Blessed Peter of Treja was the son of pious parents at Treja, formerly called Montecchio, not far from Ancona. He was born about the time that St Francis died. Even as a child he was so intent on perfection that when he was asked on a certain occasion, “Well, little on, what do you intend to be?” he answered, “I want to be a saint.”
Blessed Peter of Treja was no more than a young lad when he decided to escape the dangers of the world, and sought admission in the recently founded order of St Francis. Having stood his probation and made his religious vows, he went on to higher studies in which he made rapid progress.
St Conrad de Plaisance was born at Piacenza, Lombardy, in the year 1290, of a very noble family. He married Euphrosyne, the daughter of a nobleman of Lodi, while he was still quite young. He had a great fondness for chivalrous sports and was an eager hunter.
One time when out hunting, his quarry hid itself in dense underbrush. To force it into the open, Conrad directed his attendants to set fire to the brushwood. The wind, however, drove the flames upon a nearby grain field, where it continued to spread, destroying the entire crop and a large forest besides.
Born at Lourdes, France, on January 7, 1844. She was the oldest child of a miller named Francis Soubirous and his wife, Louise. She went by Bernadette as a child, and lived in abject poverty with her parents. She suffered from asthma, and was a poor student, which kept her from making her first Holy Communion until she was 14.
On February 11, 1858, while collecting firewood with her sisters along the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes, she alone saw a vision of a beautiful woman inside a cave above the riverbank. She was dressed in white and blue with golden roses on her feet. St Bernadette’s report was not immediately accepted, even by her mother, but her visions of the Lady drew increasingly larger crowds. Despite great hostility on the part of the socialist civil authorities, St Bernadette Soubirous’ reports of the visions continued, and on February 25 Our Lady told St Bernadette to “Drink of the fountain,” and caused a spring to flow from the earth.
When St Anthony in his apostolic zeal was occupied in reforming the inhabitants of Padua, a young man presented himself to him and humbly begged for the habit of the Friars Minor. This was in the year 1220.
Luke Belludi – such was the name of the young aspirant – belonging to one of the noblest families of Padua, had received a brilliant education. Far from imitating the usual conduct of his fellow students at the university, he kept to himself and employed his leisure hours in useful and holy occupations. St Anthony, who had discovered that Luke had a pure and humble soul, joined with a well-cultivated and talented mind, gladly recommended him to St Francis, who received him personally into the order.
Blessed Veridiana was born in the year 1182 at Castelfiorentino, near Florence, of the noble family of the Attavani. Her vocation to a higher life was discernible even in her youth; she loved seclusion, prayer, and works of penance. As she advanced in years, she grew in grace, and her innocence and virtue won for her the love and veneration of everyone with whom she came in contact.
St Anthony of Padua was known as the Hammer of Heretics and the Evangelical Doctor, and is regarded as the first theologian of the Franciscan Order. He possessed all the qualities necessary to an eloquent preacher:
“a loud and clear voice, a winning countenance, wonderful memory, and profound learning, to which were added from on high the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles.”
Blessed Philippa Mareri, who belonged to the illustrious family of the Mareri, saw the light of day at the castle of her parents near Rieti in Italy, toward the close of the twelfth century. At a very early age she was the favorite of all who knew her, not only because of her natural gifts, but principally because of her steady advancement in perfection. As a young woman she lived quietly at home, devoted to prayer and the cultivation of her high mental endowments. She took particular pleasure in reading the Holy Scriptures and studying the Latin language, in which she became very proficient.
Blessed Eustochium was born in the year 1430 at Messina, Sicily, and received in baptism the name Smaragda, which means “the emerald.” Following the example of her devout mother Mathilda, of the princely family of the Colonna, she shunned intercourse with the world even while still very young. She wore a coarse penitential garb under her outer clothing and strove zealously to cultivate all the virtues, but especially purity of heart, which she resolved to preserve throughout life.
Several times her hand was asked in marriage by young men of distinguished birth, even such who came from princely families, and her relatives, especially her own father, urged her to give her consent. But Smaragda steadfastly declined all the offers of her suitors, and redoubled her fasts, vigils, and prayers, so as not to swerve in her fidelity to her Divine Bridegroom.