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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.

February 23
Blessed Giles of Assisi
(1190-1262)


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Giles, one of the first followers of St. Francis, was a simple and prayerful man.

Giles the farmer distributed his goods to the poor and became one of Francis’ first disciples on April 23, 1208. He introduced Giles to the others saying, "Here is a good brother God has sent us! Let us sit down to table and celebrate his coming."

Early in his life as a Franciscan, Giles went on pilgrimages to Rome, to the Holy Land and to the famous shrine of St. James at Compostela, Spain. His 1219 preaching mission to the Muslims of Tunis was cut short when Christians there, fearing he would cause trouble for them, put him on the boat back to Italy. Giles then worked several years as a day-laborer. In 1234 he moved to Monte Ripido near Perugia to pursue a contemplative life. Giles lived there until his death.

Giles always worked for his daily bread even if he was a guest someplace. Once when he was staying with a cardinal, the morning brought a hard rain. The cardinal happily thought that Giles would miss a day’s work and have to accept his charity. The ingenious friar, however, went to the kitchen of the palace and spent the day helping the cook clean it and prepare the evening meal!

When St. Bonaventure came to Perugia, Giles asked him if an ignorant person could love God as much as a scholar. Bonaventure, one of the leading theologians from the University of Paris and at the time minister general of the friars, responded, "A little old woman can love God even more than a master of theology." Giles immediately ran out, met an old woman and told her, "O poor little old woman, though you are simple and uneducated, just love the Lord God and you can be greater than Brother Bonaventure."

Pope Gregory IX, the former Cardinal Hugolino and a great admirer of St. Francis, once brought Giles to Viterbo in order to experience his holiness firsthand. They began speaking of heaven, and Giles twice went into ecstasy for long periods of time. The pope was convinced. Another time the pope asked Giles for some advice about fulfilling his duties as pope. Giles told him that he should have two eyes in his soul: one to contemplate heavenly things and the other to direct earthly things. As the pope and Bonaventure agreed, Giles was a master of the spiritual life. The Golden Sayings of Brother Giles records some of his most memorable quotes.

One of the last of Francis’ early followers to die, Giles denounced any relaxation of discipline in the Rule of St. Francis. He was particularly worried that some of the young friars being educated at the University of Paris would develop the intellectual pride so foreign to St. Francis. Giles was beatified in 1777.



Comment:

We are created for a purpose. Giles knew that our goal is life with God and happily prepared himself for it.

Quote:

"The birds of the air and the beasts of the earth and the fishes of the sea are satisfied when they have enough food for themselves. But since man is not satisfied with the things of this world and always longs for others, it is clear that he was not made primarily for them but for others. For the body was made for the sake of the soul, and this world for the sake of the other world" (Golden Sayings).


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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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

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