16th of May 1540|
Torrehermosa, Aragon Spain
17 May 1592 (aged 52)|
Villarreal, Aragon Kingdom Spain
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||29th of October 1618, Saint Peter's Basilica, Papal States by Pope Paul V|
|Canonized||16th of October 1690, Saint Peter's Basilica, Papal States by Pope Alexander VIII|
|Feast||17th of May|
Saint Paschal Baylón (16th of May 1540 – 17th of May 1592) was a Spanish Roman Catholic lay professed religious from the Order of Lay Brothers Minor. He served as a shepherd alongside his father in his childhood and adolescence, but his desire to enter the religious life was far greater. He was refused once but later was admitted as a Franciscan lay brother and became noted for his strict austerities which he imposed upon himself, as well as his love for and compassion towards the ill. He was sent to counter the arguments of the Calvinists in France but was chased out and nearly killed by a mob who detested him. But he was best known for his strong and deep devotion to the Eucharist which manifested in his childhood.
His piousness drew people from all over seeking his counsel and his death caused people to report miracles at his tomb when it was visited. The process for his canonization opened and in 1618 he was beatified while Pope Alexander VIII canonized him as a saint on 16 October 1690.
He was born on 16th of May 1540 at Torrehermosa, Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, on the feast of the Pentecost to the poor peasant Martin Baylon and his wife Elizabeth Jubera. The fact that he was born on the feast of Pentecost led to his parents naming him as "Pàscuàl" (Paschal) He had at least two older siblings. It was said his first words were the names of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin.
Each time his mother carried him to the Church he kept on looking at the Blessed Sacrament. His parents once feared he was kidnapped after he was lost but found him climbing the altar steps on his knees so that he could see the tabernacle. He spent his childhood as a shepherd from age seven until he was 24. But as he toiled in the fields he remained attentive to the ringing of the Church bell which rang during the Elevation during the Mass. His outreach to others was commendable for he once offered to provide compensation to the owners of crops damaged due to his animals being let loose. He would carry a book with him and often begged those who passed along the path to teach him the alphabet and to read; as he toiled in the fields he would read religious texts to deepen his faith. His friends were not devout as he was but he served as a positive influence on them. His friends used bad language often but learnt to hold their tongue in his presence since his friends respected his pious nature and his virtue.
In 1564 he joined the Reformed Franciscans as a religious brother and commenced his period of novitiate on 2 February before making his profession on 2 February 1565 in Orito at the Saint Joseph convent. He was urged to become an ordained priest but he felt that was not the path for him. But he was once denied the chance to join on the account of his age prompting him to return to his duties as a shepherd before the order had a change of heart and admitted him into their ranks. He chose to live in poor monasteries because he said: "I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance". His jobs included serving as a cook and porter as well as the gardener and the official beggar who went around asking for alms. He lived this life in contemplation and silent meditation and often did this as he worked. He was a contemplative and had frequent ecstatic visions. He would spend the night before the altar in silence during some nights to commune with God and to meditate on the faith. But he also shrugged off those notions of him gaining a reputation coming from that pious nature. His superior sent him to France in 1576 to have him defend the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher. But he was despised there and was almost killed after a Huguenot mob chased him out. Those chasing him hurled stones and dirt at him causing him to break his shoulder and become bruised.
The humble friar never wasted food. The end of each week saw him eat a few boiled vegetables which had been soaked in water with the terrible smelling weed known as wormwood. He often ate scraps from the kitchen. Other austerities included wearing a coat with steel spikes or a patched habit including one tunic lined with rough pig hair designed to cause discomfort. Sometimes he slept out in the cold.
He died on the 17th of May after being taken ill; this day is also the feast day of St. Pàscuàl Baylon.
His tomb in Villarreal became an immediate place of pilgrimage and there were soon miracles that were reported at his tomb. Pope Paul V beatified him on 29 October 1618 while Pope Alexander VIII canonized him later on 16 October 1690. In 1730 an indigenous Guatemalan claimed to have had a vision of a sainted Paschal appearing as a robed skeleton. This event became the basis of the heterodox tradition of San Pascualito.
He was enlisted in the Church's struggle against Modernism part of which was through increasing devotion towards the Eucharist; Pope Leo XIII proclaimed the saint as the "seraph of the Eucharist" as well as the patron of Eucharistic congresses and affiliated associations. Art often depicts him wearing the Franciscan habit and bearing a monstrance which signifies his devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Pope John XXIII named the saint as the patron for the Segorbe diocese on 12 May 1961.
During the Red Terror at the time of the Spanish Civil War his grave was desecrated and anticlerical leftists had his relics burned though some remained. Those that did were later transferred in the presence of King Juan Carlos I on 12 May 1992.
Notes and references
- "San Pasquale Baylon". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Saint Pascal Baylon". Saints SQPN. 8 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Saints Who Loved the Blessed Sacrament". Society of Saint Pius X in Canada. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Leonard Foley. "St. Pascal Baylon". Franciscan Media. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- Feldman, Lawrence H. (1999). The War Against Epidemics in Colonial Guatemala, 1519-1821. C&M Online Media, Inc. pp. 23–27. ISBN 1-886420-60-2.
- In the Apostolic Brief Providentissimus Deus on 28 November 1897.
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