The Life of St. Paschal Baylon
Paschal Baylon was born in 1540 in a little village called Torre Hermosa which stood in the mountainous region of Aragon, Spain.
Paschal was born at dawn on Pentecost Sunday on Whitsun, which that year was the 16th of May. According to custom, he was named after the feast day of which he was born. Pentecost is commonly known in Spain as “the Pasch of the Holy Spirit beginning on Holy Thursday evening to the Pasch proper (Good Friday) Holy Saturday is the Jewish “Great Pasch”.
Paschal’s parents Martin and Elizabeth did not own much property, just a small house and small flock of sheep which were grazed on the hills. His parents at times worked as laborers. Though the Baylons had few possessions, they considered each other and God as their possession.
Their faith could be seen in the fact that when Martin Paschal was dying he received the Viaticum (food for the journey), in struggling effort, kneeling down. He receive the Lord in Holy Communion before he died.
Elizabeth Baylon’s goodness and kindness earned for her the name "Pearl of the Women of Torre Hermosa". Witnesses at Paschal’s beatification in 1618 declared that they could not reminisce ever having heard her say anything hurting anyone.
With Elizabeth’s intense love for her child and her great love for God, she taught little Paschal the names of Jesus and Mary before any other name. While still very young, Paschal learned to make the sign of the Cross with joined hands so earnestly to the delight of his parents. Even before learning to walk, his mother always took him to Mass and held him all the time in her arms. Paschal just kept still and quiet following the rituals of the priests with his observing eyes. Quite amazingly, his body trembles at the elevation of the Host.
From that day on, the church held great attraction for Paschal. One day, his parents could not locate him anywhere. His mother had an inspiration and hurriedly went to church only to find him lying on the altar steps looking intently at the tabernacle. The mother realized that there must be some extraordinary grace from God planted in her boy’s heart.
As Paschal grew older, he desired most to recite the rosary and say prayers to the saints. He especially likes to sit and listen to his mother talk about the lives of the saints than to play with other children.
Paschal Baylon spent his childhood tending sheep and reading spiritual books. Then he found himself in longer periods of meditation and prayer. His sanctity was sustained by the life of holiness and austerity.
At the age of twenty-four, he joined the Reformed Franciscan Order and became a lay brother. He lived in extreme poverty and constant prayer. He used great part of the night praying alone before the altar. He had an intense devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Brother Paschal spent all of his free time and even night, at great length, honoring the presence of the Lord in the holy tabernacle. He delighted in serving at Holy Masses in succession. As he fulfilled his numerous tasks as a lay brother, he practiced the virtues of obedience, humility and charity.
By God’s providence, Paschal died on Pentecost Sunday (Whitsun) of 1592, the 52nd religious anniversary of his birth.
The devotion to the Blessed Sacrament which Paschal Baylon exhibited so devoutly during his life was reflected in the extraordinary phenomena and miracles performed by the Saint after his death, all of which contributed to the revival of the faith and increased devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the hearts of many Catholics. Perhaps the most unusual miracle happened at his funeral mass. A little girl named Kathleen Ferrer who was suffering from malignant swelling grasped Paschal’s hand during the consecration of the bread and wine. His eyes opened at both elevations and the little girl was cured.
Due to popular acclaim, Brother Paschal’s beatification process was begun only after his death. Fourteen miracles were presented at the process. Seven years after it began, Pope Paul V beatified Paschal Baylon. He was canonized in 1690 by Pope Alexander VIII.
In 1897, Pope Leo VIII made Saint Paschal Baylon the Patron of all Eucharistic societies and congresses.
St. Paschal’s feast day is on the 17th of May.