St. Paschal Baylon, “Saint of the Holy Eucharist”
The saint of the day for May 17th is St. Pascal Baylon.
Born in a small village in between Castille and Aragon in Spain, on Pentecost in 1540, he was christened Pascua (meaning “the pasch of the Holy Ghost”) in honor of the feast.
As a young man, until he was twenty-four years old, he worked as a shepherd for his poor, but pious family. During this time, he lived a life of penance and showed great devotion for the Holy Eucharist.
One day Paschal heard the bells of a convent announce the approaching consecration at Mass. Such an ardent longing for God overcame him that, prompted by yearning and love, he involuntarily cried out: “O God, most worthy of all adoration, please let me see You!” Hardly had he uttered the prayer when a glowing star appeared in the sky. As he watched, the heavens opened; the star disappeared and was replaced by a chalice with the Host, flanked by two adoring angels. Christian art has selected this vision to show his chief virtue — love for the most holy Eucharist. (Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch)
Receiving a vision which told him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, he became a Franciscan lay brother. He became part of the community of St. Peter of Alcantara, who was very instrumental in the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila, who was living at that time. Paschal spent most of his life as a humble door keeper. His charity to the poor and afflicted, his unfailing courtesy and humility were remarkable even by Franciscan standards. While on a mission to France, he defended the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. Poorly educated, he served as a counselor sought out by rich and poor alike.
Paschal spent many hours before the Holy Eucharist. During his lifetime he was known by all as “the Saint of the Holy Eucharist”. He spent most of the night at the foot of the altar on his knees, or prostrate on the ground. In prayer, he was often favored with ecstasies and raptures. He died at Villa Reale, near Valentia, on May 17, 1592, at the age of fifty-two. As he lay dead in his casket, he opened and closed his eyes twice when the sacred species were elevated at the consecration. His body was exposed three days, during which time a vast number of people visited the church, witnessing to his many miracles.
St. Paschal was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690.
Patron: Cooks; Eucharistic congresses and organizations (proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII in 1897); Obado, Bulacan, Phillipines.
Quotes from St. Paschal Baylon:
“Meditate well on this: Seek God above all things. It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly.”
“God is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven.”
The whole life of St Paschal Baylon was rooted in the True Presence of Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Many today ignore Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence and chase after visions and revelations – seeking their own consolations instead of the consolations we receive from being in His presence in the Blessed Sacrament.