Category Archives: Franciscan saints & blesseds

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

The question I am asking myself: is it possible to follow this man? Alternately, Can I even think that it is possible to be a man like Padre Pio, and seek after God without reservation? What Padre Pio has left us is a clear model of holiness and a path to walk. Holiness here is not meant to be an artificial , showy display of piety (beating the breast, hours of Adoration of Eucharistic adoration, days of fasting, no bathing, etc) but it is a way of life where we shed everything that is not ourselves, living in the manner that is coresponds to the way God the Father has educated us through His Son, Jesus (read the NT). Padre Pio’s ministerial life as a priest and as a professed Franciscan Capuchin focussed on the sanctification of souls. No greater work needed his attention and energy. The path given us to walk by Padre Pio is one that leads us back to God hearing the words of Jesus: I love you, I have mercy on you no matter what. Three tools to use on this path: prayer, confession and charity. Beauty and joy will shine through our conversation with God and by our love. If you really want to know more about the path Pio gives us, read what the Pope spoke in 2009 when he made a pilgrimage to the relics of Saint Pio:

St Padre Pio with book.jpg

Some saints have lived intensely and personally this experience of Jesus. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is one of them. A simple man of humble origins, “seized by Christ” (Phil. 3:12) — as the Apostle Paul writes of himself — to make of him an instrument chosen by the perennial power of his cross: power of love for souls, of forgiveness and of reconciliation, of spiritual paternity, of effective solidarity with those who suffer. The stigmata, which marked his body, united him closely to the Crucified and Risen One. A true follower of St. Francis of Assisi, he made his own, like the Poverello, the experience of the Apostle Paul which he describes in his letters: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20), or: “in us death is at work, but in you life” (2 Cor 5, 12). This does not mean alienation, loss of personality: God never annuls that which is human, but he transforms it with his Spirit and he ordains it to the service of his plan of salvation. Padre Pio kept his natural gifts, and even his own temperament, but he offered everything to God, who has been able to freely use them to extend the work of Christ: to proclaim the Gospel, forgive sins and heal the sick in body and spirit.

As it was for Jesus, the real struggle, the radical combat Padre Pio had to sustain, was not against earthly enemies, but against the spirit of evil (cf. Ephesians 6, 12). The biggest “storms” that threatened him were the assaults of the devil, against which he defended himself with “the armor of God” with “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11,16,17). Remaining united to Jesus, he always kept in mind the depths of the human drama, and because of this he offered himself and offered his many sufferings, and he knew how to spend himself in the care and relief of the sick, a privileged sign of God’s mercy, of his kingdom which is coming, indeed, which is already in the world, of the victory of love and life over sin and death. Guide souls and relieve suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, as the servant of God, Pope Paul VI said about him: “He was a man of prayer and suffering” (To the Capuchin Chapter Fathers, 20 February 1971).


Pope Benedict XVI

Homily during the 2009 visit to the Shrine of Saint Pio

Saint Maximillian Kolbe

Kolbe in Rome.jpg“Without sacrifice, there is no love. May his intercession further purge us of our idolatries and the sentimentalities that so mar our worship, our loves, our fatuous claims to modernity and maturity.” 

(Saint Maximilian Kolbe writing to a fellow priest)

Saint Clare of Assisi: a year to receive an indulgence

St Clare of Assisi saving a child from a wolf.jpgToday we observe the feast day of one the brilliant gems in the crown of Christ the King, Saint Clare of Assisi. 

Clare, as you know, is the close companion to the great saint Francis of Assisi, who some have called the “other Francis” because of singular vision of living with Christ poor. In time, Clare founded a group of “poor ladies” living together following the Rule written by Clare for God’s greater glory in enclosed life. First known as the Order of San Damiano, The Poor Clares as they have been known, live a life of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ. Clare’s Rule was an extraordinary act of confidence since the establishment only accepted the Rule of St Benedict for monastic living.

grant of indulgence for St Clare.jpg

Saint Clare was born on July 16, 1194 and died at the age of 59 on August 11, 1253. She was canonized by Pope Alexander IV on September 26, 1255. Our Saint is the patron of those with diseases of the eye, communication systems, goldsmiths and good weather. Perhaps brides and builders should pay more attention to Saint Clare!
For the 800th anniversary of Saint Clare’s birth holy Mother Church is offering the faithful –with the usual conditions– an indulgence.
The four minister generals of the large Franciscans groups wrote the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare a letter for the anniversary where they say they rely on the continued witness of the daughters of Clare today in the monastic life. The friars propose a consolidation that maintains a “healthy and necessary complementarity” among the friars and sisters. Here’s the letter: Letter to the Poor Clares.pdf
You may want to read an excellent t book on Saint Clare edited and translated by Capuchin Father Regis J. Armstrong, The Lady: Clare of Assisi: Early Documents (NY: New City Press, 2006).
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Monasteries are true and proper oases for humanity, Benedict XVI reminds us

In Wednesday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict told the listeners of the Wednesday General Audience that the monastic life is an essential value for humanity and for the Church, today. The Pope’s emphasis on beauty and silence helps us to appreciate and to listen God’s promptings of the desires of the heart is important. Let’s pay attention to what the Pope has to say. You may also want to watch the Rome Reports news video.

The editor writes, “Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters! In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward the sky.

Tomorrow, dear friends, we will celebrate the memory of St. Clare of Assisi. So I would like to recall one of these “oases” of the spirit which is particularly dear to the Franciscan family and to all Christians: the little convent of San Damiano, situated just beneath the city of Assisi, among the olive groves that slope towards Santa Maria degli Angeli. In that little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, Chiara and her first companions established their community, living off prayer and little works. They were called the “Poor Sisters,” and their “form of life” was the same as the Frati Minori: “To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule of St. Clare, I, 2), conserving the union of reciprocal charity (cfr ivi, X, 7) and observing in particular the poverty and humility of Jesus and his Most Holy Mother (cfr, ivi, XII, 13).

Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community lives – simple and austere beauty – are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony which the community itself attempts to create. The world is filled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, particularly in Europe; others are more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a load-bearing structure of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in times of rest, visit these places and stop there for some days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!  The Pope continues:

Let us remember, therefore, St. Clare. But let you also remember other Saints who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the “things of heaven,” like St. Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, co-patron of Europe, whom we celebrated yesterday. And today, August 10, we cannot forget St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with a special wish for Romans who have always venerated him as one of their patrons. Finally, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she may teach us to love silence and prayer.

Saint Bonaventure

St Bonaventure.JPGGrant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity.

Pope Benedict gave these 3 addresses on March 3March 10,  and March 17. Read these Wednesday audience addresses if you are serious about Saint Bonaventure!

My friend Father Charles at A Minor Friar has a brief thought on this great Franciscan friar, doctor, bishop of the Church.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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