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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

St. Paschal Baylón

Fr. Scott Haynes

St. Paschal Baylón  The son of impoverished but devout peasants, Martin and Elizabeth Jubera Baylón, Paschal was born on the feast of Pentecost, May 16, 1540, in Torrehermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon. It was customary to name a child after the saint or feast day on which he was born, thus he was nicknamed Paschal in honor of Pascua de Pentecosta.

Spanish dominance in the Americas was booming during Paschal's lifetime, but it would soon be waning due to rivalry with England and France. Several notable Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, and Francis Xavier, were born during the 16th century, the Golden Age of the Spanish Church.

Paschal was born to impoverished and devout parents. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a treasured gift he received from his mother. He mastered reading by seeking out assistance from others, so that he might read Our Lady's Little Office. He would always share a portion of his dinner with the underprivileged because he had no other way to help them. From the time he was seven years old until he was twenty-four, he lived a life of penance while working as a shepherd. He had the ability to pray while working and paid close attention during Mass when the church bell struck at the Elevation. There was an honest side to Paschal. He even went so far as to offer to compensate farmers whose crops were damaged by his animals. As a result of their admiration for his nobility and piety, those of his companions who were more prone to cursing, bickering, and fighting learned to control themselves while he was around.

After deciding to devote his life to penance, Paschal joined the Friars Minor in 1564. He only ever had one religious habit, a thin garment. Even in winter, he would brave the snow without his sandals. He adapted to every season and location. He was encouraged to become a Priest, but he decided he would rather be a brother. He served the Friary as the official beggar, cook, gardener, and porter all rolled into one.

Paschal was very conscientious about keeping his vow of poverty. Never in his life did he squander the Friars' food or other donated supplies. He earned a stellar reputation for kindness while serving as a porter and tending to the needs of the homeless who would come knocking on the door. On occasion, the Friars made an effort to rein in his extreme generosity. Every moment that Paschal had to spare, he would pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Eventually, a great number of individuals came to him for advice. He spent much of his life working in silence and thought. Ecstatic visions occurred frequently to him, and he was a contemplative man. On occasion, he would remain silent each night in front of the Altar. While traveling across France, he once had an ordeal defending the Real Presence doctrine against a Calvinist preacher; as a result, he was almost killed by a mob of Huguenots.

A collapse from health caused him to pass away on May 17, 1592. His death was unusual for the exact instant it occurred. Once he had received the Holy Viaticum, he inquired as to whether the Mass in the Monastery Chapel had commenced yet. Someone informed him that it had and that the Elevation was about to occur. He listened carefully for the little bells to ring. He cried out, "My Jesus!" and then passed away. Indeed, the Lord rewarded him for his precious love of the Holy Eucharist and his reverence for the Consecration of the Mass.

An extraordinary miracle occurred during his funeral. During Requiem funeral Mass, at the moment of the Elevation of the Host, his lifeless body stirred and opened its eyes; likewise, when the Priest lifted the Chalice. Upon his burial, people rushed to his tomb, and reports of miracles began flowing in quickly.

Near the Main Altar, his corpse was later laid to rest. Movements within his coffin were audible every time a Mass was celebrated on that Altar, particularly when the moment of the Elevation drew near, calling upon the faithful to show greater devotion and venerate the Holy Sacrament. This has persisted over the centuries; on occasion, the sound of movement within the coffin of St. Paschal Baylon is noticed. St. Paschal Baylón was proclaimed Patron of Eucharistic Congresses and Confraternities by Pope Leo XIII on November 28, 1897.



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