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Tuesday, 24 April 2018
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St Benedict Joseph Labre

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Called "the Beggar of Rome", Benedict Joseph Labre was a pilgrim recluse. He was born at Amettes, near Arras in Northern France, on March 25th, 1748, the oldest of fifteen children.

Studying under his uncle, a parish priest, at Erin, France, Benedict was attracted to an austere way of life. He tried to join the Trappists, Carthusians, and Cistercians but was refused by these orders, who probably questioned his state of mind and considered him to be unsuitable for communal life. Nevertheless, encouraged by confessors, Benedict believed he had a calling from God, however unusual that call was. It would prove to be the call of the mendicant - a beggar, dependent on charity, living day to day by faith, and the "fool-for-Christ".

In 1770, he made a pilgrimage to the major shrines of Europe, such as Paray-le-Monial in France and Compostela in Spain, settling in Rome in 1774. There he lived near the Colosseum, for a time in its ruins, and earned fame for his sanctity. Benedict was devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and attended the Forty Hours devotion in the city. During Holy Week ceremonies in 1783, he collapsed in church and died on this date, April 16th, aged 35. He was declared Venerable by Pope Pius IX in 1859 and was canonised in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.

Today the house to which he was carried, just prior to his death, on the Street of the Serpent, is a place of pilgrimage. His tomb is in the Church of Santa Maria dei Monti in Rome.
 
Prayer to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honour, money and home for love of Jesus.
Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the things of this world.
You lived in obscurity among the poor in the streets.
Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and not judge by appearances.
Make us realize that in helping them we are helping Jesus.
Show us how to befriend them and not pass them by.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, you had a great love for prayer.
Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer,
especially adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God,
pray for us. Amen.