Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint of the Week: St. Paschal Baylon
Our Saint of the Week this week, in celebration of the diocesan Year of the Eucharist, is the patron saint of Eucharistic adorers: Saint Paschal Baylon. He was a Franciscan lay brother and renowned as a mystic.
Born to a peasant
at Torre Hermosa, in Aragon (Spain), on Pentecost Sunday in the year 1540, he was named Pascua in honor of the final day of the Easter season. (“Easter” in most Romance-language nations is some variation of “Pasch,” where we get the word “Paschal,” as in the Paschal Candle). His parents were poor but very pious. According to accounts of his early life, from the age of seven until about the age of twenty-four, he worked as a shepherd, and it was during this time that he began a life of mortification. He was in fact distinguished for austerity; he was also growing famous for performing miracles. It seems that enjoyed his simple work and simple life, as he was able to pray while working and be near a church. He was especially attentive to the church bell, which rang at the Elevation of the confected Host during Mass. Another noted characteristic is that he had a very honest streak in him; he once offered to pay owners of crops for any damage his animals caused!
During his lifetime, the Spanish Empire in the New World was at the height of its power, although France and England were soon to reduce Spain’s influence. The 16th Century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano, and Salvator of Horta.
In the year 1564, receiving a vision that told him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, Saint Paschal joined the Friars Minor and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life of penance. Even though he was urged to study for the priesthood, he chose to be a lay brother. At various times, he served as cook, gardener, and official beggar, but it was as a humble porter (that is, the doorkeeper) that he would spend most of his life.
He was careful to observe the vow of poverty. He would never waste any food or anything given for the use of the friars. When he was porter and took care of the poor coming to the door, he developed a reputation for great generosity. Indeed, the friars sometimes tried to moderate his liberality! He continued rigorously to practice his accustomed asceticism, and he displayed a deep love for the Eucharist; he would spend what spare time he had praying before the
in the friary chapel. In due course, many people sought his wise counsel.
So great, in fact, was his love for the Eucharist that while on a mission to France, he defended the doctrine of the Real Presence against a Calvinist preacher and in the face of threats from other irate Calvinists.
He died at the friary in Villareal in the year 1592, and people flocked to his tomb immediately after his burial, where miracle promptly were reported. He was canonized in the year 1690, and in the year 1897, Pope Leo XIII declared him patron of all eucharistic confraternities and congresses; today, he is venerated as patron saint of all Eucharistic adorers in general.
Saint Paschal Baylon…pray for us.
~ Fr. Lewis
on Saturday, July 11 at 2:00PM