Saint of the Day – 21 April – St Conrad of Parzham OFM Cap (1818-1894) – Franciscan Religious Lay Friar, Blessed Sacrament and Marian devotee, Apostle of Charity, Miracle worker with the charism of prophecy – born on 22 December 1818 at Parzham, Bavaria, Germany as Johann Birndorfer and died on 21 April 1894 in Altötting, Bavaria, Germany of natural causes. He served for over 40 years in the post of porter of the Capuchin friary in Altötting, through which work he gained a widespread reputation for his wisdom, holiness and charity. Patronages – Capuchin-Franciscan Province of Mid-America, Catholic Student Association, doorkeepers, Passau, Germany, diocese of (since 1984).
St Conrad of Parzham was born in Bavaria, Germany on 22 December 1818. He was the ninth son of a poor farming family. From his early years he gave evident signs of a deep interior life, preferring places of solitude where he could be alone with God. Despite the great distance from the nearest Church, Conrad walked frequently through rain and snow to attend the holy Mass. He had a great devotion to Our Lady and prayed the Rosary daily.
Conrad remained on the farm without much thought of the future. His mother died when he was only 14. At age 31, with the passing of his father, Conrad decided to follow his heart and become a Capuchin Franciscan. After giving away his possessions he was admitted to the novitiate as a lay brother and received the religious name Conrad (his Baptismal name was John). Immediately after his profession he was sent to the friary of St Ann, in the city of Altötting. The friary served the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, the National Shrine of Bavaria to the Blessed Mother.
Conrad was given the position of porter at this shrine and retained it until his death. Because it was a large and busy city, the duty of the friary porter was a very difficult one. Conrad was known to be diligent at his work, sparing in words, bountiful to the poor, eager and ready to receive and help strangers. Brother Conrad fulfilled the task of porter for more than forty years, assisting the inhabitants of the town in their needs of body and soul.
Conrad loved silence! As mentioned, he sought places of solitude as a child in order to raise his thoughts to God. During his spare moments as a porter, he would duck into a nook near the door where it was possible to see the Blessed Sacrament in the nearby chapel. During the night, he often deprived himself of hours of sleep in order to be alone with Jesus in the chapel. It was generally believed that he never took any rest but continually occupied himself in work and exercises of devotion. Conrad also continued his childhood devotion to Our Lady, deepening his love for the Mother of God with every year of his religious life. These were his great secrets to sanctity: Silence, the Blessed Sacrament and Mary, Queen of the Friars Minor.
During his lifetime, Brother Conrad was reputed to have been able to read the hearts of those he met and was attributed the gift of prophecy. His heroic virtues and the miracles he performed won for him the distinction to be ranked among the Blessed by Pope Pius XI in 1930. Four years later, the same pope, approving additional miracles which had been performed, solemnly inscribed his name in the list of saints.