Enduring Illness

When St. Francis de Sales was ill, it was a matter of great edification to notice how simply he told his symptoms, without exaggeration or complaint, how patiently and uncomplainingly he bore them, and how he received all remedies without opposition. Though he sometimes suffered most cruel pains in his inferior nature, he always preserved an unalterable serenity of brow and eye, as if he were not suffering at all. Thus he came to enjoy Paradise even while suffering, unlike so many others, who, at every trifling pain, seem impatient and inconsolable.

St. Philip Neri, in his illnesses, which were long, severe, and frequent, was seen always with a cheerful countenance and a serene brow; he never gave any sign of pain, however great it might be, nor talked about his sickness, except to the physicians.

For twenty-eight years St. Clare suffered grievous infirmities, and in all that time was never heard to complain of her sufferings, but instead, she thanked God for them.

It is related, in the Lives of the Fathers, that when the Abbot Stephen was sick, his companions made for him a fried cake, but used, by mistake, a kind of oil which was very bitter. The holy Abbot perceived this on tasting it, but ate a little, without saying anything.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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