Spirituality for Today – October 2014 – Volume 19, Issue 3

Saint of the Month
St. Paul of the Cross

October 19

A painting of Saint Paul of the CrossSaint Paul of the Cross

Paolo (Paul) Francesco Danei was born on January 3, 1694, near Genoa, Italy, the eldest son of a poor noble family. He refused marriage and denied himself an inheritance left to him by an uncle. At age 21, the young man joined a crusade against the Turks, but soon left to take up a life of solitude and prayer.

In 1720, Paul had a vision of Our Lady, who told him to found an order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ. Paul received permission from the Bishop of Alessandria to wear a black tunic, as seen in his vision, and was allowed to serve the Church. Bareheaded and barefooted, Paul retired to a cell for 40 days, during which time he wrote a Rule that later became the basis of a monastic community known as the Passionists.

The Order emphasized prayer, fasting, exercise, penance and charity, and it attracted many followers. A few years later, Paul was ordained a priest in 1727.

Later that year, Paul and his younger brother, John Baptist, opened a house on Monte Argentaro. Fourteen years later, Pope Benedict XIV gave approval for a modified Rule to the Barefooted Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion, and Paul was elected the first superior general of the Order, a post he would hold for the rest of his life.

Paul exemplified the sacred life of the Passionists by writing and preaching about Christ's passion and death while leading an austere existence. For 50 years he walked from town to town, converting sinners and teaching people how to pray. He died at age 81 and was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. The Passionist Community continues his work to this day.

Oh God,
the desire of Your glory
flamed in the heart of St. Paul of the Cross.
His respect for the passion and death of Jesus Christ
spurred his own passion to wake those
who were unmindful of the healing grace of Christ's Cross.
Through his example, help me to venerate Jesus' suffering
and spread the Word of His love for all humankind.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives