We know the saints best when we see them as part of their time. Saints don’t withdraw from the time they live in. They engage it. The world we live in is the path we take when we’re born and our companion through our lifespan. It’s the cross we carry, the calvary on which we find ourselves. Our blood, mingled with the blood of Christ, must fall on it to redeem it.
I’m thinking of St. Vincent Strambi, a Passionist who lived in Italy as the 18th century gave way to the 19th century. His cross was a world convulsed by Napoleon’s dreams of world conquest and a society increasingly influenced by the Enlightenment.
Strambi had a great devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus, which was inspired by the sufferings he saw in the world around him.Some say over 4 million people were killed in the Napoleonic wars, military and civilians. So much innocent blood was shed then.
Strambi was part of that world; his blood was being shed too, not literally, but in the crucifying events of war, confusion, famine, sickness and change that affected his church, his community, his diocese, his country and the people he served. His devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus came mainly from his experience of his time, I think.
Father Fabiano Giorgini, a fine historian, wrote a short biography of Strambi which we’re going to translate into English. Someday I hope it will be an ebook.