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St. Paul of the Cross, P
Feastday: October 20
Birth: 3 January 1694, Ovada Piedmont, Duchy of Savoy (now modern-day Italy)
Death: 18 October 1775 (aged 81) Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Rome,
Beatified: 1 May 183, Rome by Pope Pius IX Canonized: 29 June 1867, Rome by Pope Pius IX
Paul of the Cross (3 January 1694 – 18 October 1775) was an Italian mystic, and founder of the Passionists.
St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of Genoa, January 3, 1694. His infancy and youth were spent in great innocence and piety. He was inspired from on high to found a congregation; in an ecstacy he beheld the habit which he and his companions were to wear. After consulting his director, Bishop Gastinara of Alexandria in Piedmont, he reached the conclusion that God wished him to establish a congregation in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ. On November 22, 1720, the bishop vested him with the habit that had been shown to him in a vision, the same that the Passionists wear at the present time. From that moment the saint applied himself to repair the Rules of his institute; and in 1721 he went to Rome to obtain the approbation of the Holy See. At first he failed, but finally succeeded when Benedict XIV approved the Rules in 1741 and 1746. Meanwhile St. Paul built his first monastery near Obitello. Sometime later he established a larger community at the Church of St. John and Paul in Rome. For fifty years St. Paul remained the indefatigable missionary of Italy. God lavished upon him the greatest gifts in the supernatural order, but he treated himself with the greatest rigor, and believed that he was a useless servant and a great sinner. His saintly death occurred at Rome in the year 1775, at the age of eighty-one. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. His feast day is October 20.
Saint Paul of the Cross, originally named Paolo Francesco Daneii, was born on 3 January 1694, in the town of Ovada, Piedmont, between Turin and Genoa in the Duchy of Savoy in northern Italy.
His parents were Luca and Anna Maria Massari Daneii. His father ran a small dry-goods store, and moved his family and store from town to town near Genoa trying to make ends meet. Paul was the second of sixteen children, six of whom survived infancy; and learned at an early age the reality of death and the uncertainty of life. Paul received his early education from a priest who kept a school for boys, in Cremolino, Lombardy. He made great progress and at the age of fifteen he left school and returned to his home at Castellazzo. In his early years he taught catechism in churches near his home.
Paul experienced a conversion to a life of prayer at the age of 19. Influenced by his reading of the "Treatise on the Love of God" by Saint Francis de Sales and the direction he received from priests of the Capuchin Order, it became his lifelong conviction that God is most easily found in the Passion of Christ.
In 1715, Paul left his work helping his father to join a crusade against the Turks who were threatening the Venetian Republic, but soon realized that the life of a soldier was not his calling. He returned to help in the family business. On his way home he stopped at Novello, where he helped an aging, childless couple until the end of 1716. They offered to make him their heir, but he declined. His uncle, Father Christopher Daneii, tried to arrange a marriage, but Paul had no plans to marry. When his uncle died, he kept for himself only the priest's Breviary.
When he was 26 years old, Paul had a series of prayer-experiences which made it clear to him that God was inviting him to form a community who would live an evangelical life and promote the love of God revealed in the Passion of Jesus. A legend tells that in a vision, he saw himself clothed in the habit he and his companions would wear. The first name Paul received for his community was "the Poor of Jesus"; later they came to be known as the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or the Passionists.
With the encouragement of his bishop, who clothed him in the black habit of a hermit, Paul wrote the rule of his new community (of which he was, as yet, the only member) during a retreat of forty days at the end of 1720. The community was to live a penitential life, in solitude and poverty, teaching people in the easiest possible way how to meditate on the Passion of Jesus.
His first companion was his own brother, John Baptist. In the belief that it was necessary to reside in Rome in order to secure approval of the Rule, Paul and John Baptist accepted an invitation of Cardinal Corrandini to help establish a new hospital being founded by the Cardinal. The brothers devoted their energies to providing nursing care and ministered to the pastoral needs of both patients and staff.
After a short course in pastoral theology, the brothers were ordained to the priesthood by Pope Benedict XIII on 7 June 1727, in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. After ordination they devoted themselves to preaching missions in parishes, particularly in remote country places where there were not a sufficient number of priests pastorally involved. Paul was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy. Their preaching apostolate and the retreats they gave in seminaries and religious houses brought their mission to the attention of others and gradually the community began to grow.
The first Retreat (the name Passionists traditionally gave to their monasteries) was opened in 1737 on Monte Argentario (Province of Grosseto); the community now had nine members. Paul called his monasteries "retreats" to underline the life of solitude and contemplation which he believed was necessary for someone who wished to preach the message of the Cross. In addition to the communal celebration of the divine office, members of his community were to devote at least three hours to contemplative prayer each day. The austerity of life practised by the first Passionists did not encourage large numbers, but Paul preferred a slow, at times painful, growth to something more spectacular.
More than two thousand of his letters, most of them letters of spiritual direction, have been preserved.
He died on 18 October 1775, at the Retreat of Saints John and Paul (SS. Giovanni e Paolo). By the time of his death, the congregation founded by Saint Paul of the Cross had one hundred and eighty fathers and brothers, living in twelve Retreats, mostly in the Papal States. There was also a monastery of contemplative sisters in Corneto (today known as Tarquinia), founded by Paul a few years before his death to promote the memory of the Passion of Jesus by their life of prayer and penance.
Saint Paul of the Cross was beatified on 1 October 1852, and canonized on 29 June 1867 by Blessed Pius IX. Two years later, his feast day was inserted in the Roman calendar, for celebration on 28 April as a Double. In 1962 it was reclassified as a Third-Class feast, and in 1969 it became an optional Memorial and was placed on 19 October, the day after the day of his death, 18 October, which is the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.
Saint Paul of the Cross
Founder of the Passionist Congregation
Feastday Memorial: Oct 19 in the Universal Church and Oct. 20 in the USA (more info here)
"When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. " (Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians 2, 1-2)
"...but we preach Jesus crucified..." - St Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1, 23)
Welcome to this website which is devoted to St Paul of the Cross. St Vincent Strambi, Paul's first biographer writing only 11 years after his death, stated that the Holy Spirit raised up Paul of the Cross to help people find God in their heart. Paul was convinced that God is most easily found by us in the Passion of Jesus Christ. He saw the Passion as being the most overwhelming sign of God's love for us, and at the same time our best means for union with Him.
St Paul is most notable for his fervent love for God and his special devotion to the Passion of Jesus. Inspired and led by God, Paul travelled throughout Italy, preaching missions with a particular emphasis on the passion of Jesus. Along with his preaching vocation he was also inspired by God to found a order of Priests and Nuns devoted specifically to the Passion of Jesus. Thus, by the express will of God and through Paul's continual prayers and sacrifices, he eventually became the founder and was elected the first Superior General of the "Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord", more commonly known as the Passionists.
The devil, knowing in advance all the glory that the members of the Passionist Congregation would give to God, and of all the souls that would be snatched from him through their continual acts of sacrifice and penance, sought in earnest to inspire as much opposition as possible, in a hellish effort to block its foundation. And so it was that through many years of toil, sacrifices and sufferings that Paul, with the help of God, eventually founded the Passionist Congregation of Priests, and a few years later the Passionist Nuns.
Paul often spent many hours in prayer and adoration before Jesus crucified. Throughout his many travels while preaching missions and making foundations of his Passionist Order, he always carried with him a large wooden crucifix in honor of our Lord's Passion, thus he became known by the popular name of "Paul of the Cross". Undoubtedly the two greatest characteristics of St Paul were his fervent devotion to the Passion of Jesus and also his extraordinary sacrifices and penances that he made for the conversion of sinners.
Throughout his religious life, Paul continuously sacrificed and made special penances and mortification's for the success of his preaching missions, that many souls may be converted. An example of his many penances was that he went barefoot in all his travels throughout Italy, regardless of the harsh seasons and climates. And God, Who was pleased with the heroic sacrifices and devotion of His servant, chose to perform countless extraordinary miracles through Paul's intercession and prayers. As he went about doing good, the frequent extraordinary signs from heaven that accompanied him were a sign to all that God was with him in a most remarkable way. Like his holy predecessors the Apostles, immense crowds gathered and followed him as he went about preaching from town to town. His great love for God and his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary radiated to the crowds with remarkable unction through both his words and his actions, thereby causing countless conversions everywhere he went. His austere manner of life, full of sacrifices and penances, encouraged the people to make reparation to God for their own sins.
~St Paul of the Cross, pray for us!
Born: Paul Francis Danei, January 3, 1694 in Ovada, Genoa, Italy. His holy brother and inseparable companion, John Baptist Danei, was born April 4, 1695.
Parents: Luca Danei (father), Donna Anna Maria Massari Danei (mother).
1716: Volunteers in Army for the war against the Turks.
1719 (age 25): Given mystical visions of a scourge whip, with the word "LOVE" written upon each of its thongs. Paul decides to consecrate himself and his life to God.
November 22, 1720: Paul is vested in the Passionist habit by Monsignor Gattinara, Bishop of Alessandria.
Nov. 22- Jan. 1 1720: Paul makes a solitary 40 day retreat in the church of St. Charles, Castellazzo, fasting and praying, during which he writes his "Spiritual Diary" and the first Passionist Rule.
September 1721: He takes a vow in the basilica of St. Mary Major to dedicate himself to promoting the memory of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
1722-1725: Paul and his brother John Baptist live in 3 successive hermitages, each becoming Passionist houses ("retreats"), first at Monte Argentario, then Gaeta, and later Itri.
1726-1728: The two brothers minister to the sick in the hospital of San Gallicano, Rome.
June 7, 1727: The brothers are ordained priests by Pope Benedict Xlll in the St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.
1728-1737: The two brothers move to Mount Argentario. They teach catechism in Orbetello and nearby towns. In 1730 they preach their first parish mission in Talamone. They are joined by other companions who are called by God to the Passionist life. Paul writes the name "Jesus" on his chest with a burning hot iron.
May 14, 1741: Pope Benedict XIV approves the Rule of the Passionists.
June 11, 1741: Paul and his companions profess religious vows as "Passionists".
1747: Against his wishes, Paul is elected Superior General of the Passionists, a position he holds for the remainder of his life.
1748-1767: Paul preaches countless parish missions and retreats throughout Italy; writes thousands of letters of spiritual direction (most of which have been translated and published in English) and founds retreat houses (Passionist communities) in Vetralla, San Eutizio, Ceccano, San Sosio, Montecavo and Paliano.
August 30, 1765: Paul's brother and intimate companion, Father John Baptist Danei dies a holy death.
1767: Paul is seriously ill in Vetralla.
1770-1771: He is again seriously ill in the hospital of the Crucified, in Rome.
May 1771: First foundation of the Passionist Nuns in Tarquinia.
December 1773: As a gift from Pope Clement XIV, Paul takes possession of the retreat house and Church of Saints John and Paul in Rome.
June 26,1774: Paul is visited by Pope Clement XIV at Saints John and Paul; Pius VI visits him in 1775.
Sept 14, 1775: Pope Pius VI approves the revision of the Passionist Rule in the Papal Bull "Praeclara Virtutum Exampla".
October 18, 1775: Paul dies a holy death at age 81 in Saints John and Paul, Rome.
Jan 7, 1777: Opening of the process of Canonization, only 2 years after his death.
Dec. 22, 1778: First biography of Paul of the Cross written by Passionist friend Vincent M. Strambi (now a Saint)
February 18, 1821: Formal proclamation of Paul's' heroic virtues, thereby being officially listed as "servant of God".
May 1, 1853: Formal Beatification of Paul by Pope Pius IX.
June 29, 1867: Paul is formally Canonized by Pope Pius IX, only 92 years after his holy death.
April 25, 1880: The Holy relics of St. Paul of the Cross are transferred in a Solemn procession to a special chapel dedicated to him in the basilica of Saints John and Paul, Rome.
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