St. Paul Of The Cross
St. Paul, who had a great devotion to Christ Crucified, started the Passionist Order; because he wanted others to know and love Christ Crucified. Known as Paul Daneo, he was born on January 3, 1694, in Ovada, Italy. His parents were devout Catholics. His mother would always use a crucifix when teaching her children and pray, "May God make saints of all of you!" One day when Paul asked why Jesus was crucified, his mother explained, "God loves us with an infinite love. He died so that we might be happy forever with Him in Heaven!" Many years later Paul would say, "If I am saved, as I hope I shall be, I shall owe it to my mother's teaching!"
As a boy, Paul often used to go to the attic to pray and be alone with God. There hidden away from others, he would also do penance. And there also, the Infant Jesus would appear to him.
At the age of twelve, Paul received his First Holy Communion. On that day his heart was set on fire with the love of God. From that time on, he only wanted to go to Heaven and to save souls; the world did not interest him!
When Paul was twenty-one, the Turkish Moslems, who hated Catholics, wanted to take over Venice; the gateway to the Christian world of the West. Pope Clement asked young men to join a new Crusade against these enemies. Paul joined the Crusade, but one day while he was praying in church, God told him, "Go back to your home. There awaits you a spiritual war!" The officer let Paul leave the Crusaders and he went back home. Paul's uncle, a priest, wanted him to get married to a pretty girl. The priest soon died and left all his money and his breviary to this nephew. But Paul didn't want to get married and he didn't want his uncle's money either. But he took his uncle's breviary saying, "I will accept only this breviary, for You alone are enough for me my God!"
In the fall of 1720, when Paul was twenty-six, Our Lady appeared to him clothed in a black religious habit. On her breast she wore the Passionist sign – a black and white heart with a white cross on top. Written on the heart were the words, 'the Passion of Jesus Christ', and under these words were three nails in white. Our Lady told Paul, "This is the way you must be clothed. You must found an order in which the members are dressed in the same way. They must always think of the sufferings and death of my Dear Son!"
Paul went to see the Bishop of Alexandria and told him about the vision. On Friday November 22, 1720, from the hands of the Bishop, Paul received his new habit – from that time on he would be known as Paul of the Cross.
After the ceremony Paul went to Castellazzo, and there began a retreat for forty days. Cutting himself off completely from the world, he fasted and prayed, and prepared himself to write the holy rule of his newly founded order. He spent as long as five hours at a time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and at the same time, saints from Heaven appeared to him, instructing him and praying for him. It took only five days for Paul to complete his rule because he said, "When I was writing, I wrote as quickly as if someone were dictating to me; I felt the words coming from my heart!"
Paul had visions of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. One cold winter night as he was praying in church, he had a beautiful vision of Heaven. He heard choirs of angels singing and he saw the Holy Trinity! After seeing Hell and Heaven, he wanted to guide all sinners to Heaven – away from Hell, the horrible place of everlasting fire!
Wearing a crown of thorns and carrying a heavy wooden cross, Paul walked through the streets, ringing a bell and inviting the children to come to the church to hear the good news of the Redemption. Parents and children rushed to the church. The Bishop ordered Paul to keep preaching on the streets because it caused many people to come closer to God.
After this, Paul sailed for Rome to see the Pope and get his religious order approved. But nobody at the Vatican would let Paul see the Pope because nobody knew who he was! Not long after this disappointment a Cardinal said, "How much more good, how many more souls would be brought back to the church if Paul of the Cross was a priest!" Paul was encouraged to study for the priesthood and when he was thirty-three, he was ordained by the Pope himself! After he was ordained, Fr. Paul preached his sermons so well, that the congregation would break into tears of sorrow for their sins. Jesus was very pleased with Fr. Paul and appeared to him one Good Friday. As a present, Jesus carved on Paul's heart, the instruments of his Passion! Now Fr. Paul would experience and remember the crucifixion and sufferings of Jesus Christ, all the days of his life!
One day when Fr. Paul was praying, Our Lady appeared to him saying, "Come to Monte Argentaro – for I am there, alone!" He went to live at Argentaro and there – after seven years of praying and doing penance, he set up his first Passionist Monastery.
Fr. Paul was a peace maker. One day the Spaniards had defeated their enemies and stood at the gates of Orbetello; they wanted to set fire to the city and kill the people! Fr. Paul went on his knees before the Spanish General and begged him to change his mind. The General showed mercy and put up a blockade, stopping the people from going in or out. In a short time the people surrendered and the Spanish General took over the city, without bloodshed.
The new Order of the Passionists was rapidly growing in numbers. Pope Benedict approved the Passionist Rule in 1741. Fr. Paul continued saving souls, he showed great mercy to men who were outlaws, hardened in their evil ways. He would visit them in their caves or in their woodland hideouts and speak to them about Christ Crucified. And by his kindness and mercy, he was able to convert these poor sinners, and bring them back to God.
Fr. Paul truly loved his fellow man and when a beggar would knock at the door of the monastery, seeking for food and help, the holy priest would kneel in front of the beggar and serve him. One day a poor man came begging for a piece of bread. Taking the bread, the beggar asked Fr. Paul, "Do you know me?" "Certainly," answered the priest, "I know you! You represent Christ on earth!" Then the beggar said, "And if I were Christ Himself?" Fr. Paul was confused, he lowered his eyes. When he raised them he saw Jesus standing beside the beggar – God had rewarded the holy priest for his great charity!
One day Fr. Paul met a farmer who was cursing God! The holy priest begged the farmer to stop it, but the farmer grabbed a gun and pointed it at Fr. Paul! Then the priest exclaimed, "If you have no respect for your creator, your oxen certainly will!" He held up his crucifix and the oxen knelt down in adoration to Jesus. The farmer was taught a good lesson!
Fr. Paul suffered many humiliations. He was called a heretic and a Protestant leader, but these were all lies! Many people hated him and caused him problems, but he always prayed for them and forgave them. One time only a few people came to his mission. During his final sermon, Fr. Paul spoke directly to those who were glad to get rid of him. He warned them, "I shall leave behind me, one who shall preach better than I!" Then he pointed to the crucifix. "After I am gone this crucifix will preach the mission for me!" The holy priest then walked out of the church and the crucifix began to bleed; from its hands, feet and side! People rushed after Fr. Paul to tell him about the miracle but he only answered, "I know it already!" Those who had refused to listen to him during the mission were converted by this wonderful miracle!
For more than forty-five years Fr. Paul experienced dryness and desolation of spirit – he had no feelings of love; no taste for prayer! He had to live by Faith and Hope, believing that God was still with him, helping him along the road to Heaven. He bore this cross with great love and patience wishing to suffer like Jesus. And sometime before his death, Jesus rewarded good Fr. Paul with consolations and peace of soul – the trial had passed.
Before he died, Fr. Paul went to see the religious in his twelve monasteries. Pope Clement XIV greatly admired Fr. Paul, and in 1769 asked him to preach a mission in Rome. The priest was sick with a fever but he did his duty and preached to the poor sinners.
In September 1760, Fr. Paul received into his Order of Passionists, a very holy man, now known as St. Vincent Strambi. He loved to encourage his religious to bear their crosses well, and one day he said that all of his first religious in the Passionist Order, who had died before him, were in Heaven!
During the last years of his life, Fr. Paul set up the order for the Passionist Nuns. In 1771, he thought he would die so he asked for the Pope's blessing. But the Pope told Fr. Paul that he must live a little longer because he was still needed by his religious. The holy priest lived for another three years and wore himself out for God. He died a saint on October 18, 1775.
Imitate St. Paul of the Cross in his love for Jesus Crucified. This is easy to do. Just look at your crucifix, think of the sufferings of Jesus, then thank Jesus and tell Him how much you love Him, because of all He did for you.
Home | Contact
| Mass Centres | Schools
| Pilgrimages | Retreats
Precious Blood Residence