Saint John Berchmans
St. John Berchmans (1599-1621) was born in Flanders, Belgium, the eldest of five children of a shoemaker. He was a virtuous and well-liked child who would often rise early to serve at two or three Masses a day before he reached the age of seven. On Friday evenings he had a custom of making the Stations of the Cross outdoors while barefoot. When he was nine years old his mother suffered from a long and terrible illness, and John faithfully attended her bedside until she died. As a pious young person devoted to the things of God, he enrolled in a Jesuit college where he was known for being an energetic and outgoing student with great academic potential and leadership qualities. He also joined the Society of the Blessed Virgin and prayed her Office daily. He discerned a vocation to the religious life and began priestly formation as a Jesuit. His way of holiness was to perform his ordinary duties with extraordinary fidelity and perfection even in the smallest details, believing that, "If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never become one." He died tragically of a fever at the age of twenty-two while studying for the seminary in Rome. Many miracles were attributed to him after his death. St. John Berchmans is the patron saint of altar servers and young people. His feast day is November 26th.
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