Having gone through immense physical and/or emotional sufferings themselves in their mortal lives, these saints know how it feels to be in pain and to suffer persecution by people closest to them. Below are just some of them.
While you learn about their lives, you may also invoke them for their prayers and guidance in time of need.
May you find solace in this one, shared humanity!
St. Bernadette of Lourdes
Bernadette (1844 – 1879) was born in Lourdes, France, to a poor Catholic family. Known as the saint who received visions from the Virgin Mary, she became one of the most famous saints in history.
When the news of the apparitions broke out, 14-year-old Bernadette suffered discredit, skepticism and hostility. In fact, she has been told in her vision that she would not attain happiness in this world.
As a child, little Bernadette had a respiratory ailment that turned chronic in the later years of her life. During her time in the convent, Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, her Mistress of Novices, made life difficult for Bernadette. She did all her tasks in perfect humility while her long-term illness and the tumour on one of her knees were ebbing away her life until she passed away in excruciating pain.
Superior : “What are you doing in bed, you lazy little thing?”
Bernadette : “I am doing my stint. I must be a victim”
St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Born in Pietrelcina, Italy, Padre Pio (1887 – 1968) was ordained a priest at age 23 in 1910. Due to his constant poor health, he was sent home for close to 5 years. It was until September 1916 that he returned to the religious community.
A year later, Padre Pio served in the military due to the outbreak of the war. He was in hospital for six months, after only two months at it. He later was discharged from military duties and sent off to San Giovanni Rotondo. In 1918, Padre Pio received the five wounds of Christ, which stayed with him for 50 years and only healed when he died without a scar.
He suffered immense pain and bleeding on his hands, feet and side. “…the pain was so intense that I began to feel as if I were dying on the cross.” Due to his spiritual influence as a result of his stigmata, Padre Pio suffered accusations and persecutions at the hands of local and Church authorities.
St. Therese of Lisieux
Living a life of obscurity behind the walls of the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France, “Little Flower”, as what Therese (1873 – 1897) was called, entered the convent at the age of 15. In all her life, Therese suffered from poor health. Yet, here was an unassuming woman who worked hard at her tasks in humility despite her frailty.
In her early childhood years, Therese was frequently bullied in school due to her young age and good grades. “The five years I spent at school were the saddest of my life, and if my dear Céline (her sister) had not been with me I could not have stayed there for a single month without falling ill.”
After a long struggle with tuberculosis, Therese breathed her last, just 9 years after she took her vows to be a nun. She left behind letters, poems, plays, prayers and her last conversations with her sisters.
“My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Rita of Cascia
Despite her insistence to enter a convent, Rita (1381 – 1457) was married off at the age of 12. She endured her husband (Paolo Mancini)’s insults, abuses and infidelities for many years. Paolo was known to have many enemies and was killed by a member of Chiqui the feuding family.
Under the influence of her husband’s brother (Bernardo), her two sons looked to avenge their father’s murder. Rita tried to dissuade them but couldn’t change their minds and she petitioned God to take away their lives by natural death, than for them to lose their souls by committing a mortal sin (murder). Her sons died of dysentery a year later.
At the age of 36, Rita entered the convent after her husband and sons’ deaths. It was, however, with much testing before she could do so. With the intercession of three saints and Bernardo who dropped his desire for revenge, she reconciled Mancini and Chiqui families feud. The reconciliation was the challenge to her by the convent.
During her monastery days, having a great devotion to the Passion of Christ, wounds appeared on her forehead which gave her much pain and humiliation. The wounds festered and emitted a foul odour, which caused her to live apart from her fellow sisters.
Dymphna was born in 7th century in Ireland to a pagan king and a devout Christian mother. When she was 14, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity. After her mother’s death, the king’s court persuaded him to remarry, seeing that the kind plunged into deep grief to the point of mental illness.
However, they couldn’t find anyone who was as beautiful in appearance and character as the queen. Eventually, under their evil influence and giving to his desire, the king looked to take Dymphna as his wife.
Learning of her father’s intentions, Dymphna fled to Belgium, accompanied by her confessor Fr. Gerebernus (St. Gerebernus) and a few trusted aides. Alas, they were found. Fr. Gerebernus was beheaded by the king’s army, while Dymphna was martyred by her father.
Which saint do you admire for their perseverance in the face of pain and suffering? Share with me on Twitter:
— Sharon Lee (@sharonleesg) August 28, 2015