Madonna del Faggio (Our Lady of the Beech Tree), Castelluccio, Bologna, Emilia Romagna, Italy (1672) – 26 July, Ascension Thursday:
In 1672 the Blessed Virgin appeared to a shepherd boy and told him that she wished to be venerated at a certain place in the beech woods near Castelluccio in central Italy. Tthe child , following the directions to the site, discovered a terracotta Madonna affixed to one of the trees. The tiny Statue, barely 18 centimetres tall (7 inches) was moved to a wayside Shrine and then, in 1722, to its own mountain Sanctuary. Until 1964 a caretaker lived in the hermitage there. Since then a volunteer opens the Chapel only in summer on Sundays. In 1975 the sacred image was stolen and a copy was made to replace it. Since 1756, an annual pilgrimage on Ascension Day brings the image to the Town and back again, and on St Anne’s day, 26 July, a procession goes to the site of the beech tree where the Statue had been originally found, although the tree itself is no longer there as it fell during a storm. The Sanctuary’s holy card, shown above, does not seem to depict the terracotta image. It may represent one of the paintings of Lorenzo Pranzini, who decorated the interior of the Chapel in the 1800s.
St Benigno of Malcestine Bl Camilla Gentili St Charus of Malcestine Bl Edward Thwing Bl Élisabeth-Thérèse de Consolin St Erastus Bl Évangéliste of Verona St Exuperia the Martyr Bl George Swallowell St Gérontios Bl Giuseppina Maria de Micheli St Gothalm St Hyacinth Bl Jacques Netsetov Bl John Ingram St Joris Bl Marcel-Gaucher Labiche de Reignefort Bl Marie-Claire du Bac Bl Marie-Madeleine Justamond Bl Marie-Marguerite Bonnet St Olympius the Tribune St Parasceva of Rome (Died c 180) Virgin Martyr, Confessor St Pastor of Rome Bl Pérégrin of Verona Bl Pierre-Joseph le Groing de la Romagère
Saint of the Day – 9 July – Blessed Giovanna Scopelli O.Carm (1428 – 1491) Virgin, Mystic, Italian Religious of the Carmelites and established her own Convent as its first Prioress. She was known, during her lifetime as a miracle-worker with many coming to her to ask for her assistance and prayers. Born in 1428 at Reggio d’ Emilia, Italy and died in 1491 of natural causes, aged 63. Also known as – Jane Scopelli, Joan Scopelli, Giovanna of of Reggio Her body is incorrupt.
Giovanna Scopelli was born in 1428 in Reggio Emilia to Simone and Caterina Scopelli. From her childhood she felt a strong attraction to the religious life though her parents disapproved of this vocation and forbade her to pursue it. Scopelli submitted to this and so led her austere and pious life at home until the death of her parents around 1480, when she then decided to form the Carmelite Convent of Santa Maria del Popolo while in the process of her Novitiate.
Giovanna took on the task of looking for a suitable place, when a widow offered herself, two daughters and her home. They lived together from 1480 until 1484, meanwhile Giovanna was looking for a place twhich could serve as a Monastery. Giovanna set her eyes on the Church of St Bernard, which belonged to the Humiliati Friars. With the support of the Bishop, Philip Zoboli, she obtained it from the Friars’ General on his way through Reggio. The beginnings of the new Monastery dates from 1485, with the name changed from that of St Bernard to that of St Mary of the People (afterwards called of the White Sisters). The inevitable financial difficulties at the beginning were surmounted through the help of a certain Christopher Zoboli. Under Joan’s direction more than twenty religious made up the new community, which was entrusted to the care of the Mantuan Congregation of Carmelites and, for which, in 1487, the Carmelites provided a Confessor.
She refused all endowments and gifts – and urged her fellow religious to do the same thing – unless such gifts were given as alms with no conditions attached to them. In 1487 a Priest was assigned to them as their Confessor. The nuns became known as “The White Nuns.”
God gifted Giovanna with extraordinary charisms. She herself fostered a deep Marian piety (she venerated the Blessed Virgin with a special devotion of her own, called the Tunic of Our Lady – mainly a frequent repetition of Hail Marys and was animated by an intense spirit of penance.
She died on 9 July1491;. Her cult began the following year, with the exhumation of her incorrupt body. In 1500 a public judgement was passed on her life, her virtues and her miracles. During the years 1767-70 the Diocesan process for the recognition of the cult was held, which met with the approval of Pope Clement XIV on 24 August 1771. After the suppression of the Monastery by the secular powers and of the Church of the Carmelite nuns in 1797, the body of the Blessed was transferred to the Cathedral in the year 1803.
REFLECTION– “Regarding other ceremonies in vocal prayers and other devotions, one should not become attached to any ceremonies or modes of prayer, other than those Christ taught us. When His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray [Lk 11:1], Christ obviously, as one Who knew so well His Father’s will, would have told them, all that was necessary, in order to obtain an answer from the Eternal Father and, in fact, He only taught them those seven petitions of the Our Father, which include all our spiritual and temporal necessities and He did not teach numerous other kinds of prayers and ceremonies. At another time, rather, He told them, that in praying, they should not desire much speaking because our heavenly Father clearly knows our needs.
He only charged us with great insistence to persevere in prayer – that is, in the Our Father – teaching, in another place, that one should pray and never cease. [Lk.18:1] He did not teach us a quantity of petitions but that these seven be repeated often and with fervour and care. For in these, as I say, are embodied everything that is God’s will and all that is fitting for us. Accordingly, when His Majesty had recourse three times to the Eternal Father, all three times He prayed with the same petition of the Our Father, as the evangelists recount: “Father, if it cannot be but that I drink this chalice, may your will be done.” [Mt. 26:42]
And He taught us only two ceremonies for use in our prayers. Our prayer should be made either in the concealment of our secret chamber [Mt 6:6] where without noise and without telling anyone we can pray with a more perfect and pure heart … Or, if not in one’s chamber, in the solitary wilderness and at the best and most quiet time of night, as He did..” [Lk. 6:12] – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) – Carmelite, Doctor of the Church – The Ascent of Mount Carmel Bk.III, ch.44
PRAYER – Our Father Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our trespasses As we forgive those who trespass against us And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen
Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Pellevoisin, France (1876) – 13 February: Pellevoisin is a little village not far from Tours in France. In 1876, a young woman, Estelle Faguette, lay dying from tuberculosis, at the aged of 33 – only five hours to live in the opinion of the doctors. With childlike faith, Estelle composed a letter to the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she asked for a cure. The letter was laid at the feet of a Statue of the Virgin in Montbel, the summer chateau of the Rochefoucaulds, about 3 km from Pellevoisin.
And, on the 13th of February, when all were expecting her death, Our Lady appeared near the sickbed. This occurred on three successive nights and then, as Our Lady had promised, the sick woman was instantly cured on a Saturday. During the visits, Our Lady of Pellevoisin frequently spoke to Estelle, her theme being that which she so often has expressed during the past hundred years:
“I am all-merciful and have great influence over my Son. What distresses me most is the lack of respect for my Son. Publish my glory.”
For some months after her miraculous cure, Estelle continued to live quietly at Pellevoisin. She was at a loss to find the means of fulfilling the mission entrusted to her by Our Lady. Her heavenly visitor, however, was watching over her and Estelle was to see her again and receive more minute instructions as to what was required of her. On the feast of Our Lady’s Visitation in the same year, 1876, as Estelle was praying in her room, she was granted another vision. Our Lady, robed in white and wearing on her breast a white scapular with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, appeared to her favoured friend. This was the first of a series of wonderful visions enjoyed by Estelle, ten in all. Again and again Mary pointed to the great need for penance and expiation – a return to God. During one of these apparitions, Our Lady of Pellevoisin, taking her white scapular in her hand, held it before Estelle saying,
“I love this devotion.”
Immediately Estelle knew that her life’s work was to propagate devotion to the Sacred Heart by means of a scapular modeled on Mary’s. On her last appearance, December 8th, Our Lady commanded Estelle to approach her Bishop and give him a copy of the new scapular.
“Tell him to help you with all his power and that nothing would be more agreeable to me, than to see this badge on each one of my children, in reparation for the outrages that my Son suffers in the Sacrament of His Love. See, the graces I pour upon those who wear it with confidence and who help to make it known.”
The Prelate in question, the Archbishop of Bourges, Mnsgr de La Tour d’Auvergne, gave Estelle a favourable hearing and immediately set up a commission to investigate the whole matter. The result of all this was the establishment at Pellevoisin in 1894 by Pope Leo XIII of an Archconfraternity under the title of Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Pellevoisin. The membership of this Confraternity has gone on increasing year after year, while Pellevoisin itself has become a centre of pilgrimages for thousands of Mary’s friends. Estelle lived her quiet and peaceful life at Pellevoisin, neither desiring nor receiving any personal credit. She died in 1929. Her miraculous cure was recognised in 1983 by Monsignor Paul Vignancour. Although no formal approval has been granted acknowledging the authenticity of the events at Pellevoisi, either by the local bishop at Bourges or by the Holy See, numerous acts of secondary level of approval, including recognition of Mary’s scapular request, have been granted. Pope Leo XIII, by a Motu Proprio, granted indulgences to encourage the pilgrimage to Pellevoisin on 20 December 1892, and on 4 April 1900, The Congregation of Rites issued a decree granting approval to the Scapular of the Sacred Heart.
St Julian of Lyon St Lucinus of Angers St Marice St Martinian the Hermit St Maura of Ravenna St Modomnoc St Paulus Lio Hanzuo St Peter I of Vercelli St Phaolô Lê Van Loc St Stephen of Lyons St Stephen of Rieti
One Minute Reflection – 6 February – Thursday of the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Readings: Hebrews 12:18-19, 21-24, Psalms 48:2-3,3-4, 9, 10-11, Mark 6:7-13 and the Memorial of St Andrew Corsini O.Carm (1302-1373) Bishop
And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil, many who were sick and healed them. – Mark 6:13
REFLECTION – “Accordingly, in affirming that they are sent by Him, just as He was sent by the Father, Christ sums up in a few words the approach, they themselves should take to their apostolate. From what He said, they would gather, that it was their vocation to call sinners to repentance, to heal those who were sick, whether in body or spirit, to seek in all their dealing, never to do their own will but the will of Him who sent them and, as far as possible, to save the world by their teaching.” – St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Bishop, Father & Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Human weakness finds its anchor in You, Lord and our faith is build on You as on a rock. Supported by the teachings, lives and prayers of our fathers, Your Apostles, may we always answer Your call and live in ever-closer union with You. And may St Andrew Corsini and all your Angels, Martyrs and Saints, pray for Holy Mother Church and for us all. Through Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spiirt, God forever and ever, amen.
Our Lady of Fire, Forli, Italy (1428) – 4 February:
The best-known print in early times was certainly the miraculous woodcut of Forli in north-eastern Italy, which became famous as Our Lady of Fire, or Our Lady of the Fire. It is the subject of the earliest monograph on a printed picture, which also fixes the earliest date that can be attached to a surviving Italian print. This book is Giuliano Bezzi’s “Il Fuoco Trionfante,” printed in 1637 at Forli, between Florence and Ravenna and he speaks of the miracle remembered as Our Lady of Fire. “Around the year of our Lord 1420, in a pleasant house by the Cathedral at Forli, the devout and learned Lombardino Brussi of Ripetrosa imitated Christ among the disciples at Emmaus by breaking the bread of the fear of the Lord and of humane letters with school boys. Their household devotion turned to the Virgin. They ever began and ended their literary exercises by praising and praying to this great sovereign of the universe. They said their prayers before an image of Our Lady rudely printed from a woodblock on a paper about a foot square. Printing was then new and who knows if this may not have been the first print by the first printmaker? The simplicity of the image certainly matched the well-mannered scholar’s simplicity of heart. It showed and still shows, the most Blessed Virgin holding her Holy Infant and surrounded by saints like King Solomon by his guard. Above to the right and left shine the sun and the moon, luminously forecasting that the Virgin was to consecrate this paper with a power like the moon’s over water and the sun’s over fair weather.
The devotion to the Virgin had advanced these happy boys from easy letters to graver studies when, on 4 February 1428, fire broke out in the downstairs classroom. Whether it started by accident or by design, is not known but certain it is, that the outcome so glorified God and His Blessed Mother that fires nowadays cause joy where they burn! When this fire had feasted on the benches and cupboards of the school, it followed its nature to ascend and sprang at the sacred paper. In awe at the sight of the most holy image, the flames stopped and – wonder of wonders – like the blameless fingers of a loving hand, they detached it from the wall to which it was tacked. The fire thought the wall too base a support for so sublime a portrait and longed to uphold the heaven of that likeness, like the other heaven, on a blazing sphere. Above the flames raging in the closed room the unscorched image floated as on a throne. When the fire had consumed the ceiling beams it wafted out the revered leaf, not to burn but to exalt it. With this leaf on its back it flew to the second floor, to the third, to the roof, then through the roof and behold, the Virgin’s image burst above the wondrous pyre like a phoenix, triumphant and unconsumed! The miracle drew the eyes of all the populace and came to the ears of Monsignor Domenico Capranica, the Papal Legate, who carried the paper in a procession, accompanied by all the people, to the Cathedral of Santa Croce, where it was placed in a holy but simple chapel.”
The building burned to the ground but the image of Our Lady of Fire was not forgotten. Copies were made of the image and they could be found in every Christian home in the region. The original print itself, was the focus and centre of religious life in the town of Forli, which had been blessed to witness such a great miracle.
Martyrs of Perga – 4 saints: A group of shepherds martyred in the persecutions of Decius. The only details we have about them are the names – Claudian, Conon, Diodorus and Papias. They were martyred in c 250 in Perga, Asia Minor (in modern Turkey).
“The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast in that day.” … Mark 2:20
REFLECTION – “The bridegroom is with them Beneath the apple tree, (cf Ct 8:5) there I took you for My own, there I offered you My hand, and restored you, where your mother was corrupted In this high state of spiritual marriage the Bridegroom reveals His wonderful secrets to the soul, as to His faithful consort, with remarkable ease and frequency, for true and perfect love knows not how to keep anything hidden from the beloved. He mainly communicates to her sweet mysteries of His Incarnation and the ways of the redemption of humankind, one of the loftiest of His works and thus more delightful to the soul. Even though He communicates many other mysteries to her, the Bridegroom in the … mentions only the Incarnation as the most important. … The Bridegroom explains to the soul … His admirable plan in redeeming and espousing her to Himself through the very means by which human nature was corrupted and ruined, telling her, that as human nature was ruined through Adam and corrupted by means of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Paradise, so on the tree of the Cross, it was redeemed and restored when He gave it there, through His passion and death, the hand of His favour and mercy and broke down the barriers between God and humans that were built up through original sin. Thus He says: “Beneath the apple tree,” that is: beneath the favour of the tree of the Cross where the Son of God redeemed human nature and consequently espoused it to Himself and then, espoused each soul, by giving it through the Cross grace and pledges for this espousal.” – St John of the Cross (1542-1591) Carmelite, Doctor of the Church – The Spiritual Canticle B, Stanza 23, 1-3
PRAYER – Almighty God, ruler and creator of all things in heaven and on earth, listen favourably to the prayer of Your people. Through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us His life to lead us to You and made us His own body in His Church, grant us the grace of always listening for His word and following His deeds in all that we are and all that we do. May we too follow His teachings in our Holy Mother Church, for she is His and we are hers. May the prayers of our Mater Ecclesiae, the Blessed Virgin, intercede for us. Through Christ our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 6 January – St Peter Thomas OCD (c 1305-1366) Carmelite Priest and Friar, Archbishop of Crete, Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, noted Preacher, Papal legate, the Carmelite Order’s Procurator-General to the Papal Court, Teacher, Marian devotee, miracle-worker – born as Pierre Tomas in c 1305 in southern Perigord, France and died 1366 at Famagorta, Cyprus from wounds received in a military action in Alexandria, Egypt in 1365. He preached the Crusade against the Turks throughout Serbia, Hungary and Constantinople and travelled with the armies. He enjoyed a reputation among both Catholic and Orthodox spheres as an apostle of Church unity. Before the Turkish uprising (when his remains were lost), during the Canonisation process, when his tomb was opened, his body was found to be “perfect and whole and the members as flexible as before” (Carmesson, pp. 100-1)
Peter Thomas was born around the year 1305 to a very poor family in Périgord. His father was a serf. When still a teenager, he left his parents and his younger sister to ease the burdens on his family. He went to the nearby small town of Monpazier, where he attended school for about three years, living on alms and teaching younger pupils. He led the same type of life at Agen until the age of twenty, when he returned to Monpazier.
The Prior of the Carmelite convent of Lectoure employed Thomas as a teacher for a year in their school. He entered the Carmelite Order at the age of twenty-one and made his profession of religious vows at Bergerac where he taught for two years. He studied philosophy at Agen, where he was ordained a Priest three years later. For the next few years, he continued his studies, while also teaching in Bordeaux, Albi and again in Agen. This was followed by three years of study in Paris. He was preaching in Cahors, during a procession of prayer held in supplication for the end to a serious drought, when rain began to fall. This was viewed by many as miraculous.
He was the Order’s Procurator General and an official Preacher at the Papal Court of Pope Clement VI at Avignon. At the death of Pope Clement VI, he accompanied the bosy to the Chaise-Dieu, preaching at all the twelve stops along the way (April, 1353).
From that time on the whole life of Peter Thomas was dedicated to the fulfilment of delicate missions entrusted to him by the Holy See, for peace among Christian princes, for the defence of the rights of the Church before the most powerful monarchs of the age, for the union of the Orthodox Byzantine–Slavs with the Roman Church, for the anti-Muslim crusade and the liberation of the Holy Land.
In 1354 he was made Bishop of Patti and Lipari. In 1363 he was appointed Archbishop of Crete and in 1364 he became the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople.
Peter caught a cold during the Christmas feasts of 1365. His condition worsened on 28 December and on 6 January, being “reduced to skin and bones” (Phil Of M., p. 151, 15), he piously ended his earthly life “at about the second hour of the night” (ib. 154, 8), after having distributed all his belongings to the poor. He died in the Carmelite convent of Famagusta.
His remains seemed surrounded by light to those who watched them during the wake. The funeral was a veritable triumph – even the dissident Greeks and others, who would willingly have “drunk his blood” (ib. p. 156, 3-4) while he was aliv, participated devoutly. The funeral eulogy was delivered by John Carmesson, who several times felt himself mysteriously urged to call the deceased a saint (lb., 157, 8). The body remained exposed for six days and was visited by a great number of people – cures and other miracles were verified before and after the burial (Smet, pp. 163-84).
Two qualified admirers of Peter Thomas wrote his Vita almost on the morrow of his death – Philip of Mézières (died 1405), Chancellor of King Peter of Cyprus and spiritual son of the Saint, (The Life of St. Peter Thomas by Philippe de Mézières) and the Franciscan, John Carmesson, Minister of the Province of the Holy Land, who had delivered the funeral eulogy.
The fours volumes of sermons and the tract De Immaculata Conception Blessed Maria Virgini which he wrote have been lost. But the famous processional Cross presented to him in 1360 by the Christian refugees from Syria and used by him, as the standard in the Alexandrian crusade and as a source of strength in his own last agony. is now preserved in the Venetian church of St John. He had willed the Cross to his friend, Philip of Mézières, who on 23 December 1370, gave it to the Grand School of St John in Venice. This processional Cross became the object of intense devotion and was depicted on the city’s standard.
He was Beatified in 1609 by Pope Paul V and Canonised in 1628 by Pope Urban VIII.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves…” … Matthew 11:29
REFLECTION – “Dearest sister in Jesus. I, Catherine, servant of the servants of Jesus, write to you in His Precious Blood, wishing only that you feed yourself with God’s love and nourish yourself with it, as at a mother’s breast. Nobody, in fact, can live without this milk! Who possesses God’s love, finds so much joy that every bitterness transforms itself into sweetness and that every great weight becomes light. One must not be astonished because living in charity you live in God – “God is love and he who abides in love, abides in God and God abides in him”(1 John 4:16) Thus, living in God, you can have no bitterness because God is delight, gentleness and never-ending joy! This is why God’s friends are always happy! Even if we are sick, poor, grieved, troubled, persecuted, we are always joyful. … We do not seek joy elsewhere than in Jesus and we avoid any glory which is not that of the Cross. Embrace, then, Jesus crucified, raising to Him the eyes of your desire! Consider His burning love for you, which made Jesus pour out His blood from every part of His body! Embrace Jesus crucified, loving and beloved and in Him you will find true life because He is God made man. Let your heart and your soul burn with the fire of love drawn from Jesus on the Cross! You must, then, become love, looking at God’s love who loved you so much not because He had any obligation towards you but out of pure gift, urged only by His ineffable love. You will have no other desire than to follow Jesus! As if you were drunken with Love, it will no longer matter whether you are alone or in company – do not think about many things but only about finding Jesus and following Him! Run, Bartolomea, do not stay asleep, because time flies and does not wait one moment! Dwell in God’s sweet love. Sweet Jesus, Jesus love.” … St Catherine of Sienna (1347-1380) – Doctor of the Church – From the “Letters” (letter no. 165 to Bartolomea, wife of Salviato of Lucca).
Prayer – Almighty and merciful God, let neither our daily work nor the cares of this life, prevent us from hastening to meet Your Son. Lord, make straight the winding ways within us. Draw us to repent! Enlighten us with Your wisdom and lead us into His company, that we may love Him and do homage to Him. Amen
Quote/s of the Day – 26 August – The Memorial of Saint Jeanne Elisabeth des Bichier des Anges FC (1773-1838) and St Mary of Jesus Crucified OCD (1846-1878)
“Virginity, is nothing in the eyes of God, without the humility of spirit, which is virginity, itself.”
“What! She would say, as if exasperated, can we offer in the Holy Sacrifice the death and humiliations of God-made-Man and be unwilling to be humble! To want to be esteemed while He is being humiliated! To want to be something in the eyes of the world, where as He remains hidden under the Eucharistic veils! To love one’s independence, whereas His love for us keeps Him a Prisoner in the Tabernacle! Oh! How such differences should cover us with shame, fill us with self-loathing, with a hatred of our pride and our folly!”
St Elisabeth Bichier (1773-1838)
“Where there is charity, there is God. If you are attentive about doing good to your brother, God will be attentive about you. If you dig a hole for your brother, you will be digging it for yourself; it is you, yourself who will fall into it. But if you make heaven for your brother, you will be making it for yourself. Remember it …”
“It is pleasant to hear about Jesus; more pleasant to listen to Jesus Himself speaking … It is pleasant to think about Jesus; more pleasant to possess Him … It is pleasant to hear Jesus’ words; more pleasant to do His will …”
Quote/s of the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross/Edith Stein (1891-1942) Martyr
“Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Tackle the day’s work that He charges you with and He will give you the power to accomplish it.”
“You asked about my name-patron. Of course, it is holy Father Benedict. He adopted me and gave me the rights of home in his Order, even though I was not even an Oblate, since I always had Mount Carmel before my eyes.”
“The walls of our monasteries enclose a narrow space. To erect the structure of holiness in it, one must dig deep and build high, must descend into the depths of the dark night of one’s own nothingness, in order to be raised up high into the sunlight of divine love and compassion.”
“Those who remain silent are responsible.”
“We cannot separate love for God from love for man. We acknowledge God easily but our brother? Those with whom we do not identify – his background, education, race, complexion. We could not have imagined that love for God could be so hard.”
“All that we do is a means to an end but love is an end in itself because God is love.”
Quote/s of the Day – 7 August – The Memorial of St Albert of Trapani O.Carm. (c 1240-1307) and St Cajetan (1480-1547)
Heal us Lord God Prayer of St Albert of Trapani O.Carm. (c 1240-1307)
O my God,
You have created the human race
by Your wonderful power.
It is an act of Your clemency that has called us
to share Your glory and eternal life.
When the first sin condemned us to suffer death,
out of Your goodness,
You wished to redeem us
through the blood of Your Son,
To unite us to You through our faith
and Your great mercy.
You have brought us back
from the shame of our sin,
You have veiled our dishonour
in the brightness of Your glory.
Look now and see that what You have created,
giving it subtle limbs and joints
and made beautiful through its immortal soul,
is now subject to the attack of Satan.
Be pleased Lord
to reconstitute Your work and heal it.
May Your power be glorified
and may the malice of the enemy be stunned.
St Albert of Trapani (c 1240-1307)
“My desire is not my way but Your way.”
“I am a sinner and do not think much of myself; I have recourse to the greatest servants of the Lord, that they may pray for me to the blessed Christ and His Mother. But do not forget, that all the saints cannot endear you to Christ as much as you can yourself. It is entirely up to you!”
“May all praise and thanks be continually given to the Most Holy and Most August Sacrament.”
“We may seek graces but shall never find them without the intercession of Mary.”
Bl André de Soveral
St Andrew the Hermit
St Antiochus of Sebaste
Bl Arnold of Clairvaux
Bl Arnold of Hildesheim
St Athenogenes of Sebaste St Bartholomew of Braga OP – ArchBishop of Braga also known as Bl Bartholomew of the Martyrs (Bartolomeu Fernandez dei Martiri Fernandes) (1514-1590) St Bartholomew: https://anastpaul.com/2018/07/16/saint-of-the-day-16-july-blessed-bartholomew-of-the-martyrs-1514-1590/
On 8 July 2019, Pope Francis approved the favourable votes cast by the Eminent and Excellent members of the Congregation and extended to the Universal Church the liturgical worship in honour of Blessed Bartholomew of the Martyrs (born Bartolomeu Fernandes), of the Order of Preachers, Archbishop of Braga, born in Lisbon, Portugal on 3 May 1514 and died in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, on 16 July 1590, inscribing him in the book of Saints (Equipollent Canonisation).
Alleluia! Saint Bartholomew of the Martyrs, Pray for Us!
St Benedict the Hermit Blessed Ceslaus Odrowaz OP (c 1184– 1242) (Brother of St Hyacinth)
Bl Claude Beguignot
Bl Domingos Carvalho
St Domnio of Bergamo
Bl Dorothée-Madeleine-Julie de Justamond
St Elvira of Ohren
St Eugenius of Noli
St Faustus of Rome and Milan
St Fulrad of Saint Denis
St Generosus of Poitou
St Gobbán Beg
St Gondolf of Saintes
St Grimoald of Saintes
St Helier of Jersey
Bl John Sugar
St Landericus of Séez
Bl Madeleine-Françoise de Justamond
Bl Marguerite-Rose de Gordon
Bl Marguerite-Thérèse Charensol
Bl Marie-Anne Béguin-Royal
Bl Marie-Anne Doux St Marie-Madeline Postel (1756-1846)
Her Life: https://anastpaul.com/2019/07/16/saint-of-the-day-16-july-st-marie-madeline-postel-
Bl Marie-Rose Laye
Bl Milon of Thérouanne
Bl Nicolas Savouret
Bl Ornandus of Vicogne
St Paulus Lang Fu
St Reinildis of Saintes
Bl Robert Grissold
Bl Simão da Costa
St Sisenando of Cordoba
St Tenenan of Léon
St Teresia Zhang Heshi
St Valentine of Trier
St Vitalian of Capua
St Vitaliano of Osimo
St Yangzhi Lang
Martyrs of Antioch – 5 saints: Five Christians who were martyred together. No details about them have survived by the names – Dionysius, Eustasius, Maximus, Theodosius and Theodulus. They were Martyred in Antioch, Syria, date unknown.
Saint of the Day – 7 June – Blessed Ana of St Bartholomew OCD (1550-1626) – Bl Ana was an early member of St Teresa of Àvila’s Discalced Carmelite Order, Mystic, Spiritual writer, apostle of the poor, Prioress – born Ana García Manzanas on 1 October 1549 at Almendral, Spain and died on 7 June 1626 at Antwerp, Belgium at the time known as the County of Flanders, Spanish Netherlands of natural causes, aged 75. Patronage – Antwerp.
Ana García Manzanas was born in Almendral de la Cañada on 1 October 1550 as the seventh child to Ferdinand García and Maria Mancanas. On the date of her birth she was also Baptised in the Parish Church of His Holiness the Saviour. Together with her three brothers and three sisters she was raised to be close to God by her pious parents. The entire household – on a frequent basis – attended Daily Mass and recited the Holy Rosary together. Her father had a Priest teach the children the doctrine of the faith, while her mother opened their home to the poor and adopted orphans to raise as her own.
In her childhood she loved the paintings that depicted the Passion of the Lord and she wanted to be associated with His suffering – even if in a minor way by giving her food to beggars. She often walked barefoot along stoney paths, in order that she could offer the pain, to her suffering Lord. She said later in this regard:
“I will say here, for the glory of our Lord, that He always gave me consolations when I did good to my neighbour, when the occasion presented itself and when I aided them in their need. I inconvenienced myself, it is true, on these occasions but I found instead of an inconvenience it was a real consolation. It is to the good Master I owe it and it has remained so with me until this day. May His holy Name be blessed!”
In 1559 her mother died and in 1560 her father died. This period turned out to be a time in her life, that she described as being flung into her “deepest affliction.” When she was of the proper age, her older siblings wanted her to enter into marriage, though in her heart she desired to become a religious. Her older brothers tried to test her will, by giving her the difficult task, of sharing the work of the labourers in the fields, in the hope that she would renounce her calling. But once her brothers did this, she refused to speak to them and to any men and thus granting them the opportunity to converse with her, so as to defend herself from marriage, since she wanted to be married to God. The brothers felt that she was too tenderhearted to withstand the austere mode of Monastic life and presumed she would soon leave the Convent life and thus burden the household with dishonour.
Ana experienced visions and apparitions that made her unwilling to give up her dream, though on one occasion had a frightful apparition of a giant demon that scared her to the point of illness. Her relatives became quite concerned for her wellbeing and so took her to a hermitage dedicated to Saint Bartholomew to make a novena. Once she arrived outside the hermitage she was at once seized with paralysis and when her relatives carried her in – and not long after entering – she found herself cured of this extreme affliction.
Finally, on 2 November 1570, Ana entered the Discalced Carmelites as a secular member. She was the first secular that the foundress Teresa of Ávila accepted. She made her religious vows on 15 August 1572. For the next decade she filled the post of a nurse in the Infirmary.
In 1577, when St Teresa broke her left arm, she chose Ana as her personal assistant, nurse and secretary and during the next 5 years Ana was her inseparable companion, travelling with her and assisting in the last four foundations. All of Teresa’s letters in the last few years of her life were dictated to Ana. Teresa died in Ana’s arms in 1582 at the monastery in Alba de Tormes.
Following the death of the Foundress, she returned to Ávila and took part in the foundation of a Convent at Ocana (1595). And she was one of the seven nuns selected for the introduction of the Order into the Kingdom of France on 15 October 1604. In 1605, the French Carmelites appointed Ana the Superior of the Convent in Pontoise. This was a highly unusual step, as Ana was a “secular Carmelite,” meaning she was not part of the choir and removed from the Convent’s life of prayer. She was thus consecrated as a religious sister and took over the Convent at Pontoise. So unusual a step met with the disapproval of her companions but – as the Foundress – had once foretold – she offered no resistance. Ana had also been forewarned that her elevation would cause her great sufferings.
Ana became the prioress of several different Convents: Tours, Flanders, and finally Antwerp, which she governed to the end of her life. Twice she was instrumental in delivering the town from the hands of Protestant forces.
Ana died on 7 June 1626. Soon after her death, miracles were attributed to her intercession and by 1632 over 150 miracles had been approved. She proved herself, like St Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for souls. In 1735 Pope Clement XII declared the heroicity of her virtues and Pope Benedict XV Beatified Ana on 6 May 1917.
Her spiritual writings and letters are preserved in Antwerp and Paris.
rewarder of the humble,
you blessed Your servant Ana of Saint Bartholomew
with outstanding charity and patience.
May her prayers help us
and her example inspire us,
to carry our cross
and be faithful in loving You
and others for your sake.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Saint of the Day – 25 May – Saint Maria Magdalena de’ Pazzi O.Carm (1566-1607) Carmelite Nun and Mystic, Ecstatic, she bi-located and was the intercessor of many miracles, Stigmatist – born as Caterina de’ Pazzi (but in the family was called Lucrezia) in 1566 at Florence, Italy and died on 25 May 1607 of natural causes. Patronages – against bodily ills, against sexual temptation, against sickness, sick people, Naples (co-patron).
The second of four children, Caterina was born in Florence on 2 April 1566, to Camilo de’ Pazzi and Maria Buondelmonti. In the comfortable setting of a noble family, that began to call her Lucrezia, after her paternal grandmother, the young girl grew up peacefully and with a certain sensitivity to the aesthetic side of her social condition. Her heart was open to God and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in great simplicity, which is something we can see in the way she might share her lunch pack with a needy person, out of compassion, or the way she would help the children of the poor by gently offering them the first truths of faith. Her mother’s deep piety and the visits to her home by the Jesuit Fathers, that her parents invited regularly, helped to stamp on Caterina’s soul that sense of Church, “sensus ecclesiae,” that in later life would appeal so much to her conscience.
At eight years of age, she was sent as a pupil to the nuns at San Giovannino. The nuns, who noticed the contemplative nature of the child, prepared her for First Holy Communion and not many weeks later, Caterina was sufficiently mature to offer her virginity to God. She was ten years old and now she didn’t need anymore to get the scent of Jesus, by standing near her mother when she had received Holy Communion, now, she began to meditate on the humanity of Jesus. As she was learning to read, she came across the Athanasian Creed and she was very inspired by it. In the same way, she grew to be totally enamoured by the meditations of St Augustine and the Lord’s Passion by Loarte, which she read on the advice of Fr Andrea Rossi, who was her Spiritual Director. The artworks below are of St Augustine writing on her heart.
She had not yet reached the age of seventeen, when she showed her desire to be consecrated to God in religious life. Having overcome the initial opposition of her family, she entered the monastery in Borgo San Frediano, to join the Carmelite community of Santa Maria degli Angeli who were very happy to have her. They allowed her to begin as a Postulant on 8 December 1582. This community, that was well known to and highly regarded by the Bishop of Florence, was attractive to the young girl, principally because of the possibility of receiving Holy Communon everyday.
Two months after entering, on 30 January 1853, Caterina received the Carmelite habit, and with it, the name, Sr Maria Magdalena. At the end of the novitiate year, it was decided, that she would put her profession back until there were other Novices ready to join her. Maria Magdalena , however, got very sick in the following months, to the point of almost dying. With little hope of recovery – even the best doctors in the city had failed to diagnose what today we would call pneuomonia – the Prioress decided to have her make her profession in danger of death, in articulo mortis.
About one hour after her profession, something happened to Magdalena. It was an experience of rapture in God. The sisters tell us that when they went to visit her in the infirmary, they came upon the young eighteen year old patient, transfigured and looking very beautiful. From that day onwards, it was 27 May 1584, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Lord visited her every morning, for forty days and revealed the depth of his love to her. These frequent episodes gave rise to many misgivings in the young girl whose only desire was to live in the hiddenness of her life in Carmel but, it was obvious, that this kind of grace had to be recognised and preserved. For that reason, the sisters began very soon to take notes, writing down what Magdalena. would say while in ecstasy and what she would say, out of obedience, to the Prioress and Mistress.
Towards the end of that same year, a new period of divine favour began for her. This time, Jesus, the divine Word, held her in intense conversation (reported in I Colloqui) that revealed increasingly, the bridal relationship that Christ had formed with her. It was in one of those ecstasies that Christ brought her into His passion and death. It was Holy Week in 1585 – her experiences included the Stigmata impresssed on her soul, the Crown of Thorns, the Crucifixion and every scene from the Gospel was displayed, as if it was happening live in that slender tormented body. Then, on the Sunday after Easter, she received from her divine Bridegroom the ring of her mystical marriage.
The manuscript titled, Revelazioni e Intelligenze, gives a faithful account of the communication of God’s grace, that in the days between the vigil of Pentecost and the Sunday of the Blessed Trinity, gave Magdalena, an entry into the revelation, of the inner dimensions of her Trinitarian life. What was communicated to her, was what goes on between the divine person, and how the human person can fulfil a supernatural vocation, by allowing this mystery dwelling within, to do its work.
The central element in this understanding, is the saving mission of the Word, Love, made flesh in the most pure womb of the Virgin Mary and the intuition of “dead love” as the highest expression of the ultimate gift of self.
On the last day of this intense octave of Pentecost, Magdalena began to see, with some clarity, that the moment had arrived when God, as He had made known to her already on a few occasions, was about to take away from her, the enjoyment of His presence. That was the beginning of five very difficulty years of torment and temptation, to the point where she felt as if she had been thrown into the “lions’ den” and reduced to “nothing.” In these interior trials, described in the Probazione, Jesus continued to support her but without lessening the radical purification that striped her bare, made her more simple and extremely receptive to His visits. In the heart of the crucible, however, Magdalena also received understanding from God concerning the condition of the Church of her time – so slow to implement the renewal sought by the Council of Trent – and she felt that she was being drawn by the Truth, to be involved in a practical way, in calling to order prelates, cardinals and even the Pope, Sixtus V. The twelve letters that she dictated in ecstasy, in the Summer of 1586 are collected in the volume titled, Rinnovamento della Chiesa. The five years of trial restored to us a Magdalena. transformed . The Lord had brought her through a divinising process, through which, today, she could well be considered a master and guide.
After Pentecost 1590, she returned to the normality of ordinary life, something she had always wanted. Apart from just a few and important, moments of ecstasy (reported in the second part of the Probazione) her days passed quietly as she went about the jobs she had to do (on account of her spiritual maturity she was put in charge of the young sisters in formation) and all the other forms of humble service that she tended to seek. Then the experience of “naked suffering” took hold of her and this would unite her once and for all to the Crucified Bridegroom.
Sr Magdalena could read the thoughts of others and predict future events. For instance, during one ecstatic event she predicted the future elevation to the Papacy of Cardinal Alessandro de’ Medici (as Pope Leo XI). During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured many sick people.
The symptoms of tuberculosis began to appear in 1603. As her strength declined, she suffered the added pain of not being able to feel anything of the Lord’s presence. Just her presence in the community, in the eyes of the sisters, had become a vision of God’s work of art about to be completed. On 25 May 1607, at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Sr Maria Magdalena, at the age of forty-one gave up her spirit.
She was buried in the choir of the Monastery chapel. She was Beatified in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. At her Canonisation in 1668, her body was declared miraculously incorrupt. Her body is located in the Monastery of Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi in Careggi.
One Minute Reflection – 19 May – “Mary’s Month” – Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter,Readings: Acts 16: 22-34, Psalms 138: 1-2, 2-3, 7-8, John 16: 5-11 and the Memorial of St Francisco Coll y Guitart OP (1812-1875) “The Apostle of Modern Times”
“It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” … John 16:7
REFLECTION – St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] OCD (1891-1942) Martyr, Co-Patron of Europe
“Who are You, sweet light, that fills me
and illumines the darkness of my heart? (…)
Are You the master who builds the eternal cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by You, the columns are raised high
And stand immovably firm.
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome
That crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit, God’s moulding hand! (…)
Are You the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself, the clear chimes of each and every being?
That joins together, the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in Your surging,
Holy Spirit, eternal jubilation!”
PRAYER – Almighty God and Father, Your ways are not our ways, teach us to willingly agree to them, for You know which way we should go. Help us to say “yes” always to Your plan and to render ourselves, as a sacrament of Your divine love to all we meet. Fill us with the Your grace and Your Spirit, to make us Your tools, to bring glory to Your kingdom. Our Father, who art in heaven, may Your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Mary Mother of God, pray for us! St Francisco Coll, you who constantly sought to be a light of the beauty of God, pray for us! Through our Our Lord Jesus Christ with You, in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God forever, amen.
St Diocletian of Osimo
St Felix of Uzalis
St Fidolus of Aumont
St Fiorenzo of Osimo
St Fort of Bordeaux
St Gennadius of Uzalis
St Germerius of Toulouse
St Hilary of Pavia
St Honorius of Amiens
Bl Louis of Mercy St Margaret of Cortona TOSF (1247-1297) (This is a very good homily – listen if you can).
St Ubaldus Baldassini
St Victorian of Isauria
Bl Valdimir Ghika
Martyrs of Saint Sabas: A group of monks, whose names have not come down to us, who were massacred by Moors at the monastery of Saint Sabas in Palestine.
Saint of the Day – 5 May – Saint Angelus of Jerusalem O.Carm (1185-1220) Priest, Martyr, Hermit, Mystic, Reformer, Thaumaturge, Missionary, convert from Judaism and a professed Priest of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel – also known as St Angelus of Sicily and St Angelo. Born in 1145 at Jerusalem and died by being stabbed to death in 1220 at Licata, Sicily, Italy. Patronages – Palermo, Sicily, Licata and Sant’Angelo Muxaro, all in Italy. Today is the 800th Anniversary of his death.
St Angelus was born in Jerusalem to a Jewish family. His mother converted to Christianity and Angelo, along with his twin brother John, was Baptised and converted along with her. His parents died while he was in his childhood and the Patriarch Nicodemus oversaw their education until the twins turned eighteen. He and his brother John entered the Carmelites then, at the Saint Anne convent near the Golden Gate to commence their novitiate.
They were well learned and already spoke Greek, Latin and Hebrew. In 120, when he was twenty-six, Angelo was Ordained in Jerusalem and travelled throughout Palestine. Various miraculous cures were attributed to him as he travelled. His “Acta” tells us that he sought to avoid fame and when he was becoming known for his miracles, he withdrew from society to a hermitage to avoid the pilgrims who were following him. Angelus withdrew to a hermitage on Mount Carmel, until he was instructed by Christ in a vision, to leave Mount Carmel for Italy to preach against the Albigensians, Bulgars and other heresies.
He set off on a Genoese ship on 1 April 1219 and stopped first in Messina before heading off to Civitavecchia before he ended up in Rome to meet with the pope. The friar preached in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran while in Rome where he met both Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic. He foretold that Francis would receive the stigmata while Francis foretold his premature death.
From there he was a guest of the Basilians in Palermo where he was for about a month, before preaching in Agrigento for over a month before settling in Licata. He had healed seven lepers and the ailing Archbishop of Palermo Bernardo de Castanea while in Palermo. He settled on the Sicilian island though his fame as a wonderworker caused crowds to flock to him. He also had success in converting some Jews though most Jews in Palermo came to despise him for this since he himself was once Jewish.
He wanted to convert a Knight named Berenger. Catholic tradition states that Berenger was living in incest and that Angelo convinced the knight’s companion to leave him. Berenger became enraged and arranged to have him attacked and murdered, in front of the Church of Saints Filippo and Giacomo in Licata. He didn’t die from the attack until four days after the attack and during that time, he prayed for his assassin and asked the civil authorities to pardon him. He showed the ultimate in forgiveness, setting an example for all those that he preached to. He was buried at Saints Filippo and Giacomo Church. His sepulchre at Licata quickly became a site of Pilgrimage.
The Carmelites venerated him as a saint from 1456 and Pope Pius II Canonised him in 1459. His relics were translated to a new Church in Licata, Saint Maria del Carmine. It was through St Angelo’s intercession that the plague in the Kingdom of Naples was halted.
Saint of the Day – 28 April – Blessed María Felicia of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament OCD (1925-1959) “The Lily of Paraguay,” Virgin, Discalced Carmelite Sister, Apostle of the poor and marginilised – born as María Guggiari y Echeverría on 12 January 1925 in Villarica del Espiritu Santo, Guairá, Paraguay and died early in the morning of 28 April 1959 in Asunción, Paraguay of infectious hepatitis, aged 34. Also known as María Guggiari y Echeverría, “Chiquitunga” – her father’s pet name for her as a child. Patronage – Paraguayan youth.
Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverria was born on 12 January 1925 in Villarica del Espiritu Santo, Guairá, Paraguay. She was the first of seven children. At the age of 16 she enlisted in the ranks of Catholic Action. Despite the strong opposition she received from her family, she made the “Dedication to the Apostolate” and added the subject of virginity. She committed herself to daily Communion and a joyful and unconditional dedication to the Apostolate on behalf of children, young people and the sick, the elderly and needy. She achieved a total forgetfulness of self and a total surrender to God and neighbour. Her love for the poor and suffering was exceptional.
She soon fell in love with Saua Angel, a young leader of the Catholic Action and a medical student who was very close to becoming a doctor. Equipped with a deep faith and love for Saua at the same time, she wondered if God was calling her to marriage like the parents of St Therese of Lisieux who had, at first, chose virginity. Maria waited with confidence for the manifestation of God’s will and about a year later, Saua told Maria he felt called to the Priesthood. As soon as she heard of his vocational call, she offered to help him achieve his goal.
To avoid the opposition of his family because his father was a Muslim, Saua was sent to Madrid for specialisation in psychiatry and time to discern the call to the Priesthood. He left for Europe in April 1952 and in November decided to enter the Seminary. Maria Felicia, happy with his decision, in turn felt that God was calling her to total dedication to the religious life. During 1953 Maria Felicia suffered severe opposition to her vocation from her family but supported by her faith and a boundless hope in the Lord, did not cease her prayer life and the sacraments or her apostolic work with the young and marginalised. She never lost her peace of heart or her infectious smile. She even smiled when she cried.
Despite the opposition of her family and almost all the Priests who saw a great loss for the pastoral care of the young and marginalised, Maria entered the Carmel of Asuncion at the age of 30 and took the Discalced Carmelite habit on 14 August 1955, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
Sister Maria Felicia, who in the last two years had written at least 48 letters to Saua, some of great length, and most of which are still preserved, ceased to write so that she could be immersed forever in a “life hidden with Christ for God.” “Goodbye to Eternity”was her last written words of farewell.
A year later, on 15 August 1956 Maria professed her temporary vows and took the name Sister Maria Felicia of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She lived the next three years with fervour, in fellowship, distinguished by charity, sacrifice and joy. She sacrificed love for Saua, for the Church, her homeland and in a very special way for Priests.
In January 1959 Sr Maria took ill with infectious hepatitis and was forced to move into a sanatorium in the city. At about 4:10am on Easter Sunday, 28 March 1959, with all her family present, Sr Maria Felicia of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, lying on cushions, sat up with a burst of energy and spoke her last words : “Jesus, I love you! What a sweet encounter Virgin Mary!” And with her characteristic sweet smile on her face, she died at the age of 34.
Chiquitunga (pronounced Chichitunga), as she was affectionately called, had been within the walls of Carmel for a little less than four years but she left a profound impression on the Mother and sisters of her community who remember her for her great spirit of sacrifice, charity and generosity, all clothed in an outstanding gentleness and infectious happiness.
Described as their “lily’ by the Catholic Church of Paraguay, Blessed Maria Felicia of the Blessed Sacrament is the first Saint from Paraguay. Many of her writings, poems and letters still exist. Writings of spontaneity, simple yet piercing, reveal that she lived to the full her Baptismal vocation as an apostle.
Blessed Maria Felicia’s cause for sainthood commenced under St Pope John Paul II in 1997 after she received the title Servant of God, and the confirmation of her heroic virtue led to Pope Benedict XVI conferring the title of Venerable on 27 March 2010. Pope Francis confirmed her Beatification and it was celebrated on 23 June 2018. The Beatification miracle involved the healing of a newborn, Ángel Ramón, who showed no vital signs at birth but recuperated after 20 minutes, following the prayers by the obstetrician for the intercession of María Guggiari Echeverría. The Beatification recognition celebrated at the Estadio General Pablo Rojas, Barrio Obrero, Asunción, Paraguay and was presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato presiding on the pope’s behalf.
Saint of the Day – 29 March – Blessed Bertold of Mount Carmel (Died 1195) Priest, Monk, Hermit, Crusader – born in Limoges, France and died in 1195 of natural causes – also known as Bartoldus of Calabria.
Blessed Bertold was born in France, the son of a Count. He excelled at his studies and was Ordained a Priest. Berthold’s brother, Aymeric, became the Latin Patriarch of Antioch. The two joined together to participate in a Crusade to the Holy Land.
While in the Holy Land, Berthold travelled to Mount Carmel and built a Monastery and Church dedicated to the Prophet Elijah. His reputation for holiness spread, other hermits were attracted to the area, including Saint Brocard. Many hermits who were scattered throughout Palestine, followed Bl Bertold and came to live together in imitation of the life of the great prophet as recorded in the Old Testament.
Aymeric appointed Berthold the first Superior and he lived with his community at Mount Carmel for 45 years until his death in 1195. Later the community became known as the Hermit Brothers of St Mary of Mount Carmel.
It was the life and work of Bl Berthold that laid the foundation for the Carmelite Order, which, in 1206 received a written rule from St Albert of Jerusalem, whose rule was approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226. In the same century, some members moved to Europe and established similar groups from Sicily to Oxford.
Carmelites returned to Mount Carmel in 1631 and finally completed the Stella Maris Monastery in the 18th century. Its stout walls and small openings reflect the need for defence against hostilities during its establishment.
Later a lighthouse was built, giving a further meaning to the title Stella Maris. Because of its commanding position, the lighthouse has been commandeered as a military establishment.
Inside the church, the décor features vividly coloured Italian marble and dramatic paintings in the dome, one depicting Elijah being swept up to heaven in a fiery chariot. A cedar and porcelain statue of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is above the altar. Steps lead down to a grotto, with a small altar, where the Prophet Elijah is believed to have occasionally lived. People have lived in caves on Mount Carmel since prehistoric times.
Saint of the Day – 13 February – Blessed Archangela Girlani O.Carm (1460-1494) Virgin, Carmelite Nun, Mystic with the gift of levitation – born Elanor Girliani in 1460 at Trino, on Monte Ferrato in northern Italy and died on 25 January 1494 (aged 33) in Mantua, Milan, Italy. Blessed Archangela founded a new Carmelite monastery in Mantua. Her body is incorrupt.
Eleanor Girlani was born in the small Italian town of Trino (Piedmont). She demonstrated great piety and holiness as a child. Despite her family’s noble heritage, her only ambition in life was to become a Benedictine sister and together with some friends and relatives, she prepared to travel to the monastery of Rocca delle Donne, who had agreed to accept and raise her as a member of the Order. However, this was not to occur . Upon mounting her horse to travel, the animal refused to carry her to the monastery. As this particular horse was one of gentle and obedient spirit, the animal’s refusal to move was interpreted as a sign from the Lord and Eleanor returned home. Despairing, she prayed for guidance and contented herself in her own daily practices of contemplation, penance and service to others.
Eleanor soon encountered a Carmelite monk, who introduced her to the sisters of the Carmelite Order. Understanding this as divine intervention, Eleanor sought admission, and was accepted into the Order on her seventeenth birthday. She lived and served in the convent of Maria Maddalena in Parma, along with her sisters Mary and Scholastica.
Eleanor received the veil as a Carmelite sister at age eighteen, taking the name Archangela as her own. She was made Prioress of the abbey, given her nobility (as was the custom of the time) and became a model of Christian virtue to her sisters. Especially devoted to the Holy Trinity, Archangela spent hours in the chapel praying and contemplating the divinity of the Lord.
Sister Archangela soon was requested to found an additional abbey in Mantua, which was named Santa Maria del Paradiso (The Convent of Mary in Paradise). There, under her direction, sisters of the Order lived as if already absorbed into heaven. The monastery developed a reputation for great holiness, and received many new sisters. As prioress, Archangela experienced great ecstasies, some lasting well over 24 hours and on more than one occasion was discovered by her sisters to be levitating above the ground while contemplating the Holy Trinity. She further performed many miracles.
Only three years after founding the monastery at Mantua, Blessed Archangela fell gravely ill. Strengthened with the Sacraments and with her eyes fixed on an image of the Crucified Christ, she repeated her frequently uttered words: “Jesus, my Love”and peacefully died at the young age of thirty three. In fulfilment of her desire, she was buried in the simplicity of a common grave at the monastery. Three years later, when the tomb was re-opened to commit another sister to the earth, her remains were found incorrupt and exuding the fragrance of holiness. Great miracles were reported and her relics were enclosed in a crystal tomb and placed above the alter at the monastery.
Nearly 300 years after her death, the monastery in Mantua was closed and Archangela’s relics were translated to Trino, where she had been born. Her relics, still venerated today, were placed in the church of Saint Lorenzo. There, her body rests, wearing the habit of Carmelites, in a casket of crystal. Pope Pius IX confirmed her cultus and Beatified her on 1 October 1864.
The life of Blessed Archangela is one of deep faith and commitment to the Lord. Willing to reconsider her own plans for those that the Lord placed before her, Archangela served and followed wherever the Holy Spirit led her.
Father in heaven,
you gave the virgin Blessed Archangela Girlani
particular dedication to the mystery of the eternal Trinity.
Through her prayers
may we taste the delights of Your glory
already here on earth
and look upon You forever in heaven.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
St Julian of Lyon
St Lucinus of Angers
St Martinian the Hermit
St Maura of Ravenna
St Paulus Lio Hanzuo
St Peter I of Vercelli
St Phaolô Lê Van Loc
St Stephen of Lyons
St Stephen of Rieti
One Minute Reflection – 11 February – Tuesday of the Fifth week in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30, Psalm 84:3-5, 10-11, Mark 7:1-13 and the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes
“This people honours me with their lips but their hearts are far from me” … Mark 7:6
REFLECTION – “Well, let us imagine that within us is an extremely rich palace, built entirely of gold and precious stones, in sum, built for a lord such as this. Imagine, too, as is indeed so, that you have a part to play, in order for the palace to be so beautiful, for there is no edifice as beautiful as is a soul pure and full of virtues. The greater the virtues the more resplendent the jewels.
Imagine, also, that in this palace dwells this mighty King who has been gracious enough to become your Father and, that He is seated upon an extremely valuable throne, which is your heart. (…)
You will laugh at me, perhaps and say that what I’m explaining is very clear and you’ll be right, for me, though, it was obscure for some time. I understood well that I had a soul. But what this soul deserved and who dwelt within it I did not understand because I had covered my eyes with the vanities of the world. For, in my opinion, if I had understood as I do now, that, in this little palace of my soul dwelt so great a King, I would not have left Him alone so often. I would have remained with Him at times and striven more so as not to be so unclean.
But what a marvellous thing, that He who would fill a thousand worlds and many more with His grandeur, would enclose Himself in something so small!” … St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church – The Way of Perfection, ch. 28, 9-11
PRAYER – Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness, that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God, may, with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities. Grant, we pray that our lives may be gifts to all those who cry out in pain. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 14 January – Monday of the Second week in Ordinary Time, Year A
Before Jesus Crucified (Sweet Jesus, please, abide with me!) By Blessed Titus Brandsma OCD (1881-1942) Martyr
Dear Lord, when looking up at Thee,
I see Thy loving eyes on me,
Love overflows my humble heart,
Knowing what a faithful friend Thou are.
A cup of sorrow I foresee,
Which I accept for love of Thee,
Thy painful way I wish to go,
The only way to God I know.
My soul is full of peace and light,
Although in pain, this light shines bright.
For here, Thou keepest to Thy breast.
My longing heart to find there rest.
Leave me here freely all alone,
In cell where never sunlight shone.
Should no-one ever speak to me,
This golden silence makes me free!
For though alone, I have no fear,
Never were Thou, O Lord, so near.
Sweet Jesus, please, abide with me!
My deepest peace I find in Thee.
One Minute Reflection – 1 January – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, Readings: Numbers 6:22-27, Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:16-21
But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. … Luke 2:19
REFLECTION – “You will pray to the Virgin Mother that she obtain for you a perfect renewal of life and that, by this grace, she herself, the venerable rose, become your mother and godmother in such a way, that you may be her true daughter in conduct. And pray that this very gem of decency, may envelop your soul, in the mantle of her cleanliness, preserving you without any spot, under her most dulcet tutelage, for her Son, the Lord King. And pray that your name may be numbered among Israel, the choicest lot, so that you have share with those who walk in innocence of heart, always seeing the Lord before them in all of their ways. (cf. Ps 15:8)
Greetings, Mary, queen of clemency, olive tree of mercy, through whom life’s remedy has come to us. Queen of clemency, Virgin Mother of the divine offspring, through whom the Child of supernal light came to us, the scented offspring of Israel. Ah! Just as you became the true mother of us all, through your Son, who Himself, your one and only Son, did not scorn to become our Brother, now then, for the sake of His love take me, an unworthy woman, into your motherly care. Aid my faith, keep and instruct it and become so much the godmother of my renewal and faith now, that you may be my only mother and closest to my heart for eternity, always caring for me with loving-kindness in this life and taking me, into your full motherliness, at the hour of death. Amen.” … St Gertrude the Great of Helfta (1256-1301)
PRAYER – God, our Father, since You gave mankind a Saviour through the blessed Mary, virgin and mother, grant that we may feel the power of her intercession, when she pleads for us with Jesus Christ, Your Son, the author of life, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever, amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 28 December – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – The Fourth Day of the Christmas Octave
“These then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.”
St Augustine (354-430)
Father & Doctor of the Church
“The star of Bethlehem shines forth in the dark night of sin. Upon the radiance that goes forth from the manger, there falls the shadow of the cross. In the dark of Good Friday, the light is extinguished but it rises more brightly, as the sun of grace. on the morning of the resurrection. The road of the incarnate Son of God, is through the cross and suffering. to the splendour of the resurrection. To arrive with the Son of Man, through suffering and death, at this splendour of the resurrection, is the road for each one of us, for all mankind.”
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
[Edith Stein] (1891-1942)