Posted in INCORRUPTIBLES, JESUIT SJ, PATRONAGE - against EPIDEMICS, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - SAILORS, MARINERS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) Confessor, Priest, Missionary, Miracle-worker, co-Founder with St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and St Peter Faber (1506-1546) of the Society of Jesus. One of the Greatest Missionaries since St Paul. St Francis was Canonised on 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. His body is incorrupt.

St Francis Xavier
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)
Part One -(His early years, before departing for the Indies).

St Francis Xavier,–the great Apostle of the Indies, as he is called in the Bull of his Canonisation–the celebrated Thaumaturgus of the 16th Century, the irreproachable witness of the truth of our holy religion, the ornament of the Society of Jesus and of the entire Catholic Church–was of Royal lineage and was born of illustrious parents, at the Castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre.

Having passed his childhood there, he was sent to the University of Paris, to study the liberal arts, for which he evinced an especial inclination. He applied himself so diligently and made so much progress that he was not only created. Doctor of Philosophy but also appointed to instruct others in that science. All his aim was to gain honours and to become great in the eyes of the world. His father intended to recall him home after some years but his sister, who was Prioress in the Convent of the Poor Clares at Gandia and had the reputation of being a Saint, knew, by Divine inspiration, the great work for which her brother was destined by the Almighty and persuaded her father not to insist on his return, saying, in a prophetic manner that Francis was chosen to become the apostle of many nations.

Whilst Xavier was teaching at Paris, St Ignatius came to the same City to finish his studies. Knowing, by Divine inspiration, how much good Francis, who was so highly gifted by the Almighty, would be able to do for the salvation of souls, he sought the friendship of the young Professor and gradually showed him the emptiness, of all temporal greatness and drew him from his eagerness to obtain worldly honours, by repeating the earnest words of Christ: “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul!” These words of our Saviour, coming from the lips of a St Ignatius, so deeply pierced the heart of Xavier and made so indelible an impression that he became entirely converted.

Taking St Ignatius as his guide, he followed his precepts and after having most fervently gone through the “Spiritual Exercises,” he resolved to devote himself, with Ignatius, to the greater glory of God.

On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the year 1534, Ignatius, St Francis and five others, made a vow in the Church of Montmartre at Paris, to consecrate their lives to the salvation of souls. Soon after, St Francis, by the order of St Ignatius, went with some of these zealous men to Italy.

At the very beginning of this journey, which was to be performed on foot, St Francis gave a striking proof of the ardour of his spirit. Before his conversion, he had been a great lover of dancing and gymnastic exercises and, so greatly excelled in them that he had taken great pride in these accomplishments. To punish this vanity, he tied his arms and ankles so tightly with small knotted cords, that he could not make the least motion without pain. After the first day’s march, his pains became so intense that he fainted away and was forced to reveal the cause. The cords had cut so deeply into the flesh that they could hardly be seen. The surgeon who was called, declared that a painful operation was necessary to cut the cords out of the flesh.St Francis and his companions, not wishing to be delayed on their way, prayed for aid from on High and, on the following morning they found, not only the cords broken but all the wounds entirely healed. Having given due thanks to the Almighty for this miracle, they continued their journey.

At Venice, St Francis spent two months in the hospital, nursing the sick most tenderly. While there, it happened that he found, among the sick, one who was suffering from a loathsome ulcer. St Francis felt a natural repugnance to approach the poor patient, but, recollecting the maxim of St. Ignatius, “Conquer thyself,” he unhesitatingly went to the sick, embraced him kindly and putting his lips to the ulcer, cleansed it of all offensive matter. As a reward for so heroic a victory over self, God restored the sick man’s health and took from St Francis all repugnance to the most hideous forms of disease.

Two months after this, he was Ordained Priest and said his first Holy Mass, amid a flood of tears, after having prepared himself for it, by forty days of solitude, many prayers, austere fasting and other penances.

At Rome, whither he was called by St Ignatius, he preached for a time with great success. It was at this period that John III., King of Portugal, requested the Pope to send him six of the disciples of St Ignatius, for the Indies. St Ignatius, on account of the small number of his followers, gave only two, Simon Rodriguez and Nicholas Bobadilla but, as the latter fell ill just before the time appointed for setting out, St Francis Xavier., whom Heaven had selected for this mission, was sent in his stead.

No tongue can tell the joy with which the Saint received this news, which fulfilled that which had been shown him, years before, in a mysterious dream. It had appeared to him, in his sleep that he had a negro on his shoulders, whom he was obliged to carry and that he was so fatigued, as to sink to the ground under his burden. He then awoke and found himself in truth, covered with perspiration and extremely tired.

He was soon prepared for his journey from Rome to Lisbon, whence he was to sail for the Indies and having received, from St Ignatius, valuable instructions and from the Vicar of Christ, the Papal Blessing, with the powers of an Apostolic Nuncio, he set out with his companion, Rodriguez, carrying nothing with him but the Crucifix on his breast, his Breviary under his arm and his staff in his hand.

At the holy house of Loretto, where he stopped on his way, he commended his important mission to his divine Mother, and begged, with childlike trust, for her motherly assistance. Feeling in his heart that his prayer had been heard, he was greatly comforted, on leaving this blessed spot. To be continued …

Posted in CARMELITES, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - THE SICK, THE INFIRM, ALL ILLNESS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 3 October – Sant Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face or The Little Flower (1873 – 1897) Virgin.

Saint of the Day – 3 October – Sant Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face or The Little Flower (1873 – 1897) Virgin.

Marie Francoise Thérèse Martin, known as the Little Flower of Jesus, was born 2 January 1873 at Alencon in Normandy, France, of very Christian parents. The Martins, who lost four of their little ones in early infancy or childhood, regarded their children as Gifts from Heaven and offered them to God before their birth. Thérèse was the last flower of this blessed stem, which gave four Sisters to the Carmel of Lisieux, still another to the Visitation of Caen.

The five sisters were left without their mother, a victim of cancer, when Thérèse was only four years old but her two oldest sisters were of an age to take excellent care of the household and continue the Christian character formation, of the younger ones, which their mother had initiated. Their saintly father was soon to see his little flock separated, however, when one after the other they left to enter religious life. He blessed each one and gave them all back to God, with humble gratitude to God for having chosen his daughters.

From childhood,Thérèse had manifested a tender piety which her naturally lively temperament could not alter. Her mother’s death affected her profoundly, however and, at the age of nine, she was visited with a severe trial in the form of an illness the doctors could not diagnose and which seemed incurable. She was instantly restored to her ordnary good health by the Virgin Mary, in answer to her desolate sisters’ prayers – Thérèse saw Her statue become animated, to smile at her with an ineffable tenderness as she lay on her bed of suffering.

Before the age of fifteen, Thérèse already desired to enter the Carmel of Lisieux, where her two eldest sisters were already nuns; a trip to Rome and a petition at the knees of the Holy Father, Leo XIII, gave her the inalterable answer – that her Superiors would regulate the matter. Many prayers finally obtained an affirmative reply to her ardent request and four months after her fifteenth birthday, she entered Carmel with a great joy. She could say then, “I no longer have any desire but to love Jesus even to folly.

She adopted flowers as the symbol of her love for her Divine Spouse and offered all her little daily sacrifices and works, as rose petals at the feet of Jesus. Divine Providence gave to the world, the autobiography of this true Saint, whose little way of spiritual childhood was described in her own words, in her Story of a Soul. She could not offer God the macerations of the great soldiers of God, only her desires to love Him ,as they had loved Him and to serve Him, in every way possible. She chose “all” in spirit, for her beloved Lord.

Later, she would be named Patroness of missions. Her spirituality does not imply only sweetness and light, however, for this loving child of God, passed by a tunnel of desolate spiritual darkness, yet never ceased to smile at Him, wanting to serve Him, if it were possible, without His even knowing it.

When nine years had passed in the Carmel, the little flower was ready to be plucked for heaven and, in a slow agony of Consumption, Thérèse made her final offering to God. She suffered so severely that she said she would never have believed it possible and could only explain it by her desire to save souls for God. She died in 1897, was Beatified in 1923 and Canonised in 1925.

And now, as she foretold, she is spending her heaven in doing good upon earth. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. Little Flower of Jesus please pray for Holy Mother Church and for all Her faithful children.

Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - PENITENTS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 31 October – Blessed Thomas Bellacci TOSF (1370-1447)

Saint of the Day – 31 October – Blessed Thomas Bellacci TOSF (1370-1447) Lay Friar of the Third Order of St Francis, Penitent, Confessor, renowned Missionary Preacher, Papal legate – born as Tommaso in 1370 at Florence, Italy and died on 31 October 1447 in Rieti, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – butchers, penitents, missionaries. He is also known as Thomas of Florence, Tommaso Bellacci. Blessed Thomas is venerated by the Franciscans on 25 October.

Bellacci was a butcher and became a religious after turning his life around from one of sin to one of penance and servitude to God. He travelled across the Middle East and the Italian peninsula to preach the Gospel and against heresies. He drew many young men to follow in his path of penitence.

Tommaso Bellacci was born in Florence in 1370 in the neighbourhood of the Ponte alle Grazie. His parents came from Castello di Linari in Val d’Elsa. His father was a butcher. He got into a good deal of trouble on various occasions during his youth and led such a wild and dissolute life as an adolescent, that parents warned their sons to keep their distance from him. Persuaded by a friend to change his ways, he tried to enter some religious order but found strong resistance to being accepted. He became a butcher like his father.

Bellacci was accused of having committed a serious crime in 1400, which, in fact he had not committed and so, he wandered the streets of Florence in great turmoil and fear, until he met a Priest who listened to his story, took him in and helped clear his name. The incident shocked him so much – coupled with his great gratitude to the Priest – that he shed his life of sin and decided to live a life of total penance and service to God. He joined the Third Order of Saint Francis in Fiesole under the spiritual guidance of Friar Giovanni da Stronconio. He entered as a lay brother Friar and became noted for keeping vigils and fasting. He was known for his diet of water and vegetables.

So great was Thomas’ adherence to the literal interpretation and implementation of the Franciscan Rule, that he was made the Novice Master, despite the fact that he was not a Priest. In this role, he led by example. He became part of the Observant reform and in 1414 accompanied another Friar to Naples to introduce the Observant practice in the Franciscan houses there. He remained in Naples for six years, preaching and helping to spread the reform.

After his sojourn and work in Naples, Thomas founded Monasteries in Corscia. Pope Martin V called him to preach in the northern cities against the “Fraticelli” who were a group of heretical Franciscans and was also made Vicar General at the Pope’s behest. In 1438, he and Albert Berdini of Sarteano were sent to the Middle East to cities such as Damascus and Cairo in order to promote the reunification of the Eastern and Western Churches when he was over 70. Alberto had to return home due to his ill health which left Bellacci to continue the mission alone.

He attempted to travel to Ethiopia but the Turks captured him three times. The Florentine merchants helped to secure his release twice. The third time he was again captured and suffered enslavement and persecution for several years, by now, he was perhaps in his eighties. Pope Eugene IV helped secure his release. He returned home in 1444 and spent his time in a Convent in Abruzzo until he died in 1446.

Nevertheless, Thomas still wished to return to the Orient but he died in Rieti while on a visit to Rome to request the Pope’s permission to return there.

Thomas was Beatified by Pope Clement XIV in 1771.

Posted in INCORRUPTIBLES, JESUIT SJ, PATRONAGE - against EPIDEMICS, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - SAILORS, MARINERS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552) – One of the greatest Missionaries since St Paul

Saint of the Day – 3 December – St Francis Xavier SJ (1506-1552 – aged 46) – Priest, Missionary, co-Founder with St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and St Peter Faber (1506-1546) of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) – he was born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta on 7 April 1506 at Javier, Spanish Navarre, Basque region and died on 3 December 1552 at Sancian, China of a fever contracted on a mission journey.    Patronages:  African missions, black missions, foreign missions (proclaimed on 25 March 1904 by St Pope Pius X), missionaries, sailors, navigators, parish missions, plague epidemics, World Youth Day 2011, Australia, Borneo, Brunei, China, East Indies, India, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Apostleship of Prayer, Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Fathers of the Precious Blood, Missioners of the Precious Blood, University of Saint Francis Xavier, 6 cities, 16 dioceses.  His body is incorrupt.st francis xavier info
St Francis was a companion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris, in 1534.   He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time and was influential in evangelisation work, most notably in India.   He also was the first Christian missionary to venture into Japan, Borneo, the Maluku Islands and other areas.   In those areas, struggling to learn the local languages and in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India.   Xavier was about to extend his missionary preaching to China when he died on Shangchuan Island.ST FRANCES XAVIER

He was Beatified by Pope Paul V on 25 October 1619 and Canonised by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622.   In 1624 he was made co-patron of Navarre.   Known as the “Apostle of the Indies” and “Apostle of Japan”, he is considered to be one of the greatest missionaries since Saint Paul.   In 1927, Pope Pius XI published the decree “Apostolicorum in Missionibus” naming Saint Francis Xavier, along with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patron of all foreign missions.   He is now co-patron saint of Navarre with San Fermin. The Day of Navarre (Día de Navarra) in Spain marks the anniversary of Saint Francis Xavier’s death, on 3 December 1552.

A young Spanish gentleman, in the dangerous days of the Reformation, was making a name for himself as a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris.   He was aspiring, apparently, to a high dignity, until Saint Ignatius of Loyola decided to undertake the spiritual conquest of this ardent soul.   What does it profit a man to gain the entire world, if he suffers the loss of his soul?   Ignatius often repeated to the brilliant teacher. The words of Christ, joined to the example of Ignatius and his disciples, prevailed.   It was not long before his gifted friend decided to labour for the glory of God, by adopting the evangelical life of an apostle, to which he was indeed called.   He was among the first members of the Society of Jesus, those who with Ignatius made their religious vows in the church of Montmartre in Paris, on the feast of the Assumption in 1534.

st ignatius, st francis and st peter - First Companions
St Ignatius, St Peter & St Francis

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St Francis, St Ignatius, St Peter

On his way to Rome with the others, handicapped by severe penances he had imposed on himself, he remained in Venice and exercised a brief apostolate by caring for the sick in the city hospital.   The others waited for him to regain his ability to walk.   These first fervent Jesuits were intending to embark for the Holy Land but were prevented by a war.   In Rome, Francis again went to a hospital to serve the sick and visited the prisons to encourage and console the poor inmates, while preparing for ordination with the others, according to the desire of the Pope.ST FRANCIS XAVIER LG

Saint Ignatius having remained in Venice, the other five returned there afterwards. Francis was sent by Saint Ignatius to the Orient in 1534, where for twelve years he laboured unceasingly to win souls, sleeping only three hours a night, eating very little, and bearing the Gospel to Hindustan, to Malacca and as far as Japan.   At all times thwarted by jealousy, covetousness and the carelessness of those who should have helped and encouraged him, he did not slacken in his apostolic endeavours despite opposition and the difficulties of every sort which he encountered.st francis xavier lg new

Miracles accompanied him everywhere, he resurrected several who had died.    His inexhaustible kindness was not the least of his assets in winning thousands of pagans to the Faith.   He baptised so many that his arm became virtually disabled, ten thousand in a single month in the kingdom of Trevancor, where in the same space of time he saw to the building of forty-five churches.   At Meliapour, site of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas, he found the marble on which the Apostle was sacrificed and which exuded blood the first time Mass was said upon it.   Passing through various islands, cities and provinces of India, he strengthened his first conquests by additional preaching.   He planted crosses in the public squares and overcame all obstacles.saint-francis-xavier-andrea-pozzo-1701

Saint Francis is called Apostle of Japan as well as of India.   There the pagan priests opposed and calumniated him and tried without success to outwit him in debates. Humiliated, they used subtle means to instil dislike for him in the minds of the court authorities.   But he won the love as well as the respect of those he evangelised, blessing them with such miracles as filling the hitherto sterile sea of Cangoxima with inexhaustible reserves of fish.   The vast kingdom of China appealed to his charity and he was resolved to risk his life to force an entry, when God took him to Himself.   It was on 2 December 1552, that the Apostle of the Indies died on Sancian, an island facing the city of Canton in China, like Moses, in sight of the land of promise.

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St Francis on the South Colonnade at St Peter’s Rome

st francis xavier charles bridge prague statue
St Francis on the Charles Bridge, Prague

beautiful statue saint-francis-xavier

St Francis was first buried on a beach at Shangchuan Island, Taishan, Guangdong.   His incorrupt body was taken from the island in February 1553 and was temporarily buried in St Paul’s church in Portuguese Malacca on 22 March 1553.   An open grave in the church now marks the place of Xavier’s burial.   Pereira came back from Goa, removed the corpse shortly after 15 April 1553 and moved it to his house.   On 11 December 1553, Xavier’s body was shipped to Goa.   The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on 2 December 1637. This casket, constructed by Goan silversmiths between 1636 and 1637, was an exemplary blend of Italian and Indian aesthetic sensibilities.   There are 32 silver plates on all the four sides of the casket depicting different episodes from the life of the Saint.   The right forearm, which Xavier used to bless and baptise his converts, was detached by Superior General Claudio Acquaviva in 1614.   It has been displayed since in a silver reliquary at the main Jesuit church in Rome, Il Gesù.

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Casket of Saint Francis Xavier in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India

incorrupt arm of francis xavier at gesu At Rome's Church of the Gesu' (brought to Rome in 1614).
St Francis’ Incorrupt arm at the Jesuit Church of the Gesu, Rome

Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - PREACHERS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751)

Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751) – Born on 20 December 1676 at Porto Maurizio, Italy on the Riviera di Ponente as Paul Jerome Casanova and died at 11:00 pm on 26 November 1751 at the Monastery of Saint Bonaventura, Rome, Italy.    Franciscan Friar, Priest, Preacher – in particular Parish Mission Preacher, ascetic Writer, Spiritual Director.   His Memorial is celebrated in the universal calendar, today, 26 November.  St Leonard founded many pious societies and confraternities and exerted himself to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Passion of Christ.   He was among the few to insist that the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary be defined as a Dogma of the Faith.   Patronages – Missionaries, Preachers, Imperia, Italy. header-San Leonardo de Puerto-Maurizio-26

Leonard was born in 1676 in Port Maurice, on the cost of northern Italy.   His father was a ship captain.   Because he was a gifted student, he was sent to Rome when he was 13 to live with his uncle while attending the Jesuits’ Roman College.   His family wanted him to become a doctor but after completing his studies, Leonard decided to become a Franciscan friar.   He hoped he could become a missionary to China.st leonard glass

After ordination, Leonard became seriously ill with a bleeding ulcer and was sent home.  No one knew if he would recover.   Leonard promised God that if he did get well, he would devote his life to the missions and to helping sinners change their lives.   It took more than four years but Leonard regained his health and began 40 years of mission work.   Surprisingly, he did not become a missionary in foreign lands.   He became a missionary to the people of his own country.S_Leonardo

Leonard travelled throughout Italy, preaching at parish missions and retreats.   He would often spend two or three weeks in a parish before moving on.   That gave him time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with all who wanted to confess their sins and receive God’s forgiveness.   Leonard thought this was the most important part of his ministry.   It was a sign that through his preaching, the Holy Spirit had inspired people to transform their lives and begin to live as followers to Jesus.    St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), called Leonard “the great missionary of the 18th century.”san-leonardo-di-artallo-208157.2.2

Everywhere the saint made conversions and was very often obliged both in cities and country districts to preach in the open, as the churches could not contain the thousands who came to listen.   Pope Clement XII and Pope Benedict XIV called him to Rome;  the latter especially held him in high esteem both as a preacher and as a propagandist and exacted a promise that he would come to Rome to die.   Pope Benedict XIV appointed him to several complex diplomatic assignments.   In Genoa and Corsica, in Lucca and Spoleto the citizens expected a jewelled cardinal to represent the intentions of the pope.   Instead, they were confronted by a humble, shoeless, muddy friar to confound their hostility and pride.st leonard preaching in corsica

Leonard had a great devotion to the Stations of the Cross.   He believed that praying the Stations would help people better understand that through His Passion and Death, Jesus showed His great love for us.   By this Franciscan saint’s work, almost 600 sets of the Stations of the Cross were erected throughout Italy, most of them in the parishes where he had preached and even one at the Colosseum in Rome, which to this day are used by the Holy Father during Lent and especially on Good Friday.   They were a lasting reminder to the people, of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and they encouraged people to stay close to Jesus through prayer.12_11_26_leonard_port_maurice

St Leonard died in Rome in 1751 at the age of 75.   He was Canonised in 1867 and in 1923 he was named the patron saint of parish mission preachers.   His ministry reminds us that Jesus is always calling us to grow in our love for Him and our brothers and sisters. When we think about Jesus’ Death on the Cross, we can remember all people who suffer in their daily journeys.   We can reach out to and pray for the hungry, the homeless, the unborn, the elderly and the neglected people of our world.leonard

Posted in MORNING Prayers, MYSTICS, PATRONAGE - MISSIONS, MISSIONARIES, PATRONAGE - THE SICK, THE INFIRM, ALL ILLNESS, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Resources

Saint of the Day – 1 October – St Thérèse of Lisieux OCD (1873 – 1897)

Saint of the Day – 1 October – St Thérèse of Lisieux OCD (1873 – 1897)  – also known as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face/The Little Flower/Sacred Keeper of the Gardens – Virgin, Religious Nun, Mystic, Writer – born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin on 2 January 1873 at Alcon, Normandy, France – died on 30 September 1897 at Lisieux, France of tuberculosis.   Patronages – Universal Patron of the Missions, African missions, sick people; against bodily ills, illness or sickness, AIDS patients, air crews or pilots; aviators, Australia, black missions, florists and flower growers, foreign missions (proclaimed on 14 December 1927 by Pope Pius XI), loss of parents, missionaries, parish missions, restoration of religious freedom in Russia, tuberculosis, World Youth Day 2013, France (1944 by Pope Pius XII), Russia, Anchorage, Alaska, archdiocese of, Cheyenne, Wyoming, diocese of, Churchill – Baie d’Hudson, Manitoba, diocese of, Fairbanks, Alaska, diocese of, Fresno, California, diocese of, Hamilton, Bermuda, diocese of, Juneau, Alaska, diocese of, Kisumu, Kenya, diocese of, Corner Brook and Labrador, Newfoundland, diocese of, Pueblo, Colorado, diocese of, Witbank, South Africa, diocese of, Apostleship of Prayer.st therese info

THÉRÈSE MARTIN was born at Alençon, France on 2 January 1873.   Two days later, she was baptised Marie Françoise Thérèse at Notre Dame Church.   Her parents were Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin (now Saints, Canonised on 18 October 2015, Memorial 12 July).  After the death of her mother on 28 August 1877, Thérèse and her family moved to Lisieux.Thérèse_Martin-Histoire_d'une_âme-A02

Towards the end of 1879, she went to confession for the first time.   On the Feast of Pentecost 1883, she received the singular grace of being healed from a serious illness through the intercession of Our Lady of Victories.   Taught by the Benedictine Nuns of Lisieux and after an intense immediate preparation culminating in a vivid experience of intimate union with Christ, she received First Holy Communion on 8 May 1884.   Some weeks later, on 14 June of the same year, she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, fully aware of accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit as a personal participation in the grace of Pentecost.

She wished to embrace the contemplative life, as her sisters Pauline and Marie had done in the Carmel of Lisieux but was prevented from doing so by her young age.   On a visit to Italy, after having visited the House of Loreto and the holy places of the Eternal City, during an audience granted by Pope Leo XIII to the pilgrims from Lisieux on 20 November 1887, she asked the Holy Father with childlike audacity to be able to enter the Carmel at the age of fifteen.   On 9 April 1888 she entered the Carmel of Lisieux.   She received the habit on 10 January of the following year and made her religious profession on 8 September 1890 on the Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.popeleo and st therese

In Carmel. she embraced the way of perfection outlined by the Foundress, Saint Teresa of Jesus, fulfilling with genuine fervour and fidelity the various community responsibilities entrusted to her.   Her faith was tested by the sickness of her beloved father, Louis Martin, who died on 29 July 1894.   Thérèse nevertheless grew in sanctity, enlightened by the Word of God and inspired by the Gospel to place love at the centre of everything.   In her autobiographical manuscripts she left us, not only her recollections of childhood and adolescence but also a portrait of her soul, the description of her most intimate experiences.  She discovered the little way of spiritual childhood and taught it to the novices entrusted to her care.   She considered it a special gift to receive the charge of accompanying two “missionary brothers” with prayer and sacrifice.   Seized by the love of Christ, her only Spouse, she penetrated ever more deeply into the mystery of the Church and became increasingly aware of her apostolic and missionary vocation to draw everyone in her path.SaintTherese3

On 9 June 1895, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God.   At this time, she wrote her first autobiographical manuscript, which she presented to Mother Agnes for her birthday on 21 January 1896.

Several months later, on 3 April, in the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, she suffered a haemoptysis, the first sign of the illness which would lead to her death – she welcomed this event as a mysterious visitation of the Divine Spouse.   From this point forward, she entered a trial of faith which would last until her death; she gives overwhelming testimony to this in her writings.   In September, she completed Manuscript B;  this text gives striking evidence of the spiritual maturity which she had attained, particularly the discovery of her vocation in the heart of the Church.saint-therese-of-the-child-jesus-belita-william

While her health declined and the time of trial continued, she began work in the month of June on Manuscript C, dedicated to Mother Marie de Gonzague.   New graces led her to higher perfection and she discovered fresh insights for the diffusion of her message in the Church, for the benefit of souls who would follow her way.   She was transferred to the infirmary on 8 July.   Her sisters and other religious women collected her sayings. Meanwhile her sufferings and trials intensified.   She accepted them with patience up to the moment of her death in the afternoon of 30 September 1897.   “I am not dying, I am entering life”, she wrote to her missionary spiritual brother, Father M Bellier.   Her final words, “My God…, I love you!”, seal a life which was extinguished on earth at the age of twenty-four;  thus began, as was her desire, a new phase of apostolic presence on behalf of souls in the Communion of Saints, in order to shower a rain of roses upon the world.

She was Canonised by Pope Pius XI on 17 May 1925.   The same Pope proclaimed her Universal Patron of the Missions, alongside Saint Francis Xavier, on 14 December 1927.

Her teaching and example of holiness has been received with great enthusiasm by all sectors of the faithful during this century, as well as by people outside the Catholic Church and outside Christianity.therese-painting

On the occasion of the centenary of her death, many Episcopal Conferences have asked the Pope to declare her a Doctor of the Church, in view of the soundness of her spiritual wisdom inspired by the Gospel, the originality of her theological intuitions filled with sublime teaching and the universal acceptance of her spiritual message, which has been welcomed throughout the world and spread by the translation of her works into over fifty languages.

Mindful of these requests, His Holiness St Pope John Paul II asked the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has competence in this area, in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with regard to her exalted teaching, to study the suitability of proclaiming her a Doctor of the Church.

On 24 August, at the close of the Eucharistic Celebration at the Twelfth World Youth Day in Paris, in the presence of hundreds of bishops and before an immense crowd of young people from the whole world, St Pope John Paul II announced his intention to proclaim Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face a Doctor of the Universal Church on World Mission Sunday, 19 October 1997…Vatican.vast-therese-of-lisieux-iii-sheila-diemert