Saint William the Hermit
William (died 1157) was a holy hermit and lover of contemplative prayer.
Born in France, William led a life of sin as a young man. Following his conversion to Christ, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Upon his return, he sought a place of solitude in Tuscany, Italy, where he lived as a hermit. He unsuccessfully attempted to bring about reforms in the hermit life there.
After this failure, he moved to a hermitage at Malavalle, Grossetto, Italy. He remained there, living a life of prayer, silence, fasting and penance until his death February 10, 1157.
He neither founded a Religious Order nor wrote a Rule of life. But two of his followers formed the Order of Saint William, also known as Williamites, shortly after William's death. One of them, named Albert, composed a Rule, which he entitled The Rule of St. William.
At the time of the Augustinian Grand Union in 1256, when many diverse religious groups were incorporated into the Augustinian Order, the Williamites were among those who became Augustinians.
However, this union did not work well, and many former Williamites withdrew from the Augustinians a short time later. Nevertheless, Augustinians have venerated Saint William since the thirteenth century.
William the Hermit is also known as William of Malavalle and William the Great. Pope Innocent III canonized him in 1202.