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St John Berchmans

ST JOHN BERCHMANS

St John Berchmans (March 13, 1599 – August 13, 1621) the patron saint of our college, and is venerated in the Church as the patron of students.

He was born in the town of Diest in Flanders as the eldest son of a poor shoemaker. At a very young age he wanted to be a priest. At the age of thirteen he became a servant in the household of one of the cathedral canons at Malines. After his mother’s death, his father and two brothers followed suit and entered religious life. In 1615 he enrolled in the Jesuit College at Malines. A year later he joined the novitiate. He was an enthusiastic student, an excellent actor and an orator. He has been described as a young man of exemplary life, of pure conscience and of great perfection. John Berchmans could not complete his studies. He died of a contagious disease on August 13, 1621.

He was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1865 and canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. His spiritual doctrine was that sanctity consists less in unusual dramatic actions than in the loving practice of fidelity to God in day to day living. This appreciation of the value of ordinary things is the distinctive mark of his sanctity. He expressed his way of perfection in the phrase “Maximi facere minima” (Do the most with the least).

St John Berchmans is remembered today for his studiousness, faithfulness to the rules of his order, the holiness of his life, and his devotion to the Eucharist and to the Virgin Mary.

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