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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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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

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