Saint of the Day – 4 February – Saint Aventinus of Troyes (Died c538) Priest, Hermit

Saint of the Day – 4 February – Saint Aventinus of Troyes (Died c538) Priest, Almoner and Administrator of the funds for the See of Troyes, Hermit, Miracle-worker., gifted with a great affinity with animals, who came to him for help when sick or hurt. Born in Bourges, France and died in c538 of natural causes. Patronages – headaches, nervous disorders, of sick animals, of Saint Aventin sous Verrières and the Town of Creney, France. Also known as – Aventin, Aventine.

In the heart of ancient Gaul (today’s France), in the second half of the fifth century, Saint Aventinus was born, probably in Bourges. From the few documents which have come down to us, we know that his parents belonged to the middle class and were very religious. According to tradition, Christianity in those lands already spread in the third century. The sound moral and Christian principles of the parents would form the basis of his holiness – from an early age, Aventinus was held up as a model.

As a teenager, he began to wonder about the purpose of his life. He wanted to visit the most famous holy manof that region, the Bishop St Lupus of Troyes who, in the year 451 had saved the city from the invasion of Attila the Hun, by offering himself as a hostage. The elderly prelate was not slow to see sincere Christian virtues in the young man and desiring to see them brought to fruition for the glory of the Lord and the Church and so, St Lupo kept him with him as a disciple and assistant. It was the happy meeting of two true men of God.

Aventinus distinguished himself by the humility and zeal with which he carried out the work; constant in the practices of piety, he was growing internally. He had as an example a Saint who continually turned his attentions to him. The virtue that shone most in him was charity towards others. Slavery of foreign prisoners of war was widespread in those days – St Lupus and Aventinus did not remain indifferent to the children of God who were treated like beasts. They ransomed as many as they could, collecting alms for this purpose. Given their freedom, they worried about their spiritual health, often helping them to approach the Sacraments. St Luuso died in 479 and was succeeded by St Camelianus, who, knowing well the virtues of Aventinus, made him Steward, with ample power to manage alms.

God only knows how widespread poverty was and Aventinus’ attention to the poor was never limited to material aid. He aroused amazement at the miraculous way the Bishop’s finances could cope with so many expenses, there was something supernatural at work. Aventinus fame went on spreading but he, keeping faith with his humility and with the deep regret of the Bishop, decided to retire.

He was welcomed into a hermitage with the will to sanctify himself by living in solitude. Although he was not inclined to lead, he was soon elected Superior of the community. Precious was his example and the retreat became a school of perfection. That place was later named after him.

While living withdrawn from the world, he could not help but think about the redemption of slaves. Among others, news reached him of a certain Fidolus, of rare virtues, perhaps already a cleric, originally from Auvergne, who had lost his freedom at the hands of Theodoric I, King of Austrasia. It was about the year 530. Aventinus ransomed him for twelve gold pieces. Fidolus’ happiness and gratitude was immense and he decided to join the holy community, which seemed a most natural development.

Meanwhile, Aventinus’ fame was spreading again among the people who often visited him. The tranquility of the brothers was compromised and Aventinus decided to leave. It was Fidolus himself who took over the position of Superior (he died with fame as a Saint on 16 May 540).

Aventinus withdrew to a solitary place along the Seine, about seven miles distant from Troyes. He had only brought with him some bread, legumes, a hoe and some seeds. He did not want to be a burden to anyone. Finally he had achieved the desired tranquility, dividing his time between prayer, work and penance. He slept little, wore a poor and rough dress, ate only three days a week.

A few years passed but even here he could not escape the admiration of the people, while not even the Bishop St Camelianus had forgotten about him. The latter, who also knew well of his knowledge of the Psalms and Sacred Scripture, conferred upon him Sacred Orders. The maturity of the years was crowned by the Priesthood. He lived peacefully the last period of his life celebrating Mass near his hut, for the benefit of the locals.
Demanding with himself, he looked to the needs of his neighbour with his big heart, also curing those who were sick. His charity became legendary and it is said that even a bear knocked on his door one night. He lay down on the ground and held out a paw in which a thorn was stuck. The hermit assisted him by releasing the thorn and bandaging his wound.

He fell asleep in the peace of the Lord on 4 February of the year 538. Acclaimed Saint and Patron of those places he had lived, a few years later Bishop Vincent had a Church built in his honour, where he placed his precious Relics and in which he then wanted to be buried. Chapels and Churches were erected in his honour, even outside France. From time immemorial he has been particularly invoked against headaches and nervous diseases. Today, near Troyes, a Town has his name (Saint Aventin sous Verrières) and Creney venerates him as Patron.

St Aventinus, Hermit and Priest, is not to be confused with the Aventinus, the Saint Bishop of Chartres, who died in 520, also venerated on today, 4 February.


Among the many graces
which the Lord grants through your intercession,
glorious Saint Aventinus,
frequent are the cures from headaches
and other nervous diseases,
of which you have been a singular protector
since time immemorial.
With all humility and trust
I resort to your patronage
and I ask you to obtain
from the Supreme Giver of all good,
health of mind and body
so that I may serve God with greater fervour
and attend to the duties of my state.
I ask you, not only for freedom from headaches
but also for the grace
to live as a studious emulator of your examples,
that I may one day attain eternal happiness,
where faith guides me
and hope invites me.


Quote of the Day – 3 February – The Blessing of St Blaise

Quote of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c316) Martyr Bishop, Physician, Miracle-worker

The Blessing of the Throats is a Sacramental of the Church, ordinarily celebrated today, the Feast day of Saint Blaise.

Through the intercession
of Saint Blaise,
Bishop and Martyr,
may God deliver you
from ailments of the throat
and from every other evil.
In the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

c 1000 portrayal at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Kyiv

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Clement by Tiepolo

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

Martyrdom of St Clement by Fungai

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


Saint of the Day – 16 November – St Othmar of Saint Gall (c 689-c 759) known as “Poor Father”

Saint of the Day – 16 November – St Othmar of Saint Gall (c 689-c 759) Priest, the Founder and first Abbot of the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland, founder of a hospital and a school as well as the famous Library of St Gall (see below), which is the oldest working Library in the world, Apostle of the poor and sick, defender of his people and Abbey against secular usurpers. Born as Alemanne Othmar in c 689 probably near St Gallen and died on 16 November 759 on the Island of Werd-on-the-Rhine, near Echnez, Switzerland. Patronages – of winegrowers, vintners, against childhood diseases and diseases in general, of the Diocese of St. Gallen and the Monatery of St Gall (with St Gall).Also known as -“Poor”Father Audomar, Otmar.

Othmar was born of the Alemannic dialectic group of Germans spoken in certain parts of South Germany, in Alsace (France), Vorarlberg (Austria), Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He received his education in Rhaetia, Switzerland and was Ordained to the Priesthood there. For a time he presided over a Church of St. Florinus in the same location.

Parish church Saint Othmar in Kirchberg. High altar: Statue of Saint Othmar (1710)

In 720, he was appointed as the Superior of the Monks of St Gall (Died 646- Feast 16 October) and Custodian over the Saint’s Relics, who at the time, lived separately but followed a single rule of life. Othmar built a Monastery to accommodate them and united the Monks who lived about the cell of St Gall, according to the Rule of St Columban and became their first Abbot. He added a hospital and a school to the foundation. During his Abbacy the Rule of St Columban was replaced by that of St Benedict.

The Abbey was soon endowed with goods from Alemannic landowners who cared for their salvation but also wanted to keep their goods out of the hands of the Frankish Empire.

Othmar gave away Monastery assets to the poor, built the first house for lepers in Switzerland near the Monastery and took in the sick, blind and poor in another building, where he also looked after them at night. The close connection between the Monastery Monks and the common people, was the reason for his missionary successes and earned him the name “Poor Father.” Fearing the growing wealth of his Monastery, he dressed himself simply, only riding a donkey instead of a horse.

When King Karlmann renounced his throne in 747, he visited Othmar at St Gall and gave him a letter to his brother, King Pepin, recommending Othmar and his Monastery to the King’s generosity and protection. Othmar personally brought the letter to Pepin and was kindly received.

Painting of St Othmar by Eduard von Grützner 1920

The flourishing Monastery of St Gallen then got caught up in the turmoil of politics in the Frankish Kingdom. When the Counts Warin and Ruodhart unjustly tried to gain possession of some property belonging to St Gall Abbey, Othmar fearlessly resisted their demands. Hereupon they captured him while he was on a journey to Constance and held him prisoner, First he was in the dungeon of the Royal Palace, then led to a show trial, at which he was accused of desecrating a woman and sentenced to death by starvation, later commuted to life imprisonment. He finally found asylum with Count Gozbert on the Rhine Island of Werd near Stein am Rhein but did not survive the abuse he had endured for long and died there.

Othmar’s biographer Gozbert reports that ten years later, in 769, Monks from St Gallen wanted to bring back the body of the Monastery Founder and found it intact. The brothers took a wine barrel with them as provisions for the journey and it always stayed full on the way there and back, no matter how much they drank from it. A storm that was devastating the whole area was miraculously kept away from the ship on the journey across Lake Constance and from the tomb, so that not even the candles at Othmar’s feet and head, went out.

In 867 he was solemnly entombed in the new Church of St Othmar at St Gall. His cult began to spread soon after his death and now he is, next to St Maurice and St Gall, the most popular Saints in Switzerland. His cult was officially recognised in 864 by Bishop Solomon I (Bishop of Constance).

St Gallrn Cathedral dedicated to St Gall and Sr Othmar

His Feast is celebrated on 16 November. He is represented in art as a Benedictine Abbot, generally holding a little barrel in his hand, an allusion to the miracle, that a barrel of St Othmar never became empty, no matter how much he took from it to give to the poor.

The famous and oldest working library in the world established by St Othmar’ at the Monastery of St Gall

St Gallen Cathedral is dedicated to Saints Gall and Othmar. St Othmar Chapel on Werd island was erected in his memory.

Statue of Saint Othmar on the Wall of the Abbey of St Gall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saint of the Day – 15 October – St Teresa of Jesus

Saint of the Day – 15 October – St Teresa of Jesus of Avila OCD (1515-1582) Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Practical Considerations
On the Life of Saint Teresa
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)

I. Teresa began in early youth, after the teachings of her pious parents, to read devout books. From this, she first drew the spirit of piety. No sooner, however, had she become interested in reading worldly books, than she grew, from day-to-day, more indolent in the service of God and she returned, not to her first fervour, until she had cast aside those works and again resumed her pious reading – a proof of the great benefit we may derive from devout books and of the harm which worldly writings may do us.
Oh! that those, who desire to, live piously, may understand this and conform their lives to it.
Oh! that all Christians would guide their children, from their early youth, to the reading of devout books!

II. Teresa, after the death of her mother, chose the Blessed Virgin to be another mother to her, and sought and found, in her, comfort and assistance in all her needs. Thrugh her intercession and that of St Joseph, she received the grace of being constant in her reform.
Love Mary as your mother – seek, with filial trust, consolation and assistance from her.
St Joseph should be one of your principal Patrons, as his intercession is very powerful with the Almighty and, especially, as he has now been solemnly declared the Patron Saint of the Universal Church.

III. The sight of the wounded Jesus, filled the heart of St Teresa with great contrition for her former indifferent life. It inflamed her with true love of God and kept her, until her end, in these sentiments. Consider frequently how your Saviour suffered for your sake and repent of your sins sincerely, as they were the cause of Christ’s bitter Passion.
Love your Redeemer with all the strength of your heart and make the resolution to serve Him in future most fervently.

IV. Teresa saw the place in hell which would have been hers, if she had not discontinued her idle discourses and her indifference in the worship of the Most High. Hence, she often gave humble thanks to God that He had not condemned her and she learned, by it, how hurtful even a menial sin can become, since it may lead us gradually to the path of everlasting perdition.
You have still more reason to give thanks to God that He did not call you away, from this mortal life, in your sin.
How long would you already have been in hell?
If idle, empty conversation would have led Teresa gradually into hell, what may you not have to fear, if you do not abstain from so much sinful talking, in which you indulge?
Learn also that you should not esteem a venial sin, however small it appears to you, as trifling, for, it may slowly lead you to damnation!

V. Many other lessons, which the life of St Teresa contains, I leave to yourself to consider. One thing only I request of you. Call to mind frequently the words which the Saint uttered in her ecstasy:
Only one God!
Only one death!
Only one soul!
Love this only God and do not offend Him.
Take earnest care of your only, your precious, your immortal soul. ‘Keep thyself, therefore and thy soul, carefully
.’ (Deut., iv.)”


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.


Saint of the Day – 25 August – St Louis IX (1214-1270) Confessor

Saint of the Day – 25 August – St Louis IX (1214-1270) King of France Confessor, King, Reformer, Apostle of Charity.

This remarkable man was born on 25 April 1214, near Paris, France. When his grandfather, King Philip II of France, passed away, his son, Prince Louis the Lion, became King Louis VIII. His wife became Queen Blanche. Their son, now Prince Louis, was only nine-years-old.

Three years later Louis’ father died and the boy was crowned King Louis IX. Because of his young age the Queen Mother, Blanche, took over the reins of government. A great woman in her own right, she made sure her son would be prepared for his life as King. Queen Blanche, also known as Blanche of Castille, took her Catholic faith very seriously. She was rigid and determined in teaching her son the faith and managed to instill genuine piety and a deep sense of devotion in him. She was quoted as having told her son, “I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child but I would rather see you dead at my feet, than that you should commit a mortal sin.

At the age of 21, Louis took charge of the government. His mother’s influence in his life was apparent because there was a force within Louis that made him strive to rule justly and to attain sanctity. King Louis had a pronounced affinity for the sick and poor of his kingdom. He treated the downtrodden with compassion, understanding and with a humility that was unheard of in a king.

Everyday King Louis IX would have three special guests called in from among the poor to have dinner with him…Since there were always crowds of poor and hungry outside the palace, he would try to have as many of them fed as was possible. During Lent and Advent anyone who presented themselves before him was given a meal and often, the King served them himself. He even had lists compiled of needy people in every Province under his rule.

Louis married his true love, Margaret of Provence on 27 May 1234. Queen Margaret was filled with religious fervour as was her husband and they truly made a beautiful couple while setting a fine example for all married couples. They both enjoyed each other’s company and liked riding together, listening to music and reading. King Louis and Queen Margaret had eleven children.

Louis was a strong-willed and strong-minded man with a powerful faith. His word was trusted throughout the Kingdom, and his courage, in taking action against wrongs was remarkable. Amazingly, this King had true respect for anyone with whom he had dealing, especially the poor and downtrodden. King Louis built Churches, libraries, hospitals and orphanages. He treated both Princes and commoners equally.

King Louis had taken his army on the 7th Crusade in 1248. This proved to be a disaster and the king was captured by the Muslims. After an absence of six years, he was successfully ransomed and returned home. In 1270 he sought redemption for his first failure and embarked on another crusade. It was summer in northern Africa and dysentery and typhoid swept through the dirty camps. King Louis IX, died while lying on a bed of ashes saying the name of the City he had not relieved; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

Pope Boniface VIII, proclaimed Louis a Saint in 1297. He is the only King of France named a Saint by the Church. This man was a true gentleman as he tried to treat everyone with courtesy, love and respect, whilst remaining strong and just at the same time. He is most beloved both in France and across the Catholic world.

More St Louis:


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

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.
A group of Saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Notable Martyrs Saints within the Group are:
Acacius, Barbara, Blaise, Christopher, Cyriacus, Catherine of Alexandria, Denis, Erasmus of Formia, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.

Devotion to these fourteen ,as a group, spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hour. Many died without the last Sacraments.

Brigands roamed the streets, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the Saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance.

Pope Nicholas V attached Indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.

Saint Christopher and Saint Giles are nvoked against the plague itself.
Saint Denis is prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat,
Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies,
Saint Barbara for fever and Saint Vitus against epilepsy.
Saint Pantaleon is the Patron of physicians,
Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed and Saints Christopher, Barbara and Catherine, for protection against a sudden and unprovided death.
Saint Giles is prayed to for a good Confession and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles.
Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague and so, Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus are invoked for the protection of these animals.
Saint Margaret of Antioch is the Patron of safe childbirth.

The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and social duties. If they, with the aid of God’s grace, achieved such victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the very little which is desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal bliss – the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession of His Servants and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith, sees nothing extraordinary therein because our Divine Saviour, Himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do and greater than these shall he do” (John 14:12). In all the miraculous events wrought in and by the Saints, there appears only the victorious omnipotent Power of Jesus Christ and the living faith, in which His Servants operated in virtue of this power.

The histories of the Saints are called Legends.
This word is derived from the Latin,and signifies something that is to be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed.
Therefore, the Legends of the Saints are the lives of the holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith.
Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic Clergy is obliged to read everyday.

(The corruption of this word has occurred in modern times, giving it a meaning of either “unprovable story or celebrity.”)

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


Saint of the Day – 8 March – Saint Senan of Scattery (c 488-541)

Saint of the Day – 8 March – Saint Senan of Scattery (c 488-541) Monk, Abbot, Founder of many Monasteries and Churches. miracle-worker, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. Born in c 488 at Corca Bhaisin, County Clare, Ireland, tradition says that Saint Patrick foretold his birth and saintliness and died on 8 March 544 at Inish Cathaig, Ireland of natural causes. Patronages – sailors and bodily afflictions. Also known as – Senan of Inis Cathaigh, Senames… Additional Memorial – 6 January as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.

Senan was born in Corca Bhaisin, County Clare about 488. It seems that Senan’s family had two farms, one at Moylough and the other at a place called Tracht Termainn.

He placed himself under the Abbot Cassidan and took the monastic Habit. Cassidan was originally from South-west Cork. Senan then went to the Monastery of Kilmanagh (Ossory) to continue his preparations for the religious life. There he was credited with the performance of many miracles. He is next heard of having established a Church at Enniscorthy. The Book of Lismore states that Senan went to Rome and from there to Tours, which was at that time, the great monastic establishment in West Europe. Returning to Ireland,Senan established a Church and Monastery at Inniscarra, in Cork. Returning to his native district, he began his work on the islands of the Fergus . He crossed to Mutton Island, then to Bishop’s Island, south of Kilkee. Finally, about 534, he established himself at Scattery, the low green island about a mile off the coast off Kilrush.

Before Senan arrived on Scattery, also called Inis Cathaig, a legendary monster called “The Cathach” inhabited the island and terrorised the people who were afraid to approach the island. Sometimes referred to as the “peist” or sea-serpent, the Cathach was depicted on a carving in the old chapel of Kilrush as the “Cata.” On his arrival in the island, the Angel Raphael led Senan to the highest hill from which he was able to locate the Cathach. He then faced the monster and ordered it, in the name of the Trinity, to depart from the island. The Cathach obeyed immediately and “neither stopped nor stayed” until he reached the dark waters of Doolough Lake at the foot of Mount Callan.

Little is known of the Saint’s life in Scattery beyond the miracles recorded and the fact that the rule of his monastery was austere in the extreme. Apparently, no woman was allowed to live in or even land on the island. St Cainir, a relation of enans, had a convent to the West of Ballylongford. She crossed the river and hoped to end her days on Scattery Island but Senan forbade her to come ashore. She requested the last sacraments and a grave on the island. Senan agreed to this and she was buried at high water mark.

Senan died on 8 March 544. The river Shannon is believed to be named after him. His patron day on 8 March is an important day of pilgrimage to Inis Cathaig. He is buried on Scattery Island. The grave is supposed to be the site of miraculous cures as well as the miraculous holy well. Stones from St Senan’s Bed (his grave) were regarded as relics and a protection against diseases and especially drowning. In the folklore of West Clare the cult of Senan still survives.

In 1864 it is reported, that the Saint appeared in a vision to a paralysed woman who had visited Senan’s grave on the island. He came to her in a dream and asked her why she had come. She told the bearded man she wanted to be cured of her disease and trusted in the intercession of St Senan whom she had invoked. The next morning she awoke and found herself completely healed!

The above statue of St Senan came all the way from Australia and now rests in the parish of Doonbeg in West Clare.


Saint of the Day – 15 January – Saint Romedius of Nonsberg (Died 4th Century or 11th Century)

Saint of the Day – 15 January – Saint Romedius of Nonsberg/theologians Hermit, Penitent., Pilgrim. Born in Thaur, Tyrol, Austria and died in the 4th Century in Salzburg, Austria of natural causes. Also known as – Romedio of Hohenwart, Romedio of Salzburg, Romedio of Sanzeno, Romedio of Thaur. Romedio. Additional Memorial – 1st Sunday in October (translation of relics). Patronages – against accidents, against bone diseases, against danger at sea, against fever, against fire, against floods, against hail, against headaches, against toothaches, of prisoners, theology students/theologians, travellers/pilgrims. Canonised on 24 July 1907 by Pope Pius X (cultus confirmation).

The Roman Martyrology states: “In the Val di Non in Trentino, St Romedius, an anchorite, who, having given his possessions to the Church, led a life of penance in the hermitage that still bears his name today.”

Romedius was the son and heir of the wealthy Count of Thaur, the lord of a castle near Innsbruck and owner of salt pans in the valley of the River Inn. After a pilgrimage to Rome, Romedius gave all his possessions to the Church, withdrawing into a hermitage in grottoes in the Val di Non. he was accompanied by two companions, Abraham and David.

A later date emerges from the history of his works and extensive research. It is most likely that Romedius came from the family of the Counts of Andechs , lived in the 11th century, gave up his fortune in Thaur and joined the then spreading mendicant movement.  After a visit to the Bishop of Trento , he visited the Martyrs’ graves of Alexander , Martyrius and Sisinnius in Sanzeno. It is believed that he died at the age of 74.

Romedius is often depicted alongside or astride a bear. According to his hagiography he wanted to visit the friend of his youth, St Vigilius, Bishop of Trento (who died in 405) but his horse was torn to pieces by a wild bear. Romedius, however, had the bear bridled by his disciple David. The bear became docile and carried Romedius on its back to Trento.

Upon Romedius’ death, his body was laid to rest in a small tomb above his cave in the mountains, a site that was soon visited by pilgrims. The Sanctuary of San Romedio grew from the little Church that was built to venerate him, to a popular pilgrimage site. The Santuario di San Romedio is across the lake from Cles at the head of the Val di Non, above the village of Sanzeno. The Sanctuary where Romedius lived with his bear companion, is now a complex of several Churches, from the Romanesque period to the 20th century beyond a gateway on the forested slopes. Votive offerings of crutches line the walls of the narrow stone stairwell up to the highest chapel, said to mark the site of the Saint’s retreat.

Staircase with votive offerings in the 
Hermitage at Tavon, 1706

His local cult, which consolidated itself in the course of the 11th century, was officially recognised in the twelfth by the Bishop of Trento. In 1795, permission was given for special offices in his name in the Diocese of Brixen, which at that time, included the Northern Tyrol. His cult remains popular in Trentino, Bavaria, and the Tyrol.

Romedius’ Bear
In remembrance of this legend, in 1958 Italian Senator G. G. Gallarati Scotti, honorary member of the committee for the foundation of the World Wildlife Fund in Italy, purchased Charlie, a bear intended to be killed and donated it to the Sanctuary of San Romedius, in the Valle di Non.

Today, the Province of Trentino protects the last brown bears of the Alps in the Adamello-Brenta National Park and, near the Sanctuary, takes care of young bears born in captivity in Trentino.

Relief at the pilgrimage church near Thaur

In the work known as Illustrissimi, a collection of letters written by Pope John Paul I when he was Patriarch of Venice, Romedius’ bear is one of the “recipients” of the letters.


Saint of the Day – 9 January – Blessed Julia of Certaldo OSA(1319-1367)

Saint of the Day – 9 January – Blessed Julia of CertaldoOSA (1319-1367) Laywoman, Third Order Augustinian, Recluse, Ascetic, Mystic living a life of prayer and penance. Born in 1319 at Certaldo, Italy as Giulia and died on 9 January 1367 of natural causes. Patronages – of the City and Diocese of Certaldo, Augustinian tertiaries, Against the plague/epidemics. all sickness, ailments. Also known as – Giulia della Rena da Certaldo, Julia della Rena.

The Roman Martyrology states of her today: “In Certaldo in Tuscany, Blessed Giulia della Rena, of the Third Order of Saint Augustine, who lived alone for God in a narrow cell next to the Church.

Julia was born in Tuscany, near Certaldo, in 1319, of a family of noble origin. After being orphaned at a young age, she entered the service of the Tinolfi family in nearby Florence, There, having come into contact with the Augustinians and their spirituality, she took on the habit of the secular Third Order Augustinians when she was not yet twenty. She was professed in 1388 at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

But the tumult in Florence caused her to return home to Certaldo where she rescued a child from a burning building. This act of charity and heroism brought her unwanted fame and attention. Julia, feeling drawn to a more radical and austere vocation, decided to take refuge in a small room attached to the Augustinian Church of Sts Michael and James. She had little in her small cell save for a two little windows and a Crucifix. The windows opened, one into the Church to attend the sacred mysteries, the other towards the outside, to receive the food that popular piety would send her.

Julia would never leave her little “hermitage.” She lived there, segregated from the world for thirty years, following the long path of asceticism and mysticism to the end. Penance and prayer filled her day, as she sought daily to unite herself to Christ and to do penance and mortification, for all the sins of the world.

The people of Certaldo and the surrounding area, were devoted to this holy woman and took it upon themselves to assist her material existence with victuals and whatever she needed. The popular tradition tells, that even the children ran to her aid in large numbers, bringing her something to eat and that Julia, grateful and smiling, reciprocated with beautiful fresh flowers in any season of the year, even when the ground was covered with snow!

Nothing more is known about Julia, except that she was greatly revered by her fellow citizens for the life of piety she lived . It was as if she “belonged” to them as family.

Julia died around the year 1367. Her cult developed immediately after her passing, since the dedication of an Altar in the same Church where she had lived and where her body had been interred dates to 1372. Since 1506, the Certaldese Municipality contributed to the feast in honour of the Blessed, whose intercessory protection was attributed, several times, for the liberation from contagions diseases and the plague.

His mortal remains are venerated in Certaldo in the Church of Sts James and Philip, which once belonged to the Augustinians and where her Feast is celebrated with great honour each year, as the Patron of the region.

Her cult from time immemorial, was confirmed by Pope Pius VII on 18 May 1819 raising her to the Altars as Blessed Julia of Certaldo and inserting her name in the Roman Martyrology.

To celebrate the Bicentennial of the death of Blessed Julia, on 9 January 2019, the Bishop, Monsignor Andrea Migliavacca, launched a year of devotion to the protector of Certaldo, with a solemn Procession and Holy Mass to pay homage to Blessed Julia, Supported by the Municipality of Certaldo, a full year of exhibitionsm devotions and events began.

During the celebration, the new silver Reliquary, made for the occasion thanks to the gift of silver by the people of Certaldo and the new banner of the Opera Beata Giulia Apostolate was inaugurated and blessed. In addition, a votive lamp was lit, which burnt next to the Altar of the Blessed Julia, for the whole of 2019.


Saint of the Day – 17 November – Saint Hugh of Lincoln O.Cart. (1135-1200)

Saint of the Day – 17 November – Saint Hugh of Lincoln O.Cart. (1135-1200) Carthusian Monk, Bishop of Lincoln, England, Confessor, Exorcist, Diplomat, Social Reformer and Protector of the poor and unjustly treated. Born in c 1135 at Avalon Castle, Burgundy, France and died on 16 November 1200 at London, England of natural causes. Patronages – sick children, sick people, swans, shoemakers. Also known as – Hugh of Avalon, Hugh of Burgundy. St Hugh was the first Carthusian Monk to be Canonised.

The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “In England, St Hugh, Bishop, who was called from a Carthusian Monastery to the government of the Church of Lincoln. He ended his holy life in peace, renowned for many miracles.

Hugh was born at the Château of Avalon of a noble family, the son of Guillaume, Duke of Avalon. His mother died when he was eight, years old and because his father was a soldier, he was sent away for his education. When his father returned from military excursions, he retired from the world to the Augustinian Monastery of Villard-Benoît, near Grenoble and took his son Hugh, with him.

In 1140 Hugh joined the Carthusian Order at the age of 20 at Grande Chartreuse. He was highly regarded for his intellectual ability, his integrity and kind and caring nature. In 1175, at the request of Henry II, he was sent to England to found the first English Charterhouse at Witham in Somerset, which he did in the face of obstacles of all kinds. It flourished so well under his care, that in 1181 the King chose him to be Bishop of Lincoln. Hugh was reluctant to leave the monastic life but agreed and moved to Lincoln in 1186. He set about rebuilding the part of the Cathedral which had been damaged in an earthquake the previous year.

The Diocese was vast and Hugh travelled ceaselessly on horseback, ministering to the needs of the people. He stayed at small diocesan manors, as he travelled through the countryside. The most central of these was what has become Buckden Towers which he built, halfway between Lincoln and London. As a Bishop, he was exemplary, constantly in residence or travelling within his Diocese, generous with his charity, scrupulous in the appointments he made. He raised the quality of education at the Cathedral school and began the restoration of the Cathedral, which had been damaged by fire.

Hugh was known for his love of justice and his kindness to the oppressed, children and animals. Throughout his ministry he tended to lepers and in 1190 he risked his life to protect a group of Jews from violence. He also upheld the rights of the peasants against the King’s harsh and unjust forestry laws. Although he was highly principled and outspoken, his conciliatory nature and sense of humour helped him to win over his opponents.

St Hugh exorcises a man possessed by the devil

As one of the premier Bishops of the Kingdom of England Hugh more than once accepted the role of diplomat to France for Richard and then for King John in 1199, the latter trip took great toll on his health. He Consecrated St Giles’ Church, Oxford, in 1200. There is a Cross consisting of interlaced circles cut into the western column of the tower that is believed to commemorate this. Also in commemoration of the Consecration, St Giles’ Fair was established and continues to this day each September. While attending a national Council in London, a few months later, he was stricken with an unnamed ailment and died two months later on 16 November 1200

Hugh was held in great affection by everyone from peasants to monarchs and on his death at the age of 60, he was greatly mourned. At his magnificent funeral the Kings of England and Scotland helped to carry the bier. He was buried in Lincoln Cathedral and Canonised on 18 February 1220 by Pope Honorius III.

St Hugh is usually depicted as a Bishop, sometimes as a Carthusian. In either case he is accompanied by a swan, the swan of Stow, Lincolnshire (site of a palace of the bishops of Lincoln) which had a deep and lasting friendship with the Saint, even guarding him while he slept. The swan would follow him about, and was his constant companion while he was at it was reported that a fierce swan at his manor at Stow became very tame and attached to him, eating from his hand and yet, the swan would attack anyone else who came near Hugh!

At Avalon, a round tower in the Romantic Gothic style, was built by the Carthusians in 1895 in Hugh’s honour on the site of the castle where he was born.


Saint of the Day – 30 January – Saint Bathilde (c 626–680)

Saint of the Day – 30 January – Saint Bathilde (c 626–680) Queen, Regent, Widow and Mother, Religious, Apostle of the poor and of slaves, Social Reformer, pioneer in the abolition of Slavery, founder of Monasteries. Born in c 630 in England and died on 30 January 680 of natural causes. Other forms of her name are Bathilidis, Bathild, Batilda, Bathchilde and Bauteur. Patronage – children, the sick, all bodily illness, widows

An Anglo-Saxon by birth, Bathilde was captured in 641 by Danish raiders and sold to Erchinoald, the Chief Officer of the Palace of Clovis II, King of the Franks. She quickly gained favour, for she had charm, beauty and a graceful and gentle nature. She also won the affection of her fellow-servants, for she would do them many kindnesses such as cleaning their shoes and mending their clothes and her bright and attractive disposition endeared her to them all.

The Officer, impressed by her fine qualities, wished to make her his wife but Bathilde, alarmed at the prospect, both by reason of her modesty and of her humble status, disguised herself in old and ragged clothes and hid herself away among the lower servants of the palace and he, not finding her in her usual place and thinking she had fled, married another woman.

Her next suitor, however, was none other than the King himself, for when she had discarded her old clothes and appeared again in her place, he noticed her grace and beauty and declared his love for her. Thus in 649, the 19-year-old slave girl Bathilde became Queen of France, amidst the applause of the Court and the Kingdom. She bore Clovis three sons – Clotaire III, Childeric II and Theodoric III–all of whom became Kings. On the death of Clovis (c 655-657), she was appointed Regent in the name of her eldest son, who was only five and ruled capably for eight years with Saint Eligius (feast day 1 December) as her Advisor.

St Eligius blessing St Bathilde

She made a wonderful Queen and ruled wisely. Unlike many who rise suddenly to high place and fortune, she never forgot that she had been a slave and did all within her power to relieve those in captivity. We are told that “Queen Bathilde was the holiest and most devout of women; her pious munificence knew no bounds; remembering her own bondage, she set apart vast sums for the redemption of captives.” She helped promote Christianity by supporting the zeal of Saint Owen (feast day, 24 August), Saint Leodegar (feast day 2 October 2) and many other Bishops.

St Bathilde at the deathbed of St Eligius

At that time, the poorer inhabitants of France, were often obliged to sell their children as slaves, to meet the crushing taxes imposed upon them. Bathilde reduced this taxation, forbade the purchase of Christian slaves and the sale of French subjects and declared, that any slave who set foot in France, would from that moment be free. Thus, this enlightened women earned the love of her people and was a pioneer in the abolition of slavery.

She also founded many Abbeys, such as Corbie, Saint-Denis and Chelles, which became civilised settlements in wild and remote areas, inhabited only by prowling wolves and other wild beasts. Under her guidance forests and waste land were reclaimed, cornland and pasture took their place and agriculture flourished. She built hospitals and sold her jewellery to supply the needy.

After her children were well established in their respective territories, Childeric IV in Austrasia and Thierry in Burgundy, she returned to her wish for a secluded life and retired to her own Royal Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, where she served the other nuns with humility and obeyed the Abbess like the least of the sisters. On entering the Abbey she laid down the insignia of royalty and desired to be the lowest in rank among the sisters. It was her pleasure to take her position after the novices and to serve the poor and infirm with her own hands. Prayer and manual toil occupied her time, nor did she wish any allusion made to the grandeur of her past position. In this manner she passed fifteen years of retirement. At the beginning of the year 680 she had a presentiment of the approach of death and made religious preparation for it.

She died at the Abbey of Chelles, near Paris, before she had reached her 50th birthday. Death touched her with a gentle hand; as she died, she said she saw a ladder reaching from the Altar to heaven and up this she climbed, in the company of angels.

Bathilde was buried in the Abbey of Chelles and was Canonised by Pope Nicholas I (820-867) Papacy 858-867.


Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Géry of Cambrai (c 550 – 626) Bishop

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Géry of Cambrai (c 550 – 626) Bishop of Cambrai, Founder of Monateries, Churches and of St Géry Island off  Belgium, Géry devoted himself to the fight against paganism, Miracle-worker – born at Trier, Germany and died in 626 of natural cause in Cambrai, Belgium.   Also known as Gaugericus, Gaugerico, Gorik, Djèri, Gau.   Additional Memorials – 18 November for the exhumation of his relics and 24 September for the translation of his relics.   Patronages – prisoners, the healing of lepers and skin diseases, against diseases of cattle, consumption and deformities of the legs, Cambrai and the Archdiocese – in France, Brussels, Braine-le-Comte – in Belgium.   From his gift of delivering captives, there is attached, his power to deliver the victims of the demon and the influences of ill-intentioned people. He is also the Patron Saint of many Churches in the regions of Cambrai, Bierne, Valenciennes and Arras, as well as in Belgium.514px-ST GERY BETTER PIC Hôtel_de_ville_de_Bruxelles_-_Tympan_04

Géry was born to Roman parents, Gaudentius and Austadiola, at Eposium (present Carignan).

Tradition states that Bishop Magnerich, successor of Saint Nicetas as Bishop of Trie, was so impressed with the piety of the young man that he Ordained him as a Deacon but not before Géry had memorised the entire psalter.   Magnerich entrusted Géry with the pastoral care of the city of Cambrai.   Géry founded Churches and Abbeys, including a Monastery dedicated to St Medard, to host relics, which contributed powerfully to giving Cambrai both the appearance and functions of a city.

Around the year 580, Géry built a Chapel on the largest island in the Senne near Brussels.   Saint-Géry Island is named after him.

When the see of Cambrai-Arras fell vacant around 585, Géry was elected Bishop with the consent of Childebert II.   He was consecrated by Egidius, Bishop of Reims.   Bishop Géry devoted himself to fighting paganism, ransoming captives and visiting rural districts and villages. He paid his respects to King Chlothar II, the new lord of Cambrai after the death of Childebert.   Bishop Géry made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Martin in Tours and assisted at the Council of Paris in 614.386px-ST GERY Getijdenboek_Van_Reynegom_(verluchting),_KBS-FRB_39

Géry also built a Church dedicated to Saint Martin, where he had relics of this Saint deposited.   The steeple of this church was to become, much later, the belfry of the city.   Having obtained pieces of the Holy Cross, Géry had a Church built to house them.   Finally, he had an Episcopal palace built near his Cathedral.   He transferred, between 584 and 590, the Episcopal see from Arras to Cambrai.   Géry erected a Chapel (in Saint Michel , later Saints-Michel-et-Gudule Cathedral), which soon became a Church and gave birth to the city of Brussels.

After serving as Bishop for thirty-nine years, he died on 11 August 626 and was buried in the Church of Saint Médard, which he had founded at Cambrai.   Veneration commenced immediately after his death.   His reliquary is still on display in the south transept of the Saint Géry church in Cambrai.

St Géry is credited with many miracles, the healing of a leper, of a blind man and, during his travels through his Diocese, he freed many prisoners, criminals, children taken into slavery.   It is said that he delivered his Diocese from a dragon.

When the Church of Saint Medard was demolished by the Emperor Charles V for the building of the citadel, the canons were removed and took with them, the relics of the Saint, to the old church of Saint Vedast, which from that time, has borne the name of Saint Gery.   The Church of Saint Géry is one of the oldest in Cambrai and a listed historical monument since 1919.Eglise_St-Géry_Cambraichurch st gery with statues

st gaugericus statue church of st gery france
You can see this Statue of St Géry on the front facade of the Church in his honour, above.

His feast day is mentioned in the Martyrology of Blessed Rabanus Maurus for today, 11 August.

st gaugericus gery and st aubertus
St Géry, left and St Aubertus, right


Saint of the Day – 3 January – Saint Genevieve (c 419-c 502)

Saint of the Day – 3 January – Saint Genevieve (c 419-c 502) Virgin, apostle of prayer and of the poor and sick – Patronages – against plague, against natural disasters, against fever, French security forces (chosen in 1962), Paris, France, Women’s Army Corps.   In 451 she led a “prayer novena” that was said to have saved Paris by diverting Attila’s Huns away from the city.   When the Germanic king Childeric I besieged the city in 464, she acted as an intermediary between the city and its besiegers, collecting food and convincing Childeric to release his prisoners.   Her following and her status as patron saint of Paris were promoted by Clotilde – Princess and Saint (c 474-545), who may have commissioned the writing of her vita. st genevieve 1.jpg

On his way to combat heresy in Britain, St Germanus of Auxerre (c 378-c 448) made an overnight stop at Nanterre, France.   In the crowd that gathered to hear him speak, Germanus spotted Genevieve, a beautiful 7-year-old girl and he foresaw her future holiness.   When he asked little St Genevieve if she wanted to dedicate her life to God, she enthusiastically said yes.   So he laid hands on her with a blessing, thus launching the spiritual career of one of France’s most admired saints.

St Genevieve.jpg
Saint Genevieve, seventeenth-century painting, Musée Carnavalet, Paris

St Genevieve was born around the year 420 in the small French village of Nanterre.  After both of her parents died, she went to live with her godmother in Paris.   She was admired for her piety and works of charity and she practised corporal austerities which included abstaining completely from meat and breaking her fast only twice in the week. Many of her neighbours, filled with jealousy and envy, accused Genevieve of being an impostor and a hypocrite.

At 15, Genevieve formally consecrated herself as a virgin but continued to live as a laywoman.   Because of her generous giving to the poor, she became widely known in the vicinity around Paris.   At first, however, Genevieve met great hostility.   But St Germanus defused it by authorising her with public signs of his genevieve 2.jpg

Once when the Franks were besieging Paris, Genevieve rescued the city from starvation by leading a convoy of ships up the Seine to Troyes to obtain food.   In this selection from her biography, we learn that she had to work a miracle to bring it home safely:

During the return voyage, however, the ships were so buffeted by the wind . . . that the high holds fore and aft in which they had stored the grain tipped over on their sides.   And the ships filled with water.   Quickly Genovefa, her hands stretched toward heaven, begged Christ for assistance.   Immediately the ships were righted.   Thu,s through her, our God . . . saved eleven grain-laden ships. . . .st genevieve 4.jpg

When she returned to Paris, her sole concern was to distribute the grain to all according to their needs  . She made it her first priority to provide a whole loaf to those whose strength had been sapped by hunger.   Thus, when her servant girls went to the ovens they would often find only part of the bread they had baked. . . .  But it was soon clear who had taken the bread from the ovens for they noticed the needy carrying loaves throughout the city and heard them magnifying and blessing the name of Genevieve.  For she put her hopes not in what is seen but in what is not seen.   For she knew the Prophet spoke truly who said: “Whoever is kind to the poor is lending to God” (Proverbs 19:17).   For through a revelation of the Holy Spirit she had once been shown that land, where those who lend their treasure to the poor expect to find it again.   And for this reason, she was accustomed to weep and pray incessantly, for she knew that as long as she was in the flesh she was exiled from the Lord.

From that time Genevieve enjoyed a heroine’s status and used her influence and wonders on the city’s behalf.   For example, she persuaded Childeric, who had conquered Paris, to release many captives.   And in 451, when Attila the Hun was advancing on the city, she got the populace to pray and fast for their safety.   The invader changed his course and Paris was spared.   She also became a trusted adviser to Clovis, the king of the genevieve icon.jpg

St Genevieve had a particular devotion to St Denis (died 3rd century) and wished to erect a chapel in his honour to house his relics.   Around the year 475 Genevieve purchased some land at the site of the saint’s burial where a shrine was built.   This small chapel became a famous place of pilgrimage during the fifth and sixth centuries.

When Genevieve died around 500, she was buried in the church of Sts Peter and Paul at Paris.   So many miracles occurred through her intercession there that it became a pilgrimage spot and came to be called St Genevieve.

St Genevieve’s Tomb

The King, Clovis, founded an abbey for St Genevieve, where she was later re-interred. Under the care of the Benedictines, who established a monastery there, the church witnessed numerous miracles wrought at her tomb.   In the year 1129, the city was saved from an epidemic, the relics of St Genevieve were carried in a public procession.

About 1619 Louis XIII named Cardinal François de La Rochefoucauld abbot of Saint Genevieve’s.   The canons had been lax and the cardinal selected Charles Faure to reform them.   This holy man was born in 1594 and entered the canons regular at Senlis.   He was remarkable for his piety and, when ordained, succeeded after a hard struggle in reforming the abbey.   Many of the houses of the canons regular adopted his reform.   In 1634, he and a dozen companions took charge of Saint-Geneviève-du-Mont of Paris.   This became the mother-house of a new congregation, the Canons Regular of St Genevieve, which spread widely over France.624px-Sainte_Genevieve_façade_Saint-Etienne-du-Mont.jpg


Feast of St Andrew, Apostle of Christ, Martyr – 30 November

Feast of St Andrew, Apostle of Christ, Martyr – 30 November

Saint Andrew was the brother of the Apostle Peter and like his brother was born in Bethsaida of Galilee (where the Apostle Philip was also born).   While his brother would eventually overshadow him as the first among the apostles, it was Saint Andrew, a fisherman like Peter, who (according to the Gospel of John) introduced Saint Peter to Christ.saint-andrew-the-apostle-nicolas-tournier (1).jpg

St Andrew was a fisherman who lived in Galilee during the time of Jesus.   He followed John the Baptist and listened to his teachings.   One day, John saw Jesus walking along the road.   John said to his followers, “Behold the Lamb of God.”   He told his followers to go and talk to Jesus.   He wanted them to know that Jesus was the One for whom they had been waiting.   Andrew and another disciple followed Jesus and spent an afternoon with him.   Early the next day Andrew found Simon Peter, his brother and told him, “We have found the Messiah.”

Both men gave up their work as fishermen to become apostles of Jesus.   Andrew was one of the first to be called.   He seemed to take delight in bringing others to Jesus. Saint-Andrew-Anthony-van-Dyck-Oil-Painting.jpg

Andrew was the one who told Jesus about the little boy who had the loaves of bread and the fish, the beginning of a meal that fed more than five thousand people.

It was Andrew and Philip whom the Greeks approached when they wanted to see Jesus. These events indicate that Andrew was a man who was easy to approach, a man you could trust.599px-Artus_Wolffort_-_St_Andrew_-_WGA25857.jpg

Like the other apostles, Andrew became a missionary.   He preached about Jesus in the area around the Black Sea.   Tradition tells us he preached in northern Greece, Turkey and Scythia (now the southern part of Russia).

Tradition places Saint Andrew’s martyrdom on 30 November of the year 60 (during the persecution of Nero) in the Greek city of Patras.   A medieval traditional also holds that, like his brother Peter, he did not regard himself as worthy of being crucified in the same manner as Christ and so he was placed on an X-shaped cross, now known (especially in heraldry and flags) as a Saint Andrew’s Cross.   The Roman governor ordered him bound to the cross rather than nailed, to make the crucifixion and thus Andrew’s agony, last longer.576px-The_Crucifixion_of_Saint_Andrew-Caravaggio_(1607)

Because of his patronage of Constantinople, Saint Andrew’s relics were transferred there around the year 357.   Tradition holds that some relics of Saint Andrew were taken to Scotland in the eighth century, to the place where the town of S. Andrews stands today.  In the wake of the Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, the remaining relics were brought to the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Amalfi, Italy.  In 1964, in an attempt to strengthen relations with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople, Pope Paul VI returned all relics of Saint Andrew that were then in Rome to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Every year since then, the Pope has sent delegates to Constantinople for the feast of Saint Andrew (and, in November 2007, Pope Benedict himself went), just as the Ecumenical Patriarch sends representatives to Rome for the 29 June feast of Saints Peter and Paul (and, in 2008, went himself).   Thus, like his brother Saint Peter, Saint Andrew is in a way a symbol of the striving for Christian andrew apostle interesting

St Andrew’s Feast takes pride of place in the Liturgical Calendar, for in the Roman Catholic calendar, the liturgical year begins with Advent and the First Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.  Though Advent can begin as late as 3 December, Saint Andrew’s feast, today is traditionally listed as the first Saint’s day of the liturgical year, even when the First Sunday of Advent falls after it—an honour commensurate with Saint Andrew’s place among the apostles   The tradition of praying the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena 15 times each day from the Feast of Saint Andrew until Christmas flows from this arrangement of the calendar.

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The name “Andrew” is a Greek name meaning “courageous” or “manly.”   St Andrew lived up to his name.

St Andrew, pray that we live up to the name “Christian”!

St Andrew’s Patronages are here: vatican statuest andrew apostle statue snip


Saint of the Day – 15 October – Saint Teresa of Avila OCD (1515-1582)

Saint of the Day – 15 October – Saint Teresa of Avila OCD (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church “Doctor of Prayer” Seraphic Virgin, Reverend Mother, Prioress.

Probably one of the most famous artworks of St Teresa – by French painter François Gérard (1827)

St Teresa of Jesus, honoured by the Church as the “seraphic virgin,” virgo seraphica and reformer of the Carmelite Order, ranks first among women for wisdom and learning.   She is called doctrix mystica, doctor of mystical theology; in a report to Pope Paul V the Roman Rota declared:  “Teresa has been given to the Church by God as a teacher of the spiritual life.   The mysteries of the inner mystical life which the holy Fathers propounded unsystematically and without orderly sequence, she has presented with unparalleled clarity.”   Her writings are still the classic works on mysticism and from her, all later teachers have drawn, e.g., Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori.   Characteristic of her mysticism is the subjective-individualistic approach; there is little integration with the liturgy and social piety and thus, she reflects the spirit of the sixteenth and following centuries.

And this is a drawing by French painter François Gérard

Teresa was born at Avila, Spain, in the year 1515.   At the age of seven she set out for Africa to die for Christ but was brought back by her uncle.   When she lost her mother at twelve, she implored Mary for her maternal protection.   In 1533 she entered the Carmelite Order; for eighteen years she suffered physical pain and spiritual dryness. Under divine inspiration and with the approval of Pope Pius IV, she began the work of reforming the Carmelite Order.   In spite of heavy opposition and constant difficulties, she founded thirty-two reformed convents.

Truly wonderful were the exterior and interior manifestations of her mystical union with God, especially during the last decade of her life.   These graces reached a climax when her heart was transfixed (transverberatio cordis), an event that is commemorated in the Carmelite Order by a special feast on 27 August.

                                The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini,                                      Basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

Indeed, Teresa was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.

Teresa is regarded as one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology as unique. Her writings on this theme, stem from her personal experiences, thereby manifesting considerable insight and analytical gifts. Her definitions have been used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Teresa states: “Contemplative prayer, in my opinion is nothing other than a close sharing between friends.   It means frequently taking time to be alone with Him whom we know loves us.”   Throughout her writings, Teresa returns to the image of watering one’s garden as a metaphor for mystical teresa mosaic

She practised great devotion to the foster-father of Jesus, whose cult was greatly furthered throughout the Church through her efforts.   When dying, she often repeated the words: “Lord, I am a daughter of the Church!”   Her holy body rests upon the high altar of the Carmelite church in Ala, Spain, her heart with its mysterious wound is reserved in a precious reliquary on the Epistle side of the altar.

Below are the statues of St Teresa at the Vatican, the first on the Colonnade and the second inside St Peter’s.StTheresa-NorthColonnade-56StTheresaofJesus-RNave



Saint of the Day – 8 March – St John of God OH (1495-1550)

Saint of the Day – 8 March – St John of God OH (1495-1550)

“All things pass, only good works last”

Miracles of St John of God

During his lifetime, St John of God accomplished miracles both small and large.   Daily he went out into the streets of Granada, providing help for the poor, the sick and the mentally disturbed.   He would often give the cloak off his back to someone who had no cloak.   The home he rented was a place of refuge for  john of god.jpeg

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary a miracle is defined as, “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs,” and “an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing or accomplishment.”

St John’s daily activities of providing a place for unwanted people to feel loved and safe can be described as daily, small miracles for the people who needed help.   In the book Saints for Sinners by Alban Goodier, he writes about St John. “He could wash his patients and dress their sores;  he could kiss their feet and let them feel that somebody cared;  he could put them to bed and give them a sense of home.”st john of god 3.jpg

Keep in the mind, that the Granada of St John’s time was not the modern city it is today. Roads were unpaved and people walked everywhere.   Their feet were most likely the dirtiest parts of their bodies.   By kissing them, St John imitated Jesus’s actions toward His disciples and showed complete humility and compassion for these individuals.
St John lived out the commands of our Saviour to love one another and to love your neighbour as yourself.   Jesus says in Matthew 26:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Despite his earnest desire to serve Christ, St John faced oppression and had enemies who did not believe he was sincere in his service.   He would often care for his patients during the day and beg for alms at night.   Even though he faced hardships, his needs were always met and God always provided for his cause (another miracle).
Perhaps the grandest and best known of St John of God’s miracles was his rescuing of the patients from a fire in the hospital of Granada and yet escaping from the flames unscathed.   For this reason, he is the patron saint of firefighters.

Considered an impulsive man, one night, St John heard that the Royal Hospital of Granada was on fire.   When he rushed to the scene, he saw that people were just standing there watching the fire burn  . All the patients were inside the burning building. This non-action was unthinkable to St John and he rushed inside, leading all the patients to safety.
Once he knew that all the patients were safe, St John ran back into the building and started throwing items such as blankets and mattresses out the windows of the hospital. In his mission, St. John knew the importance of these goods for caring for the sick.   He wanted to salvage as much as possible.

By this point, the city had brought a canon to try to destroy and separate the burning part of the hospital from the non-burning portion, in its best efforts to contain the fire. However, St John could not accept this.   He ran up to the roof and started separating the two parts of the hospital with his axe.

Although he was successful, he fell through the burning roof.   Bystanders thought he had perished in the fire, until he appeared out of the smoke and ashes unharmed.
In an essay titled “St John of God, Founder of the Order of Charity,” written by Fr Francis Xavier Weninger in 1877, Weninger wrote, “The flame of Divine love which burned in his heart surpassed the intensity of the material fire.”st john of god - beautiful statue.jpg

In addition to performing great miracles, St John of God was also the recipient of divine intervention and spiritual favours.   Throughout his lifetime, he received assistance from heavenly beings including the Holy Mother and the Archangel Raphael.   His name of St John of God comes from a vision he had of the infant Jesus, who bestowed the name upon him.

Another time, St John experienced a heavenly vision when he found a dying beggar on the streets of Granada.   St John carried the man to the hospital and began washing the beggar’s feet.   While doing so, the man became transfigured with a shining light and brightness enveloped both himself and St John.   Later as St John was walking through the hospital alone, patients saw such a bright light surrounding him that they thought he was on fire.   He had a difficult time convincing the patients that all was well.

St John of God of was Canonised by Pope Alexander VIII on 16 October 1690, over 140 years after his death.   Today he remains the patron saint of hospitals, the sick, nurses, firefighters, alcoholics and booksellers.   His legacy and miracles live on through the Hospitaller Brothers and all of the good works they are accomplishing in our world today.   His Order looks after the Holy Father and the Vatican Household too.john of God - san-juan-de-dios-manuel-caro.jpg

The Museum of St John of God in Granada


Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette

Saint of the Day – 6 March – St Colette PCC (1381-1447 -aged 66) Abbess and Foundress of the Colettine Poor Clares, a reform branch of the Order of Saint Clare.

Renewing religious institutions is not easy.   We would expect a person chosen to reform convents and monasteries to be formidable.   Maybe even physically tall, overbearing, and somewhat threatening.   God, however, doesn’t seem to agree.   For example, in the fifteenth century he selected St Colette, a young woman the opposite of these characteristics, to call Franciscans to strict observance of the rules of St Clare and St Francis.Santa_Coleta_(pormenor_-_Santa_Clara_e_Santa_Coleta,_c._1520,_Mestre_da_Lourinhã)

Not that Colette was unimpressive.   She was a beautiful woman whose radiant inner strength attracted people.   However, her spirituality, her commitment to God and her heart for souls, not her physical qualities, suited her for her reforming mission.

At seventeen, upon her parents’ death, Colette joined the Franciscan Third Order.   She lived for eight years as a hermit at Corbie Abbey in Picardy.   Toward the end of this time, St Francis appeared to her in a vision and charged her to restore the Poor Clares to their original austerity.   When Friar Henry de Beaume came in 1406 to conform her mission, Colette had the door of her hut torn down, a sign that her solitude was over and her work begun.   And she then prayed for her commitment:

“I dedicate myself in health, in illness, in my life, in my death, in all my desires, in all my deeds, so that I may never work henceforth, except for your glory, for the salvation of souls and towards the reform for which you have chosen me.   

From this moment on, dearest Lord, there is nothing which I am not prepared to undertake for love of You.”36colette5

Colette’s first reports to reform convents met vigorous opposition.   Then she sought the approval of the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, who professed her as a Poor Clare and put her in charge of all convents she would reform.   He also appointed Henry de Beaume to assist her.   Thus equipped, she launched her reform in 1410 with the Poor Clares at Besancon.   Before her death in 1447, the saint had founded or renewed seventeen convents and several friaries throughout France, Savoy, Burgundy and Spain.

Like Francis and Clare, Colette devoted herself to Christ crucified, spending every Friday meditating on the passion.   She is said to have miraculously received a piece of the cross, which she gave to St Vincent Ferrer O.P. (1350-1419) when he came to visit her.

St Joan of Arc (c 1412–1431) once passed by Colette’s convent in Moulins but there is no evidence that the two met.   Like Joan, Colette was a visionary.   Once, for instance, she saw souls falling from grace in great numbers, like flakes in a snowstorm.   Afterward, she prayed daily for the conversion of sinners.   She personally brought many strays back to Christ and helped them unravel their sinful patterns.   At age sixty-six, Colette foretold her death, received the sacrament of the sick and died at her convent in Ghent, Flanders.

St Colette’s Habit, kept in Ghent, Belgium


Saint of the Day – 30 November – St Andrew, Apostle of Christ, Martyr

Saint of the Day – 30 November – St Andrew, Apostle of Christ, Martyr – Called the “First Called ” – born at Bethsaida, Galilee and was Martyred by crucifixion on a saltire (x-shaped) cross in Patras Greece (around the year 62) – Patronages:  fishermen, fishmongers and rope-makers, textile workers, singers, miners, pregnant women, butchers, farm workers, protection against sore throats, protection against convulsions, protection against fever, protection against whooping cough, Scotland, Barbados, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Patras, Burgundy, San Andrés (Tenerife), Diocese of Parañaque, Telhado, Amalfi, Luqa (Malta) and Prussia; Diocese of Victoria.ANDREW - GLASS maxresdefault

The first striking characteristic of Andrew is his name – it is not Hebrew, as might have been expected but Greek, indicative of a certain cultural openness in his family that cannot be ignored.   We are in Galilee, where the Greek language and culture are quite present.   Andrew comes second in the list of the Twelve, as in Matthew (10: 1-4) and in Luke (6: 13-16); or fourth, as in Mark (3: 13-18) and in the Acts (1: 13-14).   In any case, he certainly enjoyed great prestige within the early Christian communities.   The kinship between Peter and Andrew, as well as the joint call that Jesus addressed to them, are explicitly mentioned in the Gospels.   We read:  “As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.   And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men'” (Mt 4: 18-19; Mk 1: 16-17).

From the Fourth Gospel we know another important detail:  Andrew had previously been a disciple of John the Baptist and this shows us that he was a man who was searching, who shared in Israel’s hope, who wanted to know better the word of the Lord, the presence of the Lord.   He was truly a man of faith and hope and one day he heard John the Baptist proclaiming Jesus as, “the Lamb of God” (Jn 1: 36), so he was stirred and with another unnamed disciple followed Jesus, the one whom John had called “the Lamb of God”.   The Evangelist says that “they saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day…” (Jn 1: 37-39).   Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus.   The account continues with one important annotation:  “One of the two who heard John speak and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.   He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (Jn 1: 40-43), straightaway showing an unusual apostolic spirit.

Andrew, then, was the first of the Apostles to be called to follow Jesus.   Exactly for this reason the liturgy of the Byzantine Church honours him with the nickname: “Protokletos”, [protoclete] which means, precisely, “the first called”.Sant_Andrea_S

The Gospel traditions mention Andrew’s name in particular on another three occasions that tell us something more about this man.   The first is that of the multiplication of the loaves in Galilee. On that occasion, it was Andrew who pointed out to Jesus the presence of a young boy who had with him five barley loaves and two fish, not much, he remarked, for the multitudes who had gathered in that place (cf. Jn 6: 8-9). In this case, it is worth highlighting Andrew’s realism.   He noticed the boy, that is, he had already asked the question: “but what good is that for so many?” (ibid) and recognised the insufficiency of his minimal resources.   Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for the multitude of people who had come to hear Him.

The second occasion was at Jerusalem.   As He left the city, a disciple drew Jesus’ attention to the sight of the massive walls that supported the Temple.   The Teacher’s response was surprising:  He said that of those walls not one stone would be left upon another.   Then Andrew, together with Peter, James and John, questionedHhim: “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” (Mk 13: 1-4). In answer to this question Jesus gave an important discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem and on the end of the world, in which He asked His disciples to be wise in interpreting the signs of the times and to be constantly on their guard.   From this event we can deduce that we should not be afraid to ask Jesus questions but at the same time that we must be ready to accept even the surprising and difficult teachings that He offers us.andrew snip

Lastly, a third initiative of Andrew is recorded in the Gospels:  the scene is still Jerusalem, shortly before the Passion.   For the Feast of the Passover, John recounts, some Greeks had come to the city, probably proselytes or God-fearing men who had come up to worship the God of Israel at the Passover Feast.   Andrew and Philip, the two Apostles with Greek names, served as interpreters and mediators of this small group of Greeks with Jesus.   The Lord’s answer to their question – as so often in John’s Gospel – appears enigmatic but precisely in this way proves full of meaning.   Jesus said to the two disciples and, through them, to the Greek world:  “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.   I solemnly assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (12: 23-24). Jesus wants to say:  Yes, my meeting with the Greeks will take place but not as a simple, brief conversation between myself and a few others, motivated above all by curiosity.   The hour of my glorification will come with my death, which can be compared with the falling into the earth of a grain of wheat.   My death on the Cross will bring forth great fruitfulness, in the Resurrection the “dead grain of wheat” – a symbol of myself crucified – will become the bread of life for the world, it will be a light for the peoples and cultures. Yes, the encounter with the Greek soul, with the Greek world, will be achieved in that profundity to which the grain of wheat refers, which attracts to itself the forces of heaven and earth and becomes bread. In other words, Jesus was prophesying about the Church of the Greeks, the Church of the pagans, the Church of the world, as a fruit of His Pasch.

Some very ancient traditions not only see Andrew, who communicated these words to the Greeks, as the interpreter of some Greeks at the meeting with Jesus recalled here but consider him the Apostle to the Greeks in the years subsequent to Pentecost.   They enable us to know that for the rest of his life he was the preacher and interpreter of Jesus for the Greek world.ANDREW ICON

Peter, his brother, travelled from Jerusalem through Antioch and reached Rome to exercise his universal mission, Andrew, instead, was the Apostle of the Greek world.   So it is that in life and in death they appear as true brothers – a brotherhood that is symbolically expressed in the special reciprocal relations of the See of Rome and of Constantinople, which are truly Sister Churches.

A later tradition, as has been mentioned, tells of Andrew’s death at Patras, where he too suffered the torture of crucifixion.   At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus.   In his case it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross, which has thus come to be known as “St Andrew’s cross”….Pope Benedict XVI – 14 June 2006


Andrew is the patron saint of several countries and cities and is the patron saint of Prussia and of the Order of the Golden Fleece.  He is considered the founder and the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium and is consequently the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.   The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and those of some of the former colonies of the British Empire) feature Saint Andrew’s saltire cross. The saltire is also the flag of Tenerife, the former flag of Galicia and the Russian Navy Ensign.

The feast of Andrew is observed on 30 November in both the Eastern and Western churches and is the national day of Scotland.   In the traditional liturgical books of the Catholic Church, the feast of Saint Andrew is the first feast day in the Proper of Saints.VATICAN - ANDREW STATUE -640px-Saint_Andreas


Saint of the Day – 28 November – St Catherine Labouré DC (1806-1876)

Saint of the Day – 28 November – St Catherine Labouré DC (1806-1876) Virgin, Religious Sister of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and is a Marian visionary.   St Catherine was born on 2 May 1806 at Fain-les-Moûtiers, Côte d’Or, Burgundy, France as Zoe Labouré and died on 31 December 1876 at Enghien-Reuilly, France.   Her body is incorrupt and is entombed in glass beneath the side altar in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris.   Patronages – Miraculous Medal, infirm people, the elderly.header - st catherine laboure

Catherine Zoé Labouré was born in a small village of France in 1806, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer who had at one time wanted to become a priest and his very Christian wife.   Catherine, the ninth of the eleven living children, lost her mother when she was only nine years old and had to abandon school to go to live with an aunt, accompanied by her younger sister.   Two years later she was recalled to take charge of the household, because the older children had all left, one to become a Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul, the others to marry or seek a living elsewhere.

She made a vow of virginity when still very young, desiring to imitate the Holy Virgin, to whom she had confided herself when her mother died.   She longed to see Her and she prayed, in her simplicity, for that grace.   She spent as many hours as possible in the Chapel of the Virgin in the village church, without, however, neglecting the work of the household.   She talked to Our Lady as to a veritable mother and indeed the Mother of Christ and ours, would prove Herself to be such.   Catherine wished to become a nun, without having opted for any particular community but one day she saw a venerable priest in a dream, saying Mass in her little village church.   He turned to her afterwards and made a sign for her to come forward but in her dream she retreated, walking backwards, unable to take her gaze from his face.   He said to her – ‘Now you flee me,but later you will be happy to come to me, God has plans for you.’   The dream was realised and, as a postulant in the Community of Saint Vincent de Paul, she assisted at the translation of his relics to a nearby church of Paris.   She had indeed recognised his picture one day in one of the convents of the Sisters of Charity and obtained her father’s consent to enter that Congregation when her younger sister was old enough to replace her at catherine laboure info

Catherine’s interior life was filled with the visions she frequently had of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, where once she saw Him as Christ the King.   And the designs of God for this humble novice began to be fulfilled, after Our Lady appeared to her in July of 1830 and confided to her the mission of having a Medal struck according to the living picture she saw one night, when a little Angel led her to the convent Chapel, and there she knelt at the Virgin’s feet to hear the words which would be the motivating force of her forty-six years of religious life.   The Blessed Mother displayed herself inside an oval frame, standing upon a globe, rays of light came out of her hands in the direction of a globe.   Around the margin of the frame appeared the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”   As Catherine watched, the frame seemed to rotate, showing a circle of twelve stars, a large letter M surmounted by a cross, and the stylized Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary underneath.   Asked why some of the rays of light did not reach the Earth, Mary reportedly replied “Those are the graces for which people forget to ask.”   Catherine then heard Mary ask her to take these images to her father confessor, telling him that they should be put on medallions. “All who wear them will receive great graces.”

Once more,  she would see the Blessed Mother, on 27 November of the same year, when one afternoon while at prayer with her Sisters, she beheld Her to one side of the chapel, Her feet poised on a globe, on which was prostrate a greenish serpent; the hands of the Virgin were holding a golden globe at the level of the heart, as though offering it to God, said Catherine later, in an attitude of supplication, Her eyes sometimes raised to heaven, sometimes looking down at the earth and Her lips murmuring a prayer for the entire world.   The face of the Virgin was of incomparable, indescribable beauty, with a pleading expression which plunged the Sister into ravishment, while she listened to Her prayers.   The Immaculate Virgin, after having offered to God Her Compassion with the suffering Christ, prayed for all men and for each one in particular;  she prayed for this poor world, that God might take pity on its ignorance, its weakness and faults and that by pardoning He would hold back the arm of Divine Justice, raised to strike.   She prayed the Lord to give peace to the universe. st catherine and our lady

For many years Catherine kept her secrets from all save her confessor, Father Jean-Marie Aladel (1800-1865), priest of the Mission of Saint Vincent, who, wanting to be able to continue with his penitent, saw to it that she was not sent far from Paris, after he had fulfilled the first mission of having the Medal struck.   He died, however, before having the statue made according to this second vision, as Our Lady desired.   Catherine suffered much from her inability to accomplish the second part of her mission.   When she finally confided this second desire of Our Lady to her Sister Superior, a statue of Our Lady, Queen of the World and Mediatrix of all Graces, was made for two Chapels of the nuns.

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Fr Jean-Marie Aladel

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Saint Catherine died in 1876, after spending the next 40 years of her life in the domestic and agricultural duties associated with the kitchen and garden and in general caring for the elderly of the Hospice of Enghien at Reuilly, only about three miles southeast of Paris. Among her writings recounting the apparitions, we read:  “Oh, how beautiful it will be to hear it said, Mary is Queen of the universe.   That will be a time of peace, joy and happiness which will be long… She will be borne like a banner and will make a tour of the world.   The Virgin foretold that this time would come only after the entire world will be in sadness… Afterwards, peace.”

She was Beatified on 28 May 1933 by Pope Pius XI and Canonised on 27 July 1947 by Pope Pius XII.the Incorrupt body of St Catherine Laboure


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 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


Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Philomena (c 291 – 304) “The Wonder Worker”

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Philomena (c 291 – 304) “The Wonder Worker”  Virgin, Martyr.   Patronages – against barrenness, infertility, sterility, against bodily ills, against mental illness, against sickness, sick people, babies, infants, newborns, toddlers , children, young people, youth, Children of Mary, desperate, forgotten, lost or impossible causes, Living Rosary, orphans, poor people, Priests, prisoners, students, test takers.giuseppe-bezzuoli-santa-filomenast philomena header

The tomb of this virgin and martyr, unknown until the first years of the 19th century, was providentially discovered in 1802 in the catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria, Rome, Italy.   It was covered by stones, the symbols on which indicated that the body was a martyr named Saint Philomena.   The bones were exhumed, catalogued and effectively forgotten since there was so little known about the person.Cathédrale_Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption_de_Montauban_-_Couronnement_de_sainte_Philomène_-_Jules_Jolivet_PM82000423

In 1805 Canon Francis de Lucia of Mugnano, Italy was in the Treasury of the Rare Collection of Christian Antiquity (Treasury of Relics) in the Vatican.   When he reached the relics of Saint Philomena he was suddenly struck with a spiritual joy and requested that he be allowed to enshrine them in a chapel in Mugnano.   After some disagreements, settled by the cure of Canon Francis following prayers to Philomena, he was allowed to translate the relics to Mugnano.   Miracles began to be reported at the shrine including cures of cancer, healing of wounds and the Miracle of Mugnano in which Venerable Pauline Jaricot was cured a severe heart ailment overnight.   Philomena became the only person recognised as a Saint solely on the basis of miraculous intercession as nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her philomena 2

God, by many miracles, made the discovery of Saint Philomena’s body famous and the cult of the young Saint spread everywhere with an extraordinary rapidity.   She received such exceptional homage, that she deserves to be placed in the first ranks of the virgin martyrs, whom the Church venerates.   The Holy Curé of Ars called her his dear little Saint and performed wonders himself by his prayers to philomena Masa Feszty (Hungarian, 1895–1979)

Certain revelations having the character of authenticity say that Saint Philomena was the daughter of a Greek prince, who accompanied her parents to Rome on a journey and that her glorious martyrdom occurred there under Diocletian in the third century.   The two arrows engraved on her tombstone in opposite directions referred to the efforts of the persecutor to slay her with a volley of arrows, after Angels preserved her from death by drowning;  the arrows turned against the archers.   Finally she was beheaded, like so many other miraculously protected heroes and heroines of Christ.   This opinion, which certain circumstances attending the translation of her relics in 1805 to the city of Mugnano appeared to verify, has prevailed.   In that city, devotion to her has been extraordinary and remains so to this day, miracles have multiplied both there and elsewhere for those who invoke her.

Other very serious studies, maintain that she was a child of the Roman people, immolated in the first century for Jesus Christ, at the age of twelve or thirteen years.   An examination of her bones permitted her age to be estimated and the vial of dried blood in her tomb clearly indicated her martyrdom.   The instruments of torture painted on the terra cotta plaque which enclosed her tomb — an arrow, an anchor, a torch — show us what sort of tortures she bore, all of which are known to us through other martyrdoms of the same early centuries.   The inscription:   Peace be with you, Philomena, reveals her

What is beyond doubt is that this Saint responds unfailingly to the faith of those who invoke her.   Invoked everywhere with wonderful success, she was entitled the wonder-worker of the 19th century.   She has shown herself to be the protectress, in particular, of small children.   A mother whose young son died despite her prayers, placed a picture of the Saint on his corpse, begging that he be returned to her.   And the child rose as though from sleep, stood up beside his bed and had no more symptoms of any sickness whatsoever.   A little girl who had put out her eye playing with a pair of scissors, which injury was declared irreparable by physicians, had her eye restored when she washed her face in oil taken from the Saint’s lamp and this eye seemed to everyone more vivid and bright than the philomena

Many doubts remain about this little Saint, however, although she is no longer anywhere on the Church’s calendar, devotion to her has never floundered or diminished.   Personal devotion to any saint and we know ourselves, that there are many unknown saints around us and when they leave this earth, we ask them for their prayers of intercession and therefore, the faithful continue without doubt to venerate St Philomena.

Popes loved her and they were joined in fervour by some of the era’s greatest saints  . John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, called Philomena the True Light of the Church Militant.   He built a basilica in her honour, where he installed the relic he had been given by the Venerable Pauline Jaricot, foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. (Innumerable “pagan babies” were given the name Philomena in honour of the foundress’s favourite saint, as I recall.)   Father Damien dedicated the first leper chapel on Molokai in her honour.   The American missionary saints John Neumann and Frances Cabrini spread devotion to Philomena throughout the Catholic United States.   St Peter Julian Eymard was a great devotee as was St Anthony Mary Claret.  Padre Pio, himself no mean wonder-worker, once silenced critics of her cult by snarling, “For the love of God!  It might well be that her name is not Philomena but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.”st philomena statue


Saint of the Day – 30 July – St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) “Golden Words”

Saint of the Day – 30 July – St Peter Chrysologus (c 400-450) “Golden Words” Father & Doctor of the Church – Bishop of Ravenna, Italy.   Patronages – against fever, against mad dogs, of Imola, Italy.

Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus, a fifth-century Italian bishop known for testifying courageously to Christ’s full humanity and divinity during a period of the heresy called Monophysite.

The saint’s title, Chrysologus, signifies “golden speech” in Greek.   Named as a Doctor of the Church in 1729, he is distinguished as the “Doctor of Homilies” for the concise but theologically rich reflections he delivered during his time as the Bishop of Ravenna.

His surviving works (176 of sermons), offer eloquent testimony to the Church’s traditional beliefs about Mary’s perpetual virginity, the penitential value of Lent, Christ’s Eucharistic presence, and the primacy of St Peter and his successors in the Church.header - st peter chyrsologus

Few details of St Peter Chrysologus’ early life are known.   He was born in the Italian Town of Imola in either the late fourth or early fifth century but sources differ as to whether this occurred around 380 or as late as 406.

Following his study of theology, Peter was Ordained to the Diaconate by Imola’s local Bishop Cornelius, whom he greatly admired and regarded as his spiritual father. Cornelius not only Ordained Peter but taught him the value of humility and self-denial.  The lessons of his mentor inspired Peter to live as a Monk for many years, embracing a lifestyle of asceticism, simplicity and prayer.   His simple monastic life came to an end, however, after the death of Archbishop John of Ravenna in 430.   After John’s death, the clergy and people of Ravenna chose a successor and asked Cornelius, still the Bishop of Imola, to journey to Rome and obtain Papal approval for the candidate.   Cornelius brought Peter, then still a Deacon, along with him on the visit to Pope Sixtus III.

Tradition relates that the Pope had experienced a vision from God on the night before the meeting, commanding him to overrule Ravenna’s choice of a new Archbishop.   The Pope declared that Peter, instead, was to be Ordained as John’s successor.

In Ravenna, Peter was received warmly by the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III and his mother Galla Placidia.   She is said to have given him the title of “Chrysologus” because of his preaching skills.  Throughout the Archdiocese, however, he encountered the surviving remnants of paganism, along with various abuses and distortions of the Catholic faith.   Peter exercised zeal and pastoral care in curbing abuses and evangelising non-Christians, during his leadership of the Church in snip - st peter chrysologus

One of the major heresies of his age, Monophysitism, held that Christ did not possess a distinct human nature in union with His eternal divine nature.   Peter laboured to prevent the westward spread of this error, promoted from Constantinople by the monk Eutyches.

The Archbishop of Ravenna also made improvements to the City’s Cathedral and built several new Churches.   Near the end of his life he addressed a significant letter to Eutyches, stressing the Pope’s authority in the Monophysite controversy.

Having returned to Imola in anticipation of his death, St Peter Chrysologus died in 450, one year before the Church’s official condemnation of Monophysitism.   176 of his sermons have survived;  it is the strength of these beautiful explanations of the Incarnation, the Creed, the place of Mary and John the Baptist in the great plan of salvation, etc., that led to his being proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII.


Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Gertrude of Nivelles O.S.B. (626-659)

Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Gertrude of Nivelles O.S.B. (626-659) was a 7th-century Religious Abbess who, with her mother Itta, founded the Abbey of Nivelles located in present-day Belgium.   She was born in 626 at Landen, Belgium and died on 17 March 659 at Nivelles, Belgium of natural causes.   Patronages – against fear of mice and rates, against suriphobia, fever, mental disorders, insanity, of cats, of gardeners, innkeepers, hospitals, the mentally ill, pilgrims, travellers, suriphobics, sick, poor, prisoners, Landen, Belgium, Nivelles, Belgium, Wattenscheid, Germany.   Attributes – a nun with a crosier, with cats, with mice, a woman gertrude of nivelles - patron of cats.2Nivelles_JPG00_(1)

Our Saint was born at Landen, Belgium in 626 and died at Nivelles, 659;  she was just thirty-three, the same age as Our Lord.   Both her parents, Pepin of Landen and Itta were held to be holy by those who knew them;  her sister Begga is numbered among the Saints.   On her husband’s death in 640, Itta founded a Benedictine monastery at Nivelles, which is near Brussels and appointed Gertrude its abbess when she reached twenty, tending to her responsibilities well, with her mother’s assistance and following her in giving encouragement and help to monks, particularly Irish ones, to do missionary work in the locale.nivelles

Saint Gertrude’s piety was evident even when she was as young as ten, when she turned down the offer of a noble marriage, declaring that she would not marry him or any other suitor:  Christ alone would be her bridegroom.

She was known for her hospitality to pilgrims and her aid to missionary monks.   She gave land to one monk so that he could build a monastery at Fosse.   By her early thirties Gertrude had become so weakened by the austerity of abstaining from food and sleep that she had to resign her office and spent the rest of her days studying Scripture and doing penance.   It is said that on the day before her death she sent a messenger to Fosse, asking the superior if he knew when she would nivelles

His reply indicated that death would come the next day during holy Mass-the prophecy was fulfilled.   Her feast day is observed by gardeners, who regard fine weather on that day as a sign to begin spring planting.

Devotion to St. Gertrude became widely spread in the Lowlands and neighbouring countries.

Commonly seen running up her pastoral staff or cloak are hopeful-looking mice representing Souls in Purgatory, to which she had an intense devotion, just as with St Gertrude the Great.   Even as recently as 1822, offerings of mice made of gold and silver were left at her shrine.   Another patronage is to travellers on the high seas.   It is held that one sailor, suffering misfortune while under sail, prayed to the Saint and was delivered safely.

Just before her death in 659, Gertrude instructed the nuns at Nivelles to bury her in an old veil left behind by a travelling pilgrimess and Gertrude’s own hair shirt.   Gertrude’s choice of burial clothing is a pattern in medieval hagiography as an expression of humility and piety.   Her death and the image of her weak and humble figure is in fact a critical point in her biographer’s narrative.   Her monastery also benefited from this portrayal because the hair cloth and veil in which Gertrude was interred became relics.  At Nivelles, her relics were only publicly displayed for feast days, Easterand other holy days.

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Shrine of St Gertrude of Nivelles, originally made in 1272-1298; this reproduction, in the Pushkin Museum, was cast from the original.   In 1940, a German bomb smashed the original reliquary into 337 fragments.   It was subsequently rebuilt.


Saint of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr

Saint of the Day – 3 February – St Blaise (Died c 316) – Martyr, Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, Physician, Miracle-worker.   Died in c 316 by his flesh being torn off his body by iron wool-combs, then beheaded.  Patronages – against angina • against bladder diseases • against blisters • against coughs • against dermatitis • against dropsy • against eczema • against edema • against fever • against goitres • against headaches • against impetigo • against respiratory diseases • against skin diseases • against snake bites • against sore throats • against stomach pain • against storms • against teething pain • against throat diseases • against toothaches • against ulcers • against whooping cough • against wild beasts • angina sufferers of ; of children, animals, builders, drapers, against choking, veterinarians, infants, of 21 Cities, of stonecutters, carvers, wool workers. St Blaise is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers –

Today the Church remembers the life and witness of Saint Blaise, a 3rd century Armenian bishop who endured terrifying torments and surrendered his life rather than repudiate his profession of blaise statue - large

Much of the life of Saint Blaise is history that has passed into legend but even these legendary accounts offer spiritual insight.

Blaise was renowned as a wonderworker, effecting miraculous cures. T  his would have been enough to attract attention but he was also not averse to calling out the Roman officials who ruled the region in which he lived, Cappadocia, for their tyranny and intolerance of Christian faith and practice.   The combination of a reputation for supernatural power and the courage of his convictions was not welcomed by Rome and the governor ordered Bishop Blaise to be arrested.   Blaise was able to elude capture and took refuge in the wilderness.   It was there in the caves of Cappadocia that his ministry and his mission continued.

There is an account of Saint Blaise that identifies not only his pastoral care for the Christian faithful but also for the animals of the wilderness.

A woman had witnessed her piglet carried off by a wolf and spoke of her plight to the bishop.   Saint Blaise called for the wolf, demanded her return the piglet to its rightful owner and reminded the wolf of the grave penalty that awaited a thief.   The wolf complied and returned the piglet to its owner- a credit to the bishop’s power of persuasion.   The woman would later return the favour to Saint Blaise when he was finally captured and imprisoned.   She brought to him candles to illuminate his dank and dreary cell.

This legend hints at how the saints represent, in their holiness, the restoration of a paradise lost and regained in Christ.   The ease and familiarity with which the Biblical character of Adam is believed to have communed with nature before the fall is recapitulated in Saint Blaise- he is a sign that anticipates the restoration of all things in Christ where the lion will rest with the lamb and in this case, the wolf will return stolen property to its rightful owner.

Saint Blaise Painting by Pere Fernandez; Saint Blaise Art Print for sale

Saint Blaise has been invoked for centuries as a specialist in diseases of the throat.   The origin of this practice might be in the story of a child brought to the saint who was either choking or suffering from some other malady of the throat.   Saint Blaise blessed the boy and he was restored to health.

The practice of blessing throats on the Feast of Saint Blaise is a commemoration of this miracle, that crossed candles are often used to impart this blessing might also be a recollection of the kindness of the woman who gave candles to the saint as he languished in prison.

Saint Blaise was an extraordinarily popular saint during the Middle Ages in Europe. Presentations of his miraculous and mighty deeds were commonly represented in art and sculpture, and he was included in a listing of saints called the Fourteen Holy Helpers (or Auxiliary Saints), holy men and women who could be counted on as intercessors for all manner of maladies from madness to travelers in distress.   During times in which a sore throat could be a signal of an impending epidemic or an early death, the faithful were all too happy to accept the help of a heavenly specialist in such matters like Saint Blaise.

The legends regarding Saint Blaise report that his sojourn in the wilderness did not protect him for very long.   He was eventually arrested and brought to trial.   The judge advised him that only a pinch of incense offered to the image of Caesar and the gods of Rome could win him his freedom.   Blaise refused.   He was cruelly tortured and beheaded. Giovanni Antonio da Pesaro, St. Blaise Martyrdom, 15th cent.

The Church does not mourn Saint Blaise, for we know that in Christ this world is not all that there is.   While tyrants like Caesar and his successors can threaten us with death, Christ promises us a life that like his own, is transformed through suffering and death, into resurrection.

The scriptures proclaim, “though they slay me I will trust in you.”

Saint Blaise did precisely this.   He trusted that Christ would not abandon him to the power of death nor allow his suffering to be meaningless.   Our lives might never be raised to the legendary status of Saint Blaise but we can trust in Christ as he did and live in hope that one day we will join him in communion with all the saints who have gone before us in faith and who, from their place in heaven, guide and protect us still. (Fr Steve Grunow)blaiseCandlelarge - st blaise


Saint of the Day – 13 January – St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) Confressor, Bishop, Father & Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 13 January – St Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) Father & Doctor of the Church, Bishop, Confessor, Writer, Philosopher, Theologian, Preacher, Defender of the Faith.   He was sometimes referred to as the “Hammer of the Arians” and the “Athanasius of the West.”   His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful.   St Hilary was born in 315 at Poitiers, France and he died in 368 of natural causes.   Patronages – against rheumatism, against snakes, against snake bites, backward children, children learning to walk, mothers, the sick/the infirm, 4 Cities.Saint-Hilary-700x475

Hilary was born to pagan parents of Poitiers, France, in 315.   After training in the classics and philosophy, Hilary married.   He and his wife had one daughter, Afra.   All who knew Hilary said he was a friendly, charitable, gentle man.   Hilary’s studies led him to read Scripture.   He became convinced that there was only one God, whose Son became man and died and rose to save all people.   This led him to be baptised along with his wife and daughter.

This gentle and courteous man, became a staunch defender of the divinity of Christ.   He  was devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity and was, like his Master, in being labeled a “disturber of the peace.”   In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy.

The people of Poitiers chose Hilary to be their bishop in 353.   As Bishop, he was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.


The heresy spread rapidly. Saint Jerome said “The world groaned and marvelled to find that it was Arian.”   When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia.   There, too, his pastoral solicitude led him to work tirelessly for the re-establishment of the Church’s unity, based on the correct faith, as formulated by the Council of Nicea.   To this end, he began writing his most important and most famous dogmatic work: “De Trinitatae” (On the Trinity).   Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West” and the “Hammer of the Arians.”

Fearing Hilary’s arguments, Arian’s followers begged the emperor to send Hilary home.  The emperor, believing Hilary was also undermining his authority, recalled him.   Hilary’s writings show that he could be fierce in defending the faith but in dealing with the bishops who had given in to the Arian heresy, he was charitable.   He showed them their errors and helped them to defend their faith.   Though the emperor called Hilary “disturber of the peace,” Saints Jerome and Augustine praised him as “teacher of the churches.”

During the last years of his life, he wrote “Treatises on the Psalms,” a commentary on 58 psalms, interpreted according to the principle highlighted in the introduction to the work:  “There is no doubt that all the things said in the Psalms must be understood according to the Gospel proclamation, so that, independently of the voice with which the prophetic spirit has spoken, everything refers to the knowledge of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, incarnation, passion and kingdom and the glory and power of our resurrection” (“Instructio Psalmorum” 5).

In all of the Psalms, he sees this transparency of Christ’s mystery and of His body, which is the Church.   On various occasions, Hilary met with St Martin, the future bishop of Tours who founded a monastery near Poitiers, which still exists today.

St Hilary confers minor Orders on St Martin of Tours

Hilary died in 367.   His feast day is celebrated today throughout the universal Church.  In 1851, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him a doctor of the Church.

The Altar of St Hilary at St John Lateran in Rome

Saint of the Day – 15 October – St Teresa of Jesus/of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 15 October – St Teresa of Jesus/of Avila (1515-1582) Virgin, Mystic, Ecstatic, Reformer, Apostle of Prayer, Writer, Doctor of the Church.    Born as Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada  at Avila, Old Castile, on 28 March 1515 –  died at Alba de Tormes, 4 October 1582 of natural causes in the arms of her secretary and close friend Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew.  Her relics are preserved at Alba – her heart shows signs of Transverberation (piercing of the heart), and is displayed, too.   Her Body is incorrupt.  Patronages: • sick people; against bodily ills or sickness • against headaches • against the death of parents • lace makers or lace workers • people in need of grace • people in religious orders • people ridiculed for their piety • World Youth Day 2011 • Amos, Canada, diocese of • Avellaneda-Lanús, Argentina, diocese of • Berzano di Tortona, Italy • Pozega, Croatia • Spain.   Attributes –   Habit of the Discalced Carmelites, Book and Quill, arrow-pierced heart.   St Teresa was Beatified on 24 April 1614 by Pope Paul V and Canonised on 12 March 1622, only forty years after her death, by Pope Gregory XV.   Tradition associate Saint Teresa with the Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.   On 27 September 1970 St Teresa, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.   Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices.   She also wrote Camino de Perfección (trans.: The Way of Perfection).

original portait by Fray Juan de la Miseria in 1576
Original Portrait by Frei Jual de la Miseria in 1576

st teresa info

The third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda by his second wife, Doña Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, who died when the Teresa was in her fourteenth year, Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books and a tender and pious mother.   After her death and the marriage of her eldest sister, Teresa was sent for her to the Augustinian nuns at Avila but owing to illness she left at the end of eighteen months and for some years remained with her father and occasionally with other relatives, notably an uncle who made her acquainted with the Letters of St Jerome, which determined her to adopt the religious life, not so much through any attraction towards it, as through a desire of choosing the safest course.   Unable to obtain her father’s consent she left his house unknown to him to enter the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila, which then counted 140 nuns.   The wrench from her family caused her a pain which she ever afterwards compared to that of death. However, her father at once yielded and Teresa took the habit.St. Teresa of Avila Receives the Veil and Necklace from the Virgin and

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval.   It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform.   She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold:   she was a woman;   she was a contemplative;   she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time.   She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father.   She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery.   Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human.   Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes:  wise, yet practical;  intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience;  a mystic, yet an energetic reformer;  a holy woman, a womanly woman.

On St Peter’s Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented Himself to her in bodily form, though invisible.   These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years.   In another vision, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily teresa avila Gaspar_de_Crayer_-_The_vision_of_St_Theresa_of_Avila

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold and at the point there seemed to be a little fire.   He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails;   when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.   The pain was so great, that it made me moan;  and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it…avila - ecstasy

This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini’s most famous works, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.avila - berniniavila - bernini altar

The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life and motivated her lifelong imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomised in the motto usually associated with her:  Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.St.-Teresa-of-AvilaGiuseppe_Bazzani_-_The_Ecstasy_of_St_Therese_-_WGA01527

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion.   Her heart belonged to God.   Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering.   She was misunderstood, misjudged and opposed in her efforts at reform.   Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful;  she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition.   And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer.   Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience:  powerful, practical and graceful.   She was a woman of prayer;  a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.”   Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule.   She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries.   She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform.   In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes.   She died in 1582, just as Catholic nations were making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required the removal of 5–14 October from the calendar.   She died either before midnight of 4 October or early in the morning of 15 October which is celebrated as her feast day.   Her last words were:  “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come.  It is time to meet one another.”

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers.   She and St Catherine of Siena were the first women so honoured as Doctors of the Church.

Interesting fact – her Spiritual Director was St Francis Borgia whose Feast Day we celebrated on 10 October.