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This “angel of the Eucharist” taught himself to read

PASCHAL BAYLON
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St. Paschal Baylon is the patron of Eucharistic associations, because of his great love for the Blessed Sacrament.

On May 16, 1540, a baby boy was born to Martin and Elizabeth Baylon in the Kingdom of Aragon, located in Spain. It was the Feast of Pentecost, and since Pentecost was referred to as the Pasch (Passover) of the Holy Ghost, his parents named their new son Paschal.

Paschal’s parents were poor tenant farmers, and while only a young boy Paschal began working in the fields and tending the sheep. His regimen of work was seemingly never-ending, and he rarely took part in the activities of other kids his age. However, he possessed an obvious spirituality that was noticeable to others, and the other boys would come to him for advice and requests for him to settle their quarrels. Paschal had innate wisdom that was marveled at by all who came to know him.

The boy was unable to go to school, so he carried a notebook with him when he was working. He would ask other kids and even strangers going by to show him different letters and how to use them. He took his tidbits of information to heart and literally taught himself how to read. Soon his favorite books were those about his Lord.

When Paschal was working in the fields, he always fell to his knees when he heard the bells ringing during the Consecration. He was not only rich in piety and virtue, but he was also quite humble. People who knew him could not help but notice.

Paschal had always harbored a deep desire to enter religious life. Now and then he even wondered if it could actually happen. He had been offered spots in several richly endowed monasteries, and some prodded him to enter the priesthood. He replied simply, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”

His quest for simplicity came to fruition when, in 1564, he was able to enter the Franciscan Monastery of the Friars Minor at Monteforte. It was located in Orito, Spain, and those who were there lived a no-frills, austere existence. This was what Paschal had hoped and prayed.for. The young man professed his vows at the monastery on February 2, 1565.

St. Paschal was frequently found before the tabernacle, at times even prostate with his arms outstretched. The humble brother, who had taught himself to read and had no known education, possessed a deep knowledge and insight into the mysteries and teachings of the faith. Learned men marveled at him, and most figured he was guided by the Holy Spirit. He was so knowledgeable that during the height of the Calvinist heresies he was chosen to travel to France to defend the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence.

Once when Paschal was out in the field tending a flock, he heard the bells ringing signaling the Consecration, and as always, he immediately knelt down. As he did, the Blessed Sacrament appeared before him in the monstrance. It was held aloft by angels hovering above. Others saw the vision and word spread quickly about the miraculous Brother Paschal and his visions, which became more frequent.

A pious tradition developed regarding the brother’s funeral: He died on May 17, 1592, and the custom of the time was for the deceased to be placed on an open stretcher in the church. This was done, and when the Consecrated Host was elevated at his requiem Mass, Paschal’s body sat up, and bowed to the Sacred Host.

Paschal Baylon was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the Seraph (Angel) of the Eucharist.

He is the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Eucharistic Associations. Paintings of St. Paschal usually are shown with him in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, which was the greatest love in his life.

St. Paschal Baylon, please pray for us.

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