Benedict Sinigardi was born to a wealthy and noble family in Arezzo. In 1211, he heard St. Francis preach in his town, and his heart was immediately won. Abandoning his life of luxury, he was welcomed into the Order of Friars Minor, receiving his habit from St. Francis himself. At twenty-seven, he was appointed provincial of the Marche region. Afterward, he was sent on a missionary journey that took him to Greece, Romania, and Turkey. He built the first Franciscan monastery in Constantinople and then went on to the Holy Land, where he served as provincial for sixteen years. In his old age, he returned to Arezzo, where he died in 1282.
There are no surviving writings by Blessed Benedict, but he is credited with estab- lishing the Angelus Prayer, a commemoration of the Incarnation, which became one of the most popular devotions in Christendom. Deriving its name from the first words, “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,” the prayer consists of the recital of three verses from Scripture with an accompanying response, interspersed by a Hail Mary. It was traditionally recited three times a day, and in many towns in Europe it is still signaled by the ringing of church bells at noon.