Saint Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross (1694–1775) was born near Turin, Italy, the second of sixteen children—only six of whom survived infancy. His devout parents ensured his strong religious upbringing. In his childhood Paul went to daily Mass, spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament, and attended to his studies. He taught catechism in the local churches before experiencing a deep religious conversion at the age of 19 through the writings of St. Francis de Sales. After a brief stint as a soldier and declining an offer for a good marriage, at the age of 26 he learned through prayer that God was calling him to found a new religious order which came to be known as the Congregation of the Passion, or the Passionists. He was instructed in a vision as to what the new habit of his order should look like: a black tunic bearing a heart surmounted by a white cross, with the words "Passion of Jesus Christ" written inside the heart. To the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience he added a fourth: to spread devotion to Christ’s Passion among the faithful. His mission was to ignite a love for Jesus in the hearts of the faithful at a time when many saw Him only as a great moral teacher. St. Paul of the Cross was one of the most powerful preachers of his day, as well as a mystic, and he was known to bring even the most hardened sinners to tears. He also took special care of the sick, poor, and suffering. His feast day is October 20th.

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