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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

Patron saint of unmarried men, mentally ill people, beggars, those who are homeless

Feast day: April 16




Benedict Joseph Labre was born in 1748, in northern France, the oldest of fifteen children. He went to live with an uncle to begin his early education for the priesthood. When Benedict was 18, the city was hit hard by an epidemic. His uncle was one of the last victims to fall ill and perish. Benedict tried many times to join a variety of different religious orders but was rejected as unsuitable. Ultimately, he joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and began a life of poverty and pilgrimage. He traveled by foot, visiting different shrines, sleeping outside, and begging for food, his clothes ragged and dirty. Yet he made do with what he received and shared it with others. He lived a life of prayer and adoration. He died at age 35 from malnutrition and was venerated for miraculous healings attributed to him. (Image © Vicki Shuck / Saint Mary’s Press)