Saint Benedict-Joseph Labré


Saint Benedict-Joseph Labré, 1748–1783

April 16

Saint Benedict-Joseph Labré was the oldest of eighteen children. As a  young man, he studied with his uncle, a parish priest. Benedict-Joseph wanted to be a priest, but he had a mental disease and couldn’t go to a seminary. Instead, he became a beggar.  From the time he was very young, Saint Benedict-Joseph confessed all of the wrong things he did. He would ask God to forgive him. Then he would promise God he would try very hard not to do anything wrong again. Sometimes people were afraid of Saint Benedict-Joseph because he wore rags, lived outside, and didn’t talk very much. After he died, people realized that he was a very holy man.

Saint Benedict-Joseph was devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. He made pilgrimages to major shrines in Europe and came to live in Rome. He lived near the Colosseum there and became well known for his saintly life. Saint Benedict-Joseph is the patron of bachelors, the mentally ill, and the homeless.

Discuss: How can you try harder to follow God’s laws?

Making Judgments

Explain to the child that Saint Benedict-Joseph Labré appeared to be frightening, when he was really very holy. Unfair judgments were made about him.

  • Prepare ahead three shoeboxes with dark, stretchy cloth glued over the top and a small slit in the cloth. Inside one box place a pine cone; another, a sea shell; and the third, some grapes.
  • You will need one blindfold. Have the child sit away from the table where the boxes are placed. Have the child come forward, place the blindfold on his or her eyes, and feel inside the box.
  • When the child has had a chance to feel the contents of the boxes, let the child guess what was in each one. Open the boxes one at the time, and show the child what was inside each one.
  • Remind the child that things are not always what we expect. We can’t jump to conclusions and judgments, especially about people. And just because someone does not act just as expected, doesn’t mean he or she is wrong, just different. Differences make us interesting.