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NOVEMBER 26
ST. JOHN BERCHMANS

This Belgian saint once said, "If I do not become a saint when I am young, I shall never become one." In fact, he died at the early age of twenty-two-and he had, without any doubt, reached his goal of sanctity.

John was born in 1599. As a child, he stayed very close to his sick mother. Still, he liked to join with his young friends in putting on plays about Bible stories. He was especially good at playing the part of Daniel defending the innocent Susanna. By the time he was thirteen, he wanted to begin studying for the priesthood. However, his father, a shoemaker, needed his help in supporting the family. Finally, Mr. Berchmans decided to let John become a servant in the household of a priest. From there he could go to classes in the seminary.

Three years later, John Berchmans entered the Society of Jesus. He prayed, studied hard, and enthusiastically acted out parts in religious plays. He made a motto: "Have great care for little things," and he lived up to it. St. John Berchmans never performed any great, heroic deeds. But he did every little thing well, from waiting on tables to copying down notes on his studies.

When he became sick, no doctor could discover what illness he had. Yet John knew he was going to die. He was very cheerful as always. When the doctor ordered that his forehead be bathed with wine, John joked: "It's lucky that such an expensive sickness is not going to last long."

John Berchmans died in 1621. Miracles took place at his funeral. Right away people began to call him a saint.