Wednesday, April 17, 2013

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Widely known for his devotion to aesthetic living, St. Benedict Joseph Labre truly exemplified humility. After many disappointments in his life, he would have an epiphany and devote his suffering to the Lord. We can learn much from this amazing man, who inspires us to do more to serve and support the poor and homeless.

Labre was born in France in 1748, the eldest of 18 children. He would study to become a priest under his uncle, who himself was a parish priest. When he turned 16 years of age, Labre inquired about becoming a Trappist monk, but was told he was too young. An epidemic fell upon the city, eventually affecting Labre's uncle, which would halt his education.

Labre was denied entry to many different religious orders, on account of his age, delicacy, and sanity. This would, not stop him, for he would persevere, following God's will for him. This would lead Labre to join the Third Order Franciscans, and live a life of poverty and pilgrimage.

First off, Labre decided to travel to Rome bare-foot, in addition to traveling to many of Europe's most famous shrines. He would sleep in the open, in his dirty clothes, while living off what he received from begging. He even went as far as to share what little he had with the homeless, while silently praying often.

In addition to his great perseverance and humility, many magical characteristics were attributed to Labre, such as levitation and bilocation. Additionally, he was known for having cured the homeless, and multiplied bread for them. In the last years of his life, Labre would live in parts of the Colosseum.

On the last day of his life, Labre dragged himself to a church in Rome, praying for 2 hours before collapsing and dying of malnutrition. People immediately started informally calling him a saint.

Labre did not let his drawbacks affect his determination to fulfill whatever God had in store for him. It may not always be clear as to what God has in store for us. However, the best way to resolve this is to continue to pray fervently. God reveals his ways sometimes in a manner which we might not always expect. What is known is that Labre was truly a great man, a man devoted to the homeless, humility, his faith, devoted to God.



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