St. John Berchmans
John Berchmans (Born Mar 13, 1599 – Died 13 August 1621) was born to adevout family in Deist, Belgium. He was a Jesuit scholiast and a saintin Catholic Church.
In 1665 when Jesuit at Mechelen opened a college, Berchmans was one ofthe first to join. Jesuit Aloysius Gonzaga was his fellow and hisspiritual model.
Berchmans illustrates the absolute that “Ordinary deeds doneextraordinarily well lead to great holiness.” He is the patron saint forthe alter services.
English Jesuit martyrs have greatly influenced Berchmans. He always saidto himself that “If he cannot become a saint when young,” he confined,“he would never become one.”
Berchmans was a son of a shoemaker; his parents’ names were John Charlesand Elizabeth Berchmans. He was the oldest child of five. In honor ofJohn Baptist, he was named John at baptism.
At the age of 9, Berchmans’ mother suffered a severe illness. He stayedby her bedside for several hours every day. He also worked at Mechelenin the household of Canon John Froyment as a servant so he couldcontinue his studies.
Call to the Society of Jesus
In 1665 when Jesuit at Mechelen opened a college, Berchmans was one ofthe first to join. At first, his father did not agree and told him hewould cut his financial support, but later, he decided for his son tofollow his dream.
In 1661, he entered Jesuits. There he performed his neophyte duties withtriumph and onerous obedience. He was amiable, kind, and had ahail-fellow-well-met personality that captivated others towards him.
He pronounced his first vow on Jan 24, 1618. To study philosophy, hewent to Antwerp. Later, he was sent to Rome to continue his study therejust after few weeks. In 1621 he entered his 3rd year class to begintwo years of study in philosophy.
Berchmans remained devoted to his religious life and his studies in hisapprenticeship period. In a public disputation, he was selected todiscuss philosophy, where he excelled. After this, he was again chosento represent the roman college at disputation.
His health suffered as he had put too much effort into studying. Hishealth gradually decreased as he prepared for the event. On Aug 7, hewas back to his quarters. He caught a cold as he suffered an attack ofdysentery. His health worsened.
At the age of 22 years, on Aug 13, 1621, he succumbed to fever anddysentery. Before he asked for his rule book, crucifix, and rosary, hespent his last night praying. He died the following morning. Severallarge crowds gathered to invoke his intercession.
In 1865 he was declared blessed, and in 1888 he was canonized. Hisstatue portrays him holding his crucifer, book of rules, and rosary.
His feast day has never been imprinted in the Roman calendar. However,it is celebrated on Aug 13 or Nov 26. Often the catholic churchcelebrates him in November.
During the 1890s, a community founded a chapel that was later on namedafter St.John Berchman. In 1947 it became Belgium’s national parish.
In Shreveport, 1902, Bishop Anthony requested that the Jesuit establisha second parish. The parish was named in honor of the saint because ofthe miracle that Mary Wilson experienced.
5 Interesting Facts About St. John Berchmans
- He was the founder of the mass servers.
- Pius IX gave him the title of “Patron of altar boys.”
- He is also called the “Saint of the common life.”
- His famous words go as “if I do not become a saint when I am young,
I shall never become one.”
- He was the first one to enroll in the Jesuit College at Mechelen.
Prayer to St. John Berchmans
Lord our God, you invite us always to give you our love and you arepleased with a cheerful giver. Give us a youthful spirit, to be like St.John, always eager to seek you and to do your will. We ask this throughour Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and theHoly Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.