The beloved Foster-Father and Guardian of Jesus and Protector of the Holy Family, is celebrated for this whole month and his Feast Day falls in the middle of it – 19 March – this year moved to the 20th as the 19th is Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
“Quamquam Pluries” On the Devotion to St Joseph Pope Leo XIII
“On 10 March, [11 MARCH THIS YEAR], we begin the Novena to St Joseph, entrusting so many of our woes and cares to his holy and fatherly care and intercession. His Patronages are numerous, as we know, one of them will fit our needs perfectly and if not, then we should all ask him to intercede on our behalf for our families and for a Happy and Holy Death. On the 20th [FEAST normally 19th] we pray the Consecration to St Joseph.”
Patronages in Alphabetical Order:
of Accountants • Bursars • Cabinetmakers • Carpenters • Catholic Church • Cemetery Workers • Children • Civil Engineers • against Communism • Confectioners • Craftsmen • against Doubt and Hesitation • the Dying • Emigrants • Exiles • Expectant Mothers • Families • Fathers • Furniture Makers • Grave diggers • Happy Death • Holy Death • House Hunters • House Sellers • Immigrants • Joiners • Labourers • all the Legal Profession • Married Couples • Oblates of Saint Joseph • Orphans • Pioneers • Social Justice • Teachers • Travellers • the Unborn • Wheelwrights • Workers • Americas • Austria • Belgium • Bohemia • Canada • China • Croatian people • Korea • Mexico • New France • New World • Peru • Philippines • Vatican City • VietNam • Canadian Armed Forces • Papal States • 46 Diocese • 26 Cities,States and Regions.
Saint of the Day – 22 June – St Thomas More (1478-1535) Martyr an English lawyer, Social Philosopher, Author, Statesman and noted Renaissance Humanist. He was born on 7 February 1478 at London, England and was beheaded on 6 July 1535 on Tower Hill, London, England. Patronages – adopted children, civil servants, court clerks, difficult marriages, large families, lawyers, statesmen and politicians, stepparents, widowers, Ateneo de Manila Law School, Diocese of Arlington, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee; Kerala Catholic Youth Movement, University of Malta, University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters.
He was also a councillor to Henry VIII and Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532. He wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary, ideal island nation.
St Thomas opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther, Henry VIII, John Calvin and William Tyndale. He also opposed the king’s separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and executed. Of his execution, he was said: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s first”.
Pope Pius XI Canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. St Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the patron saint “of Statesmen and Politicians”.
St Pope John Paul II Excerpt from the Apostolic letter issued Motu Proprio proclaiming Saint Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians 31 October 2000
“The life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More have been the source of a message which spans the centuries and which speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience, which (…) is “the most intimate centre and sanctuary of a person, in which he or she is alone with God, whose voice echoes within them” (Gaudium et Spes, 16). Whenever men or women heed the call of truth, their conscience then guides their actions reliably towards good. Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth over power, Saint Thomas More is venerated as an imperishable example of moral integrity. And even outside the Church, particularly among those with responsibility for the destinies of peoples, he is acknowledged as a source of inspiration for a political system which has as its supreme goal the service of the human person.
(…) Thomas More had a remarkable political career in his native land. Born in London in 1478 of a respectable family, as a young boy he was placed in the service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morton, Lord Chancellor of the Realm. He then studied law at Oxford and London, while broadening his interests in the spheres of culture, theology and classical literature. He mastered Greek and enjoyed the company and friendship of important figures of Renaissance culture, including Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam.
His sincere religious sentiment led him to pursue virtue through the assiduous practice of asceticism – he cultivated friendly relations with the Observant Franciscans of the Friary at Greenwich and for a time he lived at the London Charterhouse, these being two of the main centres of religious fervour in the Kingdom. Feeling himself called to marriage, family life and dedication as a layman, in 1505 he married Jane Colt, who bore him four children. Jane died in 1511 and Thomas then married Alice Middleton, a widow with one daughter. Throughout his life he was an affectionate and faithful husband and father, deeply involved in his children’s religious, moral and intellectual education. His house offered a welcome to his children’s spouses and his grandchildren, and was always open to his many young friends in search of the truth or of their own calling in life. Family life also gave him ample opportunity for prayer in common and lectio divina, as well as for happy and wholesome relaxation. Thomas attended daily Mass in the parish church but the austere penances which he practised were known only to his immediate family.
He was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1504 under King Henry VII. The latter’s successor Henry VIII renewed his mandate in 1510 and even made him the Crown’s representative in the capital. This launched him on a prominent career in public administration. During the following decade the King sent him on several diplomatic and commercial missions to Flanders and the territory of present-day France. Having been made a member of the King’s Council, presiding judge of an important tribunal, deputy treasurer and a knight, in 1523 he became Speaker of the House of Commons.
Highly esteemed by everyone for his unfailing moral integrity, sharpness of mind, his open and humorous character and his extraordinary learning, in 1529 at a time of political and economic crisis in the country he was appointed by the King to the post of Lord Chancellor. The first layman to occupy this position, Thomas faced an extremely difficult period, as he sought to serve King and country. In fidelity to his principles, he concentrated on promoting justice and restraining the harmful influence of those who advanced their own interests at the expense of the weak . In 1532, not wishing to support Henry VIII’s intention to take control of the Church in England, he resigned. He withdrew from public life, resigning himself to suffering poverty with his family and being deserted by many people who, in the moment of trial, proved to be false friends.
Given his inflexible firmness in rejecting any compromise with his own conscience, in 1534 the King had him imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was subjected to various kinds of psychological pressure. Thomas More did not allow himself to waver, and he refused to take the oath requested of him, since this would have involved accepting a political and ecclesiastical arrangement that prepared the way for uncontrolled despotism. At his trial, he made an impassioned defence of his own convictions on the indissolubility of marriage, the respect due to the juridical patrimony of Christian civilisation and the freedom of the Church in her relations with the State. Condemned by the Court, he was beheaded.
(…) Thomas More, together with 53 other martyrs, including Bishop John Fisher, was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. And with John Fisher, he was Canonised by Pius XI in 1935, on the fourth centenary of his martyrdom.
(…) The life of Saint Thomas More clearly illustrates a fundamental truth of political ethics. The defence of the Church’s freedom from unwarranted interference by the State is at the same time a defence, in the name of the primacy of conscience, of the individual’s freedom vis-à-vis political power. Here we find the basic principle of every civil order consonant with human nature.
(…) Therefore, after due consideration and willingly acceding to the petitions addressed to me, I establish and declare Saint Thomas More the heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians and I decree, that he be ascribed all the liturgical honours and privileges which, according to law, belong to the Patrons of categories of people.”
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.
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.
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 of the Day – 25 November – St Catherine of Alexandria (Died c 305) Virgin and Martyr, Philosopher – One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers – Patronages: unmarried girls and women, apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners), archivists, dying people, educators, jurists, knife sharpeners, lawyers, librarians, libraries, mechanics, millers, milliners, hat-makers, nurses, philosophers, preachers, schoolchildren, secretaries, stenographers, students, tanners, theologians, haberdashers, wheelwrights, 6 Universities worldwide, 12 Cities, 2 Diocese. It is important to note that whilst much of St Catherine’s history is regarded as apocryphal (by historians), St Catherine, like many of the early Martyrs, did exist though the details and circumstances of her life are probably partly unknown.
According to the traditional narrative, Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Egyptian Alexandria during the reign of the emperor Maximian (286–305). From a young age, she devoted herself to study. A vision of the Madonna and Child persuaded her to become a Christian. When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments but Catherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death.
Catherine was then scourged and imprisoned. She was scourged so cruelly and for so long, that her whole body was covered with wounds, from which the blood flowed in streams. The spectators wept with pity but Catherine, strengthened by God, stood with her eyes raised to heaven, without giving a sign of suffering or fear. He ordered her to be imprisoned without food, so she would starve to death. During the confinement, angels tended her wounds with salve. Catherine was fed daily by a dove from Heaven and Christ also visited her, encouraging her to fight bravely and promised her the crown of everlasting glory.
During her imprisonment, over 200 people came to see her, including Maxentius’ wife, Valeria Maximilla – all converted to Christianity and were subsequently martyred. Twelve days later, when the dungeon was opened, a bright light and fragrant perfume filled it and Catherine came forth even more radiant and beautiful.
Upon the failure of Maxentius to make Catherine yield by way of torture, he tried to win the beautiful and wise princess over by proposing marriage. The saint refused, declaring that her spouse was Jesus Christ, to whom she had consecrated her virginity. The furious emperor condemned Catherine to death on a spiked breaking wheel but, at her touch, it shattered. Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded. Catherine herself ordered the execution to commence. A milk-like substance rather than blood flowed from her neck.
Angels transported her body to the highest mountain (now called Mount Saint Catherine) next to Mount Sinai, where God gave His Law. In 850, her incorrupt body was discovered by monks from the Sinai Monastery. The monks found on the surface of the granite on which her body lay, an impression of the form of her body. Her hair still growing and a constant stream of the most heavenly fragranced healing oil issuing from her body. This oil produced countless miracles.
Saint Catherine was one of the most important saints in the religious culture of the late Middle Ages and arguably considered the most important of the virgin martyrs, a group including Saint Agnes, Margaret of Antioch, Saint Barbara, Saint Lucy, Valerie of Limoges and many others. Her power as an intercessor was renowned and firmly established in most versions of her hagiography, in which she specifically entreats Christ at the moment of her death to answer the prayers of those who remember her martyrdom and invoke her name.
The pyrotechnic Catherine wheel, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from the saint’s wheel of martyrdom.
Saint of the Day – 18 October – St Luke the Evangelist
St Luke, the inspired author of the third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles, was a native of Antioch in Syria and a physician and one of the early converts from paganism. He accompanied St Paul on a considerable part of his missionary journey. He was also his companion while in prison at Rome on two different occasions. His account of these events, contained in the Acts, is first hand history. His symbol is a Winged Ox anticipated by Ezekiel. The ox, recognised as the animal of sacrifice, was applied to St Luke because his Gospel emphasises the atonement made by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the Cross. His name means “bringer of light” (= luke).
Luke’s Gospel is, above all, the Gospel of the Merciful Heart of Jesus. It emphasises the fact that Christ is the salvation of all men, especially of the repentant sinner and of the lowly. Legend says that Luke painted the Blessed Virgin’s portrait. It is certainly true that he painted the most beautiful word-picture of Mary ever written.
St Luke came from Antioch, was a practising physician and was one of the first converts to Christianity. He accompanied St Paul, who converted him, on his missionary journeys and was still with him in Rome when St Paul was in prison awaiting death. We hear no more of him afterwards and nothing is known of his last years. The Church venerates him as a Martyr.
St Luke’s Gospel is principally concerned with salvation and mercy – in it are preserved some of our Lord’s most moving parables, like those of the lost sheep and the prodigal son. Dante calls St Luke the “historian of the meekness of Christ.” It is also St Luke who tells us the greater part of what we know about our Lord’s childhood.
“According to tradition he was an artist, as well as a man of letters and with a soul alive to all the most delicate inspirations, he consecrated his pencil to the holiest use and handed down to us the features of the Mother of God. It was an illustration worthy of the Gospel which relates to the divine Infancy and it won for the artist a new title to the gratitude of those who never saw Jesus and Mary in the flesh. Hence St Luke is the patron of Christian art.” …-Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
St Luke did not personally know our Lord and like St Mark, the author of the second Gospel, he is not included among the apostles. For this reason the Gospel chosen for their feast is the account of the sending forth of the seventy-two disciples. According to St Jerome, St Luke died in Achaia (Greece) at the age of 84 and it is unknown whether or not he died a martyr’s death.
His symbol is a Winged Ox anticipated by Ezekiel. The ox, recognised as the animal of sacrifice, was applied to St Luke because his Gospel emphasises the atonement made by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the Cross. His name means “bringer of light” (= luke).
Saint of the Day – 19 March – The Solemnity of St Joseph, Spouse of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Patron of the Universal Church. The name ‘Joseph’ means “whom the Lord adds”. Patronages • against doubt and hesitation • accountants • all the legal professions • bursars • cabinetmakers • carpenters • cemetery workers • children • civil engineers • confectioners • craftsmen • the dying • teachers • emigrants • exiles • expectant mothers • families • fathers • furniture makers • grave diggers • happy death • holy death • house hunters • immigrants • joiners • labourers • married couples • orphans • against Communism • pioneers • pregnant women • social justice • teachers • travellers • the unborn • wheelwrights • workers • workers • Catholic Church • Oblates of Saint Joseph • for protection of the Church • Universal Church • Vatican II • Americas • Austria • Belgium • Bohemia • Canada • China • Croatian people • Korea • Mexico • New France • New World • Peru • Philippines • Vatican City • VietNam • Canadian Armed Forces • Papal States • 46 dioceses • 26 cities • states and regions.
St Joseph is invoked as patron for many causes. He is the patron of the Universal Church. He is the patron of the dying because Jesus and Mary were at his death-bed. He is also the patron of fathers, of carpenters and of social justice. Many religious orders and communities are placed under his patronage.
St Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of Jesus, was probably born in Bethlehem and probably died in Nazareth. His important mission in God’s plan of salvation was “to legally insert Jesus Christ into the line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be born, and to act as his father and guardian” (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy). Most of our information about St. Joseph comes from the opening two chapters of St Matthew’s Gospel. No words of his are recorded in the Gospels; he was the “silent” man. We find no devotion to St Joseph in the early Church. It was the will of God that the Virgin Birth of Our Lord be first firmly impressed upon the minds of the faithful. He was later venerated by the great saints of the Middle Ages. Pius IX (1870) declared him patron and protector of the universal family of the Church.
St Joseph was an ordinary manual labourer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, “Foster-father of Jesus.” About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God’s greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary.
The darkest hours of his life may well have been those when he first learned of Mary’s pregnancy; but precisely in this time of trial Joseph showed himself great. His suffering, which likewise formed a part of the work of the redemption, was not without great providential import: Joseph was to be, for all times, the trustworthy witness of the Messiah’s virgin birth. After this, he modestly retires into the background of holy Scripture.
Of St Joseph’s death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ’s public life. His was the most beautiful death that one could have, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Humbly and unknown, he passed his years at Nazareth, silent and almost forgotten he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater honour. Liturgical veneration of St Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by Sts Brigid of Sweden and Bernadine of Siena. St Teresa of Avila, too, did much to further his cult.
At present there are two major feasts in his honour. Today 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption and is his main Feast and a Solemnity in the Universal Church, while on 1 May we honour him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order….Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph’s intercession Your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings You entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Saint of the Day – 6 December – St Nicholas (270-343) Confessor, Bishop, Miracle-Worker, Apostle of Charity. Also known as – • Nicholas of Bari• Nicholas of Lpnenskij • Nicholas of Lipno • Nicholas of Sarajskij • Nicholas the Miracle Worker • Klaus, Mikulas, Nikolai, Nicolaas, Nicolas, Niklaas, Niklas. Nikolaus, Santa Claus.
Patronages -• against fire • against imprisonment • against robberies • against robbers • against storms at sea • against sterility • against thefts • altar servers • archers • boys • brides • captives • children • choir boys • happy marriages • lawsuits lost unjustly • lovers • maidens • penitent murderers • newlyweds • paupers • pilgrims • poor people • prisoners • scholars • schoolchildren, students • penitent thieves • travellers • unmarried girls • apothecaries • bakers • bankers • barrel makers • boatmen • boot blacks • brewers • butchers • button makers • candle makers • chair makers • cloth shearers • coopers • dock workers • educators • farm workers, farmers • firefighters • fish mongers • fishermen • grain merchants • grocers • grooms • hoteliers • innkeepers • judges • lace merchants • lawyers • linen merchants • longshoremen • mariners • merchants • millers • notaries • parish clerks • pawnbrokers • perfumeries • perfumers • poets • ribbon weavers • sailors • ship owners • shoe shiners • soldiers • spice merchants • spinners • stone masons • tape weavers • toy makers • vintners • watermen • weavers • Greek Catholic Church in America • Greek Catholic Union • Varangian Guard • Germany • Greece • Russia • 3 Diocese • 78 Cities.
Attributes – • anchor • bishop calming a storm • bishop holding three bags of gold • bishop holding three balls • bishop with three children • bishop with three children in a tub at his feet • purse • ship • three bags of gold • three balls • three golden balls on a book • boy in a boat. Saint Nicholas’ reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas. St Nicholas was generous to the poor and special protector of the innocent and wronged. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming associated with Santa Claus.
Some examples of the Miracles of St Nicholas and the reasons for various Patronages:
• Upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.
• He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime. These stories led to his patronage of children in general and of barrel-makers besides.
• Induced some thieves to return their plunder. This explains his protection against theft and robbery and his patronage of them – he’s not helping them steal but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.
• During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
St Nicholas died in 346 at Myra, Lycia (in modern Turkey) of natural causes and his relics are believed to be at Bari, Italy.
Here is the story of St Nicholas by Prosper Dom Gueranger:
Nicholas was born in the celebrated city of Patara, in the province of Lycia. His birth was the fruit of his parents’ prayers. Evidences of his great future holiness were given from his very cradle. For when he was an infant, he would only take his food once on Wednesdays and Fridays and then not till evening but on all other days he frequently took the breast: he kept up this custom of fasting during the rest of his life.
Having lost his parents when he was a boy, he gave all his goods to the poor. Of his Christian kindheartedness there is the following noble example. One of his fellow-citizens had three daughters but being too poor to obtain them an honourable marriage, he was minded to abandon them to a life of prostitution. Nicholas having learned of the case, went to the house during the night and threw in by the window a sum of money sufficient for the dower of one of the daughters; he did the same a second and a third time and thus the three were married to respectable men.
Having given himself wholly to the service of God, he set out for Palestine, that he might visit and venerate the holy places. During this pilgrimage, which he made by sea, he foretold to the mariners, on embarking, though the heavens were then serene and the sea tranquil, that they would be overtaken by a frightful storm. In a very short time, the storm arose. All were in the most imminent danger, when he quelled it by his prayers.
His pilgrimage ended, he returned home, giving to all men example of the greatest sanctity. He went, by an inspiration from God, to Myra, the Metropolis of Lycia,which had just lost its Bishop by death and the Bishops of the province had come together for the purpose of electing a successor. Whilst they were holding council for the election, they were told by a revelation from heaven, that they should choose him who, on the morrow, should be the first to enter the church, his name being Nicholas. Accordingly, the requisite observations were made, when they found Nicholas to be waiting at the church door: they took him and, to the incredible delight of all, made him the Bishop of Myra.
During his episcopate, he never flagged in the virtues looked for in a bishop; chastity, which indeed he had always preserved, gravity, assiduity in prayer, watchings, abstinence, generosity and hospitality, meekness in exhortation, severity in reproving. He befriended widows and orphans by money, by advice and by every service in his power. So zealous a defender was he of all who suffered oppression, that, on one occasion, three Tribunes having been condemned by the Emperor Constantine, who had been deceived by calumny and having heard of the miracles wrought by Nicholas, they recommended themselves to his prayers, though he was living at a very great distance from that place: the saint appeared to Constantine and angrily looking upon him, obtained from the terrified Emperor their deliverance.
Having, contrary to the edict of Dioclesian and Maximian, preached in Myra the truth of the Christian faith, he was taken up by the servants of the two Emperors. He was taken off to a great distance and thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine, having become Emperor, ordered his rescue and the Saint returned to Myra. Shortly afterwards, he repaired to the Council which was being held at Nicaea: there he took part with the three hundred and eighteen Fathers in condemning the Arian heresy (Tradition has it that he became so angry with the heretic Arius during the Council that he struck him in the face).
Scarcely had he returned to his See than he was taken with the sickness of which he soon died. Looking up to heaven and seeing Angels coming to meet him, he began the Psalm, In thee, O Lord, have I hoped and having come to those words, Into your hands I commend my spirit, his soul took its flight to the heavenly country. His body, having been translated to Bari in Apulia, is the object of universal veneration.
For St Nicholas traditional biscuits see here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/st-nicholas-6-december/
Saint of the Day – 23 October – St John Capistrano OFM (1386-1456) Priest and Friar of the Friars Minor, Confessor and Preacher. Famous as a Preacher, Theologian and Inquisitor, trained Lawyer, he earned himself the nickname ‘the Soldier Saint’ when, in 1456 at age 70 he led a Crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire at the Siege of Belgrade with the Hungarian Military Commander, John Hunyadi, called theAthleta Christi (“Christ’s Champion”) by Pope Pius II. Born in 1386 at Capistrano, Italy – 23 October 1456 at Villach, Hungary of natural causes. He was Beatified on 19 December 1650 by Pope Innocent X and Canonised on 16 October 1690 by Pope Alexander VIII. Patronages – judges, jurists • lawyers • military chaplains • military ordinariate of the Philippines • Hungary and Belgrade, Serbia. He was buried in Ilok, Croatia.
As was the custom of this time, John is denoted by the village of Capestrano, in the Diocese of Sulmona, in the Abruzzi region, Kingdom of Naples. He studied law at the University of Perugia. In 1412, King Ladislaus of Naples appointed him Governor of Perugia. When war broke out between Perugia and the Malatestas in 1416, John was sent as ambassador to broker a peace but Malatesta threw him in prison. It was during this imprisonment that he began to think more seriously about his soul. He decided eventually to give up the world and become a Franciscan Friar, owing to a dream he had in which he saw St Francis and was warned by the saint to enter the Franciscan Order. Having never consummated the marriage, he asked and received permission from his wife to annul the marriage and started studying theology with St Bernardine of Siena.
Together with St James of the Marches, John entered the Order of Friars Minor at Perugia on 4 October 1416. At once he gave himself up to the most rigorous asceticism, violently defending the ideal of strict observance and orthodoxy, following the example set by Bernardine. From 1420 onwards, he preached with great effect in numerous cities and eventually became well known.
Unlike most Italian preachers of repentance in the 15th century, John was effective in northern and central Europe – in German states of Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Kingdom of Poland. The largest churches could not hold the crowds, so he preached in the public squares—at Brescia in Italy, he preached to a crowd of 126,000.
When he was not preaching, John was writing tracts against heresy of every kind. This facet of his life is covered in great detail by his early biographers, Nicholas of Fara, Christopher of Varese and Girlamo of Udine. While he was thus evangelising, he was actively engaged in assisting Bernardine of Siena in the reform of the Franciscan Order, largely in the interests of a more rigorous discipline in the Franciscan communities. Like Bernardine, he strongly emphasised devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and, together with that saint, was accused of heresy on this account. In 1429, these Observant friars were called to Rome to answer charges of heresy and John was chosen by his companions to speak for them. They were both acquitted by the Commission of Cardinals appointed to judge the accusations.
John, in spite of this restless life, found time to work—both during the lifetime of his mentor, Bernardine and afterwards—on the reform of the Order of Friars Minor. He also upheld, in his writings, speeches and sermons, theories of papal supremacy rather than the theological wranglings of councils (see Conciliar Movement). John, together with his teacher, Bernardine, his colleague, James of the Marche, and Blessed Albert Berdini of Sarteano, are considered the four great pillars of the Observant reform among the Friars Minor.
After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire, under Sultan Mehmed II, threatened Christian Europe. That following year Pope Callixtus III sent John, who was already aged seventy, to preach a Crusade against the invading Turks at the Imperial Diet of Frankfurt. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. John succeeded in gathering together enough troops to march onto Belgrade, which at that time was under siege by Turkish forces. In the summer of 1456, these troops, together with John Hunyadi, managed to raise the siege of Belgrade; the old and frail friar actually led his own contingent into battle. This feat earned him the moniker of ‘the Soldier Priest’.
Although he survived the battle, John fell victim to the bubonic plague, which flourished in the unsanitary conditions prevailing among armies of the day. He died on 23 October 1456 at the nearby town of Ilok, Kingdom of Croatia in personal union with Hungary (now a Croatian border town on the Danube).
Saint of the Day – St Luke the Evangelist – 18 October – Physician,Ddisciple of St Paul, Evangelist, Author of the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Tradition says he was an Artist too. He was born at Antioch and Died in c 74 in Greece. Some say he was Martyred, others that he died of natural causes. His relics reside at Padua, Italy. Patronages – artists, bachelors, bookbinders, brewers, butchers, doctors, glass makers, glassworkers, glaziers, gold workers, goldsmiths, lacemakers, lace workers, notaries, painters, physicians, sculptors, stained glass workers, surgeons, 2 cities. Attributes – Evangelist, Physician, a Bishop, a book or a pen, a man accompanied by a winged ox/winged calf/ox, a man painting an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a brush or a palette (referring to the tradition that he was a painter). St Luke is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical Gospels. The early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship. The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times and the Pauline epistle to the Colossians refers to him as a physician (from Greek for ‘one who heals’); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. Christians since the faith’s early years have regarded him as a saint. He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly as having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise.
Luke came from the large metropolitan city of Antioch, a part of modern-day Turkey. In Luke’s lifetime, his native city emerged as an important center of early Christianity. During the future saint’s early years, the city’s port had already become a cultural center, renowned for arts and sciences. Historians do not know whether Luke came to Christianity from Judaism or paganism, although there are strong suggestions that Luke was a gentile convert.
Educated as a physician in the Greek-speaking city, Luke was among the most cultured and cosmopolitan members of the early Church. Scholars of archeology and ancient literature have ranked him among the top historians of his time period, besides noting the outstanding Greek prose style and technical accuracy of his accounts of Christ’s life and the apostles’ missionary journeys.
Other students of biblical history adduce from Luke’s writings that he was the only evangelist to incorporate the personal testimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose role in Christ’s life emerges most clearly in his gospel. Tradition credits him with painting several icons of Christ’s mother and one of the sacred portraits ascribed to him – known by the title “Salus Populi Romano – Salvation of the Roman People”– survives to this day in the Basilica of St Mary Major.
Some traditions hold that Luke became a direct disciple of Jesus before His ascension, while others hold that he became a believer only afterward. After St Paul’s conversion, Luke accompanied him as his personal physician– and, in effect, as a kind of biographer, since the journeys of Paul on which Luke accompanied him occupy a large portion of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke probably wrote this text, the final narrative portion of the New Testament, in the city of Rome where the account ends.
Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion After the martyrdom of St Paul in the year 67, St Luke is said to have preached elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean and possibly died as a martyr. However, even tradition is unclear on this point. Fittingly, the evangelist whose travels and erudition could have filled volumes, wrote just enough to proclaim the gospel and apostolic preaching to the world.
Luke’s unique character may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles:
1) The Gospel of Mercy
2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation
3) The Gospel of the Poor
4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation
5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit
6) The Gospel of Joy
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