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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

October 31
Blessed Thomas of Florence
(d. 1447)


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The son of a butcher in Florence, Thomas led such a wild life for a time that parents warned their sons to stay away from him. A rich man in town befriended him and led him deeper into depravity. Accused of a serious crime that he had not committed, Thomas went to his friend for protection. The man would not even see him and told him to stay away. Crushed, Thomas wandered the streets until he met a priest who listened to his story and took Thomas into his home. Ultimately, he was able to get Thomas declared innocent of the crime.

Thomas broke off his former associations and began to lead a life of prayer and penance. Filled with grace, he asked to be admitted to a Franciscan friary as a lay brother. He went on to become a model friar, fasting, keeping vigils, disciplining himself. He wore the cast-off clothes of his brothers. He was frequently wrapped in ecstasy. Though he was never ordained a priest and remained content to serve as a lay brother, Thomas was appointed novice master. Many young men followed in his path of holiness.

Thomas founded numerous convents of friars in southern Italy. And Pope Martin V called upon him to preach against the Fraticelli, a branch of heretical Franciscans. He was also asked to go to the Orient to promote the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches. There he was imprisoned and expected to receive the crown of martyrdom. But the pope ransomed him for a large sum of money. Thomas returned to Italy and died on a journey to Rome, where he had hoped to receive permission to return to the Orient.



Comment:

When Thomas needed a compassionate listening ear, he found one in a stranger. Had the priest not heard him out, he might never have achieved a place among the blessed. Who knows what God has in mind for the person who wants to bend our ear and find a compassionate listener?


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions: This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45. 
<p>Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883. </p><p>When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men. </p><p>Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death. </p><p>Today, there are almost 5.1 million Catholics in Korea.</p> American Catholic Blog We never think of connecting violence with our tongues. But the first weapon, the most cruel weapon, is the tongue. Examine what part your tongue has played in creating peace or violence. We can really wound a person, we can kill a person, with our tongue.

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