Virgen de la Carrasca, Bordón, Teruel, Aragón, Spain (1212) – 3 May:
Commemorated on First Monday of May
In 1212, a herder found an image of the Virgin in a holm oak (carrasca) in the rocky countryside of Aragón in Spaon. There are several stories about what happened then, all of them ending with a Shrine in Bordón. Templars carried the Statue to Castellote, 12 miles north but the next day the image was back in the oak, the Virgin made those carrying her to Castellote keep turning toward Bordón and springs arose at each turn.
In the place where it was found, a hermitage was built to house it, which would later be replaced by the building that today is the Parish Church of Bordón, built in 1306 by the Templar Order (The Order was dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1312 ).
Although its exterior hardly stands out, its interior is magical and fascinating, a place full of mystery. In one of the Chapels inside, the Templar novices who previously made a pilgrimage on foot from Castellote, capital of the Templar Commandery, performed initiation rites to become Knights of the Order.
In the 18th century, the interior of the Church was covered with marvellous frescoes, which have been recently restored. Unfortunately, the venerated carving of the Black Virgin of the Carrasca was lost during the Civil War, along with another very famous Romanesque carving with a reputation for miraculously calming storms, the Virgin of the Spider, only a series of photographs being preserved, which allowed the making a replica.
On the first Monday in May, the faithful from the three towns to the south—Tronchón, Olocau del Rey and Mirambel—conduct a processional pilgrimage to the Virgin de la Carrasca. They have done this “from time immemorial,” according to a document of 1390 in the Parish archives of Tronchón.
St Adalsindis of Bèze Bl Adam of Cantalupo in Sabina St Ahmed the Calligrapher St Aldwine of Peartney St Pope Alexander I St Alexander of Constantinople Bl Alexander of Foigny St Alexander of Rome Bl Alexander Vincioli St Ansfrid of Utrecht (c 940-1010) Bishop St Antonina of Constantinople St Diodorus the Deacon
St Ethelwin of Lindsey St Eventius of Rome St Fumac St Gabriel Gowdel St Juvenal of Narni Bl Maria Leonia Paradis St Maura of Antinoe St Peter of Argos St Philip of Zell Bl Ramon Oromí Sullà St Rhodopianus the Deacon St Scannal of Cell-Coleraine Bl Sostenaeus
Saint of the Day – 2 May – Saint St Zoe of Pamphylia (Died 127) Martyr, Laywoman, Wife and Mother. The Roman Martyrology states of her and her family: “The holy mMartyrs , Exuperius and Zoe, his wife, with their sons, Cyriacus and Theodolus, who suffered under the Emperior Adrian.”
Zoe was married to Saint Exuperius. They had 2 sons, Saint Cyriacus and Saint Theodulus.
They were slaves, and were owned by a rich devout worshipper of the ancient Roman gods in Atalia, Pamphylia. One of Zoe’s duties was to tend the house dogs and prevent them from biting visitors. She rarely saw her husband as he worked the fields, a distance from the house.
Since she worked near a roadway, she gave of her own meagre rations to those even poorer than herself. One pagan feast day, the slaves were given meat to sacrifice to an idol. They refused and the entire family was tortured and murdered.
Nuestra Señora de Oviedo / Our Lady of Oviedo, Spain (711) – 2 May:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Oviedo, Spain, where they possess some of the Blessed Virgin’s hair.”
The Cathedral of Oviedo was founded in 781 AD, and enlarged by Alfonso the Chaste, who made Oviedo the Capital of the Kingdom of Asturias. The Chapel was once called the Sancta Ovetensis, owing to the quantity and quality of relics contained in the Camara Santa (Holy Chamber).
There is in the City of Oviedo a Holy Chest that contains many and varied relics. It rests in the Town where King Alfonso II, the Chaste, built a Shrine to house it and there it can be seen even today as it was well over a millennium ago. Like the Arc of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail, it is a singular thing the like of which is almost utterly unknown in the entire history of mankind.
This Holy Chest is made of oak and was skillfully constructed without the use of any nails. It measures roughly four feet by three feet by two feet and has been venerated, by faithful Catholics, since apostolic times. Indeed, it is believed to have been fashioned by devoted disciples of the twelve Apostles. Many men and woman throughout history have given their entire lives in service to the holy relics contained therein, or to save the chest from pagans who sought its destruction. The chest originated in the Holy City of Jerusalem. When the Persain’s attacked and conquered Jerusalem in 614, many priceless relics from the region were gathered and placed in it for protection, as the Persians sought relics to destroy them. The chest was taken for safekeeping to a small community of Catholiacs in Alexandria, Egypt. A short time later, Alexandria was also sacked by the Muslims and the chest was taken across the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, where St Isidore kept it in Seville. Upon St. Isidore’s death, the chest was transferred to the City of Toledo, which was then becoming an important centre in Spain. When the wave of Muslim aggression reached even Toledo in 711, the Holy Chest was taken to the Asturias and hidden in a well in Pelayo’s mountain. The chest has a lock and key but by the time of the eleventh century it had not been opened for hundreds of years. The last time it was known to have been opened was when it was done by a living saint, St Ildephonsus, for in it he had placed a chasuble that the Mother of God herself had given him during an apparition. By the year 1030, the exact contents of the Holy Chest were no longer known. Bishop Ponce of Oviedo and with him many clerics, determined to examine the chest to unlock its secrets. As soon as the lid was raised only the slightest bit, “there burst forth so stupendous a light that the terrified clerics, some of them stricken blind, dropped the lid and fled, leaving the mystery unsolved.” After Mass, on Friday, 13 March 1075, the key was again placed in the lock. On this occasion, God was pleased to reveal the contents of the Holy Chest. The chest contained the Sudarium, mentioned by St John the Evangelist in his Gospel, as the cloth that covered the face of Christ, after the crucifixion. On it can be seen the bloodstains of Our Lord that evidence his passion and death. It alone is a treasure without reckoning… The chest also contained a piece of the True Cross of Our Lord, a small stone of the sepulcher in which He was buried, some of the cloths in which He was wrapped in the manger, several thorns from the Crucifixion, a piece of the earth of Mount Olivet touched by His feet when He ascended into heaven, one of the thirty coins given to Judas, a lock of the Blessed Mother’s hair, the chasuble given by the Virgin Mary to Saint Ildephonsus, a chest of gold and precious stones containing the forehead of St John the Baptist and his hair and a host of other relics from many saints and prophets, including St Stephen, the first martyr, St Mary Magdalene, St Peter the Apostle, St Vincent and the rod of Moses which parted the Red Sea and the manna supplied from heaven during the Exodus from Egypt, and many other priceless relics.
King Alfonso VI commissioned a silversmith to sheath the Holy Chest in gilded silver, adorning it with figures of Our Lord and His angels and saints. It can still be seen even today.”
There are numerous Marian images, in their different invocations, which can be seen in the Cathedral of Oviedo. The month of May dedicated to the Virgin inspires a tour of different chapels and altarpieces in which the Immaculate, Virgin Asuntas are preserved, also affectionate Mothers with a Child in their arms, without forgetting the suffering Mothers of the Piedades and ,of course ,the Virgin from Covadonga, our Santina. In the Chapel of Santa María del Rey Casto a small Altarpiece houses one of the most precious Marian images of the Cathedral of Oviedo and which, perhaps, due to its modest size, goes unnoticed. The Altarpiece of Our Lady of Light . This Altarpiece was donated in 1552 by Gutierre González de Cienfuegos, magistrate of Medina del Campo and Salamanca and was placed in the retrochoir of the Cathedral, where it served as an Altar.
Bl Bernard of Seville St Bertinus the Younger Bl Boleslas Strzelecki Bl Conrad of Seldenbüren St Cyriacus of Pamphylia St Eugenius of Africa St Exsuperius of Pamphylia St Felix of Seville St Fiorenzo of Algeria St Gennys of Cornwall St Germanus of Normandy (Died c 460) St Gluvias St Guistano of Sardinia
Bl William Tirry St Zoe of Pamphylia (Died 127) Martyr, Laywoman — Martyrs of Alexandria – 4 saints: A group of Christians marytred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know little more than their names – Celestine, Germanus, Neopolus and Saturninus. 304 in Alexandria, Egyp
Saint of the Day – 1 May – St Sigismund of Burgundy (Died 524) King and Martyr. King of the Burgundians from 516 until his death, Reforemer, Penitent, apostle of the needy and the poor. Patronages – Czech Republic, Monarchs, Germanic peoples, bibliophiles, Monasteries.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Siom, i Switzerland, Saint Sigismund, Kig of the Burgundians, who was drowned in a well and afterwards became renowned for miracles.”
Sigismund succeeded his father Gundobad asKking of the Burgundians in 516. At the time, Burgundy was perhaps the most powerful of all the kingdoms of Gaul – not least because of its strong links with the Byzantine court – and both the Franks and the Ostrogoths were keen to limit Burgundian power.
Sigismund soon established his reputation as a statesman and lawmaker by issuing (in 517) a legal compendium, the Lex Gundobada (more properly known as the Liber Constitutionum). He was equally enthusiastic about reforming the Church and, in the same year, he convened a Council of Burgundiam Bishops with a view to establishing ecclesiastical discipline and dismantling the infrastructure of the Arian Church in Burgundy.
Gundobad had been an Arian, though he seems to have contemplated conversion to Catholicism,and Sigismund converted by 515 – thanks in large part to his association with the Catholic Bishop of Vienne, St Avitus (a poet and man of letters who remained a beacon of classical civilisation in a barbarian world), with whom he maintained a correspondence.
Shortly after his conversion, Sigismund founded the Monastery of St Maurice at Agaune, where he instituted the practice of the laus perennis, according to which (as happened in other royal monasteries in the Germanic world) groups of Monks would chant the psalms in relays in an unceasing round of praise (the sixth century equivalent of perpetual adoration).
In spite of such positive beginnings, Sigismund’s relationship with his Bishops deteriorated. Much more seriously, in 522 his second wife persuaded him that Sigistrix, his son by his deceased first wife, was plotting against him with the intention of killing him and taking control not only of Burgundy but also of Italy.
In a fit of uncontrolled rage, Sigismund had Sigistrix strangled. Once his anger had subsided, he was appalled at the enormity of his crime and retired to St Maurice to do penance, devoting himself to the poor in whose service he distributed part of his wealth.
Whatever he undertook by way of reparation, however, seemed wholly inadequate in view of the horrific nature of the murder of his own son and Sigismund came to believe, that only by suffering some equivalent calamity, could he atone for his sin.
Such a calamity duly occurred when Burgundy was attacked by Chlodomer, the King of Orleans, together with his brothers Childebert and Chlothar (the three brothers were the sons of the Frankish King Clovis whose father had been murdered by Sigismund’s father Gundobad). Sigismund escaped, disguising himself as a monk and hiding in a cell at Agaune, but was captured and taken to Orleans as a prisoner where he was executed (524), by being thrown down a well.
His bones having been recovered, a shrine developed at Agaune and he was soon recognised as a Martyr, though strictly speaking he did not die for his faith, as the motives for his assassination had to do with politics and blood-feuds, rather than with Arian persecution of Catholics.
In fact, he is best remembered not primarily as a Martyr (for all that he endured death in a spirit of faith and courage) but as one of the great penitents – as a man whose profound repentance, culiminating in a death, which at some level he seems to have sought (at least in prayer) by way of atonement for his gravest of crimes, was rightly perceived not only by his contemporaries but also by subsequent generations as a paradigm of a particular kind of Christian sanctity.
His body was kept honourably at Agaune, until it was removed to the Cathedral of Prague by the Emperor Charles IV. His tomb has been venerated for centuries and has been famous for many miracles. He became a Patron of the Czech Republic, see his Statue on Charles Bridge in Prague, below.
Maria Santissima di Giubino, Siciliy / Madonna of Giubino, Sicily (1655) – 1 May:
The Church of the Madonna of Giubino was built in 1721 to house a miraculous marble-relief icon of the Madonna. (A copy of the relief is housed in the Church of St Joseph in Brooklyn, New York, giving testimony to the large emigrant community of Calatafimesi who lived in Brooklyn in the early 20th century). The Church of Maria Santissima di Giubino is dedicated to the Patroness of the Town. It has a single nave, with an elegant barrel vault decorated with frescoes and ornamental motifs. Inside there are some important works – the painting with the Assumption, Our Lady with Angels and Saints dated 1617, the Altarpiece of All Saints, an 18th-century wooden organ and a 15th-century marble alto-rilievo representing Madonna of Giubino with the Infant Jesus. In 1655 an invasion of grasshoppers was destroying all the crops in the countryside of Calatafimi. The people, assembled in a Church, decided that, after putting all the names of the Saints who had an aAtar in Town inside a ballot box, they would choose as a Patron that one whose name had been drawn. After they invoked the Holy Ghost, it was chosen the name of Maria Santissima di Giubino by lots. The central part of the triptych with the image of the Virgin was soon taken out from the wall in the country Church of Giubino and taken in procession: with prayer and Holy Mass and thereafter, Calatafimi was free from grasshoppers.
Maria Santissima di Giubino was elected Patroness of the Town (25 April 1655) and the bas-relief of the Virgin of Giubino was then placed on the high Altar of the new Church, designed by Giovanni Biagio Amico (the same planner of the Church of Santissimo Crocifisso) in 1721. In 1931 the triptych was recomposed in the Town Sanctuary and restored.
St Aceolus of Amiens St Acius of Amiens St Aldebrandus of Fossombrone St Amator of Auxerre St Ambrose of Ferentino St Andeolus of Smyrna Bl Arigius of Gap St Arnold of Hiltensweiler St Asaph of Llanelwy St Augustine Schöffler St Benedict of Szkalka OSB (Died 1012) Monk and Hermit St Bertha of Avenay St Bertha of Kent St Brieuc of Brittany St Ceallach of Killala St Cominus of Catania Evermarus of Rousson Bl Felim O’Hara St Grata of Bergamo St Isidora of Egypt St Jeremiah the Prophet St John-Louis Bonnard Bl Klymentii Sheptytskyi St Marculf St Orentius of Auch St Orentius of Loret St Patientia of Loret
Saint of the Day – 28 April – Saint Vitalis of Ravenna (Died c 171) – Martyr, Husband and Father , Confessor. Died in c 171 in Ravenna by being buried alive. Patronage – Ravenna, Italy and Thibodeaux, Louisiana. Also known as St Vitalis of Milan,
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Ravenna, the birthday of St Vitalis, Martyr, father of the Saint Gervasius and Protasius. When he had taken up and reverently buried the body of blessed Ursicinus, he was arrested by the ex-consul Paulinus and after being racked and thrown nto a deep pit, was overwhelmed with earth and stones and by this kind of martyrdom, went to Christ.”
Saint Vitalis was a first century Christian citizen of Milan, a consular knight (miles consularis) in the time of Nero who got into trouble when he publicly exhorted a Christian to stand firm under torture. He was the father of the twin brothers and future Martyrs, Saints Gervasius and Protasius. He is the principal Patron of Ravenna, where he was martyred.
Divine providence had conducted him to that city, where he saw come before the tribunal there, a Christian Physician named Ursicinus, who had been tortured and who then was condemned to lose his head for his faith. Suddenly the captive grew terrified at the thought of death and seemed ready to yield. Vitalis was extremely moved by this spectacle. He knew his double obligation to prefer the glory of God and the eternal salvation of his neighbour to his own corporal life; he, therefore, boldly and successfully encouraged Ursicinus to triumph over death, saying, “Ursicinus, you who cured others would want to drive into your soul the dagger of eternal death? Do not lose the crown the Lord has prepared for you!” Ursicinus was touched and deeply strengthened – he knelt down in prayer and then asked the executioner to strike him. After his martyrdom, Saint Vitalis carried away his body and respectfully interred it.
Saint Vitalis now resigned his post as judiciary and consular assistant to Paulinus, who had been absent on the occasion of the sentence of Ursicinus.Paulinus had his former assistant apprehended,and after having him tortured, commanded that if he refused to sacrifice to the gods, he be buried alive, which sentence was carried out.
Afterwards, his wife, Valeria, as she was on her way from Ravenna to Milan, was beaten by peasants because she refused to join them in an idolatrous festival and riot. She died two days later in Milan and is also honoured as a Martyr . Their twin sons, Saint. Gervasius and Protasius, sold their heritage and for ten years before their own martyrdom, lived a penitential life of prayer.
We are not all called to the sacrifice of martyrdom; but we are all bound to make our lives a continuing sacrifice of ourselves to God,and to perform every action ,in this spirit of sacrifice. Thus we shall both live and die to God, perfectly resigned to His holy will in all He ordains or permits.
The 6th century Basilica of San Vitalis is dedicated to St Vitalis. The mosaic of him, first image above, is one of the many famous mosaics in this most important surviving example of early Christian Byzantine art and Architecture. It is one of eight structures in Ravenna inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its foundational inscription describes the Church as a Basilica, though its centrally-planned design is not typical of the Basilica form. The Vatican has designated the building a “basilica,”,an honorific title bestowed on exceptional Church buildings of historic and ecclesial importance.
Nuestra Señora del / Our Lady of Quito, Ecuador (1534) – 28 April:
This miraculous image of Our Lady of Quito currently in the Capital City of Ecuador ,is said to date from the first Spanish settlement there in the year 1534. At the very least, it has certainly been venerated there for a long time and is popularly called ,by the people of Quito, Our Lady of the Earthquake. The painting represents the Sorrowful Mother and in the early years of the twentieth century, devotion to Mary under the title of Our Lady of Quito was introduced into England ,by the Servite Friars in London. Saint Pius X accorded them an indulgence for those who should pray before her picture, and the devotion was greatly promoted in England by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, Mother Cornelia Connelly’s congregation. The original image at Quito was solemnly crowned in 1918. On 20 April 1906, thirty-six boys attending the boarding school of the Jesuit Fathers at Quito, Ecuador, together with Father Andrew Roesch, witnessed a miracle of this famous picture of Our Lady. While in the refectory they all saw the Blessed Mother slowly open and shut her eyes. The same miracle occurred no less than seven times after that, in favour of the boys at the school but this time, in the Chapel to which the picture had been taken.
Ecclesiastical authorities soon investigated these incidents and finally concluded by ordering the picture to be transferred, in procession from the college to the Church of the Jesuit Fathers. Once at the Church, the miracle was repeated several times before large crowds and many, many conversions took place because of these miracles. At one time, the wonder continued for three consecutive days. At Riobamba, before a faithful reproduction of Our Lady of Quito, the same wonder was seen by more than 20 persons, including the president of the City. In Quito this picture is known as the Dolorosa del Colegio.
A Conceptionist Sister, named Mother Mariana de Jesús Torres received Marian apparitions under this title from 2 February 1594 to 2 February 1634. In 1611, the local Bishop gave his approval to the apparitions.
Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana and predicted many things about our own times. This following, is part of what she told her. We can see for ourselves how it relates directly to our own time. “…. I make it known to you, that from the end of the 19th century and shortly after the middle of the 20th century…. the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs (morals)…. “They will focus principally on the children, in order to sustain this general corruption. Woe to the children of these times! It will be difficult to receive the Sacrament of Baptism and also, that of Confirmation… “As for the Sacrament of Matrimony… it will be attacked and deeply profaned… The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of the Faith will gradually be extinguished… Added to this, will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations. “The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed and despised… The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labour with cruel and subtle astuteness, to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalise the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church ,fall upon all priests… “Further, in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury, which will ensnare the rest ,into sin and conquer innumerable frivolous souls, who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women. In this supreme moment of need of the Church, the one who should speak will fall silent.” In a subsequent apparition, Our Lady told Mother Mariana that these apparitions were not to become generally known until the twentieth century.
On 8 December 1634, the apparition predicted that Papal Infallibility “will be declared a Dogma of the Faith by the same Pope chosen to proclaim the Dogma of the Mystery of My Immaculate Conception.” In 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception and in 1870, he declared the Dogma of Papal Infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.
Mother Mariana died on 16 January 1635, shortly after the last apparition. When her tomb was reopened in 1906, her body was found to be perfectly incorrupt, after nearly 300 years in an ordinary, unprotected, wooden coffin. The Archdiocese of Quito opened her cause for Canonisation in 1986 and finished the Diocesan stage of the process ,in 1997.
Saint of the Day – 26 April – Saint Peter of Braga (Died c 60) Martyr, the first Bishop of Braga, Portugal between the years 45 and 60. Born as Pedro de Rates on an unknown date and he died in c 60 in norther Portugal. Patronage – Braga. Also known as Peter of Rates and Pedro di Braga.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Braga, Portugal, St Peter, Martyr, the first Bishop of that City.”
Tradition says he was ordered to preach the Christian faith by Saint James the Greater and that Peter of Rates was martyred while attempting to convert the locals to the Christian faith in northern Portugal. The ancient Breviary of Braga (Breviarium Bracarense) and the Breviary of Evora hold that Peter was a disciple of Saint James and preached at Braga.
The document holds that Saint James, one of the Apostles of Christ, visited the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula in the year 44. One of the places he visited was Serra de Rates, in the current municipality of Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal.
During his visit, the Apostle Ordained and Consecrated the local Peter of Braga as the first Bishop of Braga.
It is believed that Saint Peter was beheaded while converting the local pagans to the Christian faith.
Centuries later, around the 9th century, the discovery of Peter’s body was attributed to Saint Felix the Hermit, a fisherman of Villa Mendo, an ancient Roman villa that existed until the early years of the Kingdom of Portugal and rediscovered in the 20th century under the sand dunes of Rio Alto in Estela, also in Póvoa de Varzim.
Felix had left home and settled in the biggest hill of the area, which is today known as São Félix Hill. Regularly, Saint Félix observed a light in the darkness of the night from the hill. One day, curious about the light’s origins, Felix came upon the body of Saint Peter. On that spot, the Romanesque Monastery of Rates was built and the relics kept there until 1552; in that year the body was transferred to Braga Cathedral, where it is still kept.
In the civil parishes of Balasar and Rates in Póvoa de Varzim, there are two fountains that the population believes are miraculous because they were used by this saint.
In the 18th century, there are descriptions that Saint Peter of Braga was beheaded while drinking the waters of the fountain in Balasar. The faithful believes that two indentations on the fountain are impressions from the saint’s knees. At the fountain of Rates, a stone is believed to cure in cases of sterility. Due to that belief, on 26 April every year, the feast day of Saint Peter, the pregnant women and female animals do not go to work.
Our Lady of Genazzano (1467) / Our Lady of Good Counsel (Memorial) – 26 April:
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (1405–1467), also known as Iskander, or by his more colourful title, the Dragon of Albania. He was a great warrior and leader of the people of Albania who fought against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into his Kingdom. An invincible opponent of Islam, the reason for his successes, was no secret – he “loved the sanctuary of Mary with a devoted, enthusiastic love and Mary in return, not only made him a model of Christian perfection but also gave him, an invincible power, which preserved not only Albania but also Christendom during his reign.” There was at this time, a miraculous painting located in the town of Scutari, which was the Capital City of Albania. Our Lady of Scutari, now known as Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of Genazzano, is an image of Our Lady holding her Divine Son which had been painted on a thin sheet of plaster by an unknown hand. This portrait, reputed to date from the time of the Apostles of Christ, was greatly venerated and beloved by the faithful Albanian people. It was Our Lady of Scutari who had consoled and preserved Iskander through all his trials. After his victories, Iskander went to kneel before the image of Our Lady of Scutari, thanking and publicly praising her for his success. “He was a hero formed in the same school as all those who derive their strength from their devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Like a new Saint Fernando III, King of Castile, Scanderbeg was, under the guidance of Mary, as gentle in peace as he was terrible in war. The good Christian Prince was often seen at her feet to beg the protection of his Lady in his greatest afflictions.” Pope Nicholas V called Iskander “the champion and shield of Christendom,” which was true, although it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who protected her champion and granted him his victories. The Prince and unvanquished warrior, whose strength of soul gave his compatriots fortitude to throw off their lethargy, courage to rise up against the oppressive infidels, daring to despise death and thus expel them from their country, moved his subjects not only by example but also by his unbreakable faith, his ardent charity and his unshakable hope. Scanderbeg was God’s sword against the enemies of the holy Catholic Faith, the impregnable defensive wall protecting His realm. At the end of his life, physically exhausted from his labours, Iskander sensed that his death was near. He went one last time to visit Our Lady of Scutari at her Shrine and then retired to the City of Lesh to die. There he won a final battle against the Turks before he laid down and gave up his soul to God. He had ended his life heroically as a powerful defender of the Catholic faith and of Christendom. Shortly after Iskander’s death, the Ottoman army invaded Albania again. Without their invincible champion, it was only a matter of time before the Capital was taken. The Blessed Virgin revealed to two pious men that her image would not be desecrated and told them to prepare themselves for a long journey to follow the fresco when it left Albania. The picture then moved away from the wall, seemingly of its own accord and floated into the air. As the pair followed the image of Jesus and Mary, it was hidden in a cloud and went out over the waters of the Adriatic sea. Full of confidence in Our Lady, the men stepped upon the water, which miraculously supported them and so they continued to follow the image until they made land along the coast of Italy. At that point they lost sight of the cloud. It was not long before they learned where the image had gone. The cloud was seen again by the people of Genazzano, when they looked up into the sky to find the source of the heavenly music, that suddenly reached their ears. They watched dumbfounded as the little cloud descended and came to rest where it can still be seen today, floating before a wall of the Church of the Mother of Good Counsel in Genazzano. The image indeed floats before the wall, for it is not attached or supported in any way.
A hundred years later Pope Paul III had the picture studied and authenticated; Innocent IX had it crowned; many other Popes have granted favoUrs to the Shrine. As late as 1936 a commission formed to study the picture, reported, if struck a slight blow, it reacts as if it were hollow; if set in motion, it oscillates visibly. Pope Leo XIII raised the Sanctuary to the dignity of a Basilica and had the invocation, “Mother of Good Counsel” added to the Litany of Loretto. Blessed Pope Pius IX had a great devotion to Our Lady under this title – he offered his first Mass before its image; in 1864 he made a pilgrimage to Genazzano to have counsel of her who is “Seat of Wisdom.” He kept her image in his study and fostered a cult to Mary under this title; thus he exemplified the filial confidence of all true sons of Mary.*
The Augustinian Order contributed to the spread of this devotion internationally. In 1753, Pope Benedict XIV established the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Leo XIII, who was himself a member of the pious union, was deeply attached to this devotion.
Among her noted clients have been St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Liguori, St John Bosco and Blessed Stephen Bellesini.
There have been numerous miracles at the shrine where Mary took refuge after the death of her champion in Albania. Through this image of Our Lady of Genazzano and throughout many long ages, she has been caring for her children on earth. As the Mother of God, she has the ability to truly help us. Indeed, it is her ardent desire to support us and counsel us in our need. Pope Leo XIII instructed us to “follow her counsels!” and, like so many saints and Catholic heroes, we would profit greatly if we did so!
Bl Alda of Siena St Antoninus of Rome St Basileus of Amasea St Clarence of Venice St Claudius of Rome
St Agathopodes of Antioch Bl Andrés Solá Molist St Anianus of Alexandria (Died c 86) 2nd Bishop of Alexandria, after St Mark and succeeding him. Consecrated by St Mark and disciple of St Mark. Bl Antonio Pérez Lários St Callista of Syracuse St Clarentius of Vienne St Ermin of Lobbes St Evodius of Syracuse
St Phaebadius of Agen St Philo of Antioch St Robert of Syracuse Bl Robert Anderton Stefano of Antioch St Valenzio of Mesia Bl William Marsden — Martyrs of Yeoju – 3 saints: Three Christian laymen martyred together in the apostolic vicariate of Korea. 25 April 1801 in Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea They were Beatified15 August 2014 by Pope Francis • Ioannes Won Gyeong-do • Marcellinus Choe Chang-ju • Martinus Yi Jung-bae
Nostra Signora di Bonaria / Our Lady of Bonaria, Island of Sardinia (1370) – 24 April:
The shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria (Good Air) dates back to the latter years of the fourteenth century, at Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia. According to tradition, on 25 March 1370, a ship ran into a terrific storm at a spot some miles off the coast of Sardinia while enroute from Spain to Italy. Soon the ship seemed in imminent danger of sinking and the sailors in a last desperate effort to save her, began to get rid of the cargo. When they heaved a certain large packing case into the sea, the waves immediately died down and the sea became calm. The sailors knew the ship had been miraculously saved and attempted to regain the last crate, followed it for some time. Unable to retrieve it, the sailors returned to their original course. The case floated away and pushed by the tides, eventually landed on the shore of Sardinia at the foot of a hill called Bonaria. A large crowd ran down to the beach when the crate washed ashore, eager to see what it contained. Some tried to open it, though no-one was able to pry off the lid. Others tried to carry it from the waves, but could not do so, for the crate was too heavy. One of the children suddenly cried out: “Call for the Mercedarian Friars!” The Mercy Fathers came and raised the heavy crate without any difficulty, and took it to their Church, where it was opened in the presence of a large group of people. To the surprise of all, they found it contained a beautiful Statue of the Virgin and Child. In her right hand the Virgin held a candle which was still lit! Thus, a prophecy was fulfilled – the Church, now a Basilica, had been built around 1330 by Father Carlo Catalan, while he was the Ambassador to the Argonese Court. At the dedication, he told the Monks, “A Great Lady will come to live in this place. After her coming, the malaria infecting this area will disappear and her image will be called the Virgin of Bonaria.”
So when the Statue floated in from the sea and the Fathers placed it in their Church, remembering what Father Carlo had said, they named it “Our Lady of Good Air,” or “Our Lady of Bonaria.” Due to the miracle, devotion to the Virgin spread quickly, especially among sailors who took the Blessed Virgin for their protector and carried her devotion far and wide. The Statue is in colored wood, probably of Spanish workmanship. In 1908, Pope Pius X, declared Our Lady of Bonaria the Patron of Sardinia. Most recently, on 7 September 2008, Our Lady of Bonaria was visited by Pope Benedict XVI in honour of the first centenary of her announcement as the Patron Saint of Sardinia. He gave Our Lady of Bonaria a Golden Rose.
++++++++++ Nuestra Señora de Luján / Our Lady of Luján in Buenos Aires – 24 April:
Patroness of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. 16th-century Icon of the Virgin Mary. Tradition holds that a settler ordered the terracotta image of the Immaculate Conception in 1630 because he intended to create a Shrine in her honour to help reinvigorate the Catholic faith in Santiago del Estero, his region. After embarking from the Port of Buenos Aires, the caravan carrying the image stopped at the residence of Don Rosendo Oramas, located in the present town of Zelaya. When the caravan wanted to resume the journey, the oxen refused to move. Once the crate containing the image was removed, the animals started to move again. Given the evidence of a miracle, the people believed the Virgin wished to remain there.
The image was venerated in a primitive Chapel for 40 years. Then the image was acquired by Ana de Matos and carried to Luján, where it currently resides inside the Basilica of Luján.
The Golden Rose is a gift from the Pope to Nations, Cities, Casilicas, Sanctuaries, or Images. It is blessed by him on the fourth Sunday of Lent, anointed with the Holy Chrism, and dusted with incense. This Rose consists of a golden rose stem with flowers, buds and leaves, placed in a silver vase lined, on the inside, with a bronze case bearing the Papal shield. Pope Leo IX is considered as the originator of this tradition in the year 1049.
In the Americas, the Rose has been given to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, to Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Canada, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the United States, to the Cathedral Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Valle in Argentina and to the Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre in Cuba. On 11 June 1982, John Paul II personally bestowed a Golden Rose on Our Lady of Luján.
Martyrs of Africa: A group of Christians murdered for their faith in northern Africa. Little information has survived but their names. The ones we know are – Catulinus, Chorus, Faustinus, Felicis, Felix, Nabors, Plenus, Salunus, Saturninus, Silvius, Solutus, Theodora, Theodorus, Theon, Ursus, Valerius, Venustus, Victorinus, Victurus, Vitalis.
Notre-Dames de Betharam / Our Lady of Betharam, France (1503) – 22 April:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of Betharam, in the Diocese of Lescar, in the Province of Bearn. This image was found, in the year 1503, by some shepherds, who, seeing an extraordinary light on the spot where the High Altar of the Chapel now stands, came up to it and found there, an image of Our Lady, for which they had a Chapel built immediately.”
More commonly known as the Sanctuary of Betharram, it is located only 15 kilometers from the more famous Marian Shrine at Lourdes. It used to be a very popular pilgrimage destination, as according to Saint Vincent de Paul, Betharram was once the second most popular place of pilgrimage in France. The river Gave, beside which the Shrine is located, is the same river whose waters flow past Lourdes.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Betharam is famous for may miracles but three have reached international fame. According to tradition, one day in 1503 there were some shepherds leading their flocks along the bank of the river Gave when they suddenly observed an extremely bright light coming from the rocks. When they drew nearer, they found a beautiful Statue of the Blessed Virgin. Learning of the incident, the people in the nearby village of Lestelle, decided to construct a Chapel to house the Statue. Due to space limitations, the Chapel was initially planned for the opposite bank from where the Statue had been found. Once the Statue was placed there, however, they found that it would always return on its own, to the other side of the river ,where it had originally been found. The faithful then understood that the Blessed Virgin desired that the Chapel should be built where the Statue had been found and so it happened. The next miracles occurred in the year 1616 when some peasants from the village of Montaut were returning home from the fields at the end of the day. A storm suddenly developed, with fierce winds that threatened Betharram. In fact, the labourers saw that there was a cyclone in the storm that beat against the great wooden Cross that had been erected on the top of the hill. The Cross fell but then was encircled by a radiant aura of dazzling light before raising itself to its former position. The third miracle is the one after which the Shrine is named. Apparently a young girl fell head first into the Gave when trying to pluck a flower along the bank. The water runs fast and deep in this area and the girl was on the verge of drowning, when she cried aloud to Our Lady of Betharam of the nearby Shrine. The Blessed Virgin appeared standing on the bank holding the Divine Infant, who held a branch which He extended to rescue the girl. She offered a golden branch to the Shrine as an ex-voto offering. A beautiful branch is ‘Betharram’ in the local dialect and has became the name of the Shrine.
There were many other miracles, as at one point between the years 1620 and 1642, there were 82 documented miracles involving the blind who received their sight, the paralysed who regained the use of the limbs and those instantly cured of cancer, among other miracles.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous frequently visited the Shrine of Betharram. In fact, the rosary beads that Bernadette used when praying with the Blessed Virgin during the first apparition at Lourdes had come from the Betharram Shrine and the priest to whom she was sent after the apparitions, was Saint Michel Garicoïts (1797-1863) the Priest of Betharram. He it was who alone believed Bernadette’s accounts of the apparitions at Lourdes. He was Canonised in 1947. About St Michel Garicoits here: https://anastpaul.com/2019/05/14/saint-of-the-day-14-may-saint-michel-garicoits-1797-1863/
The Cross that the winds could not destroy was finally destroyed by the folly of man during the French Revolution. The property was unlawfully confiscated and the Chaplains expelled. Saint Pope Pius X was known to be devoted to Our Lady of Betharam. He offered her two magnificent golden crowns made up of branches woven together. The prayer accompanying the inscription stated: “May the Son and His Mother accept our gifts and by appeasing our hopes and desires, may they keep for us, one day, the crown of glory which none can tarnish.”
Martyrs of Persia: Bishops, priests, deacons and laity who were martyred in Persia and celebrated together. Several of them have their stories related in the Acta of Saints Abdon and Sennen. • Abdiesus the Deacon • Abrosimus • Aceptismas of Hnaita • Aithilahas of Persia • Azadanes the Deacon • Azades the Eunuch • Bicor • Chrysotelus of Persia • Helimenas of Persia • James of Persia • Joseph of Persia • Lucas of Persia • Mareas • Milles of Persia • Mucius of Persia • Parmenius of Persia • Tarbula of Persia
Institution of the Confraternity of the Immaculate conception, Toledo, Spain – The Conceptionists (1506) – 21 April:
The Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Conceptionists, was founded in 1484 at Toledo, Spain, by Saint Beatrice da Silva. OIC (c 1424-1492) A contemplative religious order of Nuns, for some years they followed the Poor Clare’s Rule but in 1511, were recognised as a separate religious order, taking a new Rule and the name of the Order of Immaculate Conception. Saint Beatrice da Silva was a Portuguese noblewoman and sister of the Franciscan Friar, Blessed Amadeus of Portugal. Her great beauty aroused the jealousy of the Queen, her cousin, for which she was cast into prison. It was while she was in prison that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her, telling her that she wanted her to found a new Order of Nuns in her honour. In 1484, Beatrice, with twelve companions, established themselves in a Monastery in Toledo (now the Monastery of the Order of the Immaculate Conception) set apart for them by Queen Isabel. A few years earlier the Blessed Virgin had shown, in a vision, Saint Beatrice da Silva that she should wear a habit consisting of a white tunic and scapular with a light blue mantle. This was the origin of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Conceptionist Poor Clare’s. In 1489, by permission of Pope Innocent VIII, the Nuns adopted the Cistercian Rule, bound themselves to the daily recitation of the Divine Office of the Immaculate Conception and were placed under obedience to the Ordinary of the Diocese. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI united this community with the Benedictine community of San Pedro de las Duenas, under the Rule of St Clare, but in 1511 Pope Julius II gave it a Rule of its own and put them under the protection of General Minister of Friars Minor and for this reason. the Nuns are called Franciscan Conceptionists. Special constitutions were drawn up for the Order in 1516 by Cardinal Francis Quiñones. It was the foundress, Beatrice da Silva, who chose the habit: white, with a white scapular and blue mantle. A second Monastery was founded in 1507 at Torrigo, from which, in turn, were established seven others. The congregation soon spread through Portugal, Spain, Italy, France; Spain’s colony of New Spain (Mexico), starting in 1540 and as well as in Portugal’s colony of Brazil.
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica / Our Lady of Lyons, France (1643) – 19 April:
In about the year 150 Saint Pothinus, the Apostle of Gaul and first Bishop of Lyon, is said to have enshrined a picture of Our Lady in an underground chapel which is now beneath the Church of Saint Nazaire, or Nizier, in Lyons where many Christians suffered death in the Old Forum on the Hill of Blood. According to tradition, there was once a temple to Attis on the site, whose followers precipitated a persecution against the Christians in about the year 177. Later, in the 5th century, a Basilica was built on the site and the remains of many Christian martyrs from that persecution were buried there, as well as the Bishops of Lyon. The Church takes its name from Nicetius of Lyon, who was the 28th Bishop there in the 6th century, due to the numerous miracles that occurred there after his burial. In 1168 the Canons of the Cathedral started building a larger Church over the Shrine. In thanksgiving for the cure of his son by this Saint, King Louis VII of France made a pilgrimage to Lyons, where he had an ex-veto tablet set up before the Shrine of Our Lady. In 1466 King Louis XI founded a daily Mass in perpetuity, to be followed always by the Salve Regina, solemnly sung. In the year 1638, King Louis XIII consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Already, vast pilgrimages came to seek Mary’s aid, especially in time of famine and plague.
In 1643, the bubonic plague swept across Europe. The people of Lyon dedicated their city to Our Lady and consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fourviere, pledging to make a solemn procession on 8 September of each year in thanksgiving for the end of the epidemic. Instantly, all traces of the plague vanished and, until 1792, twenty-five Masses were said daily in thanksgiving. The annual procession continues even to this day, with the participation of the Mayor of Lyons or one of his representatives. On that day, the people make a present to the Virgin of a seven-pound candle and a gold coin.
During the years of the French Revolution the Sanctuary was profaned and the Church used as a warehouse. Sometimes pilgrims would still come to visit the Shrine at night under peril of their lives. In 1805, Pope Pius VII himself presided at the opening or re-opening of the Shrine. Shortly before the battle of Waterloo, the Shrine was threatened with destruction when Napoleon wanted the hillside fortified. The Marshall was given the order to demolish the Shrine but he refused to do so. Because the City was spared many vicissitudes during the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the people of Lyons decided to show their gratitude by adding a tall Tower to the Church surmounted by a great bronze figure of Our Lady. The inauguration of the renovated Church and Tower was scheduled for 8 September 1852 but the date was moved to 8 December because of heavy flooding. Even then, the festivities and fireworks planned for the celebration had to be cancelled due to heavy rains. The citizens of Lyons, undismayed, put lanterns on their windowsills as a sign of their devotion. This episode is the origin of the street illuminations now observed on 8 December and has become part of the annual tradition. On this day, the faithful put candles or lanterns in their windows and make the pilgrimage up the hill to the Basilica by candlelight or flashlight, called the Fête des Lumieres, or the “festival of lights.” The Virgin is also credited with saving the City from a Cholera epidemic in 1832 and from Prussian invasion in 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces, having taken Paris, were progressing south toward Lyon. Their pause and inexplicable retreat were attributed by the Church to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, a vast Basilica to Our Lady was built next to the old Shrine, which remained almost untouched. The crypt of Saint Pothinus, under the choir of the Church of St. Nazaire, was completely destroyed in 1884.
St Alphege of Winchester (c 953–1012) ArchBishop and Martyr
St Martha of Persia Bl Ramon Llach-Candell St Rufus of Melitene St Vincent of Collioure — Martyrs of Carthage – 17 saints: A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than the names – Aristo, Basso, Credula, Donato, Ereda, Eremio, Fermo, Fortunata, Fortunio, Frutto, Julia, Mappalicus, Martial, Paul, Venusto, Victorinus and Victor. Died in the year 250 in prison in Carthage, North Africa (modern Tunis, Tunisia).
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica / Our Lady of Lyons, France (1643) – 19 April:
In about the year 150 AD, Saint Pothinus, the Apostle of Gaul and first bishop of Lyon, is said to have enshrined a picture of Our Lady in an underground chapel which is now beneath the church of Saint Nazaire, or Nizier, in Lyons where many Christians suffered death in the Old Forum on the Hill of Blood. According to tradition, there was once a temple to Attis on the site, whose followers precipitated a persecution against the Christians in about the year 177 AD. Later, in the 5th century, a basilica was built on the site, and the remains of many Christian martyrs from that persecution were buried there, as well as the bishops of Lyon. The church takes its name from Nicetius of Lyon, who was the 28th bishop there in the 6th century, due to the numerous miracles that occurred there after his burial. In 1168 the Canons of the Cathedral started building a larger church over the shrine. In thanksgiving for the cure of his son by this Saint, King Louis VII of France made a pilgrimage to Lyons, where he had an ex-veto tablet set up before the shrine of Our Lady. In 1466 King Louis XI founded a daily Mass in perpetuity, to be followed always by the Salve Regina, solemnly sung. In the year 1638, King Louis XIII consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Already, vast pilgrimages came to seek Mary’s aid, especially in time of famine and plague. In 1643, the bubonic plague swept across Europe. The people of Lyon dedicated their city to Our Lady and consecrated themselves to Our Lady of Fourviere, pledging to make a solemn procession on September 8th of each year in thanksgiving for the end of the epidemic. Instantly, all traces of the plague vanished and, until 1792, twenty-five Masses were said daily in thanksgiving. The annual procession continues even to this day, with the participation of the mayor of Lyons or one of his representatives. On that day, the people make a present to the Virgin of a seven-pound candle and a gold coin. During the years of the French Revolution the sanctuary was profaned and the church used as a warehouse. Sometimes pilgrims would still come to visit the shrine at night under peril of their lives. In 1805, Pope Pius VII himself presided at the opening or re-opening of the shrine. Shortly before the battle of Waterloo, the shrine was threatened with destruction when Napoleon wanted the hillside fortified. The Marshall was given the order to demolish the shrine, but he refused to do so. Because the city was spared many vicissitudes during the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the people of Lyons decided to show their gratitude by adding a tall tower to the church surmounted by a great bronze figure of Our Lady. The inauguration of the renovated church and tower was scheduled for September 8, 1852, but the date was moved to December 8th because of heavy flooding. Even then, the festivities and fireworks planned for the celebration had to be cancelled due to heavy rains. The citizens of Lyons, undismayed, put lanterns on their windowsills as a sign of their devotion. This episode is the origin of the street illuminations now observed on December 8th, and has become part of the annual tradition. On this day, the faithful put candles or lanterns in their windows and make the pilgrimage up the hill to the basilica by candlelight or flashlight, called the Fête des Lumieres, or the “festival of lights.” The Virgin is also credited with saving the city from a Cholera epidemic in 1832 and from Prussian invasion in 1870. During the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian forces, having taken Paris, were progressing south toward Lyon. Their pause and inexplicable retreat were attributed by the Church to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, a vast basilica to Our Lady was built next to the old shrine, which remained almost untouched. The crypt of Saint Pothinus, under the choir of the church of St. Nazaire, was completely destroyed in 1884.
St Alphege of Winchester (c 953–1012) ArchBishop and Martyr
St Martha of Persia Bl Ramon Llach-Candell St Rufus of Melitene St Vincent of Collioure — Martyrs of Carthage – 17 saints: A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than the names – Aristo, Basso, Credula, Donato, Ereda, Eremio, Fermo, Fortunata, Fortunio, Frutto, Julia, Mappalicus, Martial, Paul, Venusto, Victorinus and Victor. Died in the year 250 in prison in Carthage, North Africa (modern Tunis, Tunisia).
Saint of the Day – 17 April – Saint Pope Anicetus I (Died 168) the 12th Pope and Martyr Papacy 157-168. Anicetus actively opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism. (Some sources record St Anicetus as the 11th and others as the 12th Pope?). He welcomed St Polycarp of Smyrna to Rome to discuss the Easter controversy.
The Roman Martyrology states for today: “At Rome, St Anicetus, Pope and Martyr, who obtained the palm of martyrdom in the persecution of Marcus.”
St Anicetus, the twelfth Pope after St Peter, first saw the light of day in Syria, toward the end of the first century. He was carefully educated by his parents, and was gifted by God with great natural abilities, especially with a clear, penetrating mind. He made, by his untiring perseverance, such progress in all sciences that he was counted among the best scholars of his time. In addition to this, the life he led was so blameless, that he was a model of Christian perfection, to everyone.
The most shining of all his virtues, was his truly apostolic zeal in protecting and disseminating the true faith. Therefore, when Pius I. had ended his life by a glorious martyrdom, Anicetus was unanimously elected his successor amid great rejoicing. And in truth, the Church needed, at that period, a Pope as learned, zealous and holy as himself, as she was assailed and persecuted in all possible ways by divers heretics.
Valentinus and Marcion, two Heresiarchs, had already commenced to sow the poison of their corruption in Rome and even a wicked woman named Marcellina, who had adopted the teachings of Carpocrates, had already many followers. The saddest fact of all, however, was that the Catholics, themselves, became very indolent in the practice of their faith, and their conduct was not such as their religion required. This inspired the heretics with hope of being able to instill their spurious doctrines into their minds, as we know by experience that the surest road to apostasy from the true faith, is indifference and debased morals. (My note – this all sounds very familiar!)
St Anicetus, although he perceived all this with great pain, did not become disheartened. Calling on God for aid, he began earnestly to work. By daily sermons, by teaching and exhortation, he endeavoured to move the Catholics to more fervency in their religion, as well as to a reformation of their lives. The example of his own holy life gave the greatest force to his words. He lived like a Saint, and all his thoughts were directed to lead his flock to salvation. He was an enemy to even the most innocent amusement and found his only pleasure in prayer and in working for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. He employed the greater part of the night in devotional exercises and during the day, he was only found in Church, in the dwellings of the sick, or poor, or at home, occupied in study or prayer. He chastised his body by fasting and other penances. To his enemies he was kind and charitable; to the poor, liberal; while in danger and persecution he was fearless and strong.
This beautiful example of their Shepherd, was soon followed by the Catholics residing in Rome with such zeal, that, according to the testimony of Hegesippus, the historian, the whole City became a habitation of sanctity. This change in the morals of the people was the most efficacious means of preserving them in the true faith, as the best safeguard of faith is a pious and blameless life. As far as the heretics were concerned, who endeavoured to implant in the hearts of the Romans, the seeds of their false doctrines, the Holy Father had the greatest compassion on them on account of their lost souls. He left nothing untried to bring them to the knowledge of their error but he thought it prudent ,to banish those who remained inflexible from the City. st Polycarp, a disciple of St John, came to Rome at the time of Anicetus, to discuss several points with him, which were to be settled for the welfare of the faithful. All was happily concluded and Polycarp paid the greatest honours to the holy Pope, everywhere praising his saintly conduct.
For eight years had Anicetus governed the Church with wonderful wisdom and power, when during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius he was seized, and being inflexible in the confession of his faith, he was decapitated.
During his time as Pope, St Anicetus had to combat, in particular, the dangerous errors of gnosticism, Christ’s ancient enemy, already rampant in the days when Saint John the Apostle wrote his letters to the Churches of Asia. Saint Anicetus was visited in Rome by Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who desired to consult with him and, whom he in turn asked ,to celebrate the feast of Easter in the Church of Rome, as Saint Ireneus, Polycarp’s disciple, relates. They had not been able to find a solution to the question of a difference in the date of Easter in the Orient and the Occident, which Pope Saint Victor would later settle but remained close friends. Saint Anicetus’ vigilance protected his flock from the wiles of the false preachers Valentine and Marcion, who were attempting to corrupt the faith in the capital of the empire. – By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876.
The Liber Pontificalis states that St Anicetus was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.
Nossa Senhora da Arrábida / Our Lady of Arrábida, Portugal (16th Century) – 17 April:
The Shrine of Our Lady of Arrábida is popular with sailors and with all those who travel by water. It owes its beginnings to a miraculous occurrence during the 16th century. At some time during this century, an English merchant named Hildebrand, was standing off the entrance to the Tague River when a great storm caught his ship and immediately plunged him into the dangerous waters at the mouth of the river. The ship was in great danger and the merchant, being a pious Catholic, knelt before a picture of Our Lady which he always kept on board his ship. Soon after, he began praying a bright light was seen shining through the darkness and the ship came to rest in calm waters. When daylight came, it could be seen, that the vessel was safely anchored at the foot of a very steep wooded mountain. Hildebrand went back below decks to kneel before the illustration of Our Lady in thanksgiving, when he found that the picture was no longer there. Since it had been from that direction of the mountain that he had seen the light, the night before, Hildebrand went on land and climbed the steep trail to the top. There, on the very top of the mountain, amid the dense woods, was his picture of Our Lady, before which he had prayed in his hour of need. Greatly moved, Hildebrand finished his business as soon as possible, in England and returned to Portugal. He gave away his goods to the poor and settled down in a small hermitage at the top of the mountain, where the picture had indicated that Our Lady wished a Shrine to be. The Shrine is there today and still popular with the local peoples and all sailors, fisherman and those who travel by water. Numerous votive tablets surround the picture, testifying to miracles worked by Our Lady of Arrábida for those who come to her in need. Sailors going on a long voyage usually go for a farewell visit on departure and return to give thanks when they come home.
The Ancient Statue of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida is in the Chapel of the Convent.
It is a replica that is taken in procession and like the original, has a natural head of hair and a silver crown, a blue mantle over an embroidered dress bedecked with silver sequins. In one hand the Blessed Virgin carries the Baby Jesus who wears a similar crown to that of His Mother. In the other hand, Our Lady holds a silver scepter. Only half a meter tall, she has a profound physical and spiritual presence. The procession winds through several City streets, accompanied by a band, banners, and flags. A great crowd processes each year to pay homage to Senhora da Arrábida, or in thanksgiving for answered prayers and many climb the mountain barefoot.
There are fishermen who are going to fulfil vows made in moments when they feared that their vessels were sinking and women, accompanied by their children, who go in thanksgiving for their husbands and fathers, who came back safely through heavy storms. Still others speak of cures from serious illnesses or severe accidents and several miracles which are attributed to Our Lady of Arabida. Ave Maria!
Santa Maria de Camarino / Our Lady of Guam, Mariana Islands (1825), Patron of Guam – 14 April:
Our Lady of Guam, the miraculous Statue to which the natives have such deep devotion, is three feet high, all ivory from the delicate classical face of Our Lady to the hem of her exquisite gown. She has a head of long brown hair, adorned with a beautiful crown and golden rings hang from her tiny ears. According to the Jesuit history of the island, Our Lady’s coming was miraculous. A Spanish soldier, in the year 1825, was fishing a distance from the shore between the villages of Mirizo and Umatac, when he saw a strange object floating upon the waves. He moved closer and saw that it was a Statue, supported by giant golden crabs, holding lighted candles in their claws. The soldiers claiming the Statue as their own, installed it as Patroness in their barracks. They made a Shrine for her, a wall recess with doors like a cupboard or camarino, from which Our Lady of the Cupboard takes her name. She is called Santa Maria de Camarino.
She made her home for many years in the barracks but the atmosphere did not always please her. She would be found missing, only to return with the edge of her mantle full of burs. When the soldiers were drunk with coconut brew, she would slam the doors of her cupboard shut against them. No-one remembers how she came to leave the barracks for the Cathedral of Agana but on 14 April, a great earthquake occurred, terrorising the natives and destroying their homes. It is believed that on that day, she deserted the uncouth soldiers and showed herself to be the Patroness of the people and of Guam in particular. Many miracles of protection are attributed to Our Lady of Guam on this day.
On the eve of this day, the people place a lighted candle outside their tight-closed shutters, they do this in memory of their Fathers who made the promise to Santa Maria de Camarino. In 1825 and again in 1834, they vowed to celebrate yearly a special feast for her protection from Linao, the earthquake and Pagyo, the typhoon.
On its part the miraculous Statue has seen to it ,that no devout life has since that time been lost. Earthquakes and typhoons have come and left destruction, yet they have never taken one life or harmed the children of Santa Maria de Camarino, Our Lady of Guam. Such is the story of Our Lady of the Cupboard, the miraculous Virgin of Guam; to the eyes of fact simply a beautiful Statue, some three feet height, executed with all the refinement of eighteenth century art, yet to the eye of faith, she is power incarnate. She is all ivory, but where that ivory came from, or what artist fashioned those exquisite hands, she alone can tell, just as she is the only one who knows the truth of her coming to Guam. The Statue has real human hair and two crowns are used to dress the Statue. One of the crowns is made from gold pieces given to the Church by the late Ana Martinez Underwood, who donated the gold pieces (given to her by her husband as a wedding gift) in thanksgiving for the safe return of her husband from prison camp following World War II.
One of the more famous miraclesis that of a great earthquake in 1902, when the Dulce Nombre de Maria Church was severely damaged. Many of the Statues were broken but not that of Our Lady of Camarin, which the Priest, Father José Palomo, found standing intact on the ground.
The Statue also survived fire, when on 8 December 1945, it was rescued from a burning float by Jose D Leon Guerrero.
Because the Statue has suffered discolourations, nicks and other minor defects in the course of time, minor repairs have been made. According to one story, during one occasion when repairs were being made, the scraping of her face was too rough and the face began to bleed.
Other miracles attributed to her include, belief in her powers of intercession, cures of dreadful diseases and safe removal from great danger. She has long been considered, the protectress of the island and its people. Flags of various nations have flown over the royal coconut trees of Agana, admirals and governors have come and gone and each, in his proper time, has departed. Spanish architecture has had its day and the Seabee buildings mushroomed all over the island. Yet, Santa Maria de Camarino abides through all changes to cherish her strangely chosen people. She reigns affectionately in the hearts of the people, the natives, as their Queen and Patroness.
When American Marines and Soldiers during the latter part of July, 1944, captured the island of Guam, the native population was, for the most part, Catholic. The Faith was brought there, no doubt, by Spanish Priests who accompanied Magellan when he sailed around the world. And Mary, Our Lady of Guam, Our Lady of the Cupboard, loves them and protects them.
Santa Maria dei Voti / Our Lady of Mantua, Italy (1640) – 13 April:
This present Shrine to Our Lady of Mantua was built by the Gonzaga family in the year 1460. There is seen a miraculous painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Baby Jesus, that is known to have been venerated since about the year 1000. Originally known as Saint Mary of the Vows, the painting is crowned today.
According to tradition, the history of the site dates back to Saint Anselm. At that time, the Blessed Virgin had promised her protection to the City. Starting in 1477, word spread that before the image numerous miracles had occurred, so that by then substantial offerings began to pour into the Church (hence the name of Santa Maria dei Voti). After the plague of 1630, which had overwhelmed the City and its territory, the Princess Maria Gonzaga, regent of the duchy, wanted to entrust herself, her dynasty and the region, to the protection of the Blessed Virgin. The Princess was determined to place herself, her son Charles II and the City of Mantua and of Monferrato, under the special protection of Mary. She ordered that the image of Mary should be carried in procession through the streets and desired that the image be solemnly crowned in the Basilica of Saint Andrea, as the Queen of Mantua. The solemn crowning of Our Lady commonly called Santa Maria dei Voti, was strongly urged by the pious Princess Maria Gonzaga in the year 1640, when the dam of the Po River in Italy broke. The coronation took place with great solemnity on 28 November 1640. Since then, the Church and the picture painted of Santa Maria dei Voti were named dell’Incoronata, or ‘Saint Mary the Crowned,’ and the annual festival was fixed on the first Sunday after the Feast of Saint Martin, 11 November. On this occasion but also during the month of May, which is traditionally dedicated to Marian devotion, the dell’Incoronata is exposed in the Cathedral, covered in sumptuous dresses dating from the seventeenth century. The three following centenary years, in particular, saw an unanimous and grateful expression of love on the part of the Mantuans, who still venerate the Madonna “Incoronata,” the Madonna who said, “Mantua is mine and as mine I will always defend it.”
St Ursus of Ravenna — Martyrs of Dorostorum – 3 saints: A lector and two students martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian – Dadas, Maximus and Quinctillianus. Beheaded c303 in Dorostorum, Lower Mysia (modern Sillistria, Bulgaria.
Nuestra Senora de la Caridad / Our Lady of Charity, Cobre, CubaOR Our Lady of Cobre – 12 Apri;:
In the mountains outside Santiago in Cuba, is an old pilgrimage Church, “Nuestra Senora de la Caridad,” which means, “Our Lady of Charity,” also known as “Our Lady of Cobre.” It is the National Shrine of Cuba. Early in the 17th century, three sailors left the Bay of Nipe to collect salt. Their vessel was small, so that when a storm arose, they were drifting and rocked violently on the roaring ocean. One of the men wore a medal stamped with an image of the Blessed Virgin, and the three began to pray for her protection. The storm suddenly cleared and the men saw something they could not immediately identify, coming toward them across the water. We still have the testimony of one of the men, Juan Moreno, regarding this incident. It was taken in 1687: “Having camped in the French Key, which is in the middle of the Bay of Nipe, waiting for a good time to leave for the salt mines, being a morning of calm seas, they left the French Keys, before daybreak. The aforementioned Juan y Rodrigo de Hoyos and myself, embarked in a canoe, headed for the salt mines and far from the French Key, we saw something white above the foam of the water, which we couldn’t distinguish. As we got closer, birds and dry branches appeared. The aforementioned Indians said, “It looks like a girl.” While they were discussing this among themselves, they saw an image of Our Lady, the Holy Virgin, on top of a small wooden plank, holding the baby Jesus in her arms. On this small tablet, was written in large letters, which read, “I am the Virgin of Charity.” Looking at her clothes, they realised that they were not wet.”
Upon returning home, the men revealed what they had seen and told the story of what had happened to them. A government official, Don Francisco Sanchez de Moya, had a small Chapel built in her honor. The Village of Cobre, where the Shrine is, is surrounded by high hills that roll back to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The village is named Cobre because of the rich deposit of copper. A lamp of copper is kept burning before the Statue of Our Lady. Twice the Statue mysteriously disappeared from the locked Church and then returned, just as unaccountably. In each case ,Our Lady indicated where richer deposits f copper could be found. In 1936 after the completion of a beautiful Church, now a minor Basilica, in honour of Our Lady of Charity, the Statue was solemnly crowned amid great rejoicing and religious festivity.
The Shrine has much of old-time charm and literally hundreds of lights burn before the Shrine’s Statue. Our Lady is dressed richly in silken garments; she is dark like a Cuban girl with a sun-tanned Infant on her arm, smiling down on her Cuban children, who come to her in great numbers and with great confidence. The prayers of centuries seem to hang down from the walls in heavy folds. It is a place where prayer comes easily and its answer, seems to be a matter of course.
Saint of the Day – 11 April – St Antipas of Pergamon (Died c 92) Bishop of Pergamon during the persecutions of Emperor Domitian and Martyr, spiritual student of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist. Unknown place of birth but died in c 92 by being roasted to death in a bronze bull at Pergamum, Greece (an area in modern Turkey). Patronage – against toothaches and tooth problems.
“I know where thou dwellest, where the seat of Satan is and thou holdest fast my name and hast not denied my faith. Even in those days when Antipas was my faithful witness, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”
The Apocalypse of St John (Revelation) Chapter 2:13
When St John the Apostle, wrote the Book of the Apocalypse, he made an interesting reference to a person named Antipas, calling the man a “faithful witness” and one “who was slain.” This reference can be found fairly early on in the Apocalypse, within the section containing special messages to the seven Christian communities in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Antipas’s name is found in the third of the seven letters―the letter to the Church in the City of Pergamum.
Pergamum was a City not far from the Aegean Sea. It was considered to be a beautiful and cultural City. Impressively, parchment was invented in Pergamum about 150 years before the birth of Christ.
The modern City of Bergama, Turkey, overlaps some of the ruins of ancient Pergamum. Interestingly, St John, the author of the Apocalypse referred to Pergamum as the location of Satan’s throne! It has been suggested that this distressing label could be due to the multitude of pagan practices that abounded in the City, including, the worshipping of the Roman Emperor as a God.
St Antipas’ tomb became a site of miracles with a miraculous oil being secreted from his relics.
The Roman Martyrology states of St Antipas: “St Antipas, a faith witness, of whom St John speaks in the Apocalypse, under the Emperor Domitian, he was shut up n a red-hot brazen ox and thus, consummated his martyrdom.”
Low Sunday +2021The Octave Day of Easter, also known as the Sunday in White
Notre-Dames de Fourviere / Our Lady of Fourviere
According to the traditions of Lyons, supported by a Bull of Pope Innocent IV, Saint Pothinus erected the first Oratory where Mary was invoked in Gaul. It is asserted that he brought, from the interior of Asia, a small Statue of the Blessed Virgin, which he deposited in a solitary and shaded crypt on the banks of the Saone, in front of the hill of Fourviere. He set up in this wild and secluded spot an Altar to the true God and placed there, the image, which was transferred later to a Church built on the hill itself, whence it took the name of Our Lady of Fourviere. The veneration of the people, in the middle ages, surrounded this Church and it was a pilgrimage of great renown throughout the Lyonnais but the Calvinists, who destroyed and pillaged so many rich Sanctuaries, showed no favour to that of Lyons, the Church of Fourviere, where, from the birth of Christianity, each generation had marked its passage by gifts to Our Lady of Fourviere. After the desecration, the Church retained nothing but its four bare walls, which could not be melted down in the crucible, where so many master productions disappeared, which had the misfortune to be made of gold or silver. The chapter of Saint John could not attend to the renovation of the Church of Fourviere, until long after the ravages of the Protestants. They worked at it after they had restored the Cathedral and the cloister. The Altar of Mary, Our Lady of Fourviere, was at last consecrated on 21 August 1586. From that moment, the confidence of the inhabitants turned towards that beacon of salvation. “The source of prodigies seemed dried up there,” says an ancient historian; “they began again at the end of the sixteenth century and all Lyons felt great joy on the occasion.”
During the revolution of 1793, the Church of Fourviere was sold but when calm was restored, the zealous prelate who governed the ancient Church of Pothinus and Irenaeus, procured the Sanctuary of Mary, to be restored to the veneration of her as Our Lady of Fourviere. The inauguration of the Sanctuary was performed on 19 April 1805, by the Sovereign Pontiff Pius VII. In 1832 and 1835, Lyons being threatened with cholera, lifted up her eyes to the holy mountain and the Blessed Virgin said to the scourge, “Thou shalt go no farther.” The capital of the Lyonnese, changed its cries of alarm into canticles of joy and the prayers of thanksgiving were solemnly and justly offered to Mary. Ever since the happy period when that Sanctuary was restored to religious worship, piety seems to have redoubled its ardour for Our Blessed Lady and, it is at Fourviere, that it is sharpened and revived. The inhabitants of Lyons and those of the county adjacent, throng the paths of the hill of Mary; at whatever hour you repair there, you will always find yourself in the midst of a crowd of pious persons ,of all ranks, ages and conditions.
One day, in the year 1815, a pilgrim of an unusual kind, who had begun by observing Lyons from the summit of the hill, like a man who wanted to study both its strength and its weakness, presented himself in the Church of Notre Dame and the faithful, lifting up for a moment their eyes, which had been cast down in prayer, said to themselves, “Marshal Suchet!” It was indeed he – the Marshal of the empire, the child of Lyons, to whom was confided the defence of his native city – who passed along the nave of the Church of Mary with a slow step, with a respectful countenance, in which was mingled something mild and softened, something like a distant remembrance of joy, which awakens and soothes the soul with an invisible music. He went into the Sacristy and directed one of the Chaplains to come to him there;. The vice-president hastened to him: “Monsieur l’Abbe,” said the marshal, stepping forward towards the ecclesiastic, “when I was quite a child, my pious and good mother often brought me here, to the feet of Our Lady and this I still remember…I will say more, this recollection is dear to me and I have never lost it. Be pleased to have some Masses said for my intentions.” And putting down three Napoleons on the table where the offerings are registered, the brilliant hero of the gigantic epoch went to kneel, before the Altar of Mary, where he prayed for some time with edifying devotion. Moreover, Marshal Suchet terminated his noble and loyal career by a Christian end, for which he was praised upon his tomb.
Bl George Gervase St Godeberta of Noyon St Guthlac of Crowland (674–715) Biography: https://anastpaul.com/2019/04/11/saint-of-the-day-11-april-st-guthlac-674-715/ St Hildebrand of Saint-Gilles St Isaac of Monteluco Bl James of Africa Bl John of Cupramontana Bl Lanunio St Machai St Maedhog of Clonmore Bl Mechthild of Lappion Bl Paul of Africa St Philip of Gortyna St Raynerius Inclusus St Sancha of Portugal St Stephen of Saint-Gilles Bl Symforian Ducki
Easter Friday – Day Six in the Easter Octave +2021
Notre-Dames de Myans, Savoie / Our Lady of Myans, Savoy, France (1249) – 9 April:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “It is believed that this image, in the year 1249, prevented the thunder, which had already consumed the Town of Saint Andre with sixteen villages, from going farther and was the cause of its stopping at Myans.”
Our Lady of Myans in Savoy, is located on a little hill between Modane and Chambery near the Mont Cenis tunnel. It can be easily recognised, as there is a huge statue of the Blessed Virgin standing atop the Shrine’s belfry. The Shrine has been a pilgrimage site since at least the thirteenth century, and its small ‘Black Virgin’ was an object of the devotion of Saint Francis de Sales. The foundation of the Shrine is no longer remembered but the Church became famous for a miracle that occurred there in 1248.
On the evening of 24 November of that year, a tremendous earthquake shook the region causing Mont Granier, the tallest mountain of the Chartreuse Massif, to disintegrate into huge boulders, which came crashing down into the valley. Some of these boulders, were the size of a house, and 16 villages were crushed and 5,000 lives lost. The Shurch of Myans, however, was spared, though gigantic boulders were stopped abruptly at the very door of the Church. Some of these boulders can still be seen around the church grounds.
A marvellous answer to prayer occurred in 1534, in favour of Jean Grandis of Savoy, who was on a vessel bound from Genoa to Leghorn. When the ship was threatened during a tempest and seemed likely to sink, Jean Grandis called upon Our Lady of Myans, Queen of Savoy. Battered by the waves, the ship foundered and sank. Jean Grandis was the only survivor. As a gesture of thanksgiving, he travelled barefoot to the Shrine and there placed his ex-voto. It is said to be one of the oldest to survive.
Another miracle attributed to Our Lady of Myans was in favour of the brother of Saint Francis de Sales, Count Louis de Sales, who in 1603 was travelling to the Chateau of Cusy to marry Claudine Philiberte de Pingon. Since there was no bridge in sight, the Count attempted to cross the River Cheran at a place that he thought was shallow and safe. However, the Count was swept away by flood water. Invoking the name of Our Lady of Myans and promising to make a pilgrimage, he was suddenly thrust onto an obstruction that saved his life. The wedding ceremony was conducted on 2 April. The next day, Saint Francis de Sales offered a Mass of thanksgiving in the little Crypt Chapel before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Myans.
The Black Madonna of Myans, venerated in the Crypt (lower church), is a 70cm high wooden statue, representing the seated Virgin. It dates to around the 12 th century . With her left arm, she presents the Child Jesus seated on her knees. Under the stiff folds of the mantle, the detail of the attitudes fades and the Virgin appears to be standing. She is a virgin of majesty . The mantle of the Statue is in fine moiré gold cloth, revealing a dress in silver cloth. The whole forms a royal adornment. The Virgin was crowned on 17 August 1905 by decision of Pope Pius X who delegated, for this purpose, Cardinal Couillé, Prelate of Gauls, Archbishop of Lyon, surrounded by 5 Bishops and more than 20,000 faithful.
The Church was half destroyed during the French Revolution but the Statue was saved and later enshrined again in the restored building, where it was crowned in 1905. The Sanctuary is particularly resorted to by pilgrimages of men and the image was taken to Rome by a Savoyard pilgrimage for the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption in the year 1950. At the entrance to the choir is evoked the disaster of the landslide of Granier. In the vault of the nave of the lower Church are painted ten unforgettable figures of the Saints and blessed of Savoy and Dauphiné, including St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) and St Louis of Savoy (1462-1508).
In 1855, the steeple, half demolished during the revolution, was raised in its current form to serve as a pedestal for a monumental Statue which crowns its summit. This Statue, executed in Paris by the sculptor Louis Rochet, was inaugurated on 17 October 1855. It is in gilded bronze, measures 5.25m and weighs 3 tons . The Virgin holds the Child Jesus on her left arm, her right arm is extended as if to bless. She wears the ducal crown, emblem of her sovereignty over Savoy. It is draped in the costume of the 13th century, the time of the Granier disaster.
Martyrs of Masyla: Massylitan Martyrs Group of Christians martyred in Masyla in northwest Africa.
Martyrs of Pannonia: Seven virgin-martyrs in Sirmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia).
Martyrs of Thorney Abbey – 3+ saints: A group of Hermits, hermitesses and monks who lived in or around Thorney Abbey who were martyred together during raids by pagan Danes. We know little more than the names of three – Tancred, Torthred and Tova. 869 by raiders at Thorney Abbey, Cambridgeshire, England.
Saint of the Day – 7 April – Blessed Edward Oldcorne SJ (1561-1607) Priest Martyr. Born in 1561 at York, North Yorkshire, England and died by being hanged, drawn and quartered on 7 April 1607 at Worcester, Worcestershire, England.
Edward Oldcorne (1561-1606) had a long and fruitful pastoral apostolate in England operating out of the same residence for 16 years. Ralph Ashley (birthday unknown, 1606) entered the Jesuits in Valladolid, Spain, as a brother and was urged to return to his native England to recover his good health, a prescription that worked well until he was arrested with Father Oldcorne whom he assisted for eight years.
Oldcorne was born in York of a non-Catholic father and a Catholic mother, whose courage when she was imprisoned for her faith ,set an example for her son who dropped medical studies to travel to Rheims, France in August 1581 in order to study for the priesthood. In 1583 he moved on to Rome where he finished his studies and was Ordained a Priest. Soon afterwards, he asked to enter the Society of Jesus, was accepted and was allowed to complete his novitiate in a very short time because of the difficult conditions he would face, upon his return to England. He landed on a remote beach near Norfolk in November 1588 and joined a group of sailors travelling to London where he stayed with Father Henry Garnet, the Superior of the Jesuits in England. After a few months there, he was assigned to Hinlip Hall just outside Worcester ,where he would enjoy one of the longest periods of any Jesuit ministering in England during the many years of the persecution of the heretical Elizabeth.
The master of Hinlip Hall, was an ardent Catholic who was in prison and had left the property in the care of his sister, Dorothy, a Protestant, who had been at Elizabeth’s court and merely tolerated the presence of the Priest guests in her brother’s residence. Several Priests had tried, unsuccessfully, to convert her back to her family’s Catholicism but she resisted all efforts. Finally Oldcorne began fasting for her conversion; when she learned of his fast, she yielded to God’s grace and became an encouragement for many others in the shire to return to the Catholic religion. The Hall became the Jesuit’s base of operations where many people came to seek the Sacraments and hear Fr Edward’s preaching. His success was accompanied by poor health ever since he returned to England. He had a throat cancer that left him with a hoarse and painful voice but this did not keep him from preaching. He made a pilgrimage around 1591 to St. Winifred’s Shrine seeking a cure. He returned with the cancer healed.
Catholics looked forward to the end of persecution when Queen Elizabeth died and James I became King on 24 March 1603. He had promised he would be more tolerant but ,in fact, the persecution increased. Some angry Catholic laymen plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the King’s visit there on 5 November 1605. Discovery of the plot intensified hatred of Catholics; the government was determined to implicate Jesuits in the so-called “Gunpowder Plot,” despite the fact, that the men behind it had already been captured. The Jesuit Superior, Father Garnet, decided to leave London and seek shelter at Hinlip Hall, which had more hiding places than any other mansion in England. Brother Nicholas Owen, (Saint), who had constructed those places, accompanied him. The two Jesuits joined Oldcorne and Ashley.
On 20 January 1606, the Sheriff of Worcestershire and over 100 men, arrived at the Hall and spent several days fruitlessly searching for the Priests. A man arrested for being involved in the plot against Parliament, tried to curry favour by telling authorities he could lead them to Father Oldcorne. Finally, on the fourth day, hunger forced Brother Ashley and his companion, St Owen, to leave their hiding place. Four more days later, the two Priests emerged weak and ill, from their hiding place. All four were imprisoned in the Tower of London.
When efforts to spy on the conversation between the prisoners failed to yield any damning evidence, Fr Edward was tortured on the rack five hours a day for five consecutive days. He refused to say anything. When he and Ashley were put on trial, the Jesuit Priest denied the charge of being involved in the Gunpowder Plot so well, that the charge against him was changed to simply being a Jesuit Priest. He was found guilty of high treason and ordered to be executed. Just before he was hung, his betrayer asked for pardon, which Fr Edward readily granted. Fr Edward also prayed for the King and royal family, for his accusers, the judge and the jury who had condemned him. He was pushed from the ladder but was cut down before he was dead; he was then beheaded and quartered. Brother Ashley followed him to the gallows as did St Owen.
It is said, that, as Oldcorne waited on the ladder to die, Ashley kissed his feet and said, “What a happy man am I to follow in the steps of my sweet father”. Oldcorne died with the name of St Winifred on his lips. When Ashley came to die, he prayed and asked for forgiveness and noted that like Edward, he was dying for his faith and not as a traitor.
Blessed Edward’s portrait was painted after his death for the Church of the Gesù. A number of his relics survived including one of his eyes which he lost, when the executioner decapitated him:. The force of the blow was so great, that his eye flew out of its socket. A secondary school, Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, named in his honour, is in Worcester. His right eye and the rope that bound him ,are kept as relics at Stonyhurst College. They believe, that the eye was taken by a Catholic sympathiser while his body was being parboiled after he was quartered.
Edward Oldcorne was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI.
Easter Wednesday – The Fourth Day in the Easter Octave +2021
Our Lady of Puig, Valencia, Spain, Patron of Valencia and the Spanish Army – 7 April:
The fortress and the Church of Our Lady of Puig are a short distance out of Valencia, both date from Roman times, when a temple of Venus stood on the hill overlooking the pleasant valley. At the coming of Christians, it was turned into a Monastery. Early in history they acquired the image of Our Lady of Puig, in bas-relief, carved on a slab of marble, which was said to have formed part of the tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How it got to Spain is not known with certainty, though the pious insist, that it was brought there by angels. It was the principal object of devotion at the Shrine, which thrived and grew beautiful until the ancient kingdom of the Visigoths fell to the Muslim invaders in the 8th Century. In the year 712 the Monks sadly buried their treasure to hide it from desecration, along with the Church bell, under the floor of the Monastery, and fled for their lives. After five centuries the Moors were expelled from Valencia and the Plaque of Our Lady of Puig played a part in its liberation.
King James I of Aragon, victorious in other parts of Spain, moved on Valencia with his armies. The Moors, in an effort to trick the Christians into sending their troops to the wrong place, moved to attack the ancient fortress of Puig. This was done with great secrecy but Our Lady warned the Christians and helped them, to win the desperate battle. Saint Peter Nolasco, who helped to found the Society for the Redemption of Captives under Our Lady’s guidance, was in Puig when the battle took place. One of the soldiers came to him and reported that when he had been on night guard, he had seen strange lights over the old ruined Church of Our Lady of Puig; sometimes the stars seemed to come down from the sky and circle around the building. Especially on Saturday nights there were bright lights around the mount of the Church.
Saint Peter suggested to the King, that all the soldiers should receive the Sacraments and pray, to know what God was trying to tell them. After this had been done, he led them to the top of the hill and directed them to dig under the floor of the old Monastery. Here they found the Plaque and the bell, buried for 500 years, but unharmed. The Plaque was first carried to the Chapel of the castle fortress. As soon as possible, a new Church was built on the mountain and given into the charge of the Mercedarians under Saint Peter Nolasco. The ancient bell which was dated as being cast in 660 and was placed in the tower of the Church. This bell was said to be powerful against storms and always rung of its own accord in time of trouble. In 1550 the bell broke and a new one was cast from the fragments of the old one.
The Church built by Saint Peter Nolasco was called “the angelic chamber” because angels were often heard singing there in the night, especially on Saturdays. Our Lady of Puig has been the Patroness of Valencia for hundreds of years and not longer ago than 1935, was honoured by the Spanish Armies who have carried her image in so many successful battles. She was at this time named as a General in the Army and invoked as Patroness in the Christian War against Communism.
St Albert of Tournai Bl Alexander Rawlins St Brenach of Carn-Engyle St Calliopus of Pompeiopolis Bl Cristoforo Amerio St Cyriaca of Nicomedia St Donatus of North Africa Blessed Edward Oldcorne SJ (1561-1607) Priest Martyr St Epiphanius the Martyr St Finian of Kinnitty St George the Younger St Gibardus of Luxeuil St Goran St Guainerth St Hegesippus of Jerusalem St Henry Walpole Blessed Maria Assunta Pallotta (1878-1905) About Bl Maria Assunta: https://anastpaul.com/2019/04/07/saint-of-the-day-7-april-blessed-maria-assunta-pallotta-1878-1905/ St Peleusius of Alexandria St Peter Nguyen Van Luu Bl Ralph Ashley St Rufinus the Martyr St Saturninus of Verona Bl Ursuline of Parma — Martyrs of Pentapolis – 4 saints: A bishop, deacon and two lectors at Pentapolis, Lybia who for their faith were tortured, had their tongues cut out, and were left for dead. They survived and each died years later of natural causes; however, because they were willing to die and because there were attempts to kill them, they are considered martyrs. We know little else except their names – Ammonius, Irenaeus, Serapion and Theodore c 310 at Pentapolis, Lybia.
Martyrs of Sinope – 200 saints: 200 Christian soldiers martyred together for their faith. We don’t even have their names. They were martyred in Sinope, Pontus, Asia Minor (in modern Turkey).
Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia / Our Lady of the Highest Grace, Higuey, Dominican Republic (1506) Patron of Dominicans- 2 April:
Before the Spaniards began their conquest of America, pilgrimages were already being made to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Highest Grace of Altagracia, in the town of Higuey in the Dominican Republic. Juan Ponce de Leon relates that he and his crew were saved from shipwreck through their prayers to this Virgin. Mary’s miracles have continued down to the present. A multimillion dollar ultra-modern Basilica erected at Higuey in Mary’s honour, where the image is still displayed, gives testimony of this.
Juan Ponce de Leon’s daughter, La Nina, also had a great devotion to the Mother of God. Our Lady appeared to Nina while she prayed before the Statue in their home Chapel and told her to request from her father a gift, a painting of Our Lady of Highest Grace. Juan Ponce de Leon was struck with amazement at the request, for he had never heard of Our Lady under that title. Juan Ponce de Leon, told his host of his daughter’s wish and added that the Bishop of Domingo had told him no such painting existed.
He asked Nina, “How could I identify this image?”
“By the white scapular over her robe,” Nina replied.
Juan Ponce de Leon searched and inquired everywhere, in order to fulfill his daughter’s request but without success. One day, while returning from a three-day trip, he asked for lodging at a small hut; his host granted this at the same time to an old man with a long white beard; the latter crouched against the walls, carefully guarding an apparent treasure in his saddle-bags.
Juan Ponce de Leon, forgetting the old man, told his host of his daughter’s wish and added that the Bishop of Domingo had told him no such painting existed. The old man hearing this, exclaimed, “The Virgin of Highest Grace does not exist? I have brought the painting with me.”
He then took from his saddle-bags a parchment, unrolled it and displayed a beautiful painting of Our Lady in simple tones of blue, white and red. Mary was depicted adoring the Christ Child, while Saint Joseph holding a lighted taper hovered in the background. Over the Virgin’s starred blue robe hung a white scapular. Juan Ponce de Leon offered all he possessed in exchange for the painting but the stranger waved aside the offer, saying, “Take it to La Nina.” The two men fell on their knees to give homage to the holy image. When they again looked up, the old bearded stranger had vanished. When Ponce de Leon arrived home, his daughter awaited him under an orange tree in the plaza, stretching out her hands she begged: “The painting, Papacito! Please, let me see it!” When it had been unwrapped, La Nina fell on her knees, covering Our Lady’s face with kisses. Then she cried: “This is exactly how our Mother of Highest Graces appeared to me!”
The painting of Our Lady of Highest Grace was placed in the Chapel where the townspeople came to venerate it. Not long afterward, La Nina died and was buried beneath the orange tree, which she loved, for it was there she had received the image. Later the painting of Our Lady of Highest Grace disappeared from the Chapel and was found in the branches of the orange tree. After this had happened three times, the people were convinced that Our Lady wished a Shrine erected on the spot. Countless miracles began to occur there.
Juan Ponce de León’s residence continues to stand in the southeastern town of San Rafael de Yuma, close to Higüey, where he lived before heading out into the seas. Today, it is a much visited Museum.
St Abundius of Como St Agnofleda of Maine St Appian of Caesarea St Bronach of Glen-Seichis St Constantine of Scotland St Ðaminh Tuoc Bl Diego Luis de San Vitores-Alonso St Ebbe the Younger St Eustace of Luxeuil St Gregory of Nicomedia St John Payne Bl Leopold of Gaiche St Lonochilus of Maine St Musa of Rome Bl Mykolai Charnetsky St Nicetius of Lyon St Pedro Calungsod (1654–1672) Martyr His Life and Death: https://anastpaul.com/2019/04/02/saint-of-the-day-2-april-st-pedro-calungsod-1654-1672-martyr/
Saint of the Day – 31 March – St Benjamin the Deacon (Died c 424) Deaco and Martyr. Benjamin was executed during a period of persecution of Christians that lasted forty years and through the reign of two Persian kings: Isdegerd I, who died in 421 and his son and successor, Varanes V. King Varanes carried on the persecution with such great fury, that Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.
Benjamin was imprisoned for a year for his Christian faith and later released under the condition, that he abandon preaching or speaking of his religion. His release was obtained by the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II through an Ambassador. However, Benjamin declared that it was his duty to preach about Christ and that he could not be silent. As a consequence, Benjamin was tortured mercilessly, until his death in the year 424, specifically, “sharpened reeds [were] stuck under the nails of his fingers and toes.”
According to his hagiography, when the Emperor was apprised of the fact, that Benjamin refused to stop preaching, he “… caused reeds to be run in between the nails and the flesh, both of his hands and feet, and to be thrust into other most tender parts and drawn out again and this, to be frequently repeated with violence. Lastly, a knotty stake was thrust into his bowels, to rend and tear them, in which torment he expired….”
He is mentioned also in the Roman Martyrology on 31 March.
Our Lady of the Holy Cross, Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome – 31 March:
The Abbot Orsini wrote: “Our Lady of the Holy Cross, at Jerusalem, where is kept a part of Our Lady’s veil, given by Saint Helena.”
The Roman Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, or Basilica de Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Italian, is one of the seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome. The Church dates to about the year 320, when Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, modified one of her rooms in the imperial palace to house the relics of the Passion of Christ which she had brought back to Rome from the Holy Land. Even though the Church is located in Rome, it is said to be “at Jerusalem” due to the fact that the floor was covered with earth that had also been brought back from Jerusalem, meaning, that the Church was built upon the soil of Jerusalem. Saint Helena travelled to the Holy Land in the year 326, founding Churches at the places where Christ was born in Bethlehem and from where He ascended into heaven. It shouldn’t seem so remarkable that Helena was able to find the holy places such as the Cenacle, for many of the buildings still stood. Then, as now, the buildings were constructed of stone and so they could not burn, as wood would only be found in furniture, doors and windows. It was also under Helena’s direction that the Cenacle was purified, consecrated, and Mass said there once again. The Cenacle became the seat of the Archbishop until the year 636 when the Arabs came with fire and sword.
Saint Helena’s Chapel is partly underground, and here soil from Calvary was spread on the floor. The Chapel was soon made into a Basilica, which was then later restored by Pope Gregory II and again by Pope Lucius II. There are many significant relics kept at the Church, including pieces of the Cross upon which Jesus suffered His Passion and death, two thorns from the Crown of Thorns, a piece of one of the nails that held Our Lord to the Cross. Other relics include a piece of the cross of the Good Thief, a bone from the finger of Saint Thomas that he had placed into the wound of Christ after His Resurrection and fragments of the Pillar , to which Christ was tied, the Crib Jesus had used as a Baby and, of course, a fragment of the Blessed Virgin’s veil and other fragments from the grotto where He had been born in Bethlehem. These relics can still be seen today. The image below shows some of these relics, unfortunately, I don’t know which is which, besides the first – a relic of the True Cross and the middle image, which shows 2 thorns from the Crown.
__ St Abda St Acacius Agathangelos of Melitene St Agigulf St Aldo of Hasnon St Balbina of Rome St Benjamin the Deacon (Died c 424) Deaco and Martyr
Saint of the Day – 26 March – Saint Castulus of Rome (Died c 288) Martyr, married to Saint Irene of Rome (the woman who assisted St Sebastian after he had been wounded by the Imperial archers), Military Officer and he was the Chamberlain (or officer, valet) of Emperor Diocletian. Martyred in c in 288 on the Via Labicana outside Rome near the Collosseum. Patronaes – against blood poisoning, against drowning, against erysipelas, against fever, against horse theft, against lightning, against storms, against wildfire, cowherds, farmers, shepherds, Hallertau, Germany, Moosburg an der Isar, Germany.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Rome, on the Labicana road, St Castulus, Martyr, Chamberlain in the Palace of the Emperor. For harbourig Christians, he was three times suspended by the hands, three times cited before the Tribunals and as he persevered in the confession of the Lord, he was thrown into a pit, overwhelmed with a mass of sand and thus obtained the crown of martyrdom.”
Castulus was a convert to the Christian religion. He sheltered Christians in his home and arranged for religious services, unbelievably, inside Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. Among those he sheltered, were the Saints and Marytrs, Mark and Marcellian. He is one of the saints associated with the life and martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
With his friend Saint Tiburtius, he converted many men and woman to Christianity and brought them to Pope Saint Caius to be baptised. He was betrayed by an apostate named Torquatus and taken before Fabian, prefect of the City.
He was tortured and executed by being buried alive in a sand pit on the Via Labicana. According to traditional sources, his wife, Irene subsequently buried the body of the martyred Saint Sebastian. She was later be martyred herself, it is thought also in c 288.
A Church is dedicated to him in Rome, built on the site of his martyrdom and has existed, from at least the seventh century.
Castulus was venerated in Bavaria after relics of his were taken to Moosburg. Duke Heinrich der Löwe started the construction of the Castulus Cathedral in 1171.
In 1604, relics were also brought to Landshut, Germany. His relics still rest in Landshut’s Church of St Martin’s and in the Church of St Castulus, Prague.
Our Lady of Soissons, France (1128) In the Abbey, one of Our Lady’s slippers is kept – 26 March:
In the year 1128, a plague afflicted the City of Soissons. For six consecutive days the victims went to the Shrine of Our Lady and called out to her for help. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them, accompanied by heavenly hosts of angels. Immediately the people who witnessed the miracle and believed were healed. The Bishop asked all who were healed to make a novena of thanks and to kiss the slipper of the Holy Virgin kept in the Church.
A rustic servant of one of the knights of Soissons, a man named Boso, came to the Church for the festival which was to follow the novena. While his companions gave gifts and talked of the slipper of Our Lady, he gave nothing and scoffed at the idea, muttering, “You are very foolish to believe this to be the Virgin’s slipper. It would have rotted long ago.” At these words Boso’s blasphemous mouth was drawn toward his ear with such sharp pain that his eyes seemed to slip out of his head. A tumour appeared and covered his face, making it unfit for human use. Roaring and writhing, he threw himself before the Altar of Mary, begging for help, as he had offended the Mother of God, and he knew there was no-one else who could heal him. The Abbess, a woman named Mathilda, took the slipper and made the Sign of the Cross over the victim. Immediately he began to heal. The punished scoffer repented and gave himself up to the service of the Church of Soissons. Many – the lame, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the paralytics, were healed at the Shrine. The Abbey was once the largest in France, famous for its rich collection of relics, including the “Lady Slipper” but all that remains today of the Abbey is a ruined wall with two arches, as the rest was methodically razed by the eager hands of the devotees of the French Revolution.