Friday after Ash Wednesday – A Day of Fasting and Abstinence, Feast of St Matthias, Madonna of the Plague in Rome (591) and Memorials of the Saints – 24 February

Friday after Ash Wednesday – A Day of Fasting and Abstinence

St Matthias the Apostle, Martyr. After Christ’s Ascension, Matthias was chosen Apostle in place of the traitor Judas, as is detailed in the Epistle of this day and, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, announced the Gospel, first to his own people, the Jews and then, in Cappadocia and the neighbourhood of the Caspian Sea.
St Matthias!

This Feast was moved to 1969 to 14 May.

Plague in Rome ends after Saint Pope Gregory the Great leads a procession with a painting of Our Lady by Saint Luke (591): – 24 February

St Adela of Blois
Bl Antonio Taglia
Bl Arnold of Carcassonne
St Betto of Auxerre
Bl Berta of Busano

Blessed Constantius of Fabriano OP (1401-1481) Priest and Friar of the Order of Preachers, Prior, Reformer, Preacher of renown, Writer, known as a Miracle-Worker and had the gift of prophecy, peacemaker. He was Beatified in 1821 by Pope Pius VII (cultus confirmed).

St Cummian Albus of Iona

St Ethelbert of Kent (552-616) King and Confessor.
About St Ethelbert:

St Evetius of Nicomedia
Bl Ida of Hohenfels
St Liudhard
Bl Lotario Arnari
Blessed Marco De’ Marconi OSH (1480-1510) Monk of the Order of the Hermits of Saint Jerome (The Hieronymites).
St Modestus of Trier
St Peter the Librarian
St Praetextatus of Rouen
St Primitiva
St Sergius of Caesarea
Bl Simon of Saint Bertin


Saint of the Day – 2 February – Blessed Stephen Luigi Giuseppe Bellesini OSA (1774-1840) Priest

Saint of the Day – 2 February – Blessed Stephen Luigi Giuseppe Bellesini OSA (1774-1840) Priest and Friar of the Hermits of St Augustine, teacher, mentor to the youth, Parish Priest, guardian of the poor and sick. Born on 25 November 1774 at Trent, Italy as Aloysius Bellesini and died on 2 February 1840 of Typhus and an infection that developed from a cut on his leg received by an accidental fall while visiting the sick at Genazzano, Italy. Also known as – Aloysius Bellesini, Stefano Bellesini. Additional Memorial – 3 February (Augustinians). Beatified on 27 December 1904 by Pope Pius X.

We celebrate today the memory of Blessed Stephen Bellesini, a man who lived during a difficult period of the Church’s history at the turn of 19th Century Italy. His vocation as an Augustinian Religious was severely tried by strong anticlerical government regulations. Nevertheless, he did not withdraw in shame, nor did he become embittered by external challenges and persecutions. Rather, he redoubled his commitment and persevered in his resolve, giving himself generously in the service of others, most especially the poor, the disadvantaged and the infirm.

Luigi Bellesini was born in Trent, Italy, on 25 November 1774. He entered the Order at the Monastery of San Marco in his native City, taking the name Stephen and making his profession on 31 May 1794. Following studies in Rome and Bologna, aged just 22, he was forced to return to Trent during the government suppression of religious houses and there completed his theological education. He was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1797.

After several years of service, principally as a preacher as well as a teacher in the local schools, the Monastery in Trent, after years of tension and uncertainty, Stephen and his community were expelled from their Monastery for good, forbidden to wear any longer the Habit of their religious profession. They would never return. The Monastery would never re-open.

Stephen was forced to return to his family home. He founded, in his home, a free school for the poor children of the area, who otherwise would not have access to education. He gave food and clothing to the poorest of his students and offered encouragement and friendship to all of them. He dedicated his energies with such remarkable results that his work won the respect of the materialistic local authorities, who appointed him Director and Superintendent of all schools of the district.

However, when the opportunity presented itself, he resigned from these offices and secretly made his way to Rome, in order to resume his religious life. He was appointed Novice Master first in Rome, then in Bologna, Umbria and lastly at Genazzano.

Political leaders in Trent begged Stephen to return to his work in the schools there, offering to increase his salary. But Stephen refused, writing to them: “You would surely not ask me (to return to Trent) if you realised the unbreakable bond between a Friar and his God, Who is the King of Kings. Before His Altar, I have solemnly promised to be faithful to those vows.

The closing years of his life were spent as Parish Priest at the Shrine of Our Mother of Good Counsel,. There his ministry included a special emphasis on the needs of the poor and of children.

In January 1840, while answering a call to care for a sick Parishioner, during the Typhus epidemic which was raging in the area at the time, he tripped and fell. A cut on his leg became infected and he developed a high fever. He tried to remain active for the next two days but the fever remained. It is believed that he had contracted Cholera and in his weakened state, he could not fight the desease. He died, a Martyr of Charity, on 2 February 1840.

At the entrance to the Chapel of the General Curia in Rome, there is a familiar painting of the Augustinian Blessed, Stephen Bellesini. It is a copy of an original artwork created by G Toeschi in 1905, depicting a usual but crowning moment and possibly one of the last, of Stephen’s life.
He stands close to the bedside of an ill man, administering perhaps the last Sacrament or simply offering him some spiritual comfort, while the man’s wife presses her head to the bed, seemingly overcome with grief or exhaustion.
Two young children look on anxiously.
The artist touchingly captured here an important aspect of the ministry which occupied the latter part of Stephen’s life, as he visited the homes of the townspeople, bringing them the comfort of the Sacraments and oftentimes, material assistance as well, during the Typhus epidemic which struck Genazzano in the Spring of 1839. As we know, less than a year later, Stephen, himself, would fall victim to the pestilence and would succumb – a Martyr of Charity – faithful to the end.

Stephen was Beatified by St Pius X on 27 December 1904. His remains are venerated in a special Chapel dedicated to him at the Shrine of Our Mother of Good Counsel, Genazzano.

“Why is Blessed Stephen, who was Beatified in 1904, not yet a saint?

Certainly his sanctity is not at issue. Champion of youth, advocate for justice, comforter of the sick, guardian of the poor, his message is timely, his life is exemplary and his love for and commitment to religious life speaks loudly to Augustinians of today. The Postulator of Causes will tell us that Stephen needs to obtain a miracle!
And so we might be inclined to leave the question at Stephen’s own feet … and wait. But, to borrow an opinion expressed in another context, “how will they call on him if they have not heard of him?”
In Stephen Bellesini we Augustinians have a powerful witness to show forth, a Religious and Priest who has a great deal to say to so many categories of people in need today: the sick, the young, Religious and Priests, to those who fight injustice and religious persecution. This is a small attempt to make him better known. Can you help us in this effort?
” (


Saint of the Day – 7January – St Valentine of Passau (Died 475) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 7January – St Valentine of Passau (Died 475) Bishop in Passau in the Rhaetia region, Switzerland, an area in the border region of modern Italy, Austria and Switzerland, Monk, Abbot, Missionary, Hermit, Miracle-worker. Died on 7 January 475 at Mais, Tyrol, Austria of natural causes. Patronages – against convulsions, against cramps/stomach pain, against epilepsy, against gout, against plague/epidemics, against demonic possession, of cattle diseases, of pilgrims, poor people, City and Diocese of Passau. Also known as • Valentine of Mais • Valentine of Raetia • Valentine of Ratien • Valentine of Retie • Valentine of Rezia • Valentine of Rhaetia • Valentine of Rhétie • Valentin, Valentinus. Additional Memorial – 4 August (translation of relics), 29 October a combined Feast with the other Patrons of Passau, St Stephen, the Protomartyr and St Maximillian Martyr Bishop of Passau for 20 years, who died in c 284 (Feast day 12 October)..

The 3 Patrons of Passau, St Valentine left, st Stephen centre and St Maximillian right

According to tradition, Valentine came to Passau around 430; there the construction of the first Church on the site of today’s Cathedral is attributed to him.

Valentine had been sent by the Pope to preach the Gospel in the Passau. He found that his work was without fruit and returned to Rome to implore the Holy Father to send him elsewhere. But the Pope Consecrated him Bishop and sent him back to Passau, to preach in season and out of season, whether it produced fruit or not.

The Bishop renewed his efforts but the pagans and Arians combined to drive him out of the City. Thereupon, he went into the Rhætian Alps and his teaching produced abundant fruit in the region. His Vita states, St Valentine was “teaching the word of God and doing great good, such that he was able to expel demons from the obsessed and cure those who were sick of all sorts of diseases.” 

At length he resolved to serve God and purify his own soul, in a life of retirement. He, therefore, built a little Chapel and Monastery at Mais, in Tyrol and there he died. His Relics are enshrined at Passau.

A Monk who died in 482 wrote a Vita of the Bishop of Raetia. St Venantius Fortunatus knew of a Church dedicated to Saint Valentine in the Upper Inn Valley and another, probably on the Brenner Pass in the Alps.

otive image, 1843 from the Mariahill pilgrimage Church in Passau. Next to Bishop Valentin appears the Mother of God with the Jesus Child in her arms in a wreath of clouds.
The text asks for a devotional Lord’s Prayer to Maria for the sinful person.

Around 1200, on the occasion of the discovery of his grave in the forecourt of Passau Cathedral, a life story was written by an Cathedral Chaplain – who said that Valentin worked in the area around Passau but was unsuccessful because of the wildness of the residents and finally retreated to the Alps after abuse and expulsion.

Below is a Painting by Franz de Neve “The Cures Wrought by Saint Valentine and the Beheading of St Maximilian” (after 1689) which resides in the Cathedral of St Stephen, Passau.
In the foreground, St Valentine cures the sick. The beheading of St Maximilian is barely visible in the left edge of the background.


The Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas, Madonna of San Luca / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Italy (433) and Memorials of the Saints – 30 December

The Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas

Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) – 30 December:

St Anysia of Thessalonica
St Anysius of Thessalonica

St Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop of Worcester, England, Benedictine Monk, Reformer and Penitent, miracle-worker. Egwin was devout and lived for God from his youth. His biographers say, that king, clergy and the faithful, all united in demanding Egwin’s elevation to Bishop.
About St Egwin

St Elias of Conques
St Eugene of Milan
St Geremarus

St Hermes of Moesia
St Jucundus of Aosta
St Liberius of Ravenna

Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun, Mystic, Apostle of the poor. Beatified on 17 September 1847 by Pope Pius IX.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Palestrina in Lazio, Blessed Margherita Colonna, Virgin, who preferred poverty for Christ to the riches and pleasures of the world, which she served by professing the Rule of St Clare.”
Her Life:

St Perpetuus of Tours
Bl Raoul of Vaucelles
St Rainerius of Aquila (Died c 1077) Bishop
Bl Richard of Wedinghausen
St Ruggero of Canne
St Sebastian of Esztergom

Martyrs of Alexandria – 5 Saints: A group of Christians Martyred in the unrest caused by Monophysite heretics. We know the names for five of them – Appian, Donatus, Honorius, Mansuetus and Severus. They were martyred in c 483 at Alexandria, Egypt.

Martyrs of Oia – 6 Saints: A group of Christians Martyred together, date unknown. The only details to have survived are the names – Cletus, Florentius, Papinianus, Paul, Serenusa and Stephen. They were martyred in Oia, Greece.

Martyrs of Spoleto – 4 Saints: A group of Christians Martyred in the persecutions of DioSletian – Exuperantius, Marcellus, Sabinus and Venustian. They were martyred in 303 in Spoleto, Italy.


Novena in Honour of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – DAY EIGHT – 6 December

Novena in Honour of the Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary

THE EIGHTH DAY – 6 December
The Image of the Immaculate Conception

A simple short Novena DAY EIGHT here (which also attracts Indulgences):
NOTE on Indulgences HERE:

In thy conception, O Virgin Mary,
thou wast immaculate;
pray for us to the Father, Whose Son Jesus,
conceived in thy womb by the Holy Ghost,
thou didst bring forth.

Indulgence. 200 days, every time. (Pius VI, 21 November

Christian art often represents the Immaculate Conception as follows:
The Blessed Virgin appears standing on a globe, about which is coiled a serpent holding an apple in its mouth. One of Mary’s feet rests upon the serpent, the other is placed on the moon. Her eyes are raised toward heaven; her hands are either joined in prayer, or she holds a lily in her right and places the left on her breast. Her dress is white; her ample mantle is of blue colour. A crown of twelve stars encircles her head. These emblems typify, in a most striking manner, Mary’s power and glory. “And a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Apoc. xii. 1).

The representation of the Immaculate Conception is very instructive.
(1) Mary appears standing on the globe. This signifies that being human, she belongs to the earth and yet, is exalted above the world and sin; also, that she trampled under foot earthly possessions, vanities and joys.
(2) A serpent is coiled about the globe, bearing an apple in its mouth. This reminds us of the fall of our first parents and of the consequences of their sin.
(3) Mary’s foot rests on the serpent, indicating that she never was under Satan’s dominion but was preserved from sin in the first moment of her existence.
(4) Mary stands on the moon. The moon, on account of its changes, is an emblem of inconstancy. We see it at Mary’s feet, to be reminded that we ought to be constant in faith and virtue.
(5) Mary wears a crown, to indicate that she is a Queen. The crown is composed of twelve stars – she is the Queen of Heaven.
(6) Mary’s dress is white, to denote her spotless purity and innocence.
(7) She folds her hands in prayer, reminding us to imitate her example.
(8) Or she holds a lily in her right hand, to indicate her virginity and chastity and the sweet odour of her virtues.
(9) Mary’s mantle is blue, which colour is emblematic of royalty. Its folds are ample, to remind us that all who have recourse to her find a secure refuge in all dangers and necessities.

Therefore let us invoke her intercession in the words of Holy Church:
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God.
Despise not our petitions but in thy mercy,
deliver us from all danger,

O glorious and Ever Virgin Mary!

O God, Who through the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling-place for Thy Divine Son,
grant that, as in view of Thy Son,
Thou didst preserve her from all taint,
so Thou wouldst vouchsafe unto us
that cleansed from all sin by her intercession,
we too may arrive at Thine eternal glory.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Spotless sun! O Virgin Mary!
I congratulate thee.
I rejoice with thee because,
in thy conception,
God gave thee grace,
greater and more boundless,
than He ever shed on all His Angels
and all the Saints, together with all their merits.
I am thankful and I marvel
at the surpassing beneficence
of the Ever-Blessed Trinity,
Who conferred on thee this privilege.
O make me correspond with the grace of God
and never abuse it.
Change this heart of mine –
make me now begin to amend my life.

Hail Mary, Glory be … etc.


Aspiration: O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Indulgence. 100 days, once a day. (Pope Leo XIII, 25 March 1884).


Quote/s of the Day – 22 June – St Paulinus of Nola

Quote/s of the Day – 22 June – “Month of the Sacred Heart” – The Memorial of St Paulinus of Nola (c 354-431) Bishop, Confessor, Father.

To my mind,
the only art, is the Faith
and Christ is my Poetry.

It is not surprising if,
despite being far apart,
we are present to each other
and without being acquainted,
know each other
because, we are members of One Body,
we have One Head,
we are steeped in One Grace,
we live on One Loaf,
we walk on One Road
and we dwell in the Same House!”

St Paulinus of Nola (c 354-431)



Dedication of the Church of MonteVergine, near Naples, Italy (1126) and Memorials of the Saints – 30 May

Monday within the Octave of Ascension

Dedication of the Church of MonteVergine, near Naples, Italy (1126) – 30 May:
The story of Our Lady of MonteVergine here:

In the Church is the large icon of the Mother and Child “of Constantinople” (said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem). Tradition holds that the original was painted by St Luke. The painting, came into the possession of the Monastery in 1310. King Baldwin was only able to take away the upper portion of the large image. The dark figures on the icon of Our Lady of Montevergine stand out strikingly from the gold background – the present lower part of the picture is a later addition.
The image is quite large, with a height of over 12 feet and width of over 6 feet, showing the Blessed Virgin seated on a throne with the Divine Infant Jesus seated on her lap. The image is dark, so the icon is often referred to as one of the “Black Madonnas.” There have apparently been several renovations made to the original painting, as in 1621 two crowns were placed on the heads of the Virgin Mary and her child Jesus, and other additions were made in 1712 and 1778.
During World War II the Sanctuary was used to hide the famed Holy Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Christ. A new Basilica was begun in 1952 in the Romanesque style and this structure was consecrated in 1961. There are over one and one half million pilgrims yearly who come to Monte Vergine to visit Our Lady of Montevergine, most notably at Whitsuntide. There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.

St Ferdinand III of Castile (1199-1252) King of Castile and Toledo, Knight, a man of great virtue and goodness who sought sanctity in all things, a man of great justice who sought to elevate even those he conquered, a man who was a great father, bringing his children up in the fear and love of God alone, a diplomatic genius because of his great goodness, a unifier of all, he had a great devotion to Our Lady – born in 1198 near Salamanca, Spain and died on 30 May 1252 at Seville, Spain of natural causes. Patronages – authorities, governors, rulers, engineers, large families, magistrates, parenthood, paupers, poor people, prisoners, Spanish monarchy, tertiaries, Seville, Spain
The Life of the Holy St Ferdinand:

St Joan of Arc (1412-1431) “The Maid of Orléans” Holy Virgin. The Church officially remembers Joan of Arc not as a Martyr but as a virgin—the Maid of Orleans.   Of course, Joan was a Martyr, but not in the technical sense.   Yes, she died because she did what she thought God wanted her to do. But she was killed for her politics, not for her faith.   Pagans did not execute her for refusing to worship their gods. Infidels did not slay her for defying them.   Political enemies burned her at the stake for defeating them at war.
St Joan!

St Anastasius II of Pavia
St Basil the Elder
St Crispulus of Sardinia

Bl Elisabeth Stagel
St Emmelia
St Euplius
St Exuperantius of Ravenna
St Pope Felix I (Died 274) Martyr, the 26th Bishop of Rome from 5 January 269 to his death in 274.

St Gamo of Brittany
St Gavino of Sardinia
St Isaac of Constantinople
Bl Lawrence Richardson
St Luke Kirby
St Madelgisilus
St Reinhildis of Riesenbeck
St Restitutus of Cagliari
Bl Richard Newport
Blessed Thomas Cottam SJ (Died 1549) Priest Martyr
St Venantius of Lérins
St Walstan of Bawburgh
Bl William Filby
Bl Willilam Scott

Martyrs of Aquileia – 3 Saints: Three Christians Martyred together. We have no other details than their names – Cantianus, Euthymius and Eutychius. Aquileia, Italy.

Posted in ART DEI, CREEDS, FATHERS of the Church, MARTYRS, The CREED, YouTube VIDEOS

“The Second Sunday of Lent, The Salus Populi Romani” / Our Lady of the Empress, Rome (593) and Memorials of the Saints – 13 March

The Second Sunday of Lent +2022

“The Salus Populi Romani” / Our Lady of the Empress, Rome (593) – 13 March:

St Leander of Seville (c 534-c 600) BIshop, Confessor of the Faith, Teacher, Writer, Apostle of Spain and Evangelisation, Father of the Church – Patron of Episcopal attire and Liturgical garments. Saint Leander, as Bishop, instituted the practice of praying the Nicene Creed during Mass—a practice which continues today.

Bl Agnellus of Pisa
St Ansovinus of Camerino (Died 868) Bishop
Bl Berengar de Alenys
St Christina of Persia
St Euphrasia

Blessed Françoise Tréhet (1756-1794) Virgin Martyr, Religious Sister, Teacher, Apostle of Charity. Nartyr of the French Revolution.

St Gerald of Mayo
St Grace of Saragossa

St Heldrad of Novalese (Died c 875) Priest and Benedictine Abbot.
St Heldrad’s Life:

Bl Judith of Ringelheim
St Kevoca of Kyle
St Mochoemoc
St Nicephorus of Constantinople
Bl Peter II of La Cava
St Pientius of Poitiers
St Ramirus of Leon

St Roderick of Córdoba.(Died 857) Spanish Priest and Martyr
His Life and Death:

St Sabinus of Egypt
St Sancha of Portugal

Martyrs of Cordoba: Roderick, Salomon,

Martyrs of Nicaea:
Martyrs of Nicomedia

Posted in ART DEI, MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 27 February – Blessed Mark Barkworth OSB (c 1572–1601) Priest Martyr

Saint of the Day – 27 February – Blessed Mark Barkworth OSB (c 1572–1601) Priest Martyr. Born in c 1572 in Lincolnshire, England and died by being hung, drawn and quartered on 27 February 1601 at Tyburn, London, England. Also known as – George Barkworth and Mark Lambert. Additional Memorials – 29 October as one of the Martyrs of Douai, 1 December as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University.

Mark was born around 1572 at Searby, Lincolnshire and was raised as a Protestant. He studied for a time at Oxford and was received into the Catholic Church at Douai in 1593, by Father George, a Flemish Jesuit and entered the College there with a view to the Priesthood. He matriculated at Douai University on 5 October 1594

Due to an outbreak of the Plague in France, Mark was sent to Rome and thence to the Royal College of St Alban in Valladolid, Spain, to complete his studies. On 28 December 1596, he he entered the English College in Spain.

On his way to Spain, Mark had a vision of St Benedict, who told him he would die a Martyr, in the Benedictine habit. While at Valladolid, he made contact with the Benedictine Order.

He was Ordained Priest at the English College some time before July 1599, whereafter, he set out for the English Mission, to assist and support the recusant Catholics there (from the Latin recusare (to refuse), was the state of those who remained loyal to the Catholic Church and refused to swear allegiance to the Queen as the head of the protestant church), together with Father Thomas Garnet. On his way he stayed at the Benedictine Monastery of Hyrache in Navarre, where his wish to join the Order was granted, by his being made an Oblate with the privilege of making profession at the hour of death.

After having escaped from the hands of the Huguenots of La Rochelle, he was arrested on reaching England and thrown into Newgate Prison. At this time, it was considered treason to be a Catholic Priest in England. He was imprisoned for six months and was then transferred to Bridewell Palace being used as a Prison. There, he wrote an appeal to Robert Cecil, a Member of Parliament and signed it “George Barkworth” but it seems, to no avail.

“Joy in the Lord because the victory won by Christ’s Confessors predominates over earthly sorrow at the grievousness of their suffering.” – William Cardinal Allen, Founder of Douai College.

Mark, described as always cheerful and brave, showed his fearlessness at his legal enquiries, where he was reported to behave with joy, fearlessness and frank gaiety. Having been condemned by a formal jury verdict, he was thrown into “Limbo,” the horrible underground dungeon at Newgate, where he is said to have remained “very cheerful,” encouraging and praying with those in the prison. He remain joyful, no matter what horrors he encountered even unto death.

Mark was executed at Tyburn with the Jesuit Priest, Blessed Father Roger Filcock and Saint Anne Line (a lay Widow who sheltered and hid Priests and assisted fellow Recusants), on 27 February 1601.

He sang, on the way to Tyburn, the Paschal Anthem: “Hæc dies, quam fecit Dominus, exultemus et lætemur in ea” – “This is the day, the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” On his arrival, he kissed the robe of St Anne, who was already dead, saying: “Ah, sister, thou hast got the start of us but we will follow thee as quickly as we may” and told the people watching, that Pope St Gregory the Great had sent the Benedictine Monks to evangelise England, saying “I am come here to die, being a Catholic, a Priest and a religious man, belonging to the Order of St Benedict – it was by this same Order, that England was converted.”

Mark was said to be “a man of stature, tall and well proportioned, showing strength. The hair of his head brown, his beard yellow, somewhat heavy eyed.” He suffered in the Benedictine Habit, under which he wore a hair-shirt. It was noticed that his knees were, like St James’ – hardened by constant kneeling and an apprentice in the crowd, picking up his legs, after the quartering, called out: “Which of you Gospellers can show such a knee?!” Contrary to usual practice, the quarters of the Priests were not exposed but buried near the scaffold.

Mark was Beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

The Painting above is in Ushaw College, County Durham, England (a former Seminary which, since Vatican II, was another Seminary which shut its doors, one of the many hundreds) and commemorates the Catholic Martyrs of the English Reformation. Among them, shown on the right panel, are the Seminary Priests of Douai College who were Martyred between 1577 and 1680. Some 158 in total were killed by the State during that period for daring to minister to Catholics or harbour Priests.

Joy in the Lord because the victory won by Christ’s Confessors predominates over earthly sorrow at the grievousness of their suffering.” – William Cardinal Allen, Founder of Douai College.

Martyrs of Douai

The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave, Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) and Memorials of the Saints – 30 December

The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave

Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) – 30 December:

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “This picture was in the Church of Santa Sophia, at Constantinople, with this inscription: “This picture, painted by Saint Luke, must be taken to the mountain of La Garde and placed over the Altar of the Church.” A Greek monk set out for Italy about the year 433, with the picture entrusted to him and deposited it on the mountain of La Garde.

The account mentioned by the Abbot above, is also told in the chronicle of Graziolo Accarisi, who wrote of a Greek hermit who went on pilgrimage to Constantinople where he received from the Priests of the Church of Santa Sofia, the icon of Our Lady of La Guardia. This image was attributed to Saint Luke the Evangelist and there was an inscription on the painting itself that it should one day be taken to the “mountain of the guard.”
The hermit took the Icon,and walked throughout Italy in search of the place where the Icon was meant to be,but it was not until he reached the City of Emilia near Bologna that the authorities of the City came out to greet him and processed with the icon back to the mountain. The Icon had finally found its home and it is now more commonly known as the Madonna of San Luca.
Among the many miracles attributed to the image is especially noted the “miracle of the rain,” which occurred on 5 July 1433. An extremely heavy spring rain came late in the season, threatening to destroy the crops. Facing the prospect of famine, the people turned to the Blessed Virgin for assistance. The storm and rain stopped suddenly, with the arrival into the City, of a procession carrying the miraculous Icon. Since that time these processions have been repeated annually. There is even an incredible arched walkway that is only a little short of four kilometers in length, that is meant to protect the Icon from the elements, as well as those on procession.
The Icon shows the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in blessing. She wears a blue-green robe, with a red tunic. The nose, eyes and fingers appear somewhat elongated. The Divine Child wears a tunic of the same colour as His Mothers’, with His right hand in a gesture of giving a blessing and his left hand being closed. In 1625 the image was covered with a silver panel which leaves only the faces of the figures uncovered.
The Icon was crowned in 1603 by the Archbishop Alfonso Paleotti. The Sanctuary of Saint Luke, where the Icon is kept, was declared a national monument in the year 1874. In 1907 the Church was raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica by the holy Pope Saint Pius X.

The Sanctuary is situate some 300 metres above the City plain, just south-west of the historical centre of the City. While a road now leads up to the Sanctuary, it is also possible to reach it along a 3.8 km monumental roofed arcade (Portico di San Luca) consisting of 666 arches, which was built in 1674–1793. It was meant to protect the Icon as it was paraded up the hill. A yearly procession from the Cathedral of San Pietro in the centre of Bologna to the Sanctuary goes along this path. The arches held sacred images or Chapels erected by patron families. There is also a cable car which takes tourists up to the Basilica.

Cable car approaching the Mountain Sanctuary

St Anysia of Thessalonica
St Anysius of Thessalonica

St Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop of Worcester, England, Benedictine Monk, Reformer and Penitent, miracle-worker. Egwin was devout and lived for God from his youth. His biographers say, that king, clergy and the faithful, all united in demanding Egwin’s elevation to Bishop.
About St Egwin:

St Elias of Conques
St Eugene of Milan
St Pope Felix I
St Geremarus

Blessed Giovanni Maria Boccardo (1848-1913) He is remembered as “Father of the Poor” – Priest, Founder of the Poor Daughters of Saint Cajetan. 
His Life:

St Hermes of Moesia
St Jucundus of Aosta
St Liberius of Ravenna
Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun

St Perpetuus of Tours
Bl Raoul of Vaucelles
St Raynerius of Aquila
Bl Richard of Wedinghausen
St Ruggero of Canne
St Sebastian of Esztergom

Martyrs of Alexandria – (5 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the unrest caused by Monophysite heretics. We know the names for five of them – Appian, Donatus, Honorius, Mansuetus and Severus. They were martyred in c 483 at Alexandria, Egypt.

Martyrs of Oia – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details to have survived are the names – Cletus, Florentius, Papinianus, Paul, Serenusa and Stephen. They were martyred in Oia, Greece.

Martyrs of Spoleto – (4 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Diocletian – Exuperantius, Marcellus, Sabinus and Venustian. They were martyred in 303 in Spoleto, Italy.


Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John

Quote/s of the Day – 27 December – Feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist and the Third Day of the Christmas Octave

Look into Peter’s wide open eyes and John’s intense gaze. Their eyes contain a mix of anxiousness and hope, the way a parent or grandparent’s eyes look at the news of an impending birth. A new life is about to emerge but there is still uncertainty because it is a mystery beyond full human comprehension or control. Peter and John’s faces capture the same sense of anticipation.

Burnand created a sparse, simple painting capturing two of the most important players in the greatest story ever told. Meditate upon their faces, as Burnand intended you to do and through them, discover the empty tomb.” (Elisabeth Ehrhard-Crises Magazine).

Oh Teach Me then, Dear Saint!
An Invocation of St John, Apostle and Evangelist
Unknown Author

Saint of the Sacred Heart,
Sweet teacher of the Word,
Partner of Mary’s woes
And favourite of thy Lord!

Oh teach me then, dear Saint!
The Secrets Christ taught thee;
The Beatings of His Heart,
And how it beat for me!

We know not all thy gifts
But this Christ bids us see,
That He Who so loved all,
Found more to love in thee.

When the last evening came,
Thy head was on His breast,
Pillowed on earth, where now
In Heaven the Saints find rest.

Dear Saint! I stand far off,
With vilest sins opprest,
Oh may I dare, like thee,
To lean upon His Breast?

His Touch could heal the sick,
His Voice could raise the dead,
Oh that my soul might be
Where He allows thy head.

The gifts He gave to thee
He gave thee to impart
And I, too, claim with thee
His Mother and His Heart!


Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of Milan (1417) by Pope Martin V and Memorials of the Saints – 16 October

Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of Milan (1417) by Pope Martin V – 16 October:

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Dedication of Our Lady of Milan, by Pope Martin V, in the year 1417. This Church was built in 1388 by John Galleas, Duke of Milan.”

The magnificent Milan Cathedral is a Gothic Cathedral that has its roots in the fourth centurY. Today it is one of the most famous and celebrated structures in all of Europe. It is the second largest Church in Italy after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the third largest Catholic Church in the world.

Dedicated to the Mother of God, the present Cathedral was begun in the 14th century but was not completed until the 20th century when the last gate was finally installed in 1965. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte himself ordered that the façade be finished in the year 1805, as he desired to see the beautiful structure completed. He guaranteed that the French would pay for the work, although they never actually did. Even so, it took seven years to complete the work. There were other additions that followed, including stained glass windows and various arches and lace-like spires. In the end it can be said, that the Cathedral required 6 centuries to complete and is one of the largest Cathedrals in the entire world.

The Madonnina Spire or guglia del tiburio (“lantern spire“), one of the main features of the Cathedral, was erected in 1762 at the height of 108.5 m (356 ft), as designed by Francesco Croce. At the top of the spire is the polychrome Madonnina Statue, designed and built by Carlo Pellicani in 1774, during the episcopacy of Bishop Giuseppe Pozzobonelli who supported the idea to place the Madonnina at the top of the Cathedral, By tradition, no building in Milan may be higher than the Madonnina.

The first Church thought to occupy the location was built by Saint Ambrose, although there is an old baptistery which was constructed in about 335. The good Abbot appears to have been incorrect in dating the Cathedral from 1388, as there is a plate attached to a stone on the Church which states: “El Principio del Duomo di Milano Nel Anno 1386.”

St Ambrose barring Theodocius from Milan Cathedral

The Milan Cathedral houses a Holy Nail which was used to Crucify Christ. It is marked by a tiny red light located in the dome above the apse. There are more Statues on this Cathedral than any other in the world, 3159 in total. 2245 of these are on the exterior together with 96 gargoyles and 135 spires. It is said that if the Statues were placed on top of each other, they would reach a height of about 5,300 meters (3.3 miles).

The Cathedral is 158.5 meters (520 feet) long, 92 meters (302 feet) wide. It has a cruciform plan in the form of a Latin cross that covers nearly 12,000 square meters. 40,000 people can fit comfortably within. Its construction was up five naves, a central and two lateral on each side, resting on 40 columns of 24.50 meters (80 feet) each.

Access to the Cathedral is made through five large bronze doors from Piazza Duomo. The central one [pic. below] is the oldest and was created in the nineteenth century by Ludovico Pogliaghi.

After exploring the inside, visitors can pay a small fee to take a fascinating trip to the Duomo’s roof via
steps or elevator. It is an amazing experience to walk among the forest of spires and the view from the roof is unmatched. On a clear day you can see as far as the Alps and Apennines.

St Margaret Mary Alacoque VHM (1647-1690) Virgin, Nun of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, Mystic, Saint and Apostle of the Sacred Heart. Her feast day was moved to after Vatican II and prior to that was 17 October. (Optional Memorial)
Biography here:

St Amandus of Limoges
St Ambrose of Cahors
Bl Anicet Koplinski
Bl Augustine Thevarparampil
St Balderic
St Baldwin
St Bertrand of Comminges
St Bolonia
St Conogon of Quimper
St Dulcidius of Agen
St Eliphius of Toul
St Eremberta of Wierre
St Florentinus of Trier

St Gall (c 550–c 646) “Apostle of Switzerland,” Monk, Missionary, Hermit – he was a disciple and one of the traditional twelve companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the continent.
About St Gall:

St Gerard Majella CSsR (1726-1755) Religious Lay Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer, better known as the Redemptorists, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist, Apostle of Charity, known as a Thaumaturge.
St Gerard’s Story:

Bl Gerald of Fossanuova
St Hedwig of Andechs (1174-1243) Mother, Widow, High Duchess of Poland
Bl Jesús Villaverde Andrés
Bl Józef Jankowski
St Junian
St Lull
St Magnobodus of Angers

St Marie Marguerite d’Youville (1701–1771) Foundress of the Sisters of Charity – commonly known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal., Widow, “Mother of Universal Charity.”
Her Life:

St Martinian of Mauretania
St Mummolinus
St Saturian of Mauretania
St Silvanus of Ahun
St Victor of Cologne
St Vitalis of Noirmoutier

Martyrs in Africa – 220 saints: A group of 220 Christians martyrs about whom we know nothing but that they died for their faith.

Martyrs of North Africa – 365 saints: A group of 365 Christians who were martyred together in the persecutions of the Vandal king Genseric. The only details that have survived are the names of two of the martyrs – Nereus and Saturninus. 450 in North Africa.

Posted in ART DEI, SAINT of the DAY, YouTube VIDEOS

Saint of the Day – 1 October – Saint Bavo of Ghent (c 589–654)

Saint of the Day – 1 October – Saint Bavo of Ghent (c 589–654) Married. Widower, Soldier, Monk and Hermit, Penitent. Born in c 589 at Brabant, Liege, Belgium as Allowin and died on 1 October 654 at Saint Bavo’s Abbey of natural causes. Patronages – the Cities of Ghent, Zellik and Lauwe in Belgium, City of Haarlem, Netherlands, Diocese of Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Netherlands, of falcons and falconry. Also known as – Allowin, Bavone of Ghent.

The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “In Ghent in Flanders, in present-day Belgium, Saint Bavo, a Monk, who was a disciple of Saint Amand. He abandoned the world, distributed his goods to the poor and retired to the Monastery he founded in this place.

Saint Bavo with falcon and sword, by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, late 15th century

Bavo was born into a family of high social rank. His father was Pippin of Landen, the Mayor of the Palace and his mother, Itta of Metz.

A wild, young aristocrat of Brabant, he contracted a beneficial marriage to the daughter of the Merovingian Count Adilone and had a daughter named Agletrude. At that time, he was a soldier who led an undisciplined and disorderly life.

The young wife died, it is not known how and Bavo, deeply struck by the misfortune, interrupted his dissolute life and suffered a moral crisis, which was the starting point of his conversion.

He went to St Amand who was preaching to the still pagan populations of the Ghent region. On returning to his house he distributed his wealth to the poor, and then received the tonsure from Amand. He entered the Monastery of Ganda as a Monk., This Monastery had been founded by St Amando and was later renamed in Bavo’s honour.

He became a disciple of the missionary St Amand and followed him on his apostolic wanderings in Flanders and France. On one occasion, Bavo met a man whom he had sold into slavery years before. Wishing to atone for his earlier deed, Bavo had the man lead him by a chain to the town jail as penance and reparation for the sins of his past life.

After some time he returned to Ganda, where he had a small cell built in the hollow of a large tree and led a reclusive and ascetic life for three years.

But privations and sacrifices quickly weakened him, dying around 654. His body was buried in the Monastery of Ganda.

St Bavo by Rembrandt

At present, his relics rest partly in the Cathedral of Ghent, which too is dedicated to St Bavo and partly in the Benedictine Abbey of Nesle-la-Reposte, the place where the Monks who fled from Ganda had taken refuge, to escape the Norman invasions, around 882- 883.

St Bavo saves Haarlem

The most popular scene is the moment of his conversion, which has many legends attached to it. Because he is so often shown with a falcon, he came to be considered the patron saint of falconry. In medieval Ghent, taxes were paid on Bavo’s feast day, and it is for this reason, that he is often shown holding a purse or money bag.

The Conversion of St Bavo by Peter Paul Rubens

The City of Bamberg in Belgium is named after him, with Bamberg meaning “Mount of Bavo.” Several Churches are dedicated to him, including:
Saint Bavo Cathedral, in Ghent which is most famous for housing the breath-taking Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck completed in 1432, see video below;
Sint-Bavokerk and Cathedral of Saint Bavo, both in Haarlem;
Sint-Bavokerk in Heemstede, Lauwe, and Zellik;
Saint Bavo Church and School, in Mishawaka, Indiana;
Sint-Bavokerk in Wilrijk..
His picture is also part of the Coat of Arms of the Antwerp Suburb Wilrijk.

Ghent Cathedral

Posted in ART DEI, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 8 September – Saint Pope Sergius I (c 650–701)

Saint of the Day – 8 September – Saint Pope Sergius I (c 650–701) Papal Ascension 15 December 687. Born in c 650 at Palermo, Sicily and died on 8 September 701 of natural causes in Rome, Italy.

Sergius was born about the year 650 into a Syrian family from Antioch that had moved to Palermo in Sicily. He received his education in Sicily before he moved to Rome during the Pontificate of Pope Adeodatus II in the 670s. Ordained by Pope Leo II, he was a Cardinal-Priest of the Church of St Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome.

As Pope Conon was dying in 687, two warring factions vied to elect a successor. In simultaneous elections after the death of Pope Conon the Archdeacon Pascal and the Priest Theodore were elected to the Papal throne. However, an assembled group of clergy and people ignored these elections and chose instead, the Priest Sergius, who was then consecrated on 15 December 687. Theodore, recognising the support behind the election of Sergius, quickly acknowledged Sergius I as Pope. Pascal, who had turned for help to the Exarch of Ravenna, John Platyn with offers of gold, was soon abandoned by the Exarch after the Consecration of Sergius and Pascal eventually ended up confined to a Monastery on charges of witchcraft.

During the early years of his Pontificate, Sergius had numerous contacts with England and English notables. He received King Caedwalla of the West Saxons and baptised him on 10 April 689, before his death on 20 April, apparently from battle wounds. Under Pope Sergius’ direction Caedwalla was buried in St Peter’s. He consecrated St Willibrord, an Englishman, as Bishop of the Frisians.

The cruel Emperor Justinian wanted him to sign the decrees of the so-called Quinisext or Trullan Council of 692, in which the Greeks allowed Priests and Deacons to keep the wives they had married before their Ordination and which aimed at placing the Patriarch of Constantinople on a level with the Pope of Rome. When Sergius refused to acknowledge this Synod, the Emperor sent an officer to bring him to Constantinople as a prisoner. But the people protected the Pope, and Justinian himself was soon afterwards deposed (695).

Sergius succeeded in extinguishing the last remnants of the Schism of the Three Chapters in Aquileia. He repaired and adorned many Basilicas, added the Agnus Dei to the Mass and instituted processions to various Churches.

Pope Sergius died in Rome on 8 September 701. He was succeeded by John VI.

The image below The Dream of Pope Sergius depicts an miraculous incident in the life of our Saint. A cut-away wall reveals a small bedroom where an Angel appears to Pope Sergius in his sleep. The Angel tells Sergius that the Bishop Saint Lambert has been assassinated and Sergius is to appoint a new Bishop, Saint Hubert. The Angel holds a Bishop’s mitre and crozier formerly belonging to Saint Lambert. To the right, the Pope and two Cardinals go out into a brick enclosure, meeting a lawyer or noble and a Franciscan friar, who both kneel before the Papal retinue and present petitions requesting benefits or indulgences. In the far distance, on the steps of the early Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Sergius presents Saint Hubert with the Bishop’s mitre and staff.

An amplified detail of St Sergius placing the Bishop’s mitre on St Hubert’s head

The artists made an imaginative effort to recreate Rome as it would have appeared at that time. The depiction of minutely detailed objects and the ability to portray space in a convincing manner were among the major achievements of Netherlandish painters in the 1400s.

Posted in ART DEI, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 4 September – Saint Rosalia (c 1130-c 1160)

Saint of the Day – 4 September – Saint Rosalia (c 1130-c 1160) Virgin, Recluse, known as “La Santuzza” – “The Little Saint.” Born in c1130 at Palermo, Sicily and died in c 1160 at Mount Pellegrino, Italy, of natural causes. Patronages – Vocations in Italy, Italian fishermen of Monterey, Baucina, Benetutti, Bivona, Campofelice di Roccella, Delia, Isola delle Femine, Lentiscosa, Palermo, Pegli, Racalmuto, San Mango Cilento, Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sicily, Vicari – all in Italy and of California. Additional Memorial – 14 July (Festino).

Saint Rosalia Crowned by Angels is a c 1625 oil on canvas painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, one of five surviving works showing the Saint which he produced whilst he was quarantined in Palermo, Sicily due to a plague

The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “At Palermo. the birthday of St Rosalia, Virgin, a native of that City, issued from the Royal blood of Charlemagne. For the love of Christ, she forsook the princely Court of her father and led a heavenly life alone in the mountains and caverns.

Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague–Stricken of Palermo

Not much is known about the life of Santa Rosalia. She was born to a noble family, which claimed descent from Charlemagne She rejected that life, being devoutly religious, instead pursuing one as a recluse in a cave on Mount Pellegrino. Tradition says that she was led to the cave by two Angels. On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of [Monte] delle Rose and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.” She died there alone in 1166.

In 1624 a plague struck Palermo. During this hardship, Rosalia appeared, firstly to a sick woman, then to a hunter, to whom she indicated where her remains were to be found. She ordered him to bring her bones to Palermo and have them carried in procession through the City. The hunter climbed the mountain and found her bones in the cave as described. He did what she had asked in the apparition. After her remains were carried around the City three times, the plague ceased. Rosalia was immediately venerated as the Patron Saint of Palermo and a Sanctuary was built in the cave where her remains were discovered.

Statue of St Rosalia in the cave Sanctuary

After she saved the City of Palermo from the plague, St Rosalia became known as a fierce protectress. She was credited with defending the people from earthquakes and storms and was appealed to in prayers for a safe and successful harvest.

In Palermo, the Festino di St Rosalia is held each year on 14 July and continues into the next day. It is a major social and religious event in the City.

Interestingly the devotion to St Rosalia is widespread among the large and mainly Hindu Tamil community of Sri Lankan origin settled in Palermo.[

On 4 September, a tradition of walking barefoot from Palermo up to Mount Pellegrino is observed in honour of Rosalia.

Saint Rosalia was an important subject in Italian Renaissance and Baroque painting, particularly in sacre conversazioni (group pictures of saints flanking the Virgin Mary) by artists such as Riccardo Quartararo, Mario di Laurito, Vincenzo La Barbara and possibly Antonello da Messina.

This painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, depicts the crowing of St Rosalia by the Divine Baby Jesus in the arms of the Madonna

But it was Flemish master Anthony van Dyck (1599–1637), who was caught in Palermo during the 1624 plague, who produced the most paintings of her (see also above). She is depicted as a young woman with flowing hair, wearing a Franciscan cowl and reaching down toward the City of Palermo in its peril – became the standard iconography of Rosalia from that time onward. Van Dyck’s series of St. Rosalia paintings have been studied by Gauvin Alexander Bailey and Xavier F Salomon, both of whom curated or co-curated exhibitions devoted to the theme of Italian art and the plague. In March 2020, The New York Times published an article about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s painting of Saint Rosalia by Van Dyck in the context of COVID-19.

St Rosalia Interceding for the City of Palermo

September Devotion – The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September – Month of The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Seven Sorrows of
the Blessed Virgin Mary

1, The prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight to Egypt
3. Loss of Child Jesus for 3 days
4. Meeting Jesus carrying His Cross
5. The Crucifixion of Jesus
6. The Pieta – receiving Jesus’ Body
The Burial of Jesus

The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin – Altarpiece by Albrecht Dürer.

During this month of September, we are drawn into the spiritual Martyrdom which the Blessed Mother experienced during the physical Martyrdom of Jesus. The evils of sin are manifest but conquered through intense suffering. The Blessed Mother’s tears of anguish reflect God’s washing away of sin.

We see this theme of joy followed by affliction mirrored in the liturgical calendar in two September Feasts – the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 14 September and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on 15 September. Happy the heart of the blessed Virgin Mary! She, without dying, earned the treasure of Martyrdom beneath the Cross of our Lord for her anguish.

The name of Our Lady of Sorrows centres on the extraordinary and bittersweet suffering the Blessed Mother experienced during Christ’s Passion. As seen in the artwork above, her agony is composed of “The Seven Dolors,” that pierced the Heart of Mary. Dürer’s portrayal of each event encompasses the central figure of Christ’s sorrowful Mother.


“The Salus Populi Romani” / Our Lady of the Empress, Rome (593) and Memorials of the Saints – 13 March

“The Salus Populi Romani” / Our Lady of the Empress, Rome (593) – 13 March:

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “A tradition records that this image spoke to Saint Gregory the Great, in the year 593.”

Salus Populi Romani means literally health or salvation, or Protectress, of the Roman People. The title of Salus Populi Romani reverts to Emperor Constantine the Great and the Edict of Milan when, after Christians were no longer persecuted, the phrase became another of many Marian titles for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
The icon Salus Populi Romani, or Our Lady of the Empress, is one of many images believed to have been painted by Saint Luke. When the Blessed Virgin lived with St John, after her Son had ascended into heave, she had few personal belongings but among them was a table built by Christ Himself when He was working in the carpenter shop with his foster father, the good Saint Joseph.
Saint Luke, yielding to the repeated requests of pious virgins, painted a portrait of Mary using the tabletop as his canvas. As the portrait was being painted, Saint Luke listened carefully as the Queen of Heaven spoke of her Son’s life, facts that Saint Luke recorded in what became his Gospel.
The image is surprisingly large, being five feet high by three and 3/4 but if one considers that a tabletop was used, then this size seems appropriate. Modern examiners admit the painting was made on a thick cedar board. The Virgin Mary holds a map in her right hand, which is an imperial symbol meant to depict the bearer as “Queen,” or in Roman times, “Empress.”
The icon came to Rome from Crete in 590 when Pope Gregory the Great was the Holy Father and according to tradition, he went out upon the Tiber in his own vessel to greet the icon.
Three years later, Pope Gregory I had the icon carried throughout Rome in solemn procession, as all prayed to the Mother of God for an end to the Black Plague that had been devastating the people of Rome. Pope Gregory’s predecessor, Pope Pelagius, had himself died of the same plague.
When the icon of Salus Populi Romani, with the prayerful entourage following alongside the Tiber River, neared Hadrian’s Mausoleum, a choir of angels could suddenly be heard singing the joyous Resurrection hymn as Pope Saint Gregory looked up to see the heavens open. Then, just above Hadrian’s Mausoleum, an angel believed to be Saint Michael appeared. He was holding a sword of vengeance over the City and above him, the Pope saw the Blessed Virgin, seated upon a throne above the angels.

“Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia;
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia;
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.”

“Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia;
for he whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia;
has risen as He said, alleluia;
pray for us to God, alleluia.”

The scent of a heavenly perfume filled the air and without hesitation, the holy Pontiff concluded the Regina Coeli:

“Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia!
Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
“Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.”

Pray for us to God, alleluia!
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia!
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia!

At that, the Pope, St Gregory, watched as Saint Michael sheathed his sword. To the great relief of the people of Rome, the Black Plague was ended, at that moment.
Since the year 1613, the icon Salus Populi Romani has been kept in the Altar Sanctuary of the Cappella Paolina that was created for it, known in English as the Lady Chapel. The Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it can be seen. St Mary Major is one of the four ancient Churches of Rome and the Marian Shrine is under the special patronage of the Popes.

Bl Agnellus of Pisa
St Ansovinus of Camerino
Bl Berengar de Alenys
St Christina of Persia
St Euphrasia
Blessed Françoise Tréhet (1756-1794) Martyr
St Gerald of Mayo
St Grace of Saragossa
St Heldrad of Novalese (Died c 875)
St Heldrad’s Life and Death:
Bl Judith of Ringelheim
St Kevoca of Kyle
St Leander of Seville (c 534-c 600)

St Mochoemoc
St Nicephorus of Constantinople
Bl Peter II of La Cava
St Pientius of Poitiers
St Ramirus of Leon
St Roderick of Córdoba.(Died 857) Priest and Martyr
St Sabinus of Egypt
St Sancha of Portugal

Martyrs of Cordoba: Roderick, Salomon,

Martyrs of Nicaea:
Martyrs of Nicomedia


Plague in Rome ends after Saint Pope Gregory the Great leads a procession with a painting of Our Lady by Saint Luke (591) and Memorials of the Saints – 24 February

Plague in Rome ends after Saint Pope Gregory the Great leads a procession with a painting of Our Lady by Saint Luke (591): – 24 February

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “On this day, in the year 591, St Gregory the Great, having had the picture of Our Lady, which was painted by St Luke, carried in procession, the plague ceased at Rome.”

The miseries that afflicted Rome in the year 591 were substantial. The Gothic War between the Byzantine Empire and the Goths had substantially depopulated Italy, so much so that a Germanic tribe of Lombards had entered the peninsula and established their own kingdom. They were pagans and Arians who did not respect Catholics, burning the famous Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino and pillaging the land at will.
The instability and warfare caused famine in large regions, though Rome was still able to obtain grain by sea. Then came earthquakes and flooding to further the suffering, and from this plague Rome was not immune. The banks of the Tiber overflowed and when the waters did not recede, all of the low-lying lands became swamps that brought death and the plague. The disease struck with such rapidity that the victim would often die shortly after realising he had contracted the disease, although there were some who sickened but recovered. Our custom of saying, “God Bless you,” to someone who sneezes came about at this time, for sneezing was one of the signs that someone had contracted the disease.
Even the Roman Pontiff died of the plague on 7 February 590. His successor, was Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who was both a humble and pious man. It would be an understatement to say he did not want the honour of being the next Pope but once in that position, he did everything in his power to try to save his people. He understood that the plague was a chastisement from God and encouraged the faithful to repent of their sins and pray for deliverance while he and the religious cared for the people of Rome.
Finally, Saint Gregory called for a procession to take place at dawn on 24 April. On that day, the faithful first assembled in their groups throughout Rome and then walked through the streets of the City praying and singing as they approached the Church of Saint Mary Major. The plague was so potent at that time, that eighty people collapsed and died as they walked toward the meeting place.
Pope Saint Gregory met them upon their arrival, joining them in prayer as he took his place with them holding aloft the miraculous image of Our Lady painted by Saint Luke the Evangelist. This image is the very famous, Salus Populi Romani (the health or salvation, of the Roman People) As the procession neared the Vatican the participants all saw Saint Michael the archangel standing upon the cupola of Hadrian’s mausoleum as he sheathed his flaming sword. It was a sign that the chastisement had come to an end and, at once, the heaviness in the air abated and the air itself seemed to freshen and clear. Indeed, at that moment the plague ended, as the faithful rejoiced and lifted up their voices to thank the Mother of God.

Regina Coeli laetare, Alleluia! (Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!)

Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluia! (Son whom you merited to bear, Alleluia!)

Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia! (He has risen as He said, Alleluia!)

St Adela of Blois
Bl Antonio Taglia
Bl Arnold of Carcassonne
St Betto of Auxerre
Bl Berta of Busano
Bl Constantius of Fabriano OP (1401-1481)
St Cummian Albus of Iona
St Ethelbert of Kent (552-616) King and Confessor
Evetius of Nicomedia
Blessed Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus/Florentina Nicol y Goñi OP (1868-1940)
Her Story:
Bl Ida of Hohenfels
Bl Josefa Naval Girbes
St Liudhard
Bl Lotario Arnari
Bl Marco De’ Marconi
St Modestus of Trier
St Peter the Librarian
St Praetextatus of Rouen
St Primitiva
St Sergius of Caesarea
Bl Simon of Saint Bertin
Blessed Tommaso Maria Fusco (1831-1891)
Blessed Tommaso;s life:


The Translation of the Relics of Saint Mark, the Evangelist – 31 December

The Translation of the Relics of Saint Mark, the Evangelist – 31 December

The story of how Saint Mark’s relics eventually came to Venice is a remarkable one and it has been the subject of various works of art throughout the centuries. Tintoretto’s
Translation of the Body of Saint Mark, a stark, dramatic painting that has the eerie feel of a photo negative, may be one of the most recognisable. Painted between 1562 and 1566 for the Scuola Grande di San Marco, the work is part of the permanent collection of the Accademia Galleries in Venice.  Tintoretto himself is portrayed within the work, as the bearded man beside the camel.

Translation of the Body of Saint Mark

A companion painting, Discovery of the Body of Saint Mark, is located at the Brera Gallery in Milan.

Tintoretto’s Discovery of the Body of Saint Mark

The glittering mosaics that adorn the exterior of Saint Mark’s Basilica also tell the story, in tessellated form, of the translation of Saint Mark’s relics. For example, the mosaic located above the left doorway (the Door of Saint Alypius) of the west facade depicts Saint Mark’s body being carried into the basilica. The mosaic, known as the Deposition mosaic, is the oldest exterior mosaic on the Basilica and dates to 1260-1270.

According to legend, Saint Mark’s body was taken from Alexandria, Egypt, in 828. Two Venetian merchants travelling in Alexandria, obtained the relics of Saint Mark from Priests at the church of Saint Mark, where the saint’s body was interred. The Priests feared Saint Mark’s relics might be damaged or destroyed by the Saracens during the persecution of the Catholic community in Alexandria. Promising to safeguard the Saint’s relics, the merchants convinced the Priests to allow them to return to Venice with the body of Saint Mark.
“The body of Saint Mark was taken out of the sarcophagus and unwrapped from its silk shroud, the relic being substituted by another and less eminent Saint. It was then placed in a chest and taken on board the Venetian ship, the merchants first ensuring, that the Saint’s remains were covered by a layer of pork and cabbage. When the Muslim officials asked to inspect the chest, they cried out ‘Kanzir, kanzir’ (Oh horror) at the sight and smell of the pork. . . . Thus the Evangelist was safely conveyed to Venice but not before a number of miracles eased his passage across the Mediterranean.”

The cargo investigated

Saint Mark’s body was initially kept in a Chapel at the Doge’s palace, a Chapel originally dedicated to Saint Theodore, until a more suitable Church could be built. Begun in 829, the year after the translation of Saint Mark’s relics, the first Church of Saint Mark was completed in 832. This Church was destroyed in 976 during a rebellion against Doge Pietro Candiano IV. And so St Mark’s Basilica was built to house the remains. Unfortunately, two hundred years later, the unthinkable happened, the authorities forgot where they had put them. Various excuses have emerged, all rather contradictory; there had been a fire, there was building work at the Basilica, the people who knew the location died suddenly without passing on the secret. All of Venice despaired but St Mark himself came to the rescue – his arm suddenly appeared from a pillar, no doubt accompanied by a shout of  ‘I’m over here!’ The Basilica was completed in 1063 but was only Consecrated in 1094 now that St Mark was found.

Paolo Veneziano: The discovery of the relics of St Mark’s Basilica

In 1835, Giacomo Monico, Patriarch of Venice, exhumed the body of Saint Mark from the Crypt beneath the Basilica and placed it in the high Altar. Before then, the Saint’s body had apparently last been seen in the 12th century, dressed in ecclesiastical robes, when it was placed on display for five months for public veneration.

In 1075, the Doge passed a law requiring all returning ships to bring back something precious to decorate the Basilica, accounting for the more than 500 columns of rare marble, porphyry, alabaster and jasper brought back from the East. The interior is clad with 4,240 square meters of gold mosaics, mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Between 1500 and 1750, some of the old sections were replaced by “modern” mosaics designed by artists including Titian and Tintoretto. The presence of St Mark, the mosaics, golden altar, beautiful chapels and treasury make St Mark’s one of Italy’s best-loved Churches.

Saint Mark’s simple, marble Sarcophagus can only be viewed from behind the high Altar. The exterior of the Sarcophagus is well lit and a short inscription applied to the stone in metallic letters read: “SALUTAT VOS . . . MARCUS FILIUS MEUS.” This inscription was followed by a citation in much smaller letters below the word “MEUS.” The citation read “1 Petri 5.13,” the source of the abbreviated quote on the tomb. The front of the Sarcophagus proclaims “CORPUS DIVI MARCI EVANGELISTAE” (Body of the Divine Mark, Evangelist). Red roses are often placed on top of the Sarcophagus.

In case you missed the video:


Quote/s of the Day – 4 December – St John Damascene, Father and Doctor of the Church

Quote/s of the Day – 4 December – The Memorial of St John Damascene (676-749) – Father and Doctor of the Church

“The whole earth
is a living icon
of the face of God.”

“The Son
is the Counsel
and Wisdom
and Power
of the Father.”

“All who ask receive, those who seek find
and to those who knock it shall be opened.
Therefore, let us knock
at the beautiful garden of Scripture.
It is fragrant, sweet and blooming
with various sounds of spiritual
and divinely inspired birds.
They sing all around our ears,
capture our hearts,
comfort the mourners,
pacify the angry
and fill us with everlasting joy.”

“Images are books for the illiterate
and silent heralds
of the honour of the saints,
teaching those who see,
with a soundless voice
and sanctifying the sight.”

“The saints must be honoured as friends of Christ
and children and heirs of God, …
Let us carefully observe the manner of life
of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics
and just men who announced the coming of the Lord.
And let us emulate their faith,
charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering
and perseverance unto death,
so that we may also share their crowns of glory.”

“Having confidence in you,
O Mother of God, I shall be saved.
Being under you protection,
I shall fear nothing.
With your help,
I shall give battle to my enemies
and put them to flight,
for devotion to you,
is an arm of Salvation.”

St John Damascene (676-749)
Father and Doctor of the Church

More here:


Saint of the Day – 17 July – Madonna dell’Umiltà / The Madonna of Humility – Pistoia, Italy (1490)

Saint of the Day – 17 July –  Madonna dell’Umiltà / The Madonna of Humility -Pistoia, Tuscany, Italy (1490) of which City the Madonna is the Patron.

In 1383, Paolo Serafini painted the fresco of the Madonna dell’Umiltà for the Chapel of Santa Maria Forisportam (St Mary Outside the Gate) outside town.   A century later, Pistoia erupted in bloody civil strife due to internal conflict between local families of the Panciatichi and Cancellieri.ORIGINAL MADONNA OF HUMILITY BY PAOLO SERAFINI

On 17 July 1490, a group of people took refuge in the Chapel.   While the Mass was being celebrated by the Priest, Fr Tommaso Benannati at the Altar of the Madonna.    In the light of a rays of the sun, they could see oozing from the front of the Virgin’s image, a few drops of liquid of vermilion colour – which was immediately understood to be blood, descended to the Virgin’s feet, trickling down and tracing wide streaks. Some witnesses rang the bell, while others ran to spread the news.   he combat ended and both sides ran to see the miracle.   This miracle lasted for several months and it’s traces are still visible.

The Pistoiese wept for this painful sorrow of the heavenly Mother, caused by their obstinacy in hatred and divisions, they swore peace and forgiveness and promised to build a Holy Shrine to the heavenly Mediatrix.

The authenticity of the miracle, after careful examination, was confirmed by the Bishop Niccolò Pandolfini, the Podestà Pietro Vettori, the Capitano del Popolo, the Gonfaloniere and the Priori.   The enthusiasm and popular devotion to the Madonna of Humility grew dramatically, so much so, that the need arose immediately to provide for an expansion of the small Church to contain the crowds of believers who came from everywhere and still do.   And, to fulfil their promise, a magnificent new sanctuary, renamed for the painting, was dedicated at the site on 31 December 1582.   In 1931, Pope Pius XI elevated the church to the status of Minor Basilica.

Pistoia_madonna_del_umilta_003 Madonna of Humility altar
The Altar of the Madonna of Humility
Pistoia_madonna_del_umilta_001 Humility
The Basilica of the Madonna in Pistoia

The image shows the humble Madonna seated on a cushion on the floor, nursing the child at her right breast.   The Basilica celebrates the Feast of the Madonna of Humility on 17 July with solemn Mass and vespers.

chapel of the madonna of humility in rome

There is also a beautiful Chapel to the Madonna of Humility in Rome, a favourite of Pope Pius IX.   It is said that, as a boy, Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, regularly attended Mass in the Chapel of the Madonna of Humility.

The original Miracle and painting by Paolo Serafini occurred in 1383 but their have been earlier depictions of the Madonna under this title, though not accompanied by a Miracle.   The earliest known painting of this type dates to 1346 and is at the Museo Nazionale in Palermo, Sicily. It represents a Madonna seated on a small cushion just above the ground.   The Child Jesus that she holds partially looks at the viewer. Domenico di Bartolo’s Madonna of Humility, painted in 1433, was described by art historian Andrew Ladis as one of the most innovative devotional images from the early Renaissance.

Madonna of humility by Domenico di Bartolo, 1433.

Other key examples include the Madonna dell’Umiltà, a tempera painting on wood by Gentile da Fabriano , dating from around 1420 – 1423.    Fra Angelico’s representation of about 1430 (which includes two angels) is notable in that Jesus is approached from above, focusing on his divinity.    Giovanni di Paolo’s depiction of about 1456 represents a transition in the perception of nature, with the visual landscape forming itself around the seated Madonna.

561px-Gentile_da_fabriano,_madonna_col_bambino,_pisa Madonna of Humility
Gentile da Fabriano
571px-bl fra Angelico,_madonna_dell'umiltà_washington
Fra Angelico
fra Angelico,_madonna_col_bambino,_pinacoteca_sabauda humility
Another rendition by Fra Angelico
Giovanni di Paolo
Sassesta madonna of Humility

This Feast of Our Lady of Humility is not celebrated much today, yet I have a fondness for this particular Feast, perhaps because it is so important to recognize the need for all of us to be humble as Jesus told us: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I am Meek and Humble of Heart…” (Mt. 11:29)

Mary is His first and most perfect disciple who indeed took His yoke – His Father’s Will – even to Calvary! Mary continually learned throughout her life as we are called to do. In looking at the painting I noticed something similar to the icon of Our Lady of Tenderness – Mary is not looking at Jesus but looking at us! As Jesus looks at us, so does she. How important it is for us to find God in prayer and then find Him in all those He sends us to serve!

Jesus Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like Yours.
Our Lady of Humility, Pray for Us.

Sano di Pietro
Posted in ART DEI, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 15 June – Saint Germaine Cousin (1579–1601)

Saint of the Day – 15 June – Saint Germaine Cousin (1579–1601) Laywoman, Penitent, Apostle of Charity, miracle-worker – born in 1579 at Pibrac, France and died in 1601 in her parents’ home in Pibrac, France, apparently of natural causes, aged 22.   Also known as Germana Cousin, Germaine of Pibrac.   Patronages – abandoned people, abuse victims, child abuse victims, against poverty, disabled and handicapped, people, girls from rural areas, illness, impoverishment, loss of parents, shepherdesses, people disfigured by disease, physical therapists.   Her body is incorrupt.William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_The_Young_Shepherdess_(1885)

bougereau shepherdess
These two “Shepherdesses” by William-Adolphe Bougereau are believed to be depictions of St Germaine

Germaine Cousin was a 16th-century shepherdess who lived from 1579 to 1601.   Born with a lame right hand and the disease scrofula (a non-tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes of the neck), she projected quite an unsightly appearance.   The only child of Laurent Cousin and Marie Laroche, Germaine lived about 1.5 miles west of Pibrac, France. When she was just five years old, the plague suddenly took her dear mother and her father soon after remarried.   Germaine was physically and mentally abused by her new stepmother, Armande de Rajols.

Armande’s hatred of little Germaine was so intense that she forced her to live for 17 years in the family barn and to watch the sheep near the wolf-infested La Bouconne forest, hoping the wolves would kill her. Isolated, cold and lonely, Germaine embraced a life of prayer, penance, and almsgiving, she assisted the poor and hungry, even though she herself was malnourished.   She offered up her suffering to God.

131 st germaine cousin - _JeanFMilletLePetiteBergere
By Jean F Millet artist of “The Angelus”

She is practised many austerities as reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches.   She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream.   The villagers are said to have inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God’s signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe.

It was while these abuses were taking place that miraculous wonders began to surround Germaine.   People from the village witnessed her, on several occasions, parting the turbulent spring waters of the Courbet, which she had to cross to get to Mass in the morning.

On another occasion, Germaine had filled her apron with surplus bread from her meagre daily rations so that she may feed the poor.   Her stepmother pursued her into town, hoping to expose her to the townspeople as a miscreant and a thief, who was stealing from her household pantry.   After catching up with her in the public square, she forced her to reveal the contents of her apron.   When Germaine opened her apron, it wasn’t bread that came flowing out but summer flowers.   It was the middle of winter.   Everyone was amazed and began to see Germaine in a different light.   The stepmother, however, was unmoved and continued to persecute the young girl until her death.   This wasn’t for much longer, as Germaine soon died alone in the barn where she had been forced to live for 17 years.

Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly and wished to give her a place in the home with his other children but Germaine begged to be allowed to remain in the humbler position.   At this point, when men were beginning to realise the beauty of her life, she died.   One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father found that she had not risen at the usual hour and went to call her, finding her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs.   She was 22 years old at the time.saint-germaine-deathst germaine body 2 blurry

Mysterious lights enveloped the barn the night she died.   Two monks who were travelling from Gascony noticed the light from far off. Approaching cautiously, they witnessed angels descending upon the barn in large numbers and taking a soul robed in a virgin’s gown, up to heaven.   It was only at Germaine’s deathbed that the stepmother finally began to weep bitterly for her mistreatment of the girl she eventually repented.

But, the story of Germaine’s life was soon forgotten.

In 1644, some 43 years following her death, the body of a noblewoman was being interred in front of the sanctuary of the church, when a workman accidentally exhumed Germaine’s incorrupt body from under the flagstone floor.   Her body looked and smelled as fresh as the day she had passed away.   News spread like wildfire throughout the town.   Her body was exposed in the Church in the hopes of eliciting religious fervour.Chasse_de_Sainte-Germaine

Madame de Beauregard, a prominent lady, put a stop to this.   She complained to the Parish Priest about the disgusting exhibit of a corpse near her pew.   She threatened to withhold alms if Germaine’s corpse continued to be exposed.   The Priest complied with her request and removed the casket.   Not long after, Madame de Beauregard was stricken with a fatal disease.   Distressed by his wife’s condition and her irreverence toward a possible saint, her husband pleaded for her life before the Tabernacle, requesting that Germaine intercede. Moments later, Germaine appeared in spirit to Madame de Beauregard and healed her instantly of her ailment.

Despite these apparent signs of sanctity and several attempts at initiating the cause of her Canonisation, Germaine wasn’t Beatified until May 7, 1854 – 210 years after her incorrupt body had been found. Her Canonisation finally took place on 29 June 1867 By Pope Pius germain cousin

Saint Germaine was forgotten, neglected and unloved for most of her life.   Even after her death, it seemed that the Lord purposely kept her well hidden.   Most Catholics have never heard of her and that includes Religious and Priests.   In our complex and fast-paced world, Germaine’s simplicity, charity and piety don’t seem to fit in anywhere.St._Germaine_de_Pibrac_-_Basilica_of_the_Immaculate_Conception_-_Lourdes_2014

The reason is, that we have now brought up entire generations of entitled young people, who see themselves as central to the universe’s purpose.   They are the first to complain if things don’t go their way.   In recent news, is it not surprising to learn about a woman stabbing her fiancé over their wedding colour scheme?   We are witnessing the consequences of a narcissistic culture that seeks pleasure without any kind of moral compass to guide the conscience.

How could Germaine’s life story fit into such a culture?   It would seem, that we are not quite ready yet.

We and our children were brought up on the idea that our “self-esteem” needed to be enhanced.   In this way, we’ve made an entire generation incapable of seeing it’s own darkness, empowered with the perception of its own strength and unique gifts.   At the same time, this generation’s children, disconnected from any moral compass, think they can do no harm.   Meanwhile, a mother in her thirties was sucker-punched while walking with her daughter.   No apparent reason was reported, but the public was outraged that such random acts of violence could take place.   It was part of the “knockout game,” a depraved form of entertainment for young people.

It is imperative that we begin, once again, to talk to our children about living virtuous lives of self-effacement and not self-empowerment – lives of temperance and not overindulgence.   It is pressing, that we share with our children, the idea of living a simpler life that is rooted in love, penance, almsgiving and prayer.Saint_Germaine_Cousin

Our children need to hear that the Lord Jesus is drawn to those who are small, hidden and pure, not just to those who are smart, rich, attractive and self-empowered.

In the book Germaine:  Requiem of a Soul, Andrew St-James recounts the full history of Saint Germaine.   She was a pure soul who abandoned herself completely to divine providence, who learned to surrender her will completely to germaine holy card

This inspirational story shatters all the conventional theories modern man may have about God and about the modern concepts of self-empowerment  . For when Jesus approaches, He does not strengthen and empower the individual, as most Protestant evangelists claim. Instead, as Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes, “when the Lord approaches, he weakens.”

God is not distant from the suffering of man.   The story of Germaine Cousin attests to that truth.   The events that surround the life of Saint Germaine have been clearly documented and can be regarded as a reliable historical record of her most remarkable life.   It’s a story that has been lost but it is time now for it be told to our children and loved ones. Amenst germaine cousin lg





Our Morning Offering – 6 November – Tis I – Be not Afraid!

Our Morning Offering – 6 November – Wednesday of the Thirty  First week in Ordinary Time, Year C

Tis I – Be not Afraid!
St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

WHEN I sink down in gloom or fear,
Hope blighted or delayed,
Thy whisper, Lord, my heart shall cheer,
“’Tis I – be not afraid!”

Or, startled at some sudden blow,
If fretful thoughts I feel,
“Fear not, it is but I!” shall flow,
As balm my wound to heal.

Nor will I quit Thy way, though foes
Some onward pass defend,
From each rough voice the watchword goes,
“Be not afraid!… a Friend!”

And O! when judgement’s trumpet clear
Awakes me from the grave,
Still in it’s echo may I hear,
“’Tis Christ! He comes to save.”tis I be not afraid - st john henry newman 6 nov 2019.jpg

Posted in ART DEI, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 12 July – St John Gualbert (c 985-1073) “The Merciful Knight”

Saint of the Day – 12 July – St John Gualbert (c 985-1073) Abbot, Founder of the Vallumbrosan Order and many monasteries, Apostle of the poor, Reformer – born ‌Giovanni Gualberto in c 985 at Florence, Italy and died in 1073 at Passignano near Florence, Italy of natural causes.   Patronages – Forest workers, Foresters, Park rangers, Parks, Badia di Passignano, Vallumbrosan Order, Italian Forest Corps, Brazilian john gaulbert snip getty image.JPG

Giovanni Gualberto was born circa 985 to nobles who hailed from the Visdomini house, he was born in the castle known as Poggio Petroio.   His sole sibling was his older brother Ugo.   He was also related to the Blessed Pietro Igneo.

He was educated and raised Catholic but in his adolescence cared little for religion.   He was instead focused on frivolous things and was concerned with vain amusements and romantic intrigues.   When his brother Ugo was murdered, Gualbert set out to avenge his death.

On Good Friday, as he was riding into Florence accompanied by armed men, he encountered his enemy in a place where neither could avoid the other.   John would have slain him but his adversary, who was totally unprepared to fight, fell upon his knees with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross and implored him, for the sake of Our Lord’s holy Passion, to spare his life.   St John said to his enemy, “I cannot refuse what you ask in Christ’s name.   I grant you your life and I give you my friendship.   Pray that God may forgive me my sin.”   Grace triumphed.stjohn gualbert

Gualbert entered the nearby Benedictine church at San Miniato al Monte to pray and the figure on the crucifix bowed His head to him in recognition of his generous and merciful act.   Gualbert begged pardon for his sins and that week cut off his hair and began to wear an old habit that he had borrowed.

St Michael & St John Gualbert

This holy miracle,  forms the subject of Edward Burne-Jones’s artwork,  “The Merciful Knight” and Joseph Shorthouse, the author,  adapted this in his celebrated novel “John Inglesant”.   The explanatory inscription provided by Burne-Jones tells the viewer of a knight who forgave his enemy when he might have destroyed him and how the image of Christ kissed him in token that his acts had pleased God.

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Edward Burne-Jones “The Merciful Knight”

Gualbert became a Benedictine monk at San Miniato despite his father’s opposition.  His father hastened to find his son but gave him his blessing when he heard his son’s arguments and saw that he was resolute in his decision.   But he counselled his son to do good.   He fought against simoniacal actions of which both his Abbot Oberto and the Bishop of Florence, Pietro Mezzabarba were accused and their guilt discovered. Unwilling to compromise, he left to find a more solitary and strict life.  st john gaulbertHe often fasted and imposed other strict penances on himself.   His attraction was for the cenobitic and not eremitic life so after he spent some time with the monks at Camaldoli but later settled at Vallombrosa where he founded his own convent in 1036.   Instead of a traditional garden he opted to have his monks plant trees (firs and pines for the most part), hence his patronage of forests and foresters.   He founded additional monasteries for his order in locations such as Rozzuolo and San Salvi.

He became a noted figure for his compassion to the poor and the ill.   Pope Leo IX travelled to Vallambrosa to see and talk with St John.    Pope Stephen IX and Alexander II held him in the greatest esteem as did Pope Gregory VII who praised Gualbert for the pureness and meekness of his faith as a staunch example of compassion and goodness. Gualbert also admired the teachings of the Church Fathers, in particular Saint Basil and Saint Benedict of Nursia.St. John Gualbert

He never wished to be ordained to the priesthood and nor did he even wish to receive the minor orders.  He fought manfully against simony and in many ways promoted the interest of the Faith in Italy.   After a life of great austerity, he died whilst the angels were singing round his bed, on 12 July 1073

The holy lives of the first monks at Vallombrosa attracted considerable attention and brought many requests for new foundations but there were few postulants, since few could endure the extraordinary austerity of the life.   Thus only one other monastery, that of San Salvi at Florence, was founded during this period.   But when the founder had mitigated his rule somewhat, three more monasteries were founded and three others reformed and united to the order during his lifetime.   In the struggle of the popes against simony the early Vallumbrosans took a considerable part, of which the most famous incident is the ordeal by fire undertaken successfully by St Peter Igneus in 1068. Shortly before this the monastery of St Salvi had been burned and the monks ill-treated by the anti-reform party.   These events still further increased the repute of Vallombrosa. A Bull of Pope Urban II in 1090, which takes Vallombrosa under the protection of the Holy See, enumerates fifteen monasteries besides the Motherhouse.

St John was Canonised by Pope Celestine III on 24 October 1193.johngualbert1

Pope Pius XII named St John – in 1951 – as the patron saint for the Italian Forest Corps while he was named as the patron for Brazilian forests in 1957.556px-Santa_Trinita,_Neri_di_bicci,_San_giovanni_gualberto_(dettaglio)2


Art Dei – 18 June – Paintings in Blessed Osanna Andreasi’s House

Art Dei – 18 June – The Memorial of Blessed Osanna Andreasi OP (1449-1505) – Her House in Mantua, Italy

This beautiful painting was donated to the Andreasi House in 2002 by private collectors, it is a replica of a painting made in the late 16th century, the original is also part of a private collection, attributed to Luigi Costa the Elder.   This versions differs from the original in that it lacks the plate at the bottom and also because in the background we can see a large writing in gold letters and the figure of a swan, the symbol of the Andreasi family.   Though the original is more intense, this version also is very interesting, with the large cross and the lily around it, indicating the woman’s condition of virgin.   The crown of thorns she is holding evidently creates a direct relationship with the suffering of Jesus Christ.   In the course of time, a specific physical type representing the Blessed took shape – she is both severe and beautiful, conveying a sense of quiet prayer but also the charisma of a osanna andreasi - google arts.JPG

This painting below, is another portrait of the Blessed, evidently from a series beginning with the work that is part of the private collection attributed to Costa the Elder.   The low quality of this canvas does not, however, prevent the viewer from recognising her typical features, here particularly severe and lacking many of the usual symbols.   Here, in fact, we see only the cross, long and slender, that the Blessed holds as usual in her right hand, showing it to the osanna andreasi - lower quality without symbols google arts.JPG

Blessed Osanna and the Mysteries of the Rosarybl asanna and the mysteries of the rosary
In this devotional composition, the Blessed Osanna is painted standing on the left, while invoking the Virgin Mary who appears above, surrounded by clouds, carrying Baby Jesus in her arms.   Next to Osanna we see Saint Dominic, who is in turn admiring the celestial vision.   The peculiarity of this painting is, however, the presence of a total of fifteen tondos on the two sides and in the upper part of the painting, depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary.   On the right we have the Joyful Mysteries – Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to saint Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.   On the left the Sorrowful Mysteries – the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion.   Above the Glorious Mysteries – the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of the Virgin.   Finally, it must be noted that between the Blessed and Saint Dominic, we can make out the outline of the city of Mantua seen from San Giorgio.   This detail allows to identify with certainty the female figure as being the Blessed osanna andreasi and the rosary - detail - google arts.JPG

The home of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi
In between two floors is a small consecrated chapel and a study with painted cupboards. On the main floor are four rooms of which one is entirely fresh with trompe l’oeil architecture depicting columns, balustrades and Latin proverbs recorded on scrolls.
The room of relics of the Blessed Osanna Andreasi (1449-1505) bl osanna's house 243_Castello.jpg Set among hydrangeas, roses and officinal plants in the courtyard is a delightful porch with 15th century pink marble columns bearing the Andreasi coat of arms.  bl osanna'sandreassi's house.jpgThe interior frescoes date from the 15th, 16th and, above a fireplace, 17th centuries – the decoration on the wooden coffered ceilings is still visible in parts, while the floors and stairs are made of terracotta and the doors of wood.   It was purchased by nobleman Niccolò Andreasi in the mid 15th century as his family home.   The house underwent minor changes in the early 16th century when Andreasi’s daughter Osanna was beatified.
Property of the Andreasi family for centuries, the house passed in 1780 into the hands of the Magnaguti family by marriage.   Conte Alessandro Magnaguti (1887 – 1966) bequeathed it to the Dominican Province Utriusque Lombardiae to perpetuate the memory and cult of Blessed Osanna, who was a Tertiary of the Order and whose home it was.
Since 1935 it has been home to the Dominican Fraternity, who restored it and created a cultural centre for the circulation of Dominican spirituality and for the study of Thomistic philosophy.   They established the Association for Dominican Monuments in 1993.   The house, which still preserves its vocation for philosophy, culture and mysticism, hosts courses on philosophy and art, comparative religion, conferences, book launches and exhibitions and is the home to countless amazing holy artworks, mostly depicting Dominican Saints but not exclusively.

Posted in ART DEI, MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY, YouTube VIDEOS

Memorials of the Saints – 18 February

St Angilbert of Centula
St Colman of Lindisfarne
St Constance of Vercelli
St Esuperia of Vercelli
St Ethelina
St Flavian (Died 449) Martyr
Bl John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico OP  – The Angelic Friar Giovanni (1387-1455)
The Artist:

St Gertrude Caterina Comensoli
St Helladius of Toledo
St Ioannes Chen Xianheng
St Ioannes Zhang Tianshen
St Jean-François-Régis Clet
St Jean-Pierre Néel
Bl Jerzy Kaszyra
Bl John Pibush – one of the Martyrs of Douai
St Leo of Patera
St Martinus Wu Xuesheng
Bl Matthew Malaventino
St Paregorius of Patara
St Sadoth of Seleucia
St Simeon
St Tarasius of Constantinople
St Theotonius
Bl William Harrington

Martyrs of North Africa – 7 saints: Group of Christians who were martyred together, date unknown. We know nothing else but seven of their names – Classicus, Fructulus, Lucius, Maximus, Rutulus, Secundinus and Silvanus.
They were born and martyred in North Africa.

Martyrs of Rome – 5 saints: A group of Christians martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know nothing else but their names – Alexander, Claudius, Cutias, Maximus and Praepedigna. They were martyred in 295 in Rome, Italy.


One Minute Reflection – 19 July – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30.

One Minute Reflection – 19 July – Thursday of the Fifteenth week in Ordinary Time, Year B – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”…Matthew 11:28-30

REFLECTION – “Jesus asks us to go to Him, for He is true Wisdom, to Him who is “gentle and lowly in heart”.   He offers us “his yoke”, the way of the wisdom of the Gospel which is neither a doctrine to be learned, nor an ethical system but rather a Person to follow: He Himself, the Only Begotten Son, in perfect communion with the Father.”…Pope Benedict, XVI, General Audience, 7 December 2011come to me all who are burdened - matthew 11 28-29- jesus asks us to go to him - pope benedict - 19 july 2018

PRAYER – “Holy God, our Father, we turn to You in confidence as children and pray, give us meekness of heart, make us “poor in spirit” that we may recognise that we are not self-sufficient, that we are unable to build our lives on our own but need You, we need to encounter You, to listen to You, to speak to You.   Help us to understand that we need Your gift, Your wisdom, which is Jesus Himself, in order to do the Your will in our lives and thus to find rest in the hardships of our journey.”   Blessed Jozef Puchala, Holy Martyr for Christ, Pray for us, amen.   (Adapted from the same homily above.)bl jozef puchala martyr - 19 july 2018- pray for us

NOTE:   The Image used for the Reflection above is called “Christ the Consolator” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890).   You would be mistaken in believing that this great Artist was a Mormon but of course, he was a Danish Artist of a Christian leaning (Mormons are NOT Christians and were begun by Joseph Smith in the 1820s in New York), studied and was inspired and drawn to Catholicism (but did not convert) in Rome and was vastly influenced by Rembrandt (a protestant) in Holland.   The Mormons have used his artworks endlessly – in their temples, advertising and media, he would be highly indignant I believe, without a doubt!


Thought for the Day – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)

Thought for the Day – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)

One of the greatest Christian artists is Giovanni Fiesole, better known to the world as Blessed Fra Angelico, the “Angelic Brother.”   Fra Angelico is a patron saint for Catholic artists.   His style of painting beautifully bridges the iconographic and gothic traditions. Giorgio Vasari, author of “Lives of the Artists,” referred to Angelico as a “rare and perfect talent.”

Very little of his writings have survived the centuries but one phrase still resonates, more than 400 years after his death. “He who does Christ’s work, must stay with Christ always.”

Saint Paul, in his letter to the Galatians said something similar.   “I live; yet now, it is not I, but truly Christ, who lives in me. And though I live now in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and who delivered himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

What does it mean when Paul tells us it is no longer he who lives but Christ who lives in him?   What does it mean to stay with Christ always?

In Paul’s time it was believed that the only way to have a right relationship with God was to follow the law, the Ten Commandments and all the thousands of rules that derive from them.   But Paul rejected this idea and preached that the only road to justification, to having that right relationship with God, is through faith in Jesus Christ.

It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” and stay out of trouble.   If that is all we do then we are trying to achieve heaven by our own merits.   God wants more from us than that.   God invites us into a relationship of friends and family, a relationship of love.   This type of relationship is a living, dynamic one.   To love Christ and to want to be near Him is to be crucified with Him.

It means standing up for the Truth even when it is unpopular.   It means finding time to pray.   It means that we stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus.   And it means that when we fail, we humbly confess our sins as we would apologise to a friend we have hurt, so that that relationship can be restored.   It means that we must reflect Christ to the whole world, so that when people look at us they do not see us, they see Christ.

For the Artist this means we must deeply consider our vocation, St John Paul described it as a vocation of beauty.   Do we work to bring beauty to the world?   Do we use our gifts to lift peoples hearts and minds to God?   Does our work reflect His splendour and bring hope and joy to our brothers and sisters?   This does not mean that every artist must confine themselves to religious art but it does mean that we may be called to sacrifice lucrative opportunities. or turn away from work that does not suit our vocation.   But in the end that is what it means to live for Christ and not for ourselves.   (Deacon Lawrence Klimecki – Speaker, Writer, Artist)

Blessed Fra Angelico, pray for us!

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Posted in ART DEI, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

One Minute Reflection – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)

One Minute Reflection – 18 February – The Memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole/Fra Angelico O.P. (1387-1455)

Well done you are an industrious and reliable servant…… Come share your master’s joy…………Matthew 25:21

REFLECTION – “In God’s house we must try to accept whatever job he gives us – cook, kitchen boy, waiter, stable boy or baker. For we know that our reward depends not on the job itself but on the faithfulness with which we serve God.”… Pope John Paul I
“Fra Angelico’s painting was the fruit of the great harmony between a holy life and the creative power with which he had been endowed.”… St Pope John Paul IIin-gods-house-we-must-try-pope-john-paul-i-18 feb 2018fra angelico's painting was the fruit - st john paul - 18 feb 2018

PRAYER – O God, in Your providence You inspired blessed Fra Angelico to portray the beauty and sweetness of heaven.   By his prayers and the example of his virtues, grant that we may manifest this splendour to our brothers and sisters.   Blessed Angelico, pray for us! Through Christ our Lord, amen.

bl-fra-angelico-pray-for-us-2-18 feb 2018


Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí made in 1951.   maxresdefault

It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen.   Although it is a depiction of the Crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ.   Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.


It is known by it’s Title because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar, today’s saint and a Doctor of the Church, St Jon of the Cross.   The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms;  the circle is formed by Christ’s head).  The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity and the  circle represents Unity.    Below is the drawing by St John of the Cross.drawing-by-st-john-of-the-cross

On the bottom of his studies for the painting, Dalí explained its inspiration:   “In the first place, in 1950, I had a ‘cosmic dream’ in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the ‘nucleus of the atom.’   This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense;  I considered it ‘the very unity of the universe,’  the Christ!”

In order to create the figure of Christ, Dalí had Hollywood stuntman Russell Saunders suspended from an overhead gantry, so he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle and also envisage the pull of gravity on the human body.   The depicted body of water is the bay of Port Lligat, Dalí’s residence at the time of the painting.Salvador Dalí painting St. John of the Cross