Saint Paschal Baylón: Devoted to the Eucharist

Saint Paschal Baylón: Devoted to the Eucharist

On May 17, Franciscans celebrate the memory of St. Paschal (Pasqual) Baylón (1540–1592), a friar known for his devotion to the Eucharist.

Spending long hours in prayer

Paschal was born in 1540 to a family of poor shepherds in Torrehermosa, in the province of Zaragosa, Aragon, Spain; he received his name from the fact he was born on Pentecost Sunday (in Spanish, the “Pasch of the Holy Spirit”). He began working as a shepherd at the age of seven; his work made it possible for him to spend long times at prayer; in the pastures he would listen for the bell of the church marking the consecration of Mass and would pause to pray devoutly. He also used his long hours alone to teach himself how to read. He became known as a man of transparent goodness.

St Paschal Baylon birthplace 700pxlsVillage of Torrehermosa, Spain, birthplace of Saint Paschal (Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA)

Drawn to simple, austere Franciscan lifestyle

After some years, Paschal moved to the territory of Valencia where he continued his shepherding. He was attracted by the contemplative orientation and simple, austere lifestyle of the Franciscans of the Discalced Reform of St. Peter of Alcantara. After being refused at first because he was too young, he entered the friary at Orito (Alicante) at age 24, making his profession in 1565.

St Paschal Baylon friary cell 700x1024pxlsThe humble cell in the friary of Vila-Real, in which Paschal lived and died (Photo, Millars, Wikimedia Commons)

Giving himself cheerfully to humble daily tasks

During the day Paschal cheerfully gave himself to the humble tasks of keeping the house, cooking, and attending to the poor and the sick who came to the friary for assistance; when free and at night he spent long hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Paschal observed many severe penitential practices of the Discalced friars.

Suffering mockery, stoning

In 1576 Paschal was sent to France to deliver letters to the General Minister of the Observant Franciscans; he had to pass through territory dominated by Huguenots who mocked and even stoned him. He escaped but suffered a severe shoulder injury as a result, which caused him pain for the rest of his life.

Offering wise counsel

During his life, Paschal gained the reputation of being a mystic, but he always tried to deflect attention from himself. Nonetheless, many people visited him to benefit from his wise counsel. He died in the friary at Vila-Real in the province of Valencia on Pentecost, 1592. Miraculous cures were reported even before he was buried, and a significant devotion to him grew up in his home country, Southern Italy, and Spanish colonies abroad.

St Paschal tomb 700x300pxlsThe tomb of Saint Paschal in Vila-Real. His sanctuary and largely incorrupt body were vandalized and burned during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, although some of his remains were saved. This sarcophagus by sculptor Vicente Lloréns Poy, containing those remains, was dedicated in 1992 (Photo, Millars, Wikimedia Commons).

Patron of Eucharistic Congresses

Paschal was canonized in 1690. His profound Eucharistic devotion caused Pope Leo XIII in 1897 to name him the patron of Eucharistic Congresses. He is also venerated as a patron of cooks.

St Paschal Baylon basilica 700pxlsBasilica of San Pasqual in Vila-Real, Castellón province, Valenca region, Spain, rebuilt after its predecessor was destroyed by anticlerical forces during the Spanish Civil War.

Wisdom of Saint Paschal

I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.

 

Meditate well on this: Seek God above all things. It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly.

 

Since God desired greatly to give us what is good, therefore in all your petitions believe firmly that God will grant you what you ask for. But do not ask for anything unless God has moved you to ask. God is more disposed to hear your petitions than you are to ask them. God is always waiting for you to ask. . .

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Main image: Detail from “The Vision of St. Paschal Baylon,” Giambattista Tiepolo (176769). Museo del Prado, Madrid

Authors

Dominic Monti

Dominic Monti

Dominic V. Monti, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province (USA) and currently professor of Franciscan Research in the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University. A native of nearby Bradford, PA, he was educated at St. Bonaventure (BA); after joining the Order, he attended the Catholic University of America (STB), Union Theological Seminary, NY (STM), and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago (PhD). He devoted the greater part of his ministry to teaching the History of Christianity, in particular the history of the Franciscan movement. He has contributed two volumes to the Works of St. Bonaventure series and is author of Francis & His Brothers, a popular history of the Friars Minor. He is spiritual assistant to a federation of Poor Clares and the Franciscan Secular Institute, the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ.