Prayer for the Intercession of St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Brother John Raymond

	St. Benedict Joseph Labre was born in France in 1748. As a boy
 his parents sent him to his uncle, Father Vincent, to be trained for
 the priesthood. Both were in love with poverty and silence.
	At eighteen Benedict Joseph tried two very austere Orders, the
 Carthusians and the Trappists. This was not his vocation. In July
 1770, he embraced the life of a wandering pilgrim or poor man.
	No saint has more exemplified Christ in the poor and homeless
 than St. Benedict Joseph Labre. He travelled to Rome where he lived
 in total poverty - sleeping at night under an arch of the Colosseum.
 He was seen wandering the streets of Rome like any beggar. Yet, if
 one studied his face, caught a glimpse of his always downcast eyes,
 observed the large rosary around his neck, the copy of the New
 Testament in his pouch and the breviary he carried - one would see a
	Known as the "Poor Man of the Forty Hours" St. Benedict Joseph
 would spend days in churches in which the Blessed Sacrament was
 solemnly exposed for forty hours. For years this Saint was seen in
 Rome making pilgrimages from church to church where the Forty Hours
 was being held. He would remain before Jesus, always on his knees
 absorbed in adoring prayer, motionless for as much as eight hours at
 a time. 
	St. Benedict Joseph not only suffered from his meager conditions
 of living but also from people whom he met. Some people treated him
 cruelly. Struck on the mouth by a stone, he was seen to pick up the
 stone and kiss it. Once, a gentleman wanted to report his tormenters
 to the government, but he refused: "No, let no complaint be made;
 what we suffer for the love of Christ Crucified is little." 
	Thus, he travelled the unfrequented byways sometimes covered with
 deep snow. His nights were spent under a hedge, in a hayloft or in
 the stable of a kind family. He refused all gifts except those for
 immediate needs. Benedict's sleep was interrupted by many insect
 bites!. Due to his great charity, he would not burden others with
 the insects that were on his clothes and body. He would almost never
 set foot inside someone's house. Later in life, under obedience to
 his confessor, Benedict spent his nights in a hospice for the poor
 although he always slept on the floor. 
	Benedict Joseph made pilgrimages to Barcelona, Montserrat and
 Compostela. All across the south of France, over into Germany, and
 zigzag across the face of Italy - men and women saw him once and
 never again forgot him. As Benedict weakened he became less capable
 of these long pilgrimages. More and more his life centered on Rome
 and the Holy House at Loreto.
	In Rome he became a familiar sight at the church of Santa Maria
 dei Monti. He knelt upright hour after hour in perfect stillness,
 even with the soft tumors that had developed on his knees. Sometimes
 at the noon hour, when he had the church to himself, he allowed his
 fervor to find vent in exclamations.
	In general, his meeting with people was characterized by
 gentleness and concern for other people's comfort. Beggars were
 amazed at the help they received from him. In a mountain pass in the
 Pyrennes a traveller, wounded by brigands, opened his eyes to find a
 ragged figure bending over him. When soldiers saw Benedict they
 thought he had wounded the traveller and threw him in prison. The
 traveller finally convinced the soldiers of Benedict's innocence and
 they released him! 
	On April 16th, 1783, a butcher was passing the church of Santa
 Maria dei Monti at nine o'clock in the morning. He saw a pitiful
 figure drag itself out of the door of the church and fall upon the
 steps. He took him to his house and placed him on a bed. This was
 the first bed he had layed on in years. He received the last rites
 in an unconscious state. That evening, as the church bells rang out
 the Angelus, Benedict suddenly, and without a struggle, ceased to
	St. Benedict Joseph in his late years claimed, "Men offend God
 because they do not know Him." Let us, like Benedict, go to the
 tabernacle to get to know this God who loves us so much. Let us make
 a pilgrimage like Benedict to a church we have never visited to
 spend some time with Our Blessed Lord. Finally, let us be careful
 about our attitude toward the next poor person we meet - it may be
 another St. Benedict Joseph Labre.


	St. Benedict Joseph Labre, you gave up honor, money and home for
 love of Jesus. Help us to set our hearts on Jesus and not on the
 things of this world. You lived in obscurity among the poor in the
 streets. Enable us to see Jesus in our poor brothers and sisters and
 not judge by appearances. Make us realize that in helping them we
 are helping Jesus. Show us how to befriend them and not pass them
	St. Benedict Joseph Labre, you had a great love for prayer.
 Obtain for us the grace of persevering prayer, especially adoration
 of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
	St. Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in
 the eyes of God, pray for us. Amen.