In the January issue of ‘MAGNIFICAT” the editors set aside several pages to give a brief account of several saints who have served the sick and suffering during times of plague, pandemic, and other kinds of catastrophes. I found these pages to be not only interesting but a good reminder of those, past and present, who serve so valiantly in times of great need. I’d like to share a few of these stories with you, even in very abbreviated form.
ST. CHARLES BORROMEO. A name we re all so familiar with. Charles was the archbishop of Milan and during his years in that office a plague, one of several to strike Italy over the centuries, beset the area around Milan. Charles, though an archbishop lived very simply and during that plague he opened up the magnificent cathedral, “Il Duomo” as it is called. He turned it into a place of refuge, a kind of hospital to care for the many afflicted by the plague. Not only that, he spent countless hours personally caring for the sick and dying.
ST. DAMIEN VUERSTER. Another name we recall as the priest who chose to go and live and work among the lepers on the Island of Molokai. It was a time when lepers were treated inhumanely and left to fend for themselves. Damien went and lived among them, cared for them and most of all sought to let them know that they were still loved. Eventually he too caught the disease and died among his lepers.
ST. ROCH. St. Roch was a 15th century layman. He was born into a wealthy French family but when he inherited a fortune from his parents, he gave it all to the poor and the sick. For several years he lived simply traveling through parts of France and Italy caring for the sick and dying. For his great love he was eventually arrested and only after he died did his hailers realize the good he had done.
BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS. Francis was a native of Germany who became a member of the redemptorist Fathers. He came to the United States, was ordained in Baltimore, and served his priesthood in this country. He became a pastor in New Orleans in 1866. When yellow fever hit, he tended to victims and offered the sacraments to them.
And what of all the heroic doctors, nurses, aides and volunteers of today who are working so tirelessly and selflessly, long, long hours, doing double shifts in hospitals and nursing facilities doing their best to bring comfort to the many who are becoming victims of the pandemic that plagues our world….and our country today? I am sure there are a lot of 21st century saints in face masks risking their own lives to care for the sick and dying. How many of these will we one day call SAINT?
Our Lenten season is moving along so quickly. Please remain faithful to all that you are trying to do to bring yourselves closer to the Lord Jesus. Pray daily for all who are sick and for all who are caring for them.