Dominican Saints 101: St. Louis Bertrand

October 11, 2011

St. Louis Bertrand (1526-1581, feast day – Oct. 9) is known as the Apostle of the Americas and is the patron of Novice Masters.  In his 37 years as a Dominican, he spent 7 years in the Americas where he converted over 23,000 Native Americans in Colombia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands, and he spent most of the rest of his years as the Master of Novices in Valencia, Spain. A relative of St. Vincent Ferrer, he was baptized in the same baptismal font as the great saint, and later likewise became a fervent preacher.  This is ironic because it is said that “his voice was raucous, his memory treacherous, his carriage without grace.”  Yet, at the same time, the holiness of his life so informed his preaching that “the unction and inspiration of his fervent words so completely offset these natural defects, that he was soon hailed throughout…Valencia as a second Saint Vincent Ferrer.” His powerful preaching led to the anger of some nobles however.  On one occasion, a gun was pulled on him.  Yet, with great faith, he prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over the weapon, which immediately turned into a crucifix. As novice master, he also sought to inspire his novices to become great and fervent preachers.  He led them in a strict regiment so that they might become faithful and zealous Dominican priests, striving for the salvation of souls.  He would tell them,

If because of your preaching men lay aside enmities, forgive injuries, avoid occasions of sin and scandals, and reform their conduct, you may say that the seed has fallen on good ground.  But to God alone give all the glory and acknowledge yourselves ever unprofitable servants.

May he continue to be an inspiration to those of us in formation to the priesthood.  And through his intercession may many holy Dominicans be raised up to be great and faithful preachers. O God, through mortification of the body and preaching of the faith, you raised the blessed Louis, your confessor, to the glory of the saints; grant that what we profess by faith we may ever fulfill by works of piety.  Through Christ our Lord.

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