Saturday, April 16, 2011


Happy Birthday, Pope Benedict!  Eighty-four, if I reckon aright!  Ad multos annos!

And today is also noteworthy for being the feast of St Benedict Joseph Labre, an 18th-century Frenchman who tried living as a Cistercian monk but was prevented from doing so by his disposition.  He was extraordinarily generous to the poor, wherever he went.  I believe he walked from France to Rome, and eventually settled in the streets of the Eternal City, sleeping in the doorways of churches.  What little he had, he shared or gave away.  At his death, churchbells rang and children ran through the streets of Rome shouting "Il santo è morto!  The saint is dead!"

St Benedict Joseph is one of the patrons of those who suffer from mental illness.