A Reluctant Sinner has an excellent post on the life of St Joseph Benedict Labre. Dylan's blog just seems to get better and better each week.
I must say I have a real liking for 'loser' Saints. I call St Joseph Benedict Labre a 'loser' Saint, because while all the Saints go against the grain of secular cultural values, I have a particular liking for St Joseph Benedict Labre because even when he had decided what to do, by becoming a Trappist, as well as being of frail mental and physical health, it seems that he just didn't 'fit in' at the monastery. Nothing seems to have gone according to plan. And yet...
He is a patron of people who refuse to conform or cannot conform and fit in with society, community, or even religious communities, only to be met with bemusement. He wasn't attention seeking, he wasn't performing marvels or building great projects, he simply loved Christ. He preferred nothing to His love. He died at 35 and lived off what he found to eat. Living the life of a tramp his life appears to be a monumental failure until he died and children starting crying out 'the Saint is dead!'
Personally, I don't know what my achievements are. I don't feel that I have any whatsoever. People like St Benedict Joseph Labre I draw comfort from because his glory was hid from the World until Christ wished the Church to know of it, unlike other great Saints like St Anthony of Padua and St Francis of Assisi, who were known well as Wonderworkers. He seems to have wanted to go nearly completely unnoticed through his time in this World. That glory appears to be something so simple that the World could well miss it, like so many in Rome would have. That glory is the love of God - the love of the Lord Jesus and Our Lady.
St Joseph Benedict Labre teaches us that our prayers may be the most important achievements of all. For not long after he had collapsed outside St Mary Major, his favourite Church, the children cried out, 'the Saint is dead!' Yet, he doesn't seem to have actually 'done' very much at all. A man with no abiding community or city, or shower, he did, however, seem to go on as many pilgrimages as he could manage. He is, perhaps quite rightly, the Saint that even Catholic parents do not want their children to know about. And who can blame them? Parents don't spend their time delousing their little children only for them to later become...St Joseph Benedict Labre...Ora pro nobis! I believe I may have unwittingly honoured St Joseph Benedict Labre today by missing my dental appointment accidentally.
Yes, kids, you can be a tramp and be a Saint! I very much doubt the Holy Father will read this, but, regardless, Happy Birthday to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. May God bless His Holiness with long life and may He be generous to us so that His Holiness may continue to reign gloriously for a long, long time! Viva Il Papa!