01/18/16 - St. Charles of Sezze - (1613-1670) - (Feast Day: January 18 and on some calendars, January 7):
From: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1264&calendar=1 and http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-charles-of-sezze.html
Feast Day: January 18 (or January 7 on some calendars)
St. Charles of Sezze
Charles thought that God was calling him to be a missionary in India, but he never got there. God had something better for this 17th-century successor to Brother Juniper.
Born in Sezze, southeast of Rome, Charles was inspired by the lives of Salvator Horta and Paschal Baylon to become a Franciscan; he did that in 1635. Charles tells us in his autobiography, "Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a lay brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love."
Charles served as cook, porter, sacristan, gardener and beggar at various friaries in Italy. In some ways, he was "an accident waiting to happen." He once started a huge fire in the kitchen when the oil in which he was frying onions burst into flames.
One story shows how thoroughly Charles adopted the spirit of St. Francis. The superior ordered Charles — then porter — to give food only to traveling friars who came to the door. Charles obeyed this direction; simultaneously the alms to the friars decreased. Charles convinced the superior the two facts were related. When the friars resumed giving goods to all who asked at the door, alms to the friars increased also.
At the direction of his confessor Charles wrote his autobiography, The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God. He also wrote several other spiritual books. He made good use of his various spiritual directors throughout the years; they helped him discern which of Charles’ ideas or ambitions were from God. Charles himself was sought out for spiritual advice. The dying Pope Clement IX called Charles to his bedside for a blessing.
Charles had a firm sense of God’s providence. Father Severino Gori has said, "By word and example he recalled in all the need of pursuing only that which is eternal" (Leonard Perotti, St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page 215).
He died at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome and was buried there. Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1959.
The drama in the lives of the saints is mostly interior. Charles’ life was spectacular only in his cooperation with God’s grace. He was captivated by God’s majesty and great mercy to all of us.
Father Gori says that the autobiography of Charles "stands as a very strong refutation of the opinion, quite common among religious people, that saints are born saints, that they are privileged right from their first appearance on this earth. This is not so. Saints become saints in the usual way, due to the generous fidelity of their correspondence to divine grace. They had to fight just as we do, and more so, against their passions, the world and the devil" (St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page viii).
Saint Charles of Sezze
St. Charles of Sezze
(St. Charles de Sezza)
Feast Day – January 7
Charles, the son of lowly country folk, was born at Sezze in Italy on October 22, 1613. At the urgent request of his grand-mother, the rearing of the child was entrusted to her, and the gentle boy acquired a great love of God and of prayer from the example and teaching of this devout lady. He grasped the truths of religion so readily that his parents entertained the sweet hope that Charles would later become a priest.
But when Charles was old enough to go to school, his studies did not meet with marked success; and so, when his schooling ended, his parents were sensible enough to put him to work in the fields with his brothers. There, in God’s free nature, a new light came to the boy. From books he had not learned much, but he understood very well the wonders of God’s creation. Everything conspired to raise his thoughts to heavenly things, so that his work was constantly mingled with interior prayer. He began to receive the sacraments more frequently, and evinced real zeal for Christian perfection.
Our of veneration for the Virgin Mother of God, he made a vow of chastity at the age of seventeen, and he preserved it so faithfully that the Beloved of pure souls, “who feeds among the lilies” (Cant. 2,16), seemed to have His dwelling-place in the heart of Charles. He was seized with a great desire for holiness. He read with delight the lives of the saints and related them to the others while at work. In the Franciscan church which he often visited, he used to study the pictures of the saints with a desire to imitate them.
When he was twenty years old he fell dangerously ill, so that his life was despaired of. Then he made a vow that, if he would recover, he would enter the Franciscan Order. At once his illness took a turn for the better, and, true to his vow, although there were many hardships to overcome, Charles received the habit two years later. After his consecration to God through the vows, he advanced visibly not only in piety but in all the virtues of his state of life, so that even the oldest brothers were edified by him and followed his example. He ardently desired to shed his blood for Christ, and asked that he might be sent as a lay brother to the missions in India; but a new illness frustrated the design.
He was sent to a convent in Rome so that he could fully recover his health. But here God Almighty destined him for another field of labor. He received remarkable enlightenment about things divine and about the truths of religion, so that the most learned theologians were astonished at it and consulted with him on some of the most difficult questions. The cardinals and even Pope Clement IX sought his advice. In compliance with the will of God he also wrote several books about spiritual things.
At the same time the pious brother remained deeply humble. Concerning his remarkable gift of enlightenment he used to say to himself, that Our Lord in His wisdom hides such things from the wise but reveals them to the simple, to which class he belonged. He so fervently adored his Lord under the appearances of bread that one day a ray of light like an arrow went out from the Sacred Host and impressed a wound in his left side. This wound was still visible after his death.
Charles died on January 6, 1670. Pope Leo XII pronounced him blessed in 1882, and Pope John XXIII canonized him in the spring of 1959.
*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm