Saint of the Day – 25 July – Saint Christopher (Died c 251) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 25 July – Saint Christopher (Died c 251) Martyr and “Christ-Bearer” – Born at Canaan as Offero and Martyred in the reign of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Decius (reigned 249–251) – Additional Memorials – 9 March (Greek calendar), 9 May (some Eastern calendars), 16 November (Cuba), 10 July (some areas of Spain).   Also known as Christobal, Christoval, Cristobal, Kester, Kitt, Kitts, Offero Patronages – against bad dreams, epileptics; against epilepsy, against floods, against hailstorms, against lightning, against pestilence, against storms, against sudden death, against toothache, Air Forces, archers, motorists, bachelors,bookbinders, bus drivers, taxi drivers, civil aeronautics, fruit dealers, fullers, gardener, of a holy death, truck drivers, mariners, sailors, market carriers, mountain climbers, porters, relief from pestilence, transportation, transportation workers, travellers, travellers in the mountains, Saint Christopher’s Island, Saint Kitts, 13 cities.Borgianni-Orazio-St-Christopher-carrying-the-infant-Christ-c1598-1602-oil-on-canvas-Museo-del-Prado-Madrid.jpg

He was a man of many names, Offero being one of them.   Born in the third century in Asia Minor, son of a king, he would grow to be a restless young man of considerable size. The early years of his life were spent in search of riches, of purpose, of a cause worthy of his allegiance.saint-christopher-carrying-the-christ-child-mateo-cerezo.jpg

As the story goes, a young Offero, looking for the strongest and boldest ruler to follow, briefly courted Satan.   When his new master cowered in fear at a holy cross on the side of a road, Offero abandoned Satan, choosing light over darkness.   During this period of transition, a holy hermit awakened the restless wanderer to Christianity, schooling and baptising him.   From then on, Offero pledged his life to Christ and vowed to serve God’s people along the banks of an untamed river.   So he built a hut and set up camp with a new purpose—to be a boatman to the christopher 5.jpg

His popularity was solidified when a small child once approached him, wanting safe passage across the water.   He hoisted the boy on his shoulders and, with his trusty staff, began the journey.   As the river deepened, the child began to grow heavier.   Waters quickly rising, the precious cargo continued to weigh the giant down.   As he reached the banks of the river, Offero said, “Child, thou hast put me in great peril, thou weighest almost as if I had all the world upon me – I might bear no greater burden.”

“Christopher,” the little boy responded, “thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee but thou hast borne Him that created and made all the world, upon thy shoulders.”

The child instructed Christopher (meaning “Christbearer”) to cross the river again and plant his staff in the ground, telling the ferryman that life would spring forth.   To Christopher’s astonishment, by morning his staff had taken root—bright flowers and fruit grew from christopher.jpg

The rest of Christopher’s life is even sketchier in detail.   One legend states that many in the immediate area converted to Christianity based on his encounter, which drew unwanted attention.   In Lycia—present-day Turkey—under Emperor Decius, he was imprisoned, shot with arrows, burned and then beheaded around 251.

st christopher and st peter
St Christopher and St Peter

Though the life of this mighty martyr was later questioned by historians, Saint Christopher’s story and his worldwide appeal have proven invulnerable.   Amen and alleluia, glory be to God!st christopher lg


Saint of the Day – 29 July – St Martha Virgin (1st century) 

Saint of the Day – 29 July – St Martha Virgin (1st century) – Sister of Saint Lazarus and Saint Mary of Bethany. Friend of Jesus and hostess to him in her house.ACCS-Martha-e1469752916611Christ_in_the_House_of_Mary_and_Martha

St John tells us that “Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus” and yet but few glimpses are vouchsafed us of them.   First, the sisters are set before us with a word.   Martha received Jesus into her house and was busy in outward, loving, lavish service, while Mary sat in silence at the feet she had bathed with her tears.   Then, their brother is ill, and they send to Jesus, “Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick.”   And in His own time the Lord came and they go out to meet Him and then follows that scene of unutterable tenderness and of sublimity unsurpassed:  the silent waiting of Mary, Martha strong in faith but realising so vividly, with her practical turn of mind, the fact of death and hesitating:  “Canst Thou show Thy wonders in the grave?”   And then once again, on the eve of His Passion, we see Jesus at Bethany.   Martha, true to her character, is serving; Mary, as at first, pours the precious ointment, in adoration and love, on His divine head.meeting-of-jesus-and-martha-corwin-knapp-linson

According the tradition we find the tomb of St Martha, at Tarascon, in Provence.   When the storm of persecution came, the family of Bethany, with a few companions, were put into a boat, without oars or sail and borne to the coast of France.    St Mary’s tomb is at S. Baume;  St Lazarus is venerated as the founder of the Church of Marseilles;  and the memory of the virtues and labours of St Martha is still fragrant at Avignon and Tarascon.

Reflection:  -When Martha received Jesus into her house, she was naturally busy in preparations for such a Guest.   Mary sat at His feet, intent alone on listening to His gracious words.   Her sister thought that the time required other service than this and asked our Lord to bid Mary help in serving.   Once again Jesus spoke in defence of Mary. “Martha, Martha,” He said, “thou art lovingly anxious about many things, be not over-eager, do thy chosen work with recollectedness.   Judge not Mary.   Hers is the good part, the one only thing really necessary.   Thine will be taken away, that something better be given thee.”   The life of action ceases when the body is laid down but the life of contemplation endures and is perfected in heaven.Cignaroli, Giambettino, 1706-1770; St Martha


Saint of the Day – 29 July – St Martha

Saint of the Day – 29 July – St Martha – sister of St Lazarus and St Mary of Bethany. Friend of Jesus, and hostess to him in her house.    May have been part of an early mission to France.   Died – c.80 of natural causes.   Patronage –  butlers• Congregation of Martha and Mary (founded in 1979)• cooks (proclaimed on 1 July 1963 by Pope Paul VI)• dieticians • domestic servants• homemakers • hotel-keepers• housemaids• housewives• innkeepers (proclaimed on 1 July 1963 by Pope Paul VI) • laundry workers • maids• manservants • servants• servers• single laywomen• travellers• Villajoyosa, Spain (chosen after a flash flood saved the village from Moorish invaders on her feast day in 1538).  Attributes – • broom (referring to being a home maker)• dragon• keys (referring to keeping the home)
• with a holy water sprinkler or holy water pot• ladle (reference to her home-making, cooking, etc.).

Christ at the House of Martha and Mary of Bethany, Jacob Jordaens

One of the most precious things in life is to have a home where you can go at any time and find people who accept, love, and understand you.   Jesus found such a home in Bethany, at the house of a woman named Martha.   She welcomed Him and served Him and they developed a special bond of friendship.   One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory.   On that occasion Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her.   Without in any way reproaching Martha, Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.

Martha lived with her sister Mary.   Like many other pairs of sisters, these two women were different in personality.   Martha was energetic and outspoken, while Mary was quiet and reflective.   Jesus loved both of them and appreciated the gifts that each one had.

The Gospel of Luke records that once, when Jesus was visiting, Martha prepared the meal while Mary sat talking to their visitor.   Martha complained that Jesus should tell Mary to help her.   Jesus said that because Martha was worrying so much about the work, she did not have time to enjoy being with Him and listening to His words.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, by Jan Vermeer Van Delft, 1654
Christ with Martha and Mary

Another time recorded in John’s Gospel, the sisters sent a message to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus, was ill.   They knew Jesus would come and cure him; they trusted in His loving care for them.   When Jesus finally came, Lazarus had already been dead for four days.   As soon as she heard that Jesus was nearby, Martha, a woman of action, went out to meet Him, while Mary stayed in the house.   In her grief, Martha told Jesus honestly what she had expected from Him.   Jesus asked her to believe that He was the resurrection and that He had power to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. Without really understanding this mystery, Martha trusted Jesus totally and said,  “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (John 11:27).   That day Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, showing that He has power over life and death and power to give eternal life.

The home Jesus found in Bethany was not only in the house but in the faithful heart of a woman named Martha.

Giovanni Bagliione - St. Martha
st martha
St. Martha by Francesco Mochi
St. Martha [Large]