Bertrand, depicted in this statue in front of our priory,
is the patron saint of the parish. St. Louis Bertrand was
born in Valencia, Spain on January 1, 1526, and entered the
Dominican Order in 1544 against the wishes of his parents.
He exemplified the ideals of Dominican life so well that he
was appointed Master of Novices. Combining an austere life
with zeal for spreading the Gospel, he asked to be sent to
the farthest parts of the Americas and in 1562 was sent to
what is now Columbia. He was given the gift of
communicating with the Indians in their own tongue and with
the encouragement of Bartolomé de las Casas defended their
rights against the Spanish conquerors. He returned to Spain
in 1569 and again assumed the position of Master of
Novices. He died at Valencia on October 9, 1581. St. Louis
Bertrand is the Patron Saint of novitiates and formation
In Christian iconography, St. Louis Bertrand is often portrayed holding a chalice from which serpents are emerging. In the other hand, he displays a crucifix with a pistol at its base. These articles call to mind two stories from the great saint's life when God miraculously saved him from attempts on his life by vile would-be assassins. The first recalls the story of Brother Louis' missionary preaching in South America. A native priest, showing his jealous contempt for our saint, gave him a chalice of poison at the Holy Mass. Louis made the sign of the Cross over the toxic potation, and serpents sprang from the chalice, thus revealing its true contents and saving his life.
The second object - the crucifix/pistol - recalls another account of near-martyrdom in the life of St. Louis Bertrand. Set upon by a crazed gunman -- we like to think it was one of his novices, but who knows -- St. Louis calmly made the conquering sign of the Cross. With this most basic gesture of our faith, the barrel of the gun miraculously turned into a crucifix.
You who dwell in the
shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the
Almighty, say to the Lord, "My refuge and fortress, my God
in whom I trust." God will rescue you from the fowler's
snare, from the destroying plague, will shelter you with
pinions, spread wings that you may take refuge; God's
faithfulness is a protecting shield. You shall not fear the
terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor
the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that
ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten
thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you
will see. You have the Lord for your refuge; you have made
the Most High your stronghold.