St Paul of the Cross
St. Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1774)
Life of St. Paul of the Cross
St. Paul of the Cross was born on 3rd January 1694 in Ovada, Italy. Nurtured by a Christian family home and active in his local Church his prayer life developed rapidly in his teens. At 26 he left home to become a hermit and two years later was experiencing the heights of the prayer of mystical union.
He believed that the troubles of the world were a result of the forgetting of the Passion of Jesus. He wanted all to keep alive the Memory of the Sufferings of the Crucified One. This, he believed, began in prayer at the foot of the Cross.
Ordained a priest at 33 years of age he lived his beliefs. For the next 45 years he preached missions bringing the message of the Cross and the Love of the Crucified Jesus to people. Miracles and conversions abounded. Many learned to pray and to live a true Christian life.
All his life he struggled to found a Religious Community who would accept his ideals and carry on his work. When he was 47 his first followers - the Passionists - appeared on the streets of Italy. Over the next thirty years he founded 12 houses with 176 religious priests and brothers. He died at the age of 81. Since then, his followers, including Saint Charles of Mount Argus, have continued the work of keeping alive the Memory of Christ Crucified.
Paul Francis Danei had much indecision and doubt of where his vocation lay and then in 1720, a vision offered the first shadowy indication of his destiny. He saw himself clothed in a black habit, with a white cross upon his breast . Beneath the cross were the words "The Passion of Jesus Christ." In a later vision, Our Blessed Lady explained to Paul the meaning of this heavenly portent; this was to be the habit which would distinguish the members of the new institute as dedicated members of his new institute as dedicated mourners for Christ crucified, this was to be the garb of the Preachers of the Passion. Assured by this enlightenment, Paul Francis withdrew to a little room beside the church at Castellazo to write the Rule of his future Congregation.
The Passion of Jesus moved Paul to want to reach out to others because its message had already penetrated his own heart. The remembrance of the Passion was for him a privileged place of encounter with God.
Paul spent his time preaching on the Passion of Christ and the power of the Cross. The spirit still lives today, and why the Passionists of today are inspired by his example. St Paul of the Cross had the view that as long as men and women are troubled in soul, they will need the message of the Cross.
This loving and sorrowful contemplation was the core of his spirituality and the means by which the Congregation was to accomplish its mission. In the rule for the Poor of Jesus he had written:
Dearly beloved, you must know that the main object in wearing black (according to the special inspiration that God gave me) is to be clothed in mourning for the Passion and Death of Jesus. For this purpose let us never forget to have always with us a constant and sorrowful remembrance of him. And so let each of the poor of Jesus take care to instil in others meditation on the suffering of our Jesus.
Feast Day of St Paul of the Cross is 19th October