St. Paul of the Cross (Priest and Founder) was born in 1694 to a large middle-class family which was very devout. He was the second of their sixteen children and worked for a time to help support his younger brothers and sisters. He joined the army of Venice at age twenty.
In 1720, Paul entered the seminary, convinced due to a spiritual experience that God desired him to found a missionary order that would focus on the Passion and Cross of Christ. Paul and one of his brothers received the sacrament of Holy Orders in Rome in 1727; they then established the Passionist Order.
As founder of the Passionist Order, Paul had a difficult first ten years. But his fervent preaching attracted others, and gradually the order grew.
In order to bring inactive Catholics to a deeper commitment to Christ, Paul developed the concept of parish missions, which involved public processions, street preaching, vigils, and penitential works.
Known as a mystic, Paul’s powerful sermons moved even the hardest hearts. One soldier told him, “Father, I have been in great battles without even flinching at the cannon’s roar, but when I listen to you I tremble from head to foot.” He preached with arms outstretched and a crucifix held in his hand.
Though Paul’s preaching was often challenging, he dealt in a gentle manner with penitents in the confessional, urging them to bear their crosses in life in whatever way possible. St. Paul died in Rome in 1775.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. John of Kanty (John Cantius) (1473), Priest
St. Irene (653), Virgin, Martyr
Blessed Adeline (1125), Abbess