St. John Francis Regis
This French saint was born in 1597. When he was eighteen, he entered the Jesuit order. In the seminary, John's love for God and his vocation showed in the way he prayed. He was also eager to teach catechism in the parishes when he could. After he was ordained a priest, St. John Francis began his work as a missionary preacher. He gave very simple talks that came right from his heart. He especially spoke to the poor, ordinary folks. They came in great crowds to hear him. He spent his mornings praying, performing the sacrament of Reconciliation and preaching. In the afternoon, he would visit prisons and hospitals. To someone who said that the prisoners and bad women he converted would not stay good for long, the saint answered: "If my efforts stop just one sin from being committed, I shall consider them worthwhile."
St. John Francis journeyed to wild mountain parishes even on the coldest days of winter to preach his missions. "I have seen him stand all day on a heap of snow at the top of a mountain preaching," one priest said, "and then spend the whole night hearing confessions." Sometimes he would start off for a far-away town at three o'clock in the morning with a few apples in his pocket for his day's food.
Once, on his way to a village, St. John Francis fell and broke his leg. But he kept on going, leaning on a stick and on his companion's shoulder. When he reached the village, he went at once to hear confessions. He did not have his leg taken care of. At the end of the day, when the doctor looked at it, his leg was already completely healed.
St. John Francis died on one of his preaching missions. He became very ill while lost at night in the woods. Just before he died, he exclaimed: "I see Our Lord and his mother opening heaven for me." He died on December 31, 1640.
In 1806, a pilgrim joined the crowds going to pray at the shrine of St. John Francis Regis. The pilgrim believed all his life that this saint obtained his vocation to the priesthood. That man was St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars. His feast is celebrated on August 4.
How often do I reflect upon my life and see the many blessings and graces of God? Does my day go by without thanking God for them?