St. Paul of the Cross: Priest, Writer, Mystic
St. Paul of the Cross was born in Ovada in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei in 1694. As a young man, he helped his father who was a merchant. Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious young man, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament without neglecting his duties.
At the age of 19, Paul had a vivid experience of the depth of God’s love. As a result of this experience, he aspired to live a life of perfection. While still a layman, he left everything behind and founded the Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion (Passionists) in 1721.
While contemplation and prayer were at the very heart of Paul’s life and the life of his new institute, Paul himself soon became a very famous popular preacher, spiritual guide, writer and mystic. For Paul the Passion of Christ was the most vivid witness to God’s love for us and he constantly called upon his followers to remember the sufferings of Jesus.
During his lifetime Paul founded thirteen monasteries of Priests and Brothers throughout Italy as well as a monastery of Passionist Nuns. Today the Passionists live and serve in 59 countries of the world and are enhanced by other religious and lay groups who find inspiration in the Charism of St. Paul of the Cross.
Paul died in Rome on October 18, 1775. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.
Spiritual Helps from St. Paul of the Cross:
“When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings.”
“Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him.”
“It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it. “
” Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will.”
~ from a letter by Saint Paul of the Cross