St. Pascal Baylon was born in Spain in May of 1540. His parents, who were virtuous peasants, named him Pascal because he was born on the Feast of Pentecost, which in Spain is called “the Pasch of the Holy Ghost.”
In order to help support his family, Pascal worked as a shepherd from the time he was 7 years old until he was 24. During this time, he not only taught himself to read, but he also advanced greatly in perfection through meditation, prayer, and spiritual reading.
In 1564 he sought entrance into a Franciscan friary but insisted upon remaining a simple lay brother. For the rest of his life he served primarily as a doorkeeper for various friaries in Spain, but his counsel was much sought after by people of every station in life. His prayers proved efficacious, and there are many stories of miraculous healings through his intercession.
Pascal was once sent by his friary to France to deliver a message to the minister general of his order. Even though religious persecution was widespread, Pascal courageously wore his habit on the trip. At one point, he fearlessly defended the dogma of the Real Presence to a Calvinist preacher, but narrowly escaped death at the hands of the mob that had gathered. He was also stoned by a party of Huguenots, and the injuries he suffered as a result plagued him for the rest of his life.
Saint Pascal was deeply devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, and his love for the Eucharist was the focus of his entire life. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII, in the Apostolic Brief “Providentissimus Deus,” named Saint Pascal Baylon the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Eucharistic Associations, whether presently existing or to come in the future.
Pascal died on the same feast on which he had been born: Pentecost Sunday in 1592. It is said that the saint died at the exact moment the bells were tolling to announce the consecration at the high Mass. His tomb in the Royal Chapel in Valencia, Spain, immediately became a popular pilgrimage site, even by the King of Spain and his nobles. Because of the many miracles during his life and after his death, his cultus spread rapidly. He was canonized in 1690 and he is considered not only the patron of Eucharist Congresses and Associations, but also the patron of shepherds.
1. Like Pascal Baylon, we should all strive for devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, that awesome gift whereby God humbles Himself in order that we might share in His life. If our devotion is not what it could be, let us pray to St. Pascal to help us increase our love for the Eucharist. In addition, we should make every effort to spend time in the presence of the Lord at our local Catholic Church.
2. Pascal’s life of humility and love should encourage us when we feel unnoticed and alone. He spent 17 years in the solitary life of a shepherd and 28 years as a simple Franciscan brother, performing the most menial tasks. But God used him to accomplish extraordinary healings — physical and spiritual — in the lives of those who sought his help. Before God can use us, though, we must learn to truly, humbly love Him and seek His will in all things, “then all the rest will be added unto you.”