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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

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