By Larry Peterson
Recently I came across the names of eight saints who were centenarians. Incredibly they had made it up to and past the one-hundred-year mark without having the advantages of modern medicine and all the blessings we have available to us. No, they just lived their lives until God called them. Here is a brief account of three of them:
St. Simon Stock
Simon Stock was born in England in 1165 AD. Legend has it that at the age of twelve he began living as a hermit in the hollow trunk (“stock” means trunk) of a large, oak tree. In the early 13th century Simon went to the Holy Land where he joined the newly formed Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Their origins were in Palestine and when they moved to Europe, Simon went with them. He became one of the early leaders of the order which became known as the Carmelites.
On July 26, 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Simon holding the Brown Scapular in one hand. She said to Simon, “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”
Simon Stock became the prior general of the Carmelites and under his leadership, the order spread across Europe and throughout England. Today the Brown Scapular is known and venerated the world over. (The word scapular comes from the Latin, scapula, meaning “shoulder blade” That is why the brown cloth covers the chest and the upper back).
Interestingly, St. Simon Stock was never formally canonized yet he is venerated in the Catholic Church, his feast day is May 16, and the Carmelites have honored him since 1564, which also has the approval of the Vatican.
Lastly, St. Simon Stock died in the year 1265. He was 100 years old.
We all know that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but the dates of his life are murky at best. He was probably born in the early 5th century and, at the age of sixteen, was captured by pirates. He was taken from his home in Britain to Ireland where he was held in captivity for six years before escaping back to his family.
He became a cleric and returned to Ireland working tirelessly to convert the pagan Celts. He became the first bishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland. His became a saint during the pre-congregation era.
All available documents suggest that St. Patrick died when he was 106 years old.
Raymond of Penyafort (Pennyforth)
Raymond was a lawyer, a preacher, and a priest who left a profound influence on the history of Spain and the Church. He was instrumental in re-Christianizing Spain after the Moors were defeated and his consolidation of papal decrees was the primary source of canon law for over 700 years.
Raymond was approached by Peter Nolasco, the Founder of the Mercedarians, and asked if he could help him get approval in founding his order. Raymond helped greatly, assisting his friend in getting the consent of King James I of Aragon and so were born the Mercedarians.
Already an accomplished lawyer and scholar, Raymond joined the Dominicans in Barcelona in 1222. He was 47 years-old. Raymond was a gifted preacher and was very successful at evangelizing Moors and Jews.
In 1230, Pope Gregory IX, made Raymond his confessor. During this time Raymond sorted and put in order all the decrees of popes and councils since 1150. Canonists relied on Raymond’s succinctly arranged writings until the new codification in 1917.
Raymond Penyaforth died in 1275 at the age of 100. He was canonized a saint by Pope Clement VIII in 1601. He is the patron saint of lawyers, including canon lawyers.
St. Raymond Penyaforth, pray for us.
©Larry Peterson 2018