The cause for beatification of Father Theodore Foley, C.P. (1913-1974) opened officially on May 9, 2008 in Rome, just two years after the North American Passionist Province of St. Paul of the Cross and affiliate members met in a provincial chapter. The chapter endorsed a proposal requesting that Father Theodore, a member of St. Paul of the Cross province and former superior general of the community, be considered as a candidate for canonization
He was born in Salice Salentino (LE) on 28th January 1877. At fifteen he entered the Congregation of the Passionists, where he took vows on 21st November 1894 and ordered priest on 31st May 1903. He was an exemplary Religious and was charged with a number of assignments. He was also a spiritual director and preacher of the Novices in the Convent of Laurignano, when on 26th November l935, he was designated as Bishop of Cariati (CS). Consecrated on 19th April 1936, he run the Diocese for twenty years with a great deal of devotion and abnegation, giving a noble example of goodness, charity, apostolic fervor and zeal for the holiness. In 1956, because of the advanced age and of the sufferings, he abdicated the Diocese and withdrew in the Passionist Convent of Manduria (TA), where he piously died on 2nd May 1960. The canonical trials have been closed in 1991. His body rests in the Passionist church in CirÚ Marina (Kr).
Saint Vincent Strambi was born at Civitavecchia, in Italy, in 1745. A short time after his ordination to the Priesthood he entered the recently founded Passionist Congregation. Traveling throughout most of Italy, he endeavored to promote the Christian life among the people by preaching on the Passion. He wrote hagiographical books, including a Life of St. Paul of the Cross, and devotional books, the most significant of which was that on the Precious Blood. Being an outstanding 'spiritual director,' he directed, among others, Saint Gaspar del Bufalo and Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. Appointed Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, he showed himself to be a true shepherd of his flock and promoted the reform of the clergy and the people with apostolic zeal. In the political upheavals of the time, he was a fearless advocate of the freedom of the Church and chose exile in preference to an unlawful oath of loyalty to Napoleon. When he returned to his Diocese after exile, he once again manifested his deep pastoral concern and extraordinary charity for the poor. Called by Pope Leo XII to become his personal advisor; he died in Rome on January 1, 1824.
Dominic Barberi, as a Passionist by title "of the Mother of God," was born of devout farming people in 1792 at Viterbo, Italy. At twenty-two years of age, he experienced the call of God to the apostolate. Leaving his farm work, he entered the Passionists where he manifested extraordinary gifts of mind and heart. After he was ordained to the Priesthood in 1818, he spent himself diligently in teaching, in the ministry of the Word, in the spiritual direction and in writing many philosophical, theological and homiletic works. Filled with the spirit of Saint Paul of the Cross, he left Italy and went first to Belgium. There he established the Passionists in 1840, and went on to England in 1842. He was now responding to a Divine call that had always been with him - to work for unity among God's people in England. In the space of eight years he had founded four Passionist Communities and exercised an extensive apostolate by preaching missions and retreats throughout the country. His writings and personal holiness brought many to the faith; most prominent among those he received into the Church was John Henry Newman.
was born at Assisi in Umbria in 1838. While very young, he attended school at Spoleto and seemed to be strongly attracted to the World. However, under the call of God's grace, he entered the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ where he lived so crucified to the world and so intimately united to God that he became a model of all the virtues, especially humility and obedience. Moreover, he had a very great devotion to the Sorrowful Virgin who was, as it were, the whole reason for his holiness. He died at Isola of Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi on February 27th 1862. He was 24 years of age and had not yet completed his studies for the priesthood. Near his tomb, there rose a large sanctuary, a place of faith pilgrimages and a centre of religious influence. In 1926 Saint Gabriel was declared joint patron of the Catholic Youth of Italy and in 1959 principal patron of the Abruzzi.
Blessed Isidore De Loor, known in the Passionist Congregation as Isidore of Saint Joseph, was born 13th April 1881, in the small town of Vrasene, located in the diocese of Gent-Gand, in Eastern Flanders. He was from a family of farmers, and he grew up loving his work in the fields. At the age of twenty-six he felt the call to the religious life, and entered the novitiate of the Passionist Congregation in Ere, where he was received as a lay-brother. He professed his religious vows on 13th September 1908. Thereafter he humbly served several communities of the Congregation; to his community service was joined an especially intense life of prayer and penance, in keeping with the spirit of the Congregation. His right eye had to be removed in 1911, because of a tumor. Among the religious of the congregation, and among the laity, he was admired for his charity and simplicity, his dedication to work and his spirit of recollection. Having suffered through several months of intense pain, he succumbed to cancer and pleurisy on 6th October 1916. Blessed Isidore was only thirty-five years of age, and had lived as a religious for only nine years. Many referred to him as "the good Brother" and "the Brother of the Will of God." Pope John Paul II, declared him Blessed the 30th September 1984.
Pius of St. Aloysius (Gigino Campidelli) was born April 29, 1868 at Trebbio in the diocese of Rimini, Italy and was the son of farmers. He came to know the Passionists through a parish mission. Eagerly entering the Passionist way of life, he pronounced his vows on April 20, 1884. Following the example of St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, in the seven years of his religious life he became a perfect model of the regular observance and of a joyful, heroic practice of all the virtues. He was especially devoted to the Eucharist and to our Lady. While preparing for the subdiaconate he was afflicted with a grave illness. He died on November 2, 1889, while offering his life as a sacrifice for the Church, the Pope and his beloved home region of Romagna. Pope John Paul II beatified him on, November 17, 1985.
On January 5th each year Passionists celebrate the Feast of Blessed Charles Houben or as he is also known Blessed Charles of Mount Argus. Blessed Charles was born in Munstergeleen, Holland in 1821, and joined the Passionists at Ere, Belgium when he was twenty four years of age. He was ordained a priest in 1850 and assigned to the Passionist Community in England. On 6th July 1857 he became a member of the Passionist Community at Mount Argus in Dublin, Ireland. He died in 1893 and is buried in St. Paul's Church, Mount Argus. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3, 2007.
Blessed Lorenzo Maria of St. Francis Xavier (Salvi) was born in Rome on 30th October 1782. He died in Capranica (Viterbo) 12th June 1856. Blessed Lorenzo professed the Passionist Rule 20th November 1802 and was ordained to the priesthood 29th December 1805. As superior he was most prudent in leading the community. Following in the footsteps of Our Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, his principle apostolate was that of itinerant missionary. Blessed Lorenzo was also untiring in promoting devotion to the Holy Childhood of Jesus on every occasion by work, example and through his many writings. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II, 1st October 1989. He is buried in the Passionist Church of St. Angelo, Vetralla (Viterbo). (VT).
Grimoaldo of the Purification (Fernando Santamaria) was born May 4, 1883 in Pontecorvo, Frosinone, the oldest of five children. He professed his Passionist vows at the age of 17 on March 6, 1900 and began his studies for the priesthood at the Ceccano retreat. Two years later he contracted acute meningitis and died on November 18, 1902. His rapid ascent to the heights of perfection are attributed to his exceptional devotion to Mary Immaculate, to whom he had been consecrated as a child. Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed on January 29, 1995.
Saint Innocencio of Mary Immaculate (Emanuele Canoura Arnau) was born on March 10, 1887 in Santa Lucia del Valle de Oro, Diocese of Mondonedo, Spain. Professed a Passionist the July 27, 1905 and ordained a Priest September 20, 1913, he was most zealous in exercising this ministry in various communities of his Province. During the so-called "Revolution of Asturias of 1934"; while he was celebrating Mass with the De La Salle Brothers, he together with eight of the Brothers, was taken prisoner by those who were filled with hatred for religion. All were executed on October 9, 1934. Inocencio, together with the Brothers who were martyred with him, was beatified on April 19, 1990. They were canonized and declared Saints on October 21, 1999, by Pope John Paul II.
St. Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878 at Camigliano, near Lucca in Italy, to Henry and Aurelia Galgani. Gemma's mother died when Gemma was was very young. At nineteen Gemma became ill with a painful curvature of the spine and meningitis, resulting in a partial paralysis. One of Gemma's greatest sufferings came about because of her confusion concerning God's will for her in becoming a religious. While not juridically ascribed in the Passionist family, she aspired to the Passionist Nuns at Tarquinia and embraced profoundly the spirituality of the Passion. On June 8, 1899, Gemma entered into a deeper experience of the Passion of Jesus by suffering the physical wounds of Christ on her body. The agony continued on Thursdays and Fridays in various parts of her body, usually with the flow of blood. Although Gemma always remained a lay-woman, she absorbed the Passionist spirituality. Only after her death did the Monasteries of the Passionist Nuns enjoy a marvelous blossoming. Gemma died in Lucca on Holy Saturday April 11, 1903. Her holiness was evidenced by her whole life, her spirit of prayer, her loving acceptance of suffering, and her writings, all proclaim her desire to please God and to be united with Him. In 1923 her body was transferred to a shrine at the Passionist Convent in Lucca. Gemma was beatified by Pope Pius XI on May 14, 1933 and on May 2, 1940 she was canonized by the Servant of God Pope Pius XII. St. Gemma is a model for lay people who want to pray, who want to turn to God, for help and consolation in their worried lives - plagued by financial insecurity, broken homes, and emptiness - caused by the death of loved ones, the rejection felt by some handicap, and the frustration of the willing who are unable - in a society where the able are unwilling.
Maria Goretti, born in 1890, is honored as one of the first Passionist martyrs. She was the daughter of poor share-croppers who lived in the Italian countryside. She lost her father to malaria as a child, and it is this loss that many feel contributed to her sense of strength and maturity. On July 5, 1902, at the age of 12, Maria made her First Communion at the nearby Passionist church. Shortly after, alone in her home except for her little sister, Maria was attacked by Alessandro Serenelli. When she would not submit to his advances, he stabbed Maria 14 times. She held him off courageously, but was mortally wounded. When Serenelli’s father and Maria’s mother came to check on the little girl, they found the bleeding Maria and took her to the nearest hospital in Nettuno. She underwent surgery without anesthesia, but her injuries were too grave. The following day, twenty hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for her murderer and stating that she wanted to have him in heaven with her, Maria died of her injuries. At Maria Goretti’s canonization by Pope Pius XII on June 24, 1950, some 500,000 people, mostly young men and women, were in attendance. Maria’s life and death had come to exemplify purity of heart and spiritual strength in the face of temptation.
The Passionist Bishop and Martyr, Eugene Bossilkov, was born November 16, 1900 in Belene (Bulgaria), a village in the Danube Valley. His family were farmers and Catholics of the Latin Rite. In 1940 Bulgaria joined the Axis in the 2nd World War. Four years later the Soviet Union invaded Bulgaria after the retreat of German troops and subjugated the country militarily, politically and ideologically. After the death of Bishop Theelen in 1946, Father Bossilkov was ordained Bishop of Nicopolis in 1947, when churches faced a new round of difficulties from government laws drafted to destroy religion. In 1948, Bishop Bossilkov received government permission to go to Rome for his "Ad limina" visit, where he was received by Pope Pius XII. In 1949, the Apostolic Delegate to Bulgaria was expelled, and new steps were taken by the government to crush the Catholic Church and create a national church in its place. Laws were passed expelling all foreign missionaries, confiscating Church property and institutions, suppressing religious congregations and dispersing their members. In 1950-51 the noose of persecution tightened until finally, in 1952, mass arrests of church leaders began. Bishop Bossilkov was seized July 16, 1952, while on vacation at a house outside Sophia. He was physically and mentally tortured into making a confession. On September 20, the party newspapers published accusations against him on their first page. A mock trial was conducted from September 29th to October 3rd. Bossilkov was presented as 'chief' of a subversive Catholic spy organization." The trial ended with a guilty verdict. He was executed in the prison at Sophia on the night of November 11m at 11:30 P.M. His body was thrown into a common grave for criminals; the precise location of his burial place and his body is unknown. Bishop Eugene Bossilkov, C.P., was beatified by Pope John Paul II during Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on March 15, 1998. The Bishop and martyr Vincent Eugene Bossilkov truly drank from the spiritual rock which is Christ. A faithful follower of the founder of his congregation, St. Paul of the Cross, he cultivated the spirituality of the Passion. He also gave himself unreservedly to serve pastorally the Christian community entrusted to him, accepting without hesitation the supreme test of martyrdom.
Blessed Bernard Mary of Jesus (known as Caesar Silvestrelli before becoming a Passionist) was born at Rome on November 7, 1831 of the noble Silvestrelli-Gozani family. He was baptized the same day, and received the sacrament of Confirmation on June 7, 1840. He was ordained a Priest on Monte Argentario on December 22, 1855. He made his religious profession as a Passionist on April 28, 1857 at the novitiate at Morrovalle where his companion was the future Saint Gabriel of Our Mother of Sorrows. He was quickly called upon to fulfill various ministries in the service of the Passionist Congregation: Director of Students, Master of Novices, Rector, Provincial Consultor and, during the years 1878-88 and 1893-1907, Superior General. Strenuous in upholding the spirit of the Congregation, he gave the Passionists a great apostolic thrust in the world. Under his enlightened and vigilant guidance six new Provinces were founded, and those which had been suppressed by the governments of Italy and France were reorganized. Having resigned the office of Superior General, he received from the Pope the title of "Honorary General" for life. He retired to the Passionist Monastery at Moricone where he died on December 9, 1911 after a serious fall. He was eighty years of age. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1988.
Blessed Niceforo of Jesus and Mary (Diez Tejerina) and his 25 martyr companions were all members of the Passionist Community of Daimiel. Their martyrdom took place against the background of the strong anti-clerical climate which was sweeping Spain after the proclamation of the Republic in 1931. The majority were young religious aged between 18 and 21 years of age studying for the Priesthood and the possibility of working one day in South America. Towards midnight of the July 21/22nd anticipating the possibility of being attacked, the members of the Community, led by the Provincial Fr. Niceforo Diez gathered in the Chapel of the Monastery. They made their last Confession, received Holy Communion and heard the Provincial say 'Inhabitants of Calvary, this is our Gethsemane. Human nature frightened at the prospect of the Steps of the Passion, the same as that of Jesus, grows weak and is intimidated. But Jesus is with us. He comforts us and sustains us. In a few moments we will be with Christ. Inhabitants of Calvary - Courage! Let us die for Christ.' About 200 men arrived and drove them into the night. Divided into small groups they were martyred at various places over the next three months. Six were martyred on July 23rd at Manganares and on the same day nine at Carabanchel. Two days later three more were killed at Erda. Two months later two were martyred at Carrion de Calatrava on September25th. In the following month the final group of six were martyred on October23rd The 26 Passionist martyrs were beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 1989.