The Life, Death & Miracles of St. John Berchmans
Born the son of a shoemaker in the city of Diest (Belgium) on March 13, 1599, John Berchmans was the oldest of five. His parents, John Charles and Elizabeth Berchmans baptized and named their son John in honor of St. John the Baptist. And much like St. John the Baptist, John Berchmans showed great faith and commitment… even at an early age. His love of the Lord was evident by his reverent service at the altar for daily Mass.
In 1615, John Berchmans was one of the first to enroll into the Jesuit college at Malines. Upon entry into the university, he immediately enrolled into the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. Through his studies, John Berchmans grew in mind and in spirit, and eventually sought to join the Society of Jesus, a decision that his father did not favor. Nevertheless, on September 24, 1616 (400 years ago this year), John Berchmans joined the Jesuit novitiate. Fearless and admired by all of his peers, John Berchmans requested, that should he be ordained a priest, that he would be assigned a chaplain in the army with the hopes of being a martyr on the battlefield. That however, was not in God’s plan.
“If I do not become a saint when I am young,
I shall never become one”
– St. John Berchmans –
On September 25, 1618, John Berchmans made his first vows and then left for Antwerp to begin his studies in philosophy. The next year, he was selected to go to Rome, where he would continue his studies at the Roman College.
Through his studies, John Berchmans was inspired by St. Aloysius of Gonzaga and the Jesuit English martyrs. From these tremendous examples, he built his spiritual model. John Berchmans had an appreciation and value for ordinary things, holding great store in them. which was a certain trademark to his holiness and his own personal motto: Maximi facere minima.
On August 13, 1621, at just the age of twenty-two, John Berchmans succumbed to Roman Fever and died, having received his last Holy Communion and making a beautiful act of faith in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. After his death, large crowds gathered to be in the presence of his remains before his burial. He is buried in the Church of Sant’Ignatio, named after the founded of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius of Loyola. His heart was taken home to Belgium where it has been since his death.
Learn more about SJB’s family, childhood, education, First Holy Communion, vocation, life in the novitiate, his mortification, his prayer life, virtues, humility, love of the Blessed Sacrament, love of Mary, life in Rome, his sanctity, illness, death, and miracles, please click the learn more button below.
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Read about the many miracles attributed to SJB.
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Litanies, Novena, Devotions, Mass Parts, and other Prayers to SJB.
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