St. Paul of the Cross
from the Roman Breviary

Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in Liguria [northern Italy], and was descended from a noble family of Castellazzo near Alessandria [Piedmont]. The brilliance of his future holiness was foreshown by a wonderful light which filled his mother's room at night while she was in labor, and by a remarkable favor of the august Queen of heaven who delivered him unhurt from certain destruction when he fell into a river when a child. From the dawn of reason he was filled with an ardent love for Jesus Christ crucified, and began to devote much time to contemplation of Him. He chastised his innocent flesh with watchings, scourgings, and fasting, on Fridays drank vinegar mingled with gall, and practiced all kinds of severe penances. Burning with desire for martyrdom, he enlisted in the army which was being raised at Venice to fight against the Turks. After he learned in prayer the will of God, he gave up the career of arms to serve in a nobler army, which was to defend the Church and strive with all its might for the eternal salvation of men. When he returned home he refused a very honorable marriage, and the inheritance left him by his uncle; he wished to enter upon the narrower way of the Cross and to receive a coarse tunic from his bishop. Then, by command of the bishop, because of his eminent holiness of life and knowledge of divine things, although not yet a cleric, he tilled the Lord's field by preaching the divine word, with great profit to souls.

He went to Rome, and after having studied the regular course in theology, he was ordained priest by command of the supreme Pontiff Benedict XIII, who also gave him permission to gather companions around him. He withdrew to the solitude of Mount Argentaro, where he had already been summoned by the Blessed Virgin, who had also shown him a black habit bearing the emblems of the Passion of her Son, and there he laid the foundations of a new congregation. In a short time by God's blessing it increased very much, sustained by his arduous labors, and attracted eminent men. It received the confirmation of the apostolic See more than once, together with the rules which Paul had himself received from God in prayer, and the addition of a fourth vow, to promote the blessed remembrance of the Passion of the Lord. He also founded a congregation of holy virgins, who would constantly meditate upon the surpassing love of the divine Spouse. In all these works, his untiring love of souls never caused him to weary in the preaching of the Gospel, and he led almost countless men, even the most abandoned, and those who had fallen into heresy, into the footpath of salvation. Wonderful was the power of his eloquence, especially when he spoke of the Passion of Christ, so that both he and his hearers would shed tears, and the most hardened hearts were moved to repentance.

The flame of the love God so burnt in breast, that the garment which was nearest to his heart often seemed to be scorched if by fire, and two of his ribs seemed to protrude. He could not restrain his tears, particularly when saying Mass; and he was seen to experience frequent ecstasies, during which there was a remarkable elevation of his body, and his face shone with light from heaven. Some times when he was preaching, a heavenly voice was heard promting him; and at other times his words could be heard at the distance of several miles. He was distinguished for gifts of prophecy, languages, reading the heart, power over evil spirits, diseases, and the elements. Though even the Supreme Pontiffs regarded him with affection and veneration, he looked upon himself as an unprofitable servant and a worthless sinner, upon whom devils might well trample. At length, having persisted in his most austere mode of life until extreme old age, in 1775 at Rome he passed to heaven on the very day he had predicted, after he had addressed to his followers some most beatiful exhortations, as it were bequeathing them the heritage of his spirit, and fortified with the sacraments of the Church and with a heavenly vision. The Supreme Pontiff Pius IX enrolled him among the blessed, and after renewed signs and wonders, among the Saints.



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Maxims of Christian Perfection
Extracted from the Letters of Blessed Paul of the Cross

He who desires to be a great saint, must take care that nothing live in him which is not purely God; and this he will know to be the case if all his actions are done for the love of God and united with those of Jesus Christ, who is our way, truth, and life.

The heart of the true servant of God must be like an altar, on which is offered every day the gold of the most ardent charity, the incense of continual humble prayer, and the myrrh of incessant mortification.

When our sins terrify us, and we fear being damned, let us think on the merits of the crucified, and our spirit will be refreshed.

He who rests with great confidence in God, and is humble of heart, poor and miserable though he be, will become a fitting instrument in God's hands for doing great things. But one who takes another course, will never be able to do anything that is good.

Happy the soul which detaches itself from its own pleasure, from its own will, from its own understanding. A sublime lesson is this, and God will teach it to all those who place their happiness in the cross of Jesus Christ.

The moment we know the will of God, we should execute it with all promptness, and conform ourselves to it, exactly as wax coming near the fire takes the shape which the artist wishes to give it.

Whatever may happen to us, we ought not to be disturbed. Let us calmly and quietly say: the will of God be done--let us leave all to God--the Lord be blessed for ever--what he wills, I will in time and in eternity.

In troubles, in disappointments, in tribulations, we must humble ourselves and stoop down our head; because, when God intends to give us one blow, if we lift up our heads He will give us ten--if we stoop them, though He meant to give us ten, He will give us but one.



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A Devout Exercise to St. Paul of the Cross


The faithful who perform their devotions in honor of St. Paul of the Cross, with the intention of repeating the same for nine successive days, may gain:


(Indulgence of 3 years)


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Novena to St. Paul of the Cross


O glorious Saint Paul of the Cross, on earth thou wast a mirror of innocence and a model of penance! O hero of saintliness, chosen by God to meditate day and night on the bitter passion of His only-begotten Son, and to spread devotion thereto by word and deed as well as by means of thy religious family! O Apostle, mighty in word and work thou didst spend thy life in bringing back to the foot of the Cross the erring souls of countless unfortunate sinners! Do thou mercifully look down once more from heaven upon my poor soul and hear my petitions. Obtain for me so great a love of Jesus suffering, that by constant meditation on His passion I may make His sufferings mine. Let me realize in the deep Wounds of my Saviour the wickedness of my transgressions, and obtain from them, as from the fountain of salvation, the grace of bitter tears and an effectual resolution to imitate thee in thy penance, if I have not followed thine example of innocence. Obtain for me, also, Saint Paul, the favor that I now especially ask of thee, as I humbly kneel before thee [here mention request]

Obtain, moreover, for our holy Mother the Church, victory over Her foes; for sinners, the gift of conversion; for heretics, the grace of returning to the unity of the Catholic faith. Finally, intercede for me that I may, by the grace of God, die a holy death, and come at last to enjoy with thee His blessed Presence in heaven for all eternity. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.


(Indulgence of 300 days)




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Another prayer to St. Paul of the Cross


O glorious Saint Paul of the Cross, who, by meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ, didst attain to so high a degree of holiness on earth and of happiness in heaven, and, by preaching the same passion, didst offer anew to the world the most certain cure for all its ills, get us the grace to keep it ever deeply engraved in our hearts, that so we may be able to reap the same fruits both in time and in eternity. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be,


(Indulgence of 300 days)




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Act of Thanksgiving


Lord, I give Thee thanks for that Thou didst die upon the Cross for my sins.

(Indulgence 300 days)










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