The pursuit of true happiness is always linked to the Cross, which the sublime last words of Saint Andrew the Apostle express so well. “I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”
The Latin adage grasps reality so well, talis vita, finis ita. That means the way you live is the way you die. If one lives well, a good death is likely with the grace of God. Whereas those who live a sinful life are unlikely to make a last minute conversion and die well.
The saints stand apart. They embrace death with confidence, even joy. They know what awaits every faithful soul who heroically fights the good fight on earth: Heaven. The ten saints here featured display such a high degree of union with God and the Blessed Virgin Mary that they already seem to experience a foretaste of Heaven on their deathbed.
Their last words prove that a life of heroic virtue, united with the Cross of Christ, is the source of true happiness in this life and in the next.
Saint Andrew the Apostle
Last words: “I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”
At his crucifixion, Saint Andrew composed the following prayer:
“O most beautiful Cross that was glorified by carrying the Body of Christ! Glorious Cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, O Cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”
The holy Apostle continued: “Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”
Saint Joan of Arc (1412—1431)
Her last word: “Jesus.”
Fr. Jean Massieu, an eyewitness, recounts how Saint Joan died as she burned at the stake: “…she uttered pious and devout lamentations and called on the Blessed Trinity, and upon the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, and on all the blessed saints in Paradise.”
The judges and several Englishmen who saw Saint Joan of Arc face death were so profoundly moved that they wept. Her enemies “recognized God’s hand and made professions of faith when they saw her make so remarkable an end. And her last word, as she died, was a loud cry of ‘Jesus’.”
The fire consumed her body but her heart remained miraculously intact.
Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio (1913—1928)
His last words: “Long live Christ the King!”
After valiantly fighting for the Cristeros, Saint Jose was captured. While the socialists barbarically tortured the 14-year-old boy with sharp machete blows, the godless soldiers screamed, “If you shout, ‘Death to Christ the King’, we will spare your life.”
His firm reply remained the same: “Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!” Although his torturers pierced his body with bayonets, with every stab, he shouted louder and louder: “Viva Cristo Rey!”
King Saint Ferdinand of Castile (1199—1252)
His last words: “Sing the Te Deum!”
Before his death, Saint Ferdinand made a public confession of his minutest sins from his boyhood to the imperfections of that day.
Then he called his eldest son, saying, “Son, you will be rich in land and in many good vassals… Try to do good and to be good: I leave you lord of all the land this side of the sea that the Moors won from the Visigoth King Roderick… If you maintain the boundaries of the state as I am leaving them to you, you are as good a king as I; if you conquer more, you are better, and if the boundaries decrease, then you are not as good as I.”
Addressing those at his bedside, he continued: “If, through my fault, you have any complaint, please forgive me for it.”
Then he took the candle with both hands, and somehow found strength in moral energy to lift it on high while he said: “Lord, naked I came out of my mother’s womb which was the earth, and naked I offer myself to her; and, Lord, receive my soul in the company of Thy servants.”
In a rapture of joy, the saint ordered: “Sing the Te Deum!”
St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844—1879)
Her last words: “Poor sinner.”
Already on her deathbed, St. Bernadette “gave a loud cry and with her eyes looking up to heaven and her arms stretched out as on a cross, she said, ‘My God.’ A tremor of reverence mingled with fear passed through the three nuns, who were still kneeling…. She repeated twice; ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, poor sinner.’”
“Poor sinner” were the last words of the French saint who saw Our Lady at Lourdes. She expired holding a crucifix against her heart.
Saint Dominic Guzman (1170 – 1221)
His last words: “Thanks be to God…”
Saint Dominic preached against the Albigensian heresy and promoted the holy rosary.
At his last hour, he made a “general confession to Father Ventura, and when it was finished, he added, addressing himself to the others, ‘Thanks be to God, whose mercy has preserved me in perfect virginity until this day: if you would keep chastity, guard yourselves from all dangerous conversation, and watch over your own hearts.’”
He followed the prayers the best he could by moving his lips. As the words of the Subvenite Sancti Dei were pronounced, the saint “stretched his arms to Heaven and expired.”
Saint Rene Goupil (1608 – 1642)
His last words: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Saint Isaac Jogues witnessed Saint Goupil’s martyrdom. He writes:
“…I sensed some foreboding of what would happen and said to René: ‘My dear brother, let us commend ourselves to our Lord and to our dear Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I am afraid these Indians have some evil design…
“A few minutes earlier René and I had offered ourselves to Our Lord with intense devotion. We begged God to accept our lives and our blood, and to unite them to His life and His blood for the salvation of these pagan tribes. We were returning to the village, praying our Rosary…
“We paused at the gate of the stockade to hear what the two Iroquois had to say. One of them drew a tomahawk from under his blanket, and dealt René a blow on the head. René fell prostrate to the ground, uttering the holy Name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. We had often reminded each other to end our speech and our lives with that most holy Name…”
Saint Thomas More (1478 – 1535)
Last words: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s first.”
As Chancellor of England, Saint Thomas More refused to support King Henry VIII divorce and immoral remarriage. His fidelity to the Church did not waver. Finally, the King accused him of high treason and sentenced him to death.
“His words were brief but they were to be immortal. He asked the crowd to pray for him and to bear witness that he was dying “in and for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church.” Then came the ever-to-be-remembered and glorious affirmation that he “died the King’s good servant but God’s first.”
Pope St. Gregory VII (1015—1085)
Last words: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”
Pope Gregory VII was a great reformer. The pope’s holy decrees, however, enraged the Emperor Henry IV so much that he invaded Rome. The saintly pope was forced to flee.
“…when the cardinals, who surrounded his death-bed, spoke of the good works he had accomplished, the dying Pope answered: “Beloved brothers, all these things I regard as nothing; one thing only gives me confidence – that I have loved justice and hated iniquity.” Again, at the hour death, his final words were: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”
St. Thomas Becket (1119-1170)
Last words: “…I am ready to embrace death.”
When King Henry II of England attacked the rights of the Catholic Church, Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, had the courage to oppose him. After years of conflict, Henry II angrily said: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
Four knights who knew what the king wanted entered the Cathedral while St. Thomas was praying Vespers, and yelled, “‘Where is the traitor?’ The saint boldly replied, “Here I am, no traitor, but archbishop and priest of God.”
Edward Grim, a witness, recorded his last words: “For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death.”
America Needs Fatima, “St. Andrew the Apostle.”
Ben D. Kennedy, “Saint Joan of Arc,” Saint Joan of Arc
Elias Rubio, “Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio: Hero for Christ the King,” TFP Student Action
Sister Maria del Carmen Fernandez Castro Cabeza, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and Leon, Saint Ferdinand III (New York, NY The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc.) pg. 276
Margaret Trouncer, Saint Bernadette The Child and the Nun (New York, NY: Sheed and Ward, 1958), pg. 239-240
Augusta Theodosia Drane, The Life of Saint Dominic (Rockford, Illinois : Tan Books and Publishers, INC.), pg. 226
John Farrow, The Story of Thomas More (Sheed and Ward New York 1954) pg. 227
Arnold Harris Mathew, The Life and Times of Hildebrand Pope Gregory VII (London, Francis Griffiths 1910) pg. 240
“Thomas Becket” by Herbert Thurston in The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York, The Encyclopedia Press, Inc., 1911 pg. 678
Edward Grim translated by Dawn Marie Hayes, “Medieval Sourcebook: Edward Grim: The Murder of Thomas Becket,” Fordham University
This all quite beautiful and Divine Truth from God. I’m very certain as all of these Saints stand out to me but one in particular Saint Isaac Jogues who a blessed feast day commemorates when he was Martyred which was the same date a devious scheme was conspired against me in a situation whereby I would be so seriously injured I would either be killed or crippled and that day I was attacked by a very nefarious person who was possessed with evil from Satan which happened on North American Martyr day October 19 which is the memorial of Sts. Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, priests and martyrs and companions, otherwise known as the “North American Martyrs.” On that day was so injured that it altered my life drastically and I had to fight for several years to survive. God made sure I did and by his grace I was able to serve His plan and not be destroyed as those dark forces wanted.
I want to share these words I wrote a while ago which were pertaining to all of this matter of saints and serving God’s will and purposes; which I see do connect to this beautiful article from CP&S.
“God comes to us often in obscurity, through unexpected events and persons.” God bless you and may He continue to bless you to do His will on earth as in heaven! I was just talking with a sister of mine early this morning about this very subject of how we are given many such opportunities and I indeed have had this happening in my personal life profusely and knew without a doubt that God was giving me actual messages and help to see my way on the very path which I walk here on earth. He doesn’t only beckon to us but guides us always if we will only take heed and watch as well as listen to all the opportunities He provides to us, so we not stumble but move forward in our life mission to serve Him and be ever so faithful to His will. Those monumental humblest human Icons like “Thomas Aquinas” or “Joan of Arc,” were chosen but they too paid close attention as Joan even when so young to God’s subtle messages being provided and we know what great good it did in her case!
Anyone that is interested please take a look and perhaps our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ is reaching out through your Blog and our shared words to others who just need that message or those tidbits of information to shed light upon their paths! I hope and pray this does some good for someone. Amen.
“We Never Walk Alone,” He our Creator through Jesus Christ told us He walks with us holding our right hand, and I know it for a fact from all that has happened to me over the last dozen years that I’m still here sharing my words and insights to others because He has given me all that I need and should be while on this earth to serve Him until such time that He God will take me away from this hard life to everlasting JOY and PEACE! For now I must hang in there and be in the ready to do whatever it is He asks of me one day at a time, like you even stated yourself my Friend; but never quitting and only doing what we are capable of however little or big a thing it is we can do it by having Faith in Him who gave us the greatest thing a LIFE, which is growing to be even much better than this, A Miraculous Eternity!
“Those who wage war against you will come to nothing. 13 For I am the LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: “Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
Footprints in the Sand, a beautiful poem!
“One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings’.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
A few readers wrote about this poem on a web site:
“This little poem, though I had seen it several times throughout my upbringing, really hit home one day about 30 years ago. It completely and utterly changed my life.”
“Greetings in Jesus name!
When first I saw this poster, some ten years ago, I thought “Wow!” How good and faithful is our Lord. What He promised He will do, He really fulfills His promises. He is not a man who should lie.
Even today I am still thinking about the single pair of footprints: Our father’s! When we are tired He picks us up and carries us. Who else can do this? Nobody, but God.”
“Shalom Aleichem (Shalom Aleichem is a spoken greeting in Hebrew, meaning “peace be upon you.”), my dear friends, this is my greatest comfort in time of my low moment. Shalom Aleichem.”
“Been divorced for 3 years been married for 33 years and all in a sudden divorce comes don’t see your kids no more don’t see the grand kids really thought it was the end for me until I read this poem mean so much to me it carries me on to the next day making me realize how good God is he will be by your side every minute of the day thank you Jesus.”
“I love this reading “Footprints in the Sand”. As a child dying of meningitis, He was carrying me. I was given last rites at the age of 18 months and here I sit today, because He loved and was carrying me. Even today, He continues to be with me daily.”
“Everyone on display is beautiful, I know my Lord walks with me every day to guide me, I just love the second one which is the pillow and would have that next to me on the bed every night to give me strength and comfort. Thank you Lord for everything and never leaving me, praise to Jesus, the only real love of my life always.”
Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV)
23 “The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
(Credit given readers’ content: onlythebible.)
Interwoven into the fabric of the beautiful God given tapestry of my day came along at just the right moment another notification from a writing friend who apparently God wanted to make sure we both saw each other’s written words and do some connecting of DOTS!
Then during the unfolding of my words through Divine Providence a clear immediate purpose for them came into view and this following letter was directed to a friend in need; who like all of us can use any “inspiration that God will send.”
Dear friend and brother. This is a most beautiful masterpiece of precious love from the deepest heart expressed in a literary work of art. A gift from you to others here on earth and of course those who loved you the most who are where we can’t be until we should be with them; but they would ask us to stay on course and grow in faith that all will be made right. But, I also see that your words sound tired or weary and I feel that you are lacking the JOY of your being created in the first place my dear Friend. Seek and you will find and we are all lost in this world as we have no ultimate control over anything. We truly are in the hands of our Maker or Creator which is a truth that I know for sure and is always worth investigation by anyone who is unsure or even those that need no convincing, because we never know enough nor could we living in just a temporary imperfect state of being. I have learned through my life that even though I’ve been kicked to the curb and then beat upon by many situations, and the ones that hurt me the most were those inflicted upon me by other humans, my own race or species of beings! Yet, I still have joy in my heart because I know that the bigger picture is the key, putting things in perspective; and that there is God Almighty who will judge all things accordingly leading all of those that desire Him above all things; to an everlasting Salvation with Him and all that is good.
We must think about how grand this miraculous, mysterious so precious a gift, this life is, even with all of the pain and sorrow it is, the best thing that ever happened; an expression from a Divine Creator with “ABSOLUTE LOVE” that produced from that love a masterpiece of never-ending sharing love for intelligent gifted brothers and sisters who are and will be members of an eternal fulfilling kingdom! We must be hopeful and vigilant to get there, not giving in to sin or failure as best we can; because no matter what happens “we can make it to the promised land,” He has promised us that, and if we will seek Him out of Love for Him as well one another while asking for guidance, He will never let us down; we will be fulfilled beyond imagination!
I’m telling you after all I’ve had to deal with I would suffer it all again if I must, because I’m positive what awaits at the conclusion and after the final analysis of it all, I will be so happy and complete forever, living eternally in a glorified state of being! For now I must carry my cross.
God bless you.
Brother in Christ Jesus,
Lawrence Morra III