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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Vincent Mary Pallotti (1795-1850)

January 18, 2022 saints No Comments


He lived during a different era . . . the same as the Curé of Ars. He attended a special Jesuit high school, the Collegio Romano where St. Aloysius Gonzaga had been schooled. And like his fellow alumnus, he came from a large family and was called early to religious life.
One of ten, as a child Vincent played with his friends by wanting to teach them how to say the rosary, and learn the catechism. In mortification, he slept on a hard floor. By 15 he was also scourging himself and drawing blood, a concern for his mother. But his confessor said, “Leave him alone, leave him alone, the Spirit of God is working in him.” Initially not the best of students, it seems extra prayers were said and he turned his academic work around dramatically.
Called to join the Capuchins, he was advised that given his weaker constitution, he would be better advised to become a diocesan priest. This he did, he but also became a Third Order Franciscan, sleeping in the rough habit of the Capuchins at night. He did nothing by half-measures!
From the ages of 16 to 23, when he was ordained, he was a seminarian in Rome, graduating with doctorates in both theology and philosophy. During this time, he met a man who was saddened that he had been rejected from the Swiss Guard. Vincent advised him that all was would be well, that one day this man would be guarded by them.
He was Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, who Vincent correctly prophesied would be the future Pope Pius IX. (At a later date, after a nap, Vincent awoke to remark that thank goodness Cardinal Cappellari had been elected Pope.
That was Pope Gregory XVI, and he had been elected, but there was no reason other than divine intervention that he could have known not one, but two, Popes before they were announced.)
“There is none like to Thee, Lord, in Heaven or on Earth, thy works be good, thy judgments be righteous, and by thy Providence. all things be governed. Wherefore to thee, who art the Wisdom of the Father, be everlasting joy and glory!” — The Imitation of Christ.
That work was one of his favorites. When he had to wait for some reason, he would take the book out of his pocket and read it during spare moments.
From the outset he was not assigned to a parish but instead lived at home, serving as spiritual director for most of Rome’s seminarians and two convents. Additionally he was a professor, an author, and worked and founded many apostolates, helping a wide range of needy persons, from homeless men to orphans.
At the time, it was the custom for laypersons to kiss the hand of the priest, but in his humility, he devised something better. He had an image of our Lady with the Christ Child crafted on it, which he wore about his wrist.
And when anyone would reach for his hand, he would show them the image of our Lord and His Mother, and ask them to kiss the image. In this gentle way, he fostered devotion to them. We know he had many sacrifices, that he fasted, that he heard Confessions. What you may not know is that he sometimes spent entire days in the confessional, from morning till late at night.
He was known to have worked miracles, was witnessed levitating, experienced ecstasy, could read hearts and had the gift of bilocation. It is said that he was also in demand as an exorcist.
In one instance, he was hearing someone’s Confession and suddenly stopped, as though listening to someone else in a trance. After a bit, he was asked if he was all right and he answered yes, and finished the Confession. It later became known that at the same time he was hearing another Confession, of a woman of ill repute, on her deathbed, who was calling for a priest for Last Rites. God in His great mercy must have sent Fr. Pallotti.
January is an excellent month to remember St. Vincent Pallotti, for he was a great promoter of Epiphany.
He founded what later became known as the Pallottines, named “The Society of the Catholic Apostolate,” the aim of which was to revive the Church by whatever means necessary and spread its message throughout the world.
During the Octave of the Nativity, Mass is said daily in different Catholic rites. At the center of its message is, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father” (Matt. 28:19), as Christ did, reaching out to non-Jews and Jews alike. In the second year the Pope himself surprised all by attending and praised
Vincent for the thousands who had received Communion during the event. Vincent characteristically grumbled that they would do better the next year.
During the time he was doing the work of founding this society, in 1834-1835, St. Vincent had been assigned for the first time to a parish, the Church of Spirito Santo. Prior to this, he had been doing the otherwise aforementioned work. One of his trials were five priests below him who constantly maligned him and made life difficult for him, by such means as hiding the tabernacle key before Mass to speaking against him, to even removing his confessional!
They were jealous of his piety and priestly example, which incidentally entirely renewed the parish. It was noted during his canonization process that never did St. Vincent complain in kind against these priests or the difficulties they gave him.
There were those who hated the Church and priests in that day as in this. Two great stories have come down of how St. Vincent reached such souls on their deathbeds and God prevailed.
On the first such occasion he was advised by brother priests to “Try room 15,” where a man was known to refuse to speak to priests. Straight away he went and before the man could speak, he put a cookie in his mouth. And he greeted him, blessed him, and spoke of the glories of God, and how the man would soon meet his Maker. And every time the man was about to speak, Vincent would put another cookie in his mouth. Eventually the man listened, and thanks be never thought to spit out the cookies. St. Vincent won him over, heard his Confession and gave him the Last Rites. The man died later in a state of grace, murmuring: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph help me in my last agony.”
On a different occasion, the family of a soldier by the name of Pio Bossi was greatly concerned for his soul.
He had been sent home from combat, but was filled with Masonic ideas, and they didn’t know how to reach him. He kept a loaded gun beside him and threatened to kill any priest who got in the room. The story goes that Fr. Vincent dressed up as an old woman, pretending to give a family member a break, and made it past the gun and reached the heart and soul of the patient.
St. Vincent Pallotti himself died during the month of his favorite Epiphany feast, on January 22. He had become ill with a lung complaint, this after giving his cloak to a beggar. Those with him begged him to fight and stay with them — after all, he had helped cure others. But Vincent would only pray, “Please, please, let me go wherever God wills!”
There is a marvelous death mask made, which shows him at great peace, and he is slightly smiling. Blessed Elisabeth Sana, hearing of his death, had a vision of him; he was encompassed by the brightest rays, shining on him from the wounds of Christ in His glory. During his beatification process, many present asserted his highest gift was not the miraculous, but the many hours he spent saving souls in the Confessional.
Twice his grave was opened and he was found to be incorrupt. He was canonized in 1962.
St. Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!

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