Who Is Saint Louis Bertrand?
- Saint Louis Bertrand was born in 1526 in Spain and entered the Dominican Order when he was 18 yrs old.
- He later became a missionary to the New World.
- He was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671 and is the patron saint of Colombia. He is also the patron of the Dominican formation personnel and novitiates.
- His feast day is celebrated on October 9.
St. Louis Bertrand, depicted in the 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 personnel.
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 potion, 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.