Saint of the Day – 5 February – Saint Albinus of Brixen (Died 1005) Bishop of Brixen, Advisor to both Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, Otto II and Henry II. Born in the 10th century Carinthia, Austria and died on 5 February 1005 in Brixen, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – against drought, the City of Brixen, Italy and the Diocese of Brixen, Italy. Also known as – Albinus of Sabion, Albinus of Bressanone, .lbuin, Alboino, Albuino, Albuinus
The Roman Martyrology: states: “In Bressanone (Brixen) in South Tyrol, commemoration of St Albuino, Bishop, who transferred the Episcopal Chair from Sabion to this seat.”
Albinus was born in the first half the 10th Century. He was the son of Blessed Agatha Hildegardis of Carinthia and Count Paul, Margrave of Carinthia, of the noble and powerful Ariboni family,
As a young man he attended the schools of the Cathedral of Brixen, then entered the clergy and became the Bishop of the City of Sabion, South Tyrol (in modern Italy) around 975.
During his Episcopal term he brought many gifts, lands and properties, endowed both by his family and by the Emperors Otto II and Henry II, in gratitude for his counsel, the latter to whom, Albinus was related, as well as being his close friend. Some of these endowments, for example, were: a property in Regensburg and another in Villach in his native Carinthia, which included a Castle and which was transformed by him, into a Church. This beautiful Church still stands today. Land was also awarded to him in Krain.
In 991 , he moved his Bishopric from Brixen (now Bressanone), closer to the Diocese that the See should govern. Thus he became the last Bishop of Sabion and the First of Bressanone (previously Brixen). He also arranged for the translation of the relics of St Ingenuinus (Died 605) a predecessor Bishop of Sabion.
He died on 5 February 1005, after over 30 years of ruling his See.
At the end of the 11th century he was already venerated as a saint and associated with Ingenuinus. Blessed Artmann (a successor) gathered the relics of both under the same Altar and from that time, their names were inserted together on 5 February in calendars, while their cult extended to the Dioceses of Trent, Freising and Eichstaett.
The relics of the two Saints are kept on the Altar of St Cassian in the Basilica of Bressanone, which also contains a Chasuble which is believed to have belonged to St Albinus, while their heads are kept in two silver reliquaries.
Saint of the Day – 20 January – Saint Henry of Uppsala (Died c 1156) Martyr, Bishop of Uppsala, (then in eastern Sweden), Missionary. Born in England and died struck with an axe in c 1156 at Nousis, Finland. Patronages – against storms, of Finland. Also known as – Henry of Finland. Henry of Sweden, Heikki, Henrik. Additional Memorial – 18 June (translation of his relics).
According to his Vita (the legend of his life), which was written nearly one hundred years after his death, Henry was born in the early twelfth century and reigned in the See of Uppsala during the time when King Saint Eric of Sweden (also a Martyr) ruled the country. Apparently, Bishop, Henry and the Monarch were good friends and brothers in the Faith and Henry’s biographer blissfully describes this period in Sweden, as Christendom at its finest.
Turning his attention eastward, King Eric, decided to do battle with the pagan Finns, who were separated from Uppsala by the Gulf of Bothnia. Some legends attribute Eric’s campaign against the Finns as retaliatory measures for their plundering activities in Sweden. Other sources say that Eric and Henry worked in tandem and their motivations were largely evangelical. By conquering the Finns, the Bishop and the King hoped to win them over the Christianity.
Whatever their true motivations, King Eric and Bishop Henry conquered Finland and subsequently baptiSed the locals and built Churches. The Catholic Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland’s Capital City, is named in Henry’s honour, to recognise the credit that Finnish Christians give to this saintly Bishop for giving them their faith.
King Eric returned to his home in Swede, but Henry stayed in Finland, as he loved serving as a Missionary in Finland, evangelising and converting numerous numbers.
Henry was murdered by a soldier named Lalli. Lalli was a Baptised Christian who had murdered another soldier. After examining the case, Henry excommunicated Lalli, who flew into a rage and struck Henry with an axe. The murder of Henry is believed to have occurred in the year 1156. Immediately after Henry’s death, his legend records, many miracles began to occur around his tomb and in the surrounding towns – children were raised from the dead, a blind woman’s eyesight was restored, fishermen survived terrible storms at sea.
St Henry is an important figure in the medieval history of Finland and there are a plethora of colourful poems and legends written about his life.
Devotion to St Henry, which spread throughout Finland over subsequent centuries, is a beautiful testament to the pride that countries throughout the globe have taken in their origin stories of the brave men and women who have brought the Good News of Christ to their homeland.
Henry was buried at buried at Nousis in Finland and on 18 June 1300 his relics were translated to Totku but they were stolen by the Russian troops in 1720.
He was Canonised and declared Patron of Finland in 1158 by Pope Adrian IV, who had also been a Missionary in the area.
Saint of the Day – 15 January – Saint Romedius of Nonsberg/theologians Hermit, Penitent., Pilgrim. Born in Thaur, Tyrol, Austria and died in the 4th Century in Salzburg, Austria of natural causes. Also known as – Romedio of Hohenwart, Romedio of Salzburg, Romedio of Sanzeno, Romedio of Thaur. Romedio. Additional Memorial – 1st Sunday in October (translation of relics). Patronages – against accidents, against bone diseases, against danger at sea, against fever, against fire, against floods, against hail, against headaches, against toothaches, of prisoners, theology students/theologians, travellers/pilgrims. Canonised on 24 July 1907 by Pope Pius X (cultus confirmation).
The Roman Martyrology states: “In the Val di Non in Trentino, St Romedius, an anchorite, who, having given his possessions to the Church, led a life of penance in the hermitage that still bears his name today.”
Romedius was the son and heir of the wealthy Count of Thaur, the lord of a castle near Innsbruck and owner of salt pans in the valley of the River Inn. After a pilgrimage to Rome, Romedius gave all his possessions to the Church, withdrawing into a hermitage in grottoes in the Val di Non. he was accompanied by two companions, Abraham and David.
A later date emerges from the history of his works and extensive research. It is most likely that Romedius came from the family of the Counts of Andechs , lived in the 11th century, gave up his fortune in Thaur and joined the then spreading mendicant movement. After a visit to the Bishop of Trento , he visited the Martyrs’ graves of Alexander , Martyrius and Sisinniusin Sanzeno. It is believed that he died at the age of 74.
Romedius is often depicted alongside or astride a bear. According to his hagiography he wanted to visit the friend of his youth, St Vigilius, Bishop of Trento (who died in 405) but his horse was torn to pieces by a wild bear. Romedius, however, had the bear bridled by his disciple David. The bear became docile and carried Romedius on its back to Trento.
Upon Romedius’ death, his body was laid to rest in a small tomb above his cave in the mountains, a site that was soon visited by pilgrims. The Sanctuary of San Romedio grew from the little Church that was built to venerate him, to a popular pilgrimage site. The Santuario di San Romedio is across the lake from Cles at the head of the Val di Non, above the village of Sanzeno. The Sanctuary where Romedius lived with his bear companion, is now a complex of several Churches, from the Romanesque period to the 20th century beyond a gateway on the forested slopes. Votive offerings of crutches line the walls of the narrow stone stairwell up to the highest chapel, said to mark the site of the Saint’s retreat.
His local cult, which consolidated itself in the course of the 11th century, was officially recognised in the twelfth by the Bishop of Trento. In 1795, permission was given for special offices in his name in the Diocese of Brixen, which at that time, included the Northern Tyrol. His cult remains popular in Trentino, Bavaria, and the Tyrol.
Romedius’ Bear In remembrance of this legend, in 1958 Italian Senator G. G. Gallarati Scotti, honorary member of the committee for the foundation of the World Wildlife Fund in Italy, purchased Charlie, a bear intended to be killed and donated it to the Sanctuary of San Romedius, in the Valle di Non.
Today, the Province of Trentino protects the last brown bears of the Alps in the Adamello-Brenta National Park and, near the Sanctuary, takes care of young bears born in captivity in Trentino.
In the work known as Illustrissimi, a collection of letters written by Pope John Paul I when he was Patriarch of Venice, Romedius’ bear is one of the “recipients” of the letters.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities.
St John, Apostle and Evangelist by Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St John, Apostle and Evangelist of Jesus Christ, a brother of St James and son of Zebedee and Salome, was born at Bethsaida, a Town in Galilee. Christ, our Lord, called him and his brother James to follow Him, at the time when they were mending their nets in a boat, on the shore of the Sea of Genesareth. John, without delay, left all he possessed, even his own father and, with his brother, followed the Lord. Although the youngest of the Apostles, he was beloved by the Saviour above all the others – whence he is several times mentioned in the Gospel, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The cause of this special love of Jesus for him, was, according to the Holy Fathers, his virginal purity, which he kept undefiled and the tender love he bore to the Lord. “He was more beloved than all the other Apostles,” writes St Thomas Aquinas, “on account of his purity.” “For the same reason,” says St. Anselm, “God revealed more mysteries to him, than to the other Apostles. Justly,” says he, “did Christ the Lord reveal the greatest mysteries to him, because he surpassed all in virginal purity.“
It is evident from the Gospel, that St John was one of the most intimate of the friends of the Lord, and was, in consequence, sometimes admitted into Christ’s presence, when, except Peter and James, no other Apostle was allowed to be near. Thus, he was with Christ when He healed the mother-in-law of Peter; when He raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead and when He was transfigured on Mount Thabor. He also accompanied Christ when He suffered His Agony in the Garden of Olives. The other two above-named Apostles ,shared these favours with John but none was permitted to lean upon the Saviour’s bosom, at the last supper, save John; none was recommended as son to the divine Mother but John. Only he, of all the Apostles, followed Christ to Mount Calvary,and remained there with Him, until His death. To recompense this love, Christ gave him to His Mother as her son, when He said: “Behold thy Mother!” Christ, who had lived in virginal chastity, would trust His Virgin Mother to no-one else but John, who himself lived in virginal purity. As St.Jerome says: “Christ, a virgin, recommended Mary, a virgin, to John, a virgin.” No greater grace could John have asked of Christ; no more evident proof could he have received of His love. The most precious thing which the Lord possessed on earth, His holy Mother, He commended to His beloved disciple. He took him as brother, by giving Him as son to His Mother. Who cannot see from all this, that Christ loved and honoured St John above all others?
How deeply this beloved disciple must have suffered by seeing his Saviour die, so ignominious a death, is easily to be conceived; and St Chrysostom hesitates not to call him, therefore, a manifold Martyr. After Christ had died on the Cross, had been taken from it, and interred with all possible honours, St John returned home with the divine Mother, who was now also his mother, and waited for the glorious Resurrection of the Lord. When this had taken place, he participated in the many apparitions of the Lord, by which the disciples were comforted and, doubtless received again, particular marks of love from the Saviour. He afterwards assisted, with the divine Mother and the Apostles and other disciples of Christ, at the wonderful Ascension of the Lord. With these, also, he received, after a ten days’ preparation, the Holy Ghost, on the great festival of Pentecost.
Soon after this, he and Peter had, before all others, the grace to suffer for Christ’s sake. For when these two Apostles had, in the name of Christ, miraculously healed a poor cripple who was lying at the door of the temple of Jerusalem and used this opportunity, to show to the assembled people, that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah.
They were seized, at the instigation of the chief priests,and were cast into prison. On the following day, the priests came together and John and Peter were called before them and asked in whose name and by what power, they had healed the cripple. Peter and John answered fearlessly, that it had been done in the Name of Jesus Christ. The high priest dared not do anything further to them but, setting them free, prohibited them from preaching, in future, the Name of Christ. The two holy Apostles, however, nothing daunted, said: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.“
St. John remained for some time in Jerusalem after this and, with the other Apostles, was zealous in his endeavors to convert the Jews. When the Apostles separated, to preach the Gospel over all the world, Asia Minor was assigned to St John. Going thither, he began with great zeal his apostolic functions and, by the gift of miracles, he converted many thousands to the Faith of Christ. The many Bishoprics which he instituted in the principal cities sufficiently prove this. In the course of time, he went also to other countries, preaching everywhere the Word of Christ, with equal success..
The Emperor Domitian, who, after the death of the Emperor Nero, again began to persecute the Christians, ordered his officers to apprehend John and bring him to Rome. Hardly had the holy Apostle arrived there, when he was commanded by the Emperor to sacrifice to the gods. As the Saint refused this and fearlessly confessed Christ, the Emperor had him most cruelly scourged and afterwards, cast into a large caldron, filled with boiling oil. The Saint signed himself and the cauldron with the Holy Cross and remained unharmed, when he was cast into it. This gave him an opportunity to announce, with great energy, to the assembled people, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The tyrant, who could not suffer this, had him taken out of the cauldron, and sentenced him to banishment on the island of Patmos, to work in the mines and perform other hard labour, in company with other Christians. St John had, at that time, reached his ninetieth year but was willing to undergo the unjust sentence.
After his arrival on the island, he had many and wonderful visions, which, by command of God, he put down in writing. The book which contains them, is a part of Holy Writ, called the Apocalypse, or Revelation of St John, a book which,, according to St Jerome, contains almost as many mysteries as words. After the death of Domitian, St John was liberated and returning to Ephesus, remained there until his death. He outlived all the other Apostles, as he reached the age of 100 years. His great labours, wearisome travels and the many hardships he endured, at last enfeebled him to such an extent, that he could not go to the Church without being carried. F
Frequently he repeated, in his exhortations, the words: “My little children, love one another.” Some, annoyed at this, asked him why he so often repeated these words. He answered: “Because it is the commandment of the Lord and if that is done, it suffices.” By this he meant, that if we love each other rightly, we also love God and when we love God and our neighbour, no more is needed to gain salvation – as love to God and to our neighbour contains the keeping of all other commandments.
The holy Apostle, who had suffered and laboured so much for his beloved Master, was, at length, in the year 104, called by Him into heaven to receive his eternal reward.
Besides the Apocalypse, to which we referred above, St John also wrote three Epistles and his Gospel, on account of which, he is called Evangelist. In his Gospel he gives many more facts than the other Evangelists, to prove the Divinity of Jesus Christ; as, at that period, several heretics, as Cerinthus, Ebion and the Nicolaites, fought against this truth. In his Epistles, he exhorts particularly, to love God and our neighbour,and to avoid heretics. In the first, among other things, he explains that love to God consists in keeping the commandments of God, which are not difficult to keep. “For this is the charity of God,” writes he, “that we keep His commandments;and His commandments are not heavy.” Of the love of our neighbour he says, that it must manifest itself in works, that is, we must assist our brethren in their need and, if necessary, give even our lives for them, after the example of Christ. The holy Apostle exemplified his words by his actions.
Several holy Fathers relate the following of him. The Saint had given a youth in charge of a Bishop, with the commendation to instruct him carefully in virtue and sacred sciences. After some years, when the Saint returned to this Bishop and asked for the young man, he heard with deep sorrow, that he had secretly left and had joined the highwaymen and had even become their chief. The holy Apostle set out at once and went, not without danger to his life, into the woods, where the unhappy young man was said, to be. Finding him, he spoke most kindly to him and succeeded in bringing him back. It is touching to read how the holy, man promised to atone for the youth’s sins, if he would repent and lead a better life. The youth followed the Saint’s admonition and did penance with such fervour and zeal, that the Saint hesitated not to give him charge of the Church at Ephesus. (1876)
St John, Pray for Holy Mother Church, Pray for us all!
Saint of the Day – 18 October – St Amabilis of Auvergne (c 397- c 475) Priest, Confessor, Miracle-worker. Tradition tells that snakes and demons fled from his voice, often the images and medals depicting him bear the words “The demons flee as well as snakes and fire.” Born probably in Rimo, France in c 397 and died in Auvergne in c 475 of natural causes. Patronages – against demonic possession, against fire, against mental illness, against poison, against snake bite, against wild beasts, of Auvergne, France, of Riom, France. Also known as – Amabilis of Riom, Amabilis the Cantor. Additional Memorial – 1 November.
In the sixth century, St Gregory of Tours in his ‘De gloria confessorum,’ described the popular belief in this Saint’s power over demons and serpents as well as the veneration at his tomb. Gregory reports that he, himself witnessed two miracles there.
Amabilis served as a Cantor in the Church of Saint Mary at Clermont and then as the Precentor at Clermont Cathedral . Later as Parish Priest at Riom, where, in 1120, a Church was dedicated to him. He acquired a reputation for holiness in his lifetime.
In the seventh century his relics were transferred to Riom from Clermont. Riom grew up around the collegiate Church of Saint Amable, which was the object of pilgrimages. In the eighteenth century a dispute occurred over these relics between neighbouring Clermont and Riom, where Amabilis is Patron.
Public processions in his honour have been traditional in Riom for more than 1500 years, where he is invoked against fire and snakes. Father Antoine Déat, a Missionary in Canada , introduced his cult to North America, where he is also still venerated today. A chapel is dedicated to him in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.
Saint of the Day – 2 April – Saint Urban of Langres (c 327-c 390) Bishop, the sixth Bishop of Autun and Langres, in Burgundy, France from 374 until his death, Confessor. Saint Leodegaria was his sister. Patronages – Langres, Dijon, vine-growers, vine-dressers, gardeners, vintners, invoked against blight (mildew or fungus infestation in plants), frost, storms, alcoholism and faintness. Additional Memorial – 23 January in Langres, France.
Urban was Bishop of the See of Autun and Langres during a time of political upheaval. At one point, he fell foul of the local Duke, an unpleasant man by the name of Junius Medellius. Urban found support from a patron of his, named Maceratius, who owned a vineyard and he was able to hide among the vines. The vine-dressers in the area concealed him and he took the opportunity to convert them to Christianity. Those same vine-dressers then helped him in his covert ministry, as he moved from one town to another via their vineyards.
There is a legend told that, on one sunny morning, some soldiers had been tracking the movements of Urban’s followers and they narrowed his position down to a specific row of vines. By the time they had decided to apprehend him, a wind picked up and would not subside. The soldiers took a few steps but heavy rain began falling and they could not get close to Urban for a massive hailstorm descended upon them, denting their armour and sending them iscurrying into retreat and back to their camp. So it was, that Urban survived his own storm, coming out of hiding and eventually becoming the Patron saint of wine amd against storms.
Due to St Urban’s work and to his devotion to the Holy Blood, he developed a great affection for all the people in the wine industry and they for him. Urban is thus the Patron saint of all those who work in the wine industry and is invoked against blight and alcoholism.
The cult of St Urban of Langres spread rapidly, especially among in wine growing areas. The German vineyard owners seemed to have adopted him as their own. His cult was closely associated with the weather too. Several old German sayings reflect this:
“The weather on St Urban’s Day, will indicate what the autumn weather will be.“
“If there is sunshine on St Urban’s Day,the wine thrives afterwards, they say.“
“O holy Urban, bring us comfort! Give us this year much noble must.“
“ What the weather is like on St Urban’s day, orders the same for 20 days.“
Saint of the Day – 26 March – Saint Castulus of Rome (Died c 288) Martyr, married to Saint Irene of Rome (the woman who assisted St Sebastian after he had been wounded by the Imperial archers), Military Officer and he was the Chamberlain (or officer, valet) of Emperor Diocletian. Martyred in c in 288 on the Via Labicana outside Rome near the Colosseum. Patronages – against blood poisoning, against drowning, against skin diseases and rashes, against fever, against horse theft, against lightning, against storms, against wildfire, cowherds, farmers, shepherds, Hallertau, Germany, Moosburg an der Isar, Germany.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At Rome, on the Labicana road, St Castulus, Martyr, Chamberlain in the Palace of the Emperor. For harbourig Christians, he was three times suspended by the hands, three times cited before the Tribunals and as he persevered in the confession of the Lord, he was thrown into a pit, overwhelmed with a mass of sand and thus obtained the crown of martyrdom.”
Castulus was a convert to the Christian religion. He sheltered Christians in his home and arranged for religious services, unbelievably, inside Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. Among those he sheltered, were the Saints and Marytrs, Mark and Marcellian. He is one of the saints associated with the life and martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.
With his friend Saint Tiburtius, he converted many men and woman to Christianity and brought them to Pope Saint Caius to be baptised. He was betrayed by an apostate named Torquatus and taken before Fabian, prefect of the City.
He was tortured and executed by being buried alive in a sand pit on the Via Labicana. According to traditional sources, his wife, Irene subsequently buried the body of the martyred Saint Sebastian. She was later be martyred herself, it is thought also in c 288.
A Church is dedicated to him in Rome, built on the site of his martyrdom and has existed, from at least the seventh century.
Castulus was venerated in Bavaria after relics of his were taken to Moosburg. Duke Heinrich der Löwe started the construction of the Castulus Cathedral in 1171.
In 1604, relics were also brought to Landshut, Germany. His relics still rest in Landshut’s Church of St Martin’s and in the Church of St Castulus, Prague.
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities.
The days following Christmas are full of symbolic meaning, as on 26 December we honour the first Martyr, St Stephen, who shed his blood for Jesus. 27 December, honours St John the Evangelist, the Disciple of Jesus who wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Interestingly enough, he is the only Gospel writer to omit a narrative of Jesus’ birth. Based on this fact alone, it seems strange to include him during the Octave of Christmas. What is the Church’s reason behind this choice? Servant of God, Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year, points to St John’s pure chastity and his focus on the Divinity of Christ, as the reasons why he is honoured now at the Crib of Christ.
Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved, the Eagle
“Nearest to Jesus’ Crib, after Stephen, stands John, the Apostle and Evangelist. It was only right, that the first place should be assigned to him, who so loved his God, that he shed his blood in his service; for, as this God Himself declares, greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends [1 John, 15:13] and Martyrdom has ever been counted, by the Church, as the greatest act of love and as having, consequently, the power of remitting sins, like a second Baptism. But, next to the sacrifice of Blood, the noblest, the bravest and, which most wins the heart of Him, who is the Spouse of souls, is the sacrifice of Virginity. Now, just as St Stephen is looked upon as the type of Martyrs, St John is honoured as the Prince of Virgins. Martyrdom won for Stephen the Crown and palm; Virginity merited for John most singular prerogatives, which, while they show how dear to God, is holy Chastity, put this Disciple among those, who, by their dignity and influence, are above the rest of men.
St. John was of the family of David, as was our Blessed Lady. He was, consequently, a relation of Jesus. This same honour belonged to St James the Greater, his Brother; as also to St James the Less and St Jude, both Sons of Alpheus. When our Saint was in the prime of his youth, he left, not only his boat and nets, not only has lather Zebedee but, even his betrothed, when everything was prepared for the marriage. He followed Jesus and never once looked back. Hence, the special love which our Lord bore him. Others were Disciples or Apostles, John was the Friend, of Jesus. The cause of this our Lord’s partiality, was, as the Church tells us in the Liturgy, that John had offered his Virginity to the Man-God. Let us, on this his Feast, enumerate the graces and privileges that came to St John from his being The Disciple whom Jesus loved.
This very expression of the Gospel, which the Evangelist repeats several times — The Disciple whom Jesus loved [John, 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20] — says more than any commentary could do. St Peter, it is true, was chosen by our Divine Lord, to be the Head of the Apostolic College and the Rock whereon the Church was to be built – he, then, was honoured most but St John was loved most. Peter was bid to love more than the rest loved and he was able to say, in answer to Jesus’ thrice repeated question, that he did love Him in this highest way and yet, notwithstanding, John was more loved by Jesus than was Peter himself, because his Virginity deserved this special mark of honour.
Chastity of soul and body brings him, who possesses i,t into a sacred nearness and intimacy with God. Hence it was, that at the Last Supper – that Supper, which was to be renewed on our Altars, to the end of the world, in order to cure our spiritual infirmities and give life to our souls – John was placed near to Jesus, nay, was permitted, as the tenderly loved Disciple, to lean his head upon the Breast of the Man-God. Then it was, that he was filled and from their very Fountain, with Light and Love, it was both a recompense and a favour and became the source of two signal graces, which make St John an object of special reverence to the whole Church.
Divine wisdom, wishing to make known to the world, the Mystery of the Word and commit to Scripture, those profound secrets, which, so far, no pen of mortal had been permitted to write — the task was put upon John. Peter had been crucified, Paul had been beheaded and the rest of the Apostles had laid down their lives in testimony of the Truths they had been sent to preach to the world; John was the only one left in the Church. Heresy had already begun its blasphemies against the Apostolic Teachings; it refused to admit the Incarnate Word as the Son of God, Consubstantial to the Father. John was asked by the Churches to speak and he did so in language heavenly above measure. His Divine Master had reserved to this, his Virgin-Disciple, the honour of writing those sublime Mysteries, which the other Apostles had been commissioned only to teach — THE WORD WAS GOD, and this WORD WAS MADE FLESH for the salvation of mankind.
Thus did our Evangelist soar, like the Eagle, up to the Divine Sun and gaze upon Him with undazzled eye, because his heart and senses were pure and, therefore, fitted for such vision of the uncreated Light. If Moses, after having conversed with God in the cloud, came from the divine interview with rays of miraculous light encircling his head – how radiant must have been the face of St John, which had rested on the very Heart of Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! [Col. 2:3] how sublime his writings! how divine his teaching! Hence, the symbol of the Eagle, shown to the Prophet Ezechiel, [Ezechiel 1:10, 10:14] and to St John himself in his Revelations, [Apoc. 4:7] has been assigned to him by the Church and, to this title of The Eagle has been added, by universal tradition, the other beautiful name of Theologian. This was the first recompense given by Jesus to his Beloved John, a profound penetration into divine Mysteries. The second was the imparting to him a most ardent charity, which was equally a grace consequent upon his angelic purity, for purity unburdens the soul from grovelling egotistic affections and raises it to a chaste and generous love. John had treasured up in his heart the Discourses of his Master, he made them known to the Church and, especially, that divine one of the Last Supper, wherein Jesus had poured forth His whole Soul to His own, whom he had always tenderly loved but most so, at the end [John, 13:1]. He wrote his Epistles and Charity is his subject – God is Charity — he that loveth not, knoweth not God — perfect Charity casteth out fear — and so on throughout, always on Love. During the rest of his life, even when so enfeebled by old age as not to be able to walk, he was forever insisting upon all men loving each other, after the example of God, who had loved them and so loved them! Thus, he that had announced more clearly than the rest of the Apostles the divinity of the Incarnate Word, was by excellence, the Apostle of that divine Charity, which Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
But, our Lord had a further gift to bestow and it was sweetly appropriate to the Virgin-Disciple. When dying on His cross, Jesus left Mary upon this earth. Joseph had been dead now some years. Who, then, shall watch over His Mother? who is there worthy of the charge? Will Jesus send His Angels to protect and console her? — for, surely, what man could ever merit to be to her as a second Joseph? Looking down, he sees the Virgin-Disciple standing at the foot of the Cross – we know the rest, John is to be Mary’s Son — Mary is to be John’s Mother. Oh! wonderful Chastity, that wins from Jesus such an inheritance as this! Peter, says St Peter Damian, shall have left to him the Church, the Mother of men; but John, shall receive Mary, the Mother of God, whom he will love as his own dearest Treasure and to whom, he will stand in Jesus’ stead; whilst Mary will tenderly love John, her Jesus’ Friend, as her Son.
Can we be surprised after this, that St John is looked upon by the Church as one of her greatest glories? He is a Relative of Jesus in the flesh; he is an Apostle, a Virgin, the Friend of the Divine Spouse, the Eagle, the Theologian, the Son of Mary; he is an Evangelist, by the history he has given of the Life of his Divine Master and Friend; he is a Sacred Writer, by the three Epistles he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; he is a Prophet, by his mysterious Apocalypse, wherein are treasured the secrets of time and eternity. But, is he a Martyr? Yes, for if he did not complete his sacrifice, he drank the Chalice of Jesus [Matt. 20:22], when, after being cruelly scourged, he was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, before the Latin Gate, at Rome. He was, therefore, a Martyr in desire and intention, though not in fact. If our Lord, wishing to prolong a life so dear to the Church, as well as to show how he loves and honours Virginity, — miraculously stayed the effects of the frightful punishment, St John had, on his part, unreservedly accepted Martyrdom.
Such is the companion of Stephen at the Crib, wherein lies our Infant Jesus. If the Protomartyr dazzles us with the robes he wears of the bright scarlet of his own blood — is not the virginal whiteness of John’s vestment fairer than the untrod snow? The spotless beauty of the Lilies of Mary’s adopted Son and the bright vermilion of Stephen’s Roses — what is there more lovely than their union? Glory, then, be to our New-Born King, whose court is tapestried with such heaven-made colours as these! Yes, Bethlehem’s Stable is a very heaven on earth and we have seen its transformation. First, we saw Mary and Joseph alone there — they were adoring Jesus in his Crib; then, immediately, there descended a heavenly host of Angels singing the wonderful Hymn; the Shepherds soon followed, the humble simple-hearted Shepherds; after these, entered Stephen the Crowned and John the Beloved Disciple; and, even before there enters the pageant of the devout Magi, we shall have others coming in and there will be, each day, grander glory in the Cave and gladder joy in our hearts. Oh! this Birth of our Jesus! Humble as it seems, yet, how divine! What King or Emperor ever received, in his gilded cradle, honours like these shown to the Babe of Bethlehem? Let us unite our homage with that given him by these the favoured inmates of his court. Yesterday, the sight of the Palm in Stephen’s hand animated us and we offered to our Jesus the promise of a stronger Faith: to-day, the Wreath, that decks the brow of the Beloved Disciple, breathes upon the Church the heavenly fragrance of Virginity — an intenser love of Purity must be our resolution and our tribute to the Lamb.
Saint of the Day – 3 January – Saint Genevieve (c 419-c 502) Virgin, apostle of prayer and of the poor and sick – Patronages – against plague, against natural disasters, against fever, French security forces (chosen in 1962), Paris, France, Women’s Army Corps. In 451 she led a “prayer novena” that was said to have saved Paris by diverting Attila’s Huns away from the city. When the Germanic king Childeric I besieged the city in 464, she acted as an intermediary between the city and its besiegers, collecting food and convincing Childeric to release his prisoners. Her following and her status as patron saint of Paris were promoted by Clotilde – Princess and Saint (c 474-545), who may have commissioned the writing of her vita.
On his way to combat heresy in Britain, St Germanus of Auxerre (c 378-c 448) made an overnight stop at Nanterre, France. In the crowd that gathered to hear him speak, Germanus spotted Genevieve, a beautiful 7-year-old girl and he foresaw her future holiness. When he asked little St Genevieve if she wanted to dedicate her life to God, she enthusiastically said yes. So he laid hands on her with a blessing, thus launching the spiritual career of one of France’s most admired saints.
St Genevieve was born around the year 420 in the small French village of Nanterre. After both of her parents died, she went to live with her godmother in Paris. She was admired for her piety and works of charity and she practised corporal austerities which included abstaining completely from meat and breaking her fast only twice in the week. Many of her neighbours, filled with jealousy and envy, accused Genevieve of being an impostor and a hypocrite.
At 15, Genevieve formally consecrated herself as a virgin but continued to live as a laywoman. Because of her generous giving to the poor, she became widely known in the vicinity around Paris. At first, however, Genevieve met great hostility. But St Germanus defused it by authorising her with public signs of his support.
Once when the Franks were besieging Paris, Genevieve rescued the city from starvation by leading a convoy of ships up the Seine to Troyes to obtain food. In this selection from her biography, we learn that she had to work a miracle to bring it home safely:
During the return voyage, however, the ships were so buffeted by the wind . . . that the high holds fore and aft in which they had stored the grain tipped over on their sides. And the ships filled with water. Quickly Genovefa, her hands stretched toward heaven, begged Christ for assistance. Immediately the ships were righted. Thu,s through her, our God . . . saved eleven grain-laden ships. . . .
When she returned to Paris, her sole concern was to distribute the grain to all according to their needs . She made it her first priority to provide a whole loaf to those whose strength had been sapped by hunger. Thus, when her servant girls went to the ovens they would often find only part of the bread they had baked. . . . But it was soon clear who had taken the bread from the ovens for they noticed the needy carrying loaves throughout the city and heard them magnifying and blessing the name of Genevieve. For she put her hopes not in what is seen but in what is not seen. For she knew the Prophet spoke truly who said: “Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to God” (Proverbs 19:17). For through a revelation of the Holy Spirit she had once been shown that land, where those who lend their treasure to the poor expect to find it again. And for this reason, she was accustomed to weep and pray incessantly, for she knew that as long as she was in the flesh she was exiled from the Lord.
From that time Genevieve enjoyed a heroine’s status and used her influence and wonders on the city’s behalf. For example, she persuaded Childeric, who had conquered Paris, to release many captives. And in 451, when Attila the Hun was advancing on the city, she got the populace to pray and fast for their safety. The invader changed his course and Paris was spared. She also became a trusted adviser to Clovis, the king of the Franks.
St Genevieve had a particular devotion to St Denis (died 3rd century) and wished to erect a chapel in his honour to house his relics. Around the year 475 Genevieve purchased some land at the site of the saint’s burial where a shrine was built. This small chapel became a famous place of pilgrimage during the fifth and sixth centuries.
When Genevieve died around 500, she was buried in the church of Sts Peter and Paul at Paris. So many miracles occurred through her intercession there that it became a pilgrimage spot and came to be called St Genevieve.
The King, Clovis, founded an abbey for St Genevieve, where she was later re-interred. Under the care of the Benedictines, who established a monastery there, the church witnessed numerous miracles wrought at her tomb. In the year 1129, the city was saved from an epidemic, the relics of St Genevieve were carried in a public procession.
About 1619 Louis XIII named Cardinal François de La Rochefoucauld abbot of Saint Genevieve’s. The canons had been lax and the cardinal selected Charles Faure to reform them. This holy man was born in 1594 and entered the canons regular at Senlis. He was remarkable for his piety and, when ordained, succeeded after a hard struggle in reforming the abbey. Many of the houses of the canons regular adopted his reform. In 1634, he and a dozen companions took charge of Saint-Geneviève-du-Mont of Paris. This became the mother-house of a new congregation, the Canons Regular of St Genevieve, which spread widely over France.
Saint of the Day – 4 December – Saint Barbara (3rd Century) Martyr – died by being beheaded by her father c 235 at Nicomedia during the persecution of Maximinus of Thrace. Patronages – against death by artillery, against explosions, against fire, against impenitence, against lightning, against storms ,against vermin, ammunition workers, architects, armourers, artillerymen, boatmen, bomb technicians. brass workers, brewers, builders, carpenters, construction workers, dying people, fire prevention, firefighters, fireworks manufacturers, fortifications, foundry workers, geologists, gravediggers, gunners, hatmakers, mariners, martyrs, masons, mathematicians, miners, ordnance workers, prisoners, saltpetre workers, smelters, stonecutters, Syria, tilers, warehouses, 8 Cities. Saint Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Her association with the lightning, which killed her father has caused her to be invoked against lightning and fire. By association with explosions, she is also the patron of artillery and mining.
Because of doubts about the historicity of her legend, she was removed from the General Roman Calendar in the 1969 revision, though not from the Catholic Church’s list of saints.
Saint Barbara is often portrayed with miniature chains and a tower. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Barbara continues to be a popular saint in modern times. A 15th-century French version of her story credits her with thirteen miracles, many rest upon the security she offered, that her devotees would not die before getting to make confession and receiving extreme unction.
According to the hagiographies, Barbara, the daughter of a rich pagan named Dioscorus, was carefully guarded by her father who kept her locked up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. Having secretly become a Christian, she rejected an offer of marriage that she received through her father.
Before going on a journey, her father commanded that a private bath-house be erected for her use near her dwelling and during his absence, Barbara had three windows put in it, as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, instead of the two originally intended. When her father returned, she acknowledged herself to be a Christian, whereupon he drew his sword to kill her but her prayers created an opening in the tower wall and she was miraculously transported to a mountain gorge, where two shepherds watched their flocks. Dioscorus, in pursuit of his daughter, was rebuffed by the first shepherd but the second betrayed her. For doing this, he was turned to stone and his flock was changed to locusts.
Dragged before the prefect of the province, Martinianus, who had her cruelly tortured, Barbara remained faithful to her Christian faith. During the night, the dark prison was bathed in light and new miracles occurred. Every morning, her wounds were healed. Torches that would be used to burn her, were extinquished as they approached her. Finally, she was condemned to death by beheading. Her father himself carried out the death-sentence. However, as punishment, he was struck by lightning on the way home and his body was consumed by flame. Barbara was buried by a Christian, Valentinus and her tomb became the site of miracles. This summary omits picturesque details, supplemented from Old French accounts.
According to the Golden Legend, her martyrdom took place on 4 December “in the reign of emperor Maximianus and Prefect Marcien” (r. 286–305); the year was given as 267 in the French version.
Saint of the Day – 29 April – St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Doctor of the Church, Virgin, Stigmatist, Mystic, Scholastic Philosopher and Theologian, Writer, Reformer, Adviser, Mediator, Dominican Tertiary. St Catherine was born Caterina Benincasa on 25 March 1347 at Siena, Tuscany, Italy and died on 29 April 1380 in Rome, Italy of a mysterious and painful illness which manifested itself suddenly and was never diagnosed. Her body was buried in the Dominican church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The first funerary monument was erected in 1380 by Blessed Raymond of Capua, her Relics were re-enshrined in 1430 and again in 1466, at the High Altar of the Church. She was Canonised in July 1461 by Pope Pius II.
Patronages – against bodily ills, against fire, against miscarriages, against sexual temptation, against sickness, firefighters, nurses, nursing services, people ridiculed for their piety, joint patron of Europe with St Benedict of Nursia, St Gertrude of Sweden, Sts Cyril & Methodius and St Edith Stein,3 Diocese, Siena, Joint Patron of Italy, with St Francis of Assisi, of Varazze, Italy.
Caterina Benincasa was born in Siena on 25 March 1347, the last of 25 children of the wealthy wool-dyer Jacopo Benincasa and Lapa di Puccio dé Piacenti.
At the age of six, Catherine received her first vision, near the Church of San Domenico. From this moment onwards the child began to follow a path of devotion, taking the oath of chastity only a year later. After initial resistance from her family, eventually her father gave in and left Catherine to follow her inclinations. In 1363, at just 15 years of age, Catherine donned the black cloak of the Dominican Tertiary sisters. In 1367 she began working tirelessly to help the sick at the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala.As her fame spread throughout Christendom, during a visit to the city of Pisa, Catherine received the stigmata from a wooden cross hanging in the Church of Santa Cristina. Her many travels abroad to act as mediator for the Papacy included a trip to Avignon, where she urged Pope Gregory to bring the Papal Court back to Rome from its exile in France.
On returning to Siena, Catherine founded the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the castle of Belcaro. With the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378, his successor Urban VI had to face strong opposition from a number of cardinals who had elected a second Pope with the name of Clement VII, thereby provoking what would later come to be termed the Great Schism of the West. Pope Urban VI called on Catherine to act as mediator with princes, politicians and members of the Church, with a view to legitimising his election.
In 1380, at just 33, Catherine died and was buried in the Rome church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. In 1461 Pope Pius II proclaimed her saint and in 1866 Pius IX included her as one of the patron saints of Rome. In 1939, along with St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena was proclaimed patron saint of Italy by Pope Pius XII.
In 1970 Paul VI conferred the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on Catherine and in 1999 she was proclaimed co-patron saint of Europe by Pope John Paul II.
Catherine of Siena is one of the outstanding figures of medieval Catholicism, by the strong influence she has had in the history of the papacy. She is behind the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome and then carried out many missions entrusted by the pope, something quite rare for a simple nun in the Middle Ages.
Her writings—and especially The Dialogue, her major work which includes a set of treatises she would have dictated during ecstasies—mark theological thought. She is one of the most influential writers in Catholicism, to the point that she is one of only four women to be declared a doctor of the Church. This recognition by the Church consecrates the importance of her writings.
St Catherine’s home now known as The Sanctuary of St Catherine is a major Pilgrimage Site in Siena. The architecture of this sanctuary dedicated to Saint Catherine isn’t entirely original but the atmosphere definitely is. As are many of the objects that belonged to the saint. The rooms have been altered a lot since 1461, when the house was bought by the city of Siena and transformed into a museum. The idea wasn’t faithful architectural conservation but rather preserving her honour and memory, hence the eclectic art collection celebrating her life and work. It’s a sensitive place, full of religious passion and historical references and well reflects the extraordinary life of this woman.
The Oratory of the Bedroom: this houses the small cubicle where Catherine rested and prayed and the stone where the saint would lay her head. This space is connected with the first phase of Catherine’s life, where she would withdraw from the world in contemplation. Images below.
Church of the Crucifix: The church is home to the wooden crucifix from which Saint Catherine received the stigmata, an event which took place in Pisa, where Catherine had gone in 1375 to persuade the Lords of the city to shun the anti-papal league. The stigmata remained visible only to the Saint for the rest of her life, miraculously appearing at the moment of her death.
Saint of the Day – 2 April – St Francis of Paola O.M. (1416-1507) also known as “Saint Francis the Fire Handler” – Monk and Founder, inspired with the Gift of Prophecy and still called the “Miracle-Worker“, Apostle of the poor, Peacemaker – born on 27 March 1416 at Paola, Calabria, Kingdom of Italy (part of modern Italy) and died on 2 April 1507 (Good Friday) at Plessis, France of natural causes. He was an Italian mendicant Friar and the Founder of the Order of Minims. Unlike the majority of founders of men’s religious orders and like his Patron Saint, Francis was never Ordained a Priest In 1562 Huguenots broke open his tomb, found his body incorrupt and burned it. The bones were salvaged by Catholics and distributed as relics to various churches. Patronages – against fire, against plague/epidemics, against sterility, mariners, sailors, naval officers, travellers, 7 Cities.
St Francis founded the Hermits of St Francis which Rule was formally approved by Pope Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of “Minims”. Their name refers to their role as the “least of all the faithful”. Humility was to be the hallmark of the brothers as it had been in Francis’s personal life. bstinence from meat and other animal products became a “fourth vow” of his religious order, along with the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Francis instituted the continual, year-round observance of this diet in an effort to revive the tradition of fasting during Lent, which many Roman Catholics had ceased to practice by the 15th century. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. He felt that heroic mortification was necessary as a means for spiritual growth. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established monasteries of nuns and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St Francis of Assisi.
Francis was born in the town of Paola, which lies in the southern Italian Province of Cosenza, Calabria. In his youth he was educated by the Franciscan friars in Paola. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives, having remained childless for some years after their marriage, they had recourse to prayer and especially commended themselves to the intercession of St Francis of Assisi, after whom they named their first-born son. Two other children were eventually born to them.
When still in the cradle, Francis suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year wearing the “little habit” of St Francis in one of the friaries of his Order, a not-uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured.
From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity and at the age of 13, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a friary of the Franciscan Order to fulfil the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paola, he selected a secluded cave on his father’s estate and there lived in solitude; but later on he found an even-more secluded cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years, giving himself to prayer and mortification.
Soon others joined him and they took the name Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi and followed the practices of the Franciscans, or the Franciscan Minim Friars. The order attracted many candidates within a sort space of time.
Francis later felt God calling him to defend those who were poor and oppressed. He scolded King Ferdinand of Naples and his sons for their wrongdoing. In 1482, when King Louis XI of France was dying, he begged that Francis come to cure him. Francis at first refused but Pope Sixtus IV ordered him to care for the king and prepare him for death. When the king saw Francis, he pleaded for a miracle. Francis rebuked him, saying that the lives of kings are in the hands of God. Francis restored peace between France and Great Britain and between France and Spain.
According to a famous story, in the year 1464, he was refused passage by a boatman while trying to cross the Strait of Messina to Sicily. He reportedly laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff as a sail and sailed across the strait with his companions following in the boat. The second of Franz Liszt’s “Legendes” (for solo piano) describes this story in music.
After his nephew died, the boy’s mother—the saint’s own sister—appealed to Francis for comfort and filled his apartment with lamentations. After the Mass and divine office had been said for the repose of his soul, St Francis ordered the corpse to be carried from the church into his cell, where he continued praying until, to her great astonishment, the boy’s life was restored and Francis presented him to his mother in perfect health. The young man entered his order and is the celebrated Nicholas Alesso who afterwards followed his uncle into France and was famous for sanctity and many great actions.
St Francis also raised his pet lamb, Martinello, from the dead after it had been eaten by workmen. “Being in need of food, the workmen caught and slaughtered Francis’ pet lamb, Martinello, roasting it in their lime kiln. They were eating when the Saint approached them, looking for his lamb. They told him they had eaten it, having no other food. He asked what they had done with the fleece and the bones. They told him they had thrown them into the furnace. Francis walked over to the furnace, looked into the fire and called ‘Martinello, come out!’ The lamb jumped out, completely untouched, bleating happily on seeing his master.”
Pope Leo X canonised him in 1519. He is considered to be a patron saint of boatmen, mariners and naval officers. His liturgical feast day is celebrated by the universal Church today, the day on which he died. In 1963, Pope John XXIII designated him as the patron saint of Calabria. Though his miracles were numerous, he was canonised for his humility and discernment in blending the contemplative life with the active one.
Devotion of the Thirteen Fridays:
Pope Clement XII, in the brief “Coelestium Munerum Dispensatio” of 2 December 1738, promulgated an indulgence to all the faithful who, upon 13 Fridays continuously preceding the Feast of St Francis of Paola (2 April), or at any other time of the year, shall, in honour of this Saint, visit a church of the Minims and pray there for the Church. In this brief, mention is made of a devotion which originated with St Francis himself, who, on each of 13 Fridays, used to recite 13 Pater Nosters (Our Fathers) and as many Ave Marias (Hail Marys) and this devotion he promulgated by word of mouth and by letter to his own devout followers, as an efficacious means of obtaining from God the graces they desired, provided they were for the greater good of their souls
Saint of the Day – 5 February – St Agatha (c 231- c 251) Virgin and Martyr. St Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily and she was martyred in approximately 251 at Catania, Sicily by being rolled on coals. She is one of seven women, who, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Patronages – against breast cancer, against breast disease, against earthquakes, against eruptions of Mount Etna, against fire, against natural disasters, against sterility, against volcanic eruptions, of bell-founders, fire prevention, jewellers, martyrs, nurses, rape victims, single laywomen, torture victims, wet-nurses, Malta, San Marino, 64 Cities.
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius (250–253) in Catania, Sicily, for her determined profession of faith. Her written legend comprises “straightforward accounts of interrogation, torture, resistance and triumph which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature”. Although the martyrdom of Saint Agatha is authenticated and her veneration as a saint had spread beyond her native place even in antiquity, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death.
According to Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend of c 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God, fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel. The madam finding her intractable, Quintianus sent for her, argued, threatened and finally had her put in prison. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers.
After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion, Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Saint Agatha died in prison, according to the Legenda Aurea in “the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-three in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome.”
Saint Agatha is a patron saint of Malta, where in 1551 her intercession through a reported apparition to a Benedictine nun is said to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion. Agatha is the patron saint of bell-founders because of the shape of her severed breasts and also of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients. She is claimed as the patroness of Palermo. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.
Agatha is buried at the Badia di Sant’Agata, Catania. She is listed in the late 6th-century Martyrologium Hieronymianum associated with Jerome and the Synaxarion, the calendar of the church of Carthage, ca. 530.
Two early churches were dedicated to her in Rome, notably the Church of Sant’Agata dei Goti in Via Mazzarino, a titular church with apse mosaics of c 460 and traces of a fresco cycle, overpainted by Gismondo Cerrini in 1630. Agatha is also depicted in the mosaics of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, where she appears, richly dressed, in the procession of female martyrs along the north wall.
Basques have a tradition of gathering on Saint Agatha’s Eve (Basque: Santa Ageda bezpera) and going round the village. Homeowners can choose to hear a song about her life, accompanied by the beats of their walking sticks on the floor or a prayer for the household’s deceased. After that, the homeowner donates food to the chorus. This song has varying lyrics according to the local tradition and the Basque language.
An annual festival to commemorate the life of Saint Agatha takes place in Catania, Sicily, from February 3 to 5. The festival culminates in a great all-night procession through the city for which hundreds of thousands of the city’s residents turn out.
St Agatha’s Tower is a former Knight’s stronghold located in the north west of Malta. The seventeenth-century tower served as a military base during both World Wars and was used as a radar station by the Maltese army.
Saint of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr, Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, Physician, Miracle-worker. Died in c 316 by his flesh being torn off his body by iron wool-combs, then beheaded. Patronages – against angina • against bladder diseases • against blisters • against coughs • against dermatitis • against dropsy • against eczema • against edema • against fever • against goitres • against headaches • against impetigo • against respiratory diseases • against skin diseases • against snake bites • against sore throats • against stomach pain • against storms • against teething pain • against throat diseases • against toothaches • against ulcers • against whooping cough • against wild beasts • angina sufferers of ; of children, animals, builders, drapers, against choking, veterinarians, infants, of 21 Cities, of stonecutters, carvers, wool workers. St Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers – https://anastpaul.com/2018/07/25/thought-for-the-day-25-july-the-memorial-of-st-christopher-died-c-251-one-of-the-fourteen-holy-helpers/
Today the Church remembers the life and witness of Saint Blaise, a 3rd century Armenian bishop who endured terrifying torments and surrendered his life rather than repudiate his profession of Faith.
Much of the life of Saint Blaise is history that has passed into legend but even these legendary accounts offer spiritual insight.
Blaise was renowned as a wonderworker, effecting miraculous cures. T his would have been enough to attract attention but he was also not averse to calling out the Roman officials who ruled the region in which he lived, Cappadocia, for their tyranny and intolerance of Christian faith and practice. The combination of a reputation for supernatural power and the courage of his convictions was not welcomed by Rome and the governor ordered Bishop Blaise to be arrested. Blaise was able to elude capture and took refuge in the wilderness. It was there in the caves of Cappadocia that his ministry and his mission continued.
There is an account of Saint Blaise that identifies not only his pastoral care for the Christian faithful but also for the animals of the wilderness.
A woman had witnessed her piglet carried off by a wolf and spoke of her plight to the bishop. Saint Blaise called for the wolf, demanded her return the piglet to its rightful owner and reminded the wolf of the grave penalty that awaited a thief. The wolf complied and returned the piglet to its owner- a credit to the bishop’s power of persuasion. The woman would later return the favour to Saint Blaise when he was finally captured and imprisoned. She brought to him candles to illuminate his dank and dreary cell.
This legend hints at how the saints represent, in their holiness, the restoration of a paradise lost and regained in Christ. The ease and familiarity with which the Biblical character of Adam is believed to have communed with nature before the fall is recapitulated in Saint Blaise- he is a sign that anticipates the restoration of all things in Christ where the lion will rest with the lamb and in this case, the wolf will return stolen property to its rightful owner.
Saint Blaise has been invoked for centuries as a specialist in diseases of the throat. The origin of this practice might be in the story of a child brought to the saint who was either choking or suffering from some other malady of the throat. Saint Blaise blessed the boy and he was restored to health.
The practice of blessing throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise is a commemoration of this miracle, that crossed candles are often used to impart this blessing might also be a recollection of the kindness of the woman who gave candles to the saint as he languished in prison.
Saint Blaise was an extraordinarily popular saint during the Middle Ages in Europe. Presentations of his miraculous and mighty deeds were commonly represented in art and sculpture, and he was included in a listing of saints called the Fourteen Holy Helpers (or Auxiliary Saints), holy men and women who could be counted on as intercessors for all manner of maladies from madness to travelers in distress. During times in which a sore throat could be a signal of an impending epidemic or an early death, the faithful were all too happy to accept the help of a heavenly specialist in such matters like Saint Blaise.
The legends regarding Saint Blaise report that his sojourn in the wilderness did not protect him for very long. He was eventually arrested and brought to trial. The judge advised him that only a pinch of incense offered to the image of Caesar and the gods of Rome could win him his freedom. Blaise refused. He was cruelly tortured and beheaded.
The Church does not mourn Saint Blaise, for we know that in Christ this world is not all that there is. While tyrants like Caesar and his successors can threaten us with death, Christ promises us a life that like his own, is transformed through suffering and death, into resurrection.
The scriptures proclaim, “though they slay me I will trust in you.”
Saint Blaise did precisely this. He trusted that Christ would not abandon him to the power of death nor allow his suffering to be meaningless. Our lives might never be raised to the legendary status of Saint Blaise but we can trust in Christ as he did and live in hope that one day we will join him in communion with all the saints who have gone before us in faith and who, from their place in heaven, guide and protect us still. (Fr Steve Grunow)
Saint of the Day – 27 December – St John the Apostle and Evangelist – “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved” – (died c 101) Also known as • The Apostle of Charity • The Beloved Apostle • Giovanni Evangelista • John the Divine • John the Evangelist • John the Theologian. Patronages – • against burns; burn victims• against epilepsy• against foot problems• against hailstorms• against poisoning• art dealers• authors, writers• basket makers• bookbinders• booksellers• butchers• compositors• editors• engravers• friendships• glaziers• government officials• harvests• lithographers• notaries• painters• papermakers• publishers• saddle makers• scholars• sculptors• tanners• theologians• typesetters• vintners• Asia Minor (proclaimed on 26 October 1914 by Pope Benedict XV)• 6 Diocese• 7 Cities, Attributes – • book• cauldron• chalice• chalice with a serpent in allusion to the cup of sorrow foretold by Jesus• eagle, representing his role as the evangelist who most concentrated on Jesus’s divine nature• serpent. The author of five books of the Bible (the Gospel of John, the First, Second, and Third Letters of John and Revelation), Saint John the Apostle was one of earliest disciples of Christ. Commonly called Saint John the Evangelist because of his authorship of the fourth and final gospel, he is one of the most frequently mentioned disciples in the New Testament, rivaling Saint Peter for his prominence in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Yet outside of the Book of Revelation, John preferred to refer to himself, not by name but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was the only one of the Apostles to die, not of martyrdom but of old age, around the year 101.
St John the Evangelist was a Galilean and the son, along with Saint James the Greater, of Zebedee and Salome. Because he is usually placed after St James in the lists of the apostles (see Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:17 and Luke 6:14), John is generally considered the younger brother, perhaps as young as 17-18 at the time of Christ’s death.
With St James, he is always listed among the first four apostles (see Acts 1:13), reflecting not only his early calling (he is the other disciple of St John the Baptist, along with St Andrew, who follows Christ in John 1:34-40) but his honoured place among the disciples. (In Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, James and John are called immediately after the fellow fishermen Peter and Andrew.)
Like Peter and James the Greater, John was a witness to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1 ) and the Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:37). His closeness to Christ is apparent in the accounts of the Last Supper (John 13:23), at which he leaned on Christ’s breast while eating and the Crucifixion (John 19:25-27), where he was the only one of Christ’s disciples present. Christ, seeing St John at the foot of the Cross with His mother, entrusted Mary to his care. He was the first of the disciples to arrive at the tomb of Christ on Easter, having outraced Saint Peter (John 20:4) and while he waited for Peter to enter the tomb first, St John was the first to believe that Christ had risen from the dead (John 20:8).
As one of the two initial witnesses to the Resurrection, St John naturally took a place of prominence in the early Church, as the Acts of the Apostles attest (see Acts 3:1, Acts 4:3, and Acts 8:14, in which he appears alongside St Peter himself.) When the apostles dispersed following the persecution of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12), during which John’s brother James became the first of the apostles to win the crown of martyrdom (Acts 12:2), tradition holds that John went to Asia Minor, where he likely played a role in founding the Church at Ephesus.
Exiled to Patmos during the persecution of Domitian, he returned to Ephesus during Trajan’s reign and died there.
While on Patmos, John received the great revelation that forms the Book of Revelation and likely completed his gospel (which may, however, have existed in an earlier form a few decades before).
Traditional iconography has represented St John as an eagle, symbolising “the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel.” Like the other Evangelists, he is sometimes symbolised by a book and a later tradition used the chalice as a symbol of St John, recalling Christ’s words to John and James the Greater, in Matthew 20:23, “My chalice indeed you shall drink.”
A MARTYR WHO DIED A NATURAL DEATH Christ’s reference to the chalice inevitably calls to mind His own Agony in the Garden, where He prays, “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, thy will be done” (Matthew 26;42). It thus seems a symbol of martyrdom and yet John, alone among the apostles, died a natural death. Still, he has been honoured as a martyr from the earliest days after his death, because of an incident related by Tertullian, in which John, while in Rome, was placed in a pot of boiling oil but emerged unharmed.
Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Confessor, Bishop, Miracle-Worker, Apostle of Charity. Also known as – • Nicholas of Bari• Nicholas of Lpnenskij • Nicholas of Lipno • Nicholas of Sarajskij • Nicholas the Miracle Worker • Klaus, Mikulas, Nikolai, Nicolaas, Nicolas, Niklaas, Niklas. Nikolaus, Santa Claus.
Patronages -• against fire • against imprisonment • against robberies • against robbers • against storms at sea • against sterility • against thefts • altar servers • archers • boys • brides • captives • children • choir boys • happy marriages • lawsuits lost unjustly • lovers • maidens • penitent murderers • newlyweds • paupers • pilgrims • poor people • prisoners • scholars • schoolchildren, students • penitent thieves • travellers • unmarried girls • apothecaries • bakers • bankers • barrel makers • boatmen • boot blacks • brewers • butchers • button makers • candle makers • chair makers • cloth shearers • coopers • dock workers • educators • farm workers, farmers • firefighters • fish mongers • fishermen • grain merchants • grocers • grooms • hoteliers • innkeepers • judges • lace merchants • lawyers • linen merchants • longshoremen • mariners • merchants • millers • notaries • parish clerks • pawnbrokers • perfumeries • perfumers • poets • ribbon weavers • sailors • ship owners • shoe shiners • soldiers • spice merchants • spinners • stone masons • tape weavers • toy makers • vintners • watermen • weavers • Greek Catholic Church in America • Greek Catholic Union • Varangian Guard • Germany • Greece • Russia • 3 Diocese • 78 Cities.
Attributes – • anchor • bishop calming a storm • bishop holding three bags of gold • bishop holding three balls • bishop with three children • bishop with three children in a tub at his feet • purse • ship • three bags of gold • three balls • three golden balls on a book • boy in a boat. Saint Nicholas’ reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas. St Nicholas was generous to the poor and special protector of the innocent and wronged. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming associated with Santa Claus.
Some examples of the Miracles of St Nicholas and the reasons for various Patronages:
• Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.
• He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime. These stories led to his patronage of children in general and of barrel-makers besides.
• Induced some thieves to return their plunder. This explains his protection against theft and robbery and his patronage of them – he’s not helping them steal but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.
• During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
St Nicholas died in 346 at Myra, Lycia (in modern Turkey) of natural causes and his relics are believed to be at Bari, Italy.
Here is the story of St Nicholas by Prosper Dom Gueranger:
Nicholas was born in the celebrated city of Patara, in the province of Lycia. His birth was the fruit of his parents’ prayers. Evidences of his great future holiness were given from his very cradle. For when he was an infant, he would only take his food once on Wednesdays and Fridays and then not till evening but on all other days he frequently took the breast: he kept up this custom of fasting during the rest of his life.
Having lost his parents when he was a boy, he gave all his goods to the poor. Of his Christian kindheartedness there is the following noble example. One of his fellow-citizens had three daughters but being too poor to obtain them an honourable marriage, he was minded to abandon them to a life of prostitution. Nicholas having learned of the case, went to the house during the night and threw in by the window a sum of money sufficient for the dower of one of the daughters; he did the same a second and a third time and thus the three were married to respectable men.
Having given himself wholly to the service of God, he set out for Palestine, that he might visit and venerate the holy places. During this pilgrimage, which he made by sea, he foretold to the mariners, on embarking, though the heavens were then serene and the sea tranquil, that they would be overtaken by a frightful storm. In a very short time, the storm arose. All were in the most imminent danger, when he quelled it by his prayers.
His pilgrimage ended, he returned home, giving to all men example of the greatest sanctity. He went, by an inspiration from God, to Myra, the Metropolis of Lycia,which had just lost its Bishop by death and the Bishops of the province had come together for the purpose of electing a successor. Whilst they were holding council for the election, they were told by a revelation from heaven, that they should choose him who, on the morrow, should be the first to enter the church, his name being Nicholas. Accordingly, the requisite observations were made, when they found Nicholas to be waiting at the church door: they took him and, to the incredible delight of all, made him the Bishop of Myra.
During his episcopate, he never flagged in the virtues looked for in a bishop; chastity, which indeed he had always preserved, gravity, assiduity in prayer, watchings, abstinence, generosity and hospitality, meekness in exhortation, severity in reproving. He befriended widows and orphans by money, by advice and by every service in his power. So zealous a defender was he of all who suffered oppression, that, on one occasion, three Tribunes having been condemned by the Emperor Constantine, who had been deceived by calumny and having heard of the miracles wrought by Nicholas, they recommended themselves to his prayers, though he was living at a very great distance from that place: the saint appeared to Constantine and angrily looking upon him, obtained from the terrified Emperor their deliverance.
Having, contrary to the edict of Dioclesian and Maximian, preached in Myra the truth of the Christian faith, he was taken up by the servants of the two Emperors. He was taken off to a great distance and thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine, having become Emperor, ordered his rescue and the Saint returned to Myra. Shortly afterwards, he repaired to the Council which was being held at Nicaea: there he took part with the three hundred and eighteen Fathers in condemning the Arian heresy (Tradition has it that he became so angry with the heretic Arius during the Council that he struck him in the face).
Scarcely had he returned to his See than he was taken with the sickness of which he soon died. Looking up to heaven and seeing Angels coming to meet him, he began the Psalm, In thee, O Lord, have I hoped and having come to those words, Into your hands I commend my spirit, his soul took its flight to the heavenly country. His body, having been translated to Bari in Apulia, is the object of universal veneration.
For St Nicholas traditional biscuits see here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/st-nicholas-6-december/
Saint of the Day – 10 October – St Francis Borgia S.J. (1510-1572) Priest, Advisor, Missionary, Evangelist, Administrator par excelleance. Born – Francisco de Borja y Aragon was the 4th Duke of Gandía, was a Grandee of Spain, a Spanish Jesuit and third Superior General of the Society of Jesus – (28 October 1510 at Gandia, Valencia, Spain – 30 September 1572 at Ferrara, Italy). His relics were translated to the Jesuit church in Madrid, Spain in 1901. He was Beatified on 23 November 1624 at Madrid by Pope Urban VIII and Canonised on 20 June 1670 by Pope Clement X in Rome, Italy. Patronages – against earthquakes, Portugal, Rota, Marianas. Attributes – Skull crowned with an emperor’s diadem.
St Francis was born in Duchy of Gandía, Valencia, on 28 October 1510. His father was Juan Borgia, 3rd Duke of Gandía, the son of Giovanni Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia). His mother was Juana, daughter of Alonso de Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza, who, in turn, was the illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II of Aragon. His brother, Tomás de Borja y Castro, also became a clergyman, becoming the Bishop of Málaga and later the Archbishop of Zaragoza.
As a relative of Pope Alexander VI, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Emperor Charles V, joined Spain’s imperial court at age eighteen, although as a child he was very pious and wished to become a monk, his family sent him instead to court. He distinguished himself there, accompanying the Emperor on several campaigns. The next year he married Eleanor de Castro, who bore him eight children. In 1539, shortly after experiencing a religious conversion, Francis left the court but continued in public life as viceroy of Catalonia. At this time under the influence of St Peter of Alcántara O.F.M. and St Peter Favre S.J, he progressed in prayer and the spiritual life.
In 1543, Francis succeeded his father as duke of Gandia. He was much opposed to gaming and did not allow his servants to indulge in it. He used to say: “Gaming is accompanied by great losses; loss of money, loss of time, loss of devotion and loss of conscience.” The same aversion he had for the reading of frivolous books, even if they were not immoral. He found his greatest delight in reading devout books and said: “The reading of devout books is the first step towards a better life.” At the period in which he lived the principal enjoyments of the higher classes were music and hawking; and, as he could not abstain from them entirely, he took care, at such times, to raise his thoughts to the Almighty and to mortify himself. Thus, when he went hawking, he closed his eyes at the very moment when the hawk swooped; the sight of which, they say, was the chief pleasure of this kind of hunting.
The Almighty, to draw His servant entirely away from the world, sent him several severe maladies, which made him recognise the instability of all that is earthly. He became more fully aware of this after the death of the Empress, whose wondrous beauty was everywhere extolled. By the order of the Emperor, it became the duty of Francis to escort the remains to the royal vault at Granada. There the coffin was opened before the burial took place, and the sight that greeted the beholders was most awful. Nothing was left of the beautiful Empress but a corpse, so disfigured, that all averted their eyes, whilst the odour it exhaled was so offensive that most of the spectators were driven away.
St Francis was most deeply touched, and when, after the burial, he went into his room, prostrated himself before the crucifix and having given vent to his feelings, he exclaimed: “No, no, my God! in future I will have no master whom death can take from me.” He then made a vow that he would enter a religious order, should he survive his consort. He often used to say afterwards: “The death of the Empress awakened me to life.” When Francis returned from Granada the Emperor created him Viceroy of Catalonia and in this new dignity the holy Duke continued to lead rather a religious than a worldly life. He had a fatherly care for his subjects and every one had at all hours admittance to him. Towards the poor he manifested great kindness. He daily gave four or five hours to prayer. He fasted almost daily and scourged himself to blood. He assisted at Mass and received Holy Communion every day. When he heard that disputes had arisen among the theologians at the universities, in regard to the frequent use of Holy Communion, he wrote to St. Ignatius, at Rome and asked his opinion on the subject. St. Ignatius wrote back to him, approving of the frequent use of Holy Communion and strengthening him in his thoughts about it.
Meanwhile, the death of his father brought upon him the administration of his vast estates, without, however, in the least changing his pious manner of living. Soon after his pious consort, who was his equal in virtue, became sick. Francis prayed most fervently to God for her recovery. One day, while he was thus praying, he heard an interior voice, which said these words: “If thou desirest that thy consort should recover, thy wish shall be fulfilled but it will not benefit thee.” Frightened at these words, he immediately conformed his own will in all things to the Divine will. From that moment the condition of the Duchess grew worse and she died, as she had lived, piously and peacefully. St Francis, remembering his vow, determined to execute it without delay. Taking counsel of God and of his confessor, he chose the Society of Jesus, which had recently been instituted. Writing to St. Ignatius, he asked for admittance, which was cheerfully granted. But, to settle his affairs satisfactorily, he was obliged to remain four years longer in his offices. Having at length, by the permission of the Emperor, resigned his possessions to his eldest son, he took the religious habit and proceeded to Rome. Scarcely four months had elapsed since his arrival, when he was informed that the Pope wished to make him a cardinal; and, to avoid this dignity, he returned to Spain. Being ordained priest, he said his first Mass in the chapel of the Castle of Loyola, where St Ignatius had been born; and then spent a few years in preaching and instructing the people. It would take more space than is allowed to us to relate how many sinners he converted, and how much he laboured for the honour of God and the salvation of souls.
While he preferred a quiet life of solitude, the Jesuits felt differently and promoted him so that he could use his great administrative talents for the church. In 1554, St Ignatius appointed Francis commissary for Spain, where he founded twelve colleges and a novitiate. The Jesuits chose Francis as their general in 1565. His consolidation of the society and expansion of its ministry has caused him to be recognised as the second founder of the order. He established disciplined novitiates in every Jesuit province, writing regulations and books of spiritual instruction for them.
Francis created a new Jesuit base in Poland and strengthened the community’s work in Germany and France. Between 1566 and 1572 he launched the Jesuit mission to Spanish colonies in Florida, Mexico and Peru. He maintained contact with the missioners by letter, advising them about their own spiritual lives and counseling them on strategy. Following is an excerpt from his correspondence:
“We must perform all our works in God and refer them to His glory so that they will be permanent and stable. Everyone—whether kings, nobles, tradesmen or peasants—must do all things for the glory of God and under the inspiration of Christ’s example. . . . When you pray, hear Mass, sit at table, engage in business and when at bedtime you remove your clothes—at all times crave that by the pain which He felt when He was stripped just before His crucifixion, He may strip us of our evil habits of mind. Thus, naked of earthly things, we may also embrace the cross.
Wherever our brethren may be, let their first care be for those already converted. Their first aim must be to strengthen these in the faith and to help them save their souls. After this they may convert others not yet baptised. But let them proceed prudently and not undertake more than they can carry through. It is not desirable for them to hurry here and there to convert heathen with whom they cannot afterwards keep in touch. It is better to advance step by step and consolidate conquests already made. . . . They are not to risk their lives unnecessarily in excursions among unconquered people. The swift loss of life in God’s service may be advantageous for them. However, it is not for the greater good of the many for there are only a few labourers for the vineyard and it is difficult to replace them.”
His successes during the period 1565-1572 have caused historians to describe Francis as the greatest General after Saint Ignatius. He founded the Collegium Romanum, which was to become the Gregorian University in Rome, advised kings and popes and closely supervised all the affairs of the rapidly expanding order. Yet, despite the great power of his office, Francis led a humble life and was widely regarded in his own lifetime as a saint.
In 1571 the pope sent Francis to Spain and Portugal to help build an alliance against the Turks. He grew increasingly ill on this ambassadorial trip and died after returning to Rome in 1572.
Saint of the Day – 25 February – St Walburga (c 710-779) Nun and Missionary. Daughter of St Richard the King. Sister of St Willibald and St Winebald, niece of St Boniface. Also known as:-Auboué, Avangour, Avongourg, Bugga, Falbourg, Gaubourg, Gauburge, Gaudurge, Gualbourg, Valborg, Valburg, Valpurge, Valpuri, Vaubouer, Vaubourg, Walbourg, Walburg, Walburge, Walpurd, Walpurga, Walpurgis, Waltpurde, Warpurg – Religious/Missionary – Patronages – against coughs,,against dog bites, against famine, against hydrophobia (as a symptom of) rabies, against mad dogs, against plague/epidemics, against storms, sailors, farmers, harvests, Eichstätt, Germany, Diocese of, Plymouth, England, Diocese of and 4 Cities. Additional Memorials – 12 October (translation of relics to Eichstätt), 24 September (translation of relics to Zutphen).
St Walburga was English, the sister of two associates of St Boniface in evangelising Germany and the Lowlands. She was the daughter of St.Richard the Pilgrim, a West Saxon chieftain and Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle to Germany. She had at least three siblings; two of her brothers are known by name, St Willibald and St Winibald.
In 720 her father and two older brothers went on a pilgrimage to Rome. Her father died at Lucca, Italy, but the brothers reached Rome where St. Winibald (c.701-761) became a monk, while St. Willibald (c.700-787) went on to the Holy Land.
Walburga was educated at Wimborne Monastery in Dorset, where she became a nun. In 748, she was sent with St. Lioba to Germany to help St. Boniface in his missionary work. She spent two years at Bishofsheim, after which she became Abbess of the monastery at Heidenheim founded by her brother St. Winebald. At her brother’s death in 761, St. Walburga was appointed Abbess of both monasteries by her other brother St. Willibald, who was then Bishop of Eichstadt. She remained superior of both men and women until her death on February 25, 779.
She was buried first at Heidenheim but her body was tranferred next to that of her brother, St. Winebald, at Eichstadt. n the 870s, Walpurga’s remains were transferred to Eichstätt. In Finland, Sweden, and Bavaria, her feast day commemorates the transfer of her relics on May 1. At present the most famous of the oils of saints is the Oil of Saint Walburga (Walburgis oleum). It flows from the stone slab and the surrounding metal plate on which rest the relics of Saint Walburga in her church in Eichstädt in Bavaria. The fluid is caught in a silver cup, placed beneath the slab for that purpose, and is distributed among the faithful in small vials by the Sisters of Saint Benedict, to whom the church belongs. A chemical analysis has shown that the fluid contains nothing but the ingredients of water. Though the origin of the fluid is probably due to natural causes, the fact that it came in contact with the relics of the saint justifies the practice of using it as a remedy against diseases of the body and the soul. Mention of the oil of Saint Walburga is made as early as the ninth century by her biographer Wolfhard of Herrieden. – from the Catholic Encyclopedia article Oil of Saints
Saint of the Day -10 February – St Scholastica Virgin and Religious – (c482-547) Patron of schools – tests, reading; convulsive children; nuns; invoked against storms, lightening and rain; City of Le Mans.
Scholastica was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and according to Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her twin brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.
A young Roman woman of Scholastica’s class and time would likely have remained in her father’s house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community.
Benedictine tradition holds that Scholastica lived in a convent at Plumbariola about five miles from Monte Cassino and that this was the first “Benedictine” convent. However, it has been suggested that it is more likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her. Ruth Clifford Engs notes that since Dialogues indicates that Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father’s house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict.
The most commonly told story about her is that she would, once a year, go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues.
One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, Scholastica asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions. Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict refused, insisting that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed. Benedict asked, “God forgive you, Sister.What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and He did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.
According to Gregory’s Dialogues, three days later, from his cell, he saw his sister’s soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove. Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself.
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