Our Patron Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi

Francis  of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church  by taking the Gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but  by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without  limit and without a sense of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his  frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and  difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by  embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have  loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if  you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now  seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but  all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and  exceeding joy.”

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of  San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house,  for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and  humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build  up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his  life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned  chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before  his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts”  to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in  heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work,  evokng sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule  from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people  began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He  really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold  or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no  staff” (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers  was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding  an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal  structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church  were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of  reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

He was torn between a  life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the  Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to  solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in  Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did  try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During  the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44), he was  half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received  the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet  and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last  addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister  Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have  his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire  lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.

From americancatholic.org

Saint Romuald

After  a wasted youth, Romuald saw his father kill a relative in a duel over  property. In horror he fled to a monastery near Ravenna in Italy. After  three years some of the monks found him to be uncomfortably holy and  eased him out.

He spent the next 30 years going about Italy, founding  monasteries and hermitages. He longed to give his life to Christ in  martyrdom, and got the pope’s permission to preach the gospel in  Hungary. But he was struck with illness as soon as he arrived, and the  illness recurred as often as he tried to proceed.

During another  period of his life, he suffered great spiritual dryness. One day as he  was praying Psalm 31 (“I will give you understanding and I will instruct  you”), he was given an extraordinary light and spirit which never left  him.

At the next monastery where he stayed, he was accused of a  scandalous crime by a young nobleman he had rebuked for a dissolute  life. Amazingly, his fellow monks believed the accusation. He was given a  severe penance, forbidden to offer Mass and excommunicated, an unjust  sentence he endured in silence for six months.

The most famous of  the monasteries he founded was that of the Camaldoli (Campus Maldoli,  name of the owner) in Tuscany. Here he founded the Order of the  Camaldolese Benedictines, uniting a monastic and hermit life.

His father later became a monk, wavered and was kept faithful by the encouragement of his son.

From americancatholic.org