To read the texts click on the texts: 2 Cor 5:14-6:1; Jn 3:29-36
Bernardine Realino was born in Carpi in 1530. Even before joining the Society of Jesus he earned a doctorate in both civil and canon law. He served as a judge in Felizzano and was known for his legal brilliance. While in Naples, he was inspired by a sermon that a Jesuit preached and sought out the priest to make his confession. He was invited to attend a week long spiritual retreat. During this Retreat he made up his mind to join the Society and did so in 1564 when he was 34 years old.
After his ordination he was appointed as Master of Novices and later sent to found the Jesuit house and college in Lecce. He was concerned about the formation of diocesan priests and in 1583, began a movement to foster their training in theology and homiletics so that they could become better confessors and preachers.
He died in 1616 and is known as the Apostle of Lecce. He was beatified in 1896 and canonized in 1947.
Jean-François Régis was born in 1597, in Fontcouverte, Aude, in the Languedoc region of southern France. He was educated at the Jesuit College of Béziers. He entered the Society in 1616 when he was 19 years of age. He continued his study of philosophy even while teaching grammar at several colleges: Billom (1619–22), Puy-en-Velay (1625–27), and Auch (1627–28). After his theology he was ordained a priest in 1630.
In 1632, he began work with the victims of bubonic plague in Tolouse. From 1632 till 1634, he stayed at the Jesuit College of Montpellier. During this time he worked tirelessly visiting hospitals, assisting the needy and preaching the Catholic doctrine to children and the poor. He established safe houses for women and children who were abused. He established the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which organized charitable collections of money and food from the wealthy. He also established several hostels for victimised women, and helped many become trained lace makers, which provided them with a stable income, and an opportunity to maintain their humanity under the threat of exploitation.
In 1633, he was invited by the Bishop of the Diocese of Viviers to give missions in all Parishes in the diocese. From 1633-40 he evangelized more than fifty districts in le Vivarais, le Forez, and le Velay. Regis laboured diligently on behalf of both priests and lay people. His preaching style was said to have been simple and direct. He appealed to the uneducated peasantry and many were touched by his words.
Regis walked from town to town, in rough mountainous areas where travel was difficult, especially in the winter. He succumbed to pneumonia at age forty-three in 1640 at Lalouvesc (Ardèche), in France's Dauphiné region.
He was beatified in 1716 and canonized in 1737.
Francis Gerome (Jerome) was born in 1642 in Taranto in southern Italy. . He never travelled far from his birthplace, but his years of ministry in Naples were filled with activity and adventure. Though his initial formation was with the Theatine Fathers, he became associated with the Jesuits when he was hired as a prefect for the sons of the Italian nobility studying in their school. After being associated with the Jesuits for many years, he finally entered the novitiate in 1670 at age 28.
His first permanent assignment after ordination was the "Naples mission" which he served for the next 40 years. He worked with the sodality of artisans who met in the chapel beneath the Gesú church. He also preached in city squares or on busy thoroughfares as he promoted monthly Communion. In addition he visited slaves and prisoners in the galleys in the Bay and cared for them however he could. He also visited the sick night and day.
Jerome initially experienced great success in his ministry, but then met suspicion and jealousy which led to a severe restriction of his ministry. Some thought that a priest who preached in the streets and dealt with sinners was not fit for giving retreats to priests and nuns striving for perfection. The archbishop prohibited him from preaching in the streets until he learned that the complaints against Jerome came from jealousy; eventually he renewed his faculties.
His Jesuit superiors restricted Jerome's activities because they took too much time from community life. The provincial finally relented and gave Jerome free reign to minister to the Neapolitans, which he did from 1694 to 1702. In that year he began devoting half his time to missions outside Naples. People responded to his simple and earnest sermons. When he fell ill from pleurisy, he spent his last two months in bed slowly weakening and died at age 74, having been a Jesuit for 46 years.
He was beatified in 1806 and canonised in 1839.
Julian Maunoir was born in 1606 at Saint Georges-de-Reintembault near Rennes. At the age of 14, he entered the Jesuit College at Rennes and joined the Society at the age of 19 in 1625. He was ordained a priest in 1637 and returned to Brittany in 1640 and was assigned to Quimper where he had taught Latin and Greek while doing his philosophy studies. He was found to be uniquely suited for the difficult task of evangelizing the impoverished people of Brittany. Together with his companion, Pierre Bernard, he worked among the poor, the peasants and fishermen. Father Maunoir worked as a missionary to the people of Brittany for 43 years, and managed to give a Christian meaning to what had become pious customs.
As he got older Maunoir had to reduce the number of missions he gave. He was on his way to start a mission when he sensed that death was near. His Jesuit companions helped him to Plévin where he took to bed and contracted pneumonia. When he died several weeks later, the people demanded that he be buried in the parish church there despite the bishop's desire that he buried in the cathedral.
By 1683, Maunoir had formed over 1000 missionaries who continued the work that he had begun. He died in Brittany in 1683 at the age of 77.
He was beatified in 1951. He is known at the Apostle of Brittany.
Anthony Baldinucci, was born in Florence in 1665. Though he attended the Jesuit school at Florence he wanted to follow his older brother and join the Dominicans. However, he was inspired to join the Society of Jesus in 1681 and was ordained a priest in 1695. He wanted very much to be sent to Asia to minister there, but could not be sent because of poor health. He accepted this as the will of God and instead ministered in central Italy and especially in the cities of Frascati and Viterbo.
For four months of every year he would conduct missions. Between 1697 and 1717 he visited 30 dioceses and gave an average of 22 missions per year. The missions were generally centred on meditations from the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
His preaching was simple, intense and theatrical. He organized processions which would start from various areas of the country to the place where he was holding the mission. Many of the people in these processions would wear crowns of thorns and scourge themselves. Given the size of these processions, Baldinucci often employed a number of laymen (whom he called deputati) to help manage the crowd. Many of these "deputati" were drawn from the people he thought might otherwise be tempted to disrupt the processions.
Baldinucci himself walked barefoot to each mission assignment, often carried a cross during his preaching and wore heavy chains. He would also walk through the assembled people scourging himself to the point of drawing blood and beyond. He would often finish these missions with the burning of various possible instruments of vice, including cards, dice, and the like, in the public square. People were reported to also lay their daggers and pistols at his feet at this time. His appearances were so popular and well attended that he often found crowds covering the walls of city when he arrived to deliver a mission.
Baldinucci had a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and made sure that a copy of miraculous picture of her as the Refuge of Sinners from the Church of the Gesu (Frascati) was carried with him in his travels. He also worked diligently to spread Marian devotions in his travels.
In addition to his preaching, Baldinucci also wrote two courses of sermons for Lent, gathered material for many more, composed a number of discourses, and maintained a long correspondence list.
He suffered from a myocardial infarction in the course of one of his preaching tours, and died in the village of Pofi, in the ancient region of Lazio in 1717 at the age of 52.
He was beatified in 1893.
The text chosen for the feast is from the final appearance of John in the Gospel in which he gives his final witness to Jesus. The reason for the witness is the report of his disciples that Jesus to whom John bore witness was also baptizing and that “everyone” was now going to him. This witness begins with John stating what at first glance might seem like a logical statement, but in its deeper sense means that Jesus has what he has from God. It is a gift from God to Jesus and given to him directly. This is why in his earlier testimony, John had made clear that while he was not the Christ, and he was the one sent ahead of him to prepare the way.
Since he was clear about his role in God’s plan of salvation, he had no difficulty with accepting it and living it out. He is but the friend of the bridegroom, who when the bridegroom appears will take his secondary and less important place. The bridegroom is the one who is at the centre of the marriage feast. When it begins the friend must recede into the background.
This witness of John defines the roles of each of us who like John are friends of the bridegroom, Jesus. Like John, our role is to prepare the way for him and to point out to him through our words and actions. If we understand this role and if at every moment we realize where our authority ends, we can fulfil this role as we ought to.
All the Saints whose feast we celebrate today realised their role in pointing to the bridegroom and then exiting from the scene like John.