Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, PATRONAGE - HAPPY MARRIAGES, of MARRIED COUPLES, PATRONAGE - SPOUSAL ABUSE / DIFFICULT MARRIAGES / VICTIMS OF ABUSE, PATRONAGE - WIDOWS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 24 January – Blessed Paola Gambara Costa TOSF (1463-1515)

Saint of the Day – 24 January – Blessed Paola Gambara Costa TOSF (1463-1515) a Countess and member of the Third Order of St Francis, Laywoman, mother, widow, apostle of the poor and sick – born on 3 March 1463 in Verola Alghise (modern Verolanuova), Brescia, Duchy of Milan (in modern Lombardy, Italy) and died on 24 January 1515 in Binaco, Duchy of Milan (in modern Lombardy, Italy) of a fever.   Patronages – Widows, Married couples, Franciscan tertiaries, difficult marriages, victims of adultery.   Additional memorial – 23 January in Brescia.bl paola vision

Paola Gambara Costa was born on 3 March 1463 in Brescia as the first of seven children to the nobles Giampaolo Gambara and Taddea Caterina Martinengo.

In her childhood she delighted in spiritual reading and reflection on the Gospel and harboured an ardent desire to become a nun later in life.   But this dream was cut short when her parents decided to arrange her marriage to Count Lodovico Antonio Costa – the Lord of Benasco – and she saw this as the will of God manifesting itself and so complied with the wishes of her parents.   The marriage came about after Count Bongiovanni Costa visited her parents and was struck with her virtue and so wanted her as his nephew Lodovico Antonio’s wife.   Her decision to become a nun worried the count who sent her to Blessed Angelo Carletti – a Franciscan priest – who persuaded her that marriage was a call from God to embrace a different kind of life still in accordance with Christian values.

The pair married in autumn 1485 and the pair travelled to the small Benasco province for the ensuring celebrations.   She endured her new husband’s expensive tastes, seeing it as her role to be faithful to him, even if she did not live the excessively luxurious life herself.bl paola costs

Her confessor around this time was Father Crescenzio Morra from Bene though she later reconnected with Carletti who became her friend and spiritual advisor as well as a confessor.   Carletti kept her on the path of virtue and advised her to enrol in the Third Order of Saint Francis, while learning to appreciate the poor and to detest the lavishness of the secular world.   She joined in 1491 with the permission of her husband.   Gambara often deprived herself of food in order to bring it to the sick and on one occasion took off her shoes and gave it to an old woman who was struggling barefoot through the snow.

In 1488 she gave birth to her sole child Giovanni Francesco and named him in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi.   To mark this occasion, she managed to persuade her husband to distribute large amounts of food to the poor of their area.bl paola costs almsgiving

But her excessive charitable works and almsgiving soon vexed her husband, who reproached her for her conduct and ridiculed her in front of their servants and the servants followed their master’s example and joined in ridiculing their mistress.

Costa soon acquired a mistress – the daughter of the Podestà of Carrù – and he allowed her to live in the castle in 1494 even though Paola resided there.   In 1495 her son left for Chieri for his education and Father Carletti died on 11 April 1495.   She attended his funeral in Cuneo – he had died at the convent of Sant’Antonio where he had fallen ill.

In 1500 she reunited with her parents and siblings when she returned to her hometown on a brief visit.   In 1504 her late husband’s mistress fell ill with abdominal pains and it was Paola who comforted her and forgave her as she died.   Also in 1504 her son – now a page – returned to his home.

Her husband later repented and approved her good works and also consented to her wearing the habit of her order in public.   Costa became ill in 1504 and she began to tend to him.   The two travelled to Cuneo to ask for the intercession of her former confessor Carletti and when her husband was healed, attributed the healing to him – Costa celebrated a banquet in commemoration of this and undertook a pilgrimage to the priest’s grave in thanksgiving with his wife at his side.   This conversion was short-lived however, for her husband died not long after in 1504.bl paola costs and mary

On 14 January 1515 she was struck with an extreme fever that caused her great pain and she died on 24 January 1515 in the town of Binasco in Milan after having confessed and received the Eucharist for the final time.

Blessed Paola was buried in a church outside the walls of convent of Rocchetta that she had helped re-build.  When the church was destroyed in 1536 during a war between Francis I and Charles V, Paola’s body was re-interred in the nearby castle and later enshrined in a chapel built by the Counts of Costa in the Franciscan monastery of Bene Vagienna.bl paola body

Her Beatification received formal ratification on 14 August 1845 once Pope Gregory XVI issued a decree that recognised that there existed an enduring and longstanding local ‘cultus’.

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - BREAST CANCER, BREAST DISEASES, PATRONAGE - BRIDES and GROOMS, PATRONAGE - DOCTORS, / SURGEONS / MIDWIVES., PATRONAGE - GARDENERS, FARMERS, PATRONAGE - HAPPY MARRIAGES, of MARRIED COUPLES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 February – St Dorothy of Caesarea (Died 311) Virgin, Martyr

Saint of the Day – 6 February – St Dorothy of Caesarea (died 311) – Virgin, Martyr – also known as Dora, Dorothea – Patronages – horticulture, brewers, brides, florists, gardeners, midwives, newlyweds, love, Pescia in Italy.  Franz_Ittenbach_Hl_Dorothea.jpg

St Dorothy is a 4th-century virgin martyr who was executed at Caesarea Mazaca. Evidence for her actual historical existence or acta is very sparse.   She is called a martyr of the Diocletianic Persecution, although her death occurred after the resignation of Diocletian himself.   She should not be confused with another 4th-century saint, Dorothea of Alexandria.   She and St Theophilus the Lawyer are mentioned in the Roman Martyrology as martyrs of Caesarea in Cappadocia, with a feast day on 6 February.   She is thus officially recognised as a saint but because there is scarcely any non-legendary knowledge about her, she is no longer (since 1969) included in the General Roman Calendar.

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St Dorothy and the Child by Edward Burne Jones

St Dorothy was a young virgin, celebrated at Cæsarea, where she lived, for her angelic virtue.   Her parents seem to have been martyred before her in the Diocletian persecution and when the Governor Sapricius came to Cæsarea he called her before him and sent this child of martyrs to the home where they were waiting for her.

She was stretched upon the rack and offered marriage if she would consent to sacrifice, or death if she refused.   But she replied that “Christ was her only Spouse and death her desire.”   She was then placed in charge of two women who had fallen away from the faith, in the hope that they might pervert her but the fire of her own heart rekindled the flame in theirs and led them back to Christ.

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St Dorothy by Francisco de Zubaran

When she was set once more on the rack, Sapricius himself was amazed at the heavenly look she wore and asked her the cause of her joy.   “Because,” she said, “I have brought back two souls to Christ and because I shall soon be in heaven rejoicing with the angels.”

Her joy grew as she was buffeted in the face and her sides burned with plates of red-hot iron.   “Blessed be Thou,” she cried, when she was sentenced to be beheaded,-“blessed be Thou, O Thou Lover of souls!   Who dost call me to Paradise and invitest me to Thy nuptial chamber.”

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St Dorothy by Lucas Cranach the Elder

St Dorothy suffered in the dead of winter and it is said that on the road to her passion a lawyer called Theophilus, who had been used to calumniate and persecute the Christians, asked her, in mockery, to send him “apples or roses from the garden of her Spouse.”

The Saint promised to grant his request and, just before she died, a little child stood by her side bearing three apples and three roses.   She bade him take them to Theophilus and tell him this was the present which he sought from the garden of her Spouse.  Santa_Dorotea_e_Teofilo_E.jpg

St Dorothy had gone to heaven and Theophilus was still making merry over his challenge to the Saint when the child entered his room.   He saw that the child was an angel in disguise and the fruit and flowers of no earthly growth.   He was converted to the faith and then shared in the martyrdom of St Dorothy.

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St Dorothy by Girolamo Donnini

She is regarded as the patroness of gardeners.   On her feast trees are blessed in some places.

Posted in PATRONAGE - ALTAR SERVERS and/or DEACONS, PATRONAGE - BACHELORS, PATRONAGE - BANKERS, PATRONAGE - BEGGARS, the POOR, against POVERTY, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - BRIDES and GROOMS, PATRONAGE - ENGAGED COUPLES, PATRONAGE - FISHERMEN, FISHMONGERS, PATRONAGE - GARDENERS, FARMERS, PATRONAGE - HAPPY MARRIAGES, of MARRIED COUPLES, PATRONAGE - LAWYERS / NOTARIES, PATRONAGE - ORPHANS,ABANDONED CHILDREN, PATRONAGE - PENITENTS, PATRONAGE - PHARMACISTS / CHEMISTS, PATRONAGE - PRISONERS, PATRONAGE - SAILORS, MARINERS, PATRONAGE - SCHOOLS, COLLEGES etc AND STUDENTS, PATRONAGE - SINGLE LAYWOMEN, PATRONAGE - TRAVELLERS / MOTORISTS, PATRONAGE - VINTNERS, WINE-FARMERS, PATRONAGE-INFERTILITY & SAFE CHILDBIRTH, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Bishop

The absence of the “hard facts” of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to Saint Nicholas shows.   Both the Eastern and Western Churches honour him and it is claimed that after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists.   And yet historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.st nicholas - Jaroslav_Čermák_(1831_-_1878)_-_Sv._Mikuláš.jpg

As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him—an admiration expressed in the colourful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.

Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age.   Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married.   Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast.

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Fra Angelico’s St Nicholas donating the dowries

In the English-speaking countries, Saint Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus—further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop.saint-nicholas4st nicholas - glass

Posted in ADVENT, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, PATRONAGE - ALTAR SERVERS and/or DEACONS, PATRONAGE - BACHELORS, PATRONAGE - BANKERS, PATRONAGE - BEGGARS, the POOR, against POVERTY, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - BRIDES and GROOMS, PATRONAGE - CHEFS and/or BAKERS, CONFECTIONERS, PATRONAGE - FISHERMEN, FISHMONGERS, PATRONAGE - GARDENERS, FARMERS, PATRONAGE - HAPPY MARRIAGES, of MARRIED COUPLES, PATRONAGE - LAWYERS / NOTARIES, PATRONAGE - ORPHANS,ABANDONED CHILDREN, PATRONAGE - PENITENTS, PATRONAGE - PHARMACISTS / CHEMISTS, PATRONAGE - PRISONERS, PATRONAGE - SAILORS, MARINERS, PATRONAGE - SCHOOLS, COLLEGES etc AND STUDENTS, PATRONAGE - SINGLE LAYWOMEN, PATRONAGE - STORMS, EARTHQUAKES, FIRES, DROUGHT / NATURAL DISASTERS, PATRONAGE - TRAVELLERS / MOTORISTS, PATRONAGE - VINTNERS, WINE-FARMERS, PATRONAGE-INFERTILITY & SAFE CHILDBIRTH, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343)

Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343)  Confessor, Bishop, Miracle-Worker, Apostle of Charity.   Also known as – • Nicholas of Bari• Nicholas of Lpnenskij • Nicholas of Lipno • Nicholas of Sarajskij • Nicholas the Miracle Worker • Klaus, Mikulas, Nikolai, Nicolaas, Nicolas, Niklaas, Niklas. Nikolaus, Santa Claus.   st nicholas header

Patronages -• against fire • against imprisonment • against robberies • against robbers • against storms at sea • against sterility • against thefts • altar servers • archers • boys • brides • captives • children • choir boys • happy marriages • lawsuits lost unjustly • lovers • maidens • penitent murderers • newlyweds • paupers • pilgrims • poor people • prisoners • scholars • schoolchildren, students • penitent thieves • travellers • unmarried girls • apothecaries • bakers • bankers • barrel makers • boatmen • boot blacks • brewers • butchers • button makers • candle makers • chair makers • cloth shearers • coopers • dock workers • educators • farm workers, farmers • firefighters • fish mongers • fishermen • grain merchants • grocers • grooms • hoteliers • innkeepers • judges • lace merchants • lawyers • linen merchants • longshoremen • mariners • merchants • millers • notaries • parish clerks • pawnbrokers • perfumeries • perfumers • poets • ribbon weavers • sailors • ship owners • shoe shiners • soldiers • spice merchants • spinners • stone masons • tape weavers  • toy makers • vintners • watermen • weavers • Greek Catholic Church in America • Greek Catholic Union • Varangian Guard • Germany • Greece • Russia • 3 Diocese • 78 Cities.

Attributes – • anchor • bishop calming a storm • bishop holding three bags of gold • bishop holding three balls • bishop with three children • bishop with three children in a tub at his feet • purse • ship • three bags of gold • three balls • three golden balls on a book • boy in a boat.   Saint Nicholas’ reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.   St Nicholas was generous to the poor and special protector of the innocent and wronged.   Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming associated with Santa Claus.

Some examples of the Miracles of St Nicholas and the reasons for various Patronages:

• Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life.   These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.

• He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime.   These stories led to his patronage of children in general and of barrel-makers besides.

• Induced some thieves to return their plunder.   This explains his protection against theft and robbery and his patronage of them – he’s not helping them steal but to repent and change.   In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.

• During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship.   He prayed about it and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.

St Nicholas died in 346 at Myra, Lycia (in modern Turkey) of natural causes and his  relics are believed to be at Bari, Italy.bari-shrine3-detail

Here is the story of St Nicholas by Prosper Dom Gueranger:

Nicholas was born in the celebrated city of Patara, in the province of Lycia.   His birth was the fruit of his parents’ prayers.  Evidences of his great future holiness were given from his very cradle.   For when he was an infant, he would only take his food once on Wednesdays and Fridays and then not till evening but on all other days he frequently took the breast:  he kept up this custom of fasting during the rest of his life.

Having lost his parents when he was a boy, he gave all his goods to the poor.   Of his Christian kindheartedness there is the following noble example.   One of his fellow-citizens had three daughters but being too poor to obtain them an honourable marriage, he was minded to abandon them to a life of prostitution.   Nicholas having learned of the case, went to the house during the night and threw in by the window a sum of money sufficient for the dower of one of the daughters;  he did the same a second and a third time and thus the three were married to respectable men.

Having given himself wholly to the service of God, he set out for Palestine, that he might visit and venerate the holy places.   During this pilgrimage, which he made by sea, he foretold to the mariners, on embarking, though the heavens were then serene and the sea tranquil, that they would be overtaken by a frightful storm.   In a very short time, the storm arose.   All were in the most imminent danger, when he quelled it by his prayers.

His pilgrimage ended, he returned home, giving to all men example of the greatest sanctity.   He went, by an inspiration from God, to Myra, the Metropolis of Lycia,which had just lost its Bishop by death and the Bishops of the province had come together for the purpose of electing a successor.   Whilst they were holding council for the election, they were told by a revelation from heaven, that they should choose him who, on the morrow, should be the first to enter the church, his name being Nicholas.   Accordingly, the requisite observations were made, when they found Nicholas to be waiting at the church door:  they took him and, to the incredible delight of all, made him the Bishop of Myra.

During his episcopate, he never flagged in the virtues looked for in a bishop;  chastity, which indeed he had always preserved, gravity, assiduity in prayer, watchings, abstinence, generosity and hospitality, meekness in exhortation, severity in reproving. He befriended widows and orphans by money, by advice and by every service in his power.   So zealous a defender was he of all who suffered oppression, that, on one occasion, three Tribunes having been condemned by the Emperor Constantine, who had been deceived by calumny and having heard of the miracles wrought by Nicholas, they recommended themselves to his prayers, though he was living at a very great distance from that place:   the saint appeared to Constantine and angrily looking upon him, obtained from the terrified Emperor their deliverance.

Having, contrary to the edict of Dioclesian and Maximian, preached in Myra the truth of the Christian faith, he was taken up by the servants of the two Emperors.  He was taken off to a great distance and thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine, having become Emperor, ordered his rescue and the Saint returned to Myra.   Shortly afterwards, he repaired to the Council which was being held at Nicaea:  there he took part with the three hundred and eighteen Fathers in condemning the Arian heresy (Tradition has it that he became so angry with the heretic Arius during the Council that he struck him in the face).St Nicholas of Myra slapping Arius at the Council of Nicaea.

Scarcely had he returned to his See than he was taken with the sickness of which he soon died.   Looking up to heaven and seeing Angels coming to meet him, he began the Psalm, In thee, O Lord, have I hoped and having come to those words, Into your hands I commend my spirit, his soul took its flight to the heavenly country.   His body, having been translated to Bari in Apulia, is the object of universal veneration.

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For St Nicholas traditional biscuits see here:  https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/st-nicholas-6-december/