1. How helpful are Paul of the Cross’ letters for your living and sharing our Passionist Charism?
2. How does Paul of the Cross' spiritual direction help you pray today?
3. Do you find Paul of the Cross' letters written to one person more helpful than another?
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Links to Paul of the Cross' letters for spiritual direction and addressed to:
Agnes Grazi was born January 28, 1703, a twin with her brother Vincent. Her parents were Mark Anthony, a military captain, and Maria Borsoni, who died April 4, 1718. Their children, besides Vincent and Agnes, were Athanasius, Fabian, Julia, and Elizabeth. The Grazi family was prominent in Orbetello and had a large home in the city and vineyards nearby. Mark Anthony’s brother was James Grazi, a zealous priest. Agnes attended Paul’s mission at Talamone, which was probably the first formal mission Paul conducted. From then until her death, Agnes became Paul’s dearest disciple. One hundred and sixty-six letters written to Agnes are preserved. These are precious letters, giving us a wonderful example of Paul’s direction in mystical prayer and leaving for us precious insights into his own life of mystical prayer and suffering.
Thomas Fossi was born in 1711 on the island of Elba. He met Paul in 1735 when Paul was giving a mission there. Fossi was a successful business man, married with a family. After his wife’s death he was ordained and later joined the Passionists in 1768 and lived with Paul at Saints John and Paul in Rome. After Paul’s death in 1775, Thomas returned to Mount Argentario, where he died in 1785.
John Iacomini was born in Brandeglio near Lucca in 1724, professed in 1745, and ordained April 21, 1753. He lived almost all his life at the Retreat in Terracina as confessor and preacher for nearby parishes. He died at Terracina on February 8, 1786. He was recently ordained when he received this letter from Father Paul.
Maria Cherubina Bresciani Paul gave the Spiritual Exercises to the Poor Clares of the convent of Santa Anastasia in Piombino during Lent of 1733. This letter is the beginning of a long series of forty-six letters (1733–1761) to Sister Cherubina Bresciani. The letters to Cherubina reveal a soul advancing to the heights of mystical prayer.
Francis Appiani was the son of a well-to-do family of Elba, who as a youth wanted to join Paul’s community. He was born in Rio on the island of Elba, February 14, 1719. Ordained in 1741, he entered the Passionist community in 1743. He was a missionary, a local rector, and secretary to Paul. Appiani died in 1759.
Teresa Palozzi will later be in the founding group of Passionist nuns and the second superior of the nuns’ first convent at Corneto. For many years Paul had known her family at Ronciglione and frequently stayed at their home when passing through this city. Teresa was born May 6, 1737. She attended the mission Paul gave in the fall of 1755. She went to confession to Paul and wrote to him. He responded when he returned to San Angelo with this present letter. It is a gentle letter, for Paul finds in this young woman of eighteen an openness to God’s call. Remember that Paul is the founder of the Passionist nuns, not only by striving to have a convent built in Corneto and by writing the Rules, but even more because he formed, directed, and guided several women who made up the first community. There are forty-four letters to Teresa preserved.
John Anthony Lucattini young cleric, not yet ordained, seeks Paul’s direction in preparing for ordination.
Colomba Gertrude Gandolfi There are fifty-five letters to her, the last being dated 1766.
Lucy Burlini was born on May 24, 1710, at Piansano, north of Viterbo. She attended the mission of Paul at Cellere in 1734. Paul heard her confession and advised her. Later in 1748, when the Retreat of Our Lady of the Oak was opened, she provided food for the poor community.
Marchioness Donna Marianna Della Scala Del Pozzo was the wife of Claudio, a wealthy landowner at Rettorto. Of Paul’s letters to her, thirteen have been preserved. Paul was very close to the entire family and laborers whom he served in many ways. A son became a Jesuit and two daughters entered the convent. The marchioness herself became one of Paul’s earliest followers.
Marianna Elenora Del Pozzo was the daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness del Pozzo. She became a nun in the convent of the Annunciation in Alessandria.