St. Paul of the Cross (Feast: October 20)
Paul Francis Danei was born on January 3, 1694, at Ovada, a small town in the then Republic of Genoa. He spent his youth at Castellazzo, in Lombardy, where his parents had taken up their residence when Paul was only ten years old.
It was in Castellazzo, his father's native town, that Paul received his first inspirations concerning the work for which God had destined him. From his earliest years the crucifix was his book and the Crucified his model.
Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino. He made great progress in both his studies and in the practice of virtue. His early attraction for Our Lord Crucified grew naturally into an ardent devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
At the age of fifteen he left school and returned to his home at Castellazzo, and from this time his life was full of trials. In early manhood he renounced the offer of an honorable marriage as well as a good inheritance left him by an uncle who was a priest. He kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.
Inflamed with a desire for God's glory he formed the idea of instituting a religious order in honor of the Passion.
The Bishop of Alessandria, his director, clothed him in a black tunic bearing the emblem of Our Lord's Passion, and barefooted and bareheaded, he retired to a narrow cell where he drew up the Rules of a new congregation according to a plan made known to him in a vision. He was still a layman and had no companions to form a community but drew up the rules during a five day period in December, 1720.
Writing in obedience to his confessor, Paul narrates how Our Lord inspired him with the design of founding the congregation, and how he wrote the Rules and Constitutions. "When I was writing," he says, "I went on as quickly as if somebody were dictating to me. I felt the words come from my heart".
In 1725, on a visit to Rome with his brother John Baptist, his constant companion and co-operator in the foundation of the institute, Paul received from Pope Benedict XIII permission to form a congregation according to these Rules. The two brothers were ordained by the same pope in the Vatican basilica on June 7, 1727.
After serving for a time in the hospital of St. Gallicano they left Rome with permission of the Holy Father and went to Mount Argentaro, where they established the first house of the institute.
They took up their abode in a small hermitage near the summit of the mount, to which was attached a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony. They were soon joined by three companions, one of whom was a priest.
At the first general chapter of the institute in April of 1747, Paul was elected, much against his wishes, as the first superior general; he was to hold the office until the day of his death. He became a model to his companions in all their endeavors. Sacred missions were instituted, new foundations and numerous conversions of sinners, seemingly hardened and hopeless, were made, “yet he never left off preaching the word of God, burning as he did with a wondrous desire for the salvation of souls" states the Brief of his Beatification of October 1, 1852.
He was untiring in his apostolic labors and never, even to his last hour, remitted anything of his austere manner of life, finally succumbing to a severe illness, worn out as much by his austerities as by old age.
Constant personal union with the Cross and Passion of Our Lord was the prominent feature of St. Paul's sanctity. But devotion to the Passion did not stand alone, for he carried to a heroic degree all the other virtues of a Christian life. For fifty years he prayed for the conversion of England, and left the devotion as a legacy to his sons.
The body of St. Paul lies in the Basilica of SS. John and Paul, Rome. He was canonized on June 29, 1867.
DAILY QUOTE for September 29, 2020
In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.