Paolo Danei was a pretty normal fellow. He was actually a lot like you and me.
He grew up in a devout Catholic merchant family in northern Italy in the early 18th century. He received a well-rounded education and did well in school as did many of his peers.
Maybe the one thing that made him stand out was his devotion to the Eucharist and his profound prayer life…although, quite a few pious young men were like that.
Of course, a Catholic youth of such good standing and education would have pleased many parents; they would have liked him to enter into a holy marriage with one of their daughters. In fact, his uncle—a priest—had tried to arrange a marriage for him.
But Paolo politely declined.
When this same uncle died and left him an inheritance, he refused that, too (except for the late priest’s prayer book).
After all, Paul had a mission that would soon become clear: spreading devotion to the Passion of Christ.
He received two visions to this effect: in the first, he saw himself clothed in a black habit, and in the second, he saw Our Lady dressed in a similar tunic with a peculiar badge—a black heart topped by a cross with the words: The Passion of Jesus. She instructed him to found an order dedicated to the memory of her Son’s sacrifice.
Paolo went on to establish the “Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”—or, for short, the Passionists.
This group was fully dedicated to planting in the hearts of the faithful a full and ardent love of Christ Crucified. They took a fourth vow—in addition to the usual ones of poverty, chastity, and obedience—to keep alive everywhere the memory of Our Crucified Lord.
Like the original St. Paul, Paolo Danei—or St. Paul of the Cross, as we now know him—resolved to know nothing but Christ, and Him Crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). He died in 1775 and is buried in the Basilica of Sts. John and Paul in Rome, where the Passionists are headquartered.
May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts. —Passionist Motto
Carry on the mission of St. Paul of the Cross—whose feast we celebrate today—by renewing your devotion to the Passion of Our Lord. The School of Jesus Crucified will be your guide. Written by Passionist Father Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, this bestselling book will help you meditate more deeply on the lessons of Calvary and practice them in your daily life. Available today at The Catholic Company!