Tuesday, December 6, 2022

St Paul of the Cross – Feast Day – October 19 (October 20 in the US)

St Paul of the Cross (Paolo Francesco Danei) was the founder of the Passionists. He was born on January 3 1694 in Ovada, Piedmont, Italy, and died on October 18 1775 at the age of 81 in Rome, Papal States.

We celebrate his feast day on October 19 in General Roman Calendar and on October 20 in the United States.

St Paul of the Cross Biography
St Paul of the Cross - Feast Day - October 19 (October 20 in the US)
St Paul of the Cross – Feast Day – October 19 (October 20 in the US)
Date of Birth January 3 1694
Place of Birth Ovada, Piedmont, Italy
Profession founder of the Passionists
Place of Work Rome
Date of Death October 18 1775 (aged 81)
Place of Death The retreat of Saints John and Paul in Rome
Feast Day October 19 (October 20 in the US)
Beatification By Pope Pius IX on May 1 1853 in Rome
Canonization By Pope Pius IX on June 29 1867 in Rome

St Paul of the Cross Life History

The parents of St Paul of the Cross were Luca and Anna Maria Massari Danei. He was the second born of a family of sixteen children.

Only six of these children survived infancy. This experience taught Paul the uncertainty of life and that death was real.

Paul was educated at a boys’ school owned by a priest in Cremolino and at the age of 15 years he returned home and taught catechism in the Church.

At the age of 19 years, St Paul of the Cross read the writings of Saint Francis de Sales titled “Treatise on the Love of God” and converted to a life of prayer.

He received directions and mentorship from the Capuchin priests and realized that God can be found easily in the Passion of Christ.

At one time in 1715, he joined the army to defend the Venetian Republic against the invading Turks but after some time he realized that his passion was not being a soldier and quit.

On his way back home, he bumped into an elderly childless couple who needed his help. After helping them, they offered him their entire inheritance but he declined the offer.

Shortly thereafter, his uncle who was a priest tried to arrange a marriage for him but Paul declined. Upon the death of his uncle, he retained only his priest’s Breviary.

When St Paul of the Cross was 26 years old he had a vision that God was inviting him to form a community that would live an austere, pious, and evangelical life that would promote the love of God revealed in the Passion of Jesus on the Cross. In that vision, he saw himself wearing the habit that the members of his community would wear.

At first, the community was identified as “the Poor of Jesus” but later on they settled on the name “The Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ” or the Passionists. 

Paul received a lot of encouragement from his local bishop who even clothed him as a hermit with the black habit. Although he was the only member of his community, he went for a forty-days retreat at the end of 1720 and wrote the new rule for the new community.

In the rule he wrote, the members of his congregation were to observe a life of poverty, solitude, and penance, and teach people how to find God easily through meditation on the Passion of Jesus.

The first member of the congregation was his blood brother, John Baptist. They went to Rome after an invitation from Cardinal Corrandini to help establish a hospital. Through this invitation to Rome, they hoped to use this opportunity to secure approval of the Rule from the Pope.

In the new hospital, Paul and his brother provided nursing care to the patients and taught the Word of God to both the staff and patients.

While in Rome, Paul and his brother studied for the priesthood, and on June 7 1727, they were ordained as priests by Pope Benedict XIII in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

As priests, they went on preaching missions to remote places with very few priests. Paul was a very passionate preacher and generous in his acts of mercy.

They preached in religious houses and seminaries and their mission attracted the attention of many who started joining their congregation.

The Passionists traditionally named their monasteries as “Retreats” to underscore the contemplative and secluded life that members should adhere to.

Paul and his first nine members opened the first Retreat in 1737 in Monte Argentario, Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy. The Congregation’s members were known as the Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

They wore black habits with a badge of a heart written with the words JESU XPI PASSIO and a white cross mounted on top of the heart.

The rules of the congregation were approved by Pope Benedict XIV in 1741 and 1746 after having been delayed for a very long time.

The members communally celebrated the Divine Office and devoted every day at least 3 hours of prayer and contemplation. They also lived a very austere life which repulsed many people from joining the community.

However, St Paul of the Cross did not loosen his Rules for he preferred gradual and strong growth of his congregation, albeit painful, as opposed to fast and uncommitted one.

By the time St Paul of the Cross died, the congregation had twelve Retreats housing one hundred and eighty members who were priests and brothers.

Before Paul died, he had also founded a monastery of contemplative sisters known as Tarquinia.

Death

St Paul of the Cross died on October 18 1775 at the Retreat of Saints John and Paul on the Caelian Hill in Rome, Italy.

Beatification

St Paul of the Cross was beatified by Pope Pius IX on May 1 1853 in Rome

Canonization

St Paul of the Cross was canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 29 1867 in Rome

St Paul of the Cross Feast Day

We celebrate the feast day of St Paul of the Cross on October 19 in General Roman Calendar and on October 20 in the United States because the feast day of the North American Martyrs falls on October 19.

Other Catholic Saints whose Feast Days are in October

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