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Saint Paul of the Cross
Saint Paul of the Cross

Saint Paul of the Cross

Feast Day
Oct 20, 2012
Founder of the Passionists
<p>St. Paul of the Cross was born Paolo Francesco Danei, on January 3, 1694 in Piedmont, Italy.&nbsp; He was from a wealthy merchant family, and experienced a conversion to a life of prayer at the age of 19.&nbsp; His conversion started from studying the writings of St. Francis de Sales and from the direction he received from priests of the Capuchin Order.&nbsp; They taught him the need to go beyond our own images of God.&nbsp; St. Paul&rsquo;s lifelong conviction was that we most easily could find God, in the Passion of Christ.&nbsp; He believed that the Passion of Christ was the most overwhelming sign of God&rsquo;s love for us, and at the same time, it was the door to union with Him.&nbsp; He spent his life bringing this message to all. &nbsp;</p> <p>When he was 26, Paul had a series of prayer experiences, which made it clear that God was inviting him to form a community who would live the evangelical life and promote the love of God revealed in the Passion of Christ.&nbsp; In a vision, he saw himself clothed in the habit he and his companions would wear; a long, black tunic on the front of which was a heart surmounted by a white cross.&nbsp; In the heart was written &ldquo;The Passion of Jesus Christ&rdquo;.&nbsp; He also heard these words spoken to him, &ldquo;This is to show how pure the heart must be that bears the holy name of Jesus graven upon it&rdquo;. &nbsp;</p> <p>Paul desired to become a Priest, and desired to form his community, which later came to be known as the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or the &ldquo;Passionists&rdquo;.&nbsp; With the encouragement of his Bishop, he was clothed in the black habit, and wrote the rule of his new community.&nbsp; His first companion was his own brother, John Baptist, who was ordained to the priesthood with Paul by Pope Benedict XIII in June of 1727, in St. Peter&rsquo;s Basilica.&nbsp; After Ordination, they devoted themselves to preaching missions in parishes, particularly in remote country places, where there were insufficient priests.&nbsp; Their preaching apostolate and retreats they gave in seminaries and religious houses brought their mission to the attention of others, and the community began to grow.&nbsp; His goal in formation was, &ldquo;Man totally God-Centered, totally apostolic, a man of prayer, detached from the world, from things, from himself, so he may in all truth be called a disciple of Jesus Christ&rdquo;.&nbsp; Members of his community were committed to three hours of contemplative prayer a day. &nbsp;</p> <p>During his lifetime, St. Paul was best known for his preaching and spiritual direction.&nbsp; More than two thousand of his letters of spiritual direction have been preserved.&nbsp; He died October 18<sup>th</sup>, 1775.&nbsp; By the time of his death the Congregation had grown to one hundred and eighty fathers and brothers, living in twelve houses, mostly in the Papal States. There was also a Monastery of Contemplative Sisters in Corneto, founded a few years before his death to promote the Passion of Jesus by their life of prayer and penance.&nbsp; He was beatified in 1852, and canonized in 1867. &nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>Practical Take Away&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p>St. Paul of the Cross was a mystic and the founder of the Passionist Congregation.&nbsp; He came to understand that one could easily find union with God, by meditating on the overwhelming love of God, through the passion of Christ.&nbsp; His entire work was to preach and have retreats, based on teaching the Passion of Christ.&nbsp; He was best known for his preaching and spiritual direction.&nbsp; More than two thousand of his letters of spiritual direction have been preserved.&nbsp; One would do well for their spiritual growth, to follow his example and meditate on the Passion of Christ. &nbsp;</p>