Saint of the Day – 29 March – St Eustasius of Luxeuil (c560–c626)

Saint of the Day – 29 March – St Eustasius of Luxeuil (c560–c626) the Second Abbot of Luxeuil Monastery, (after its Founder, St Columbanus) Missionary and Founder of another Monastery in Bavaria, Miracle-worker, Disciple of St Columban. Patronages – against blindness and eye diseases, of all illness and sick people. Also know in Francen as Eustace.

The Roman Martyrology reads today: “In the Monastery of Luxeuil, the decease of the Abbot, St Eustasius, a disciple of St Columban, who had under his guidance, nearly six hundred Monks. Eminent in sanctity, he was also renowned for miracles.


Eustasius was born in Burgundy and became a Monk at Luxeuil Monastery. When Columbanus, the Founder of Luxeuil, was banished from the Kingdom of Burgundy, on account of his reproving the morals of King Theuderic II, he recommended his community choose Eustasius as his successor. At the time, Eustasius was head of the Monastery School, which under his direction, had established and renowned reputation for learning, devotions and excellence. St Columbanus travelled to Italy and settled in Bobbio, founding a new Monastery there. After the death of Theuderic, Clothaire II sent Eustasius to Bobbio in Italy, to ask St Columbanus to return but the exiled Abbot declined.

Luxeuil Monastery with Statues of St Columban

Under the administration of Eustasius, the Monastery flourished and acquired renown as a seat of learning and sanctity. Through the royal patronage, its benefices and lands were increased, King Clotaire II devoting a yearly sum, from his own revenues, towards its support. Eustasius and his Monks devoted themselves to preaching in remote districts, not yet evangelised, chiefly in the north-eastern extremities of Gaul. Their missionary work extended even to Bavaria. Between the Monasteries of Luxeuil in France and that of Bobbio in Italy (both founded by Columbanus), connection and intercourse seem to have long been maintained,

Seventh-century Lectionary produced at Luxeuil

During his Abbacy, the Monastery increased in vocations and contained about 600 Monks and produced both Bishops and Saints, including the Saints Acarius, Amatus, Audomar and Romaric. Eustasius was noted for his humility, continual prayer, and fasting. Eustasius undertook great missionary journeys to the Variscans on the river Doubs and as far as Bavaria. Around 625 he founded a Monastery on the island of Herrenchiemsee in southern Bavaria. He was succeeded as Abbott by St Waldebert.

Eustasius cured St Sadalberga, the Duke of Alsace’s daughter, of blindness. Upon returning from Bavaria, her father, Gundoin, Duke of Alsace, provided hospitality to the Abbot on his travels. Duke Gundoin and his wife brought two of their sons for the Abbot’s blessing but were hesitant to present the blind child. Through the prayers of Eustasius. the child was cured of her blindness. He also cured for St Burgundofara from a deadly illness and assisted her escape from marriage. With Eustasiu’ support and the approval of Bishop Gundoald of Meaux, Burgundofara established an Abbey on her father’s lands and became its first Abbess.


Saint of the Day – 3 January – St Fintan of Doon (Died 6th Century) Abbot

Saint of the Day – 3 January – St Fintan of Doon (Died 6th Century) Abbot, Founder of a Monastery, Miracle-worker. Born in Ireland and died in the 6th Century in Ireland of natural causes. Also known as – Fiontan, Fintanus. Patronage – eye diseases, against blindness, all ailments.

Fintan was a brother to St Finlug, son to Diman who was descended from Mured Manderig, King of Ulster. Alinna, of a noble Limerick family, was his mother.

St Comgall, Abbot of Bangor had founded a school at Bangor in the middle of the 6th Century and it was here that Fintan studied. At this time pirates raided these Monasteries frequently. Fintan, once, asked Finian of Maghbile to lend him a Gospel for his studies but was refused. The next night Fintan and his companions were on guard at the port, fearing an invasion. The pirates, however, firstly raided Magh Bile – the Monastery of St Finian and among the treasures they stole was the Gospel. Later they approached Bangor where Fintan was on guard. When they were about to attack the City, a storm suddenly arose and all the ships were sunk except that which carried the Gospel. The Gospel, along with other artefacts were recovered.

One Spring, a leper came to Fintan and requested some bread, made from newly ripened corn. Fintan instructed the leper to plant a seed in the newly ploughed field. The seed immediately grew and ripened and thus the leper was satisfied.

At this time a pagon king lived in a district called Calathmagh. On hearing of Fintan’s approach, the king instructed his servants to prevent the further progress of Fintan. On reaching a field where the king’s workers were, the Saint and his followers were obstructed from continuing. On requesting permission, they were insulted. Presently a storm arose and the crops were set on fire from which the smoke almost blinded the kings servants. With some Holy Water, Fintan restored their vision and they were deeply grateful to him and many converted.

After these occurrences, Fintan settled at Doon, whose name is derived from the earthen dun and from Blesc who was a vassal to the king at that time. The presence of Fintan’s well and the fact that this is the only place in the area with a name of origin “Dun” verifies that Doon is the place where Fintan settled.

Fintan’s settlement at Doon had been prophesised by St Comgall in the Leabhar Breac which has been translated thus:

“My little foster son shall obtain the fortress, Fintan, by whom the dun will be obtained His city of sacred protection shall be That which is called Doon (Dun Bleisce).”

At Doon, Fintan was welcomed with much hospitality from Columbanus, son to Kynchadhe. A feast, which consisted of a cow and calf and milk had been prepared for Fintan and his seven followers.

St Fintan’s well is situated in a grove of trees in the east corner of lower Kilmoylan townl. The well’s water is reputed to have great healing powers and previously many pilgrims journeyed there to be cured of diverse ailments but most especially of blindness and eye diseases..

They have left their cot for the holy well Near the Cross in the valley flowing, its bright blude hide haith a spell Light and joy to the blind bestowing.

St Fintan is believed to have lived to a very old age. The exact site of St Fintan’s Monastery in Doon is uncertain but we presume it is near the ancient graves of St Fintan’s cemetery in Doon. From St Engus’ comments and other sources, it has been learned that St Fintan’s death fell on the 3rd of January. His Feast-day is celebrated in the Parish. There is no information, however, regarding the year or place of his death.

There is another St Fintan, celebrated on 17 February – Saint Fintan of Clonenagh (c 524 – 603) “Father of the Irish Monks.”


Saint of the Day – 21 December – Feast of St Thomas, Apostle of Christ, Martyr.

Saint of the Day – 21 December – Feast of St Thomas, Apostle of Christ, Martyr. His Patronages are:• people in doubt; against doubt• architects• blind people and against blindness• builders• construction workers• geometricians• stone masons and stone cutters• surveyors• theologians• Ceylon• East Indies• India• Indonesia• Malaysia • Pakistan• Singapore• Sri Lanka• Diocese of Bathery, India• Castelfranco di Sopra, Italy• Certaldo, Italy• Ortona, Italy.

St Thomas, Apostle
From the Liturgical Year, 1870

This is the last Feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the Greater Ferias, in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the Apostle of Christ, whose glorious Martyrdom has consecrated this twenty first day of December and has procured, for the Christian people, a powerful patron that will introduce them to the Divine Babe of Bethlehem.

To none of the Apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned, as to St Thomas. It was St Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope, in that God, Whom we see not and Who comes to us in silence and humility, in order to try our Faith.

St Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed and only learned the necessity of Faith by the sad experience of incredulity. He comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us.

Let us pray to him with confidence. In that Heaven of Light and Vision, where his repentance and love have placed him, he will intercede for us,and gain for us that docility of mind and heart, which will enable us to see and recognise Him, Who is the Expected of Nations and Who, though the King of the world, will give no other signs of His Majesty, than the swaddling-clothes and tears of a Babe.

Joseph Proetzner, St. Thomas, 1753-55

Saint of the Day – 23 November – St Clement I (c 88–c 101) Pope Martyr.

Saint of the Day – 23 November – St Clement I (c 88–c 101) Pope Martyr, Miracle-worker. St Clement is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with St Polycarp and St Ignatius of Antioch. Papal Ascensi,on c 88. Born in Rome, Italy and died by drowning at Chersonesus, Taurica, Bosporan Kingdom (modern Greece). Patronages – boatmen, sailors, marble workers, against blindness, sick children, stonecutters, Diocese of Aarhus, Denmark, Dundee, Scotland. Steenwijk, Netherlands, Velletri, Italy. Also known as – Clement of Rome, Clemens Romanus.

The Roman Martyrology reads: “The birthday of Pope Clement, who held the sovereign Pontificate, the third after the blessed Apostle St Peter. In the persecution of Trajan, he was banisbed to Chersonesus, where being percipitated into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck, he was crowned with Martyrdom. His body was taken to Rome during the Pontificate of Nicholas I and placecd, with due honour in the Church which had been previously built under his invocation.

c 1000 portrayal at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Kyiv

Saint Clement I., Pope and Martyr
By Father Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

Whilst the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, were preaching the Gospel at Rome, there came to them Clement, a son of Faustinus, who was related to the Emperor Domitian. After several discourses with St Peter, he saw the error of Paganism, in which he had been born and educated and became a convert to the Christian faith. He progressed so rapidly in virtue and holiness that he was of great help to Paul in converting the heathens, as the holy Apostle testifies in his Epistle to the Philippians. The unwearied zeal he manifested in such holy endeavours, his purity and other bright virtues, raised him, after the death of Sts Linus and Cletus, to the government of the entire Church of Christ.

In this elevated but burdensome dignity, his holy life was an example to his flock. He gave several excellent laws to the Church, by one of which he divided the City into seven districts and placed in each, a notary to record the deeds, virtues and Martyrdom, of those who were persecuted for Christ’s sake that posterity, admiring their heroism, might be animated to follow their example. His sermons were so full of deep thought and so powerful, that he daily converted several heathens. Among these was Flavia Domitilla, a niece of the Emperor Domitian, who not only became a zealous Christian but, refusing several advantageous offers of marriage, vowed her virginity to God.

He converted Sisinius, one of the most influential men in the City, by a miracle. While yet a heathen, Sisinius went unseen into the secret Chapel where the Christians assembled, in order to ascertain what they were doing and to see whether his wife was among them. God, however, punished him immediately with blindness in both eyes. He revealed himself by calling for, someone to lead him home and St. Clement, who was present, went to him and, restoring his sight after a short prayer, he improved the occasion, to explain to him, the truths of Christianity. Sisinius, being soon convinced, received holy Baptism and many heathens followed his example. The Emperor Trajan, being informed of this, commanded St Clement to be banished to the Chersonesus, unless he consented to sacrifice to the gods. Nearly two thousand Christians had already been banished to that region, where they were forced to work in mines and quarries. The holy Vicar of Christ rejoiced to be thought worthy to suffer for his Divine Master and indignantly, refused to comply with the Emperor’s command to worship the Pagan idols. He was accordingly transported, and condemned to labour like the others.

This fate at first seemed very hard to him but. the thought that he suffered it for Christ’s sake, strengthened him. With the same thought. he endeavoured also to inspire his unhappy companions, when he saw that they became discouraged and lost their patience. He also frequently represented to them, the reward which was awaiting them in Heaven. A miracle which God performed through him, raised him to great consideration, even with the heathens.

There was a great scarcity of water and the Christians suffered much from the thirst occasioned by their hard work. St Clement, pitying them most deeply, prayed to God to help them. Rising from his knees, he saw, on a high rock, a lamb, which seemed, with his raised right foot, to point to the place where water could be found. The holy man, trusting in the Almighty, seized an axe and, lightly striking the rock, procured a rich stream of clear water, which refreshed all the inhabitants of the country, especially the poor persecuted Christians. So many heathens were converted on account of this miracle, that, in the course of a year, almost all the idolatrous temples were torn down and Christian c=Churches erected in their stead.

St Clement by Tiepolo

Some of the idolatrous priests complained of this to the Emperor, who immediately sent Aufidian, a cruel tyrant, to force the Christians to forsake their faith and to put St Clement to death. The tyrant endeavoured to induce the holy man to forsake Christ but finding that all words were useless, he commanded the executioners to tie an anchor to the neck of St Clement, take him out into the sea and cast him into the deep, in order that nothing of him should remain to comfort the Christians. The last words of the holy Pope were: “Eternal Father! receive my spirit!

Martyrdom of St Clement by Fungai

The Christians, who had been encouraged by him to remain constant in their faith, stood on the sea-shore, until the tyrant and his followers had departed, after the death of the Saint. They then knelt in prayer, to beg of the Almighty that He would restore to them the body of their beloved shepherd and, whilst they prayed, the sea began slowly to retreat from the shore. The Christians, following the retreating water, came to the place where the Saint had been cast into the sea and found, to their inexpressible astonishment and joy, a small marble Chapel and in it, a tomb of stone, in which the body of the holy Pope was reposing. At his side, lay the anchor which had been tied around his neck. The joy and comfort which filled the hearts of the faithful at this sight, can more easily be imagined than described. They wished to take the holy body away but God made known to them that, for the present, it should not be disturbed and that, every year, the sea would retreat, during seven days, so as to permit all to visit the shrine of the Saint! This took place for several years, until, at last, by divine revelation, the Relics were transported to Rome.

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 November – Saint Maurus of Cesena (Died 946) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 21 November – Saint Maurus of Cesena (Died 946) Bishop, Monk, Abbot. nephew of Pope John IX. Born in Rome, Italy and died on 21 November 946 in Cesena, Flaminia, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – against blindness. Also known as – Maur, Mauro.

Maurus was Ordained then became a Benedictine Monk at Classis in Ravenna, Italy. Having served as Abbot of the Monastery of Classis, in Ravenna, Italy, Maurus became Bishop of Cesena around 934, where he served until his death.

A zealous and devoted shepherd, he found the strength to care for his flock during the day, by withdrawing to pray in the evenings, to a hilltop retreat outside the City. Here, amid a densely wooded forest, he erected for himself a hermitage and Chapel. This retreat symbolically represented for him, Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, where Christ withdrew to pray. During Lent, Maurus spent each day at his hermitage in solitude, praying and fasting.

Maurus was buried in a marble tomb on Monte Spaziano, Italy next to his small cell where he would retreat for prayer and solitude. His grave was lost for many years but accidentally re-discovered in the 11th century, whereafter his Relics were enshrined in the nearby Benedictine Church. In 1470 they were again moved to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Cesena with some Relics being enshrined in Ravenna.

Following his death, a number of miracles were attributed to his intercession. Upon arriving at the Church enclosing Maurus’ tomb, a blind woman from France passionately declared her determination never to leave there, unless Maurus obtained the restoration of her sight. Having given the Saint this “ultimatum,” she acted on her words, by erecting for her habitation, a small hut adjacent to the Church and began her prayers. After persevering for eight days in her supplications, the woman received her sight and, thereupon, gave thanks to God and Saint Maurus.

Peresevere in your prayer!

St Maurus tomb in the Cathedral In Cesena

Saint of the Day – 14 November – Saint Siard OPraem (Died 1230)

Saint of the Day – 14 November – Saint Siard OPraem (Died 1230) Abbot Siard of Friesland in the Netherlands, was a holy Abbot of the Norbertine Abbey in Mariëngaard by Hallum in Friesland. He was a powerful and hardworking Administrator, abiding strictly by the Rule of the Order, Apostle of the poor and needy, a holy Abbot of deep piety and prayer, on occasion he was seen in ecstasy, peacemaker. Patronage – against blindness, bodily ailments.

He was born to a noble Frisian family in the shadow of the Abbey of Mariëngaard and there received the white habit at the hands of St Frederick (c 780-838). During his first twenty years in the Abbey, Siard practised great penances and mortification and proved a model of edification for the brethren, to such an extent that Abbot John appointed Siard his successor on his death-bed.

Young St Siard kneeling before the Madonna and Child with St Frederick on the right standing

As Abbot his life was particularly marked by its austerity and benevolence.Nothing in his daily life distinguished him from his confreres. He wore the same habit, ate at the same table and slept in the same dormitory. On account of his exceptional humility, he resolutely refused everything that was not strictly necessary. He was a good administrator who governed his Monastery well, both in spiritual and material matters. He laboured zealously with his Monks, particularly in the fields harvesting wheat. He would lead the confreres in the singing of Psalms during harvest time. He was extremely open to those who sought his advice and ensured that the Abbey became known as a place of refuge throughout the region.

As a model of perfection, Siard had also given Blessed Dodo of Haskerland his Norbertine education. He showed a true conciliatory spirit, settling disputes quickly and with the utmost gentleness and understanding. Furthermore, the Saint extended the lands of the Abbey and guided the constructios of various additions to the buildings. The apostolic spirit of the Order thrived at Mariëngaarde under his leadership. Whenever Siard went on a journey, he took along a large basket full of bread and other foods that he could distribute among the poor. Because of this he is usually depicted with a basket at his feet.

Once on a journey, the holy Abbot came across a noisy celebration of music and dance. He stopped and turned to his brothers saying, “Just imagine what songs of joy the angel choirs must sing when they celebrate the conversion of a single sinner.” He urged three things upon the confreres who had to leave the Monastery on a journey – a joyous departure, a peaceful sojourn and a happy return. Known also for his miraculous cures of the sick and ailing, the Monastery began to attract many in search of the alleviation of their physical illnesses, after Siard cured a man of blindness.

Siard had a special devotion to Martha and Mary. He looked to Martha, as an example for his care of the confreres and to Mary, as a reminder of the necessity of listening to Christ, in prayer and meditation. On occasion, he would fall into ecstasy during prayer and hear the heavenly music of the angels.

Naturally the austhere life which Siard had implemented, was not popular with all of the Canons and,, in 1290, one of their number attempted to murder the Abbot. His loud cries brought the aid of the confreres and he escaped with only minor injuries.

He had been Abbot for thirty six years when he died on 14 November 1230. Numerous faithful were granted special favours by God, at his grave. After the destruction of Mariëngaarde by the Calvinists in 1578, his earthly remains were rescued by a Frieslanden nobleman, Siard of Helsema, who brought them to Hildesheim. In 1608 his Relics were divided and placed in two separate Reliquaries. In 1617, one of these was brought to the Abbey of St Feuillin du Roeulz. After the suppression of this Abbey during the French Revolution, the Relics were taken to the Church at Strépy. In 1938 Prelate Bauwens brought them to the Norbertine Abbey of Leffe. The other Reliquary was brought to Tongerlo in 1617, where ever since the people have held St Siard in great honour and celebrated his Feast each year, with great solemnity. A part of the Relic of Siard’s head found a home in the Generalate House in Rome, until 2000 when it was transferred to the Abbey of Windberg.

The cult of St Siard was confirmed by Pope Benedict XIII on 22 January and 8 March in 1728.

O God, Who made Thy Saints to obey the Gospel as an example for many, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may imitate the cheerful goodness and devout piety of the blessed Abbot Siard. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, One God forever and ever. Amen.


Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin

Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin. Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.

The Roman Martyrology reads today: “At Assisi, in Umbria. Italy, St Clare, Virgin, the first of the poor woman of the Order of Minors. Being celebrated for holiness of life and miracles. she was placed among holy virgins, by Alexander IV.

St Clare, Virgin, Founder,
Mystic, Miracle-worker
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888) (Excerpt)

St.Clare, Founder of the Order which bears her name, was born of rich and pious parents, at Assisi, in the district of Umbria, in Italy. She received the name of Clare, which means “clear or bright,” for the following reason. While her mother Hortulana, was kneeling before a Crucifix, praying that God might aid her in her hour of delivery, she heard the words: “Do not fear. You will give birth to a light which shall illumine the whole world.”

From her earliest childhood, prayer was Clare’s only delight. She gave to the poor all the presents which she received from her parents. She despised all costly garments, all worldly pleasures. Beneath the fine clothes she was obliged to wear, she wore a rough hair-girdle. She partook of so little food that it seemed as if she wished to observe a continual fast.

During this same period lived St Francis, surnamed “the Seraphic,” on account of his great virtues. Clare frequently went to him and confided to him, her desire to renounce the world and to consecrate her virginity to God and to lead a perfect life in the most abject poverty. St Francis who saw that besides other gifts and graces, she was filled with the most ardent love of God, possessing great innocence of heart and despising the world, strengthened her in her holy desire, while at the same time, he tested her constancy. Being sufficiently convinced that her desires were inspired by Heaven, he advised Clare to leave her home, which she did on Palm Sunday, going to the Church of the Portiuncula, where she had her hair cut off, as a sign that she would enter a religious life. She divested herself of all feminine ornament, and attired in a penitential garb, tied around her with a cord, she was placed. by St Francis in a vacant Benedictine Convent. She was at that time just eighteen years of age.

When her parents heard of what she had done, they hastened to the Convent, to take Clare home, declaring that this choice of a state of life was only a childish whim, or that she had been persuaded to it by others. Clare, however, after opposing their arguments, fled into the Church, and clinging to the Altar with one hand, with the other she showed her head shorn of its hair, exclaiming: “Know all, that I desire no other bridegroom but Jesus Christ. Understanding well what I was doing, I chose Him and I will never leave Him.” Astonished at this answer, all returned home, admiring her virtue and piety. Clare thanked God for this victory and was, on account of it, all the more strengthened in her resolution.

Clare had a sister younger than herself, named Agnes. A few days later she, too, fled from her parents’ roof and going to Clare, wished to be invested in the same habit and to serve God in the same manner. St Clare received her joyfully but as all her relatives were provoked beyond measure that she, too, had entered a Convent, twelve of them went and forcibly tore her from her sister’s arms. Clare took refuge in prayer and, as if inspired by the Almighty, ran after her sister, loudly calling her by name. God assisted her by a miracle. Agnes suddenly became immovable, as if rooted to the ground and no-one possessed strength enough to drag her from where she stood. Recognising in this, the powerful hand of God, they opposed her no longer but allowed her to return to the Convent.

Meanwhile, St Francis had rebuilt the old Church of St Damiano and had bought the neighbouring house. Into this house he placed his first two religious daughters, Clare and Agnes, who were speedily joined by others, desirous of conforming themselves to the rule of life which St Francis had given to Clare. This was the beginning of the Order of Poor Clares, which has since given to the world, so many shining examples of virtue and holiness, to the salvation of many thousands of souls.

St Clare was appointed Abbess by St Francis and filled the office for forty two years with wonderful wisdom and holiness. Her mother too, together with her youngest daughter, took the habit and submitted to the government of St Clare.

She was, to all in her charge, a bright example of poverty. In austerity towards herself, she was more to be admired than imitated. The floor or a bundle of straw was her bed, a piece of wood, her pillow. Twice during the year she kept a forty days’ fast on bread and water. Besides this, three days of the week, she tasted no food and so little on the others that it is marvellous that she could sustain life with it. The greater part of the night, she spent in prayer and her desire for mortification was so great that St. Francis compelled her to moderate her austerities.

She nursed the sick with the greatest pleasure, as in this work of charity, she found almost constant opportunity to mortify and overcome herself. Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.

The Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St Clare, who was sick at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the Convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: “O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels, the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.” A voice was distinctly heard, saying: “I will protect you always.”

The result proved that this was the Voice of Heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind and flung themselves down. Thus were St Clare and her religious protected and the whole City preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament.
We must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant.

[When St Clare] … had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which, she had suffered from various painful maladies, although she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable and she was never heard to complain.

The hour of her death drew near and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face-to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervour of her love for God, than from the effects of her sickness. Her holy death took place in 1253. The great number of miracles wrought after her death, through her intercession and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV., only two years later, to place her in the number of Saints.


Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.

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.”)

A little more about the 14 Holy Helpers and a prayer to them by St Alphonsus Liguori here:


Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Kjeld of Viborg OSA (Died c 1150) “St Francis of the North”

Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Kjeld of Viborg OSA (Died c 1150) St Francis of the North,” Priest, Apostle of the poor, needy and sick. Born in Denmark and died in c 1150 n Viborg, Denmark of natural causes. Patronage – Viborg, Denmark, of the blind and those with eye diseases. Also known as – “St Francis of Assisi of the North,” Ketil, Ketille, Kield, Exuperian.

Kjeld was born in the early 12th Century to wealthy parents, who lived on a farm in central Denmark. He was a Godly boy and it was soon decided that he should have a future in the Church. He was sent to Viborg, where he joined the Cathedral College or Chapter. The Cathedral Chapter was the place where Priests were trained and while they lived as Canons at the Cathedral, they assisted the Bishop in his administrative work. The Canons Regular lived in a community following St Augustine’s Rule and they were led by a Prior.

Kjeld thrived in the Cathedral Chapter, where he was elected as head of the Cathedral Chapter College and around 1145 he was elected Prior of the other Canons. Kjeld was a very caring, generous and compassionate man who gave all he could to the sick, poor and needy. It is told in his biography that IN 1145, when Viborg City was threatened by fire, Kjeld ran to the Tower of the Cathedral, where he prayed fervently to God to spare the City and the Church, after which the fire miraculously receded.

Despite the fact that the Canons had chosen Kjeld as their Prior, there soon came disputes between them and him, apparently because they objected to his generous distribution of the Cathedral Chapter’s funds to the poor. The Canons elected a new Prior and Kjeld moved to Aalborg for a while. Although Kjeld was popular in Aalborg he longed to spread the Christian faith and desired Martyrdom among the Wends. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he visited the Tombs of the Apostles and had an audience with Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). He sought the Pope’s permission to go on a mission among the Wends but, although he received the desired authorisation, the Pope expressed the sentiment that he would rather see Kjeld return to Viborg and continue his work as Prior of the Cathedral College. The Pope wrote to the Cathedral College, who had to bow and take Kjeld back as their leader. But soon after, in 1150, Kjeld died in Viborg and was buried in the Cathedral.

Numerous miracles were granted by God at his grave. The sick became healthy after visits to the tomb and the blind especially, were granted their sight – according to the Saint’s biography, at least twelve people had their sight restored. The Church authorities now sought Kjeld’s Canonisation and they, therefore, sent a request to the Pope in Rome. In 1188 Pope Clement III (1187-1191) consented and the Archbishop Absalon celebrated Kjeld’s Canonisation locally, which occurred on 11 July 1189.

Viborg Cathedral
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 7 June – Saint Deochar OSB (Died 847) Another Patron of the Blind and those with Eye Diseases

Saint of the Day – 7 June – Saint Deochar OSB (Died 847) Monk, Abbot, Hermit, Disciple and Spiritual Student of Blessed Alcuin, Founder of a Monastery and first Abbot in Herrieden, in modern Bavaria, Germany., Royal Messenger and as such, translated the Relics of the great St Boniface to Fulda, Germany. Born in the late 8th century, probably in Bavaria, Germany and died in 847 at his Abbey of Herriedon, Germany of natural causes. Patronages of the blind and of those with eye diseases. Also known as – Deocarus, Deotker, Dietger, Gottlief, Theotgar, Theutger.

Deochar was a disciple of the blessed Alcuin at the Court of Emperor Charlemagne. He retired to solitude in Haserode (later Herrieden) as a Hermit. In around 782, Charlemagne built him a Chapel and later a Benedictine Monastery on the site opposite the Church in Herrieden, which Church, is dedicated to him today. Here, Deochare became a Monk and the first Abbot. In 793 King Charles visited Deochar and in 796 ,he sent his Court theologian, Alcuin to settle the Abbot’s difficulties with some of his Monks.

Since 802, Deochar was also a Royal Messenger and, therefore, in 819, he was involved, in the transfer of the Relics of the great St Boniface to Fulda. The first image above depicts this event.

In 829, Deochar headed the list of signatories to the Synod of Mainz, being an authority on Sacred Scripture and on the monastic rule,

 He died at an advanced age and received his final resting place in a Shrine in the Collegiate Church of St Vitus and St Deochar in Hasareoda / Herrieden. In 1316. a part of his Relics was transferred by King Ludwig as the spoils of victory, to the Chapel in the Church of St Lorenz in Nuremberg, now named after Deochar. In 1845 they came to Eichstätt . The part of the Relics brought by King Ludwig to his residence, the Alter Hof in Munich, was destroyed in World War II.

High grave, 1482, in the Blasisus Chapel of the Basilica
of St Vitus and St Deocar in Herrieden

St Deochar’s Patronage of the blind relates to a famous miracle which occurred due to his prayer on behalf of a blind boy child, who was immediately cured.

St Deochar cures a blind child
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 19 May – Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (909-988) Bishop of London, Worcester then Archbishop of Canterbury,

Saint of the Day – 19 May – Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (909-988) Bishop of London, Worcester then Archbishop of Canterbury, Priest, Monk, Abbot. As Abbot, he was the principal agent in the restoration of English monasticism, following the devastation of the Viking invasions. He was renowned as a great Scholar, Painter, Musician and Metalsmith, Writer and Poet, as well as being a Counsellor of Kings and a zealous reforming Bishop. Born in 909 at Baltonsborough, Glastonbury, England and died on 19 May 988 at Canterbury, England of natural causes. Patronages – Armourers, blacksmiths, the blind and sight-impaired, bell-ringers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, jewellers, lighthouse keepers, locksmiths, musicians, swordsmiths, Diocese of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

St Dunstan was the son of Heorstan, Anglo-Saxon nobleman, born in the early 10th century near Glastonbury during the reign of King Athelstan. Northern Europe and the British Isles had been under attack and conquest from the Danes and Vikings for several centuries and many coastal communities and monasteries, had been destroyed by the invaders. As a young boy he was introduced to the Irish scholars who visited the renowned Monastery at Glastonbury.

After recovering from a near fatal illness, beloved to be leprosy, he pursued his studies with a zeal for knowledge and artistic skills. He became well known for his devotion and was summoned by his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, to enter his service. He soon became a favourite of King Aethelstan which aroused the envy of the King’s Court. St. Dunstan was accused of studying magic and heathen literature and was attacked by his enemies who bound, gagged him and threw him into a filthy pit . He escaped to Winchester and entered the service of the Bishop, another uncle, St Alphege. Following an illness caused by his treatment at Court, he was persuaded by his uncle to become a Monk.

Following his Ordination to the Priesthood by his uncle in 934, he returned to Glastonbury and built a cell alongside the Church of St Mary. His cell was tiny only 5 feet (150 cms) long by 2ft 6ins(75 cms) wide. At this time, the devil tempted him but Dunstan seized Satan’s face with his smith’s tongs.

In 940 after the death of King Aethelstan, he was summoned by the new King, Eadmund and appointed a Counsellor but again he was driven from the Court by jealous courtiers. After narrowly escaping death while hunting, the King remembered the harsh treatment that Dunstan had received at Court. At Glastonbury, he took St Dunstan by the hand, gave him a kiss of peace and led him to the Abbot’s throne.

In his position as Abbot of Glastonbury, St Dunstan set about recreating the monastic life and rebuilding the Abbey. He rebuilt the Church of St Peter, the cloister and reestablished the monastic enclosure. Only two years later, King Eadmond was assassinated, and was succeeded by Eadred. As Abbot of Glastonbury, Dunstan was appointed Guardian of the Royal treasure. The new King encouraged the spread of Christian devotion and observance and the expulsion of heathendom. Dunstan became deeply involved in secular politics and incurred the enmity of the West Saxon nobles, for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes.

In 955, Eadred died and was succeeded by Eadwig. Different from his predecessor he was under the influence of two unprincipled women. After the coronation, Dunstan discovered the King with his two harlots and was again forced to flee from the Court in exile. He took refuge at a Benedictine Monastery in Ghent. He stayed in Ghent for a year, during which time he came into contact with the reformed continental monasticism which was to inspire his vision of Benedictine perfection.

In 957, the nobles, unable to endure the excesses of King Eadwig, drove him out. His successor Eadgar, asked St Dunstan to return and appointed him Archbishop of Worchester In the following year, the See of London became vacant and was conferred on Dunstan, who held it simultaneously with Worcester.

One of Eadwig’s final acts had been to appoint a successor to Archbishop Oda of Canterbury, who died on 2 June 958. The chosen candidate was Ælfsige of Winchester but he died of cold in the Alps as he journeyed to Rome to receive the Pallium. In his place. Eadwig then nominated the Bishop of Wells, Byrhthelm. However, as soon as Edgar became King, he reversed this second choice on the ground that Byrhthelm had not been able to govern even his first Diocese in a successful manner. The Archbishopric was then conferred on Dunstan.

In 960, Dunstan journeyed to Rome to receive the Pallium from Pope John XII. On his journey there, Dunstan’s acts of charity were so lavish as to leave nothing for himself and his attendants. His steward complained but Dunstan replied that they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and all would be well..

On his return from Rome, Dunstan at once regained his position as virtual prime minister of the Kingdom. By his advice, Ælfstan was appointed to the Bishopric of London and Oswald, to that of Worcester. In 963, Æthelwold, the Abbot of Abingdon, was appointed to the See of Winchester. With their aid and with the ready support of King Edgar, Dunstan was able to implement his reforms in the English Church. The Monks were taught to live in a spirit of self-sacrifice and Dunstan actively enforced the law of celibacy. He forbade the practices of simony (selling ecclesiastical offices for money) and ended the custom of clerics appointing relatives to offices under their jurisdiction. New Monasteries were built and in some of the great Cathedrals, Monks took the place of the Secular Canons and Canons were obliged to live according to rule. The Parish Priests were compelled to be qualified for their office; they were urged to teach Parishioners not only the truths of the Christian faith but als, trades to improve their lives. The state saw reforms as well. Good order was maintained throughout the realm and there was respect for the law. Trained bands policed the north and a navy guarded the shores from Viking raids. There was a level of peace in the Kingdom unknown in living memory.

Dunstan’s influence under the new Monarch began to wane and he retired to Canterbury. His retirement at Canterbury consisted of long hours, both day and night, spent in private prayer, as well as his regular attendance at Mass and the daily Office. He visited the Shrines of St Augustine and St Æthelberht, and there are reports of a vision of angels who sang to him heavenly canticles. He worked to improve the spiritual and temporal well-being of his people, to build and restore Churches, to establish schools, to judge suits, to defend widows and orphans, to promote peace and to enforce respect for purity. He practised his crafts, made bells and organs and collated the books in the Cathedral library. He encouraged and protected European scholars who came to England, and was active as a Teacher in the Cathedral school.

On the Vigil of Ascension Day 988, it is recorded that a vision of angels warned he would die in three days. On the Feast day of Ascension itself, Dunstan celebrated Holy Mass and preached three times to the faithful. In this last address, he announced his impending death and wished his congregation well. That afternoon he chose the spot for his tomb, then went to his bed. His strength failed rapidly and on Saturday morning, 19 May, he caused the Clergy to assemble. Mass was celebrated in his presence, then he received Extreme Unction and the Viaticum and died. Dunstan’s final words are reported to have been, “He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: He hath given food to them that fear Him.

The English people accepted him as a Saint shortly thereafter. He was formally Canonised in 1029 Pope John XIX. That year, at the Synod of Winchester, St Dunstan’s feast was ordered to be kept solemnly throughout England

English literature contains many references to St Dunstan, for example, in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and in this folk rhyme:

St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil, after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is the origin of the lucky horseshoe. Until St Thomas Becket’s fame overshadowed Dunstan’s, St Dunstan  was the most popular Saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which, were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil. Eighteen Churches in England are named after St Dunstan, including two famous ones in the City of London, as well as a number of schools, hospitals and other institutions, including the Charity established to help those blinded as a result of war.

Dunstan had been buried in his Cathedral and when that building was destroyed by a fire in 1074, his relics were translated by Archbishop St Lanfranc to a tomb on the south side of the High Altar, in the rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral. The Monks of Glastonbury used to claim, that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan’s body had been carried ,for safety, to their Abbey. This story was disproved by Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508. They found Dunstan’s relics still to be there. Within a century, however, his s=Shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation.

BEFORE YOU ASK: _ I have been unsuccessful in ascertaining the reason for St Dunstan’s Patronage of the Blind. All I have so far found is the result of his Patronage – the worldwide organisations under his Patronage which are dedicated to the care and assistance of the blind and sight-impaired. I will keep trying.

The image below is from the Manuscript known as the “Glastonbury Classbook” – it is a portrait of Christ,and the Monk kneeling beside Him is believed to be a self-portrait of St Dunstan.
The text beside the Monk says: “Dunstanum memet clemens rogo, Christe, tuere / Tenarias me non sinas sorbsisse procellas” (‘I ask, merciful Christ, that You protect me, Dunstan; do not permit the Taenarian storms to swallow me‘).
Then the Statue of St Dunstan beneath the above, is on his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral and shows him holding the Glastonbury Classbook – how lovely!

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 12 May – St Domingo de la Calzada / Dominic of the Causeway ((1019 – 1109)

Saint of the Day – 12 May – St Domingo de la Calzada / Dominic of the Causeway ((1019 – 1109) Priest, Hermit, Bridge Builder, a road, a Hospital/Hostel, a Church, in effect a town, Miracle-worker. Born in 1019 as Domingo García in Victoria, Biscay, Spain and died in 1109 at Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain, of natural causes. Patronages – Spanish civil engineers. eye diseases, the blind, the Pilgrim’s Town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain. Also known as – Dominic of Landeveien, Domenico, Dominicus…

Dominic was the son of a peasant named Ximeno García. His mother was named Orodulce. We know little about his early years, except that he worked as a shepherd and then tried, in vain, to be admitted as a Monk in the Benedictine Monasteries of Valvanera and San Millán de la Cogolla. This failure caused him to retire as a Hermit to a secluded place, Ayuela, near present-day Santo Domingo de la Calzada. There he led a contemplative life until 1039.

Fundamental to his later development was the relationship he established, around this date, with Gregory, Bishop of Ostia, who arrived in Calahorra as a Papal Envoy to combat a terrible locust plague that devastated the Navarrese and Riojan territories. For five years and until the death of the future Ostiense Saint in 1044, Dominic became Bishop Gregory’s close collaborator.

He received the Priestly Ordination from Gregory’s hands. Together, they decided to build a first wooden bridge over the Oja River to facilitate the transit of pilgrims to Compostela.

After the death of Saint Gregory, Dominic returned to the area where he had spent his years of retirement and undertook a profound colonising work there. He cut down the forests, cleared the land and began the construction of a stone road that was a deviation from the traditional path between Logroño and Burgos but which became, from that moment on, the main route between Nájera and Redecilla.

To improve the conditions of the pilgrims on their way to Compostela. who began to cross it, he replaced the first wooden bridge with another made of stone and built a complex consisting of a hospital, a well and a Church, to attend to the needs of travellers. Today, it is the Casa del Santo, which is a used as a hostel by modern-day pilgrims.

Statue of Dominic de la Calzada, Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

The town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada began as a few houses built around the Hermitage of the Saint in his lifetime. At his death in 1109, the village had grown in population. King Alfonso VI of Castile annexed La Rioja in 1076 and seeing that Dominic’s efforts contributed to the Castilianisation of the region, decided to support him and his projects. He visited Dominic in 1090 and, thereafter, Dominic, assisted by his disciple Juan de Ortega, began construction on a Church dedicated to Christ and the Virgin Mary. Outside, and attached to its walls, the Saint chose a place for his own burial. The Church was Consecrated by the Bishop of Calahorra in 1106.

Dominic died in 1109. His Church, later the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, was where he was buried, as he had requested and it was elevated to the rank of Cathedral after being placed in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Calahorra in the 1230s.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Many miracles are attributed to the intercession of St Dominic, among them the exorcism of a French knight who had been possessed by the devil and who was freed of his affliction by visiting the tomb of Dominic. Another miracle, concerns the healing of a German pilgrim named Bernard in the 15th Century, who was cured of an affliction of the eyes, by his prayers at Dominic’s tomb. Another concerns the healing of a blind Norman who was granted his eyesight by God, when he prayed fervently for Dominic’s intercession in the Cathedral.

The most famous miracle, however, concerns that of the rooster and the chicken, which occurred at Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In the 14th Century, a German 18-year-old named Hugonell, from Xanten, went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with his parents. A Spanish girl at the hostel where they were staying made sexual advances toward Hugonell. But he rejects her advances. Angry at this, the girl hid a silver cup in the German’s bag and then informs the authorities, that the youth had stolen it. Hugonell was sentenced to the gallows, in accordance with the laws of Alfonso X of Castile.

The parents sadly decided to examine their son’s body, still hanging on the gallows,but suddenly heard his voice telling them that Saint Dominic had saved his life! His parents quickly made their way to Santiago de Compostela to see the Magistrate. The Magistrate, who was eating dinner, remarked: “Your son is as alive as this rooster and chicken that I was feasting on before you interrupted me.” And at that moment, the two birds jump from the plate and begin to sing and crow happily.

The first element of the tale, that of a hanged pilgrim, is found in many collections of miracles, with the restoring of life after the death of the victim attributed not only St Dominic, but also to Saint James the Great, or to the Virgin Mary. The second part of the tale, the miracle of the dancing and singing roasted chicken and rooster, is unique to St Dominic de la Calzada.

In memory of Dominic’s miracle, a rooster and chicken, with white feathers, are kept alive at the Cathedral all year round. A different rooster and chicken are alternated each month, although they are called descendants of the original birds, who miraculously danced even though roasted. The pairs of roosters and chickens, when they are not at the Cathedral, are kept in a chicken coop called the Gallinero de Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which the Confraternity of St Dominic maintains with the help of donations. A wayside Shrine built in 1445, holds a relic associated with the miracle: a piece of wood from the gallows from which Hugonell was hanged and then restored to life. Medieval pilgrims gathered the feathers of these favoured birds, or received them from the Priest and would affix them to their hats. Another tradition claimed that if the birds ate breadcrumbs directly from the end of the pilgrim’s staff, that pilgrim would arrive safely in Compostela.

The German pilgrim Hermann Künig (15th century) claimed to have seen the room where the roasted birds began to sing and dance. Documents written by pilgrims, state that Hugonell’s shirt as well as the gallows, had been conserved by the Church of Santo Domingo. These artifacts are now lost

The rooster and chicken, are visible behind the bars of its ornate coop.
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Vaast of Arras (c 453-539 or 540)

Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Vaast of Arras (c 453-539 or 540) The First Bishop of Arras, France, Hermit, Ascetic, Miracle-worker, Advisor to King Clovis. Born in c 453 at Limoges, France and died on 6 February in 539–540 at Arras, France of natural causes. Patronages against eye diseases, of the Diocese of Arras, Boulogne and Saint-Omer, France, of children, of children who late learning to walk. Also known as – Foster, Gaston, Gastone, Vaat, Vedast, Vedasto, Vedastus. Additional Memorials – 2 January (discovery of relics), 7 February (enshrinement of relics), 15 July (translation of relics in Cambrai), 1 October (translation of relics).

The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Arras in Belgian Gaul, today in France, Saint Vedastus, Bishop, who, sent by Saint Remigius Bishop of Rheims to the devastated City, catechised King Clovis, re-established the Church and held it for about forty years and brought to an end, the need of work for evangelisation among the previously still pagan peoples of the region.”

Vaast was a native of the Limoges region, born in the second half of the 5th century. He left his parents as a young man and embarked on a secluded ascetic life as a Hermit, hidden from the world in the Diocese of Toul, France. It was there, near Toul, that he accidentally met King Clovis I who, after defeating the Germans, was returning to his country.

The traditional account of the conversion of King Clovis by St Vaast, says while on the road to Rheims, they encountered a blind beggar at the bridge over the river Aisne. The man besought Vaast’s assistance. Vaast, in this account had already been Ordained a Priest, was inspired to pray and blessed the beggar, at which point the man immediately recovered his sight. The miracle convinced the King to adopt his wife’s religion. Vaast became and remained an advisor to King Clovis. until the King’s death.

They continued their journey to Rheims, where Bishop St Remigius administered Baptism to the King. On his departure, Clovis recommended his instructor to the Bishop, who, knowing of the Hermit’s moral, devotional and theological qualities, first Ordained him as a Priest and then Consecrated him as the Bishop of Arras. (in the year 500).

The Consecration of St Vaast

This City of Arras was initially sacked by the Huns and the population, already Christian since the Fourth Century, had dispersed during the invasion. Arras was slowly repopulated but its inhabitants had practically returned to paganism. The new Bishop courageously embarked on his missionary work, reorganising his Diocese, converting numerous inhabitants in his many apostolic journeys in the vast territory entrusted to him.

He remained a friend of King Clovis and Queen Clotilde throughout his life and at the same time, he always remained a disciple, as it were, of St Remigius, who became his adviser, guide and trusted example.

After having ruled the Diocese for 40 years, he died on 6 February 539 or 540.
The news concerning the efficacious nature of prayer to Vaast and the many and diverse miracles and prodigies worked by God through his intercession, continued over the centuries. This resulted in three ‘Vitae,’ being written. One of the Vita’s by St Alcuin, recounts that on one occasion, having spent the day in instructing a nobleman, his host would see him on his way with a glass of wine to sustain him but found the cask empty. Vaast bid the servant to bring whatever he should find in the vessel. The servant then found the barrel overflowing with excellent wine, just like at Cana! The image below relates to another miracle for which I cannot find the legend.

St Vaast’s miracle of the beast

His body had many translations, due to the Norman invasion of the City of Arras in the Ninth Century. In December 880, the City was set on fire and its inhabitants massacred but the relics were rescued and hidden at Beauvais which was fortified.

In 667, St Aubert, the Seventh Bishop of Arras, began to build an Abbey for Benedictine Monks on the site of a little Chapel which Saint Vaast had erected in honour of Saint Peter. Vaast’s relics were transferred to the new Abbey, which was completed by Auburt’s uccessor and generously endowed by King Theuderic III, who together with his wife, was afterwards buried there. The relics, in the following centuries, remained in possession of the Abbey of St Vaast until the French Revolution, when the Abbey was sacked, however, the relics miraculously remained intact! They were later transferred to the Cathedral of Arras, where they still are today.

Cathedral of Arras

St Vaast’s cult, since ancient times, is widespread throughout France . It is reported in the litanies of the Saints and he is considered the Founder of the Episcopal See of Arras, for which he is the main Patron. In France he is more widely known as St Gastone.

St Vaast’s Statue at another Church in his honour at Wambrechies, France

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 4 February – St Gilbert of Sempringham (c 1083-1189)

Saint of the Day – 4 February – St Gilbert of Sempringham (c 1083-1189) Priest, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, Founder of 13 Monasteries and Churches, schools, homes and hostels for the sick and orphanages, Miracle-worker. Born in c. 1083 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire, England and died on 4 February 1189 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire. The Gilbertines came to an end in the 16th century at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

A narrow track from the main road in the Lincolnshire Village of Sempringham leads eventually to the tiny Church dedicated to St Andrew. Standing on a hilltop and noticeably isolated are the visible remains where St. Gilbert of Sempringham began his work, which resulted in the only English monastic Order for nuns, canons,lay brothers and sisters being founded. Little may be known about him but his influence, even after some 900 years, has not been forgotten.

Gilbert was the eldest son of Jocelyn, a Norman Knight and his low born Anglo-saxon wife. He was born around 1083 (in most biographies it is 1083), his mother had a vision that he would be special before his birth. It was a time within memory of the Norman invasion of England and he was half Norman half Saxon.

He is said to have been born with some form of disability and a variety of suggestions have been made as to the form that this was manifest – curvature of the spine being one. Whatever it was, he was unfit for military service and in his very early childhood seemed to have no enthusiasm of learning and is said to have been cared for by his mother and this is maybe why he had such an affinity and kindness for women – in an age when women were not generally allowed an education. At some point, however, his education led him to France . He returned having acquire the title of Master, by which he was known for posterity.

When he returned we see him educating the local children, of both sexes, which was unusual for the time in his district of Lincolnshire. His father was impressed with his education and abilities and his religious manner and presented him with the Churches of Sempringham and West Torrington. At that time, he was a Deacon and for a time, joined the household of the Bishop of Lincoln, firstly with Robert Bloet (died 1123) and with Alexander (1123-1148.

He was not Ordained to the Priesthood until his 40th year, due to his reservations of being unworth and for similar reasons, he refused the position of Archdeacon in the Diocese, which stretched from the Humber to the Thames and was the largest Diocese in Europe .

In 1131 he founded a home for girls whose residence was attached to his Church at Sempringham and hired a Priest named Geoffrey and they shared rooms above the Church entrance. In 1139 he moved his small community to a new site, a field’s distance from his Church and in due course, this became the Motherhouse for the Gilbertine Order of Sempringham. He was later to add lay sisters, Priests and lay brothers. In 1147, Gilbert travelled to France hoping to persuade the Cistercian Order to adopt his community of Nuns. This was refused but with the encouragement of Pope St Eugene III, who himself had been a Cistercian Monk and St Bernard of Clairvaux, he drew up the Institutes of the Gilbertine Order.

Back in England Gilbert became “Master” of the Order by the Popes decree. He was not attached to any particular house and was not the Prior of Sempringham. It was his responsibility to visit all the houses.

At the point when in old age he became blind he transferred, with the consent of the Order, his responsibility to Roger, the Prior of Malton. Gilbert did not take the vows of the Gilbertine Order until he was close to death. He felt that doing so would be a sign of arrogance, as he had written the Gilbertine Rule.

Miracles were attributed to him during his lifetime as well as after his death. When he reached his centennial year he felt compelled to “pass from this life in which he was so greatly broken for penance which he had endured in God’s service but yet all his members were whole,… save his sight.”

On Christmas night in 1188, whilst at his island house of Cadney, he was taken ill. He was given Extreme Unction and carried by his companion Roger and chaplain to Sempringham, a distance of forty miles. On 3 February of 1189, the Priors of all his Convents went to Sempringham to receive his blessing. On the last day, he lay unconscious with Roger (Prior of Malton), his successor, at his bedside. He died the following morning about the hour of Matins. He was buried three days later. His tomb was placed between the Altars of St Mary and St Andrew, on either side of the wall which divided the Priests from the Nuns, so that all alike might see him. During his lifetime Gilbert had built 13 Monasteries, nine for men and women together, four for men only. Besides these he had also built hostels for the poor, the sick, the lepers, the widows and the orphans

Eleven years after his death, Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury sent the Priors of the Lincolnshire Gilbertine houses of Swineshead, Bourn and Croxton to make inquisition to write an account of his life and his miracles. On 9 January 1201, King John and some of his nobles, visited Gilbert’s tomb. The Abbots arrived the same day and were satisfied as to the truth of the miracles . The King, Archbishop, Bishops and the three Priors sent letters to Pope Innocent III, asking for the Canonisation of Gilbert of Sempringham. The Pope decreed a three day’s fast on the whole Order and a further investigation into the life and miracles of Gilbert; the fast took place, on24 September 1202 with the inquisition on the third day.

Sempringham Abbey

Five canons and six men cured of infirmities by Gilbert, set out for Rome arriving on 31 December 1202 . The Pope gave the decree on 11 January and the feast of St Gilbert was commanded to be on h February, The Papal Bull was issued on 30 January 1202 and sent to the two Archbishops (Canterbury & York) and the Gilbertine Order.

The occasion of the translation of St Gilbert’s relics is detailed in depth “marked by the manifestations of bright lights, sweet odours and incorrupt clothing.” Additionally the Archbishop of Canterbury was privileged with a cure from illness which threatened to prevent him continuing with the lengthy ceremonies. The Archbishop issued an indulgence of 40 days and an additional one of 169 days from Bishops assisting at the translation, to all those visiting the Shrine or making grants to the priory.

In the centuries which have followed the life and death of St Gilbert of Sempringham, little is now visible of the Convents and Monasteries that he founded. The Priory Church of Malton in Yorkshire is still in use, Chicksands, however, has the most substantial remains of a cloister of the twenty five that were built in England .
In 1984 a group of parishioners met at the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Bernard , Leicestershire. As a result, an apostolate was formed, “The Oblates of St. Gilbert,” who meet regularly to recite the Gilbertine liturgy and exercise charity for the needy.

Malton Priory

Quote/s of the Day – 13 December – Light! Dear St Lucy and St Odilia

Quote/s of the Day – 13 December – The Memorial of St Lucy (c 283-304) Virgin Martyr “Bringer of Light” and St Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720) Virgin Both Patrons of those with eye ailments

I am the light of the world;
he who follows me will not walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Saint Lucy’s name (Lucia in Italian) shares the root luc with the Latin word for light, lux. Because of this connection, Saint Lucy is often depicted in art and religious custom as a bringer of light – which also ties in to her Patronage of eyes and sight. Her feast day today, is during Advent when we await the Light of Christ and is in winter, for the Northern Hemisphere, so there is significant iconography of Lucy as a bringer of light in the darkness.

In your light God,
we see light.

Psalm 35:36

Let us pray to St Lucy, for the intercession for all those with eye illnesses and for the protection of the ‘eyes of our faith’ of all of us.

Let your light shine before men

Matthew 5:16

O St Lucy, you preferred to let your eyes be torn out
instead of denying the faith
and defiling your soul
and God, through an extraordinary miracle,
replaced them with another pair of sound and perfect eyes
to reward your virtue and faith,
appointing you as the protector against eye diseases.
I come to you for you to protect my eyesight
and to heal the illness in my eyes.

O St Lucy, preserve the light of my eyes
so that I may see the beauties of creation,
the glow of the sun,
the colour of the flowers
and the smile of children.

Preserve also the eyes of my soul,
the faith, through which I can know my God,
understand His teachings,
recognise His love for me
and never miss the road that leads me
to where you, St Lucy,
can be found in the company of the angels and saints.
St Lucy, protect my eyes and preserve my faith.

St Lucy, “Bringer of Light” Pray for those with eye ailments,
Pray for us all!

Light came into the world.”

John 3:19

St Odilia, born blind – at the age of 12, her bodily eyes were opened and she was equally enlightened by the “eyes of faith” when she was Baptised, Pray for those with eye ailments, Pray for us all that our faith may grow and strengthen as those around us grow more and more blind!

Then again He laid His hands
upon his eyes
and he looked intently
and was restored
and saw everything clearly.

Mark 8:25

Prayer for the Intercession of St Odilia

Merciful God,
I come to You to ask Your aid
that my life may always give You praise.
I ask through the intercession
of St Odilia and all your holy people
to be a beacon of Your Light to all I meet.
Give me holiness of soul and body
and bring me into Your divine Light.
May I obtain these favours,
as well as my special prayer,
St Odelia, pray for my eyes
and the eyes of my faith.
Through the merits of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
Your Son, our Lord,
Who lives with you and the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 13 December – Saint Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720)

Saint of the Day – 13 December – Saint Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720) Virgin Abbess, born blind, but was miraculously granted her sight, miracle-worker. Born of a noble family in c 660 at Oberheim in the Vosges Mountains, Germany and died on 13 December 720 at Niedermunster, Mount Sainte Odile, Germany of natural causes. Also known as – Odilia of Hohenbourg, Odilia of Hohenburg, Adilia, Odile, Odilia, Othilia, Ottilia. Patronages – against eye diseases and partial sightedness, ear diseases and ailments, of Alsace, France (proclaimed in 1807 by Pope Pius VII). Additional Memorial 7 July – translation of her relics.

The Roman Martyrology states: “In the territory of Strasbourg in ancient Burgundia in France, Saint Ottilia, Virgin and first Abbess of the Monastery of Hohenbourg founded by her father, Duke Adalríco.

A Mosaic Depiction of St Odilia in Mont Sainte-Odile, Alsace

Odilia, daughter of Duke Adalric of Alsace, (also known as Etichon, Alderic, Aldarico, Athich) a region of eastern France but which region, in the past centuries, belonged to France or Germany alternatively, several times – she was, therefore, born in Alsace in the seventh century, blind from birth and according to legend, her father entrusted her to a peasant family.

When Odilia was 12 years old, they took the child to the Monastery of Balma (Baume-les-Dames) to be educated. At the time when the Bishop, St Erhard of Regensburg who was led by an angel to the Monastery, Baptised Odilia. When he touched her with the Oil of Chrism, she received her sight. Her younger brother Hugo had her brought home again, for [purposes of arranging a marriage for Odilia. Aldaric was so enraged at Hugo’s presumption, that he accidentally killed his son. Odilia miraculously revived him and immediately fled the family home again.

She fled across the Rhine to a cave or cavern in one of two places (depending on the source – the Musbach valley near Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, or Arlesheim near Basel, Switzerland.) The cliff face opened up in order to rescue her from her plight. In the cave, she hid from her father. When he tried to follow her, he was injured by falling rocks and relinquished his search. This mountain has since then been called

But when Aldaric fell ill, Odile returned to nurse him. He finally capitulated, ceased resisting his headstrong daughter and founded the monastic community of Mont Ste. Odile (also known as Hohenburg Abbey) for her.

Some years later Odile was shown, in a vision, the site of Niedermünster at the foot of the mountain by St John the Baptist. There she founded a second Monastery, including a hospital. Here, the head and an arm of St Lazarus of Marseille were displayed but later transferred to Andlau. The buildings of the Niedermünster burned down in 1542 but the local well is still said to cure eye diseases.

Odilia died on 13 December 720 and the holy Abbess was buried in Hohenbourg in the Church of St John. This Church and Odilia’s Tomb were first mentioned by Pope Leo IX on 17 December 1050.

St Odilia in Avolsheim, Alsace

The relics have a history all of their own, the Emperor Charles IV received her right arm on 4 May 1353, which is now kept in Prague. Other relics which were in Odilienberg were saved from the French Revolution, although the marble covering the Sarcophagus was then lost. In 1842 the relics were placed in a chest under the Altar in Hohenbourg in the Church of St John and some are found in Alsace.

Odilia’s cult was widespread throughout the Middle Ages, in all Germanic Abbeys and in some French regions. She is still greatly venerated today in the Diocese of Alsace, Munich, Meissen, Strasbourg and in the Austrian fBenedictine Abbeys and by those all over the world suffering from eye ailments.

St Odilia has been the patron saint of Alsace since 1807, where she receives a great popular cult. Mont-Sainte-Odile is a very popular pilgrimage site, where her Feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the transfer of her relics, which took place on 7 July 1842.

Chapels in her honour are built on hills and mountains, she is invoked especially for the healing of eyes, ears or headaches, in fact she is represented in the guise of Abbess, with an open book on which two eyes rest.

Sometimes she is depicted while freeing the soul of her father Aldaric from Purgatory and sometimes she carries a Chalice in her hand, which refers to a miraculous episode in which Odilia, being seriously ill, died without having received the Viaticum. Thanks to the prayers of her sorrowful Sisters, she rose again and had the Chalice with the Consecrated Hosts brought to her bedside. After communicating she died again.

This statue is in Strasbourg


Saint of the Day – 6 October – Saint Faith of Agen (Died 3-4th Century) Virgin Martyr,

Saint of the Day – 6 October – Saint Faith of Agen (Died 3-4th Century) Virgin Martyr, Confessor. Born at Agen, Aquitaine, (modern France) and died by being cooked on a brazier, then beheaded. Also known as – Fides, Foi, Foy, Fe, Faith of Conques. Patronages – eye diseases and blindness, Pilgrims, prisoners. soldiers. Our little Faith today must not be was confused with the three legendary sisters known as Faith, Hope and Charity., Virgin Martyrs of the 2nd Century whose feast day is 1 August.

The Roman Martyrologgy states: “ At Agen, in France, the birthday of St Faith, Virgin and Martyr whose example encouraged the blessed Caprasius so much, that he happily terminated his combat by Martyrdom.

Faith was a beautiful 12-year-old girl living in Agen, Aquitaine, France, during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. Her parents, wealthy pagans, left her rearing to a nurse, who happened to be Christian. Growing up in a beautiful, mosaic-encrusted villa, Faith had everything the world could offer and her future looked bright, except for one thing – she had accepted her nurse’s Christian faith.

To understand why this was a problem, we must understand Emperor Diocletian. He had announced, on assuming office, his intention to revive morality within the realm, since immorality was sapping Roman virtue and, therefore, the Empire’s viability and strength. He also believed that a revival of the traditional Roman gods was key, because an empire united in its religious praxis would be stronger. This was not a problem for most pagans in most places because gods were gods, even if their names varied by region. This was obviously not the case for Christians, however.

Diocletian launched a persecution designed to force everyone to the same cult. Dacian, Prefect of the Province in which Faith lived, came to Agen to observe his subjects’ loyalty—that is, to see if they were being good pagans and, if not, to kill them.

While many Christians were terrified but Faith voluntarily surrendered to the authorities. Imagine how frightened she must have been. She likely prayed for strength and for the words to convert her persecutors. Dacian probably had some nervousness too. After all, putting a twelve-year-old girl on trial would be a touchy situation, especially for a capital crime. Who wants to execute a child? Better to get her to apostatise but how? During the trial Faith gave a brave, remarkable defense of Christianity. Fine, Dacian told her, keep your beliefs. Just sacrifice to the goddess Diana in the town’s temple.

Faith refused and Dacian lost patience with the girl. He ordered her bound to a brazen bed and roasted. Pitch was thrown on the fire to make its flames flare and burn her legs. This happened in public, so that the crowds could witness the fate awaiting Christians.

Medieval depiction of Faith’s Martyrdom.

The problem for Dacian was that little Faith refused to cooperate. She cried, yes but she did not scream or beg for mercy. After a miraculous rainstorm extinguished the flames, Dacian had her beheaded. Seeing all this, the mob was moved, not to contempt for Christianity but to pity for Faith. Their only contempt was for Dacian, the child executioner. They wondered what god of theirs could give a mere maiden such strength. Realising the answer was “None,” many converted on the spot. In turn, most of these received martyrdom days later.

After her death St Faith developed a reputation as something of a practical joker. If someone was stingy with a donation left for her Shrine’s upkeep, small misfortunes might befall them. For instance, a dying woman promised S. Faith she would will her most precious ring to the Abbey. Afterward her husband—possibly for its sentimental value, or maybe the thing had cost him a good deal of money—thought better of his wife’s last pledge. He instead used the ring as his second wife’s wedding band. Shortly the ring finger of the new wife swelled so much that it became unbearably painful. The couple beat a hasty path to the Shrine. There, when the lady blew her nose, the ring flew off her hand with such force that it left a crack in the flooring.

On another occasion, Faith’s prayers restored sight to a man named Guibert, whose eyes had been torn from their sockets. Wanting to keep the recipient of so great a miracle close, the Monks who cared for St Faith’s Shrine gave him the job of selling candles. It seems Guibert was a good businessman and soon became quite rich. But as so often happens, when success came, devotion to Our Lord went. St Faith reproached Guibert for his ingratitude. She had prayed Jesus would restore his sight, and this is how Guibert repaid her? So Guibert lost sight in one eye. This happened repeatedly: He would mend his ways, gain his eyes, grow successful again, fall into sin, lose the eye, and so on.

The Monks would parade Faith’s relics around the Monastery grounds. With the greatest pomp, they processed while holding candles and they sang all day. By evening they were exhausted and famished. Once when many people had prayed, the intercession of St Faith wrought many miracles. With each miracle the Monks would sing a Te Deum. At the end of the day, the Monks sat down under a tree to have a picnic but each time they were about to sink their teeth into their meager food, someone would cry, “A miracle!” and the Monks would have to get up and sing again.

Thirty-eight churches in England alone are named after St Faith. There are many more in northern Spain and southern France and her fame spread to the Americas via the conquistadors. Indeed, at least four Cities in the United States are named after her, including Santa Fe, New Mexico. And in Brazil alone 22 Cities bear her name.

Except for what she said in court, St. Faith never preached. She never wrote an epistle. Her preaching and writing were her actions. The bravery and resolve of this young maiden astounded the crowds. Perceiving something special about the God she worshiped, they converted. And she was just a child. God makes up for what we lack.

Holy Spirit, through Your ineffable gifts, draw us to constant conversion. Renew our hearts. Let our actions preach eloquent sermons that draw people to Christ, far better than our poor words could do. Help us to love You, Holy Father, to do everything for You, and to remain firm in that love, no matter the hardships we encounter, so that, with St Faith, we may wear an eternal crown in Heaven. (Partially excerpted from “Saint Who?: – 39 Holy Unknowns” by Brian O’Neel).

In the fifth century, Dulcitius, Bishop of Agen, ordered the construction of a Basilica dedicated to her, later restored in the 8th century and enlarged in the 15th but sadly demolished in 1892 for urban development – horrible

Contrary to all custom, however, the centre of the cult of Faith was not the Basilica but the Church of Conques-enRouergue, where in the 9th Century. some of her relics had been transported, see the Reliquary below. Here there was also a Monastery, which, due to being on the road frequented by pilgrims Compostella, became in turn, famous and a pilgrimage destination in its own right. The cult of Faith thus spread throughout Europe and then also in America, where numerous cities and churches were dedicated to her. Among the most important are the Conches Abbey in Normandy and the Church of Sélestat, in Alsace.

Ninth Century Reliquary of Saint Faith at Conques.

Saint of the Day – 26 July – St Parasceva of Rome (Died c 180) Virgin Martyr. Patron of the Blind, against Blindness

Saint of the Day – 26 July – St Parasceva of Rome (Died c 180) Virgin Martyr, Confessor. Born near Rome in the 2nd Century and died by beheading in c 180. Patronage – invoked against blindness, healer of the blind.

Parasceva was born in a village near Rome, likely during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138). Her parents, Agathon and Politia, were Christians of Greek origin and had prayed for many years to have a child. When Politia finally bore a child, she was born on a Friday, the day of Our Lord’s suffering. They, therefore, named the baby girl Parasceva, meaning “Friday” in Greek (literally “preparation (day)” for the sabbath – cf. Mark 15:42). Parasceva grew up to be a devout and well-read woman, who rejected many suitors.

After the death of her parents, she gave away all of her possession and became the head of a Christian community of young virgins and widows. She also began to preach the Christian faith and at the age of 30, left Rome and ministered in many Towns and Villages.

In the Village of Therapia, Constantinople, she was arrested by soldiers of the Emperor Antoninus Pius and brought to trial. The charge was blasphemy and they charged her with inciting resistance to authorities. Antoninus Pius attempted to convince her to denounce her faith and even offered to marry her. Parasceva refused and was beaten and tortured by having a steel helmet lined with nails placed on her head and tightened with a vice. No pain seemed to affect her and her endurance caused many to convert to Christianity. Eventually, at his wit’s end, Antoninus Pius demanded that Parasceva be immersed into a large kettle of oil and tar. However, she emerged from even this unscathed. When she was accused of using magic, she responded by throwing the liquid into the Emperor’s face. He was blinded, and desperately asked for her help. Antoninus Pius regained his sight. This miracle moved him to convert to Christianity and set Parasceva free. Neither die he persecute Christians thereafter.

The Martyrdom of St Parasceva

However, after the death of Antoninus Pius, the laws changed once again under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A plague struck the Roman people and many, including Marcus Aurelius, considered Christians responsible for angering the gods. Parasceva was again arrested amongst many other Christians in a City governed by a man named Asclepius, who threw her into a pit with a large snake. She, however, made a Sign of the Cross and the snake fell asleep or dead. Just as with Antoninus Pius, Parasceva ‘s miracle converted Asclepius to Christianity and he released her. She continued to travel from Town to Town, preaching the Faith.

Finally, Parasceva was arrested for the last time by a Roman official named Tarasius and taken to the Temple of Apollo. Upon entering the Temple, Parasceva made a Sign of the Cross and all the idols in the Temple were instantly destroyed. Instead of converting the onlookers to Christianity, however, they became enraged, and beat her. Taracius then had her beheaded.

Her remains were eventually taken to Constantinople. Although it is not certain when or how her relics reached Constantinople, it seems that they were exhibited there in around 1200 to pilgrims.


Saint of the Day – 16 July – St Reinildis of Saintes ( c 630 – c 700)

Saint of the Day – 16 July – St Reinildis of Saintes ( c 630 – c 700) Virgin, Laywoman, Martyr, Pilgrim. Born in c 630 in Kontich, Belgium and died by being beheaded in c 700 outside a Chapel in Saintes (in modern Halle), Belgium. by the invading Huns. Also known as – Reinildis of Condacum, Reinildis of Kontich, Rainelde, Raineldis, Reinaldes, Reineldis, Reinhild. Patronage – against eye diseases, the Town of Saintes.

The Roman Martyrology states: “At Saintes, in France, this holy Martyrs Reinildis, Virgin and her companions. who were massacred by bbarbarians for the Christian Faith.”

Reinildis was the daughter of St Amalberga (10 July – here: but her birthplace is under discussion, since it is not known whether it is Kontich, just outside Antwerp, or Condésur-Escaut in present-day northern France. although the former seems more likely. Tradition holds that when her parents and sister, St Gudula (8 January), embraced the religious life, Reinildis followed her father to the Abbey of Lobbes, hoping to be able to enter it, giving the Abbey most of her riches and possessions . However, she did not enter for unknown reasons and instead left on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she stayed for seven years (some sources claim only two) and returned with many relics.

On her return she lived in Saintes, near Hal, southwest of Brussels, devoting all her time to assisting the poor and the sick. of the area. She was killed in Saintes during a barbarian raid. With her at the time of her Martyrdom was the servant Gandolfo and a sub-Deacon called Grimoaldo, all three venerated as Martyrs.

A cult began immediately after her death and in 866, the Bishop, St John of Cambrai, exhumed the relics and buried them again in a solemn ceremony. The first Life of St Reinildis dates from this period.

A document from the twelfth century describes the transfer of her relics to Lobbes Abbey probably in 1170 and their authentication by the local Bishop. It seems that this document was a homily written by a Monk of Lobbes on the day of the anniversary of the translation, and it is more hagiographic than historical but, at least it is a reliable testimony, that the cult of Reinildis was widespread in the Saintes area and in the Abbey of Lobbes.

Saint Reinildis’ Patronage against eye diseases is due to the association with a well in Saintes known as “Sainte Renelde’s Well,” the water of which is believed to cure eye diseases.

Saint Reinildis is greatly venerated in Saintes as the Patron Saint of the Town. Some sources even indicate that Saintes owes its name to Reinildis” Martyrdom

The Parish Church of Saintes is, since the Middle Ages, dedicated to Sainte Reinildis and has preserved some of her relics.

St Reinildis’ Well
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 May – Saint Catald of Taranto (Died c 685)

Saint of the Day – 10 May – Saint Catald of Taranto (Died c 685) Bishop, Monk, miracle-worker. Born in the 7th century Munster, Ireland and died in c. 85 in Taranto, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Catald of Tarentum, Catald of Rachau, Cataldus, Cathal, Cattaldo, Cathaluds, Cathaldus, Cataldo. Patronages – against blindness, against drought, against epilepsy, against hernias, against paralysis, against plague, against storms, blind people, drought relief, epileptics, paralyzed people, Massa Lubrense, Italy, Taranto, Italy.

Born in Munster, Ireland, Catald was a pupil, then the headmaster of the monastic school of Lismore in Waterford, after the death of its founder, St Carthage.

Upon his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he was shipwrecked at Taranto in southern Italy and ,chosen by the people as their Bishop and then Archbishop of the Diocese.

Some of the miracles claimed in Catald’s name include protecting the City against the plague and floods that, apparently, had occurred in neighbouring areas.

He is the titular of Taranto’s Cathedral and the principal Patron of the Diocese. This epitaph is given under an image of Saint Catald in Rome:

Statue of Saint Catald at Taranto

Me tulit Hiberne, Solyme traxere,
Tarentum Nunc tenet: huic ritus,
dogmata, jura dedi.

This has been loosely translated as:
Hibernia gave me birth,
thence wafted over,
I sought the sacred Solymean shore.
To thee Tarentum, holy rites I gave, Precepts divine
and thou to me a grave.
(Hibernia is the classical Latin name for Ireland).

It is odd that an Irishman, should be so honoured throughout Italy, Malta,and France but have almost no recognition in his homeland. His Irish origins were discovered only two or three centuries after his death, when his relics were recovered during the renovation of the Cathedral of Taranto. When his coffin was open at that time, a pastoral staff of Irish workmanship was found with the inscription Cathaldus Rachau. Further investigations identified him with Cathal, the teacher of Lismore.

Veneration to Catald spread, especially in southern Italy, after the 10 May 1017, translation of his relics when the Cathedral was being rebuilt, following its destruction at the hands of Saracens in 927. Four remarkable cures occurred as the relics were moved to the new Cathedral. There is a Town of San Cataldo in Sicily and another on the southeast coast of Italy .

Cathedral of St Catald in Taranto, Italy
Cathedral of St Catald in Taranto, Italy

Saint Catald is depicted in art as an early Christian Bishop with a mitre and pallium in a 12th century mosaic at Palermo (Roeder). He is the subject of a painting on the 8th pillar of the nave ,on the left in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem There are also 12th-century mosaics in Palermo and Monreale depicting the Saint.


Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Amand of Maastricht (c584-c679) Bishop, the Apostle of Belgium

Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Amand of Maastricht (c584-c679) Bishop of Tongeren-Maastricht and one of the great Missionaries of Flanders (Belgium), Monk, Abbot, Papal Missionary, Advisor, Miracle-worker, Founder of numerous Monasteries which became known for their hospitality to pilgrims. Born c584 at Poitou, France and died in c679 in the Monastery at Elnone-en-Pevele (modern Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), France. Patronages – against diseases of cattle, against fever, against paralysis, against rheumatism, against seizures against skin diseases, against vision problems, Boy Scouts, bar staff, barkeepers, bartenders, brewers, grocers, hotel keepers, innkeepers, merchants, pharmacists, druggists, vinegar makers, vine growers, vintners, wine merchants, 4 Cities. Also known as the Apostle of Belgium, Apostle of Flanders, Amand of Elnone, Amand of France, Amandus, Amantius, Amatius.

The chief source of details of his life is the Vita Sancti Amandi, an eighth-century text attributed to Beaudemond. The vita was expanded by Philippe, Abbot of Aumône. According to this biography, Amand was born in Lower Poitou. He was of noble birth but at the age of twenty, he became a monk, against the wishes of his family. His father threatened to disinherit him if he did not return home but our Saint chose rather to ensure his riches in the heavenly kingdom. From there Amandus went to Bourges and became a pupil of Bishop Austregisilus. There he lived in solitude in a cell for fifteen years, living on no more than bread and water.

Amand’s fervent disciple, St Humbert of Maroilles (died c 682), was of a noble family and trained as a Monk in Laon. However, upon the death of his parents, he returned to his estates to settle some inheritance issues and found fine food, servants and various conveniences, sufficiently distracting, that he gave up any thought of the monastic life, until one day Amand took him on a pilgrimage to Rome. Humbert became his disciple and companion.

After the pilgrimage to Rome, Amand was made a Missionary Bishop in France in 628, without a fixed Diocese. At the request of Clotaire II, he evangelised the pagan inhabitants of Ghent, later extending his field of operations to all of Flanders. Initially, he had little success, suffering persecution and undergoing great hardships. However, after performing a miracle (bringing back to life a hanged criminal), the attitude of the people changed and he made many converts. He founded a Monastery at Elnon where he served as Abbot for four years. He returned to France in 630.

Amand was a close friend of St Adalbard of Ostrevent (died c 652), whom he advised on the founding Marchiennes Abbey. Amand angered Dagobert I by attempting to have the King amend his life. In spite of the intervention of Saint Acarius, Amand was expelled from the kingdom and went to Gascony.

Later Dagobert asked him to return and tutor the heir to the throne. Amand however declined. In 633, Amand founded two Monasteries in Ghent; one at Blandinberg and the other named for St Bavo, who gave his estate for its foundation. His next missionary task was among the Slavic people of the Danube valley in present-day Slovakia but this was unsuccessful. Amand went to Rome and reported to the Pope. While returning to France, Amand calmed a storm at sea. In 639, he built an Abbey near Tournay.

From 647 till 650, Amand briefly served as Bishop of Maastricht. The Pope gave him some advice on how to deal with disobedient clerics and warned him about the Monothelite heresy, at that time prevalent in the East. Amand was commissioned by the Pope to organise Church Councils, in Neustria and Austrasia, in order to pass on the various decrees from Rome. The Bishops asked Amand to report and transmit the proceedings of the Church Councils to the Pope. He resigned the See of Maastricht to St Remaclus, to resume his missionary work.

Around this time, Amand established contact with the family of Pepin of Landen and helped St Gertrude of Nivelles OSB (died 659) and her mother, St Itta (died 652), establish the famous Monastery of Nivelles. Amand was now 70 years old but at this time, the inhabitants of the Basque country asked him to return to their country to evangelise, although 30 years earlier he had preached there in vain. Returning home, he founded several more Monasteries in present-day Belgium, with the help of King Dagobert.

Amand died in Elnone Abbey (later Saint-Amand Abbey, in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, near Tournai) at the age of ninety. The Vita of St Aldegonde recounts, that on the day of his death, St Aldegonde was shown a vision of the great Missionary Saint, ascending to heaven. This account did much to further the cult of Amand.

Elnone Abbey (later Saint-Amand Abbey)

St Amand was known for his hospitality and is, therefore, the Patron Saint of all who produce beer, brewers, innkeepers and bartenders. He is also the Patron of vine growers, vintners and merchants. St Amand is greatly venerated in Belgium, in particular.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

The Memorial of Saint Augustine ‘Servant of God’ – 28 August

Today, 28 August, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Augustine, one of the great founders of Monasticism in the Western Church, Bishop, Theologian, Preacher, Writer and Doctor of the Church. None of these titles, though accurate, would please him, however, as much as the simple one he used to describe himself: ‘Servant of God.’ For, whatever we achieve in life, whatever gifts and talents we have been given, are of little value unless they lead us, as they did Augustine, to know, love and serve God ever more deeply.

The Triumph of Saint Augustine painted by Claudio Coello, circa 1664

“Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom. He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church’s most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace and the Church. He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality.

His Confessions, a book appreciated in every age, describes a notable portion of his life (until 400), his errors, his battles, his profound religious observations. Famous too is his work The City of God, a worthy memorial to his genius, a philosophy of history. Most edifying are his homilies, especially those on the psalms and on the Gospel of St John.

Augustine’s Episcopal life was filled with mighty battles against heretics, over all of whom he triumphed. His most illustrious victory was that over Pelagius, who denied the necessity of grace; from this encounter he earned the surname “Doctor of grace.”

As an emblem Christian art accords him a burning heart to symbolise the ardent love of God which permeates all his writings. He is the founder of canonical life in common, therefore, Augustinian Monks and the Hermits of St Augustine honour him as their spiritual father.” … Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

St Jerome wrote to Augustine in 418:
“You are known throughout the world;
Catholics honour and esteem you
as the one who has established anew the ancient Faith.”

If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ

Saint Augustine

An excerpt from his Sermon 47, De ovibus (On Sheep)

“This is our glory – the witness of our conscience.
There are men who rashly judge, who slander, whisper and murmur, who are eager to suspect what they do not see and eager to spread abroad things they have not even a suspicion of. Against men of this sort, what defence is there, save the witness of our own conscience?

My brothers, we do not seek, nor should we seek, our own glory even among those whose approval we desire. What we should seek is their salvation, so that if we walk as we should, they will not go astray in following us. They should imitate us if we are imitators of Christ and, if we are not, they should still imitate Him. He cares for His flock and He alone is to be found with those, who care for their flocks, because they are all in Him.

And so we seek no advantage for ourselves when we aim to please men. We want to take our joy in men—and we rejoice when they take pleasure in what is good, not because this exalts us but because it benefits them.

It is clear who is intended by the apostle Paul – If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. And similarly when he says – Be pleasing to all men in all things, even as I in all things please all men. Yet his words are as clear as water, limpid, undisturbed, unclouded. And so you should, as sheep, feed on and drink of his message; do not trample on it or stir it up.

You have listened to our Lord Jesus Christ as He taught His apostles – Let your actions shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father who is in heaven, for it is the Father who made you thus. We are the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hands. If then you are good, praise is due to Him who made you so, it is no credit to you, for if you were left to yourself, you could only be wicked. Why then do you try to pervert the truth, in wishing to be praised when you do good and blaming God when you do evil? For though He said – Let your works shine before men, in the same Sermon on the Moun,t He also said: Do not parade your good deeds before men. So if you think there are contradictions in Saint Paul, you will find the same in the Gospels but if you refrain from troubling the waters of your heart, you will recognise here, the peace of the Scriptures and with it you will have peace.

And so, my brothers, our concern should be not only to live as we ought but also, to do so in the sight of men; not only to have a good conscience but also, so far as we can in our weakness, so far as we can govern our frailty, to do nothing which might lead our weak brother into thinking evil of us. Otherwise, as we feed on the good pasture and drink the pure water, we may trample on God’s meadow and weaker sheep will have to feed on trampled grass and drink from troubled waters.”


Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Hervé (c 521–c 556) Patron of the Blind and of Eye Diseases and Musicians

Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Hervé (c 521–c 556) Hermit, Abbot, Musician and singer, miracle-worker, blind from birth – also known as Erveo, Harvey, Herveus, Hervues, Hervé, Houarniaule, Huva – born in Guimiliau, Brittany, France or unknown location in Wales (sources vary) and died in c 556 to c 575 (sources vary) of natural causes. Patronages – the blind, bards, musician, invoked against eye problems and disease, invoked to cure sick horses.   St Hervé, along with Saint Ives, is one of the most venerated of the Breton Saints and was considered a Saint during his lifetime and ever herve header

Hervé was the son of a bard (a professional singer and story-teller) at the Court of one of Clovis’ successors, King Childebert 1.   He would have been also the nephew of the Bourg-Blanc’s hermit Saint Urfold or, according to other sources, of Saint Rivoaré, the Patron Saint of Lanrivoaré.    His father died while Hervé was still an infant.449px-Locmélar_(29)_Église_Saint-Mélar_Retable_de_Saint-Hervé_03

His mother entrusted him to the care of his uncle, Urzel, a Monk, who had opened a school in Plouvein.   Saint Hervé, like his uncle, would have lived in poverty and humility all his life.   In time, Hervé was made superior of the school and small Monastery.   He later moved the Monastery to Lanhorneau.   St Hervé’s Hermitage itself, consisted of three elements – the ruins of a Chapel, a sacred fountain and a stone hut which would have been the cell of the saint, see below.

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Hervé died around 556 and was celebrated for his holiness, powerful preaching and love of music.   He is honoured as one of the Patron Saints of the blind.518px-st herve Guimiliau10

St Hervé is said to have had a special power over animals.   It is related that he had a domesticated wolf as a pet.   The dog guiding him having been devoured by a wolf, the hermit ordered the wild animal to take the role of his dog.   One day Hervé’s wolf attacked and killed the ox that the Monks relied on to pull the plough in the fields.   Hervé preached a powerful sermon and the wolf was so contrite it asked to be allowed to serve in place of the ox.   For this reason, Hervé is often depicted with a wolf wearing a herve icon

He was joined by disciples and refused any Ordination or earthly honour, accepting only to be consecrated as an Exorcist.   He died in 556 and was buried at Lanhouarneau, Brittany, France.   Today there is a town in honour of herve franceob_0e5068_saint-herve-et-son-loup-en-bretagne

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 19 November – Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)

Saint of the Day – 19 November – Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298) Benedictine Nun, Mystic, Teacher, Spiritual adviser, called “God’s nightingale” – also known as Saint Matilda of Hackeborn and of Helfta, sister of St Gertrude the Great – born in c 1241 at her family’s castle of Helfta near Eisleben, Saxony, Germany and died on 19 November 1298 at Helfta monastery of natural causes.   Patronagesagainst blindness (one well-known miracle was healing the blindness of a nun).

Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn’s life by Pope Benedict XVI
Catechesis given at his General Audience on 29 September 2010

Today I want to talk to you about St Matilda of Hackeborn, one of the great figures of the convent of Helfta, who lived in the 13th century.   Her sister, St Gertrude the Great, tells of the special graces that God granted to St Matilda in the sixth book of Liber Specialis Gratiae (Book of Special Grace), which states :  “What we have written is very little in comparison with what we have omitted.   We are publishing these things solely for the glory of God and the usefulness of our neighbour, for it would seem wrong to us to keep quiet about the many graces that Matilda received from God, not so much for herself, in our opinion but for us and for those who will come after us”   (Mechthild von Hackeborn, Liber specialis gratiae, vi, 1).ST MECHTILDE MATILDA SNIP.JPG

This work was written by St Gertrude and by another sister of Helfta and has a unique story.   At the age of 50, Matilda went through a grave spiritual crisis, as well as physical suffering.   In this condition, she confided to two of her sisters, who were friends, the special graces with which God had guided her since childhood.   However, she did not know that they were writing it all down.   When she found out she was deeply upset and distressed.   However, the Lord reassured her, making her realise that all that had been written was for the glory of God and for the benefit of her neighbour (cf. ibid., II, 25; V, 20).   This work, therefore, is the principal source to refer to, for information on the life and spirituality of our Saint.

With her, we are introduced into the family of Baron von Hackeborn, one of the noblest, richest and most powerful barons of Thuringia, related to the Emperor Frederick II, and we enter the convent of Helfta in the most glorious period of its history.   The Baron had already given one daughter to the convent, Gertrude of Hackeborn (1231/1232 – 1291/1292).   She was gifted with an outstanding personality.   She was Abbess for 40 years, capable of giving the spirituality of the convent a particular hallmark and of bringing it to an extraordinary flourishing as the centre of mysticism and culture, a school for scientific and theological training.   Gertrude offered the nuns an intellectual training of a high standard that enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on Sacred Scripture, on the Liturgy, on the Patristic tradition, on the Cistercian Rule and spirituality, with a particular love for St Bernard of Clairvaux and William of Saint-Thierry.   She was a real teacher, exemplary in all things, in evangelical radicalism and in apostolic zeal.   Matilda, from childhood, accepted and enjoyed the spiritual and cultural atmosphere created by her sister, later giving it her own personal mechtilde Matilde_Hackeborn.jpg

Matilda was born in 1241 or 1242 in the Castle of Helfta.   She was the Baron’s third daughter. When she was seven she went with her mother to visit her sister Gertrude in the convent of Rodersdorf.   She was so enchanted by this environment that she ardently desired to belong to it.   She entered as a schoolgirl and in 1258 became a nun at the convent, which in the meantime had moved to Helfta, to the property of the Hackeborns. She was distinguished by her humility, her fervour, her friendliness, the clarity and the innocence of her life and by the familiarity and intensity with which she lived her relationship with God, the Virgin and the Saints.   She was endowed with lofty natural and spiritual qualities such as knowledge, intelligence, familiarity with the humanities and a marvellously sweet voice – everything suited her, to being a true treasure for the convent from every point of view (ibid, Proem.).   Thus when “God’s nightingale”, as she was called, was still very young she became the principal of the convent’s school, choir mistress and novice mistress, offices that she fulfilled with talent and unflagging zeal, not only for the benefit of the nuns but for anyone who wanted to draw on her wisdom and goodness.ST MATILDA MECHTILDE.jpg

Illumined by the divine gift of mystic contemplation, Matilda wrote many prayers.   She was a teacher of faithful doctrine and deep humility, a counsellor, comforter and guide in discernment.   We read:  “she distributed doctrine in an abundance never previously seen at the convent and alas, we are rather afraid that nothing like it will ever be seen again.   The sisters would cluster round her to hear the word of God, as if she were a preacher.   She was the refuge and consoler of all and, by a unique gift of God, was endowed with the grace of being able to reveal freely the secrets of the heart of each one. “Many people, not only in the convent but also outsiders, religious and lay people, who came from afar, testified that this holy virgin had freed them from their afflictions and that they had never known such comfort as they found near her.   “Furthermore, she composed and taught so many prayers that if they were gathered together they would make a book larger than a Psalter” (ibid., VI, 1).

In 1261 a five year old girl came to the convent.   Her name was Gertrude – She was entrusted to the care of Matilda, just 20 years of age, who taught her and guided her in the spiritual life until she not only made her into an excellent disciple but also her confidant.   In 1271 or 1272, Matilda of Magdeburg also entered the convent.   So it was that this place took in four great women two Gertrudes and two Matildas, the glory of German monasticism.

St Matilda instructing the novice, St Gertrude

During her long life which she spent in the convent, Matilda was afflicted with continuous and intense bouts of suffering, to which she added the very harsh penances chosen for the conversion of sinners.   In this manner she participated in the Lord’s Passion until the end of her life (cf. ibid., VI, 2).   Prayer and contemplation were the life-giving humus of her existence – her revelations, her teachings, her service to her neighbour, her journey in faith and in love have their root and their context here. In the first book of the work, Liber Specialis Gratiae, the nuns wrote down Matilda’s confidences pronounced on the Feasts of the Lord, the Saints and, especially, of the Blessed Virgin.   This Saint had a striking capacity for living the various elements of the Liturgy, even the simplest and bringing it into the daily life of the convent.   Some of her images, expressions and applications are at times distant from our sensibility toda, but, if we were to consider monastic life and her task as mistress and choir mistress, we should grasp her rare ability as a teacher and educator who, starting from the Liturgy, helped her sisters to live intensely every moment of monastic life.

Matilda gave an emphasis in liturgical prayer to the canonical hours, to the celebrations of Holy Mass and, especially, to Holy Communion.   Here she was often rapt in ecstasy in profound intimacy with the Lord in His most ardent and sweetest Heart, carrying on a marvellous conversation in which she asked for inner illumination, while interceding in a special way for her community and her sisters.   At the centre, are the mysteries of Christ which the Virgin Mary constantly recommends to people, so that they may walk on the path of holiness:  “If you want true holiness, be close to my Son, He is holiness itself that sanctifies all things” (ibid., I, 40).   The whole world, the Church, benefactors and sinners were present in her intimacy with God.   For her, Heaven and earth were united.ST MATILDA.jpg

Her visions, her teachings, the events of her life are described in words reminiscent of liturgical and biblical language.   In this way it is possible to comprehend her deep knowledge of Sacred Scripture, which was her daily bread.   She had constant recourse to the Scriptures, making the most of the biblical texts read in the Liturgy and drawing from them symbols, terms, countryside, images and famous figures.   She had a special love for the Gospel – “The words of the Gospel were a marvellous nourishment for her and in her heart stirred feelings of such sweetness that, because of her enthusiasm, she was often unable to finish reading it….”  The way in which she read those words was so fervent that it inspired devotion in everyone.   “Thus when she was singing in the choir, she was completely absorbed in God, uplifted by such ardour that she sometimes expressed her feelings in gestures….”   “On other occasions, since she was rapt in ecstasy, she did not hear those who were calling or touching her and came back with difficulty to the reality of the things around her” (ibid., VI, 1).   In one of her visions, Jesus Himself recommended the Gospel to her; opening the wound in His most gentle Heart, He said to her:  “consider the immensity of My love:  if you want to know it well, nowhere will you find it more clearly expressed than in the Gospel.   No one has ever heard expressed stronger or more tender sentiments than these:   “As my father has loved me, so I have loved you (Jn 15: 9)'” (ibid., I, 22).

Dear friends, personal and liturgical prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours and Holy Mass are at the root of St Matilda of Hackeborn’s spiritual experience.   In letting herself be guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Bread of the Eucharist, she followed a path of close union with the Lord, ever in full fidelity to the Church.   This is also a strong invitation to us to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in Holy Mass.   The Liturgy is a great school of spirituality.

Her disciple, Gertrude, gives a vivid pictures of St Mechtilde of Hackeborn’s last moments. They were very difficult but illumined by the presence of the Blessed Trinity, of the Lord, of the Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, even Gertrude’s sister by blood.   When the time came in which the Lord chose to gather her to Him, she asked Him let her live longer in suffering for the salvation of souls and Jesus was pleased with this further sign of her love.

Mechtilde was 58 years old.   The last leg of her journey was marked by eight years of serious illness.   Her work and the fame of her holiness spread far and wide.   When her time came, “the God of majesty… the one delight of the soul that loves Him… sang to her: Venite vos, benedicti Patris mei…. Venite, o voi che siete i benedetti dal Padre mio, venite a ricevere il regno – Come, you who are blessed by my Father, come and receive the kingdom… and He united her with His glory” (ibid., VI, 8).-Saint-Mechtilde.jpg

May St Mechtilde of Hackeborn commend us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Virgin Mary.   She invites us to praise the Son with the Heart of the Mother and to praise Mary with the Heart of the Son:  “I greet you, O most deeply venerated Virgin, in that sweetest of dews which from the Heart of the Blessed Trinity spread within you.   I greet you in the glory and joy in which you now rejoice forever, you who were chosen in preference to all the creatures of the earth and of Heaven even before the world’s creation!   Amen” (ibid., I, 45).st matilda mechtilde of hackeborn statue.jpg


Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette

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.Santa_Coleta_(pormenor_-_Santa_Clara_e_Santa_Coleta,_c._1520,_Mestre_da_Lourinhã)

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.”36colette5

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.

St Colette’s Habit, kept in Ghent, Belgium


Saint of the Day – 14 January – St Felix of Nola (Died c 253)

Saint of the Day – 14 January – St Felix of Nola (Died c 253) Priest, Confessor, Apostle of Charity – born in the 3rd century at Nola, near Naples, Italy and died c 253 of natural causes.   Patronages – against eye disease, against eye trouble, against false witness, against lies, against perjury, domestic animals, of Nola, Italy.

The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “At Nola in Campania, the birthday of St Felix, Priest, who (as is related by Bishop, St Paulinus of Nola), after beomg subjected to torments by the persecutors, was cast into prison and extended, bound hand foot, on (snail) shells and broken earthenware. During the night, however, his bonds were loosened and he was delivered by an Angel. The persecution over, he brought many to the Faith of Christ by his exemplary life and teaching and renowned for many miracles, he rested in peace.

Much of the little information we have about Felix comes from the letters and poetry of Saint Paulinus of Nola (354-431), written 100 years after St Felix’s death.


Felix was the elder son of Hermias, a Syrian centurion who had retired to Nola, Italy. After his father’s death Felix sold off most of his property and possessions, gave the proceeds to the poor and pursued a clerical vocation.   After Felix divested himself of all his possessions, St Maximus, the bishop of Nola, a town near Naples, Italy, ordained him a priest and made him his assistant.   In 250, when Emperor Decius decreed a ferocious persecution, Maximus installed himself in a desert hiding place from which he safely governed the church.   Because soldiers could not find Maximus at Nola, they tortured and jailed Felix in his place.   However, just as St Peter had had a miraculous escape from prison, an angel is said to have released Felix.   Then the angel guided Felix to rescue Maximus, who was near death.

The persecution subsided in 251.   Upon the death of Maximus the people wanted to name Felix as bishop but he declined. Instead he retired to a small farm, where for the rest of his life he raised crops to feed himself and provide alms for the poor.   St Felix died around 260.

Every year Paulinus wrote a poem to celebrate Felix’s feast day.   In one he said that while Felix did not die a martyr he was willing to offer his life as a sacrifice to God. Paulinus thus provided one of the earliest definitions of a “confessor”:

st felix head

“This festive day celebrates Felix’s birthday, the day on which he died physically on earth and was born for Christ in heaven, winning his heavenly crown as a martyr who did not shed his blood.   For he died as confessor, though he did not avoid execution by choice, since God accepted his inner faith in place of blood.   God looks into the silence of hearts and equates those ready to suffer with those who have already done so, for He considers this inward test as sufficient and dispenses with physical execution in case of true devotion. Martyrdom without bloodshed is enough for Him if mind and faith are ready to suffer and are fervent towards God.

Paulinus adopted Felix as his patron saint, a custom that had its roots in the early church.   But for Paulinus, a patron was more than a namesake.   Felix not only interceded for him in heaven.   He also accompanied him spiritually as an encourager, guide, and protector, as Paulinus explained in the following passage:

Father and lord, best of patrons to servants however unworthy, at last our prayer is answered to celebrate your birthday within your threshold. . . .You know what toils on land and sea have . . . kept me far from your abode in a distant world, because I have always and everywhere had you near me and have called on you in the grim moments of travel and in the uncertainties of life.. . . I never sailed without you, for I felt your protection in Christ the Lord, when I overcame rough seas.   On land and water my journeying is always made safe through you.   Felix, I beg you, address a prayer on behalf of your own, to that Embodiment of the calm of eternal love and peace, to Him on whose great name you depend. Amen

Five churches have been built at, or near the place, where St Felix was first interred, which was without the precincts of the city of Nola.   His precious remains are kept in the cathedral but certain portions are at Rome, Benevento, and some other places.   In time a new church in Nola was dedicated in the name of St Felix.   People travelled from far away to see the burial place of this revered saint.   St Paulinus, who acted as porter to one of these churches, testifies to numerous pilgrimages made in honour of Felix.

st felix wall mural
An ancient mural of St Felix in one of these Churches

The poems and letters of Paulinus on Felix are the source from which St Gregory of Tours, Venerable Bede, and the priest Marcellus have drawn their biographies.   There is another Felix of Nola, bishop and martyr under a Prefect Martianus. He should not be considered to be the same as the above.

Burial place of Felix of Nola in Cimitile
st feliz and the spider

One of the most well-known legends of St Felix relates to a spider.   It goes as follows:
Shortly following the imprisonment of Bishop Maximus, Felix was taken into custody by Roman soldiers, imprisoned, scourged and tortured and wrapped with heavy chains in his prison cell.   He miraculously escaped from his cell, following visitation from an angel who instructed him to go to the aid of his ailing bishop.   As the angel encouraged Felix, his chains fell off and his prison cell was opened.   Felix rescued Maximus, bearing him on his back (despite weakness and small stature) and effectively hiding both men from Roman authorities until the end of Decius’ reign.
The second attempt to imprison Felix and Maximus was miraculously prevented by a spider!   Upon hearing Roman soldiers approaching, Felix crawled into a small hole in the building he was staying, where it is said a spider immediately spun a web over the opening.   The guards saw the spider web and ceased searching for the men, assuming that the room had been undisturbed for some time.


Saint of the Day – 28 August – St Augustine (354-430) – Doctor of Grace and one of the original Four Fathers & Doctors of the Latin Church

Saint of the Day – 28 August – St Augustine (354-430) born  Augustinus Aurelius (13 November 354 at Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa (Souk-Ahras, Algeria) – 28 August 430 at Hippo, North Africa) – Doctor of Grace and one of the original Four Fathers & Doctors of the Latin Church – Bishop, Theologian, Philosopher, Rhetoritician, Writer, Preacher, Teacher, Advisor, Reformer, Confessor, Apologist, Apostle of Charity.    Patronages – of theologians, brewers, printers, 7 diocese, 7 cities, against sore eyes, against vermin.   Attributes – Child; dove; pen; shell, pierced heart, holding book with a small church, bishop’s staff, mitre, flaming heart, an allusion to a passage in his Confessions.

Augustine was born in the year on 13 November in 354 AD in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa.   His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian;  his father Patricius was a Pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed.   Scholars generally agree that Augustine and his family were Berbers, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa but that they were heavily Romanized, speaking only Latin at home as a matter of pride and dignity.   In his writings, Augustine leaves some information as to the consciousness of his African heritage.   For example, he refers to Apuleius as “the most notorious of us Africans,” to Ponticianus as “a country man of ours, insofar as being African”and to Faustus of Mileve as “an African Gentleman.”

Augustine’s family name, Aurelius, suggests that his father’s ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212. Augustine’s family had been Roman, from a legal standpoint, for at least a century when he was born.   It is assumed that his mother, Monica, was of Berber origin, on the basis of her name but as his family were an upper class of citizens known as honorable men, Augustine’s first language is likely to have been Latin.

Augustine Aurelius still unbaptised and burning for knowledge, he came under the influence of the Manicheans, which caused his mother intense sorrow. He left Africa for Rome, deceiving his mother, who was ever anxious to be near him.   She prayed and wept.   A bishop consoled her by observing that a son of so many tears would never be lost.   Yet the evil spirit drove him constantly deeper into moral degeneracy, capitalising on his leaning toward pride and stubbornness.   Grace was playing a waiting game;  there still was time and the greater the depths into which the evil spirit plunged its fledgling, the stronger would be the reaction.

Augustine recognised this vacuum;  he saw how the human heart is created with a great abyss;  the earthly satisfactions that can be thrown into it are no more than a handful of stones that hardly cover the bottom.   And in that moment grace was able to break through:  Restless is the heart until it rests in God.   The tears of his mother, the sanctity of Milan’s Bishop Ambrose, the book of St Anthony the hermit and the sacred Scriptures wrought his conversion, which was sealed by baptism on Easter night 387.   Augustine’s mother went to Milan with joy and witnessed her son’s baptism.   It was what it should have been, the greatest event of his life, his conversion — metanoia.   Grace had conquered.   Augustine accompanied his mother to Ostia, where she died.   She was eager to die, for now she had given birth to her son for the second time.

baptism of augustine - van rosen
augustine and ambrose
St Augustine and St Ambrose

In 388 he returned to Tagaste, where he lived a common life of prayer and solitude with his friends.   In 391 he was ordained priest at Hippo, in 394 made coadjutor to bishop Valerius and then from 396 to 430 bishop of Hippo.

Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom.   He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church’s most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace and the Church.   He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality.   His Confessions, a book appreciated in every age, describes a notable portion of his life (until 400), his errors, his battles, his profound religious observations.   Famous too is his work The City of God, a worthy memorial to his genius, a philosophy of history.   Most edifying are his homilies, especially those on the psalms and on the Gospel of St. John.

Augustine’s episcopal life was filled with mighty battles against heretics, over all of whom he triumphed.   His most illustrious victory was that over Pelagius, who denied the necessity of grace;  from this encounter he earned the surname “Doctor of grace.”   As an emblem Christian art accords him a burning heart to symbolise the ardent love of God which permeates all his writings.   He is the founder of canonical life in common;  therefore Augustinian monks and the Hermits of St. Augustine honour him as their spiritual father.

As bishop, Augustine worked tirelessly for his people.   He fought false religious teachings, protected the people from corrupt officials and invaders and cared for the sick, the poor and those in prison.   His many sermons, letters and books reflect the ever-deepening love he felt for God.   He wisely observed:  “You have made us, O God, for yourself, and our hearts shall find no rest until they rest in you.”

He wrote and advised bishops, popes and councils.   His influence on the Church and his fight against heresy were exceptional.   He was loved by many, for he had struggled much and could help others who were struggling.

Seghers, Gerard, 1591-1651; The Four Doctors of the Western Church: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

In 430 Vandals invaded the province.   For three months Augustine inspired Christian hope in his people.   According to Possidius, Augustine spent his final days in prayer and repentance, requesting that the penitential Psalms of David be hung on his walls so that he could read them.  vv He directed that the library of the church in Hippo and all the books therein should be carefully preserved.   He died on 28 August 430.   Shortly after his death, the Vandals lifted the siege of Hippo but they returned not long thereafter and burned the city.   They destroyed all of it but Augustine’s cathedral and library, which they left untouched.

St Bede’s True Martyrology, recounts that Augustine’s body was later translated or moved to Cagliari, Sardinia, by the Catholic bishops expelled from North Africa by Huneric.   Around 720, his remains were transported again by Peter, bishop of Pavia and uncle of the Lombard king Liutprand, to the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, in order to save them from frequent coastal raids by Muslims.   In January 1327, Pope John XXII issued the papal bull Veneranda Santorum Patrum, in which he appointed the Augustinians guardians of the tomb of Augustine (called Arca), which was remade in 1362 and elaborately carved with bas-reliefs of scenes from Augustine’s life.

St Augustine’s Relics in Hippo
tomb of st augustine
St Augustine’s Shrine at San Pietro

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) – Virgin, Religious, Founder, Mystic, Friend and Follower of St Francis, Miracle-Worker – (16 July 1194 at Assisi, Italy – 11 August 1253 of natural causes).   St Clare was Canonised on 26 September 1255 by Pope Alexander IV.   St Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio (sometimes spelled Clair, Claire, etc.) is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi.   She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.    Following her death, the Order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.   Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.  st-clare-of-assisi-header-info 2jpg


St Clare was born in Assisi, the eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana.   Traditional accounts say that Clare’s father was a wealthy representative of an ancient Roman family, who owned a large palace in Assisi and a castle on the slope of Mount Subasio. Ortolana belonged to the noble family of Fiumi and was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land.   Later in life, Ortolana entered Clare’s monastery, as did Clare’s sisters, Beatrix and Catarina (who took the name Agnes).

As a child, Clare was devoted to prayer.   Although there is no mention of this in any historical record, it is assumed that Clare was to be married in line with the family tradition.   However, at the age of 18 she heard Francis preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio at Assisi and asked him to help her to live after the manner of the Gospel.   On the evening of Palm Sunday, 20 March 1212, she left her father’s house and accompanied by her aunt Bianca and another companion proceeded to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis.  There, her hair was cut and she exchanged her rich gown for a plain robe and veil.

Francis placed Clare in the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia. Her father attempted to force her to return home.   She clung to the altar of the church and threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair.   She resisted any attempt, professing that she would have no other husband but Jesus Christ.   In order to provide the greater solitude Clare desired, a few days later Francis sent her to Sant’ Angelo in Panzo, another monastery of the Benedictine nuns on one of the flanks of Subasio.   Clare was soon joined by her sister Catarina, who took the name Agnes.   They remained with the Benedictines until a small dwelling was built for them next to the church of San Damiano, which Francis had repaired some years earlier.

Other women joined them and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. They lived a simple life of poverty, austerity and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares).

San Damiano became the centre of Clare’s new religious order, which was known in her lifetime as the “Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano.”   San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of this order, however, recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women’s religious houses organised by Hugolino (who later became Pope Gregory IX).   Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the order he founded because of the prestige of Clare’s monastery.   San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the order and Clare became its undisputed leader.   By 1263, just ten years after Clare’s death, the order had become known as the Order of Saint Clare.   In 1228, when Gregory IX offered Clare a dispensation from the vow of strict poverty, she replied:  “ I need to be absolved from my sins but not from the obligation of following Christ.”   Accordingly, the Pope granted them the Privilegium Pauperitatis — that nobody could oblige them to accept any possession.

Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare’s sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women.   Their life consisted of manual labour and prayer. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.

For a short period, the order was directed by Francis himself.    Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano.   As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order than when she was the prioress and required to follow the orders of a priest heading the community.   Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis’ stricter vows.   Clare sought to imitate Francis’ virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis.   She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure and she took care of him during his final illness.

After Francis’s death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a rule on her order which weakened the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced.   She did this despite enduring a long period of poor health until her death.   Clare’s Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.

In 1224, the army of Frederick II came to plunder Assisi.   Clare went out to meet them with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands.   Suddenly a mysterious terror seized the enemies, who fled without harming anybody in the city.

Before breathing her last in 1253, Clare said:  “ Blessed be You, O God, for having created me.”

On 9 August 1253, the papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare’s rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies.   Two days later, on 11 August Clare died at the age of 59.   Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed.   At her funeral, Pope Innocent IV insisted the friars perform the Office for the Virgin Saints as opposed to the Office for the Dead (Bartoli, 1993).   This move by Pope Innocent ensured that the Canonisation process for Clare would begin shortly after her funeral.   Pope Innocent was cautioned by multiple advisers against having the Office for the Virgin Saints performed at Clare’s funeral (Bartoli, 1993).   The most vocal of these advisers was Cardinal Raynaldus who would later become Pope Alexander IV, who in two years time would canonise Clare (Pattenden, 2008).   At Pope Innocent’s request the canonisation process for Clare began immediately.   While the whole process took two years, the examination of Clare’s miracles took just six days.   On 26 September 1255, Pope Alexander IV Canonised Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi.   Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare’s remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar.   In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.

Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare’s relics were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare, where her relics can still be venerated today.    Her body is incorrupt.


St Clare’s Garment in the Centre with St Francis’ on each side


st clare relics

In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx, in commemoration of the occasion when she warded away the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.

Pope Pius XII designated Clare as the Patron Saint of television in 1958 because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.

There are traditions of bringing offerings of eggs to the Poor Clares for their intercessions for good weather, particularly for weddings.  This tradition remains popular in the Philippines, particularly at the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara in Quezon City.   According to the Filipino essayist Alejandro Roces, the practice arose because of Clare’s name. In Castilian clara refers to an interval of fair weather and in Spanish, it also refers to the white or albumen of the egg.


Saint of the Day – 3 July – St Thomas the Apostle of Christ

Saint of the Day – 3 July – St Thomas the Apostle of Christ – Apostle, Martyr, Preacher, Evangelist (called Didymus which means “the twin” was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.   He is informally called ‘Doubting Thomas’ because he doubted Jesus’ Resurrection when first told (in the Gospel of John account only), followed later by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God,”, on seeing Jesus’ wounded Body.   He was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem but is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christ’s wounds.   An old tradition says that Thomas Baptised the three Magi.   He was Martyred by being stabbed with a spear in c 72 while in prayer on a hill in Mylapur, India and is buried near the site of his death.   His relics later moved to Edessa, Mesopotamia and finally to Tortona, Italy in the 13th Century.   His Patronages are:people in doubt; against doubt• architects• blind people and against blindnessbuilders• construction workers• geometricians• stone masons and stone cutters• surveyors• theologians• Ceylon• East Indies• India• Indonesia• Malaysia • Pakistan• Singapore• Sri Lanka• Diocese of Bathery, India• Castelfranco di Sopra, Italy• Certaldo, Italy• Ortona, Italy.

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We feel great kinship for the Apostle Thomas because, like him, most of us curiously combine faith and doubt.   We sometimes share the enthusiasm St Thomas expressed when upon Lazarus’s death Jesus decided to go to Bethany.   “Let’s go too,” Thomas said to the other disciples,“that we may die with him” (see John 11:16).   But also like him we sometimes wonder where Jesus is headed and where He is taking us (see John 14:5).

However, we are most like Thomas because doubts occasionally rattle our brains and cloud our souls.   So we all relate to the story of doubting Thomas (see John 20:25–29). Thomas was absent the first time Jesus appeared after his resurrection.  The apostle swore he would not believe, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails and place my hand in his side”.   Eight days later Jesus appeared again and told Thomas to touch his wounds. “My Lord, and my God,” Thomas exclaimed, recovering his thomas apostle kneeling before christ glass

Some early Christian writers criticised Thomas’s faithless behaviour.  But others praised him for helping us cure our doubts, as Gregory the Great does in this homily:

“. . . For the faithlessness of Thomas aids us in our belief more than does the faith of the disciples who believed. . . . When he is brought to believe by feeling with his own hand, every doubt having been removed, our own mind is confirmed in faith. . . .The divinity cannot be seen by any mortal man.   So Thomas saw man and confessed him to be God, saying, “My Lord, and my God.”
On seeing, then, he believed, and proclaimed him to be God whom he could not see.THOMAS - verrocch_ph96_pl124_050404

Then Jesus spoke these words that give us much joy:  “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed” (see John 20:29).   This sentence undoubtedly signifies to us who hold in our minds Him whom we have not seen in the flesh.   But we are signified only if we follow up our faith by works.   For he really believes, who carries out in deed what he believes.

We do not know for sure where Thomas conducted his missionary activity after Pentecost.    Some claim that he evangelised among the Parthians.   But a stronger tradition says he carried the gospel to India.  He is supposed to have recruited the Christians of Malabar and died a martyr by the spear at Mylapore, near Madras.   An ancient stone cross there marks the place where his remains lay buried until they were removed to Edessa in 394 and then later to Italy.

Thomas the Apostle is murdered in India

St Thomas, Apostle of Christ pray for our unbelief!

Bust Of The Apostle Thomas - Sir Anthony Van Dyck

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LaTour, St Thomas with pike c1632

Georges_de_La_Tour_-_St._Thomas_-_Google_Art_Projectst thomas.10


Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette PCC. (1381-1447

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.

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.