January 3 – celebrating the birth of St. Paul of the Cross in Ovada, Italy

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CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH

Born January 3, 1694, in the town of Ovada, near Alessandria in northern Italy, Paul Francis Danei was one of sixteen children, eleven of whom died in infancy or at  very early age. Although birth and death were part and parcel of daily life in this hard pressed family, their Christian faith proved their source of strength.

Luke Danei, father of St. Paul of the Cross, owned a small clothing and tobacco store, the income from which was barely sufficient to maintain their family. Since the fluctuations of business forced the family to move from place to place, the children attended school very irregularly.

The hardships of life endured by Paul were offset by the advantages of growing up in a deeply Christian family. His mother, Anna Maria Danei, whose experience of birth and death matured her faith, exerted great influence upon his future life. She inculcated in her children a deep devotion to the suffering and crucified Christ by pointing to the crucifix in times of pain or discomfort and saying: “See how much he suffered for you!

In this Sign | The Spirituality of St. Paul of the Cross | Martin Bialas C.P., p. 8

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