Our Passionist Saints
The Passionist Congregation rejoices in many wonderful women and men who have lived their lives as Passionists. Several of these have been officially recognised by the Church for their saintly lives, and others are being considered for that acknowledgement.
There are many who lived faith-filled inspiring lives who will never have official recognition. There are seven Passionist Saints, nine Blesseds and seventeen Venerables. Three of the saints were young (Gabriel Possenti, Gemma Galgani and Maria Goretti), of whom, only Gabriel was a professed Passionist.
During the Spanish civil war, in 1936, sixteen students, between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, four brothers and seven priests from the Passionist community in Daimiel were murdered by anti-clericalist forces.
Passionist Saints and Others
Distinguished Members of the Passionist Family
- Saint Paul of the Cross CP, 1694-1775, Priest, founder and first Superior General of the Congregation.
- Saint Vincent Strambi CP, 1745-1824, Priest and Bishop.
- Blessed Lorenzo Salvi CP, 1782-1856, Priest, Italy.
- Blessed Dominic Barberi CP, 1792-1849, Italian Priest and missionary to England.
- Venerable Ignatius Spencer CP, 1799-1864, Priest Convert from Anglicanism, England.
- Saint Charles Houben CP, 1821-1893, Belgian Priest and missionary to Ireland.
- Venerable John de Pichard CP, 1830-1913, French Priest and missionary to Palestine.
- Blessed Bernard Silvestrelli CP, 1831-1911, Priest and Superior General, Italy.
- Saint Gabriel Possenti CP, 1836-1862, Student, Patron saint of youth, Italy.
- Venerable Fidelis Kent Stone CP, 1840-1852, Priest, USA.
- Venerable Giuseppe Maria Pesci CP, 1853-1929, Priest, Italy.
- Blessed Pio (Pius) Campidelli CP, 1868-1889, Student, Italy.
- Saint Gemma Galgani, 1878-1903, Lay Passionist, Italy.
- Blessed Isidore De Loor CP, 1881-1916, Brother, Belgium.
- Blessed Grimlado Santamaria CP, 1883-1902, Student, Spain.
- Saint Innocencio Canoura Arnau CP, 1887-1934, Priest and martyr, Spain.
- Saint Maria Goretti, 1890-1902, Martyr, Italy.
- Blessed Nicefore Tejerina CP, 1893-1936, Priest and martyr, Spain.
- Father John Salah CP, 1900-1948, Palestinian Priest, murdered in Bethany, Israel.
- Blessed Eugene Bossilkof CP, 1900-1952, Bishop and martyr, Bulgaria.
- Venerable Bernard Kryszjiewicz CP, 1915-1945, Priest, Poland.
- Father Carl Schmitz CP, 1915-1988, American missionary murdered in Philipines.
- Dry Martyrs of China, 1951-52, American Missionaries Imprisoned and Tortured in China.
1. SAINT PAUL OF THE CROSS CP (1694-1775), Priest, Founder and First Superior General.
Paul Francis Danei was born at Ovada, Italy on 3 January 1694. He founded the Congregation of the Passion in 1720 and later the Passionist Nuns. Paul was in great demand as a preacher and spiritual director. He saw the Passion as the greatest proof of God’s love. He saw that the teaching of prayer was very important. However, he didn’t teach a ‘method’ of prayers. Paul is regarded as the mystic of the 17th century. Like St. Teresa of Avila, he saw that the easiest way to holiness was through meditation on the Passion. He died in Rome on 18 October 1775. He was recognised as a Saint by Pope Pius IX in 1867. His feast day is October 19.
2. SAINT VINCENT STRAMBI CP (1745-1824), Priest and Bishop
Vincent was born in Civitavecchia, Italy in 1745. Shortly after his ordination as a Diocesan Priest, he joined this recently founded Congregation. He was a companion of Paul Danei and his first biographer. He was highly respected as a theologian, preacher and spiritual director who sought to increase the Christian spirit among the people by preaching the Passion of Jesus throughout Italy. In later life he was ordained as Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino. In the political upheavals of his time he fought to preserve the liberty of the Church, even at the cost of being exiled from his Diocese. Pope Leo XII offered him asylum in the Papal Palace and there he served as papal adviser until his death in 1824. He was recognised as a “Saint” by Pope Pius XII in 1950. His feast day is September 24.
3. BLESSED LAURENZO MARY SALVI CP (1782-1856), Priest
Lorenzo Maria Salvi was born in Rome on 30 October 1782. He made first profession as a Passionist on 20 November 1802 at the age of 20 and entered the priesthood on 29 December 1805. He followed closely in the footsteps of the founder of the Passionists, St. Paul of the Cross. His principle apostolate was that of an itinerant preacher and missionary, but he also gained the reputation of a most wise and admired superior for his ability to ably lead communities. Blessed Lorenzo was steadfast in promoting, in every circumstance, prayerful devotion to the holy childhood of Jesus, not only through his untiring work, but also through his constant example and his proliferation of writings. He was called home to heaven in 1856 in Capranica (Viterbo) and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 1 October 1989. He is buried in the Passionist church of St. Angelo, Vetralla (Viterbo).
4. BLESSED DOMINIC BARBERI CP (1792-1849), Priest and Missionary to England.
Dominic was born in Viterbo, Italy in 1792. He entered the Passionists when he was 22. Gifted intellectually and spiritually, he became a teacher, preacher and spiritual director. He wrote extensively in the areas of philosophy, theology and preaching. Dominic was drawn particularly to work for Christian Unity among the English people. In 1842 he went to England where he was instrumental in the conversion of John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman, the leader of the Oxford Movement. Another well-known convert of his was Ignatius Spencer, a forebear of the Princess of Wales. He died at Reading, England, August 27, 1849. His feast day is August 26.
5. VENERABLE IGNATIUS SPENCER CP (1799-1864), Anglican Convert and Missionary in England.
Ignatius was the son of a noble English family. He became an Anglican priest before joining the Catholic Church in 1830. While studying for the Catholic priesthood in Rome, he met Fr Dominic Barberi CP, and later when Fr Dominic had brought the Passionists to England, he joined them. One of his accomplishments was the establishment of the “Crusade of Prayer for the Return of England to the Catholic Faith.” He is an ancestor of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales.
6. SAINT CHARLES HOUBEN CP (1821-1893), Priest and Missionary in Ireland.
Charles Houben was born in Belgium in 1821. He joined the Passionist Community at Ere in Belgium when he was 24. He arrived in Ireland in 1857, two years after his ordination. For almost 30 years he served the Irish at Mt. Argus in Dublin. The great monastery chronicler records that great crowds came to him for spiritual direction and reconciliation at a rate of 300 a day. From every state in life they came to him seeking counsel, comfort, and the healing power of his blessing. He was thoroughly ecumenical in his witness to Christ. He died in 1893. His feast day is on January 5.
7. VENERABLE JOHN DE PICHARD CP (1830-1913), Priest and Missionary in Palestine.
John Charles de Pichard was a famous French lawyer from Bordeaux, who entered the Passionists in 1882 at the age of 52. He became an untiring apostle until his death in Palestine at the age of 83.
8. BLESSED BERNARD SILVESTRELLI CP (1831-1911), Priest and Superior General
Bernard was born in 1831, the son of a noble Roman family, distinguished for his humility as superior and his patience as teacher. His life was mostly spent in Formation of younger Passionists and in Community leadership, yet he still found time for apostolic preaching. He was elected Superior General five times. He was Superior General who sent the Passionists on Mission to Australia and New Zealand in 1887. He died in 1911. His feast day is on December 9.
9. SAINT GABRIEL OF OUR LADY OF SORROWS CP (1838-1862), Student.
Francis Possenti was born into a well to do family in Assisi, Italy, on 1 March 1838. His mother was the niece of Pope Gregory XVI. He was a handsome, intelligent and personable young man, known as “The Dancer”. Resisting more attractive offers, he aspired to become a Passionist Missionary. He joined the Passionists at 19, taking the name of Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. He contracted tuberculosis and died while still a student in 1862. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 and is the patron saint of youth and of seminarians. The Basilica of St. Gabriel at Isola Del Gran Sasso in Italy is a popular place of pilgrimage for young people, not unlike Taize in France. His feast day is February 27.
10. VENERABLE FIDELIS KENT STONE CP (1840-1921), Anglican convert and missionary in USA.
Fidelis was an Episcopalian (Anglican) priest in the USA, father of a family and president of a college. In 1869 he joined the Catholic Church and seven years later became a Passionist. He was distinguished for his tireless apostolic activity.
11. VENERABLE GIUSEPPE MARIA PESCI CP (1853-1929), Priest.
Giuseppe Pesci was born 13 September 1853 in Filettino, Froscione, Italy, and died in Pontecorvo in 1929. He is praised as follows: “He was outstanding for his untiring service to the Church and to the Congregation.” He held many offices in the community.
12. BLESSED PIO CAMPIDELLI CP (1868-1889), Student
Pio Campidelli was born in Trebbio, near Rimini, Italy in 1868. He was a happy and hardworking youth when he joined the Passionists. His life in the Community was marked by his dedication to prayer and study. He shared his happiness of heart with everyone he met. He contracted tuberculosis and died on 2 November 1889, aged 21 years. He was declared “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II during the International Year of Youth, 1985. His feast day is November 3.
13. SAINT GEMMA GALGANI (1878-1903), Mystic and Lay Passionist.
Gemma Galgani was born near Lucca, Italy in 1878. From her childhood she was drawn to meditate on the Passion of Christ. She carried on her body the wounds of the Stigmata of the Passion. She applied to several Contemplative Orders of Nuns but was rejected by them. God’s will she got to know some Passionists, Priests and nuns. Gemma desired to join the Passionist Nuns, but her poor health prevented her from realising this desire. Yet even though she could not be officially a member of this cloistered Passionist community, she lived its spirit and professed private vows. She died in 1903 and was canonised by Pope Pius XII in 1940. Her feast day is May 14.
14. BLESSED ISIDORE DE LOOR CP (1881-1916), Brother
Isidore de Loor was born in Belgium in 1881. This Belgian farmer who joined the Passionist Community when he was 26, serving as a receptionist and gardener in Courtrai. His was a special gospel-wisdom which led him to see and serve Christ in those who shared his short life of 35 years. He died at Courtrai on October 6, 1916. He was declared “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II in 1984. His feast day is October 6.
15. BLESSED GRIMOLADO SANTAMARIA CP (1883-1902), Student.
Born Ferdinando Santamaria on 4 May 1883, a Basque clerical student with the Passionists. He had expressed his inclinations towards the religious life from his childhood when he served as an altar server and was exposed to the Passionist charism; but he did not join until 1899 once his father approved of his dream and he was professed in 1900. He then continued his studies, though this time for the priesthood, but died from meningitis before he could achieve this dream. Santamaria’s reputation for holiness was well-noted in his hometown during his life and it increased after his death while devotion to him soared in Rochester NY once his widowed mother and sister immigrated there. Pope John Paul II presided over his beatification in 1995. Although controversial, Grimoaldo claimed that Basques were descendants from Adam and Eve. He died on 18 November 1902.
16. SAINT INNOCENT CANOURA ARNAU CP (1887-1934), Priest and Martyr in Spain.
Born Emmanuel on March 10th 1887. He was professed a Passionist on 27th July, 1905 and Ordained priest on Sept 20th, 1913. Innocent was the first Passionist martyred prior to the 1936 Spanish Civil War. He was known for his pastoral zeal and love of Community. He was away from his Community celebrating the Eucharist and Confessions for a Community of De La Salle Brothers. They were all taken prisoner and he and the De La Salle Brothers, were executed together on Oct 9th, 1934. They were all canonised together by Pope John Paul II. His feast day is October 9.
17. SAINT MARIA GORETTI (1890-1902), Martyr.
Although not a Passionist, her cause for sainthood was supported by the Passionists, since our Community has pastoral responsibility for her village. Maria was born in Corinaldo, Italy in 1890, a girl loved by everyone. She was taught by her mother to prize her virtue, which was tested by a nineteen year old man from the village. Maria refused his advances and was mortally stabbed by him. She died a day later, aged 12, after saying: “I forgive him … May God forgive him … I want him in paradise like the repentant thief”. Her feast day is July 6.
18. BLESSED NICEPHORUS TEJERINA CP (1893-1936), and the 25 Martyrs of Daimiel (Spain).
At 11:30 pm on 24 July 1936, a group of armed men arrived at the Passionist monastery of Santo Cristo de la Luz in Daimiel, Spain. The members of the community were gathered for prayer when the superior of the community, Father Niceforo of Jesus, upon hearing the armed men exclaimed “Gethsemane, this is our Gethsemane. Our spirit is deeply distressed as it contemplates the daunting perspective of Calvary, as was that of Jesus, and so too our human nature, in its weakness, trembles, becomes cowardly… But Jesus is with us. I am going to give you He who is the strength of the weak. Jesus was comforted by an angel; it is Jesus himself who comforts and sustains us… Within a few moments we will be with Christ… Citizens of Calvary, take heart! Let us die with Christ! It is my duty to encourage you and I myself am encouraged by your example.”
Father Nicefore then gave the community absolution and Holy Communion. The Passionists were ordered out of the church and led to the local cemetery under armed guard. One of the five survivors later remarked: “Our imagination ran wild as we saw the already dug graves. Would they bury us alive…or dead? The thought of death frightened us, but the idea of being buried alive was even more terrifying.”
The armed men split the Passionists into groups and headed in different directions. The religious were set free but their movements had been observed by the Popular Front and information regarding their locations was sent to various armed fighters in the area using phrases such as “The Passionists of Daimiel are going to pass through here. Fresh meat! Don’t let them get away…”. On 23 July 1936, Father Niceforo and four others were shot dead, seven more survived but after suffering from their injuries were executed three months later by firing squad. Nine others were placed on a train to Ciudad Real. They were put in gaol, accused of being religious who were killing people. Then they were led down the street to be mocked and stoned by crowds. These Passionists were shot dead and buried in a mass grave, their alleged crime written on their wrists ‘For being Passionist religious from Daimiel’. Ten other Passionists tried to get to Madrid by train or walking. They were taken off the train at Urda station and there, on the morning of 25 July, shot dead. Two others, Father Juan Pedro of Saint Anthony and the elderly Brother Pablo Maria of Saint Joseph managed to walk to Carrion de Calatrava in Ciudad Real where they hid for two months. They were discovered and shot as they kissed their crucifixes and exclaimed “Long Live Christ the King!”
Eyewitnesses reported that all of the Passionists had forgiven their murderers before they died. A witness to the murder of Father Niceforo reported that after being shot the priest turned his eyes to heaven then turned and smiled at his murderers. At this point one of them, now more infuriated than ever, shouted: “What, are you still smiling?” With that he shot him at point blank range. They were “beatified” by Pope John Paul II. Their feast day is July 23.
19. FATHER JOHN SALAH CP (1900-1948), Palestinian Priest.
John was born in Palestine in 1900. His first profession was as a teacher. He was the first Palestinian to be ordained as a Passionist July 16th, 1944. He along with his brother Albert, preached Missions in their native Arabic. John knew about five languages. He was killed by a sniper’s bullet near the Passionist House at Bethany in 1948. The bullet went through his Passionist Heart into his human heart. He lingered for a number of days in suffering and died on 20 May 1948. Palestinian people believe that Fr. John was martyred by a Zionist bullet.
20. BLESSED EUGENE BOSSILKOF CP (1900-1952), Bishop and Martyr.
Eugene was born in the 1900s in Benene, Bulgaria. His birth name was “Vincent.” At the age of fourteen years he began studies with the Passionists in Belgium and Holland. In 1920 he was professed a member of the Passionist Community taking the name, Eugene. He took the extra Passionist vow at his Profession “to keep a loving memory, and to teach, the Passion of Jesus.” In 1926 he was Ordained a Priest. After Doctoral Studies in Rome he returned to his Diocese as secretary to the Bishop and Pastor of the Cathedral. He was admired as a gifted linguist and cultured scholar. He loved pastoral work. In 1947 he was made Bishop of Nicopolis. The country was invaded by the Russians and they began to try and destroy the Church and create another National Church, under their Communist system. The Bishop was deeply committed to the socio-cultural improvement of his country’s Catholics. This brought him into conflict with the Communist authorities, first during the Soviet invasion, and later with the Stalinists. He was sentenced to death and executed a while after on 11 November 1952 at 11:30pm in Sophia. His body was thrown into a common grave. Eugene was beatified in 1998. His feast day is November 11.
21. VENERABLE BERNARD KRYSZJIEWICZ CP (1915-1945), Priest
Bernard was a Polish Passionist who did all in his power to alleviate the hardships of his countrymen during the Second World War. He became famous for his efforts on behalf of those suffering from cold and hunger, sharing with them what little he had. His reputation for virtue still lives among the people.
22. FATHER CARL SCHMITZ CP (1937-1988), Priest and Missionary from USA to Philippines.
Carl grew up in Chicago USA and after joining the Passionists worked in Japan before going to the Philippines. He was killed by an assassin’s bullet outside his home in 1988. His crime was solidarity with the poor. His killer was a man he had trained at his mission. He is yet to be convicted.
23. THE DRY MARTYRS OF CHINA.
A group of Passionists have been called The Dry Martyrs of China, for the sufferings they endured at the Chinese Communists after their arrest, for they were all but dead because of their punishment. They returned home to the USA after their eventual release from prison.