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The Catholic Defender: Saint Didacus

Didacus is the saint to whom the Franciscan mission that bears his name, and which developed into the City of San Diego, California, was dedicated. He is the co-patron of Diocese of San Diego.

He miraculously restored many of them to health by merely making the Sign of the Cross over them.

Didacus is associated with a Miracle of the roses. He often took bread from the monastery's dining table to give to the poor. One day, leaving the convent with a cloak full of food, he was accused and challenged to open his cloak; miraculously, the loaves of bread had changed into roses.

On a hunting trip, Henry IV of Castile fell from his horse and injured his arm. In intense pain and with his doctors unable to relieve his agony, he went to Alcalá and prayed to Didacus for a cure. Didacus's body was removed from his casket and placed beside the king. Henry then kissed the body and placed Didacus's hand on his injured arm. The king felt the pain disappear and his arm immediately regained its former strength.

On one occasion it is told he rescued a young boy who was playing in an oven when his mother, inadvertent to his being inside, lit it.On another occasion he cured someone's sight by anointing his eyes with oil.

Don Carlos, Prince of Asturias, son of King Philip II of Spain, was of a difficult and rebellious character. On the night of 19 April 1562, he was groping around in the dark after a night spent with some ladies when he fell down a flight of stairs and landed on his head. There he was found the next morning, unconscious and partially paralyzed. He later became blind, developed a high fever and his head swelled to an enormous size. In a moment of confusion, he asked that he wanted to make a personal petition to Saint Didacus.

Didacus's body was brought to his chambers. The prior of the convent placed one of Carlos' hands upon the chest of Didacus, whereupon the prince fell into a deep and peaceful sleep. Six hours later, he awoke and related that in a dream, he saw Didacus telling him that he would not die. The prince recovered from his brush with death

Didacus is living proof that God “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

As a young man in Spain, Didacus joined the Secular Franciscan Order and lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. His penances were heroic. He was so generous with the poor that the friars sometimes grew uneasy about his charity.

Didacus volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands and labored there energetically and profitably. He was also the superior of a friary there.

In 1450, he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of Saint Bernardine of Siena. When many of the friars gathered for that celebration fell ill, Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse them. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time. He showed the friars the wisdom of God’s ways.

As he was dying, Didacus looked at a crucifix and said: “O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven” (Marion A. Habig, OFM, The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834).

San Diego, California, is named for this Franciscan, Didacus was canonized by Pope Sixtus V in 1588

We cannot be neutral about genuinely holy people. We either admire them or we consider them foolish. Didacus is a saint because he used his life to serve God and God’s people. Can we say the same for ourselves?


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