St. Paul Of The Cross was born Paolo Daniel Massari on Jan. 3, 1694 at Ovada, Italy. He had a vision of ecstasy leading him to consult with Alexandria’s Bishop Gastinara who urged him to establish a congregation in the name of the Passion of Jesus Christ. The bishop vested him on Nov. 22, 1720 with the habit the Passionist Order wear to this day.

After several tries for papal approval, Paul achieved his aim in the 1740s under Pope Benedict XIV. Paul built a monastery near Obitello, later founding the larger community at Rome’s Church of St. John and Paul.

Paul practiced a life of austerity and service. He called monasteries he founded retreats where members were required to pray three hours daily. He was renowned for preaching skills. Pope Pius IX beatified him in 1852 and canonized him on June 29, 1867. His feast day is Oct. 20.