St. Gaspar Bertoni
The saint of the day is St. Gaspar Bertoni, a renowned Italian preacher and spiritual director. He was born to a wealthy, pious family in Verona, Italy, in 1777. Following the death of his younger sister, Gaspar remained the only child. He had the benefit of an excellent education both at home and at St. Sebastian’s school. When he made his First Communion at age 11, he received a vision and message that he was to enter the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1796, when French troops began a 20-year occupation of northern Italy. Gaspar volunteered to help those who were wounded, ill or displaced.
After his ordination in 1800, he helped to establish free schools for the poor. He also helped to organize a European movement to offer prayers for Pope Pius VII, who was imprisoned by Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1816, he founded the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He died 19 years later, in 1835, after years of fighting an infection in his right leg. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.
Fr. Donald Saulier, C.S.S. shares the following about St. Gaspar: “During his life, he was able to stand up tremendous pressure, often facing formidable odds. He was in poor health and almost constant pain since early childhood, yet he never allowed his suffering to stop him from achieving what he saw as important. He squarely faced pain and poor health, accepted them and lived with them.”
This is a powerful statement! How many of us accept our sufferings, pain, and poor health? Do we allow obstacles of this sort to defeat us in achieving our goals in the spiritual life or do we pray for the grace and strength to rise above them and to do God’s will in spite of them? While we may not be called to accomplish all that St. Gaspar did in his life, there are still little things we can do for the Lord, in spite of the obstacles that we face. Let us pray to accept the strengthening and life-giving graces that the Lord gives us daily.