Benedict Joseph Labre, born on 26th March 1748 in Amettes, diocese of Boulogne-sur-Mer (north of France) and died on 16th April 1783 in Rome, was a French beggar pilgrim who travelled the pathways of Europe. Nicknamed the “Wanderer of God”, he unsuccessfully tried repeatedly to enter monastic life. The Abbot of La Grande Trappe de Sept-Fons would not accept him either and saidto him, “God wants you elsewhere” He then set out for a perpetual pilgrimage, with God alone as his companion. For seven years he travelled all over Europe, from sanctuary to sanctuary. He shared the lives of the homeless, in extreme poverty. Rome was his favourite place. He sheltered in the ruins of the Colosseum where he shared everything that was given to him with the poor. He was found, dying, on the Wednesday of Holy Week. As soon as news of his death was made known, the children and the people of Rome left the streets of Rome shouting, “The saint is dead!” Miracles attributed to him multiplied. Benefiting from a precocious and popular hero-worship, he challenged the materialism of a society dedicated to money. He is the patron saint of the homeless, poor and excluded. Beatified by Pius IX in 1860, he was canonised by Leo XIII on 8th December 1883.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre in Lourdes
You can see the statue of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre in the Sanctuary, near the Abri Saint-Michel where the Hospitality of Our Lady of Lourdes can come to eat. Unveiled and blessed on 10th June 2012 by Bishop Jaeger of Arras (France), and Bishop Brouwet, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, it was presented to the Hospitality of Our Lady of Lourdes of which Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint. The statue was carved from Belgian stone by a sculptor from Pas-de-Calais.
2019 : A Bernadette year
This year, during the Lourdes February Days, from 8th – 11th February, the sanctuary proposes meditating on our poverty (write on the form provided for this purpose). On this occasion, Saturday, 9th February from 9pm (Church of St. Bernadette), Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger, Bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux (France), will introduce us to the story of this “wanderer of God” who, like Saint Bernadette, knew “the secret of joy”. In February Father André Cabes is publishing the Lourdes Catecheses to experience a year with Bernadette. He invites us to examine the “paradoxical link between poverty and happiness.” The Rector of the Sanctuary also leans on “the figure of this other saint of Lourdes, patron of the Hospitality, Benedict Joseph Labre, the beggar saint … He would not have exchanged his place for all the gold in the world.“
The Prayer of St. Benedict Joseph Labre “Jesus is with us!”
Jesus Christ, King of glory, came in peace, God became man. The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus Christ went in peace among them. Jesus Christ was crucified. Jesus Christ is dead. Jesus Christ was buried. Jesus Christ is risen. Jesus Christ ascended to heaven. Jesus Christ triumphs, Jesus Christ reigns. Jesus Christ governs. May Jesus Christ deliver us from all evil, Jesus is with us! Amen.”