“Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him and he laid his hands on everyone of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.” … Luke 4:40-41
REFLECTION – “But observe again, I pray, how great is the efficacy of the touch of His holy flesh. For It both drives away diseases of various kinds and a crowd of demons and overthrows the power of the devil and heals a very great multitude of people in one moment of time. And though able to perform these miracles by a word and the inclination of His will, yet, to teach us something useful, He also lays His hands upon the sick. For it was necessary, most necessary, for us to learn, that the holy flesh which He had made His own, was endowed with the activity of the power of the Word, by His having implanted in it, a godlike might. Let It then take hold of us, or rather let us take hold of It, by the mystical “Giving of thanks,” that It may free us also from the sicknesses of the soul and from the assault and violence of demons.
He would not permit the unclean demons to confess Him; for it was not fitting for them to usurp the glory of the Apostolic office, nor with impure tongue, to talk of the mystery of Christ. Yea! though they speak ought that is true, let no-one put credence in them – for the light is not known by the aid of darkness, as the disciple of Christ teaches us, where he says, “For what communion hath light with darkness? or what consent hath Christ with Beliar?” … … St Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) Father and Doctor of the Incarnation
PRAYER – Heavenly God and Father, through Your Son, Lord God, You shed Your eternal light on all mankind. You gave us our mission, You taught us our way. Grant us the grace to acknowledge the full splendour of our Redeemer, so that, in His steps, we may grow from strength to strength in evangelising all. Fill us with Your Spirit to enlighten and guide us and may the prayers of the Sorrowful Mother of Our Lord Jesus, be our perpetual succour. Through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, God for always and forever, amen.
Quote/s of the Day – 6 August – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Readings: Isaiah 56,1.6-7. Psalms 67(66),2-220.127.116.11, Romans 11,13-15.29-32, Matthew 15,21-28
“Great is your faith, be it done for you as you desire.”
“See her humility as well as her faith! … Behold the woman’s wisdom! … Behold her constancy!”
St John Chrysostom (347-407)
Father and Doctor of the Church
“I will suggest a means whereby you can praise God all day long… Whatever you do, do it well and you have praised God.”
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”
St Augustine (354-430)
Father and Doctor of Grace
“Aspire to God with short but frequent outpourings of the heart, admire His bounty, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the foot of His Cross, adore His goodness, treat with Him of your salvation, give Him your whole soul – a thousand times in the day.”
“He who trusts in God can do all things.”
St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Doctor of Charity
“Turn to God. Believe in God. Trust Him for a miracle.”
“God will not allow you to be lost if you persist in your determination not to lose Him.”
Saint of the Day – 17 July – The Madonna of Humility – Madonna dell’Umiltà, Pistoia, Tuscany, Italy of which City the Madonna is the Patron.
In 1383, Paolo Serafini painted the fresco of the Madonna dell’Umiltà for the chapel of Santa Maria Forisportam (St Mary Outside the Gate) outside town. A century later, Pistoia erupted in bloody civil strife due to internal conflict between local families of the Panciatichi and Cancellieri.
On 17 July 1490, a group of people took refuge in the Chapel. While the Mass was being celebrated by the Priest, Fr Tommaso Benannati at the Altar of the Madonna. In the light of a rayS of the sun, they could see oozing from the front of the Virgin’s image, a few drops of liquid of vermilion colour – which was immediately understood to be blood, descended to the Virgin’s feet, trickling down and tracing wide streaks. Some witnesses rang the bell, while others ran to spread the news. he combat ended and both sides ran to see the miracle. This miracle lasted for several months and it’s traces are still visible.
The Pistoiese wept for this painful sorrow of the heavenly Mother, caused by their obstinacy in hatred and divisions, they swore peace and forgiveness and promised to build a Holy Shrine to the heavenly Mediatrix.
The authenticity of the miracle, after careful examination, was confirmed by the Bishop Niccolò Pandolfini, the Podestà Pietro Vettori, the Capitano del Popolo, the Gonfaloniere and the Priori. The enthusiasm and popular devotion to the Madonna of Humility grew dramatically, so much so, that the need arose immediately to provide for an expansion of the small Church to contain the crowds of believers who came from everywhere and still do. And, to fulfil their promise, a magnificent new sanctuary, renamed for the painting, was dedicated at the site on 31 December 1582. In 1931, Pope Pius XI elevated the church to the status of Minor Basilica.
The image shows the humble Madonna seated on a cushion on the floor, nursing the child at her right breast. The Basilica celebrates the Feast of the Madonna of Humility on 17 July with solemn Mass and vespers.
There is also a beautiful Chapel to the Madonna of Humility in Rome, a favourite of Pope Pius IX. It is said that, as a boy, Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, regularly attended Mass in the Chapel of the Madonna of Humility.
The original Miracle and painting by Paolo Serafini occurred in 1383 but their have been earlier depictions of the Madonna under this title, though not accompanied by a Miracle. The earliest known painting of this type dates to 1346 and is at the Museo Nazionale in Palermo, Sicily. It represents a Madonna seated on a small cushion just above the ground. The Child Jesus that she holds partially looks at the viewer. Domenico di Bartolo’s Madonna of Humility, painted in 1433, was described by art historian Andrew Ladis as one of the most innovative devotional images from the early Renaissance.
Other key examples include the Madonna dell’Umiltà, a tempera painting on wood by Gentile da Fabriano , dating from around 1420 – 1423. Fra Angelico’s representation of about 1430 (which includes two angels) is notable in that Jesus is approached from above, focusing on his divinity. Giovanni di Paolo’s depiction of about 1456 represents a transition in the perception of nature, with the visual landscape forming itself around the seated Madonna.
This Feast of Our Lady of Humility is not celebrated much today, yet I have a fondness for this particular Feast, perhaps because it is so important to recognize the need for all of us to be humble as Jesus told us: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me for I am Meek and Humble of Heart…” (Mt. 11:29)
Mary is His first and most perfect disciple who indeed took His yoke – His Father’s Will – even to Calvary! Mary continually learned throughout her life as we are called to do. In looking at the painting I noticed something similar to the icon of Our Lady of Tenderness – Mary is not looking at Jesus but looking at us! As Jesus looks at us, so does she. How important it is for us to find God in prayer and then find Him in all those He sends us to serve!
Jesus Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like Yours. Our Lady of Humility, Pray for Us.
Sunday Reflection – 12 July – “Month of the Most Precious Blood” – The Fifteenth Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time, Year A, Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11, Psalm 65:10-14, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-23
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people, longed to see what you see and did not see and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.”
The Sacrament that You Receive is Effected by the Words of Christ
Saint Ambrose (340-397) Bishop and Great Latin Father and Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his work, On the Mysteries
We see that grace can accomplish more than nature, yet so far we have been considering instances of what grace can do through a prophet’s blessing. If the blessing of a human being had power even to change nature, what do we say of God’s action in the Consecration itself, in which the very words of the Lord and Saviour are effective? If the words of Elijah had power even to bring down fire from heaven, will not the words of Christ have power to change the natures of the elements? You have read that in the creation of the whole world He spoke and they came to be; He commanded and they were created. If Christ could by speaking create out of nothing what did not yet exist, can we say that His words are unable to change existing things into something they previously were not? It is no lesser feat to create new natures for things than to change their existing natures.
What need is there for argumentation? Let us take what happened in the case of Christ Himself and construct the truth of this mystery from the mystery of the incarnation. Did the birth of the Lord Jesus from Mary come about in the course of nature? If we look at nature we regularly find that conception results from the union of man and women. It is clear then, that the conception by the Virgin was above and beyond the course of nature. And this Body, which we make present, is the Body born of the Virgin. Why do you expect to find in this case, that nature takes its ordinary course in regard to the Body of Christ, when the Lord Himself was born of the Virgin in a manner above and beyond the order of nature? This is indeed the true flesh of Christ, which was crucified and buried. This is then, in truth, the Sacrament of His Flesh.
The Lord Jesus Himself declares – This is my Body. Before the blessing contained in these words, a different thing is named; after the Consecration a Body is indicated. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the Consecration something else is spoken of; after the Consecration Blood is designated. And you say: “Amen,” that is: “It is true.” What the mouth utters, let the mind within, acknowledge, what the word says, let the heart ratify.
So the Church, in response to grace so great, exhorts her children, exhorts her neighbours, to hasten to these mysteries – Neighbours, she says, come and eat; brethren, drink and be filled. In another passage the Holy Spirit has made clear to you what you are to eat, what you are to drink. Taste, the prophet says and see, that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who puts his trust in Him. Christ is in that sacrament, for it is the Body of Christ. It is, therefore, not bodily food but spiritual. Thus the Apostle too says, speaking of its symbol – Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink. For the body of God is spiritual; the body of Christ is that of a divine spirit, for Christ is a spirit. We read – The spirit before our face is Christ the Lord. And in the letter of Saint Peter we have this – Christ died for you. Finally, it is this food that gives strength to our hearts, this drink which gives joy to the heart of man, as the prophet has written.
Memorial of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal/The Medal of the Immaculate Conception(the correct title is the latter) :
27 November is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and is celebrated by it’s own Mass in Some Places.
The Miraculous Medal is a devotion to the Virgin Mary called the “Miraculous” Medal for the many miracles associated with those that wear it. It is one of my favourite medals to wear.
The Miraculous Medal came to the world through an Apparition of the Virgin Mary to Catherine Labouré in Paris, France in 1830. In Mary’s second apparition, she asked that “a medal should be struck in this image. The people wearing it, will receive my indulgence and those who piously say this short prayer will enjoy my very special protection”.
Two of the most famous conversions due to the miraculous medal was that of Fr Alphonse Ratisbonne NDS (1814-1884), an anti-Catholic Jewish banker and Claude Newman (1923-1944).
Fr Alphonse Ratisbonne received a vision of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. After his conversion, he became a priest and worked for the conversion of the Jewish people.
St Acacius of Sebaste
St Acharius of Noyon
St Apollinaris of Monte Cassino
Bl Bernardine of Fossa
St Bilhild of Altmünster
Bl Bronislao Kostkowski
St Fergus the Pict
St Gallgo of Wales
St Gregory of Sinai
St Hirenarchus of Sebaste
St James Intercisus
St John Angeloptes
St John of Pavia
Bl José Pérez González
Bl Juan Antonio de Bengoa Larriñaga
St Laverius St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751) About St Leonard: https://anastpaul.com/2018/11/27/saint-of-the-day-27-november-st-leonard-of-port-maurice-ofm-1676-1751/
St Maximus of Reiz
St Primitivus of Sahagun
St Secundinus of Ireland
St Severinus the Hermit
St Siffred of Carpentras
St Valerian of Aquileia St Virgilius of Salzburg (c 700-784)
Martyrs of Antioch – (3 saints): A group of Christians martyred together for their faith. Little information has survived except for their names – Auxilius, Basileus and Saturninus.
Martyrs of Nagasaki – (11 beati): A group of eleven Christians martyred together for their faith during a period of official persecution in Japan. They are:
• Blessed Alexius Nakamura
• Blessed Antonius Kimura
• Blessed Bartholomaeus Seki
• Blessed Ioannes Iwanaga
• Blessed Ioannes Motoyama
• Blessed Leo Nakanishi
• Blessed Matthias Kozasa
• Blessed Matthias Nakano
• Blessed Michaël Takeshita
• Blessed Romanus Motoyama Myotaro
• Blessed Thomas Koteda Kyumi
They were martyred on 27 November 1619 in Nagasaki, Japan and Beatified on 7 May 1867 by Pope Pius IX.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Bartolomé Gelabert Pericás
• Blessed Eduardo Camps Vasallo
• Blessed José Pérez González
• Blessed Juan Antonio de Bengoa Larriñaga
• Blessed Miguel Aguado Camarillo
• Blessed Pedro Armendáriz Zabaleta
Thought for the Day – 11 November – Monday of the Thirty Second week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 17:1-6 and The Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours (c 316-397)
St Martin, the Miracle-Worker
By St John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Two Essays on Biblical and Ecclesiastical Miracles
And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
“Before Martin was a Bishop, while he was near St Hilary at Poitiers, a certain Catechumen, who lived in his monastery, died of a fever, in Martin’s absence, without baptism. On his return, the Saint went by himself, into the cell where the body lay, threw himself upon it, prayed and then raising himself with his eyes fixed on it, patiently waited his restoration, which took place before the end of two hours …. At another time, on his giving orders for cutting down a pine to which idolatrous honour was paid, a heathen said, “If thou has confidence in thy God, let us hew the tree and do thou receive it as it falls. If thy Lord is with thee, thou wilt escape harm.” Martin accepted the condition and when the tree was falling upon him, made the Sign of the Cross. The tree reeled round and fell on the other side! This miracle converted the vast multitude who were spectators of it.”
Thought for the Day – 3 December – The Memorial of St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552)
“A near perfect imitation of Christ”
Francis Xavier believed no one was more ill-equipped than he to take the gospel overseas. But he was wrong. En route from Lisbon to Goa, Francis already displayed the cheerfulness and generosity that would become the trademarks of his work. Through his personal charm, he made friends with the toughest seamen on the ship. Then he engaged them in “apostolic conversations,” seeking to win them for Christ.
But Miracles, occurred frequently in his evangelisation to poor villages. Once, while travelling through a pagan territory, Francis learned of a woman who had been in labour for three days and was probably near death. Midwives and sorcerers were treating her with superstitious incantations. Xavier went to the woman’s home and called on the name of Christ to heal her. “I began with the Creed,” he wrote to Ignatius, “which my companion translated into Tamil. By the mercy of God, the woman came to believe in the articles of faith. I asked whether she desired to become a Christian and she replied that she would most willingly become one. Then I read excerpts from the Gospels in that house where, I think, they were never heard before. I then baptised the woman.” As soon as Francis baptised the woman, she was healed and gave birth to a healthy baby.
The woman’s family was so touched by this divine intervention that they invited Francis to instruct and baptise all of them, including the newborn. News then travelled quickly throughout the village. A representative of the Raja, the overlord, gave the village elders clearance to allow Francis to proclaim Christ there. “First, I baptised the chief men of the place and their families,” he wrote, “and afterwards the rest of the people, young and old.”
In another village, crowds besieged Francis, begging him to pray for ailing family members. Missionary and teaching duties overwhelmed him, so he enlisted some enthusiastic children to minister to the sick. He sent the children to the homes of the ill and had them gather the family and neighbours. He trained them to proclaim the creed and to assure the sick that if they believed, they would be cured. Thus, Xavier not only responded to requests for prayer but he managed to spread Christian doctrine throughout the village. Because the sick and their families had faith, he said, “God has shown great mercy to them, healing them in both body and soul.” The children of the village had become little miracle workers.
In his passion for spreading the gospel, in his simple obedience, in his humble disregard for himself, the saint was a near perfect imitation of Christ!
Thought for the Day – 27 June – The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour ( Under the Protection of the Redemptiorists – CSsr)
An artist about to paint an icon prepares himself spiritually by prayer, confession, Holy Communion and sometimes fasting. He prays even while painting, for he sees himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, the principal artist, Who will use the icon as an instrument to channel graces to those who reverence it and pray before it. In most cases, the artist does not even sign his name to his work.
In Western art, there is little difference in the styles used in sacred art as compared to secular art; only the subject matter is different. Icons, however, are not meant to be realistic as far as physical representation, but rather to portray eternal truths in a way that immediately transports the viewer to a spiritual plane. Perhaps the simplest way to describe it is as theology in line and colour. The images are rendered in an extremely stylised, non-naturalistic way. The folds of garments appear as simple geometric forms, while faces and bodies show portray human nature transformed by grace into the divine.
In the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Child Jesus is not portrayed with the physical proportions of an infant but appears almost as an adult in miniature form. This has been interpreted to indicate that He is God, having infinite knowledge. Yet He is human as well, for He clings to His Mother’s hand in fear, while gazing up toward the angel over His shoulder. One of His sandals has come loose, indicating the haste with which He had run to her.
Why is the Child Jesus so frightened? The angels in the picture are holding instruments of His Passion and death, with the angel on the left bearing the gall, the lance and the reed, while the angel on the right holds the cross and nails. Their hands are covered with a cloth or veil, much like the humeral veil that the priest holds when blessing with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance at Benediction.
The face of Our Lady is grave and sorrowful, with her large eyes directed not at Jesus, but at us. One feels that she is pleading with us to avoid sin, which has caused her Son to suffer so much for us. Her gaze makes us a part of the picture and the pain it portrays. “Will you not love my Son, Who has loved you so much?” she seems to say.
Our Lady is clothed in the colours of royalty; her tunic is of dark red and her mantle is dark blue with a green lining. (According to another interpretation, the dark red is said to be the colour worn by virgins at the time of Christ, while blue was the colour worn by mothers in Palestine.) The Child Jesus also wears the colours of royalty. Both Jesus and Mary have golden halos, but Christ’s halo is decorated with a cross as a sign of His Divinity and Passion. Jewelled crowns were placed on the heads of both Mother and Child of the original icon by order of the Vatican in 1867. (The crowns were removed when the icon underwent restoration in the 1990’s.)
The Greek initials next to the head of Our Lady identify her as “Mother of God,” while those next to the Child are the abbreviation for “Jesus Christ.” The letters over the angels’ heads indicate the one on the left as St Michael and the one on the right as S. Gabriel.
The 8-pointed star on Our Lady’s veil tells us that she is the Star of the Sea, the Star that leads us to Jesus. The small ornate cross to the left of the star reinforces this concept.
Mary’s mouth is small to indicate her spirit of silence and prayer. Her eyes are large, for they see all of our troubles and needs and are always turned toward us.
Christ’s hands, turned palms down into His Mother’s, indicate that He has placed the graces of the Redemption in her keeping. Our Lady’s hand does not clasp those of her Son but remains open, inviting us to put our hands in hers along with those of Jesus.
As in other icons, the background of the painting is gold to symbolize Heaven, where Jesus and Mary now reign in glory. This light of Heaven shines through their clothing, illuminating not only the picture itself but those who behold it. This radiance speaks to us of God’s light and grace, strengthening and consoling us as we journey through life to our heavenly goal.
Finally, it is of no small significance that Our Blessed Mother herself referred to the icon by the title of “Holy Mary of Perpetual Succour.” Surely this, along with the symbolism we see in the picture, should assure us of the loving concern and tenderness our Blessed Mother has for us and her ardent desire to be a source of perpetual help to all who call upon her.
In answer to Pope Pius IX’s injunction to “make her known,” the Redemptorists commissioned several artists to paint copies of the original icon. More than 2,300 such copies, similarly touched to the original, have been sent to other houses of the order around the world. Pope Pius IX also received a copy, which he enshrined in his private chapel and was often seen kneeling before it in prayer. (Excerpt from Sister Mary Agatha, CMRI)
Part of the tradition is that Mary had made it clear that she wished her image to be situated between the great basilicas of St John Lateran (the Pope’s Cathedral) and St Mary Major, her own basilica. For the best part of 300 years from the year 1500, it was famous for the many miracles and graces granted to those who made the pilgrimage to the church of St Matthew on the Via Merulana, which was destroyed during the Napoleonic war.
In January 1855, the Redemptorist priests purchased Villa Caserta in Rome along the Via Merulana and converted it into their headquarters. Without realising it, the property they had purchased was once the church and monastery of Saint Matthew, the site which the Virgin reportedly chose as the icon’s shrine.
Decades later, Pope Pius IX invited the Redemptorist Fathers to set up a Marian house of veneration in Rome, in response to which the Redemptorists built the Church of St Alphonsus Liguori at that location. The Redemptorists were thus established on the Via Merulana, not knowing that it had once been the site of the Church of San Matteo and shrine of the once-famous icon.
Mother of Perpetual Succour, Pray for us!
O Mother of Perpetual Succour,
with grateful hearts we join you
in thanking God
for all the wonderful things
He has done for us,
especially for giving us,
Jesus, your Son, as our Redeemer.
O God, our Creator,
we thank You for the gift of life
and all the gifts of nature:
our senses and faculties,
our talents and abilities.
We thank You for creating us
in Your image and likeness
and for giving us this earth
to use and develop,
to respect and cherish.
Despite our failures,
you continue to show Your love for us today
by increasing the life of Your Spirit in us
at the Eucharistic table.
Finally, we thank You, loving Father,
for giving us Mary,
the Mother of Your Son,
to be our Mother of Perpetual Succour.
We are grateful for all the favours
we have received through her intercession.
We pray that those past favours
may inspire us to greater confidence,
in your loving mercy and to seek the aid
of our Mother of Perpetual Succour.
Feast of Our Lady of Miracles – 21 June – the patron of the town of Alcamo, Sicily.
The cult of Madonna of Miracles in Alcamo dates back to 21 June 1547, the day people remember the Madonna’s apparition to some women near a stream running north of Alcamo. According to tradition while washing their clothes in the stream, the women, with a blind and a deaf one among them, saw the apparition of a woman with a child and were hit by a gust of pebbles, during the apparition but without receiving any injury or pain; on the contrary, after being hit by the pebbles, they strangely felt a certain sense of wellbeing and recovered their health. After learning the news, the women’s husbands, thinking that it was a joke, went to investigate, thinking that someone was hidden among the bushes around there but they didn’t find anybody.
Then the local authorities inquired on the spot, cut down the near grove and found the ruins of a “cuba”, an old arc of a mill that nobody remembered any longer and inside there was a fresco on a stone made by an anonymous painter of the 13th century representing Our Lady with the Child Jesus, which at first the believers called “Madonna Fons Misericordiae” (that is Our Lady Source of Mercy).
After this discovery all the people started praying before the rediscovered image and in the following days there were several miracles.7, Our Lady of Miracles became the patron saint of Alcamo, in substitution of the Holy Crucified, who was the patron saint of Alcamo and other near small towns (among which Calatafimi and Salemi). The old patron saint’s memory however remains in Alcamo people’s mind: in fact they call San Francesco di Paola “santu patri” (whose translation means “patron saint”) as the Church named after him was called the Holy Crucified Church.
The Madonna’s discovered image was first called “Our Lady Source of Mercy” but thanks to the high number of subsequent miracles, in 1583 the name was changed into “Our Lady of Miracles”.
Further to these events, Don Fernando Vega, Alcamo’s governor, ordered the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Miracles, which hosts the Madonna’s image. Inside the Church there is a white marble sarcophagus containing the mortal remains of the governor Don Fernando Vega, according to his will.
Every year in Alcamo there are the celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Miracles from 19 June until 21 of June. This is the most important religious festivity in Alcamo. The real celebrations are often anticipated by other events, so extending the feast to about two weeks, in this way the beginning of the celebrations changes every year, while the last day is always the 21 June.
The celebrations include: “The pealing of church bells” which opens the celebrations together with the burst of fireworks and the passing of the band through the town streets; in the past Alcamo’s band also joined the musical band of Partinico (a neighbouring small town). The holy Mass in honour of Our Lady of Miracles in the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (also called “mother church”), in which all confraternities and laity groups in Alcamo take part. The procession to the Sanctuary of Madonna of Miracles (called “calata”), in which all civil and religious authorities of the town (together with the Mayor) take part; they are preceded by the band of the town. In old times people took also the animals that had recovered from an illness. Inside the sanctuary they sing Vespers and then there is the Eucharistic Blessing/Benediction.
Dance, music and theatrical performances. Sport events. Exhibitions of various kinds, including one about local Craftmanship. “The Market Fair” at Piazza della Repubblica. The Streets entertainers (called “Madonnari”). The Procession of Our Lady of Miracles’ statue along the town streets and return to the mother church. Before this solemn procession, the statue of Our Lady of Miracles, createdin 1720 by Lorenzo Curti from Castelvetrano (see the image of the statue above and the back below), is adorned with a silver 12 star crown (“stellario” in Italian), a crown and a hairpin embellished by precious stones (called “tuppu di la Maronna”) which is placed behind the Madonna’s nape. After that, the statue goes out from the Church, taken along the streets by a group of believers on their shoulders and accompanied by the band and it comes back to the mother church at the end of the procession.
Fireworks near the “bastione” in Piazza Bagolino. They take place at the end of the feast, soon after the statue’s return into the church, at about midnight. The traditional descent to the sanctuary takes place during the so-called “Historical Cortege” with period costumes. This cortege, which anticipates the real “calata”, passes through Corso 6 Aprile and Piazza Ciullo and finally ends at the Castle of the Counts of Modica (also called “Castle of Alcamo”). The workmen of the association “I Cavalieri di San Giorgio” (San Giorgio’s knights) and the Civil Authorities take part in the cortege too. Translated from the Italian).
Apparition of Michael the Archangel at Monte Gargano, Italy (492)
Our Lady of Luján: The Virgin is a two feet tall terracotta statue of Our Lady. It was made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May 1630. Its original appearance seemed inspired by Murillo’s Immaculates. In 1887, to preserve and protect it, the image was given a solid silver covering. It is usually clothed with a white robe and sky blue cloak, the colors of the Argentinian flag. Only the dark oval face with big blue eyes and the hands folded in prayer are now visible.
Tradition says that an ox-drawn wagon was taking the statue from Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero. The animals stopped at the Luján River and refused to cross. Through trial and error the teamsters discovered that it the box with the Virgin was in the wagon, the oxen would not move; if it was removed, then away they went. After testing this several times, the people realised that Our Lady wanted to stay in Luján and so she is there today.
The image was first taken to the nearby home of Don Rosendo. He built a primitive chapel for it which lasted 40 years. A bigger shrine was completed in 1685. A new sanctuary was built in the 19th century. The image was crowned canonically in 1887. In 1930 Pope Pius XII gave the sanctuary the title of Basilica.
• Agentina (proclaimed on 8 September 1930 Pope Pius XI)
• Argentinian military chaplains
St Acacius of Byzantium
Bl Aloysius Luis Rabata
St Amatus Ronconi
Bl Angelo of Massaccio
St Arsenio of Mount Scete
St Benedict II, Pope
St Boniface IV, Pope
St Desideratus of Bourges
Bl Domenico di San Pietro
St Helladius of Auxerre
St Ida of Nivelles
St Martin of Saujon
St Metrone of Verona
St Odrian of Waterford
St Otger of Utrecht
St Peter of Besançon
Bl Pietro de Alos
Bl Raymond of Toulouse
Bl Teresa Demjanovich
Bl Ulrika Fransiska Nisch
St Victor Maurus
St Wiro of Utrecht
Thought for the Day – 27 April – Friday of the Fourth Week of Eastertide and the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat
“If I were a leper my mother would hug me. She would kiss my wounds without fear or hesitation. —Well then, what would the Blessed Virgin Mary do?
When we feel we are like lepers, all full of sores, we have to cry out: Mother! And the protection of our Mother will be like a kiss upon our wounds, which obtains our cure. “…St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975) – The Forge, no. 190
Approximately 28 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain, is the mountain of Montserrat. Located on the mountain is the Benedictine Monastery and Marian Shrine of Montserrat where since the 8th century pilgrims have journeyed to see the miraculous image of Our Lady of Montserrat.
According to tradition, the image of Our Lady was found on the mountain in 718 AD. The Benedictine Monks chose to build their monastery around the statue of Our Lady because they were unable to lift or move it. The statue of Our Lady of Montserrat remains on the mountain today, enshrined within the sanctuary in a beautifully decorated chapel. Our Lady is depicted seated on a throne holding the Child Jesus. Her face and hands have darkened over time due to external elements for which she is affectionately called “La Morenita.”
Saints Peter Nolasco, Ignatius Loyola, and Josemaria Escriva are counted among the many pilgrims that throughout the centuries have gone to Our Lady of Montserrat to seek her intercession. St Josemaria was deeply devoted to Our Lady of Montserrat. During the 1940’s, he frequently visited the shrine and made an especially important visit in 1946 before departing for Rome, which would become his new permanent home and where would begin an important period in the history of Opus Dei.
A CARESS FROM HIS HEAVENLY MOTHER: CURED OF DIABETES
Despite his move to Rome, St Josemaria’s love for the Blessed Virgin Mary under this advocation continued throughout his life. And it was on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, 27 April 1954, that he was cured of diabetes, after a very severe attack which brought him to the point of death. The story is told by Jose Miguel Cejas in his book Josemaría Escrivá, un hombre, un camino y un mensaje (“Josemaria Escriva, a man, a way and a message”):
“27 April 1954 and life was going on as usual in Villa Tevere, the headquarters of the Opus Dei prelature in Rome. It was the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, an ordinary day, filled with prayer and work in the warm Italian springtime. Recently Escriva’s diabetes had intensified. Every week he went for a blood test and the results were progressively worse, in spite of a strict diet and the high doses of insulin he was given daily. Escriva did not lose his peace of mind over this: God led him along paths of abandonment, humility, simplicity and trust. That day, following the doctor’s instructions, at ten to one in the afternoon, Alvaro del Portillo had given him an injection with a new prescription of delayed-action insulin. Afterwards they went down to the dining-room.
Escriva sat down at table and suffered a physical collapse. He realised that he could be about to die and his instant reaction was to ask for absolution.
“Alvaro, give me absolution.”
“But, Father, what are you saying?”
As Fr Del Portillo was too surprised to do anything, Escriva began the words for him, “Ego te absolvo – ” and fell unconscious on the floor.
It was an anaphylactic shock. Del Portillo gave him absolution, put some sugar in his mouth and made him swallow it, dashed water in his face and moved his head and limbs and quickly summoned a doctor. Some minutes later, Escriva slowly began to come round, though he found that he could not see anything.
The doctor was astonished, since these types of insulin reaction are normally fatal. However, after some hours Escriva felt better and recovered his sight again. From that day on, his diabetes was cured. It had been a caress from his Heavenly Mother, on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat.”
Quote/s of the Day – 16 April – Monday of the Third Week of Eastertide and the Memorial of St Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879)
“Nothing is anything anymore to me, everything is nothing to me, only Jesus! Neither things, nor persons, neither ideas, nor emotions, neither honour, nor sufferings. Jesus is for me honour, delight, heart and soul.”
“You must receive God well – give Him a loving welcome, for then, He has to pay us rent.”
Saint of the Day – 16 April – Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) Marian Visionary of Lourdes, Virgin, Consecrated Religious. Born on 7 January 1844 at Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France and died on 16 April 1879, Nevers, Nièvre, France of natural causes, aged 35. Patronages – Bodily illness, Lourdes, France, shepherds and shepherdesses, against poverty, people ridiculed for their faith. She was Canonised on 8 December 1933 by Pope Pius XI. Her Body is incorrupt and is on display in Nevers, France.
The eldest of nine children, only four of whom survived childhood, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was born at Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. After her father, a miller, lost his job in 1854, the family was exposed to the direst extremes of poverty.
By the time she was 14, Bernadette had been sick so often that she hadn’t grown properly. She was the size of a much younger girl. She, her parents and her younger brothers and sisters all lived in a tiny room at the back of someone else’s house, a building that had actually been a prison many years before. They slept on three beds: one for the parents, one for the boys and one for the girls. Every night they battled mice and rats. Every morning, they woke up, put their feet on cold stone floors and dressed in clothes that had been mended more times than anyone could count. Each day they hoped the work they could find would bring them enough bread to live on that day.
“Bernadette” grew up uneducated, undernourished and asthmatic, obliged to work as a waitress and a farmhand. The little girl spoke in a Basque dialect and could scarcely read or write. She did, however, imbibe from her parents a deep Catholic devotion.
By 1856 the Soubirous were living in an abandoned prison cell which stank of sewage. On 11 February 1858 Bernadette, with her sister Toinette and a friend, went to gather firewood. In a grotto beside the River Gave, at a place used as a watering hole for pigs, she saw a vision of a “Lady” wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot. Bernadette’s companions saw nothing and she herself wondered whether her experience had been an illusion. Three days later, though, she returned to the grotto, and again saw the apparition. On 18 February her third visit, the vision spoke for the first time, asking for her presence over the next fortnight. Next day, the Lady instructed Bernadette to tell the priests to build a chapel at the grotto.
Crowds began to gather to witness the regular phenomenon of the small girl in ecstasy. The police, concerned, interrogated Bernadette, who related her experiences with clarity and conviction. Local interest quickened after the Lady told Bernadette to drink from a muddy trickle in the grotto. By the morrow the trickle had turned into an active spring.
On 4 March at the end of the prescribed fortnight, a crowd of 10,000 gathered to watch Bernadette. In fact, she would experience three more apparitions, bringing the total to 18. Chivied by the parish priest, she insisted that the Lady should give her name. “I am the Immaculate Conception,” came the reply, in perfect Basque dialect. Bernadette had no idea what this meant. She repeated it to herself over and over on her way back to the village so she wouldn’t forget the strange, long words. When she told her parish priest what the lady had said, he was quite surprised. The priest knew that what the mysterious lady had said meant that she was Mary, Jesus’ mother. The mysterious lady of the grotto had told Bernadette who she was. But it was not very common for people—especially poor little girls who couldn’t read—to think of Mary as the “immaculate conception,” a phrase that reminds us of how God saved Mary from sin even before she was born. The Blessed Virgin also told her: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the next,” the apparition had told her.
Disliking the attention she was attracting, Bernadette went to the hospice school run by the Sisters of Charity of Nevers where she had learned to read and write. Although she considered joining the Carmelites, her health precluded her entering any of the strict contemplative orders. On 29 July 1866, with 42 other candidates, she took the religious habit of a postulant and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers. Her Mistress of Novices was Sister Marie Therese Vauzou. The Mother Superior at the time gave her the name Marie-Bernarde in honour of her godmother who was named “Bernarde”.
Bernadette spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary and later as a sacristan, creating beautiful embroidery for altar cloths and vestments. Her contemporaries admired her humility and spirit of sacrifice. One day, asked about the apparitions, she replied:
“The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.” and “They think I’m a saint,” she observed. “When I’m dead they’ll come and touch holy pictures and rosaries to me, and all the while I’ll be getting boiled on a grill in purgatory.”
She later contracted tuberculosis of the bone in her right knee. She had followed the development of Lourdes as a pilgrimage shrine while she still lived at Lourdes but was not present for the consecration of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception there in 1876.
For several months prior to her death, she was unable to take an active part in convent life. She eventually died of her long-term illness at the age of 35 on 16 April 1879 (Easter Wednesday) while praying the holy rosary. On her deathbed, as she suffered from severe pain and in keeping with the Virgin Mary’s admonition of “Penance, Penance, Penance,” Bernadette proclaimed that “all this is good for Heaven!” Her final words were, “Blessed Mary, Mother of God, pray for me! A poor sinner, a poor sinner”.
In the 1858 Lourdes apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary declared herself as the Immaculate Conception to the innocent little shepherd girl named Bernadette: … The Immaculate Conception (CCC, 490-3)
Bl Arcangelo Canetoli
St Benedict Joseph Labre – Known as the Beggar of Perpetual Adoration (1748-1783)
St Bernadette of Lourdes – The Visionary of Lourdes (1844-1879)
St Fructuosus of Braga
St Herveus of Tours
Bl Joachim Piccolomini
St Lambert of Saragossa
St Lambert of Saragossa
St Magnus of Orkney
St Turibius of Astorga
St William Gnoffi
Martyrs of Avrillé – 26 beati: – A group of lay people who were executed together for their faith during the anti-Christian persecutions of the French Revolution. They were martyred on 16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France.
• Blessed Anne Maugrain
• Blessed François Micheneau veuve Gillot
• Blessed François Suhard veuve Ménard
• Blessed Jean Ménard
• Blessed Jeanne Gourdon veuve Moreau
• Blessed Jeanne Leduc épouse Paquier
• Blessed Jeanne Onillon veuve Onillon
• Blessed Jeanne Thomas veuve Delaunay
• Blessed Madeleine Cady épouse Desvignes
• Blessed Madeleine Sallé épouse Havard
• Blessed Marguerite Robin
• Blessed Marie Forestier
• Blessed Marie Gingueneau veuve Coiffard
• Blessed Marie Lardeux
• Blessed Marie Piou épouse Supiot
• Blessed Marie Rechard
• Blessed Marie Roger veuve Chartier
• Blessed Marie-Genevieve Poulain de la Forestrie
• Blessed Marthe Poulain de la Forestrie
• Blessed Perrine Bourigault
• Blessed Perrine Laurent
• Blessed Perrine Pottier épouse Turpault
• Blessed Pierre Delépine
• Blessed Renée Bourgeais veuve Juret
• Blessed Renée Rigault épouse Papin
• Blessed Renée Sechet veuve Davy
16 April 1794 at Avrillé, Maine-et-Loire, France – Beatified: 19 February 1984 by Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy
Martyrs of Corinth – 9 saints: A group of nine Christians who were tortured and martyred together in the persecutions of Decius. We know little more than three of their names – Callistus, Charisius and Leonide. They were thrown into the sea at Corinth, Greece c250
Martyrs of Saragossa: Group of eighteen martyrs murdered in 304 in Saragossa, Spain in the persecutions of Diocletian and the prefect Dacean. We know little more than the names – Apodemus, Caecilian, Caius, Crementius, Engratia, Eventius, Felix, Fronto, Gaius, Julia, Lambert, Lupercus, Martial, Optatus, Primitivus, Publius, Quintilian, Saturnius (4 men of this name), Succesus and Urban. Their graves re-discovered in 1389 in the crypt under the church of San Encrazia in Saragossa.
Saints of the Day – 20 February 2018 – Today, is the First Memorial of Saints Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marta (1910-1920) who were Canonised last year, 13 May 2017 – “The Shepherds of Fatima”
Between 13 May and 13 October 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children from Aljustrel, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fátima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war. Portugal itself was in political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organisations soon after.
At the first appearance, Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary’s final apparition on 13 October 1917, when Our Lady of the Rosary asked them to build a chapel on the rocky hillside. This apparition is now known as the Miracle of the Sun. The entire crowd saw a remarkable sight. The sun seemed to dance in the sky. It was spinning like a top and shooting off brilliant colours of the rainbow. Suddenly the sun dropped treacherously close to earth. People dropped to their knees and the sun just as quickly returned to its play in the sky.
Less than two years later, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died of influenza in Lisbon in 1920, offering her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the Holy Father. She was re-buried in the Fátima basilica in 1951, when it was discovered that her body is incorrupt. Their cousin Lúcia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000; she died five years later.
Pope Francis canonised the younger children on his visit to Fátima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first apparition, last year, 13 May 2017.
The shrine of Our Lady of Fátima is visited by up to 20 million people a year.
Madonna del Pilerio: The term Pilerio probably derives from piliero (pillar), or it could be older and derive from the greek puleròs (guardian, guardian of the city gate). The cult of the Madonna del Pilerio as the patron saint of Cosenza, dates back to the end of the 16th century. It is said that in the year 1576, while the plague desolated different regions of Italy, a devotee, praying before the icon of the Madonna del Pilerio, noticed a stain similar to the pestiferous bubo (the marks of the plague), present on the face of the Image. The phenomenon was noted by the people and by the ecclesiastical authorities. The stain was considered a prodigy and a revealing sign of the protection of the Madonna for the City of Cosenza, saved by her from the plague. Since then the Virgin of Pilerio became the Protectress of the City.
The news of the prodigious sign did not take long to spread and from the neighbouring countries a growing rush of devotees began. The pilgrimages continued over time and grew in number, so much so that in 1603, the Archbishop Monsignor Giovan Battista Costanzo (1591-1617), to better serve the influx of pilgrims, removed the painting from the place where it was and placed it before on one of the pillars of the central nave of the Duomo, then on the main altar and finally in 1607 in the specially built chapel dedicated to the Virgin and where even today is venerated. On April 17, 1607, at the unanimous request of the inhabitants of Cosenza, the Archbishop Mgr. Costanzo crowned the Virgin of Pilerio Regina and Patrona della Città. In 1783 a violent earthquake struck down on Cosenza. On that occasion another sign was found on the face of the image of the Pilerio.
St Alexius of Kiev
St Ammonius of Alexandria
Bl Anthony of Saxony
St Anthony Kauleas
St Benedict of Aniane (747-821)
Bl Benedict Revelli
St Damian of Africa
St Damian of Rome
St Ethelwald of Lindisfarne
St Eulalia of Barcelona
St Gaudentius of Verona
St Goscelinus of Turin
Bl Gregory of Tragurio
Bl Humbeline of Jully
St Jak Bushati
St Julian of Alexandria
St Julian the Hospitaller
Bl Ladislaus of Hungary
St Meletius of Antioch
St Modestus of Alexandria
St Modestus of Carthage
St Modestus the Deacon
Bl Nicholas of Hungary
Bl Thomas of Foligno
Martyrs of Albitina – 46 saints:
During the persecutions of Diocletian, troops were sent to the churches of Abitina, North Africa on a Sunday morning; they rounded up everyone who had arrived for Mass and took them all to Carthage for interrogation by pro-consul Anulinus. The 46 who proclaimed their Christianity were executed. We know some of their names and stories.
• Felice (2 by this name)
• Gennara (2 by this name)
• Matrona (2 by this name)
• Rogatian (3 by this name)
• Rogato (2 by this name)
• Saturninus the Elder
• Saturninus the Younger
• Seconda (2 by this name)
They were tortured to death in 304 in prison at Albitina, North Africa.
Martyred in England:
Bl George Haydock
Bl James Fenn
Bl John Nutter
Bl John Munden
Bl Thomas Hemeford
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Josep Gassol Montseny
Blessed Memorial of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes/Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – (11 February and 16 July of 1858) – Patron of the ill and infirm, protection from disease, France, 6 cities and a Diocese.
The memorial commemorates the eighteen (18) apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette Soubiroux that occurred between 11 February and 16 July of 1858 near the town of Lourdes in the Hautes-Pyrenees region of France. Though there would be other people with her, only Saint Bernadette could see the Lady.
During the 9th appearance, on 25 February, the Lady told Bernadette to drink from a spring that suddenly appeared in the grotto where the apparitions occurred. During the 12th appearance, on 1 March, a visitor washed her arm in water from the spring and some nerve damage in it was immediately cured. There is a tradition of miraculous cures at the grotto, or received by those who drink or are bathed in its waters. Bernadette later said that the water had no special properties but it helped focus the faithful who received the cures through faith and prayer.
During the 13th appearance, on 2 March, the Lady told Bernadette to tell local priests that they should build a chapel at the grotto and have processions to be made to it; the priests were understandably sceptical but due to the numbers of pilgrims coming to the area, construction of several churches was started within a few years.
During the 16th appearance, on 25 March, the Lady identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception”.
Due to the number of people gathering at the site and making treks to the area, on 8 June 1858, the mayor of Lourdes barricaded the grotto and stationed guards to prevent public access; visitors were fined for kneeling near the grotto or talking about it and Bernadette saw the last appearance of the Lady from outside the barricade. The grotto was re-opened to the public in October 1858 by order of Emperor Louis Napoleon III and the pilgrims have not stopped coming since.
• on 18 January 1862 Bishop Bertrand-Sévère Mascarou-Laurence, with the authorisation of Pope Pius IX, declared that the faithful are “justified in believing the reality of the apparition”
• national French pilgrimages to the site began in 1873
• the basilica of Notre-Dame de Lourdes was consecrated in 1876
• Blessed Pope Pius IX formally granted a canonical coronation to the statue of Our Lady in the courtyard of the basilica on 3 July 1876
• Church of the Rosary consecrated in 1901
• a special office and Mass were authorised by Pope Leo XIII
• observance of the feast extended to the whole Church by St Pope Pius X in 1907
Yesterday 7 February 2018, the Vatican Congregation recognised the healing of an unborn child. Pope Francis’ final decision and announcement of canonisation day is the last step
Paul VI will be canonised soon. The meeting of the bishops and cardinals of the Congregation of Saints unanimously approved the recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Giovanni Battista Montini. Now the only thing missing, is Pope Francis’ final signature of approval and the announcement of the date for the canonisation of the Pontiff from Brescia who died in Castel Gandolfo forty years ago.
The miracle needed for Paul VI’s aureole concerns the healing of an unborn child, in the fifth month of pregnancy. A case studied by the postulation in 2014. The mother, originally from the province of Verona, was carrying out a difficult pregnancy and was at risk of miscarriage for a disease that could have compromised the life of the fetus and mother. A few days after Pope Montini’s beatification, which took place in Rome on Sunday 19 October 2014, the woman went to Brescia to pray the new Blessed at the Santuario delle Grazie. The baby girl was born in good health and still is as is the mother.
The miracle had been studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The inexplicability of the healing had been decided upon last year by the Medical Council of the Department and then analysed and approved by theologians. The last step was today’s cardinal meeting, which took note of the doctors’ conclusions and theologians’ evaluations. Now the Cardinal Prefect, Angelo Amato, will bring the bishops’ and cardinals’ ballot to Pope Francis. He will have the final word on the matter. The Holy Father will announce -during a consistory- the date of Paul VI’ canonisation, which will probably be celebrated in Rome in October, during the Synod of young people.
Last December, the diocesan weekly magazine of Brescia speculated on potential dates, “At this point, we are more sure than hopeful. The month of October could be the right one. From 3 to 28 October in Rome the 15th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on young people will be celebrated and will converge in the Vatican prelates from all over the world. What better opportunity to canonise, in front of such a great number of Bishops, the other Pontiff – after Saint John XXIII – of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council? It will probably occur on one of the first three Sundays of October, though the most popular one today seems to be that of 21th”.
However, the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, is on 25 July this year (25 July 1968) – this too could be a very appropriate date.
Pope Montini, born in 1897 and died in 1978, was the Pontiff who brought the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council to completion and succeeded in concluding it practically with the unanimous approval of the documents voted. He began the epoch of apostolic travels in the world, he went through the years of post-conciliar crisis. The day he was beatified, Francis, who often refers to Montini’s Magisterium, had said, “On this day of the beatification of Pope Paul VI, his words return to my mind, with which launched the Synod of Bishops, … By carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society”.
Pope Francis had thanked Paul VI for his “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church! “ and had recalled that “the great helmsman” of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, after the closing of the Council meeting, wrote: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church and in that way it will be clear that He, and no other, is her guide and saviour”.In this humility – Francis concluded – “the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularised and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord”.
I love you, nearly Saint Paul VI, please pray for the universal Church and for the whole world!
One Minute Reflection – 8 February – The Memorial of St Jerome Emiliani (1486-1537) – Gospel Mark 7:24-30 Year B
But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone...Mark 7:28-30
REFLECTION – “I urge you to persevere in your love for Christ and your faithful observance of the law of Christ. Our goal is God, the source of all good. As we say in our prayer, we are to place our trust in God and in no one else. In His kindness, our Lord wished to strengthen your faith, for without it, as the evangelist points out, Christ could not have performed many of His miracles.”…St Jerome Emiliani (1486-1537)
PRAYER – Father of mercy, You chose St Jerome Emiliani to be a father to orphans in their need. Grant that through his prayer, we may keep faithfully the spirit of sonship, by which we are not only called but really are Your children. Help us to imitate his love and faith, manifesting by our commitment to Your commandments, our true faith. Amen
St Paul the Apostle is the greatest of the early Christian missionaries. He first appears in the Acts of the Apostles under the name of Saul. Saul was raised in the Jewish faith as a Pharisee trained in the strict observance of God’s Law. He believed the Law should be obeyed by himself and all Jews. Saul was upset by the early Christian Church, believing that the early Christians had broken away from their Jewish traditions. He actively persecuted the Church in Jerusalem. As the first Christian martyr Stephen was being stoned to death, Saul watched the cloaks of the persecutors (Acts 7:58).
Paul then traveled to Damascus to further persecute early Christians. On the road to Damascus Saul had an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ (Acts of the Apostles 9:1–19, Galatians 1: 13–14). Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Paul replied, “Who are you, sir?” Jesus responded, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”(Acts 9: 4 – 5). Jesus then sent Saul into Damascus to wait for further instructions. Saul was shaken and blinded by the experience. When a Christian named Ananias came and baptised Saul, his blindness went away. As a result of this encounter Saul became a follower of Christ. He was now convinced that fellowship with the risen Jesus Christ, not the observance of the Law, was all that was needed to receive God’s promise of salvation. (Galatians 1:11–12; 3:1–5)
Saul, whose name now became Paul, went to Jerusalem to consult with Peter (Galatians 1: 18). After his first missionary journeys, Paul was called by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. He spent the rest of his life journeying on his missions, establishing local churches and writing to them when he heard of their accomplishments and failures. Paul’s letters are the earliest records of the life and history of the early Church. As inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul’s letters are part of the Canon of the New Testament. As a record of the happenings in the early Church they are in invaluable record of the expansion of the Christianity.
St Paul’s Writings
All together, there are 13 epistles that bear Paul’s name as the author. However, scholars do not believe that he wrote them all. Paul himself was the author of first and second Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, first and second Corinthians, Romans and Philemon. The epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Titus and first and second Timothy bear Paul’s name but it is believed that they were written after his death. The writers of these letters were disciples of Paul who wanted to continue his teaching. Whoever the authors of these epistles were, these writings have been accepted into the New Testament as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Centrality of Jesus Christ
The most profound and moving day in Paul’s life was when he met the risen Jesus Christ. Paul was well respected by the Jewish community and his peers. But he gave it all up for Christ. “More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) Jesus Christ, Paul realised, was sent by the Father to bring salvation for all. Paul taught that we are united with Christ in faith and Baptism – “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”(Romans 6:4)
On the personal level, individual Christians recognise that when they are united with Christ, they receive the grace needed to overcome sin and to live moral lives. (Galatians 5:16–26)
Paul teaches that the justice of God was saving justice at its best. God is faithful, fulfilling the promises made in the Old Testament covenant. Through the sin of Adam and Eve the human family was alienated from God. Through Christ the human family is called back into relationship with God. This process of reuniting the human family with God is called justification. (Romans 3:21–31) It is impossible for us to justify ourselves; we are only justified by being united in faith with Jesus Christ and by accepting the gift of grace won by Christ. (Romans 5:1–2) We can only be made right with God and set free from a life of immoral living by accepting the gift of God’s reconciling grace.
Life in the Spirit
Paul teaches that the love of God is being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5) The Holy Spirit is the source of all love. The Holy Spirit creates a bond between us and God like children bound to a father. (Romans 8:14–16) The Holy Spirit not only establishes our relationship with the Father. Even though we are weak, the Holy Spirit helps us to live faithfully within that relationship. (Romans 8:26–27) It is through the Holy Spirit that we can live in love with all people. (1 Corinthians 13:3–7)
The Moral Life
What does it mean to live a Christian moral life? Paul thought deeply about this question. He was raised as a faithful Jew. As we have seen Paul, was raised to believe that following the strict moral code of the Jewish faith was the way to salvation. Paul believed “… the law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”(Romans 7:12.) What Paul realised, however, that because we are weakened by the sin of Adam and Eve, it was impossible to us to reconnect in our relationship with God through our efforts alone (Romans 7:14).
After his experience with Jesus Christ, Paul knew that he was not alone on the road to salvation. Jesus Christ has already accomplished salvation for us. In faith and Baptism, Christians receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, who is our constant guide. The Holy Spirit helps us to live in relationship with God and others.
So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.
Msgr Josemaria Escriva went to Loreto for the first time on January 3 and 4, 1948. But he considered himself especially indebted to Our Lady of Loreto for a very particular reason: she had heard his prayer in a time of acute need. The 1950s were years of great suffering for St Josemaria because of misunderstandings and conflicts. Amidst all these difficulties he decided to go to Loreto to place himself under our Lady’s protection. In her book Tiempo de Caminar, Ana Sastre tells the story of that visit:
“On August the fourteenth, 1951, Monsignor Escrivá decided to go to Loreto by car to be there on the fifteenth and consecrate Opus Dei to our Blessed Lady. The heat was stifling and they were very thirsty all the way. There was no motorway. The road followed the line of valleys, went steeply up the Apennine Mountains and finally plunged down towards the Adriatic coast.
According to a centuries-old tradition the Holy House of Nazareth has stood on the hill of Loreto since 1294, and a basilica was later built around it. The Holy House is rectangular in shape and its walls are about four and a half meters high. One of the walls is modern, but the others, which have no foundations and are blackened by the smoke of candles, are, according to tradition, the walls of the House at Nazareth. The structure of the Holy House and the materials of which it is built, bear no relation to those of local architecture in olden times but are exactly similar to houses built in Palestine twenty centuries ago: sandstone blocks with a limestone mortar. The shrine stands on a ridge covered in laurel-trees, from which comes the name ‘Loreto’.
St Josemaria’s party parked in the central square and he got out of the car quickly. For fifteen or twenty minutes he was lost to sight among the people filling the basilica. Finally he emerged, after praying to our Lady, smiling and in good spirits. It was seven-thirty in the evening and they had to go back to Ancona to spend the night.
The next morning, before the sun was high, they drove back to Loreto. In spite of the early hour, the shrine was already completely full. St Josemaria vested for Mass in the sacristy and came to the altar of the Holy House of Nazareth to say Mass. The small space was packed with people and the heat was stifling.
Under the votive lamps, he wanted to celebrate the sacred liturgy with all possible devotion. But he had not allowed for the fervour of the congregation on this feast day. He wrote later, “When I would kiss the altar in accordance with the rubrics, three or four local women would accompany me. It was distracting but certainly moving. I also noticed that above the altar in that holy house, which tradition says was the home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, these words were written: ‘Here the Word was made flesh.’ Here, on a bit of the earth on which we live, in a house built by men, God dwelt”(Christ is Passing By, 12).
During the Mass, without a formula but in words filled with faith, St Josemaria consecrated Opus Dei to our Lady. Afterwards, speaking quietly to the people with him, he repeated it in the name of everyone in Opus Dei. “We consecrate to you our being and our life; everything that is ours: all that we love and all that we are. Our bodies, our hearts and our souls are for you; we are yours. And to make this consecration truly effective and lasting, today at your feet, O Mary, we renew the dedication that we made to God in Opus Dei. Inspire us with a deep love for the Church and the Pope and make us live in full submission to all their teachings.”
Invoking our Lady:
St Josemaria had been noticeably tired when he left Rome. But on the way back he seemed like a new man, as though all the obstacles in God’s path had crumbled into dust. Some weeks before he had suggested a new aspiration to his sons and daughters in Opus Dei, an invocation to the Mother of Jesus for them to repeat constantly: “Most sweet heart of Mary, prepare a safe way!” Our Lady’s loving smile always went ahead along the paths of Opus Dei. Once again, its founder had stepped forward in the parameters of faith. He used the human means but trusted in a decisive intervention from on high. “God is the same as always. It is men of faith that are needed: and then, there will be a renewal of the wonders we read of in the Gospel. Ecce non est abbreviata manus Domini, – God’s arm, his power, has not grown weaker!” (The Way, 586).
St Josemaria visited the Holy House of Nazareth on six further occasions: 7 November, 1953; 12 May 1955; 8 May 1960; 22 April 1969; 8 May 1969 and the last one on 22 April 1971. On 9 December 1973, he said, “I think that all the representations, all the names, all the invocations given by Christians to the Virgin Mary, are wonderful. But in Loreto I am especially indebted to our Lady.”
VISIT TO THE SHRINE OF LORETO AND PRIVATE PRAYER AT THE HOLY HOUSE
Mary, Mother of the “Yes”, you listened to Jesus, and know the tone of His voice and the beating of His heart. Morning Star, speak to us of Him, and tell us about your journey of following Him on the path of faith.
Mary, who dwelt with Jesus in Nazareth, impress on our lives your sentiments, your docility, your attentive silence, and make the Word flourish in genuinely free choices.
Mary, speak to us of Jesus, so that the freshness of our faith shines in our eyes and warms the heart of those we meet, as you did when visiting Elizabeth, who in her old age rejoiced with you for the gift of life.
Mary, Virgin of the Magnificat help us to bring joy to the world and, as at Cana, lead every young person involved in service of others to do only what Jesus will tell them.
Mary, look upon the Agora of youth, so that the soil of the Italian Church will be fertile. Pray that Jesus, dead and Risen, is reborn in us, and transforms us into a night full of light, full of him.
Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, Gate of Heaven, help us to lift our eyes on high. We want to see Jesus, to speak with Him, to proclaim His love to all.
Thought for the Day – 10 December – The Memorial of Our Lady and the Holy House of Loreto
LORETO enshrines the original home of the holiest persons who walked the earth: the God-Man Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and the virginal father, St Joseph. Therefore, it should not be surprising that this sanctuary should attract Saints. There is a marble plaque in the basilica on which are carved the names of thirty-nine saints and twenty-two other holy persons who came on pilgrimage to Loreto. In 1846, there were one hundred and sixty names. One hundred and fifty years later that number must have easily doubled.
If one were to single out a Saint who was particularly attached to Loreto, it would seem that the pilgrim saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, would have first place. After finding out that his vocation was to be a rather exceptional one—–literally a pilgrim beggar—–Benedict left his home in France in 1770 for Rome at age twenty-two. On this first journey, he stopped on his way at Loreto and Assisi. He stayed in Rome for nine months visiting all the holy places but was back in Loreto in September of the following year. In June 1772, he was back again at Loreto. He then extended his pilgrimages to all the famous shrines in Europe. At the end of 1776, he settled down in Rome, leaving only to make an occasional pilgrimage to his favorite shrine, the Holy House. He continued this each year until his death in 1783 at the age of 35.
The people of Loreto came to know him well. He was that beggar who lived on the charity of others, refusing to take any more than necessary to fill his immediate needs. When compassionate friends offered him a room closer to the shrine, he turned it down when he found it contained a bed. Surely the poverty and utter detachment of the Holy Family of Nazareth was reflected in a most outstanding way in this Saint who spent many long vigils of prayer in the Holy House.
Quote of the Day – 10 December – The Memorial of Our Lady and the Holy House of Loreto
“I went to Loreto with a simple faith, believing what I still believe, even more so after having seen. Now I no longer have any doubts. If you ask me why I believe it, it is because everyone believes it in Rome— cautious and skeptical as they are in many other things. I believe it, as I believe that there is a planet called Neptune, or that chloroform destroys the sense of pain. I have no prior difficulties on this point.”
“It was thought that St Maximilian Kolbe never visited Loreto. Our Lady, however, always manages to bring to what was her hom, while on earth, those who revere and venerate her in a special way. It comes as no surprise, then, to learn from the Mass register of the Basilica, that he participated in a Mass along with thirty priests from Yugoslavia on 13 July 1919. The following day, the feast of the Franciscan theologian St Bonaventure, he celebrated Mass within the Holy house itself. And so another name, a modem day Saint, has been added to the list of Saints and holy persons who have visited the shrine of Loreto. Undoubtedly there will be many more as time goes on, paying their respects and drawing inspiration from the holiest House in this world. ”
Blessed Cardinal Henry John Newman – written in 1848 and 1884
One Minute Reflection – 10 December- The Memorial of Our Lady and the Holy House of Loreto
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind………..Luke 10:27
REFLECTION – “Love for Christ pierced Mary’s heart in such a way that no part of it was left unkindled. Mary thus fulfilled the first commandment of love in all its fullness
and without the slightest imperfection.”….St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – O Mother! You, who carried the Divine Saviour in your immaculate womb and lived with Him in the Holy House that we venerate on the Loreto Hill, grant us the grace to seek Him and imitate His example, He who leads us to salvation. Our Lady of Loreto work miracles in us all! Amen
The Feast of the Our Lady of Loreto and the Holy House – 10 December
Eighteen miles south of Ancona, and about three miles from the Adriatic coast of Italy, stands the city of Loreto (also spelled Loretto) on the summit of a hill. A vast basilica with a great dome forms the most treasured of all the Pope’s “extraterritorial” Vatican State properties, enshrining, as it does, one of the most sacred and important of all Our Lady’s Shrines — the Home of the Holy Family, “the Holy House of Loreto.” Written at the door of the basilica are these words: “The whole world has no place more sacred… For here was the Word made Flesh and here was born the Virgin Mother…” On entering the basilica, one finds beneath the central dome and just behind the high altar, a rectangular edifice of white marble, richly adorned with statues. The white marble, however, forms only a protective crust. The contrast between the exterior richness and the poverty of the interior is startling. Inside are the plain, rough walls of a cottage of great antiquity, thirty feet long by fifteen feet wide and about fifteen feet high. In the centre of the House of Our Lady, there is a replica of a wooden statue of the Madonna. The original one, made of cedar of Lebanon, arrived at Loreto together with the house but has since been destroyed.
How this Shrine came to be is a fascinating story. This is the House of Nazareth, the home of the Holy Family, which had been brought by angels from Nazareth to the Dalmatian coast and later, by the same angels, transported to Loreto where it stands today enclosed in the huge Basilica just described. The history of Loreto is based upon a wealth of sound tradition and reliably recorded historical facts. We know from the visits of reliable witnesses to the Holy Land, whose journeys were carefully recorded in documents, that the Holy House of Nazareth was intact in Palestine at a relatively late date. St Louis, King of France, heard Mass in Nazareth in 1253 in the same chamber where the Angel announced the coming of Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Holy Land had seen its last and unsuccessful Crusade in 1291. The last of the Christian soldiers withdrew from Nazareth the same year, leaving behind the holiest of houses unprotected. It was to be dealt with according to the Muslim tradition of pillaging and destruction. It may seem far-fetched to think that a tiny clay house venerated by a handful of Christians could merit such vindictive rage. But this was a unique house — visibly an edifice of mud and straw, but preserving within its framework living memories of its Royal Household — Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
The first assault was that of the Seljukian Turks in 1090. They rampaged through the Holy Land, looting the treasures left in the churches of the Holy Places by devout Christian pilgrims. They turned basilicas and churches into mosques and destroyed what was deemed useless for their unholy purposes. Among the last class fell the fate of Santa Casa, home of the Holy Family. Fortunately, when Constantine had the first Basilica built over the holy spot in 312, the house, along with the grotto that was attached, was interred within a subterranean crypt. And so it survived the initial desecrations of Islam.
In the years that followed, a trickle of Christian pilgrims kept alive the devotion and veneration of the Holy House where the Word was made Flesh. Then, when the first Crusaders arrived victorious in 1100 under Tancred, they built a new Basilica.
During the relative peace that ensued, pilgrims once again freely visited the sanctified ground. But because of the mixed motives that drew some of the Crusaders to the Holy Land, God did not bless all of their attempts to secure a lasting peace for the new Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. In all there were eight crusades, marked by some glorious victories but punctuated also with terrible defeats. In 1219, Saint Francis of Assisi, whose spiritual sons were later to be given charge of the Holy House, visited this “holiest spot on earth” in Nazareth. It was during the last crusade that St. Louis IX knelt on the ground that had once been frequented by Our Lord and received Him into his heart in Holy Communion. The saintly king deemed this to be a far greater privilege than his earthly royalty.
The year 1263 saw the second destruction of the Basilica, but again the Holy House miraculously survived the assaults of the Infidels. But the defeated Christians eventually withdrew in 1291. Total destruction finally loomed over the former home of the Holy Family, as free reign was given in the Holy Land to its unholy inhabitants. Eternal Wisdom, however, had other plans!
Our Lady of Loretto On the night of May 10th, 1291 the shepherds of Tersatto, now Croatia, parted company to tend to their flocks. The lonely fields in Dalmatia and the shepherds who treaded them daily were well acquainted with each other. So the sudden appearance of a house that wasn’t there the night before caused quite a stir; the evening before, there had been no building, nor any building materials. Little did they realise it once had housed the Morning Star.
The poor, baffled, little shepherds, not suspecting the workings of Divine grace in that little hut, inspected it curiously. The walls did not all evenly touch the ground; half of them hovered over the road and the rest rested in the field. The tiny structure resembled a church more than a domestic abode. The house had an ancient altar, a Greek cross and a strange statue of a lady. As they entered it, the air seemed filled with a heavenly incense. Indeed it was. For in this very house, from the root of Jesse, blossomed the Mystical Rose.
Realising it was no ordinary incident, the shepherds ran off to the local church of St George to awaken Father Alexander Georgevich. The puzzled priest, after investigating the clay “church” himself, could offer little explanation to the humble crowd that gathered. That night the weary old priest, although severely crippled with arthritis, spent hours in prayer beseeching enlightenment from the Virgin Most Powerful. In his sleep the Mother of Good Counsel rewarded his humility by answering his request in a dream. “Know that this house,” She said, “is the same in which I was born and brought up. Here, at the Annunciation, I conceived the Creator of all things. Here, the Word of the Eternal Father became Man. The altar which was brought with the house was consecrated by Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. This house has now come to your shores by the power of God. And now, in order that you may bear testimony of all these things, be healed. Your unexpected and sudden recovery shall confirm the truth of what I have declared to you.”
The sudden disappearance of Father Georgevich’s familiar malady the next day quite convinced him. He then announced that it was She, who is called Health of the Sick, who had cured him and related the vision of the night before. The peasants of Tersatto now knew for sure that this was the sacred little home of their Saviour. They venerated it accordingly.
Hearing of the miraculous appearance, the Governor of Dalmatia immediately dispatched his emissaries to Nazareth, and they reported that the Holy House had indeed disappeared from there. The length and breadth of the walls of the dwelling found at Tersatto corresponded exactly with the foundations beneath the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. This basilica had been built over the original Holy Home in Nazareth. Tradition says that the investigation disclosed another bit of valuable evidence: the house found at Tersatto was built of limestone, mortar and cedar wood. These materials were commonplace in Nazareth but almost unobtainable in Dalmatia.
Then suddenly on 10 December 1294, three years later, the little house disappeared as mysteriously as it had come. This time, however, the angels were not so successful in bearing it away without notice! The alert shepherds of Tersatto reported the departure. And across the Adriatic Sea, the happy victims of insomnia, who happened to be out that night, rushed home with reports of a mysterious passage overhead of a little house, borne aloft by angels. The awesomeness of the spectacle gave hint that it was the work of the Son of the Queen of Angels.
To this very day the people of Tersatto in Dalmatia (Croatia), as well as people in the Italian Marche region, on the night of December ninth and tenth, rise at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of a joyful pealing of their bells and light their customary bonfires, as they sing litanies of praise to the Cause of Our Joy.
Across the sea in Italy, on the shores of the Adriatic, a little plain called Banderuolo, four miles from the city of Recanati welcomed the Holy House when the angels lowered its uneven walls onto the wooded area. It took almost no time for people to hear of the arrival of this mysterious, airborne house. Thousands of people began to make pilgrimages to it and it rapidly gained a reputation as a place of cures. But unfortunately, as the pilgrims increased, so did the bandits that lurked in the surrounding forest. Slowly the house of prayer became surrounded by a den of thieves. Feeling the same justified anger that once compelled Him to cast the buyers and sellers from His Father’s House, Our Lord withdrew the House itself!
Once again the soft flutter of angels’ wings stirred the night air as they relocated the home of the House of Gold. This time its foundation-less walls settled down in an open meadow on the Antici property in Recanati. Tradition tells us that, not long after this, the brothers who owned the property, two hot-tempered Italian rustics, took to fighting. The cause of the discord was allegedly over the Holy House itself, each claiming to own the plot it occupied, or perhaps taking credit for its having chosen the land because of their personal holiness! Tradition calls it a mere quarrel but it was sufficient to cause the Refuge of Sinners to abandon the site. Happily, as soon as the Santa Casa moved, the brothers repented and were reconciled.
The Holy House now reached its final destination; final, that is, at least to this present date, on Loreto hill, a few miles away from its previous location, close to the village of Recanati. Although they weren’t quite sure just what was the story behind it, people began to come in droves to venerate it. In 1295 a strong wall was built around it, either for protection, or to keep it from escaping their humble grasp and making another nightly excursion! Identification of Her sweet little home was clearly unfolded by the Virgin of Virgins Herself in 1296 to a saintly hermit who lived nearby. Immediately the government of Recanati sent sixteen of its most reputable citizens to the Holy Land to investigate the situation. After an absence of months, the retinue of homespun scientists returned with the obvious facts. All they found in Nazareth was the spot, still venerated, where the house once stood. The foundation measured up exactly to that of the House of Loreto: thirteen feet by thirty-one. The bricks of the local Nazareth habitation were of the same substance as the Holy House, whereas the other Recanati abodes were completely dissimilar. The Recanati representatives were convinced; this was the House of the Holy Family, miraculously brought to the shores of Italy through the Will of God and for His Glory.
Most of the evidence about the translation of the Holy House came to light through a commission of inquiry set up by Pope Boniface VIII, who sent his investigators to Tersatto and Nazareth, as well as to Loreto. He himself, as well as other popes, declared that the history and traditions of Loreto are “most worthy of belief.” Later the Sacred Congregation of Rites appointed 10 December as the Feast of the “Translation of the Holy House.”
Since 1294, it has become one of the greatest shrines to Our Lady, with pilgrims from all over the world crowding the roads to Loreto. Over 2,000 canonided, beatified and venerable children of the Church have paid homage to the Singular Vessel of Devotion by visiting the home in which she was born and in which she raised the only-begotten Son of God. These include: St Ignatius Loyola, St Francis Xavier, St John Berchmans, St Philip Neri, St Francis de Sales, St John Capistrano, St Clement Mary Hofbauer, St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St Louis Marie de Montfort, St Benedict Joseph Labre, St Therese and St Frances Xavier Cabrini, Blessed John Henry Newman, just to mention a few. Forty-seven popes have knelt there during their pontificates and many others came to pray before they were elevated to the Holy See. More than fifty Popes have issued Bulls and Papal Briefs testifying to its authenticity. Hundreds of Papal documents have granted it privileges, exemptions, and authorisations to receive benefits. In 1669, it was given a Mass of its own in the Missal. The Litany of Our Lady, that most beautiful and poetic expression of her virtues and her sublime role for both Heaven and Earth, is named after this Shrine, the Litany of Loreto.
It is a place of many miracles. Those who have come throughout the ages, beseeching aid from the Comforter of the Afflicted, usually return home spiritually aided or physically cured. Three successors to the chair of Peter have physically experienced the benevolence of the Virgin Most Merciful and were restored to health. They were Pope Pius II, Pope Paul II and Pope Pius IX. Even today Her graces continue to flow, for Our Lady still exercises Her Queenship by interceding for Her subjects who implore Her aid under the title of Our Lady of Loreto.
Italy has, perhaps more than any other European country, been the scene of civil strife, wars and revolutions from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The country was divided with city fighting city, faction pitted against faction, and man against man. Those six centuries of Italian history are the most dramatic in the formation of Europe. But as numerous armies marched from North to South and South to North, no harm was ever done to the House of Loreto and to its mystical image.
It was again one of the many sacrileges of the Freemasonic French Revolution to desecrate this most sacred image of Our Lady. The French Revolutionary Directory seized all the treasures of Loreto, including the image, took them to Paris and exposed them to profane curiosity. Napoleon III finally gave the statue back to Pope Pius VII, who enthroned it first in the Papal Palace at the Quirinal and then, with great solemnity restored it to Loreto in 1802. Tragically, however, an accident in 1921 destroyed the original statue and a new figure, about three feet high, was then carved from the wood of a cedar grown in the Vatican gardens.
Pope Pius XI enthroned this new statue in September of 1924 in the Sistine Chapel. Then, with his own hands, he crowned the Holy Child and His Mother, whereupon the figure was exposed for a day in the Basi1ica of St Mary Major in Rome. Finally, with great solemnity, it was carried to Loreto. On feast days, the figure of Our Lady and the Holy Child were accustomed to be dressed in robes of gold and silk. The jewels on the robe are the marriage jewels of the Catholic Empress, Maria Theresa of Austria and are of inestimable value.
There are, of course, the inevitable skeptics who obstinately reject the fact of the “translation” of the Holy House from Nazareth to Tersatto and thence to its present location. But their objections are refuted by the very fact that no house could stand for as long a time as this one has — certainly not for centuries — resting on the surface of the ground only, without even having a foundation. Yet the fact remains that the house is not artificially sustained in any way and it has no foundation at all. This can be verified by anyone who visits the shrine. During World War II, the shock of airwaves destroyed many more solidly built houses, ancient and modern, as well as fortified castles. The vicinity of Loreto and the city itself were bombed by the Allies (Americans) several times during the conflict but the House of Nazareth, where the Angel announced that the Word would be made Flesh, still stands erect and unshattered, as if proclaiming to mankind that it need only depend upon the unshakable Rock of Peter, the foundation-stone of Christ’s One, True Church.
Sweet were the days the Blessed Virgin Mary spent with Saint Joseph and the Holy Child in their modest little home. Their life within the clay walls was affluent with poverty, resonant with silence and illustrious in humility. “Her actual life, both at Nazareth and later, must have been a very ordinary one…” said Saint Thèrése, the Little Flower of Jesus, who once visited the Holy House.“She should be shown to us as someone who can be imitated, someone who lived a life of hidden virtue and who lived by faith as we must.” This beautiful and much needed lesson of extraordinary sanctity in very ordinary circumstances, is precisely what the humble and Holy House of Loreto bespeaks to us.
Thought for the Day – 9 December 2017 – Saturday of the First Week of Advent & the Memorial of St Juan Diego(1474-1548) , the Marian Visionary of the Miracle of Mary of Guadalupe – Five Lessons from the Manger
The Surprise: God does not manifest in great events but in small surprises. The boy in a manger, who would have imagined that God among us shows Himself like this? The Christian lives the surprise in the small gifts of the day to day.
The Silence: Mary meditates all this in her heart, with a look that goes deeper and finds the meaning of things. The Christian feeds on silence, prays and asks the Father for an understanding of what happens to him, in order to discern the best options.
The Light: On the darkest night of the year the Light of Jesus manifests itself. God visits our darkness, the places where we think He could never be. We are not abandoned children but infinitely loved. The Christian lives this hope.
The Poor: The shepherds, despised by all, are the first recipients of the announcement of the birth of Jesus. Always the little ones are the favourites of God. The message is given to the poorest, to whom no one gives importance. This is particularly obvious today, on the Memorial of St Juan Diego, the Marian Visionary of the Miracle of Mary of Guadalupe, for whom we ask, please pray for us St Juan!
These are the five lessons we learn from the manger. Throughout this month, we pray that we might get closer Christ’s coming to us on this Christmas Day, in your prayer proposals and in your union with the Holy Father and his intentions.
A Holy and Blessed Advent!
(Taken partially from Father António Valério, SJ – Director of the Pope’s Global Network of Prayer in Portugal)
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been the subject of numerous technical studies since 1751 and extensive scientific investigations in recent years, and none of the result offered any sound scientific explanation which, up to this very day, defies science and all human reasoning as it continuous to baffle scientists and even skeptics.
Below are only some of the findings that were drawn from the scientific investigations conducted on the image and the fabric itself which were commissioned by the authorized custodians of the Tilma in the Basilica, and in every case the investigators had direct and unobstructed access to it:
Read all about it here – http://infallible-catholic.blogspot.co.za/2012/04/miraculous-image-of-our-lady-of.html
Saint of the Day – 8 October – St Reparata – Virgin, Martyr (3rd century Caesarea, Palestine – beheaded in the 3rd century). Her relics translated to the Nice Cathedral in 1690. Patronages – Florence, Italy, Nice, France, city of, Nice, France, diocese of, Teano, Italy. Attributes – banner with red cross on a white background, dove, holding a crown and palm of martyrdom, sitting in fire, standing near the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Saint Ansanus.
St Reparata was a third-century Christian virgin and martyr of Caesarea in Palestine. Sources vary as to her age – from 11 to 20 years old – though the Sainte-Réparate cathedral in Nice gives it as 15. She was arrested for her faith and tortured during the persecution of Decius.
Her persecutors tried to burn her alive but she was saved by a shower of rain. She was then made to drink boiling pitch. When she again refused to apostatise, she was beheaded. Her legend states that as she fell dead, her spirit emerged from her body in the form a dove. Later elaborations of her legend state that her body was laid in a boat and blown by the breath of angels to the bay now known as the Baie des Anges in Nice.
Evidence of her cult does not exist before the ninth century, when her name appears in the martyrology of Bede. She is not mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea, who recorded the martyrdoms that took place in the Holy Land during the 3rd century.
Her cult became widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the multiple Passiones found in various parts of the continent -especially Italy, where her cult was particularly popular in Florence, Atri, Naples, and Chieti. Numerous painters created depictions of her, including Fra Bartolomeo, Arnolfo di Cambio, Andrea Pisano, Domenico Passignano, Lorenzo di Niccolò and Bernardo Daddi.
She is the patron saint of Nice and a co-patron saint of Florence (with Saint Zenobius). The former cathedral of Santa Reparata in Florence was dedicated to her. Sainte-Réparate Cathedral, in Nice, is also dedicated to her.
Florence holds a celebration in honour of Reparata each year on October 8 in commemoration of its deliverance from the Ostrogoths in 406, which they attribute to the intercession of St Reparata.
Saint of the Day – 7 October – Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary also known as Our Lady of Victory – Patronages – Rosary, United States, 9 diocese, 8 cities. The Feast of the Holy Rosary, is celebrated on 7 October, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.
Our Lady of Victory
In 1571, Pope St. Pius V organized a coalition of forces from Spain and smaller Christian kingdoms, republics and military orders, to rescue Christian outposts in Cyprus, particularly the Venetian outpost at Famagusta which, however, surrendered after a long siege on 1 August before the Christian forces set sail. On 7 October 1571, the Holy League, a coalition of southern European Catholic maritime states, sailed from Messina, Sicily and met a powerful Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Lepanto. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct materiel disadvantage, the holy pontiff, Pope Pius V, called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory and led a rosary procession in Rome.
After about five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth, off western Greece, the combined navies of the Papal States, Venice and Spain managed to stop the Ottoman navy, slowing the Ottoman advance to the west and denying them access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas. If the Ottomans had won then there was a real possibility that an invasion of Italy could have followed so that the Ottoman sultan, already claiming to be emperor of the Romans, would have been in possession of both New and Old Rome.
Pius V instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast to commemorate the victory at Lepanto, which he attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dedications to Our Lady of Victory preceded this papal declaration. In particular, Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester built the first shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in thanks for the Catholic victory over the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret on 12 September.
In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the “Feast of Our Lady of Victory” to “Feast of the Holy Rosary” Dominican friar Juan Lopez in his 1584 book on the rosary states that the feast of the rosary was offered “in memory and in perpetual gratitude of the miraculous victory that the Lord gave to his Christian people that day against the Turkish armada”.
In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI, after the victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene in the Battle of Petrovaradin on 6 August 1716 (the feast of Our Lady of the Snows), commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church, assigning it to the first Sunday in October.
A set of “proper” lessons in the second nocturn were conceded by Benedict XIII. Leo XIII raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary”. On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the “Portiuncula” of the Rosary.
In 1960 Pope John XXIII changed the title to “Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary”.