SAINT PASCHAL BAYLON
Franciscan Lay Brother
From his childhood Saint Paschal seems to have been marked out for the service of God. Amid his daily labors as a shepherd, he found time to instruct and evangelize the rude herdsmen who kept their flocks on the hills of Aragon. At the age of twenty-four he entered the reformed Franciscan Order near the town of Monfort, Spain, where he remained, out of humility, a simple lay brother, occupying himself by preference with the roughest and most servile tasks.
He was distinguished by his ardent devotion and love for the Blessed Sacrament. He would spend hours on his knees before the tabernacle, often being raised from the ground in the fervor of his prayer. And there, from the authentic and eternal Truth, he drew such stores of wisdom that, unlettered as he was, he was considered by all a master in theology and spiritual science.
Shortly after his profession he was sent to Paris on business connected with his Order. The journey was full of perils, owing to the hostility of the Huguenots, who were numerous at the time in the south of France; and on four separate occasions Paschal was in imminent danger of death at their hands. Twice he was taken for a spy; but it was not God's will that His servant should obtain the crown of martyrdom which he so earnestly desired, though he regarded himself as unworthy of it. He returned in safety to his convent, where he would later die in the odor of sanctity in 1592.
Multitudes witnessed the miracles which took place during the three days his body was exposed for veneration. He was canonized in 1690, and in 1897 declared patron of all Eucharistic congresses and confraternities.
Reflection. One day, as young Paschal was watching his sheep on the mountainside, he heard the consecration bell ring out from a church in the valley below, where the villagers were assembled for Mass. The Saint fell on his knees, when suddenly there stood before him an Angel of God, bearing in his hands the Sacred Host, offering it for his adoration. How pleasing to Jesus Christ are those who honor Him in this great mystery of His love; to them especially this promise is fulfilled: "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you." (John 14:18)