O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands, to implore your powerful intercession, to obtain from the gentle heart of Jesus all the help and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a holy death and the special grace I now implore: …………….. (Mention your request) O guardian of the Word Incarnate we feel animated with confidence, that your prayers on our behalf, will be graciously heard, before the throne of God. St Joseph, Patron of the Dying, Pray for us! Amen
The beloved Foster-Father and Guardian of Jesus and Protector of the Holy Family, is celebrated for this whole month and his Feast Day falls in the middle of it – 19 March – this year moved to the 20th as the 19th is Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
“Quamquam Pluries” On the Devotion to St Joseph Pope Leo XIII
“On 10 March, [11 MARCH THIS YEAR], we begin the Novena to St Joseph, entrusting so many of our woes and cares to his holy and fatherly care and intercession. His Patronages are numerous, as we know, one of them will fit our needs perfectly and if not, then we should all ask him to intercede on our behalf for our families and for a Happy and Holy Death. On the 20th [FEAST normally 19th] we pray the Consecration to St Joseph.”
Patronages in Alphabetical Order:
of Accountants • Bursars • Cabinetmakers • Carpenters • Catholic Church • Cemetery Workers • Children • Civil Engineers • against Communism • Confectioners • Craftsmen • against Doubt and Hesitation • the Dying • Emigrants • Exiles • Expectant Mothers • Families • Fathers • Furniture Makers • Grave diggers • Happy Death • Holy Death • House Hunters • House Sellers • Immigrants • Joiners • Labourers • all the Legal Profession • Married Couples • Oblates of Saint Joseph • Orphans • Pioneers • Social Justice • Teachers • Travellers • the Unborn • Wheelwrights • Workers • Americas • Austria • Belgium • Bohemia • Canada • China • Croatian people • Korea • Mexico • New France • New World • Peru • Philippines • Vatican City • VietNam • Canadian Armed Forces • Papal States • 46 Diocese • 26 Cities,States and Regions.
Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521– 1608) Confessor, Theatine Priest, Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Miracle-worker.
Saint Andrew Avellino, Confessor By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
St Andrew Avellino was born at Castro Nuovo, in the kingdom of Naples. To fear God and to avoid sin, were the maxims which his mother, from early childhood, implanted deep into his heart and which became the rule of his entire life. While he studied at Senise, a lady sought to attract him by several presents which she sent him but the chaste youth, accepted not her gifts,and sent her word, saying that she should trouble him no more and might rest assured that he would rather die than consent to any evil. On another occasion when he was enticed to sin, he fled like the chaste Joseph. To escape similar temptations, he determined to become a Priest and was Ordained after he had finished his studies.
For some time he devoted himself to the practice of Canon Law in the eEclesiastical Courts until one day, in the heat of his argument, a trivial lie escaped him. Soon after, while reading the Holy Scriptures, the words, “The mouth that lieth, killeth the soul,” came under his eyes and his repentance was such that, from that moment, he renounced his profession in order to escape from the danger of offending God and gave himself entirely, to the Sacred ministry. By associating frequently with the religious of the Theatine Order, he conceived the desire of joining their number, which he did in 1556. It was on this occasion that he took the name of Andrew, in honour of the holy Apostle of that name, after whose example he desired to suffer much for the glory of God.
His eminent virtues induced his superiors to make him Master of Novices, although he had been only five years in the Order,and afterwards, to charge him with the administration of several houses. He attended to all his duties to the greatest benefit of those under him. Besides the usual vows, he imposed upon himself two more. The first of these was to work continually against his own inclinations; the second, to make continual progress in perfection. The fervent love he bore to God and men, induced him to employ all his leisure moments in prayer and in labouring for the salvation of souls. Before entering into religion, he had been accustomed to give six hours daily to prayer but as he could not, as a religious, spare so much time during the day, he took a part of the night for this sacred duty.
He benefitted mankind much, by preaching and hearing Confessions. He reformed many a hardened sinner, restrained others from falling again, reconciled embittered minds and led numberless souls to Heaven.
God manifested more than once, by miracles, how agreeable the endeavours of the Saint were to Him. One night as he returned home, with his companion, from the house of a sick man whose Confession he had heard, a violent storm extinguished the light that was carried before them but then, such a brightness emanated from the Saint’s body that the way was made clear through the darkness, whilst, at the same time, neither he, nor his companion, was touched by the rain. Many similar events, as also the frequent visions of Saints, the gifts of prophecy and of reading the hearts of men but above all, the many examples of heroic virtue which he gave to others, won for St Andrew, the highest regard. St Charles Borromeo, the holy Cardinal, esteemed him greatly and made use of his zeal on many occasions.
Notwithstanding this, the holy man had so low an opinion of himself that he regarded as nothing his great and arduous labours to further the honour of God and the salvation of souls; looked upon himself as a great sinner,and frequently evinced great fear in regard to his salvation. “If they,” said he, “must regard themselves as useless servants, who have done all their duty, what must I do, who have done so small a part of what I ought to have done?” Sometimes he would look up to Heaven and sigh: “Will that magnificent mansion of the blessed spirits allow the entrance of one so miserable, despicable and sinful as I am?”
From this fear, however, he was afterwards freed by a comforting vision. St Augustine and St Thomas of Aquin, both of whom he honoured as Patrons, appeared to him, consoled him and promised him their aid, especially in that hour, on which eternity depends. Andrew, taking heart, asked them whether he would enjoy eternal life? The answer was as follows: “The time of thy salvation has not come yet. But as in life, everything is doubtful and uncertain, follow our advice – struggle, with the greatest perseverance, on the battle-field of virtue, as thou hast done till now and thus, thou wilt gather a treasure of merit and God will not close to thee, the gates of Heaven.” With these words, the Saint consoled himself,and not only continued his zeal in the practice of virtue but increased it daily.
During the last 18 years of his life, he allowed himself neither meat, nor eggs, nor fish – his nourishment consisted of beans only, of which he had always enough cooked to last him three days. When advised to change his diet, on account of his advanced age, he said: “Although, at the age of 83 years, I am excused from the law of fasting, I find, when thinking of my sins and my indolence in the service of the Most High that I am obliged to fast and to observe other austerities, in order to appease the wrath of God.” Thus spoke he, who had ever preserved his first innocence. His bed was a sack of straw on two boards. He daily scourged himself to blood. Not content with all this, he daily begged the Almighty to send him something to suffer.
The greatest wrongs he bore with invincible meekness; in persecutions and trials, he evinced heroic patience and he met his enemies with truly Christian gentleness. This was especially experienced by the man who had cruelly murdered the son of the Saint’s brother. The holy man exhorted his brother neither to seek, nor demand vengeance. He knew the murderer but revealed him not and when the wretch was at last discovered and arraigned, before the judges, Andrew implored mercy and pardon for him.
Our Saint’s devotion to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the cause of his earnest desire to suffer more and more. He was often heard to say: “Ah ! what is all that I do and suffer compared with what my Jesus did and suffered for my sake? O, that I might, for His honour, be torn with scourges and pierced with nails and expire on the Cross for Him!”
Not less deep was his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and at the time of Holy Mass, his whole countenance glowed with divine love. To the very last day of his life, although he was almost entirely exhausted, he insisted on saying Mass but he had hardly begun the Psalm at the foot of the Altar, when he was struck with paralysis. He was then carried to his room, where the last Sacraments were administered to him. Having received them, he blessed all those who were present and peace and happiness shone from his countenance. After this, he turned his eyes upon an image of the Blessed Virgin,whom, during all his life he had greatly loved and honoured and expired in the 88th year of his life. His face beamed after his death with a truly divine radiance and God proclaimed the glory which the Saint enjoyed in Heaven, by many and great miracles. St Andrew Avellino, Pray for us! Amen.
Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers. A group of Saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers.
The Notable Martyrs Saints within the Group are: Acacius, Barbara, Blaise, Christopher, Cyriacus, Catherine of Alexandria, Denis, Erasmus of Formia, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.
Devotion to these fourteen ,as a group, spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hour. Many died without the last Sacraments.
Brigands roamed the streets, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the Saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance.
Pope Nicholas V attached Indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.
Saint Christopher and Saint Giles are nvoked against the plague itself. Saint Denis is prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat, Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies, Saint Barbara for fever and Saint Vitus against epilepsy. Saint Pantaleon is the Patron of physicians, Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed and Saints Christopher, Barbara and Catherine, for protection against a sudden and unprovided death. Saint Giles is prayed to for a good Confession and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles. Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague and so, Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus are invoked for the protection of these animals. Saint Margaret of Antioch is the Patron of safe childbirth.
The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and social duties. If they, with the aid of God’s grace, achieved such victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the very little which is desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal bliss – the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession of His Servants and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith, sees nothing extraordinary therein because our Divine Saviour, Himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do and greater than these shall he do” (John 14:12). In all the miraculous events wrought in and by the Saints, there appears only the victorious omnipotent Power of Jesus Christ and the living faith, in which His Servants operated in virtue of this power.
The histories of the Saints are called Legends. This word is derived from the Latin,and signifies something that is to be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed. Therefore, the Legends of the Saints are the lives of the holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith. Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic Clergy is obliged to read everyday. (The corruption of this word has occurred in modern times, giving it a meaning of either “unprovable story or celebrity.”)
Saint of the Day – 1 June – Saint Angelica de Merici TOSF (1474-1540) Virgin, Founder the Company of St Ursula, later called the Ursulines, Third Order Franciscan, Mystic, Apostle of the poor, sick and needy, Teacher, Penitent and Ascetic. Patronages – sickness, handicapped people, loss of parents, courage,
Angela de Merici was born of virtuous parents at Decenzano, a town in the Diocese of Verona, near lake Benago, in the Venetian territory. From her earliest years, she kept the strictest guard over the lily of her virginity, which she had resolved should never be taken from her. She had a thorough contempt for those outward deckings, on which so many women set their hearts. She purposely disfigured the beauty of her features and hair, that she might find no favour, save with the Spouse of our souls.
Whilst yet in the bloom of youth, she lost her parents, whereupon, she sought to retire into a desert, that she might lead a life of penance. Being prevented by an uncle, she fulfilled, at home, what she was not permitted to do in a wilderness. She frequently wore a hairshirt and took the discipline. She never ate flesh-meat, except in case of sickness, she never tasted wine, except on the Feasts of our Lord’s Nativity and Resurrection and, at times, would pass whole days without taking any food at all.
She spent much time in prayer and exceedingly little in sleep and that little, on the ground. The devil having once appeared to her in the form of an angel of light, she at once detected his craft, and put him to flight. At length, having resigned her right to the fortune left her by her parents, she embraced the Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, received the habit and united evangelical poverty, to the merit of virginity.
She showed her neighbour every kind office in her power and gave to the poor a portion of her own food, which she procured by begging. She gladly served the sick. She gained the reputation of great sanctity in several places, which she visited, either that she might comfort the afflicted, or obtain pardon for criminals, or reconcile them that were at variance, or reclaim sinners from the sink of crime.
She had a singular hungering after the Bread of Angels, which she frequently received and such was the vehemence of her love of God, that she was often in a state of ecstacy. She visited the Holy Places of Palestine with extraordinary devotion. During her pilgrimage, she lost her sight on landing on the isle of Candia but recovered it when leaving. She also miraculously escaped shipwreck and falling into the hands of barbarians. She went to Rome, during the Pontificate of Pope Clement the Seventh, in order to venerate the firm Rock of the Church and to gain the great Jubilee Indulgence. The Pope having had an interview with her, he at once discovered her sanctity and spoke of her to others in terms of highest praise, nor would he have allowed her to leave the City, had he not been convinced that heaven called her elsewhere.
Having returned to Brescia, she took a house near the Church of Saint Afra. There, by God’s command, which was made known to her by a voice from heaven and by a vision, she instituted a new society of Virgins under a special discipline and holy rules, which she herself drew up. She put her Institute under the title and patronage of Saint Ursula, the brave leader of the army of virgins.
She also foretold,, shortly before her death, that this Institute would last to the end of the world. At length, being close upon seventy years of age, laden with merit, she took her flight to Heaven and in the year 1540, on 27 January 27. Her corpse was kept for thirty days before being put in the grave and preserved the flexibility and appearance of a living body. It was laid in the Church of Saint Afra, amidst the many other Relics wherewith that Church is enriched.
Many miracles were wrought at her tomb. The rumour of these miracles spread not only through Brescia and Decenzano but also in other places. The name of Blessed was soon given to Angela and her image used, to be put on the Altars of St Charles Borromeo. A few years after Angela’s death, it was affirmed, that she was worthy of Canonisation. Clement the Thirteenth ratified and confirmed the devotion thus paid her by the Faithful, which had already received the approbation of several Bishops and the encouragement of several Indults of Sovereign Pontiffs. Finally, after several new miracles had been juridically proved, Pius the Seventh enroled Angela in the list of holy Virgins, in the solemn Canonisation celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, on the 24th of May, in the year 1807.
“Angela realised the whole meaning of her beautiful name. In a mortal body, she possessed the purity of the blessed Spirits and imitated their celestial energy by the vigorous practice of every virtue. This heroine of grace, trampled beneath her feet, everything that could impede her heavenward march.” – Abbot Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB (1805-1875)
Saint of the Day – 25 March – Saint Dismas “The Good Thief” the first Saint – crucified alongside Jesus Christ in 33. Patronages – condemned prisoners, all prisoners, dying people, funeral directors, penitents, penitent criminals, prison chaplains, prisoners, prisons, reformed thieves, undertakers, Przemysl, Poland, Archdiocese of, Merizo, Guam. Also known as The Penitent Thief, The Good Thief on the Cross, Demas, Desmas, Dimas, Dysmas, Rach, Titus, Zoatham.
The Roman Martyrology, on the 25th of March, makes mention of the Good Thief, who, according to tradition, is called Dismas, in the following words:
“At Jerusalem, on this day, is the Feast of the Good Thief, who acknowledged Christ on the Cross and from Him, deserved to hear the words: ‘This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.“
The sudden change and conversion, for Dismas from a sinner, became a penitent and Saint, has been rightly attributed to the prayers of our Blessed Lady. Mary, say the holy Fathers, who had obtained the soul of the malefactor, as a recompense of her sorrows and the price of her compassion.
Saint Peter Damien assures us, that Mary prayed for the thief who was on the right side of the Cross, on which side she also stood and exhorted him, to hope in Jesus and to do penance.
Saint Anselm, in a treatise on the youth of Jesus, relates the following incident about the early years of Saint Dismas, which he says is a pious legend:
“Dismas was living in a forest on the confines of Egypt, when Mary went thither with the Child Jesus, to escape the rage of Herod. He was a highwayman and the son of the chief of a band of robbers. One day, as he lay in ambush, he saw a man, a young woman and a little Child approaching, from whom he rightly expected no opposition. Therefore, he went towards them, with his comrades, with the intention to ill-treat them. But he was at once so charmed with the supernatural beauty and grace which shone on the countenance of Jesus, that instead of doing them harm, he gave them hospitality in the cave which he inhabited and made ready for them, everything of which they stood in need. Mary was grateful for the tenderness and care, which the robber bestowed on her Beloved Son and warmly thanking him, she assured him that he would be rewarded before his death. This promise was fulfilled later, when Dismas was crucified with the Saviour of the World and obtained the grace of repentance in his last hour, openly confessing Jesus Christ’s Divinity. When the Apostles had fled, he had the happiness of receiving the first fruits of the Redeemer’s Sacrifice and soon after, entered the Heavenly Kingdom with his Saviour.”
Dismas is considered the Patron of penitents and is especially invoked for the conversion of hardened and obstinate criminals and sinners.
The Church has indeed sanctioned the veneration given to this Saint, with a most beautiful Office, in his honour.
Saint of the Day – 19 March – Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi (1287-1367) OP Blind Dominican Virgin and Recluse, Penitent, Miracle-worker – also known as Sibyllina of Pavia, Sybil – Additional Memorials – 20 March (Pavia, Italy) and 23 March (Order of Preachers). Patronages – Children whose parents are not married, illegitimacy, loss of parents, housemaids. Her body is incorrupt.
The Roman Martyrology says of her – In Pavia, in Lombardy, Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi, Virgin, who became blind at the age of twelve, spent sixty-five years imprisoned alongside the Church of the Order of Preachers, shining with its interior light many who flocked to it.
“All things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). How many of us would have the faith to trust in God’s providence as did this holy woman? As Mother Angelica has witnessed, true faith is knowing that when the Lord asks you to walk into the void, He will place a rock beneath your feet. True faith is to be able to praise God in all things, to say with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Sybillina’s parents died when she was tiny and as soon as she was old enough to be of use to anyone, the neighbours, who had taken her in at the time she was orphaned, put her out to work. She must have been very young when she started to work, because at the age of 12, when she became blind and could not work any more, she already had several years of work behind her.
The cause of her blindness is unknown but the child was left doubly destitute with the loss of her sight. The local chapter of the Dominican tertiary sisters took compassion on the child and brought her home to live with them. After a little while of experiencing their kind help, she wanted to join them. They accepted her, young though she was, more out of pity than in any hope of her being able to carry on their busy and varied apostolate.
They were soon agreeably surprised to find out how much she could do. She learned to chant the Office quickly and sweetly and to absorb their teaching about mental prayer as though she had been born for it. She imposed great obligations of prayer on herself, since she could not help them in other ways. Her greatest devotion was to Saint Dominic and it was to him she addressed herself when she finally became convinced that she simply must have her sight back so that she could help the sisters with their work.
Praying earnestly for this intention, Sybillina waited for his feast day. Then, she was certain, he would cure her. Matins came and went with no miracle, little hours, Vespers– and she was still blind. With a sinking heart, Sybillina knelt before Saint Dominic’s statue and begged him to help her. Kneeling there, she was rapt in ecstasy and she saw him come out of the darkness and take her by the hand.
He took her to a dark tunnel entrance and she went into the blackness at his word. Terrified but still clinging to his hand, she advanced past invisible horrors, still guided and protected by his presence. Dawn came gradually and then light, then a blaze of glory. “In eternity, dear child,” he said. “Here, you must suffer darkness so that you may one day behold eternal light.”
Sybillina, the eager child, was replaced by a mature and thoughtful Sybillina who knew that there would be no cure for her, that she must work her way to heaven through the darkness. She decided to become a anchorite and obtained the necessary permission. In 1302, at the age of 15, she was sealed into a tiny cell next to the Dominican church at Pavia. At first she had a companion but her fellow recluse soon gave up the life. Sybillina remained, now alone, as well as blind.
The first seven years were the worst, she later admitted. The cold was intense and she never permitted herself a fire. The church, of course, was not heated and she wore the same clothes winter and summer. In the winter there was only one way to keep from freezing–keep moving–so she genuflected and gave herself the discipline. She slept on a board and ate practically nothing. To the tiny window, that was her only communication with the outside world, came the troubled and the sinful and the sick, all begging for her help. She prayed for all of them and worked many miracles in the lives of the people of Pavia.
One of the more amusing requests came from a woman who was terrified of the dark. Sybillina was praying for her when she saw her in a vision and observed that the woman–who thought she was hearing things–put on a fur hood to shut out the noise. The next day the woman came to see her and Sybillina laughed gaily. “You were really scared last night, weren’t you?” she asked. “I laughed when I saw you pull that hood over your ears.” The legend reports that the woman was never frightened again.
Sybillina had a lively sense of the Real Presence and a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. One day a priest was going past her window with Viaticum for the sick, she knew that the host was not consecrated and told him so. He investigated and found he had indeed taken a host from the wrong container.
Sybillina lived as a recluse for 65 years. She followed all the Masses and Offices in the church, spending what few spare minutes she had working with her hands to earn a few alms for the poor.
She is buried in the Dominican church in Pavia
Her cultus was confirmed in 1853 by Pope Pius IX and she was Beatified by him on 17 August 1854.
From the General Calendar of the Order of Preachers on her Feast Day:
Let us Pray: O God, who wast pleased to enlighten the soul of Blessed Sibyllina, Thy Virgin , with admirable splendour, though she was deprived of bodily sight, grant, through her intercession, that, enlightened with light from above, we may despise earthly things and earnestly strive after those that are eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, enkindle our hearts with the fire of the Spirit, who wonderfully renewed Blessed Sibyllina. Filled with that heavenly light may we come to know Jesus Christ crucified and always grow in Your love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, one God, forever and ever.
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 – 25 July – Saint Christopher (Died c 251) Martyr and “Christ-Bearer” – Born at Canaan as Offero and Martyred in the reign of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Decius (reigned 249–251) – Additional Memorials – 9 March (Greek calendar), 9 May (some Eastern calendars), 16 November (Cuba), 10 July (some areas of Spain). Also known as Christobal, Christoval, Cristobal, Kester, Kitt, Kitts, Offero. Patronages – against bad dreams, epileptics; against epilepsy, against floods, against hailstorms, against lightning, against pestilence, against storms, against sudden death, against toothache, Air Forces, archers, motorists, bachelors,bookbinders, bus drivers, taxi drivers, civil aeronautics, fruit dealers, fullers, gardener, of a holy death, truck drivers, mariners, sailors, market carriers, mountain climbers, porters, relief from pestilence, transportation, transportation workers, travellers, travellers in the mountains, Saint Christopher’s Island, Saint Kitts, 13 cities.
He was a man of many names, Offero being one of them. Born in the third century in Asia Minor, son of a king, he would grow to be a restless young man of considerable size. The early years of his life were spent in search of riches, of purpose, of a cause worthy of his allegiance.
As the story goes, a young Offero, looking for the strongest and boldest ruler to follow, briefly courted Satan. When his new master cowered in fear at a holy cross on the side of a road, Offero abandoned Satan, choosing light over darkness. During this period of transition, a holy hermit awakened the restless wanderer to Christianity, schooling and baptising him. From then on, Offero pledged his life to Christ and vowed to serve God’s people along the banks of an untamed river. So he built a hut and set up camp with a new purpose—to be a boatman to the world.
His popularity was solidified when a small child once approached him, wanting safe passage across the water. He hoisted the boy on his shoulders and, with his trusty staff, began the journey. As the river deepened, the child began to grow heavier. Waters quickly rising, the precious cargo continued to weigh the giant down. As he reached the banks of the river, Offero said, “Child, thou hast put me in great peril, thou weighest almost as if I had all the world upon me – I might bear no greater burden.”
“Christopher,”the little boy responded, “thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee but thou hast borne Him that created and made all the world, upon thy shoulders.”
The child instructed Christopher (meaning “Christbearer”) to cross the river again and plant his staff in the ground, telling the ferryman that life would spring forth. To Christopher’s astonishment, by morning his staff had taken root—bright flowers and fruit grew from it.
The rest of Christopher’s life is even sketchier in detail. One legend states that many in the immediate area converted to Christianity based on his encounter, which drew unwanted attention. In Lycia—present-day Turkey—under Emperor Decius, he was imprisoned, shot with arrows, burned and then beheaded around 251.
Though the life of this mighty martyr was later questioned by historians, Saint Christopher’s story and his worldwide appeal have proven invulnerable. Amen and alleluia, glory be to God!
Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette PCC (1381-1447 -aged 66) Abbess and Foundress of the Colettine Poor Clares, a reform branch of the Order of Saint Clare.
Renewing religious institutions is not easy. We would expect a person chosen to reform convents and monasteries to be formidable. Maybe even physically tall, overbearing, and somewhat threatening. God, however, doesn’t seem to agree. For example, in the fifteenth century he selected St Colette, a young woman the opposite of these characteristics, to call Franciscans to strict observance of the rules of St Clare and St Francis.
Not that Colette was unimpressive. She was a beautiful woman whose radiant inner strength attracted people. However, her spirituality, her commitment to God and her heart for souls, not her physical qualities, suited her for her reforming mission.
At seventeen, upon her parents’ death, Colette joined the Franciscan Third Order. She lived for eight years as a hermit at Corbie Abbey in Picardy. Toward the end of this time, St Francis appeared to her in a vision and charged her to restore the Poor Clares to their original austerity. When Friar Henry de Beaume came in 1406 to conform her mission, Colette had the door of her hut torn down, a sign that her solitude was over and her work begun. And she then prayed for her commitment:
“I dedicate myself in health, in illness, in my life, in my death, in all my desires, in all my deeds, so that I may never work henceforth, except for your glory, for the salvation of souls and towards the reform for which you have chosen me.
From this moment on, dearest Lord, there is nothing which I am not prepared to undertake for love of You.”
Colette’s first reports to reform convents met vigorous opposition. Then she sought the approval of the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, who professed her as a Poor Clare and put her in charge of all convents she would reform. He also appointed Henry de Beaume to assist her. Thus equipped, she launched her reform in 1410 with the Poor Clares at Besancon. Before her death in 1447, the saint had founded or renewed seventeen convents and several friaries throughout France, Savoy, Burgundy and Spain.
Like Francis and Clare, Colette devoted herself to Christ crucified, spending every Friday meditating on the passion. She is said to have miraculously received a piece of the cross, which she gave to St Vincent Ferrer O.P. (1350-1419) when he came to visit her.
St Joan of Arc (c 1412–1431) once passed by Colette’s convent in Moulins but there is no evidence that the two met. Like Joan, Colette was a visionary. Once, for instance, she saw souls falling from grace in great numbers, like flakes in a snowstorm. Afterward, she prayed daily for the conversion of sinners. She personally brought many strays back to Christ and helped them unravel their sinful patterns. At age sixty-six, Colette foretold her death, received the sacrament of the sick and died at her convent in Ghent, Flanders.
Saint of the Day – 27 January – St Angela Merici (1474-1540) Virgin, Founder. She founded the Company of St. Ursula in 1535 in Brescia, in which women dedicated their lives to the service of the Church through the education of girls. From this organisation later sprang the monastic Order of Ursulines, whose Nuns established places of prayer and learning throughout Europe and, later, worldwide, most notably in North America. Born on 21 March 1474 in Desenzano del Garda, Province of Brescia, Venice, Italy and died oh 27 January 1540 (aged 65) at Brescia of natural causes. Patronages – sickness, handicapped people, loss of parents, courage, She was Beatified on 30 April 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and Canonised on 24 May 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
Women like St Teresa of Ávila and St Catherine of Genoa contributed significantly to the Catholic Reformation. But in the 16th century church perhaps, no woman responded more creatively to the need for reform than St Angela Merici. She built communities that trained single women in Christian living and provided them a secure place of honour in their local societies.
A single lay woman herself, Angela established groups of unmarried women of all classes in Brescia and other northern Italian cities. She wanted the women to be in the world but not of it. So they consecrated themselves to God and promised to remain celibate. But they lived at home with their families and looked for ways to serve their neighbours. In 1535, Angela organised the groups into the Company of St Ursula, later called the Ursulines. Unique for its time, her avant-garde association anticipated modern secular institutes and covenant communities.
Angela gave the Ursulines a military structure, dividing towns into districts governed hierarchically by mature Christian women. This design allowed the community to support members in daily Christian living and protect them from spiritually unhealthy influences.
The rule that Angela wrote for the company required members to remain faithful to the Christian basics. In the following excerpt, she explains the importance of daily vocal and mental prayer:
Each one of the sisters should be solicitous about prayer, mental as well as vocal, that is a companion to fasting. For Scripture says prayer is good with fasting. As by fasting we mortify the carnal appetites and the senses, so by prayer we beg God for the true grace of spiritual life. Thus, from the great need we have of divine aid, we must pray always with mind and heart, as it is written, “Pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NJB). To all we counsel frequent vocal prayer that prepares the mind by exercising the bodily senses. So each one of you, every day will say with devotion and attention at least the Office of the Blessed Virgin and the seven penitential psalms (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143) because in saying the office we are speaking with God.
To afford matter and some method in mental prayer, we exhort each one to raise her mind to God and to exercise herself in it every day. And so in the secret of her heart, let her say:
“My Saviour, illumine the darkness of my heart and grant me grace rather to die than to offend your Divine Majesty anymore. Guard, O Lord, my affections and my senses, that they may not stray, nor lead me away from the light of your face, the satisfaction of every afflicted heart.
I ask you, Lord, to receive all my self-will, that by the infection of sin, is unable to distinguish good from evil. Receive, O Lord, all my thoughts, words and deeds, interior and exterior, that I lay at the feet of your Divine Majesty. Although I am utterly unworthy, I beseech you to accept all my being.”
At Angela Merici’s death in 1540 she had started 24 groups. Over the years the Ursulines have flourished as the oldest and one of the most respected of the church’s teaching orders.
To the long list of authorities Ursulines were to obey—Ten Commandments, Church, parents, civil laws—St Angela added “divine inspirations that you may recognise as coming from the Holy Spirit.” A refreshing and liberating rule. Also a dangerous one, for when it’s obeyed, the Holy Spirit may act in unexpected ways.
Saint of the Day – 25 November – St Catherine of Alexandria (Died c 305) Virgin and Martyr, Philosopher – One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers – Patronages: unmarried girls and women, apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners), archivists, dying people, educators, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, mechanics, millers, milliners, hat-makers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, schoolchildren, secretaries, stenographers, students, tanners, theologians, haberdashers, wheelwrights, 6 Universities worldwide, 12 Cities, 2 Diocese. It is important to note that whilst much of St Catherine’s history is regarded as apocryphal (by historians), St Catherine, like many of the early Martyrs, did exist though the details and circumstances of her life are probably partly unknown.
According to the traditional narrative, Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Egyptian Alexandria during the reign of the emperor Maximian (286–305). From a young age, she devoted herself to study. A vision of the Madonna and Child persuaded her to become a Christian. When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments but Catherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death.
Catherine was then scourged and imprisoned. She was scourged so cruelly and for so long, that her whole body was covered with wounds, from which the blood flowed in streams. The spectators wept with pity but Catherine, strengthened by God, stood with her eyes raised to heaven, without giving a sign of suffering or fear. He ordered her to be imprisoned without food, so she would starve to death. During the confinement, angels tended her wounds with salve. Catherine was fed daily by a dove from Heaven and Christ also visited her, encouraging her to fight bravely and promised her the crown of everlasting glory.
During her imprisonment, over 200 people came to see her, including Maxentius’ wife, Valeria Maximilla – all converted to Christianity and were subsequently martyred. Twelve days later, when the dungeon was opened, a bright light and fragrant perfume filled it and Catherine came forth even more radiant and beautiful.
Upon the failure of Maxentius to make Catherine yield by way of torture, he tried to win the beautiful and wise princess over by proposing marriage. The saint refused, declaring that her spouse was Jesus Christ, to whom she had consecrated her virginity. The furious emperor condemned Catherine to death on a spiked breaking wheel but, at her touch, it shattered. Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded. Catherine herself ordered the execution to commence. A milk-like substance rather than blood flowed from her neck.
Angels transported her body to the highest mountain (now called Mount Saint Catherine) next to Mount Sinai, where God gave His Law. In 850, her incorrupt body was discovered by monks from the Sinai Monastery. The monks found on the surface of the granite on which her body lay, an impression of the form of her body. Her hair still growing and a constant stream of the most heavenly fragranced healing oil issuing from her body. This oil produced countless miracles.
Saint Catherine was one of the most important saints in the religious culture of the late Middle Ages and arguably considered the most important of the virgin martyrs, a group including Saint Agnes, Margaret of Antioch, Saint Barbara, Saint Lucy, Valerie of Limoges and many others. Her power as an intercessor was renowned and firmly established in most versions of her hagiography, in which she specifically entreats Christ at the moment of her death to answer the prayers of those who remember her martyrdom and invoke her name.
The pyrotechnic Catherine wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint’s wheel of martyrdom.
Saint of the Day – 10 November – St Andrew Avellino CR (1521 – 1608) Theatine Priest (Cong of the Clerics Regular of Divine Providence founded by St Cajetan 1480-1547), Canon and Civil Lawyer, Reformer, Founder of many new Theatine houses, Preacher, Spiritual Advisor, Confessor – born in 1521 at Castronuovo, Sicily as Lorenzo (called Lancelotto by his mother) and died on 10 November 1608 at Naples, Italy of a stroke. Patronages – against apoplexy or strokes, against sudden death, for a holy death, Badolato, Naples, Sicily, Italy.
After a holy youth devoted to serious studies of philosophy and the humanities in Venice, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest by the bishop of Naples. He was assigned to the chaplaincy of a community of nuns, sadly in need of reform, his intrepid courage and perseverance finally overcame many difficulties and regular observance was restored in the monastery. Certain irritated libertines, however, decided to do away with him and, waiting for him when he was about to leave a church, felled him with three sword thrusts. He lost much blood but his wounds healed perfectly without leaving any trace. The viceroy of Naples was ready to employ all his authority to punish the authors of this sacrilege but the holy priest, not desiring the death of sinners but rather their conversion and their salvation, declined to pursue them. One of them, however, died soon afterwards, assassinated by a man who wished to avenge a dishonour to his house.
He was still practising law, which he had studied in Naples, one day a slight untruth escaped him in the defence of a client and he conceived such regret for his fault that he vowed to practice law no longer. In 1556, at the age of thirty-six, he entered the Theatine Order, taking the name of Andrew out of love for the cross. After a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles, he returned to Naples and was named master of novices in his Community.
After holding this office for ten years, he was elected superior. His zeal for strict religious discipline and for the purity of the clergy, as well as his deep humility and sincere piety, induced the General of his Order to entrust him with the foundation of two new Theatine houses, one at Milan and the other at Piacenza. By his efforts, many more Theatine houses rose up in various dioceses of Italy. As superior of some of these new foundations, he was so successful in converting sinners and heretics by his prudence in the direction of souls and by his eloquent preaching that numerous disciples thronged around him, eager to be under his spiritual guidance. One of the most noteworthy of his disciples was Lorenzo Scupoli, the author of The Spiritual Combat. St Charles Borromeo was an intimate friend of Avellino and sought his advice in the most important affairs of the Church. He also requested Avellino to establish a new Theatine house in Milan.
Though indefatigable in preaching, hearing confessions and visiting the sick, Avellino still had time to write some ascetical works. His letters were published in 1731 at Naples in two volumes and his other ascetical works were published three years later in five volumes.
On 10 November 1608, when beginning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he was stricken with apoplexy and, after receiving the Holy Viaticum, died at the age of 88. In 1624, only 16 years after his death, he was Beatified by Pope Urban VIII and in 1712 was Canonised by Pope Clement XI. His remains lie buried in the Church of St Paul at Naples.
Body of St Andrew Avellino at the Theatine Church of St Paul in Naples
Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia OSB (c 480-547) Patron of Europe and Founder of Western Monasticism. Some of his many Patronages – of Europe, Against Poison, Against Witchcraft, Agriculture, Cavers, Civil Engineers, Coppersmiths, Dying People, Farmers, Fevers, Inflammatory Diseases, Kidney Disease, Monks, Religious Orders, Schoolchildren, Temptations.
St Benedict founded twelve communities for monks about 40 miles east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino, in the mountains of southern Italy. St Benedict’s main achievement is his “Rule”, containing precepts for his monks. The unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness influences it and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout Middle Ages, to adopt it. As a result, the Rule of St Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the “founder” of western Christian Monasticism.
St Benedict is the twin brother of St Scholastica and is considered patron of many things. He was born in Nursia, Italy and educated in Rome.
He was repelled by the vices of the city and around 500, fled to Enfide – thirty miles away. He decided to live the life of a hermit and lived in a cave for three years. Despite Benedict’s desire for solitude, his holiness became known and he was asked to be the Abbot by a community of monks at Vicovaro. He accepted but when the monks resisted his strict rule and tried to poison him, he returned to Subiaco and became a centre of spirituality and learning.
He eventually moved back to Monte Cassino and destroyed a temple to Apollo on its crest and brought the people of the neighbouring area back to Christianity. In 530 he began to build the monastery that was to be the birthplace of western monasticism.
Soon, disciples again flocked to him as his reputation for holiness, wisdom and miracles spread far and wide. It wasn’t long and he organised his monks into a single monastic community and wrote his official Rule, prescribing common sense, a life of moderate asceticism, prayer, study, work and community under one superior. It stressed obedience, stability, zeal and had the Divine Office as the centre of monastic life. While ruling his monks, most of whom – including Benedict, were not ordained, he counselled rulers and Popes and ministered to the poor and destitute. He died at Monte Cassino on 21 March 547 and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964. The Universal Church celebrates his feast day today.
The St Benedict medal is very popular among Christians to this day and are hung above doors and windows, for protection against evil. It is believed that evil cannot enter your house if you protect every opening with a St Benedict medal and Crucifix. The medal has an image of St Benedict, holding the Holy Rule in his left hand and a cross in his right. There is a raven on one side of him, with a cup on the other side. Around the medal’s outer margin are the words “Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur” – “May we, at our death, be fortified by His presence”. The other side of the medal has a cross with the initials CSSML on the vertical bar which signify “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux”“May the Holy Cross be my light” and on the horizontal bar are the initials NDSMD which stand for “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux”“Let not the dragon be my overlord”. The initials CSPB stand for “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti”“The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict” and are located on the interior angles of the cross. Either the inscription “PAX” Peace or the Christogram “HIS” may be found at the top of the cross in most cases. Around the medal’s margin on this side are the initials VRSNSMV which stand for “Vade Retro Satana, Nonquam Suade Mihi Vana” ”Begone Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities” then a space followed by the initials SMQLIVB which signify “Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas”“Evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison”.
The Medal of St Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prologue of his Rule.
More on St Benedict, his Rule and the Medal here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/saint-of-the-day-11-july-st-benedict-of-nursia-o-s-b-abbot-patron-of-europe-patronus-europae/
Saint of the Day – 9 April – St Liborius of Le Mans (early 4th Century – 397) Bishop, Confessor, Reformer, Evangeliser and Shepherd of souls, Builder of Churches and Monasteries. Patronages – abdominal pains, against urinary tract diseases, kidney stones or gall stones, against colic, against fever/general illness, of a Holy death, Archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, City of Paderborn, Germany, Paderborn Cathedral.
St Liborius was born of an illustrious family of Gaul (a region in the Roman Empire which extended to the area on the west bank of the Rhine river of the present day Germany) and became Bishop of Le Mans, France. He was a trusty companion and great friend to St Marinus (Martin of Tours). They were both bishops, neighbours in office. St Liborius was bishop for about 49 years and ordained 217 priests, 186 deacons and 93 sub deacons and other churchmen.
Much of the ministerial life of Bishop Liborius covered the second half of the 4th century. By this time, the Roman Empire ended its persecution of Christianity with Emperor Constantine the Great’s Edict of Milan in the year 313. Freed from persecution, the Christian faith was now free to grow. However, during this time, foreign tribes roamed the land. There was chaos and misery. Bishop Liborius’ Episcopal area had been Christian for some time but heathen Druids were still active and through their mysterious pagan rites were able to influence the people. So, Bishop Liborius built many churches and celebrated the Eucharist with piety and dignity. The well-trained priests in his diocese finally triumphed over the Druids. Nowadays, we would call the works of Bishop Liborius and his clergy at the time as primary evangelisation.
In the year, 836 A.D., (9th century), the relics of Saint Liborius were brought from Le Mans, France, to Paderborn, Germany. At this time, relics of the saints were well guarded and venerated in churches and dioceses which had them. The willingness of the diocese of Le Mans to handover the relics of St Liborius to the diocese of Paderborn was a true act of charity. The event forged a long lasting friendship between the sister cities of Le Mans and Paderborn; it has existed for over 1,000 years to this day.
Since St Liborius died in the arms of his friend St Martin of Tours, he is looked to as a patron of a good death. Since the century he is prayed to for assistance against that gallstones that are caused by the water of the limestone area; the first account of a healing of this kind concerns the cure of Archbishop Werner von Eppstein, who came on pilgrimage to the saint’s shrine in 1267. This is the origin of the saint’s attribute of three stones placed on a copy of the Bible. In the same period he became the patron of the cathedral and the archdiocese, rather than the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Kilian, who were previously in first place. And he is often cited as a patron of peace and understanding among peoples. He is invoked against colic, fever, and gallstones.
As well as being shown as a bishop carrying small stones on a book, Saint Liborious is also shown with the attribute of a peacock because of a legend that, when his body was brought to Paderborn, a peacock guided the bearers.
The popularity of the saint in Paderborn is shown in the week-long yearly festival known as “Libori”, that begins on the Saturday after his local 23 July feast day but his universal memorial is today, 9 April. Today, many parishes across the world are named after this great man and Saint, as their patron.
Saint of the Day – 19 March – The Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Patron of the Universal Church. The name ‘Joseph’ means “whom the Lord adds”. Patronages • against doubt and hesitation • accountants • all the legal professions • bursars • cabinetmakers • carpenters • cemetery workers • children • civil engineers • confectioners • craftsmen • the dying • teachers • emigrants • exiles • expectant mothers • families • fathers • furniture makers • grave diggers • happy death • holy death • house hunters • immigrants • joiners • labourers • married couples • orphans • against Communism • pioneers • pregnant women • social justice • teachers • travellers • the unborn • wheelwrights • workers • workers • Catholic Church • Oblates of Saint Joseph • for protection of the Church • Universal Church • Vatican II • Americas • Austria • Belgium • Bohemia • Canada • China • Croatian people • Korea • Mexico • New France • New World • Peru • Philippines • Vatican City • VietNam • Canadian Armed Forces • Papal States • 46 dioceses • 26 cities • states and regions.
St Joseph is invoked as patron for many causes. He is the patron of the Universal Church. He is the patron of the dying because Jesus and Mary were at his death-bed. He is also the patron of fathers, of carpenters and of social justice. Many religious orders and communities are placed under his patronage.
St Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of Jesus, was probably born in Bethlehem and probably died in Nazareth. His important mission in God’s plan of salvation was “to legally insert Jesus Christ into the line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be born, and to act as his father and guardian” (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy). Most of our information about St. Joseph comes from the opening two chapters of St Matthew’s Gospel. No words of his are recorded in the Gospels; he was the “silent” man. We find no devotion to St Joseph in the early Church. It was the will of God that the Virgin Birth of Our Lord be first firmly impressed upon the minds of the faithful. He was later venerated by the great saints of the Middle Ages. Pius IX (1870) declared him patron and protector of the universal family of the Church.
St Joseph was an ordinary manual labourer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, “Foster-father of Jesus.” About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God’s greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary.
The darkest hours of his life may well have been those when he first learned of Mary’s pregnancy; but precisely in this time of trial Joseph showed himself great. His suffering, which likewise formed a part of the work of the redemption, was not without great providential import: Joseph was to be, for all times, the trustworthy witness of the Messiah’s virgin birth. After this, he modestly retires into the background of holy Scripture.
Of St Joseph’s death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ’s public life. His was the most beautiful death that one could have, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Humbly and unknown, he passed his years at Nazareth, silent and almost forgotten he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater honour. Liturgical veneration of St Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by Sts Brigid of Sweden and Bernadine of Siena. St Teresa of Avila, too, did much to further his cult.
At present there are two major feasts in his honour. Today 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption and is his main Feast and a Solemnity in the Universal Church, while on 1 May we honour him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order….Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph’s intercession Your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings You entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Saint of the Day – 20 January – St Sebastian Martyr, Roman Soldier. He was born in Milan and was Martyred in c 288. Patronages – against cattle disease, against plague/epidemics and the victims, dying people, against enemies of religion, archers, armourers,arrowsmiths, athletes, bookbinders, fletchers, gardeners, gunsmiths, hardware stores,ironmongers, lace makers, lace workers, lead workers, masons, police officers, racquet makers, soldiers, stone masons, stonecutters, Pontifical Swiss Guards, Bacolod, Philippines, Diocese of, Tarlac, Philippines, Diocese of, 22 Cities. St Sebastian was Martyred during the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post or tree and shot through with arrows. Despite this being the most common artistic depiction of Sebastian, he was rescued and healed by St Irene of Rome. Shortly afterwards he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins and as a result, was clubbed to death. The details of Saint Sebastian’s Martyrdom were first spoken of by the 4th Century Bishop, the beloved and revered Doctor of the Church St Ambrose in his sermon (number 22) on Psalm 118. St Ambrose stated that Sebastian came from Milan and that he was already venerated there at that time.
Although there is no doubt that there was a Roman martyr named Sebastian and that devotion to him dates back to the fourth century, the earliest surviving life of the saint was written a century or more after his death. According to this story Sebastian was a Praetorian, a member of an elite troop of soldiers who served as the emperor’s bodyguard. When Emperor Diocletian began his persecution of the Church, Sebastian used his status to visit Christians in prison. This was dangerous business and it was not long before he was denounced to the emperor.
Enraged that one of his own bodyguards was a Christian, Diocletian ordered the Praetorians to take Sebastian back to their camp and shoot him to death with arrows. After performing this deadly evil on their former comrade, the Praetorians assumed that Sebastian was dead. So did everyone else who heard of his martyrdom.
After sunset a Christian woman named Irene crept into the Praetorians’ camp to retrieve the body and give it a Christian burial. As Irene and her serving woman cut Sebastian down, they heard him groan. Incredibly, he was still alive.
Instead of carrying him to the catacombs for burial, Irene brought Sebastian back to her house where she and her servant nursed him. As soon as his strength returned, Sebastian went off to confront Diocletian. He found the emperor on the steps of the imperial palace. Furious that his former bodyguard was still alive, Diocletian demanded of his entourage, “Did I not sentence this man to be shot to death with arrows?” But Sebastian answered for the emperor’s courtiers. He had been made a target for archers, “But the Lord kept me alive so I could return and rebuke you for treating the servants of Christ so cruelly.”
This time the emperor took no chances, he ordered his guard to beat Sebastian to death there on the palace steps, while he watched.
Once he was certain that Sebastian truly was dead, Diocletian had the martyr’s body dumped into the Cloaca Maxima, Rome’s main sewer. Nonetheless, Christians recovered it and buried Sebastian in a catacomb known ever since as San Sebastiano.
Saint of the Day – 4 January – St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) (also known as Mother Seton) Widow and Mother, Religious, Foundress, Teacher, first native-born citizen of the United States to be Canonised on 14 September 1975 by Pope Paul VI. She was born on 28 August 1774 in New York City, New York, USA as Elizabeth Ann Bayley – 4 January 1821 in Emmitsburg, Maryland of natural causes. Patronages – • against in-law problems• against the death of children• against the death of parents• Apostleship of the Sea (two of her sons worked on the sea)• opposition of Church authorities• people ridiculed for their piety• Shreveport, Louisiana, Diocese of• widows. She established the first Catholic girls’ school in the nation in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she also founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.
Mother Seton is one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while raising her five children.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture and a nightly examination of conscience. Her father, Dr Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches but was a great humanitarian, teaching his daughter to love and serve others.
The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her baby sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a feel for eternity and the temporariness of the pilgrim life on earth . Far from being brooding and sullen, she faced each new “holocaust,” as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness. At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was widowed, penniless, with five small children to support.
While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicity in action through family friends. Three basic points led her to become a Catholic: belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother and conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March 1805.
To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. From the beginning, her group followed the lines of a religious community, which was officially founded in 1809.
The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son. She died 4 January 1821 and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonised (1975). She is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Saint of the Day – 15 May – Isidore the Farmer (c 1070 -1130) – Layman, Confessor, Farm Worker and Apostle of Charity – Patronages – against against the death of children, of agricultural workers, farm workers, farmers, field hands, husbandmen, ranchers, day labourers, for rain, livestock, rural communities, United States National Rural Life Conference, Diocese of Digos, Philippines, Diocese of Malaybalay, Philippines, 24 Cities. His body is incorrupt.
St. Isidore, the Farmer, was born in Madrid, Spain, about the year 1110. He came from a poor and humble family. From childhood he worked as a farm hand on the De Vargas estate. He was very prayerful and particularly devoted to the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. He loved the good earth, he was honest in his work and careful in his farming practices. It is said that domestic beasts and birds showed their attachment to him because he was gentle and kind to them. Master De Vargas watched Isidore at plowing and he saw two angels as his helpers. Hence, the saying arose, “St. Isidore plowing with angels does the work of three farmers.”
Isidore married a sweet and pious maid-servant by the name of Maria. They had only one son who died in youth. Both were most charitable and ever willing to help neighbours in distress and the poor in the city slums.
St. Isidore died on May 15, 1170 (the Spanish feast day), his saintly wife, a little later. He was canonised on March 22, 1622. The earthly remains of the holy couple are found over the main altar of the cathedral in Madrid, Spain. S. Maria was not officially canonised but is honoured as a saint throughout Spanish countries. Her head (cabeza) is carried in solemn processions during times of drought. By a special decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, dated February 22, 1947, St. Isidore was constituted as the special protector of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and American farmers.
How beautiful and appropriate for the Catholic farm family to be devoted to this simple and saintly couple, who like farmers everywhere are “partners with God,” in furnishing to the world food, fiber and shelter.
In the morning before going to work, Isidore would usually attend Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. One day, his fellow farm workers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Upon investigation, so runs the legend, the master found Isidore at prayer whilst an angel was doing the ploughing for him.
On another occasion, his master saw an angel ploughing on either side of him, so that Isidore’s work was equal to that of three of his fellow field workers. Isidore is also said to have brought back to life his master’s deceased daughter and to have caused a fountain of fresh water to burst from the dry earth to quench his master’s thirst.
One snowy day, when going to the mill with corn to be ground, he passed a flock of wood-pigeons scratching vainly for food on the hard surface of the frosty ground. Taking pity on the poor animals, he poured half of his sack of precious wheat upon the ground for the birds, despite the mocking of witnesses. When he reached the mill, however, the bag was full, and the wheat, when it was ground, produced double the expected amount of flour.
Isidore’s wife, Maria, always kept a pot of stew on the fireplace in their humble home as Isidore would often bring home anyone who was hungry. One day he brought home more hungry people than usual. After she served many of them, Maria told him that there simply was no more stew in the pot. He insisted that she check the pot again and she was able to spoon out enough stew to feed them all.
He is said to have appeared to Alfonso VIII of Castile and to have shown him the hidden path by which he surprised the Moors and gained the victory of Las Navas de Tolosa, in 1212. When King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease after touching the relics of the saint, the king replaced the old reliquary with a costly silver one and instigated the process of his beatification. Throughout history, other members of the royal family would seek curative powers from the saint.
The number of miracles attributed to him has been counted as 438. The only original source of hagiography on him is a fourteenth century codex called Códice de Juan Diácono which relates five of his miracles: 1. The pigeons and the grain. 2. The angels ploughing. 3. The saving of his donkey, through prayer, from a wolf attack. 4. The account of his wife’s pot of food. 5. A similar account of his feeding the brotherhood. The codex also attests to the incorruptible state of his body, stating it was exhumed 40 years after his death.
Isidore was beatified in Rome on 2 May 1619, by Pope Paul V. He was canoniSed nearly three years later by Pope Gregory XV, along with Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Ávila and Philip Neri, on 12 March 1622.
In 1696, his relics were moved to the Royal Alcazar of Madrid to intervene on behalf of the health of Charles II of Spain. While there, the King’s locksmith pulled a tooth from the body and gave it to the monarch, who slept with it under his pillow until his death. This was not the first, nor the last time his body was allegedly mutilated out of religious fervour. For example, it was reported one of the ladies in the court of Isabella I of Castile bit off one of his toes.
In 1760, his body was brought to the Royal Palace of Madrid during the illness of Maria Amalia of Saxony.
In 1769, Charles III of Spain had the remains of Saint Isidore and his wife Maria relocated to the San Isidro Church, Madrid. The sepulchre has nine locks and only the King of Spain has the master key. The opening of the sepulchre must be performed by the Archbishop of Madrid and authorized by the King himself. Consequently, it has not been opened since 1985.
Saint of the Day – 14 March – St Matilda of Saxony (c 894-968) – Queen, Apostle of Prayer and Almsgiving, Foundress – Patronages – of death of children, disappointing children, falsely accused people, large families, people ridiculed for their piety, queens, second marriages, widows. Medieval chroniclers like Liutprand of Cremona and Thietmar of Merseburg celebrated Matilda for her devotion to prayer and almsgiving. Her first biographer depicted her leaving her husband’s side in the middle of the night and sneaking off to church to pray. St. Matilda founded many religious institutions, including the canonry of Quedlinburg, which became a center of ecclesiastical and secular life in Germany under the rule of the Ottonian dynasty. She also founded the convents of St. Wigbert in Quedlinburg, in Pöhlde, Enger, and Nordhausen, likely the source of at least one of her vitae.
Born in Saxony, Mathilda was the daughter of Thierri, a prince of considerable importance. From an early age, Mathilda demonstrated great piety and love for the Lord and was raised by her pious grandmother, Maud, the abbess of Enford, in the cloister. There, as she grew up, she practiced daily prayer and penance and learned a love of labour and spiritual reading. Mathilda would have been more than content to spend her life dedicated to religious pursuits. However, her father arranged her marriage to Henry, the son of the Duke of Saxony. Within seven years, Henry found himself the King of Germany, and Mathilda, the queen.
King Henry demonstrated through his actions that he was a God-fearing and pious spouse. His equity and courage won him the respect of his subjects and he encouraged and financed Mathilda’s longing to live a life of charitable service to others. While Henry ruled his kingdom, Mathilda devoted herself to penance and spent her days visiting the poor and sick, offering them consolation and comfort. She also founded schools to provide education to all, visited incarcerated prisoners and worked for the conversion of souls. Overall, her life was relatively a simple one, despite her royalty, with her primary focus on daily prayer.
After seventeen years, Henry died of apoplexy, and Mathilda, looking to the Lord, gave up her royal vestments and jewels, laying them on the alter of the Lord. Divesting herself of her title, she stepped aside for her children, with the eldest, Otho, becoming king. Henry became Duke of Bavaria and the youngest, Bruno, the Archbishop of Cologne.
However, all was not smooth prior to the coronation, with Henry contesting his brother’s rightful place as heir. Mathilda, for her part, always partial to Henry, sided with him, her words creating significant discord between the brothers. Eventually, the brothers reconciled, but turned against their mother, stripping her of her dowry,and accusing her publicly of mismanaging the royal funds in service to her charities. Saint Mathilda accepted the punishment gracefully, recognising her sinfulness in siding with one son above another, repenting and offering herself wholly to the Lord in reparation.
The persecution and suffering of Mathilda was long and cruel but she patiently bore this all, until her son reconciled with her. Her dowry restored, Mathilda was allowed to move back into the royal court. However, instead, she chose to live in the Benedictine monastery of Quedlinbourg, using her funds to serve the poor and extend the religious communities in the region dedicated to charity. he founded five monasteries, and built many churches.
Saint Mathilda grew ill and realized that death was upon her. In the presence of her community at the monastery, she made a public confession, donned sackcloth and covered herself with ashes. She further received last sacraments from William, Archbishop of Mayence, her nephew. Her body remains at Quedlinburg, where she is buried beside her husband. She is venerated there today.
Saint of the Day – 9 March – St Frances of Rome Obl.S.B. (1384-1440) Wife, Mother, Mystic, Organiser of charitable services and a Benedictine Oblate who founded a religious community of Oblates, who share a common life without religious vows – Patronages – against plague/epidemics, of automobile drivers (given in 1951), aviators, taxi drivers, death of children, the laity, motorcyclists, motorists, people ridiculed for their piety, Roman housewives, widows, women, Rome, Italy.
Frances was born in 1384 in Rome to a wealthy and aristocratic couple, Paolo Bussa and Iacobella dei Roffredeschi, in the up-and-coming district of Parione and christened in the nearby Church of St Agnes on the famed Piazza Navona. When she was eleven years old, she wanted to be a nun but, at about the age of twelve, her parents forced her to marry Lorenzo Ponziani, commander of the papal troops of Rome and member of an extremely wealthy family. Although the marriage had been arranged, it was a happy one, lasting for forty years, partly because Lorenzo admired his wife and partly because he was frequently away at war.
With her sister-in-law Vannozza, Frances visited the poor and took care of the sick, inspiring other wealthy women of the city to do the same. Soon after her marriage, Frances fell seriously ill. Her husband called a man in who dabbled in magic but Frances drove him away and later recounted to Vannozza that St Alexis had appeared to her and cured her.
When her mother-in-law died, Frances became mistress of the household. During a time of flood and famine, she turned part of the family’s country estate into a hospital and distributed food and clothing to the poor. According to one account, her father-in-law was so angry that he took away from her the keys to the supply rooms but gave them back when he saw that the corn bin and wine barrel were replenished after Frances finished praying.
During the wars between the pope in Rome and various anti-popes in the Western Schism of the Church, Lorenzo served the former. According to one story, their son, Battista, was to be delivered as a hostage to the commander of the Neapolitan troops. Obeying this order on the command of her spiritual director, Frances brought the boy to the Campidoglio. On the way, she stopped in the Church of the Aracoeli located there and entrusted the life of her son to the Blessed Mother. When they arrived at the appointed site, the soldiers went to put her son on a horse to transport him off to captivity. The horse, however, refused to move, despite heavy whipping. The superstitious soldiers saw the hand of God in this and returned the boy to his mother.
During a period of forced exile, much of Lorenzo’s property and possessions were destroyed. In the course of one occupation of Rome by Neapolitan forces in the early part of the century, he was wounded so severely that he never fully recovered. Frances nursed him throughout the rest of his life.
Frances experienced other sorrows in the course of her marriage with Lorenzo Ponziani. They lost two children to the plague. Chaos ruled the city in that period of neglect by the pope and the ongoing warfare between him and the various forces competing for power on the Italian peninsula devastated the city. The city of Rome was largely in ruins—wolves were known to enter the streets. Frances again opened her home as a hospital and drove her wagon through the countryside to collect wood for fire and herbs for medicine. It is said she had the gift of healing, and more than sixty cases were attested to during the Canonisation proceedings.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “With her husband’s consent St Frances practised continence and advanced in a life of contemplation.
Her visions often assumed the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages. She had the gift of miracles and ecstasy, as well as the bodily vision of her guardian angel, had revelations concerning Purgatory and Hell and foretold the ending of the Western Schism. She could read the secrets of consciences and detect plots of diabolical origin. She was remarkable for her humility and detachment, her obedience and patience”.
On August 15, 1425, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, she founded the Olivetan Oblates of Mary, a confraternity of pious women, under the authority of the Olivetan monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria Nova in Rome but neither cloistered nor bound by formal vows, so they could follow her pattern of combining a life of prayer with answering the needs of their society.
In March 1433, she founded a monastery at Tor de’ Specchi, near the Campidoglio, in order to allow for a common life by those members of the confraternity who felt so called. This monastery remains the only house of the Institute. On 4 July of that same year, they received the approval of Pope Eugene IV as a religious congregation of oblates with private religious vows. The community later became known simply as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.
Frances herself remained in her own home, nursing her husband for the last seven years of his life from wounds he had received in battle. When he died in 1436, she moved into the monastery and became the superior. She died in 1440 and was buried in Santa Maria Nova.
On 9 May 1608, she was Canonised by Pope Paul V and in the following decades a diligent search was made for her remains, which had been hidden due to the troubled times in which she lived. Her body was found incorrupt some months after her death. Her grave was identified on 2 April 1638, (but this time only the bones remained) and her remains were reburied in the Church of Santa Maria Nova on 9 March 1649, which since then has been her feast day. Again, in 1869, her body was exhumed and has since then been displayed in a glass coffin for the veneration of the faithful. The Church of Santa Maria Nova is now usually referred to as the Church of St Frances.
In 1925, Pope Pius XI declared her the patron saint of automobile drivers because of a legend that an angel used to light the road before her with a lantern when she travelled, keeping her safe from hazards. Within the Benedictine Order, she is also honoured as a patron saint of all oblates.
Saint of the Day – 8 March – St John of God OH (1495-1550) – aged 55 – Founder of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, a worldwide Catholic religious institute dedicated to the care of the poor, sick, and those suffering from mental disorders. Patronages – against alcoholism and of alcoholics, against bodily ills of all sickness and of the sick, bookbinders, booksellers, publishers and printers, of the dying, firefighters, heart patients, hospitals (proclaimed on 22 June 1886 by Pope Leo XIII), hospital workers, nurses (proclaimed in 1930 by Pope Pius XI),Tultepec, Mexico
As a 16th-century Spanish soldier, John gave up religion and led a wild life. When he left the military at age 40, he became a shepherd. John decided to make a radical conversion—to go to Muslim North Africa and free Christian slaves. He saw himself dying as a martyr. His confessor helped John settle on a more prudent plan: to open a religious bookstore in Granada, Spain. He successfully managed this project. It was during this period of his life that Cidade is said to have had a vision of the Infant Jesus, who bestowed on him the name by which he was later known, John of God, also directing him to go to Granada. He then settled in that city, where he worked disseminating books, using the recent movable type printing press of Johannes Gutenberg to provide people with works of chivalry and devotional literature.
At first, John begged for money to support those in need but soon people volunteered to help. John led a life of total giving and constant prayer. He found work for unemployed people. When the archbishop called John to his office because people complained that John kept immoral women in his hospital, he was silenced by John’s humility. John fell on his knees, saying, “I know of no bad person in my hospital except myself, who am unworthy to eat the bread of the poor.” John soon had a flourishing hospital. His helpers formed a community called the Brothers Hospitallers.
John of God died from pneumonia contracted while saving a drowning man. When John realised he was dying, he went over all the accounts, revised the rules and timetable and appointed a new leader. He died kneeling before the altar in his hospital chapel. John is the patron of hospitals.
The first biography of John of God was written by Francisco de Castro, the chaplain at John of God’s hospital in Granada, Spain. He drew from his personal knowledge of John as a young man and also used material gathered from eyewitnesses and contemporaries of his subject. It was published at the express wish of the Archbishop of Granada, who gave financial backing to its publication. Castro began writing in 1579, twenty-nine years after John of God’s death but he did not live to see it published, for he died soon after completing the work. His mother, Catalina de Castro, had the book published in 1585.
Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette PCC. (1381-1447) -aged 66, Abbess and Foundress of the Colettine Poor Clares, a reform branch of the Order of Saint Clare, better known as the Poor Clares. Patronages – against eye disorders, against fever, against headaches, against infertility, against the death of parents, of women seeking to conceive, expectant mothers and sick children, craftsmen, Poor Clares, servants, Corbie, France, Ghent, Belgium.
She was born Nicole Boellet (or Boylet) in the village of Corbie, in the Picardy region of France, on 13 January 1381, to Robert Boellet, a poor carpenter at the noted Benedictine Abbey of Corbie and to his wife, Marguerite Moyon. Her contemporary biographers say that her parents had grown old without having children, before praying to Saint Nicholas for help in having a child. Their prayers were answered when, at the age of 60, Marguerite gave birth to a daughter. Out of gratitude, they named the baby after the saint to whom they credited the miracle of her birth. She was affectionately called Nicolette by her parents, which soon came to be shorted to Colette, by which name she is known.
After her parents died in 1399, Colette joined the Beguines, she was seventeen but found their manner of life unchallenging. She received the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis in 1402 and became a hermit under the direction of the Abbot of Corbie, living near the abbey church.
Renewing religious institutions is not easy. We would expect a person chosen to reform convents and monasteries to be formidable. Maybe even physically tall, overbearing, and somewhat threatening. God, however, doesn’t seem to agree. For example, in the fifteenth century he selected St. Colette, a young woman the opposite of these characteristics, to call Franciscans to strict observance of the rules of St. Clare and St. Francis.
Not that Colette was unimpressive. She was a beautiful woman whose radiant inner strength attracted people. However, her spirituality, her commitment to God, and her heart for souls, not her physical qualities, suited her for her reforming mission.
St. Francis appeared to her in a vision and charged her to restore the Poor Clares to their original austerity. When Friar Henry de Beaume came in 1406 to conform her mission, Colette had the door of her hut torn down, a sign that her solitude was over and her work begun. And she then prayed her commitment:
“I dedicate myself in health, in illness, in my life, in my death, in all my desires, in all my deeds so that I may never work henceforth except for your glory, for the salvation of souls, and towards the reform for which you have chosen me. From this moment on, dearest Lord, there is nothing which I am not prepared to undertake for love of you.”
Colette’s first reports to reform convents met vigorous opposition. Then she sought the approval of the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, who professed her as a Poor Clare and put her in charge of all convents she would reform. He also appointed Henry de Beaume to assist her. Thus equipped, she launched her reform in 1410 with the Poor Clares at Besancon. Before her death in 1447, the saint had founded or renewed seventeen convents and several friaries throughout France, Savoy, Burgundy, and Spain.
Like Francis and Clare, Colette devoted herself to Christ crucified, spending every Friday meditating on the passion. She is said to have miraculously received a piece of the cross, which she gave to St.Vincent Ferrer when he came to visit her.
St. Joan of Arc once passed by Colette’s convent in Moulins but there is no evidence that the two met. Like Joan, Colette was a visionary. Once, for instance, she saw souls falling from grace in great numbers, like flakes in a snowstorm. Afterward she prayed daily for the conversion of sinners. She personally brought many strays back to Christ and helped them unravel their sinful patterns. At age sixty-six, Colette foretold her death, received the sacrament of the sick and died at her convent in Ghent, Flanders.
Miracles Helping a mother in childbirth While traveling to Nice to meet Pope Benedict, Colette stayed at the home of a friend. His wife was in labour at that time with their third child and was having major difficulties in he childbirth, leaving her in danger of death. Colette immediately went to the local church to pray for her. The mother gave birth successfully and survived the ordeal. She credited Colette’s prayers for this. The child born, a girl named Pierinne, later entered a monastery founded by Colette. She would become Colette’s secretary and biographer.
Saving a sick child After the pope had authorised Colette to establish a regimen of strict poverty in the Poor Clare monasteries of France, she started with that of Besançon. The local populace was suspicious of her reform, with its total reliance on them for the sustenance of the monastery. One incident helped turn this around. According to legend, a local peasant woman gave birth to a stillborn child. In desperation, out of fear for the child’s soul, the father took the baby to the local parish priest for baptism. Seeing that the child was already dead, the priest refused to baptise the body. When the man became insistent, out of frustration, the priest told him to go to the nuns, which he did immediately. When he arrived at the monastery, Mother Colette was made aware of his situation by the portress. Her response was to take off the veil given to her by the Pope, when he gave her the habit of the Second Order and told the portress to have the father wrap the child’s body in it and for him to return to the priest. By the time he arrived at the parish church with his small bundle, the child was conscious and crying. The priest immediately baptised the baby.
Colette was beatified 23 January 1740, by Pope Clement XII and was canonized 24 May 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
You must be logged in to post a comment.