St Paschal Baylon
The Church was named after the Franciscan brother, Paschal Baylon whose feast day is celebrated on 17 May. The new statue of St Paschal was commissioned in Italy as part of the renovations.
In Paschal’s lifetime the Spanish empire in the New World was at the height of its power, though France and England were soon to reduce its influence. The 16th century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano and Salvator of Horta.
Paschal’s Spanish parents were poor and pious. Between the ages of seven and 24 he worked as a shepherd and began a life of mortification. He was able to pray on the job and was especially attentive to the church bell which rang at the Elevation during Mass. Paschal had a very honest streak in him. He once offered to pay owners of crops for any damage his animals caused!
In 1564, Paschal joined the Friars Minor and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life of penance. Though he was urged to study for the priesthood, he chose to be a brother. At various times he served as porter, cook, gardener and official beggar.
Paschal was careful to observe the vow of poverty. He would never waste any food or anything given for the use of the friars. When he was porter and took care of the poor coming to the door, he developed a reputation for great generosity. The friars sometimes tried to moderate his liberality!
Paschal spent his spare moments praying before the Blessed Sacrament. In time many people sought his wise counsel. People flocked to his tomb immediately after his burial; miracles were reported promptly. Paschal was canonized in 1690 and was named patron of eucharistic congresses and societies in 1897.
St Gerard Majella
The Church was named after the Redemptorist brother, Gerard Majella whose feast day is celebrated on 16 October. St Gerard is known as the patron of expectant mothers and Tuberculosis sufferers. This was thought a very appropriate name as in the developing Parish there were many young mothers and children and the Prince Charles Hospital had been established as a hospital to treat tuberculosis. The priests of St Paschal’s became chaplains of the hospital.
St Gerard was born in 1726 in Muru, near Naples in Southern Italy. At age 12, his father died and he had to commence work as a tailor to support his mother and family. He wished to become a religious brother but her was refused admittance to one order because of his frail health.
The Redemptorists eventually accepted him, labelling him ‘a useless lay brother.’ He worked very hard and much of his life as a brother was spent in travelling with and assisting the missionaries. They deemed him an invaluable companion because he had such remarkable success in bringing sinners to the sacraments.
After only 6 years, he died on TB.
Many miraculous stories are associated with him, including the one of the Christ Child giving him the loaf of bread, depicted in our statue which was found by Fr Gerard during his travels in Belgium, bought and shipped to Brisbane and restored. The statue dates from the time between when St Gerard was beatified in 1893 and canonised in 1904.