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Castellazzo, Italy (1720)

   
History

Traditionally Approved

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1200 - 1299 1700 - 1799
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Summary

St. Paul of the Cross had a vision of our Lady in a black habit with the name Jesus and a cross in white on the chest. In the vision, the Blessed Virgin told him to found a religious order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ. He later founded the Passionist Order.

Timeline

1694

Paul was born Paolo Francesco Danei at Ovada, Piedmont, Italy; He was well brought up by devout, middle-class parents.

1709

While still living with his parents in Castellazzo, Lombardy, Paul adopted a lifestyle of rigorous austerity and great mortifications. When he was 20 he volunteered for the Venetian army to fight against the Turks, but he soon found he was not meant to be a soldier. After his discharge, he resumed his life of prayer and penance. He refused marriage, and spent several years in retreat at Castellazzo.

1720

Paul had a vision of our Lady in a black habit with the name Jesus and a cross in white on the chest. In the vision, the Blessed Virgin told him to found a religious order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ (hence their name, Passionists). Paul experienced such mystical communications all his life, and came to distrust them; however, he acted promptly on these first ones.

 

The bishop of Alessandria discerned that Paul's visions were authentic, and gave him permission to proceed to draw up a rule for the new order. Thus, Paul wrote the Passionist rule during a 45-day retreat. With his brother, Giovanni Baptista, who became his inseparable companion and closest confidant, he went to Rome to seek papal approval, which was refused at first.

1725

On their return to Rome, they were granted permission by Pope Benedict XIII to accept novices. Two years later (1727), the holy father ordained the two brothers as priests in the Vatican basilica.

 

After their ordination he and his brother started the first Passionist house, on the Monte Argentaro peninsula (near Orbitello) in Tuscany. The first ten years were difficult, for both internal and external reasons. Many of their first novices left because of the severity of the rule. Perseverance won. In the end austere life of the missioners and the fervent preaching of their founder made their mark.

1737

The first monastery was opened.

1741

Pope Benedict XIV approved a modified rule, and the "Barefoot Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion" began to spread throughout Italy. They were in great demand for their missions, which became famous.

 

Paul was elected first superior general, against his will, at the first general chapter at Monte Argentaro and held that position the rest of his life. He preached all over the Papal States to tremendous crowds, raised them to a fever pitch as he scourged himself in public, and brought back to the faith the most hardened sinners and criminals.

1769

The Passionists received final approbation from Pope Clement XIV.

1771

Two years later, Paul's efforts to create an institute of nuns came into being with the opening of the first house of Passionist nuns at Corneto. Paul lived to see the congregation firmly established.

October 18, 1775

After a three-year illness, Paul died in Rome and was buried in the Basilica of SS John and Paul, given to the order by Pope Clement.

 

Paul was canonized in 1867 (feast day formerly on April 28)

Description of the Virgin

St. Paul of the Cross had a vision of our Lady in a black habit with the name Jesus and a cross in white on the chest. In the vision, the Blessed Virgin told him to found a religious order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ.


Approval

The bishop of Alessandria discerned that Paul's visions were authentic, and gave him permission to proceed to draw up a rule for the new order. Thus, Paul wrote the Passionist rule during a 45- day retreat. With his brother, Giovanni Baptista, who became his inseparable companion and closest confidant, he went to Rome to seek papal approval, which was refused at first. On their return to Rome in 1725, they were granted permission by Pope Benedict XIII to accept novices. Two years later (1727), the holy father ordained the two brothers as priests in the Vatican basilica.


Books

St. Vincent Strambi. Life of St. Paul of the Cross

Bialas, Martin. Letters of Saint Paul of the Cross (3 Volumes), Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000

The Mysticism of the Passion in St Paul of the Cross (Introduction by Jurgen Moltmann), San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990

Spencer, Paul Francis. As a Seal upon your Heart - The Life of St Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists Slough: St Paul's, 1994

Cingolani, Gabriele. Saint Paul of the Cross: Challenged by the Crucified Passionist Publications, 1994

"Paul of the Cross". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.

 
   
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