Saint Benedict Joseph Labre
Written by Tina C.


Benedict Joseph Labre was called the beggar of perpetual adoration. He traveled in his sack-cloth, tied with a rope, always on foot. He slept in the streets, his body filthy, picking up food where he could. His rosary was made from the berries of wild rose bushes and he always carried The New Testament.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre was beatified in 1860 and Canonized in 1881. He was born at Ammes, France, March 26, 1748 in the eighteenth century and was the eldest of fifteen children. His family were prosperous shopkeepers. As a young child he showed wisdom beyond his years. Eventually he was sent to his uncle, who was a parish priest for his education and to prepare him for the religious life. He worked for his uncle doing chores for his keep.

A servant in his uncles house, started to become abusive hitting him and giving him chores that he was to young to handle. Benedict seemed to find this treatment amusing, so he finally stopped. Benedict adopted a minor practice in austerity (self - denial). Every night he would replace his pillow with a plank of oakwood. When asked about it he explained "I do it in order not to sleep to deeply."

His studies went well until he was sixteen .He did not want to learn anything that did not have to do with God. At around the same time his uncle died from cholera, and after his uncles death Benedict decided he wanted to become a monk. He was drawn to the very austere orders.

Between 1766 and 1770, he applied to different orders, but each time he was not accepted. Benedict realized that God had something else planned for him. He felt God was calling him to Rome. He went to Italy on foot, begging as he went. He wanted to join a strict monastery or community of hermits.

In Italy he felt an inner enlightenment and knew it was Gods will that he left the comfort of his family. He would lead a new life of rigorous penance. He was now filled with perfect peace. Benedict wandered for the next three or four years from shrine to shrine in Western Europe. He made Rome his city of Perpetual pilgrimage, then finally settled there in 1774. His vocation? A tramp wandering the streets with other vagrants. During the day he spent most of his time in churches with perpetual adoration. At night he wandered to the seven major Basilicas. He drank from the fountains and lived on food he found in the streets.

One day as he was praying at St. Ignatius he had fallen into ecstasy. A visitor to the church saw him and upset said to the sacristan, "what happened to this beggar?" his answer " the Saint is in ecstasy." He was floating in the air above the ground. Saint Benedict was also known for the gift of bilocation. He also had a rare gift of counseling people, and bringing them to peace. His reputation spread throughout Rome. People from all over came to speak to him. He had such wisdom and understanding. Benedict did neglect himself though, and finally entered a hospice for the poor. During Holy Week he died on the steps of his favorite church, Santa Maria del Monti. Crowds attended his funeral Mass and people traveled from all over Europe to visit his grave. In less than three months, after his death 136 miracles had already been reported. The healings and graces were so overwhelming that the Vatican was forced to start the process for his canonization as a saint.

On the day of his canonization Mass, in a crowded St. Peters Basilica, was a glorious painting of this sainted beggar dressed in rags. This painting can still be seen at The Galleria Nazionale d' Arte Antica in Rome. Painted by Antonio Cavallucci who was so impressed by the sight of this Saint.

Prayer to Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint 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 by. Saint 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. Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, poor in the eyes of men but rich in the eyes of God, pray for us. Amen.

If you would like to write Medjugorje USA