.- During his Wednesday general audience, held for 40,000 people in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on St. John Leonardi, the patron saint of pharmacists. This Italian saint, the Pope taught, can show us that God's medicine, his son Jesus, “is the measure of all things.”
St. John Leonardi, Pope Benedict recalled, was born in the Italian town of Diecimo in the year 1541. He studied pharmacology but abandoned it to focus on theology and was later ordained a priest.
Together with Monsignor Juan Vives and the Jesuit Martin de Funes he helped to found the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, in which countless priests have been formed. Throughout his religious life, John Leonardi never lost his passion for pharmacology, convinced that "God's medicine, which is Jesus Christ Who was crucified and rose again, is the measure of all things," the Pope said.
The saint was also involved in advising a group of young people who in 1574 founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Blessed Virgin Reformed, later known as the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God.
"The resplendent figure of this saint invites all Christians, first and foremost priests, to strive constantly towards the 'highest measure of Christian life,' which is sanctity," the Pope said. "Indeed, it is only from faithfulness to Christ that authentic ecclesial renewal can arise.
“In those years,” Benedict XVI recalled, “in the cultural and social passage from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century, the premises of contemporary culture began to be outlined, characterized by an unwarranted fracture between faith and reason which, among the negative effects it has produced, marginalized God and created the illusion of a possible complete autonomy of man, who chooses to live 'as if God did not exist.'”
"This is the crisis of modern thought which I have frequently had occasion to highlight and which often leads to forms of relativism," the Holy Father added. "John Leonardi understood what the true medicine for these spiritual ills was and he summarized it in the expression: 'Christ above all.'”
St. John Leonardi was also well-aware of how Jesus' parable of the weeds and wheat applied to the Church, Pope Benedict explained. He was “not scandalized by her human weaknesses and, in order to counteract the weeds, he chose to become good wheat; that is, he chose to love Christ in the Church and to contribute to making her a more transparent sign of Him."
"Conquered by Christ like St Paul, he pointed to and continues to hold up the Christocentric ideal for which we must give up all our personal interests," the Pontiff said. "Next to the face of Christ his eyes are fixed on the maternal face of Mary, who became the patron of his order."
"The example of this fascinating man of God,” Pope Benedict concluded, “is a model, a call to all priests and all Christians to live their vocation with enthusiasm."
Later, in his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, Benedict XVI noted that today the Church honors Our Lady of the Rosary. He expounded: “To you, dear young people, I recommend praying the Rosary so that it may help you to do the will of God and to find safe refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Dear sick people, experience the comfort of our heavenly Mother so that you may confront moments of trial. For you, dear newlyweds, the recitation of this prayer constitutes a daily commitment of your family so that it may grow, thanks to the intercession of Mary, in unity and in fidelity to the Gospel.”