Today’s Saint of the Day is Saint Benedict Joseph Labre. Born on the 26th of March, 1748 at Amettes in the Diocese of Boulogne, he was the eldest of fifteen children. Born to the middle class, he was given many opportunities in education as a child. At a young age, he had shown a fondness for the spirit of mortification, fearful for even the smallest sin. At the age of twelve, his education was taken over by his paternal uncle, Francois-Joseph Labre. When Benedict was about eighteen, an epidemic fell upon the city, the uncle and nephew helped with curing the sick. Among the last victims of the epidemic was Labre's uncle, because of the physical contact between him and the sick. After the death of his uncle, Labre set off for La Trappe Abbey to apply to the Order but did not come up to their requirements. He was underage and he didn’t get any recommendations. Labre later joined the Third Order(once he met the requirements) of Saint Francis and settled on a life of poverty and pilgrimage. He lived on what he was given, sometimes nothing and often shared the little he did receive with others. He was known to have talked rarely, prayed often, and got abused often. Labre was following in the role of the mendicant, the "Fool-for-Christ," found more often in the Eastern Church. He would often become emotional when contemplating the crown of thorns, in particular, and, during these states, it is said he would levitate or bi-locate(appear in two different places at the same time). He was also said to have cured the homeless of sickness and also multiplied bread for them. During a visit to the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti, he died there of malnutrition during Holy Week and was buried also in the Church of Santa Maria ai Monti. Benedict was declared Blessed by Blessed Pious IX in 1860, and later canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. Benedict is the patron saint of the homeless.
O dearest St. Benedict Joseph Labre, you who truly understand what it is like to be homeless, I ask your prayers on behalf of all those who are homeless. You were totally reliant upon the generosity and kindness of others. Pray that those who are homeless experience kindness, understanding, and love from others. You know what it felt like to be turned away and scoffed at. Pray that the wounds of their hearts will be healed and that they can openly embrace the charity of others. Amen
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