2020-10-19 06:12:58 UTC
It is written that "God is love"-- and if He is love, He must needs be
infinite love and infinite goodness, and it is no wonder that such
love and goodness should at times bestow on certain souls an affection
which confounds those who do not understand it. Although many know
this by faith, yet, unless they have experienced it themselves, they
cannot understand the affectionate, and more than affectionate way, in
which God elects to treat some of His creatures. Those who themselves
are far from having received favors of this kind, cannot believe God
would deal with others in so different a manner. Yet it would be only
reasonable to think that such love, a love which fills us with wonder,
must come from God, Who is marvelous in all His works, but still more
marvelous in His mercies.
-- Saint John of Avila from a letter to Saint Teresa of Avila
October 19th – St. Paul of the Cross, Priest, Visionary
Born at Ovada, Piedmont, Italy, in 1694; died in Rome, Italy, October
18, 1775. Paolo Francesco Danei was well brought up by devout,
middle-class parents (a.k.a. impoverished nobility). At 15, while
still living with his parents in Castellazzo, Lombardy, Paul adopted a
lifestyle of rigorous austerity and great mortifications. When he was
20 he volunteered for the Venetian army to fight against the Turks,
but he soon found he was not meant to be a soldier. After his
discharge, he resumed his life of prayer and penance. He refused
marriage, and spent several years in retreat at Castellazzo.
In 1720, had a vision of our Lady in a black habit with the name Jesus
and a cross in white on the chest. In the vision, the Blessed Virgin
told him to found a religious order devoted to preaching the Passion
of Christ (hence their name, Passionists). Paul experienced such
mystical communications all his life, and came to distrust them;
however, he acted promptly on these first ones.
The bishop of Alessandria discerned that Paul's visions were
authentic, and gave him permission to proceed to draw up a rule for
the new order. Thus, Paul wrote the Passionist rule during a 45- day
retreat. With his brother, Giovanni Baptista, who became his
inseparable companion and closest confidant, he went to Rome to seek
papal approval, which was refused at first. On their return to Rome in
1725, they were granted permission by Pope Benedict XIII to accept
novices. Two years later (1727), the holy father ordained the two
brothers as priests in the Vatican basilica.
After their ordination he and his brother started the first Passionist
house, on the Monte Argentaro peninsula (near Orbitello) in Tuscany.
The first ten years were difficult, for both internal and external
reasons. Many of their first novices left because of the severity of
the rule. Perseverance won. In the end austere life of the missioners
and the fervent preaching of their founder made their mark.
The first monastery was opened in 1737. In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV
approved a modified rule, and the "Barefoot Clerks of the Holy Cross
and Passion" began to spread throughout Italy. They were in great
demand for their missions, which became famous.
Paul was elected first superior general, against his will, at the
first general chapter at Monte Argentaro and held that position the
rest of his life. He preached all over the Papal States to tremendous
crowds, raised them to a fever pitch as he scourged himself in public,
and brought back to the faith the most hardened sinners and criminals
He was blessed with supernatural gifts--prophecy, miracles of healing,
appearances to people in visions at a distance--and was one of the
most celebrated preachers of his day. People fought to touch him and
to get a piece of his tunic as a relic. Though the two main objectives
of the order were service to the sick and the dying, Paul's special
concern was the conversion of sinners, for which he prayed for 50
The Passionists received final approbation from Pope Clement XIV in
1769. Two years later, Paul's efforts to create an institute of nuns
came into being with the opening of the first house of Passionist nuns
at Corneto. Paul lived to see the congregation firmly established.
After a three-year illness, Paul died and was buried in the Basilica
of SS John and Paul, given to the order by Pope Clement.
Saint Paul of the Cross was always interested in the religious state
of England. Thus, it is heartening to note that the leader of the
first Passionists to work there, Father Dominic Barberi (d. 1849), who
received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church, was also
beatified in 1963 (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).
Prayer, good reading, the frequentation of the sacraments, with the
proper dispositions, and particularly the flight of idleness--these
are, believe me, the means of sanctifying yourself.
--St. Paul of the Cross
But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my
name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind,
whatsoever I shall have said to you. (John 14:26)
To Obtain Heaven.
O Queen of Paradise, who reignest above all the choirs of angels, and who
art the nearest of all creatures to God, I, a miserable sinner, salute thee
from this valley of tears, and beseech thee to turn thy compassionate eyes
towards me, for whichever side they turn they dispense graces.
See, O Mary, in how many dangers I now am, and shall be as long as I live in
this world, of losing my soul, of losing heaven and God. In thee, O Lady, I
have placed all my hopes. I love thee and sigh to go soon to see thee, and
praise thee in heaven. Ah, Mary, when will be that happy day on which I
shall see myself safe at thy feet, and contemplate my Mother who has done so
much for my salvation?
When shall I kiss that hand which has delivered me so many times from hell,
and has dispensed me so many graces, when, on account of my sins, I deserve
to be hated and abandoned by all? My Lady, in life I have been very
ungrateful to thee; but if I reach heaven, I shall no longer be ungrateful;
there I shall love thee as much as I can in every moment for all eternity,
and shall make amends for my ingratitude by blessings and thanksgiving to
I thank God with my whole heart, who gives me firm confidence in the blood
of Jesus Christ and in thee, and in the conviction that thou wilt save me;
that thou wilt deliver me from my sins; that thou wilt give me light and
strength to execute the divine will; and in time, that thou wilt lead me to
the gate of paradise. Thy servants have hoped for this, and not one of them
was deceived. No, neither shall I be deceived. O Mary, my full confidence is
that thou hast to save me. Beseech thy Son Jesus as I also beseech him, by
the merits of his Passion, to preserve and always increase this confidence
in me, and I shall be saved. - Amen.