworthy. And he insisted that the clergy live in their parish.
· He began a program of restoration of churches, with the cathedral and the bishop’s residence.
· He had the gift of reconciling people at odds with each other, personally, institutionally and even between cities.
In short, he was considered by all to be a holy man who set himself to do all in his power for the welfare of his Diocese, its priests, and its people in difficult times.
He died peacefully on the Epiphany (6th January) 1374 aged 73. He is now enshrined in a specially built chapel in the Carmelite Priory in that city.
Lord God, who are ever fashioning new models of virtue in your Church, grant that your people may so follow in the footsteps of your confessor and bishop blessed Andrew as to obtain a like reward: through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Fr. David Fox O.Carm