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”.
Saint of the Day – 5 October – Blessed Bartholomew Longo (Italian – Bartolo Longo) (1841-1926) Lawyer, Dominican Tertiary, Confessor, Apostle of the Rosary, Apostle of Marian Devotion, Papal Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Bartolo Longo was born into a wealthy family on February 10, 1841 in the small town of Latiano, near Brindisi, in southern Italy. His parents were devout Roman Catholics. In 1851, Longo’s father died and his mother remarried a lawyer. Despite Longo’s stepfather wanting him to become a teacher, Longo was set on becoming a lawyer. In 1861, Longo succeeded in convincing his stepfather and was sent to the University of Naples to study law.
In the 1860s, the Catholic Church in Italy found itself at odds with a strong nationalistic movement. General Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played a key role in Italian unification, saw the Pope as an antagonist to Italian nationalism and actively campaigned for the elimination of the papal office altogether. The Catholic Church in Europe was also competing with a growing popularity in Spiritualism and Occultism. Because of this, many students at the University of Naples took part in demonstrations against the pope, dabbled in witchcraft and consulted Neapolitan mediums. Longo became involved with a movement that he claimed led him into a Satanist cult. After some study and several “spiritual” experiences Longo said that he was ordained as a satanic priest.
In the following years, Longo’s life became one of “depression, nervousness and confusion”. Bothered by paranoia and anxiety, he turned to a hometown friend, Vincenzo Pepe, for guidance. It was Pepe who convinced him, in Longo’s account, to abandon Satanism and introduced him to the Dominican Father Alberto Radente who led him to a devotion to the rosary. On October 7, 1871, Longo became a Dominican tertiary and took the name “Rosario”. Around this time, he reportedly visited a séance and held up a rosary, declaring, “I renounce spiritualism because it is nothing but a maze of error and falsehood.”He also came to know some Franciscans with whom he helped the poor and incurably ill for two years. Bartolo also kept up his law practice, which took him to the nearby village of Pompei. He went to Pompei to take care of the affairs of Countess Marianna Farnararo De Fusco.
In Pompei, Longo later recounted, he was shocked at the erosion of the people’s faith. He wrote, “Their religion was a mixture of superstition and popular tradition. … For their every need, … they would go to a witch, a sorceress, in order to obtain charms and witchcraft.” Through talking to the citizens, Bartolo came to recognise their severe lack of catechesis. When he asked one man if there was only one God, the fellow answered, “When I was a child, I remember people telling me there were three. Now, after so many years, I don‘t know if one of them is dead or one has married.”
Longo wrote of his personal struggles with mental illness, paranoia, depression and anxiety. At one point, he noted struggling with suicidal thoughts but rejected them by recalling the promise of Saint Dominic, “he who propagates my Rosary will be saved.” Longo wrote that this promise is what convinced him to encourage public devotion to the rosary.
With the help of Countess Mariana di Fusco, he inaugurated a confraternity of the Rosary and in October 1873 started restoring a dilapidated church. He sponsored a festival in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1875, Longo obtained as a gift a painting portraying Our Lady of the Rosary, with Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena. Sister M Concetta de Litala of the Monastery of the Rosary at Porta Medina had been holding it for the Dominican priest Alberto Radente. Radente had acquired it from a junk-shop dealer in Naples for a very small sum. The painting was in bad condition and Longo wrote of his immediate distaste of the poor artistic quality when he first saw it. However, he accepted the gift to conserve funds and to not insult the Sister Concetta. Longo raised funds to restore the image and placed it in the church in an effort to encourage pilgrimages. Miracles began to be reported and people began flocking in droves to the church. Longo was encouraged by the Bishop of Nola to begin the construction of a larger church—the cornerstone being laid on May 8, 1876. The church was consecrated in May 1891 by Cardinal La Valletta (representing Pope Leo XIII). In 1939, the church was enlarged to a basilica, known today as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Pompei.
At the suggestion of Pope Leo XIII, Bartolo Longo and the Countess Mariana di Fusco were married on April 7, 1885. The couple remained chaste and continued to do many charitable works and provided for orphaned children and the children of prisoners which for its time was revolutionary.
In 1906 they donated the entire property of the Pompeii shrine to the Holy See. Longo continued promoting the Rosary until his death on October 5, 1926, at the age of 85. The piazza on which his basilica stands has since been named in memory of Longo. His body is encased in a glass tomb and he is wearing the mantle of a Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a papal order of knighthood.
On October 26, 1980 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II, who would call him the “Apostle of the Rosary” and mentioned him specifically in his apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary).
On October 7, 2003 Pope John Paul II prayed for world peace at the Basilica. More than 30,000 people were waiting to greet him as he flew in by helicopter.
Feast of Notre-Dame de la Salette / Our Lady of La Salette – 19 September (French: Notre-Dame de La Salette) is a Marian apparition reported by two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat to have occurred at La Salette-Fallavaux, France, in 1846.
The shepherd children Maximin and Melanie
On 19 September 1851, Pope Pius IX formally approved the public devotion and prayers to Our Lady of La Salette, referring to its messages of apparition as “secrets”. On 24 August 1852, Pope Pius IX once again mentioned the construction of the altar to La Salette. The same papal bull granted the foundation of the Association of Our Lady of La Salette, formalised on 7 September.
On 21 August 1879, Pope Leo XIII formally granted a Canonical Coronation to the image at the Basilica of Our Lady of La Salette. A Russian style tiara was granted to the image, instead of the solar-type tiara used in its traditional depictions of Virgin Mary during her apparitions.
La Salette is celebrated as the place where, the Blessed Virgin appeared to two little shepherds and each year is visited by a large number of pilgrims. On 19 September, 1846, about three o’clock in the afternoon in full sunlight, on a mountain about 5918 feet high and about three miles distant from the village of La Salette-Fallavaux, it is related that two children, a shepherdess of fifteen named Melanie Calvat, called Mathieu and a shepherd-boy of eleven named Maximin Giraud, beheld in a resplendent light a “beautiful lady” clad in a strange costume. Speaking alternately in French and in patois, she charged them with a message which they were “to deliver to all her people”. After complaining of the impiety of Christians and threatening them with dreadful chastisements in case they should persevere in evil she promised them the Divine mercy if they would amend.
Finally, it is alleged, before disappearing she communicated to each of the children a special secret. The sensation caused by the recital of Melanie and Maximin was profound, and gave rise to several investigations and reports. Mgr. Philibert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, appointed a commission to examine judicially this marvellous event; the commission concluded that the reality of the apparition should be admitted. Soon several miraculous cures took place on the mountain of La Salette, and pilgrimages to the place were begun. The miracle, needless to say, was ridiculed by free-thinkers but it was also questioned among the faithful and especially by ecclesiastics. There arose against it in the Dioceses of Grenoble and Lyons a violent opposition, aggravated by what is known as the incident of Ars. As a result of this hostility and the consequent agitation, Mgr. de Bruillard (16 November 1851) declared the apparition of the Blessed Virgin as certain and authorised the cult of Our Lady of La Salette. The first stone of a great church was solemnly laid on the mount of La Salette, 25 May, 1852, amid a large assembly of the faithful. This Church, later elevated to the rank of a basilica, was served by a body of a religious called Missionaries of La Salette – who were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.. In 1891 diocesan priests replaced these missionaries, driven into exile by persecuting laws.
As said above, the Blessed Virgin confided to each of the two children a special secret. These two secrets, which neither Melanie or Maximin ever made known to each other, were sent by them in 1851 to Pius IX on the advice of Mgr. de Bruillard. It is unknown what impressions these mysterious revelations made on the pope, for on this point there were two versions diametrically opposed to each other. Maximin’s secret is not known, for it was never published. Melanie’s was inserted in its entirety in brochure which she herself had printed in 1879 at Lecce, Italy, with the approval of the bishop of that town.
” If my people do not wish to submit themselves, I am forced to let go of the hand of my Son. It is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it.”
“I have suffered all of the time for the rest of you! If I do not wish my Son to abandon you, I must take it upon myself to pray for this continually. And the rest of you think little of this. In vain you will pray, in vain you will act and you will never be able to make up for the trouble I have taken over for the rest of you.” – Our Lady of La Salette
The message of the visionaries of La Salette focuses on the conversion of all humanity to Christ. St John Vianney, St John Bosco and writer Joris-Karl Huysmans were all influenced by La Salette. The spirit of La Salette is said to be one of prayer, conversion, and commitment.
Pope John Paul II stated: “As I wrote on the occasion of the 150th anniversary, ‘La Salette is a message of hope, for our hope is nourished by the intercession of her who is the Mother of mankind.”
Saint of the Day – 19 September – St Januarius (San Gennaro of Naples) – Martyr, Bishop (Fourth century – martyred c 304 at Naples, Italy or Pozzuoli, Italy ). Patronages – against volcanic eruptions• blood banks• Benevento, Italy, diocese of• Naples, Italy, archdiocese of• Naples, Italy, city of.
Saint Januarius, according to legend, was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family At a young age of 15—based upon his piety and faithfulness– he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became was elevated to Bishop of Naples. At the onset of the persecution of Christians by Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, he worked tirelessly to hide and protect his fellow Christians, succeeding for approximately 1 ½ years.
However, he was eventually arrested, taken to Nola and brought before Timotheus, governor of Campania, on account of his profession of the Christian religion. Upon refusing to recant his faith, and his constant assertion of the truth of the Gospel, Januarius and his companions were sentenced to be cast into the fiery furnace. The flames, however, caused him no harm and the following day, he was led into the coliseum to be mauled by wild animals. The beasts, however, laid themselves down in tame submission at his feet.
Governor Timotheus, enraged and again pronouncing sentence of death, was struck with blindness at his sentencing but Januarius healed him—a miracle which led to the miraculous conversion of 5,000 present. The ungrateful judge, further inflamed with anger, ordered the saintly bishop beheaded, which occurred immediately. St Januarius’ body was removed by faithful Christians, placed in the Cathedral of Naples and is said to have miraculously protected Naples from both the plague and the dangerous eruptions of nearby Mount Vesuvius.
You can read the full story here: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/januarius.asp – ACTS OF THE HIEROMARTYR JANUARIUS, BISHOP OF BENEVENTO
The Blood Miracle of Saint Januarius (Gennaro) -A miracle of the Church that is still occuring today
The liquefaction (becoming liquid) of the blood of St Januarius is an extraordinary miracle of the Church that has been occurring up to 18 times each year for the past 600 years. It is only one of a number of blood miracles that have taken place and in the case of St Januarius and others, are still taking place with blood that was collected soon after the death of certain martyrs. There is a well-documented history of these samples of blood liquefying at various times of the year, especially on the Saints’ feast days.
This practice of gathering blood for relics, admittedly a somewhat surprising religious practice, nevertheless was a common practice beginning in the days of persecution when the early Christians soaked cloths in the blood shed by martyrs or, if possible, actually collected the liquid in flasks to keep as devotional items. In the catacombs these flasks were buried with the dead, their discovery indicating that the person had died a martyr. Throughout the centuries, blood has been collected from holy persons recently deceased, especially martyrs for the faith, with the specimens being carefully kept with devotion and veneration. These samples have been known to liquefy under various circumstances, at different seasons of the year, in various countries and in varied ways. Many samples still display wonderful reactions in our day, one of which, that of St Januarius we will here consider.
While it is scientifically known that blood once removed from the body soon coagulates and eventually spoils and since this natural reaction was common knowledge among the medical faculty of the Middle Ages, a claim made by them of remarkable liquefaction can hardly be ignored and would seem to indicate a transcendence of their experience. And in our own day, the specimens that are still active are no less scientifically inexplicable than they were centuries ago, even amidst intense scientific investigation.
The best known and most intensely studied is the yearly blood miracle of St Januarius that occurs is Naples each year. The recurring miracle of the liquefaction of his blood 18 times a year is often reported in the secular as well as the religious press and is the occasion of great gatherings in the Cathedral of Naples. Here the people pray fervently while the resident cardinal, who usually presides over the ceremony, holds the vials of blood. The miracle occurs when the bust reliquary containing the head of the saint is brought near. When the liquefaction is accomplished in full view of the spectators, the cardinal announces, “The miracle has happened,” words that cause great rejoicing and the chanting of the Te Deum.
St Alphonsus Liguori wrote regarding Saint Januarius:
“The Neapolitans honour this saint as the principal patron of their city and nation and the Lord himself has continued to honour him, by allowing many miracles to be wrought through his intercession, particularly when the frightful eruptions of Mount Vesuvius have threatened the city of Naples with utter destruction. While the relics of St Januarius were being brought in procession towards this terrific volcano, the torrents of lava and liquid fire which it emitted have ceased, or turned their course from the city. But the most stupendous miracle and that which is greatly celebrated in the church, is the liquefying and boiling up of this blessed martyr’s blood whenever the vials are brought in sight of his head. This miracle is renewed many times in the year, in presence of all who desire to witness it; yet some heretics have endeavoured to throw a doubt upon its genuineness, by frivolous and incoherent explanations; but no one can deny the effect to be miraculous, unless he be prepared to question the evidence of his senses.”