Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

"One of the first signs of a saint may well be the fact that other people do not know what to make of him. In fact, they are not sure whether or not he is crazy or only proud; but it must at least be pride to be haunted by some individual ideal which nobody but God really comprehends. And he has inescapable difficulties in applying all the abstract norms of' perfection' to his own life. He cannot seem to make his life fit in withthe books.

Sometimes his case is so bad that no monastary will keep him. He has to be dismissed, sent back to the world, like Benedict Joseph Labre, who wanted to be a Trappist and a Carthusian and succeeded in neither. He finally ended up as a tramp. He died in some street in Rome.

And yet the only canonized saint, venerated by the whole Church, who lived either as a Cisterican or a Carthusian since the Middle Ages is St. Benedict Joseph Labre."

-- Thomas Merton

New Seeds of Contemplationend of the "Integrity” chapter, p. 105 in the Shambala edition

More information about St. Benedict Joseph Labre is here.


  1. Thanks for reminding me of this passage....saints are indeed unique people.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Fr. Christian.
    I read a little more about St. Benedict Labre - like most saints, his life was truly centered in and led by God. People would initially think he was crazy, but after seeing his "prayer", they were convinced that he was truly a holy man.

    Interesting that our Pope Benedict's other name is "Joseph" (as in Joseph Ratzinger), and he was born on April 16 - the days the Fr. B.J. Labre died.

  3. Thank you for bringing to mind this wonderful Saint. In these dark times, it is good for all of us to go back and study the lives of the saints - as their lives inspire us - they let us know that although we are sinners, we are beings of great possibility.

    God bless...

  4. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Brian. Speaking of saints, I recently came across this quote:

    “The Church is always God hung between two thieves…. To be connected with the Church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrates of every description. It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul within every time, country, race and gender. To be a member of the Church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul….”

    -Ronald Rolheiser

    The Holy Longing

  5. ^
    Thank You for this!

    Blessings from Sachiel
    in the way of abundance
    on this Thursday
    that all may be
    in spirit + matter!


From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.