Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feast of St John Berchmans - click to read

Today is the Feast of St John Berchmans, SJ who is the patron of the young. In these day young Catholics need very much good role models in particularly in spiritual life. He died when he was only 22, and much like St Terese of Lisieux, was the kind of saint who performed ordinary actions with extraordinary perfection. He is excellent role model for young Catholics. Let us pray and recommend them all to his intercession.

St John Berchmans Holy Card, he is often depicted holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.

St John Berchmans shrine in St Ignazio Church, Rome (picture by Fr Lawrence, OP)

Close up of his tomb

..."St. John Berchmans was born in Belgium in the times of war between the Catholics and Protestants of the Netherlands. He was the oldest of five children and his parents watched him growing and richly endowed by God with kind, gentle and affectionate nature. He was but nine years of old when his mother was stricken with a long and serious illness. John would pass several hours each day by her bedside, and console her with his affectionate though serious, words. Later, when he lived with some other boys at their little parish school dormitory, he would undertake more than his share of the domestic work, selecting by preference the more difficult occupations. If he was loved by his comrades, he repaid their affection by his kindness, without, however, deviating from the dictates of his conscience. It was noticed even that he availed himself discreetly of his influence over them to correct their negligences and to restrain their frivolous conversation. Eager to learn, and naturally endowed with a bright intellect and a retentive memory, he enhanced the effect of these gifts by devoting to study whatever time he could legitimately take from his ordinary recreation.

It was obvious to his parents of to their parish priest, Fr M. Emmerick, that the Lord may work wonders in the soul of this child. When he was hardly seven years old, he was accustomed to rise early and serve two or three Masses with the greatest fervour. He attended religious instructions and listened to Sunday sermons with the deepest recollection, and made pilgrimages to the sanctuary of Montaigu, a few miles from Diest, reciting the rosary as he went, or absorbed in meditation. As soon as he entered the Jesuit college at Mechlin, he was enrolled in the Society of the Blessed Virgin, and made a resolution to recite her Office daily. He would, moreover, ask the director of the sodality every month to prescribe for him some special acts of devotion to Mary. On Fridays, at nightfall, he would go out barefooted and make the Stations of the Cross in the town. Such fervent, filial piety won for him the grace of a religious vocation. Towards the end of his rhetoric course, he felt a distinct call to the Society of Jesus. His family was decidedly opposed to this, and on 24 September, 1616, he was received into the novitiate at Mechlin. After two years passed in Mechlin he made his simple vows, and was sent to Antwerp to begin the study of philosophy. Remaining there only a few weeks, he set out for Rome, where he was to continue the same study. After the journeying three hundred leagues on foot, carrying a wallet on his back, he arrived at theRoman College, he studied for two years and passed on to the third year class in philosophy in the year 1621. One day early in August of that same year he was selected by the prefect of studies to take part in a philosophical disputation at the Greek College, at that time under the charge of the Dominicans. He opened the discussion with great perspicuity and erudition, but, on returning to his own college, he was seized with a violent fever of which he died, on 13 August, at the age of twenty-two years and five months, and numerous miracles were attributed to him at the time of his funeral and his feast is on 26 November.

He was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1865 and canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888."

Text based mainly on Catholic Encyclopedia entry.