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Saint Paschal Baylon

Confessor. 

Paschal, who became a man of wondrous innocence and austerity of life, and is considered the heavenly patron of all Eucharistic Confraternities, was born to a peasant family named Baylon, at Torre-Hermoso, on the borders of Castile and Aragon, in 1540, during Paschaltide, for which reason he was baptized as Paschal. His parents were poor, and humble folk; and at the age of seven the lad had to begin to earn his own living by caring for a flock of sheep. From then to the age of twenty-seven he lived mostly in solitude, for he was obliged to go with his flock from place to place in search of pasture, and to live and sleep with them in the open. He was a devout lad, and ever had a great love for the Most Holy Sacrament, and for the holy Mother of our eucharistic Lord. Concerning the former, his neighbours used to tell how, before he had learnt to walk, he one day disappeared, and his mother set the whole village in an uproar, only to find him gleefully playing on the altar-steps of the village-church, whither he had crept from his parents' house, down the street, unseen by anyone. His greatest grief as a shepherd was his inability to attend Mass, and when he heard the churchbells ringing afar, it was his custom to kneel down amidst his sheep, and pour out his heart-hunger for Christ in prayer.

And it is said that sometimes he was consoled by visions of the priest at Holy Mass, and of his eucharistic Lord, whereby he was able to make devout acts of spiritual Communion. His devotion to our Lord's Mother also would brook no denial. As he had no opportunity to secure any instruction in letters, he bought himself a copy of the Little Office of our Lady, which same he slowly and painfully taught himself to read, and thereafter faithfully said every day, in spiritual union with all the choirs of Christendom in their recitation of the liturgy. And the pious folk of his time believed that the Blessed Virgin, accompanied by Saints Francis and Clare, visited him, and told him to take courage, and ask for admittance among the Franciscan Friars of the Alcantarine Reform. Which same he did, at the age of twenty-seven; and so he came to know holy Peter of Alcantara himself, and was imbued with the zeal for penance and prayer and love for souls for which that Saint is famous. His good cheer and peasant commonsense, amidst those austere Franciscans, led to his becoming one of their most trusted religious, in spite of his lack of book-knowledge and the position which he ever desired as one of the humblest of the lay-brothers. He so loved to serve his brethren that when he was given any humble office on their behalf, he would, if he thought himself unobserved, go about the task in a sort of dancestep, in imitation of the Children of Israel dancing before the Lord.

Both in and out of the Order he sought in every way he knew to bring souls to Christ; and far and wide, by the great and the humble, he was sought out for advice and comfort. Even confidential and dangerous missions, necessitating long journeys, were entrusted to him, whence he once was nearly killed by the Huguenots of France. His chief delight, however, was to serve Mass, and every spare moment he spent in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He once declared that if he were dead, and the Most Holy were carried by, he would be obliged to open his eyes, to look in love thereon. And the credulous affirmed that this very thing happened after his death, whilst his body lay in the chapel awaiting burial. On May 15th, 1592, at the age of fifty-two, he passed out of this world on the same feast upon which he had entered it, namely that of Pentecost, and in 1690 he was canonized. At one time it was generally believed that strange knockings were heard from his tomb in presage of any disaster, and in some of the shrines erected to him by the Franciscan Friars in California, the some strange phenomena have also been alleged. But he is known now to the world as a simple unlearned man, whose devotion to our Lord in the Sacrament of his love made him both holy and great.

Collect

O GOD, who didst endue thy blessed Confessor Paschal with wondrous love towards the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood: mercifully grant that as from this heavenly banquet he received the abundance of spiritual sustenance, so we may be counted worthy to be made partakers of the same. Who livest and reignest with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1214-1215

Additional Information:

Ordo Kalendars are available from the Anglican Parishes Association Book Publisher.

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.