St. Paschal Baylon
Even though he was never a priest, St. Paschal Baylon is known as the “Saint of the Eucharist.”
He was born in 1540 in Spain to a peasant family. He tended sheep until he was 24 years old. While he watched the sheep in the fields, he would spend great amounts of time in prayer. He even taught himself to read and write so that he could pray to Mary with a popular devotional book.
Paschal went barefoot through the fields and fasted; he even wore a makeshift brother’s habit under his shepherd’s cloak. He attended Mass whenever he could. When he couldn’t be at Mass, he would find an outcropping where he could see the church’s steeple from his post watching the sheep, and he would kneel there in prayer and silent adoration of the Eucharist.
He joined a Franciscan community of brothers who observed a strict way of life. Paschal adopted these rigors, but was even more well-known for his virtue. He would not allow the slightest dishonesty, and those who knew him well could not recall a single fault.
As a member of the Franciscan monastery, he cultivated an even deeper devotion to the Eucharist. He would serve at Mass all day long if he could, and would be found spending hours kneeling in front of the tabernacle in prayer. He was always the first to arrive for Mass, and the last to leave.
Paschal was asked to carry a message to an important scholar in France, and the journey took him through a region known for its hostility to the faith. Though he was captured several times, was abused, and narrowly escaped with his life, he was able to respond to his interrogators with faithfulness and clarity.
He served his community as a cook and doorkeeper, and was known for his charity to the poor. Though he was poorly educated, many people sought him out for his wisdom.
One of his superiors, having heard of his devotion after his death, asked for a booklet of prayers that the saint had penned in his own hand. When a fellow brother brought it to him, he said, “What are we to do? These simple souls are wresting heaven from our hands. There is nothing for it but to burn our books.” His brother said, “It is not the books that are at fault, but our own pride. Let us burn that.”
The relics of St. Paschal rest in the reliquary chapel, and his image is used here with permission from Catholic.org.
St. Paschal Baylon, the Franciscan brother who was known as the “Saint of the Eucharist,” pray for us!