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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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Pio of Pietrelcina: In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity." 
<p>Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease. </p><p>Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income. </p><p>At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic. </p><p>On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924. </p><p>Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. </p><p>Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds. </p><p>A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters. </p><p>One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.</p> American Catholic Blog In times of intense loss and grief, we take our place with Mary as she embraces all our grief in her own as she is silently holding in her arms the stark presence of our suffering God in the lifeless body of her Son.

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