Saint Louis Bertrand, Confessor

October 9

Today is the feast day of Saint Louis Bertrand, Ora pro nobis.

Saint Louis was born at Valencia, Spain, 1 Jan., 1526. His parents were Juan Bertrand and Juana Angela Exarch. He was the oldest of the eight children of his good Christian parents.

Saint Louis Bertrand was exceptionally pious as a child, reciting daily the Office of Our Lady and attending different churches in order to conceal from the knowledge of others his frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist. He was received into Saint Dominic’s order when nineteen years old and was ordained before he was twenty-two.  By the practice of outstanding virtue, self-denial and penance, he furnished for his novices a perfect model for their imitation.

In 1551, at the age of twenty-five, he was made master of novices, and in this post he formed many great servants of God. It is said that despite his strictness, he was so gentle that his chastisements were more agreeable to his novices than the favors of their best friends.

In the year 1562, Saint Louis Bertrand was sent from his native Valencia, Spain, to South America, where he worked for seven years among the Indians in the northwestern part of the continent, among the tribe of the Caribs in the Caribbean Islands, and among the natives on the Isthmus of Panama. During these missionary years he was favored with the gift of tongues. While speaking to the natives in Castilian, he was understood by all and often spoke in languages with which he was naturally unfamiliar. His preaching was accompanied by many miracles and prophecies. He once raised a girl to life by the application of a Rosary and often attributed to the intercession of Our Lady the miraculous powers he manifested.

In his mission at Tubera he himself baptized 10,500 Indians, without counting those his companions baptized, and obliged them to burn their idols and the sites of their detestable sacrifices. Often his gentleness charmed his worst enemies. He preached also at Capicoa and Paluato, having established missions there. He refused all remuneration; he brought down rain after a drought. He was poisoned by some pagans who had suffered a reproach, but the poison did not harm him, and the barbarians were converted by the miracle. He went to many other places, preaching and healing the sick; again he was poisoned without effect. There was no one who did not consider him a Saint, sent for the benefit of the new continent.

After an apostolate the marvellous and enduring fruits of which have richly merited for him the title of Apostle of South America, he returned under obedience to his native Spain, which he had left just seven years before. During the eleven remaining years of his life many offices of honour and responsibility were imposed upon him. The numerous duties that attached to them were not permitted to interfere with the exacting regime of his holy life. The ever increasing fame of his sanctity and wisdom won the admiration and confidence of even the officials of the Government, who more than once consulted him in affairs of State. With the heroic patience that characterized his whole life he endured the ordeal of his last sickness. He died on the day he had foretold, October 9, 1581, at the age of 55 years.

He was canonized by Clement X in 1671.

Image: St. Louis Bertrand, artist: Francisco de Zurbaran, circa 1640

Research by REGINA Staff


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