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St. Paschal Baylon and the entrancing dance of faith

St. Paschal Baylon

It was Saint Augustine who said, “He who sings prays twice.” But Saint Paschal Baylon, the saint we remember today, May 17, took this to the next level—he also danced while praying.

His devout Catholic parents named him Paschal because he was born on Pentecost Sunday, May 16, 1540. According to legend, even as an infant, he was so obsessed with the Holy Eucharist that he would crawl all by himself to their local church just to hear Mass.

During his teenage years, Paschal spent most of his time tending his family’s sheep. Eager to learn despite not getting a formal education, he would ask passersby to teach him how to read the Holy Bible and various prayer booklets.

Paschal also reserved some time of his day to pray under the tree, and he didn't forget to kneel whenever the church bells tolled during consecration.

At the age of 20, he traveled to a Franciscan convent in Valentia to join their congregation. He became a fully pledged member of the Franciscan order in 1564.

As a Franciscan lay brother, Paschal continued to serve with humility, just like he did as a shepherd. He helped with different chores in the convent happily and willingly. He only had one habit: he often walked barefoot. Whenever he prayed, Paschal did so in such deep meditation that he would enter a trance, causing him to dance.

His brother Franciscans would often see him in front of the Tabernacle or the image of the Virgin Mary dancing in prayer. Because of this, he earned the nickname “Baylon,” from the Spanish word "bailar,” which means “one who loves to dance.”

The Franciscans took note of Paschal’s faith and dedication. Therefore, they decided to invite him to pursue the priesthood, which Paschal respectfully declined. According to him, his responsibilities as a lay brother who does convent chores were enough for him to experience God's holiness.

A Calvinist pastor sent Paschal to France in 1567 to debate the true presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. An ardent lover of the Blessed Sacrament, Paschal strongly defended the beliefs of the Catholic faith.

The crowd became enraged and began to stone him, resulting in several wounds and a fracture in his shoulder.

During his final years, Paschal spent his time in deep reflection at the foot of the altar and the Blessed Sacrament. On May 17, 1592, he died in Villa Reale, near Valentia, at the age of 52. He also passed away on Pentecost Sunday, the same feast as his birth.

Pope Paul V beatified Paschal on October 29, 1618, and Pope Alexander VIII canonized him on October 16, 1690. The basilica of Villa Reale houses his remains.

Saint Paschal Baylon became the patron saint of Eucharistic Congresses around the world due to his unparalleled love for the Blessed Sacrament. Christ forever mystifies him in the Holy Eucharist, often depicting him kneeling in front of or holding a monstrance.

Saint Paschal’s way of praying through dance may be a bit unusual, but its uniqueness invited him to express the desires of his heart most authentically. Every step he takes is a loud invocation to the Lord, and every movement of his hands is a loving sign of praise to His Holy Name.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.