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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.

December 10
Servant of God Bernard of Quintavalle
(d. 1246?)


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Bernard was a wealthy man of Assisi, known and esteemed for his virtue and his wisdom. He was also the first follower of St. Francis, and would ultimately prove to be first in the order of sanctity.

Moved by the poverty and humility of Francis, Bernard invited him to stay at his house one night. There Bernard observed that Francis forsook a full night's sleep and instead spent the hours in prayer. By the following morning Bernard was convinced that Francis was indeed motivated by sincere love of God and, so, Bernard asked to become a disciple. Francis joyfully took him to the church where they attended Mass and then asked the priest to open the Bible three times.

Three passages appeared: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor" (Matthew 19:21). "Take nothing for the way" (Mark 6:8). "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

Francis said: "This will be the rule of life which we and all those who will join us shall follow." At that, Bernard sold all his possessions and divided the money among the poor.

Francis admired much in Bernard because he was older and because he was so holy. He sent his new follower and a companion to Florence and then to Bologna. In both places they were made sport of because of their poor clothing and the manner of their life. But Bernard was only upset when the townspeople of Bologna began to recognize his holiness. He asked Francis to bring him back.

Later Francis took Bernard with him as he headed out for Africa to preach to the Muslims. But along the way they met a poor sick man and Francis left the ever-joyful Bernard to care for the man until he himself would return.

Before his death Francis gave Bernard a special blessing and asked all of the brothers to have respect for this holy man.

Bernard is buried in Assisi near his holy founder in the Basilica of St. Francis.



Comment:

Opening the Bible at random doesn’t often give us practical advice on how to live. The pages might fall open to God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his only son or to St. Paul urging the Galatians not to submit to circumcision. Maybe it would help to have someone like Francis standing beside us. Better yet, we might focus on the Bible’s general thrust, which Jesus summed up as love for God and neighbor. That alone would send us on the path to sanctity Bernard traveled and fill us with the joy that always filled this follower of Francis.


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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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

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