BLESSED CHARLES HOUBEN
Blessed Charles of Saint Andrew (John Houben) was born at Munstergeleen (The Netherlands) on 11th December 1821. He entered the Passionist Novitiate at Ere, Tournai (Belgium) in 1845. He made his religious profession on 10th December 1846 and was ordained to the priesthood on 21st December 1850.
He was appointed to the Passionists’ new English foundation in 1852, shortly after the death of Passionist Blessed Dominic Barberi. Following the example of Blessed Dominic, an apostle of Ecumenism, Charles worked hard for the good of souls and the unity of the Church, first in England and later in Ireland, where he died with a great reputation for holiness on 5th January 1893.
A man of great prayer, in the style of Saint Paul of the Cross and the first Passionists, he was noted more for his apostolate of blessing and hearing confessions than for his preaching. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 16th October 1988
SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI
Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Possenti) 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.
SAINT GEMMA GALGANI
Saint Gemma was born in 1878 near Lucca, Italy. From her childhood she dedicated herself to meditation on the Passion of Jesus Christ. She was orphaned and, then charitably weIcomed into the home of a deeply Christian family.
She had a singular devotion toward the Eucharist and toward Jesus Crucified. Graced with special supernatural charisms, she offered herself to God for the conversion of sinners. Her ardent desire was to enter the Passionist Nuns but was never realized because of various difficulties, including poor health and the publicity surrounding her extraordinary graces. She distinguished herself as an extraordinary exemplar of holiness in the midst of the world. She had many visions and at times the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus, were visible on her body. She died at Lucca on Holy Saturday, April 11th 1903 at the age of 25.
BLESSED LORENZO SALVI
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).
BLESSED NICEFORO DIEZ TEJERINA AND THE PASSIONIST MARTYRS OF DAMIEL
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 21/22nd July 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 23rd July 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 25th September. In the following month the final group of six were martyred on 23rd October.
Not one abandoned the group to avoid participation in their fate. The moment of supreme sacrifice had come and all of them faced death with unflinching fortitude and patience for the love of God and Jesus. In actual fact even the soldiers admitted that some of them died with the crucifix in their hands and crying out ‘May Christ the King Live!’
Their Memorial is observed 24th July, the available date nearest to the date on which the first group, under the leadership of their Provincial, Blessed Niceforo Tejerina, was martyred. They are the first Beatified Martyrs of the Congregation of the Passion. Pope John Paul II beatified them on 1st October 1989.
Martyred in Manganares 23rd July
Fr. Niceforo Diez (aged 43 Yrs.), Jose Estalayo, student (aged 21 yrs.); Epilanio Sierra, student
(aged 20 yrs.); Abilio Ramos, student (aged 20 yrs.); Zacarios Fernandez, student (aged 19 yrs.); Fulgencio Calvo, student (aged 19 yrs.);
Martyred in Carabanchel 23rd July
Fr. German Perez, (aged 30 yrs.); Fr. Felipe Valcabado (aged 62 yrs.); Maurilio Macho, student (aged 21 yrs.); Jose Oses, student (aged 21 yrs.); Julio Mediavilla, student (aged 21 yrs.); Jose M. Ruiz, student (aged 21 yrs.); Laurino Proano, student (aged 20 yrs.); Bro. Anacario Benito,
(aged 30 yrs.); Bro. Felipe Ruiz, (aged 21 yrs.)
Martyred in Erda 25th July
Fr. Pedro Largo, (aged 29 yrs.); Felix Ulgade, student (aged 21 yrs.); Bro. Benito Solana,
(aged 38 yrs.)
Martyred in Carrion de Calatrava 25th September
Fr. John Pedro Bengoa, (aged 46 yrs.); Bro. Pablo M. Leoz, (aged 54 yrs.)
Martyred in Manzanares 23rd October
Fr. Ildephonso Garcia, (aged 38 yrs.); Fr. Justiniano Cuesta (aged 26 yrs.); Eufrasio de Celes, student, (aged 21 yrs.); Honorino Carracedo, student (aged 19 yrs.); Tomas Cuartero, student,
(aged 21 yrs.) and his brother, Jose M. Cuartero, student (aged 19 yrs.)
BLESSED DOMINIC BARBERI
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.
Broken finally by his labours, he died at Reading on 17th August 1849, at the age of 57. He was enrolled among the Blessed by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council, on 23rd October 1963.
SAINT VINCENT STRAMBI
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.
Travelling throughout most of Italy, he endeavoured 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.
BLESSED ISIDORE DE LOOR
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 tumour. 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.
SAINT INNOCENCIO CAROURA ARNUA
Saint Innocencio of Mary Immaculate (Emanuele Canoura Arnau) was born on 10th March 1887 in Santa Lucia del Valle de Oro, Diocese of Mondonedo, Spain. Professed a Passionist the 27th July 1905 and ordained a Priest 20th September 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 9th October 1934. Inocencio, together with the Brothers who were martyred with him, was beatified on 19th April 1990.
They were canonized and declared Saints on 21st October 1999, by Pope John Paul II.
SAINT PAUL OF THE CROSS
St. Paul of the Cross was born on 3rd January 1694 in Ovada, Italy. Nurtured by a Christian family home and active in his local Church his prayer life developed rapidly in his teens. At 26 he left home to become a hermit.
He believed that the troubles of the world were a result of the forgetting of the Passion of Jesus. He wanted all to keep alive the Memory of the Sufferings of the Crucified One. This, he believed, began in prayer at the foot of the Cross.
Ordained a priest at 33 years of age he lived his beliefs. For the next 45 years he preached missions bringing the message of the Cross and the Love of the Crucified Jesus to people. Miracles and conversions abounded. Many learned to pray and to live a true Christian life.
All his life he struggled to found a Religious Community who would accept his ideals and carry on his work. When he was 47 his first followers – the Passionists – appeared on the streets of Italy. Over the next thirty years he founded 12 Passionist Communities with 176 religious priests and brothers. He died at the age of 81. Since then, his followers, have continued the work of keeping alive the Memory of Christ Crucified.
BLESSED PIUS CAMPIDELLI
Pius of St. Aloysius (Campidelli) was bon on 29th April 1868 at Trebbio (Italy) and was the son of farmers. It was through a parish mission that he came to know the Passionists. He received the Passionist Habit on 27th May 1882 and made his first vows on 20th April 1884.
While preparing for Ordination he was afflicted with a grave illness. He died on 2nd November 1889. He was 21 years of age. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 17th November 1985.
BLESSED EUGENE BOSSILKOV
Blessed Eugene Bossilkov was born in Belene, Bulgaria, on 16th November 1900, and entered the Passionist Seminary at Oresch in Bulgaria at eleven years of age and completed his studies in Passionist Communities in Belgium and Holland.
When he entered the Passionist Novitiate he replaced his baptismal name Vincent with that of Eugene of the Sacred Heart. He was ordained a Priest on 25th July 1926 and then gained a Doctorate in Theology in Rome before returning to Bulgaria in 1933.
Having first served in Russe and at Bardaski-Gheran, in 1947 he was nominated Bishop of Nicopolis. Well known and loved throughout Bulgaria, he was condemned to death during the state persecutions and was martyred in the prison at Sofia on 11th November 1952.
BLESSED GRIMOALDO SANTAMARIA
Grumoaldo of the Purification, (Ferdinando Santamaria) was born on 4th May 1883 in Pentecorvo, Italy, the eldest of five children. He was professed a Passionist at 17 years of age on the 6th March 1900. He began his preparation for Ordination in the Passionist Community at Ceccano, Italy.
Barely two years after his profession he was stricken with acute meningitis. He died on 18th November 1902. He was only 19 years of age.
BLESSED BERNARD MARY SILVESTRELLI
Blessed Bernard Mary of Jesus (known as Caesar Silvestrelli before becoming a Passionist) was born at Rome on 7th November 1831 of the noble Silvestrelli-Gozani family. He was baptized the same day, and received the sacrament of Confirmation on 7th June 1840. He was ordained a Priest on Monte Argentario on 22nd December 1855. He made his religious profession as a Passionist on 28th April 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 fulfil 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 reorganised. 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 9th December 1911 after a serious fall. He was eighty years of age. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 16th October 1988.
PASSIONISTS HONOURED BY THE CHURCH
Saint Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775)
Saint Gabriel Possenti (1838 – 1862)
Saint Vincent Strambi (1745 – 1824)
Saint Innocencio Caroura Arnua (1887 – 1934)
Saint Gemma Galgani (1878 – 1903)
Saint Maria Goretti (1890 – 1902)
Blessed Dominic Barberi (1792 – 1849)
Blessed Lawrence Salvi (1782 – 1856)
Blessed Charles Houben (1821 – 1893)
Blessed Bernard Silvestrelli (1831 – 1911)
Blessed Pio Campidelli (1868 – 1889)
Blessed Grimoaldo Santamaria (1883 – 1902)
Blessed Niceforo Diez Tejerina and the Passionist Martyrs of Damiel
Blessed Eugene Bossilkov (1900 – 1952)
Blessed Isidore De Loor (1881 – 1916)
Venerable John Baptist Danei (1695 – 1765)
Venerable Giacomo Gianel (1714 – 1750)
Venerable Norberto Cassinelli (1829 – 1911)
Venerable Fortunato Gruttis (1826 – 1905)
Venerable Giuseppe Pesci (1853 – 1929)
Venerable Nazareno Santolini (1859 – 1930)
Venerable Giovanni Bruni (1882 – 1897)
Venerable Galileo Nicolini (1882 – 1897)
Venerable Germano Ruoppolo (1850 – 1909)
Venerable Gerardo Sagarduy (1881 – 1962)
Venerable Egidio Malacarne (1877 – 1953)
Venerable Stanislaus Battistelli (1885 – 1981)
Venerable Maria Crocifissa Constantini (1713-1787)
Venerable Lucia Burlini (1710 – 1789)
Venerable Antonietta Farani (1906 – 1963)
Venerable Dolores Medina (1860 – 1925)
Venerable Gemma Giannini (1884 – 1971)