Patron of Cancer

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A few days ago (May 1), we celebrated St. Peregrine Laziosi, a 13th-century saint who is most well known for two miracles he experienced in his life: one spiritual and one physical.

When St. Peregrine was a young man he was a member of an anti-papal party. So great was his zeal that on one occasion he hit a priest in the face! That priest happened to be St. Philip Benizi who after being hit took the words of Christ seriously and offered his other cheek.

Peregrine was so moved by St. Philip’s forgiveness that he converted to Catholicism and joined the same order as Philip, the Servites. Afterward, Peregrine continued to live a life of intense penance and devotion.

However, when St. Peregrine was in his 60’s he suffered greatly from cancer in his leg. Doctors saw that the only way to save him would be to amputate his leg. The entire night before the operation St. Peregrine prayed fervently. The next day his leg was completely healed!

Today, St. Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer. His life is proof that there is no evil so great that the Lord cannot heal us of. There is no heart so cold that Jesus can’t sanctify, if only it turns back a little. There is no disease, no ailment, not even death itself which Jesus can’t heal.

There is no question that God can perform miracles. He can heal us, and He wants us to be whole and happy. But when we face great sufferings like death or cancer we can’t help but wonder why God doesn’t always perform miracles. Like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, we wonder why Jesus doesn’t always come right away.

Perhaps we need more faith like the Nazareans who rejected Jesus. Or, perhaps God knows that like Lazarus, even more good will come from our suffering and death, for both have been redeemed. The pain of the Cross is the way to eternal happiness with God.

So when for whatever reason God allows us to suffer, let us trust in Him. Let us have faith that He can and does perform miracles, and let us have faith that when He doesn’t He is doing something even better! St. Peregrine, pray for us!

“How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:12

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