Patron of Altar Servers
The son of a shoemaker, John Berchmans was born in Diest, Belgium, in 1599. After studying for three years under a parish priest who prepared boys for the priesthood, he entered the newly-opened Jesuit College at Mechlin in 1615, and a year later joined their novitiate. In 1618, he joined to Rome on foot (in to weeks) to continue his studies at the Roman College.
After studying Philosophy for three years, John was selected by his superiors to take part in public debate, but became ill before it had ended. As this model Jesuit Seminarian lay on what turned out to be his deathbed, he clasped his rosary, his crucifix, and his book of rules and said: “These are my three treasures; with these I shall gladly die. “
The very next day, August 13, 1621, John passed on to his heavenly reward. He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.
PRAYER: God, You inspired St. John Berchmans to strive for perfect charity and so attain Your Kingdom at the end of his pilgrimage on earth. Strengthen us through his intercession that we may advance rejoicing in the way of love. Amen.