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St Pacifico of San Severino
(eastern central Italy) (entered heaven this day in 1721)
Better to learn this lesson now instead of later. On the one hand, I would wish health problems on no one, but on the other hand, someone needs to tell you that sickness (even chronic sickness and disease) is not incompatible with sanctity. In fact, many of the saints suffered terribly, and their suffering was a springboard to selflessness and trust in God. Take today’s saint, for example.
Both of Pacifico’s parents died when he was five. His harsh uncle brought him up, treating him worse than a servant for the next twelve years. The boy patiently and humbly bore with his trial, and then asked to join the Franciscans who had a convent nearby. He was accepted, received his formation, and began his apostolic life as a teacher of his brothers during their years of formation. When he was subsequently sent out to preach missions from village to village, he won the hearts of all his hearers through the sweetness and heartfelt conviction of his discourses. He also had the gift of “reading souls,” and in the confessional would often remind penitents of sins they had forgotten about. After only a few years of this most gratifying work, the saint was struck with deafness, blindness, and a chronic (and almost crippling) ulceration of his legs. He had to retire from public life and continue serving God in prayer, penance, and community life in the convent. For twenty years he suffered thus, growing in holiness and being gifted with prophecy, but unable to do any of the things he had hoped to be able to do when he first took the religious habit. His life ended peacefully enough when he was 68 years old, and the miracles, which had begun to occur while he was still alive, regularly took place at his tomb. God had seen fit to heal others through this man whom he afflicted with decrepitude.
If I were close by, I could pray with you and visit you every day, making sure that you bring your sufferings to prayer and unite every littlest one of them to the throes Christ underwent on the cross. Since I am far away, however, I’ll ask St Pacifico to take my place.