Saint of the Day – 25 March – Saint Dismas “The Good Thief” the first Saint – crucified alongside Jesus Christ in 33. Patronages – condemned prisoners, all prisoners, dying people, funeral directors, penitents, penitent criminals, prison chaplains, prisoners, prisons, reformed thieves, undertakers, Przemysl, Poland, Archdiocese of, Merizo, Guam. Also known as The Penitent Thief, The Good Thief on the Cross, Demas, Desmas, Dimas, Dysmas, Rach, Titus, Zoatham.
The Roman Martyrology, on the 25th of March, makes mention of the Good Thief, who, according to tradition, is called Dismas, in the following words:
“At Jerusalem, on this day, is the Feast of the Good Thief, who acknowledged Christ on the Cross and from Him, deserved to hear the words: ‘This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.“
The sudden change and conversion, for Dismas from a sinner, became a penitent and Saint, has been rightly attributed to the prayers of our Blessed Lady. Mary, say the holy Fathers, who had obtained the soul of the malefactor, as a recompense of her sorrows and the price of her compassion.
Saint Peter Damien assures us, that Mary prayed for the thief who was on the right side of the Cross, on which side she also stood and exhorted him, to hope in Jesus and to do penance.
Saint Anselm, in a treatise on the youth of Jesus, relates the following incident about the early years of Saint Dismas, which he says is a pious legend:
“Dismas was living in a forest on the confines of Egypt, when Mary went thither with the Child Jesus, to escape the rage of Herod. He was a highwayman and the son of the chief of a band of robbers.
One day, as he lay in ambush, he saw a man, a young woman and a little Child approaching, from whom he rightly expected no opposition.
Therefore, he went towards them, with his comrades, with the intention to ill-treat them.
But he was at once so charmed with the supernatural beauty and grace which shone on the countenance of Jesus, that instead of doing them harm, he gave them hospitality in the cave which he inhabited and made ready for them, everything of which they stood in need.
Mary was grateful for the tenderness and care, which the robber bestowed on her Beloved Son and warmly thanking him, she assured him that he would be rewarded before his death.
This promise was fulfilled later, when Dismas was crucified with the Saviour of the World and obtained the grace of repentance in his last hour, openly confessing Jesus Christ’s Divinity.
When the Apostles had fled, he had the happiness of receiving the first fruits of the Redeemer’s Sacrifice and soon after, entered the Heavenly Kingdom with his Saviour.”
Dismas is considered the Patron of penitents and is especially invoked for the conversion of hardened and obstinate criminals and sinners.
The Church has indeed sanctioned the veneration given to this Saint, with a most beautiful Office, in his honour.