This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10 -- Feast of Saint John of Avila

Juan de Avila, Doctor of the Church
In The Vatican Diaries, John Thavis describes the frustration and impatience some Catholics feel because Pope Pius XII, dead since 1958, has still not been beatified.  [Pope Benedict XVI declared Pius venerable in 2009, but the smart money says he'll stall there for a generation or two.]  It is worth noting how slowly recognition has come to other saints, even those who reach the pinnacle of recognition.  Here's an abbreviated time line for John of Avila.  It skips all the important stuff about his life, but makes the point about the pace of recognition. 

1500 -- born in Almodovar del Campo, Spain
1569 -- died in Montilla (Cordoba) Spain
1759 -- declared Venerable by Pope Clement XIII, 190 years after his death.
1893 -- beatified by Pope Leo XIII, 134 years after his veneration, 324 years after his death.
1970 -- canonized by Pope Paul VI, 77 years after beatification, 401 years after his death.
2012 -- declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI, 423 years after his death.

Looks a little Dominican here.
Without entering into the debate about whether Pope Pius XII deserves canonization, I just want to observe that it has been only 55 years since he died and he's already Venerable.  Compared to John of Avila, Pius is on a bullet train.

Although a Doctor of the Church, he could also be a patron for school drop-outs, since he did one year of law school at the University of Salamanca (at age 14) before returning him to pray and fast.  He impressed a Franciscan friar who hooked him up with admission to a seminary.  His parents died while he was studying; he said his first Mass in the church where they were buried.  Then he liquidated his inheritance and donated all his wealth to the poor in preparation for serving the missions in Mexico.

The jawbone went home to Almodovar del Campo
The Dominican brass thought differently.  The Archbishop of Seville and the Inquisitor General packed him off to Andalusia to rebuild the faith which had been weakened by Muslim occupation.  He preached mightily and with great effect, but he had no love for the rich.  Camels and eyes of needles kept showing up in his sermons, so after four years of preaching he was busted by the Inquisition and tossed in a jail.  The investigation exonerated him and after he was released.  His persistent focus on austerity caught the ears of Sts.  Teresa of Avila, John of God, and Francis Borgia. He served as the spiritual director of those three saints and of course many other souls.  Moreover, he was an early friend of and booster for the Jesuit order.  That's not a bad legacy overall. 

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