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Friday, 19 October 2018
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St Paul of the Cross

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1694 - 1775, founded the Passionists in Rome, preaching on the passion of Christ and tending the sick, the dying and the lapsed.

When he was nineteen. His father wanted him to become a merchant like himself. His priest-uncle advised him to become a priest. A young lady from one of the better families hoped to to be his wife.

But Paul Francis Daneo, born on January 3, 1694, in Ovada, Italy, had a different vision for his life. During his teens years he felt inwardly inspired and captivated by the Cross of Christ. Paul discerned God?s love for all people in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Realizing all that Jesus had suffered in love for us, Paul wanted to love Jesus in return through prayer and preaching. This vision was hindered because Paul was the eldest son of a large family and, therefore, obligated to remain home and assist his father in supporting his younger brothers and sisters.

When Paul was 21 years old, he joined a crusade against the Turks, thinking this was the way God wanted him to serve. But after experiencing the violence and ruthlessness of war, Paul abandoned this way. He had an inner conviction that God would fulfill the vision by a crusade of a much different nature.

Returning to his hometown, Paul helped his family and dedicated himself to prayer and penance. In 1720 he talked with the local bishop, asking to be allowed to serve the Church as a hermit, a "holy man." The bishop allowed Paul live in one of the town?s churches. Paul, wearing a long black robe as a sign of his commitment, took care of the church property and prepared the altar before the daily celebration of Mass. He was invited to teach religion to the children. Adults, recognizing in Paul the qualities of wisdom and holiness, came to him for advice. At times he was given permission to preach.

During this period Paul kept a diary and wrote a Rule, which contained his vision of how he would live his life. The Rule contained directives about prayer, fasting, exercise, spiritual disciplines, penances, charity, and many other qualities and activities Paul felt were important in living out a dedicated life. In 1721 Paul brought the Rule to the Vatican in Rome for the Pope?s approval. The guards, thinking him a beggar, turned him away. Paul, severely disappointed, rededicated himself to the vision God had given him. Returning to north of Rome, Paul invited others to join him. Paul did not receive definitive approval for the Rule until 1769.