They are paragons of goodness and piety, venerated and credited for their mind-blowing miracles. But before these three people became saints, they expressed themselves through poetry, penning some of the most sensitive and thought-provoking lines in literature.
My Pope celebrates three beloved saints whose memories live on in their unwavering devotion to God, virtuous acts, and poignant poetry. (Read: Here’s a Prayer to Start Your Week with Positivity)
St. Pope John Paul II
He played football, was an actor, and spoke more than 10 different languages fluently. He also wrote poetry, a compilation of which is found in the book The Place Within. Pope John Paul II (or Karol Wojtyla), who studied poetry and drama in college, penned poems all throughout his life. In 1986, his works were adapted and set to music in the album The Poems of John Paul II. American jazz artist Sarah Vaughan sings the Pontiff’s words.
Written in his 20s, “Girl Disappointed in Love” makes you rethink your feelings after unmet expectations in the romance department. In His lifetime, Jesus was doubted, mocked, tortured, and nailed to the cross where He was left to suffer before His death. “He, too, finds no love,” wrote the Pope.
GIRL DISAPPOINTED IN LOVE
With mercury we measure pain
as we measure the heat of bodies and air;
but this is not how to discover our limits—
you think you are the center of things.
If you could only grasp that you are not:
the center is He,
and He, too, finds no love—
why don’t you see?
The human heart—what is it for?
Cosmic temperature. Heart. Mercury.
St. Thomas Aquinas
A prominent Western philosopher and theologian, the Italian Dominican priest balanced his deeply intellectual pursuits with beautiful hymns and moving poetry. Mike Aquilina, award-winning author of books focused on Church History, refers to the saint as “the poet laureate of heaven.” (Read: Five Books to Read for an Extra Dose of Inspiration)
Strangely, Thomas Aquinas’ writing days ended abruptly after a mystical experience during Mass one day in 1273. “I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value,” he said.
The saint’s “Ask Anything” is an entry in the compilation Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky. The simple poem appears to capture what the saint must have felt during that life-changing mystical experience.
My Lord said to me.
And my mind and heart thought deeply
for a second,
then replied with just one word,
God’s arms then opened up and I entered Myself.
I entered Myself when I entered
And having learned compassion I
allowed my soul
St. Therese of Lisieux
The Little Flower of Jesus was known for her pure and childlike love for the Son of God, feelings the Carmelite nun expressed in poetry, which she wrote in her tiny cell at night.
One such is “I Thirst for Love,” proof of her immense passion for Christ as well as her desire to live and suffer as He did. (Read: How to Raise a Saint Like Therese of Lisieux)
I THIRST FOR LOVE
In wondrous love Thou didst come down from Heaven
To immolate Thyself, O Christ, for me;
So, in my turn, my love to Thee is given,
I wish to suffer and to die for Thee.
Thou, Lord, has spoken this truth benign:
“To die for one loved tenderly
Of greatest love on Earth is sign;”
And now, such love is mine, such love for Thee!
Abide, abide with me, O Pilgrim blest!
Behind the hill fast sinks the dying day.
Helped by Thy Cross I mount the rocky crest;
Oh, come, to guide me on my heavenward way.
To be like Thee is my desire;
Thy voice finds echo in my soul.
Suffering I crave! Thy words of fire
Lift me above Earth’s mire, and sin’s control.
Chanting Thy victories, gloriously sublime,
The Seraphim all Heaven cry to me,
That even Thou, to conquer sin and crime,
Upon this Earth a sufferer needs must be.
For me, upon life’s dreary way,
What scorn, what anguish, Thou didst bear
Let me grow humble every day,
Be least of all, always, Thy lot to share!
Ah, Christ! Thy great example teaches me
Myself to humble, honors to despise.
Little and low like Thee I choose to be,
Forgetting self, so I may charm Thine eyes.
My peace I find in solitude,
Nor ask I more, dear Lord, than this:
Be Thou my sole beatitude,
Ever in Thee renewed, my joy, my bliss.
Thou, the great God Whom Earth and Heaven adore,
Thou dwellest a prisoner for me night and day;
And every hour I hear Thy voice implore:
“I thirst—I thirst—I thirst—for love always!”
I, too, Thy prisoner am I;
I, too, cry ever unto Thee
Thine own divine and tender cry:
“I thirst! Oh, let me die of love for Thee!”
For love of Thee I thirst! Fulfill my hope;
Augment in me Thine own celestial flame!
For love of Thee I thirst! Too scant Earth’s scope.
The glorious Vision of Thy Face I claim!
My long slow martyrdom of fire
Still more and more consumeth me.
Thou art my joy, my own desire.
Jesu! May I expire of love for Thee!