Brotherly love - inseparable twin friars die on the same day, aged 92

IDENTICAL twins Julian and Adrian Riester were born seconds apart 92 years ago and died hours apart.

They were also brothers in the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor. Professed friars for 65 years, they spent much of that time working together at St Bonaventure University in New York, doing carpentry work, gardening and driving visitors to and from the airport and around town.

"It was fun to see them, just quiet, gentle souls," said Yvonne Peace, who worked at the St Bonaventure Friary for nearly 21 years.

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They died on Wednesday at St Anthony Hospital in St Petersburg, Florida, Brother Julian in the morning and Brother Adrian in the evening. Both died of heart failure, said Father James Toal, guardian of St Anthony Friary in St Petersburg, Florida, where the twins lived since moving from western New York in 2008.

"It really is almost a poetic ending to the remarkable story of their lives," St Bonaventure spokesman Tom Missel said. "Stunning when you hear it, but hardly surprising given that they did almost everything together."

Julian and Adrian Riester were born Jerome and Irving on 27 March, 1919 to a couple who already had five daughters. They took the names of saints on their ordination in the Catholic church.

"Dad was a doctor and he said a prayer for a boy," Adrian once said, according to St Bonaventure.

"The Lord fooled him and sent two."

After attending St Joseph's Collegiate Institute, the brothers were turned away by the military because of their eyesight, the university said. One had a bad left eye, the other a bad right eye.

Eventually they joined the friars of Holy Name Province in New York City. They received separate assignments before reuniting at the seminary at St Bonaventure from 1951 to 1956. After serving parishes in Buffalo for 17 years, they returned to St Bonaventure in 1973 and spent the next 35 years there.

They had separate rooms in the friary but one telephone extension that rang into both, Peace recalled. It was usually the more talkative Adrian who answered.

They never said who was born first. "Brother Julian was like the big brother. Brother Adrian would defer to him," Peace said.

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Funeral services are scheduled for tomorrow at St Mary Our Lady of Grace Church in St Petersburg. The brothers' bodies will then be flown to Buffalo, New York, and buried on Wednesday at St Bonaventure Cemetery.

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