Saint Paul of the Cross, Bl Jerzy Popieluszko, and St Jean de Brebeuf and Companions

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Saint Of The Day

St Paul of the Cross

St Paul of the Cross

Founder of the Passionists. Born in northern Italy in 1694, Paul Daneo lived at a time when many regarded Jesus as a great moral teacher but no more. After a brief time as a soldier, he turned to solitary prayer, developing a devotion to Christ's passion. Paul saw in the Lord's passion a demonstration of God's love for all people. In turn that devotion nurtured his compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners. He was known as one of the most popular preachers of his day, both for his words and for his generous acts of mercy.

In 1720, Paul founded the Congregation of the Passion, whose members combined devotion to Christ's passion with preaching to the poor, and rigorous penances. Known as the Passionists, they add a fourth vow to the traditional three of poverty, chastity, and obedience, to spread the memory of Christ's passion among the faithful. Paul was elected superior general of the Congregation in 1747, spending the remainder of his life in Rome.

Paul of the Cross died in 1775, and was canonized in 1867. More than 2000 of his letters and several of his short writings have survived.

Paul's devotion to Christ's passion must have seemed strange to many people. Yet it was that devotion that nurtured Paul's compassion and supported a preaching ministry that touched the hearts of many listeners. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day, known for both his words and his generous acts of mercy.

Saint Paul of the Cross is a Patron Saint of Hungary.

Read more about St Paul of the Cross

Communities of Passionists now is all over the world. Read more about the Passionists in the UK:

Today is also the feast day of Bl Jerzy Popieluszko



and St Jean de Brebeuf and Companions

Jesuit priest and martyr of Canada. Born in 1593 in Normandy, Brebeuf became a Jesuit in Rouen in 1617. His health was so weakened by TB he was not able to study or teach for long periods. But he offered himself for the Canadian mission and sailed for Quebec in 1625.

The Huron Indians invited him to live with them. He learnt their language and spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, sometimes with other missionaries, sometimes alone. The missionaries faced immense difficulties. The climate was harsh and however spiritual they were, the priests were often seen by the native people as members of an alien, conquering race. Brebeuf composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron and set up schools. With his companions he persuaded the Hurons to give up cannibalism and converted many thousands to Christianity.

Throughout the time the Jesuits were with the Hurons, there was great hostility between them and the Iroquois tribe. This was aided and abetted by French settlers who supplied the Iroquois with weapons.

Fr Jogues was captured and imprisoned by the Iroquois, but managed to escape back to France where he was greeted as a hero. Although he had been badly mutilated and could have remained at home, he returned to Canada in 1646, where he was captured again, tortured and killed by the Iroquois. In 1649, Fr Brebeuf and his companion Fr Gabriel Lalemant were also captured by a Iroquois raiding party. They were tortured and killed. In the next few years the entire Huron tribe was wiped out.

Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, and Gabriel Lalemant were canonised in 1930, and in 1969 given the title of protomartyrs of North America.

It is said that the modern name of the Native North American sport of lacrosse was first coined by Brébeuf who thought that the sticks used in the game reminded him of a bishop's crosier (crosse in French, and with the feminine definite article, la crosse).

He is buried in the Church of St Joseph at the reconstructed Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across Highway 12 from the Martyrs' Shrine Catholic Church near Midland, Ontario. A plaque near the grave of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant was unearthed during excavations at Ste Marie in 1954. The letters read "P Jean de Brébeuf /brusle par les Iroquois /le 17 de mars l'an/1649" (Father Jean de Brébeuf, burned by the Iroquois, 17 March 1649).

In September, 1984, Pope John Paul II prayed over Brébeuf's skull before saying an outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Martyrs' Shrine. Thousands of people came to hear him speak from a platform built especially for the day.

Many Jesuit schools and several place in Canada are named after him.