A Year with the Saints – 5 March


Whoever makes little account of exterior mortifications, alleging that the interior are more perfect, shows clearly that he is not mortified at all, either exteriorly or interiorly. Saint Vincent de Paul

This Saint was always an enemy to his body, treating it with much austerity – chastising it with hair-cloth, iron chains, and leather belts armed with sharp points. Every morning on rising, he took a severe discipline – a practice which he had begun before founding the Congregation, and which he never omitted on account of the hardships of journeys, or in his convalescence from any illness; but, on the contrary, he took additional ones on special occasions. All his life he slept upon a simple straw bed, and always rose at the usual hour for the Community, though he was generally the last of all to retire to rest, and though he often could not sleep more than two hours out of the night, on account of his infirmities. From this it frequently happened that he was much tormented during the day by drowsiness, which he would drive away by remaining on his feet or in some uncomfortable posture, or by inflicting on himself some annoyance. Besides, he willingly bore great cold in winter, and great heat in summer, with other inconveniences; in a word, he embraced, or rather sought, all the sufferings he could, and was very careful never to allow any opportunity for mortifying himself to escape.

A holy woman, being compelled by her husband to go to a ball, put dry mustard on her shoulders, which, in dancing, caused her such intense pain that she fainted several times, and had to be carried from the ballroom.

Saint Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, wore for thirty successive years a band of hair-cloth next to his skin, and always slept on the floor without pillow or coverlet. Saint Louis, King of France, constantly chastised his body with fasts and hair-cloth. Saint Casimir, son of the King of Poland, did the same, and also slept on the bare ground. Saint Margaret, Queen of Scotland, as well at Saint Cajetan, often used the discipline during whole nights.

Finally, there can be found among the Confessors no Saint, either man or woman, who did not have great love for exterior mortifications, and who did not practice them as much as possible.

MLA Citation