St. Peregrine and cancer
"To so many people, St. Peregrine Laziosi is simply a stranger among the saints. But when the doctor informed me that I had cancer of the lungs, St. Peregrine came smilingly into my life.
I had a problem on earth and was presented with a special advocate in heaven. I was touched with a dread disease and blessed with a new and very inspiring friendship."
These are the words of Fr. Daniel Lord, S.J. His friend in heaven was Peregrine Laziosi, a 13th century Servite brother, who is known today as the patron saint of those suffering from cancer or malignancy.
Peregrine was born in the Italian town of Forli in the year 1265. Forli is 80 km. north-east of Florence. When Peregrine joined the Servite Order, physical penances were very much part of the devotional practices in the monasteries. One of the penances favoured by Peregrine for long hours in prayer. It might have caused the varicose veins that became ulcerated and gangrenous. The doctor recommended amputation. Operations in those times, 600 years before the arrival of anesthesia could be grim affairs.
In the middle of the night and in great pain, Peregrine dragged himself out of bed to pray before a crucifix. He fell asleep in front of the crucifix, and in a dream, saw Jesus come down from the cross. He woke and made his way back to bed. The doctor arrived, examined his leg and found the wound had healed and there was no gangrene. Peregrine was restored to health and lived into old age. In 1345, he died, at 80 years of age. In 1726, Peregrine was declared a saint by Pope Benedict XIII. His feast day is celebrated on May 4th.
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Prayer for serious illness
Saint Peregrine, humble servant of the Lord and his Mother, help me in my weakness and support me. Sickness undermines my body and makes my life uncertain; distress grips my heart and shakes my faith. Through your prayer, give me strong faith and firm hope, so that God might be merciful to me; deliver me from evil, cure my body, and the this will may be done with me. His tenderness, may I be strengthened in the trials and anguish that he allows me to experience so that I may always witness his presence in my life. Saint Peregrine, my brother in faith, be my protector and pray to the Lord God, the Good Shepherd, so that he might one day bring me to his house of peace and joy, where I will celebrate his love for ever and ever. Amen.