19 October - On 3 January 1694, Paolo Francesco Danei is born in Ovada, Italy. He is the son of Luchino, a merchant, and Anna Maria Massari and the eldest of a family of sixteen children, of whom only six will survive after childhood.
The summer of 1713 is the moment of Paul's "conversion": he receives great enlightenment and decides to dedicate himself totally to God. On November 22nd 1720, Paul was clothed in the habit of penance of the hermits by Bishop Gattinara, his bishop. He then began a forty-day retreat in a room in the church of St. Charles in Castellazzo Bormida. There he wrote the rule of his future congregation. Shortly afterwards, on 28th October 1721, his brother John the Baptist was clothed in the same habit as Paul and he committed himself with him to the consecrated life.
On 21 May 1725, in the Church of the Navicella, Paul received oral permission from Pope Benedict XIII to gather companions together. Two years later, on June 7, 1727, both Paul and John the Baptist were ordained priests by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In March 1728, they returned to Monte Argentario, where they lived in a poor hermitage dedicated to Saint Anthony. Little by little, a religious community was formed; in 1730, it was made up of seven people. They worked in the parish of Talamone with the project of building a Retreat, dedicated to the Presentation of Mary in the Temple. The first retreat of the Congregation of the Passionists was inaugurated on 14 September 1737. Pope Benedict XIV approves the rule of the new congregation, but not yet the congregation itself, on 13th May 1741. On 11 June of the same year, Paul took his first religious vow and took the name Paul of the Cross. On 18 April 1746, by a brief pontifical writ, he received the approval of the congregation as such. In the meantime he opened the retreats of Vetralla and Soriano. Paul moved to Vetralla, where he attended the death of John the Baptist on 30 August 1765. On 3 May 1771, Pope Clement XIV authorised the opening of the first monastery of Passionist nuns in Tarquinia. Mary Crucified Costantini and ten young women made their religious profession there. Paul will not be able to attend the inauguration. He celebrated Holy Mass for the last time on 15 June 1775 and died in Rome on 18 October 1775 at the age of eighty-one. His tomb is in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Rome. Pope Pius VI declared him venerable in September 1784. He was beatified on 1 May 1853 and canonised by the same pope on 29 June 1867.
Paul's doctrine of the cross is the result of a personal experience enlightened by authors also experienced in the field of the interior life. He began his life as a hermit with a great knowledge of St. Francis de Sales and the two great Doctors of Carmel: St. Jean de la croix and St. Teresa of Avila. At the age of 50, at the height of his spiritual and apostolic maturity, he discovered the writings of John Tauler. His mysticism of the Passion and of kenosis is deepened.