About Our Stained Glass Windows
Saint John Berchmans
1599 – 1621
“If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never become one”. This is what John Berchmans used to say about himself. Born in Brabant on March 13, 1599, he used the twenty-two youthful years of his earthly life so well, that he did become a saint.
His parents watched with the greatest solicitude over the formation of his character. He was naturally kind, gentle and affectionate, yet also very impetuous. When he was hardly seven years old, he was accustomed to rise early and serve two or three Masses with the greatest fervour. He would seek to do more than his share of the work around the house, selecting by preference the more difficult and distasteful tasks. Eager to learn, and naturally endowed with a bright intellect and a retentive memory, he advanced rapidly in his course of studies.
As soon as he went away to school, he consecrated himself to our Blessed Lady and made a resolution to recite her Little Office daily. He would, moreover, ask his confessor every month to prescribe for him some special acts of devotion to Mary. Such fervent, filial piety won him the grace of a religious vocation.
Overcoming the opposition of his family, John set out for the Jesuit Novitiate. He remained with them from 1616 until his death in 1621 being a Christ-like example to all. In the Society of Jesus, John was the kind of youth who performed his ordinary actions with extraordinary perfection. In his purity, obedience, and admirable charity he resembled many religious, but he surpassed them all by his intense love for the rules of his order. He would have preferred death to the violation of the least rules, for he firmly believed they were concrete manifestations of God’s will in his life. “My penance”, he would say, “is to live the common life… I will pay the greatest attention to the least inspiration of God“.
When he died, a large multitude crowded to see him for several days, and to invoke his intercession. He was declared Blessed in 1865 and was Canonized in 1888.
His statue represents him with hands clasped, holding his cruxifix, his book of rules and his rosary. The rule book refers to his love of obedience, the rosary to his love for Mary.
Saint John Berchmans is the Patron of Altar Boys, because of the extraordinary piety he displayed in serving Mass from the earliest years. His obedience and love for Mary are the lessons his life teaches us. Pray to find God’s will in the commands of your superiors. For without obedience our love for God is mockery.