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Saint Mark

7 hours 6 min ago
Saint Mark the Evangelist | Jean BourdichonImage: Saint Mark the Evangelist | Jean Bourdichon Saint Mark Saint of the Day for April 25 (? – c. April 25, 68) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr25.mp3

 

Saint Mark’s Story

Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. When Saint Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark’s mother.

Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul’s refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas’s insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.

The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus’s rejection by humanity while being God’s triumphant envoy. Probably written for gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark’s Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a “scandal”: a crucified Messiah.

Evidently a friend of Mark—calling him “my son”—Peter is only one of this Gospel’s sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots), and the Church at Antioch (largely gentile).

Like another Gospel writer Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).

Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.

A winged lion is Mark’s symbol. The lion derives from Mark’s description of John the Baptist as a “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to the evangelists.

Reflection

Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian is called to do: proclaim to all people the Good News that is the source of salvation. In particular, Mark’s way was by writing. Others may proclaim the Good News by music, drama, poetry, or by teaching children around a family table.

Saint Mark is the Patron Saint of:

Notaries

Click here for more on the Gospel of Mark!

Saint of the Day

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

04/24/2018 - 12:00am
Painting of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen | photo by Andreas PraefckeImage: Painting of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen | photo by Andreas Praefcke Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen Saint of the Day for April 24 (1577 – April 24, 1622) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr24.mp3

 

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen’s Story

If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint’s life.

Born in 1577, Mark Rey became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed “the poor man’s lawyer,” Rey soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. Fidelis was his religious name. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor.

As a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers.

He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions.

He was accused of opposing the peasants’ national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God’s hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed.

Fidelis was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later he was recognized as a martyr.

Reflection

Fidelis’ constant prayer was that he be kept completely faithful to God and not give in to any lukewarmness or apathy. He was often heard to exclaim, “Woe to me if I should prove myself but a halfhearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain.” His prayer against apathy, and his concern for the poor and weak make him a saint whose example is valuable today. The modern Church is calling us to follow the example of “the poor man’s lawyer” by sharing ourselves and our talents with those less fortunate and by working for justice in the world.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint George

04/23/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint George and the Dragon</em> | Gustave MoreauImage: Saint George and the Dragon | Gustave Moreau Saint George Saint of the Day for April 23 (c. 280 – April 23, 303) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr23.mp3

 

Saint George’s Story

Saint George is the object of a vast amount of imagination. There is every reason to believe that he was a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine. The Church adheres to his memory, but not to the legends surrounding his life. That he was willing to pay the supreme price to follow Christ is what the Church believes. And it is enough.

The story of George’s slaying the dragon, rescuing the king’s daughter, and converting Libya is a 12th-century Italian fable. George was a favorite patron saint of crusaders, as well as of Eastern soldiers in earlier times. He is a patron saint of England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Catalonia, Genoa, and Venice.

Reflection

Human nature seems to crave more than cold historical data. Americans have Washington and Lincoln, but we somehow need Paul Bunyan, too. The life of Saint Francis of Assisi is inspiring enough, but for centuries the Italians have found his spirit in the legends of the Fioretti, too. Santa Claus is the popular extension of the spirit of Saint Nicholas. The legends about Saint George are part of this yearning. Both fact and legend are human ways of illumining the mysterious truth about the One who alone is holy.

Saint George is the Patron Saint of:

Boy Scouts
England
Portugal
Soldiers
Germany

Catholic Greetings

Saint Adalbert of Prague

04/22/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Adalbert of Prague near Church of the Visitation of Our Lady in Hluboké Mašůvky, Znojmo District | photo by Jiří SedláčekImage: Statue of Saint Adalbert of Prague near Church of the Visitation of Our Lady in Hluboké Mašůvky, Znojmo District | photo by Jiří Sedláček Saint Adalbert of Prague Saint of the Day for April 22 (956 – April 23, 997) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr22.mp3

 

Saint Adalbert of Prague’s Story

Opposition to the Good News of Jesus did not discourage Adalbert, who is now remembered with great honor in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Germany.

Born to a noble family in Bohemia, he received part of his education from Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg. At the age of 27, he was chosen as bishop of Prague. Those who resisted his program of clerical reform forced him into exile eight years later.

In time, the people of Prague requested his return as their bishop. Within a short time, however, he was exiled again after excommunicating those who violated the right of sanctuary by dragging a woman accused of adultery from a church and murdering her.

After a short ministry in Hungary, he went to preach the Good News to people living near the Baltic Sea. He and two companions were martyred by pagan priests in that region. Adalbert’s body was immediately ransomed and buried in the Gniezno, Poland, cathedral. In the mid-11th century his relics were moved to Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague. His Liturgical Feast day is April 23.

Reflection

Preaching the Good News can be dangerous work whether the audience is already baptized or not. Adalbert fearlessly preached Jesus’ gospel and received a martyr’s crown for his efforts. Similar zeal has created modern martyrs in many places, especially in Central and South America. Some of those martyrs grew up in areas once evangelized by Adalbert.

 Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations

Saint Anselm

04/21/2018 - 12:00am

Stained glass of Saint Anselm in Chester Cathedral cloister | photo by Mum's taxi

Image: Stained glass of Saint Anselm in Chester Cathedral cloister | photo by Mum’s taxi

Saint Anselm Saint of the Day for April 21 (1033 – April 21, 1109) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr21.mp3

 

Saint Anselm’s Story

Indifferent toward religion as a young man, Anselm became one of the Church’s greatest theologians and leaders. He received the title “Father of Scholasticism” for his attempt to analyze and illumine the truths of faith through the aid of reason.

At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father’s opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, was elected prior three years later, and 15 years later, was unanimously chosen abbot.

Considered an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness, and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the Abbey of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies.

During these years, at the community’s request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to those of Saint Augustine. His best-known work is the book Cur Deus Homo (“Why God Became Man”).

Against his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, at age 60. His appointment was opposed at first by England’s King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the Church.

Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus’ brother and successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king’s insistence on investing England’s bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome.

His care and concern extended to the very poorest people. Opposing the slave trade, Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.

Reflection

Like every true follower of Christ, Anselm had to carry his cross, especially in the form of opposition and conflict with those in political control. Though personally a mild and gentle man and a lover of peace, he would not back off from conflict and persecution when principles were at stake.

Saint of the Day

Saint Conrad of Parzham

04/20/2018 - 12:00am

Sculpture of Saint Conrad of Parzham | photo by Andreas Praefcke

Image: Sculpture of Saint Conrad of Parzham | photo by Andreas Praefcke

Saint Conrad of Parzham Saint of the Day for April 20 (December 22, 1818 – April 21, 1894) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr20.mp3

 

Saint Conrad of Parzham’s Story

Conrad spent most of his life as porter in Altoetting, Bavaria, letting people into the friary and indirectly encouraging them to let God into their lives.

His parents, Bartholomew and Gertrude Birndorfer, lived near Parzham, Bavaria. In those days, this region was recovering from the Napoleonic wars. A lover of solitary prayer and a peacemaker as a young man, Conrad joined the Capuchins as a brother. He made his profession in 1852 and was assigned to the friary in Altoetting. That city’s shrine to Mary was very popular; at the nearby Capuchin friary there was a lot of work for the porter, a job Conrad held for 41 years.

At first, some of the other friars were jealous that such a young friar held this important job. Conrad’s patience and holy life overcame their doubts. As porter, he dealt with many people, obtaining many of the friary supplies and generously providing for the poor who came to the door. He treated them all with the courtesy Francis expected of his followers.

Conrad’s helpfulness was sometimes unnerving. Once Father Vincent, seeking quiet to prepare a sermon, went up the belltower of the church. Conrad tracked him down when someone wanting to go to confession specifically requested Father Vincent.

Conrad also developed a special rapport with the children of the area. He enthusiastically promoted the Seraphic Work of Charity, which aided neglected children.

Conrad spent hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He regularly asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for him and for the many people he included in his prayers. The ever-patient Conrad was canonized in 1934. His Liturgical Feast Day is April 21.

Reflection

As we can see from his life as well as his words, Conrad of Parzham lived a life that attracted others because of a special quality, something Chesterton alluded to when he wrote, “The moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand.” If we want to understand Conrad, we have to know where he fixed his heart. Because he was united to God in prayer, everyone felt at ease in Conrad’s presence.

 Minute Meditations

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

04/19/2018 - 12:00am
Painting of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla with her children | Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe | flickrImage: Painting of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla with her children | Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe | flickr Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Saint of the Day for April 19 (October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr19.mp3

 

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla’s Story

In less than 40 years, Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric physician, a wife, a mother and a saint!

She was born in Magenta near Milano, the 10th of Alberto and Maria Beretta’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a leader in the Catholic Action movement, Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing. She earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia, eventually specializing in pediatrics. In 1952, Gianna opened a clinic in the small town of Mesero, where she met engineer Pietro Molla.

Shortly before their 1955 marriage, Gianna wrote to Pietro: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” In the next four years the Mollas had three children: Pierluigi, Mariolina, and Laura. Two pregnancies following ended in miscarriage.

Early in her sixth pregnancy, doctors discovered that Gianna had both a child and a tumor in her uterus. She allowed the surgeons to remove the tumor but not to perform the complete hysterectomy that they recommended, which would have killed the child. Seven months later in April 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born at the hospital in Monza, but post-operative complications resulted in an infection for her mother. The following week, Gianna Molla died at home in Mesero, where she was buried.

Gianna Emanuela went on to become a physician herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized 10 years later. Her Liturgical Feast Day is April 28.

Reflection

With great faith and courage, Gianna Molla made the choice that enabled her daughter to be born. We can often wish that we were in different circumstances, but holiness frequently comes from making difficult choices in bad situations.

Click here for more on Saint Gianna Beretta Molla!

Treasury of Women Saints

Blessed James Oldo

04/18/2018 - 12:00am
Photo of Il Tempio Civico della Beata Vergine Incoronata | photo by Giovanni NovaraImage: Photo of Il Tempio Civico della Beata Vergine Incoronata | photo by Giovanni Novara Blessed James Oldo Saint of the Day for April 18 (1364 – April 18, 1404) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr18.mp3

 

Blessed James Oldo’s Story

You’ve heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse.

James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of the plague drove James, his wife, and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague. James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth.

He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients.

James Oldo was beatified in 1933.

Reflection

The death of those we love brings a troubling awareness of our own mortality. James had that experience when he gazed into a friend’s grave, and it brought him to his senses. He determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God’s realm on earth. Our time is limited, too. We can use it well or foolishly: The choice is ours.

Saint of the Day

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

04/17/2018 - 12:00am
Etching | Saint Benedict Joseph Labre | Wellcome ImagesImage: Etching | Saint Benedict Joseph Labre | Wellcome Images Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Saint of the Day for April 17 (March 25, 1748 – April 17, 1783) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr17.mp3

 

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre’s Story

Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God’s special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at age 16, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives.

He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called “the poor man of the Forty Hours devotion” and “the beggar of Rome.” The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that “our comfort is not in this world.”

On April 16, 1783, the last day of his life, Benedict dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death, the people proclaimed him a saint.

Benedict Joseph Labre was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. His Liturgical Feast Day is April 16.

Reflection

In a modern inner city, one local character kneels for hours on the sidewalk and prays. Swathed in his entire wardrobe winter and summer, he greets passersby with a blessing. Where he sleeps no one knows, but he is surely a direct spiritual descendant of Benedict, the ragged man who slept in the ruins of Rome’s Colosseum. These days we ascribe such behavior to mental illness; Benedict’s contemporaries called him holy. Holiness is always a bit mad by earthly standards.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre is the Patron Saint of:

Homeless

Saints resources

Saint Bernadette Soubirous

04/16/2018 - 12:00am
 Saint Bernadette Soubirous en 1861 ou 1862 | photo by abbé P. BernadouImage: Saint Bernadette Soubirous en 1861 ou 1862 | photo by abbé P. Bernadou Saint Bernadette Soubirous Saint of the Day for April 16 (January 7, 1844 – April 16, 1879) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr16.mp3

 

Saint Bernadette Soubirous’s Story

Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.

There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette’s initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of “the Lady” brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There, the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.

According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.

Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation, Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.

During her life, Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later, she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.

Bernadette Soubirous was canonized in 1933.

Reflection

Millions of people have come to the spring Bernadette uncovered for healing of body and spirit, but she found no relief from ill health there. Bernadette moved through life, guided only by blind faith in things she did not understand—as we all must do from time to time.

Click here for more on Lourdes!

Lourdes Today

Blessed Caesar de Bus

04/15/2018 - 12:00am
Blessed César de Bus | soul-candy.infoImage: Blessed César de Bus | soul-candy.info Blessed Caesar de Bus Saint of the Day for April 15 (February 3, 1544 – April 15, 1607) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr15.mp3

 

Blessed Caesar de Bus’ Story

Like so many of us, Caesar de Bus struggled with the decision about what to do with his life. After completing his Jesuit education he had difficulty settling between a military and a literary career. He wrote some plays but ultimately settled for life in the army and at court.

For a time, life was going rather smoothly for the engaging, well-to-do young Frenchman. He was confident he had made the right choice. That was until he saw firsthand the realities of battle, including the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacres of French Protestants in 1572.

He fell seriously ill and found himself reviewing his priorities, including his spiritual life. By the time he had recovered, Caesar had resolved to become a priest. Following his ordination in 1582, he undertook special pastoral work: teaching the catechism to ordinary people living in neglected, rural, out-of-the-way places. His efforts were badly needed and well received.

Working with his cousin, Caesar developed a program of family catechesis. The goal—to ward off heresy among the people—met the approval of local bishops. Out of these efforts grew a new religious congregation: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine.

One of Caesar’s works, Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism, was published 60 years after his death.

He was beatified in 1975.

Reflection

“Family catechesis” is a familiar term in parish life today. Grounded in the certainty that children learn their faith first from their parents, programs that deepen parental involvement in religious education multiply everywhere. There were no such programs in Caesar’s day until he saw a need and created them. Other needs abound in our parishes, and it’s up to us to respond by finding ways to fill them or by joining in already established efforts.

Catholic Saints

Blessed Peter Gonzalez

04/14/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Telmo (Pedro González Telmo) in Frómista, province of Palencia, Spain | photo by Lucien leGreyImage: Statue of Saint Telmo (Pedro González Telmo) in Frómista, province of Palencia, Spain | photo by Lucien leGrey Blessed Peter Gonzalez Saint of the Day for April 14 (1190 – April 15, 1246) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr14.mp3

 

Blessed Peter Gonzalez’s Story

Saint Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13th century to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused.

Humbled, Peter reevaluated his motivations—his bishop-uncle had secured the cathedral post for him—and started down a new path. He became a Dominican priest and proved to be a most effective preacher. He spent much of his time as court chaplain, and attempted to exert positive influence on the behavior of members of the court. After King Ferdinand III and his troops defeated the Moors at Cordoba, Peter was successful in restraining the soldiers from pillaging, and persuaded the king to treat the defeated Moors with compassion.

After retiring from the court, Peter devoted the remainder of his life to preaching in northwest Spain. Having developed a special mission to Spanish and Portuguese seamen, he is considered their patron.

Peter Gonzalez died in 1246 and was beatified in 1741.

Reflection

How often we have heard stories about some misfortune or disaster only to hear later on that it was now seen as a good thing. Not every “disaster” is truly bad in its consequences for the Lord can bring good out of what appears to be a misfortune. Such was the case for Blessed Peter. His being dumped in the mud by a falling horse turned out to be a good thing in his life.

Blessed Peter Gonzalez is the Patron of:

Spanish and Portuguese sailors

Minute Meditations

Saint Martin I

04/13/2018 - 12:00am
Statua di S. Martino Papa nel tempio di Santa Maria della Consolazione, Roma | photo by Daniel AldrighettiImage: Statua di S. Martino Papa nel tempio di Santa Maria della Consolazione, Roma | photo by Daniel Aldrighetti Saint Martin I Saint of the Day for April 13 (d. September 16, 655) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr13.mp3

 

Saint Martin I’s Story

When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch.

A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice, emperors had officially favored this position: Heraclius by publishing a formula of faith, and Constans II by silencing the issue of one or two wills in Christ.

Shortly after assuming the office of the papacy—which he did without first being confirmed by the emperor—Martin held a council at the Lateran in which the imperial documents were censured, and in which the patriarch of Constantinople and two of his predecessors were condemned. In response, Constans II first tried to turn bishops and people against the pope.

Failing in this and in an attempt to kill the pope, the emperor sent troops to Rome to seize Martin and to bring him back to Constantinople. Already in poor health, Martin offered no resistance, returned with Calliopas, the exarch of Constantinople, and was then submitted to various imprisonments, tortures, and hardships. Although condemned to death and with some of the imposed torture already carried out, Martin was saved from execution by the pleas of a repentant Paul, patriarch of Constantinople, who was himself gravely ill.

Tortures and cruel treatment having taken their toll, Martin died shortly thereafter. He is the last of the early popes to be venerated as a martyr.

Reflection

The real significance of the word martyr comes not from the dying but from the witnessing, which the word means in its derivation. People who are willing to give up everything, their most precious possessions, their very lives, put a supreme value on the cause or belief for which they sacrifice. Martyrdom, dying for the faith, is an incidental extreme to which some have had to go to manifest their belief in Christ. A living faith, a life that exemplifies Christ’s teaching throughout, and that in spite of difficulties, is required of all Christians. Martin refused to cut corners as a way of easing his lot, to make some accommodations with the civil rulers.

Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations

Saint Teresa of Los Andes

04/12/2018 - 12:00am
Prayer wall at the Santuario de Saint Teresa de los Andes | photo by MalissetteImage: Prayer wall at the Santuario de Saint Teresa de los Andes | photo by Malissette Saint Teresa of Los Andes Saint of the Day for April 12 (July 13, 1900 – April 12, 1920) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr12.mp3

 

Saint Teresa of Los Andes’ Story

One needn’t live a long life to leave a deep imprint. Teresa of Los Andes is proof of that.

As a young girl growing up in the early 1900’s in Santiago, Chile, Juana Fernandez read an autobiography of a French-born saint—Thérèse, popularly known as the Little Flower. The experience deepened her desire to serve God and clarified the path she would follow. At age 19 Juana became a Carmelite nun, taking the name of Teresa.

The convent offered the simple lifestyle Teresa desired and the joy of living in a community of women completely devoted to God. She focused her days on prayer and sacrifice. “I am God’s,” she wrote in her diary. “He created me and is my beginning and my end.”

Toward the end of her short life, Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. At age 20 she contracted typhus and quickly took her final vows. She died a short time later, during Holy Week.

Known as the “Flower of the Andes,” Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who visit her shrine in Los Andes each year. Canonized in 1993 by Pope John Paul II, she is Chile’s first saint.

Reflection

The special graces given Saint Teresa reflect the mysterious wisdom of God at work in individuals whether young or old. It appears God has his own logic when it comes to who gets what in the realm of grace. All we can say is; “Praised be the Lord.”

Another Saint of the Day for April 12 is Saint Gregory of Narek.

Saint of the Day

Saint Stanislaus

04/11/2018 - 12:00am
 Gothic stained glass window from Dominican Monastery in Kraków | photo by Ludwig SchneideImage: Gothic stained glass window from Dominican Monastery in Kraków | photo by Ludwig Schneider. Saint Stanislaus Saint of the Day for April 11 (July 26, 1030 – April 11, 1079) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr11.mp3

 

Saint Stanislaus’ Story

Anyone who reads the history of Eastern Europe cannot help but chance on the name of Stanislaus, the saintly but tragic bishop of Kraków, patron of Poland. He is remembered with Saints Thomas More and Thomas Becket for vigorous opposition to the evils of an unjust government.

Born in Szczepanow near Kraków on July 26, 1030, he was ordained a priest after being educated in the cathedral schools of Gniezno, then capital of Poland, and at Paris. He was appointed preacher and archdeacon to the bishop of Kraków, where his eloquence and example brought about real conversion in many of his penitents, both clergy and laity. He became bishop of Kraków in 1072.

During an expedition against the Grand Duchy of Kiev, Stanislaus became involved in the political situation of Poland. Known for his outspokenness, he aimed his attacks at the evils of the peasantry and the king, especially the unjust wars and immoral acts of King Boleslaus II.

The king first excused himself, then made a show of penance, then relapsed into his old ways. Stanislaus continued his open opposition in spite of charges of treason and threats of death, finally excommunicating the king. Enraged, the latter ordered soldiers to kill the bishop. When they refused, the king killed Stanislaus with his own hands.

Forced to flee to Hungary, Boleslaus supposedly spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.

Reflection

Saints John the Baptist, Thomas Becket, Thomas More, and Stanislaus are a few of the prophets who dared to denounce corruption in high places. They followed in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who pointed out the moral corruption in the religious leadership of his day. It is a risky business.

Saint Stanislaus is the Patron Saint of:

Poland

Minute Meditations

Saint Magdalen of Canossa

04/10/2018 - 12:00am
 Monument of Saint Magdalene of Canossa in Verona | photo by ChrumpsImage: Monument of Saint Magdalene of Canossa in Verona | photo by Chrumps Saint Magdalen of Canossa Saint of the Day for April 10 (March 1, 1774 – April 10, 1835) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr10.mp3

 

Saint Magdalen of Canossa’s Story

Wealth and privilege did nothing to prevent today’s saint from following her calling to serve Christ in the poor. Nor did the protests of her relatives, concerned that such work was beneath her.

Born in northern Italy in 1774, Magdalen knew her mind—and spoke it. At age 15 she announced she wished to become a nun. After trying out her vocation with the cloistered Carmelites, she realized her desire was to serve the needy without restriction. For years she worked among the poor and sick in hospitals and in their homes, and also among delinquent and abandoned girls.

In her mid-20s, Magdalen began offering lodging to poor girls in her own home. In time she opened a school, which offered practical training and religious instruction. As other women joined her in the work, the new Congregation of the Canossian Daughters of Charity—or Canossian Sisters—emerged. Over time, houses were opened throughout Italy.

Members of the new religious congregation focused on the educational and spiritual needs of women. Magdalen also founded a smaller congregation for priests and brothers. Both groups continue to this day.

Magdalen died in 1835. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1988.

Reflection

Let us pray to Saint Magdalen for the many young women who are caught up in the sex trafficking epidemic of our day.

Saint of the Day

Saint Casilda

04/09/2018 - 12:00am
 Portrait of Saint Casilda | Francisco de ZurbaránImage: Portrait of Saint Casilda | Francisco de Zurbarán Saint Casilda Saint of the Day for April 9 (d. c. 1050) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr09.mp3

 

Saint Casilda’s Story

Some saints’ names are far more familiar to us than others, but even the lives of obscure holy persons teach us something.

And so it is with Saint Casilda. Her father was a Muslim leader in Toledo, Spain, in the 10th century. Casilda was a devout Muslim but was kind to Christian prisoners. She became ill as a young woman but did not trust that any of the local Arab doctors could cure her. So she made a pilgrimage to the shrine of San Vicenzo in northern Spain. Like so many other people who made their way there—many of them suffering from hemorrhages—Casilda sought the healing waters of the shrine. We’re uncertain what brought her to the shrine, but we do know that she left it relieved of illness.

In response, she became a Christian and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It’s said that she lived to be 100 years old. Her death likely occurred around the year 1050.

Reflection

Tensions between Muslims and Christians have often existed throughout history, sometimes resulting in bloody conflict. Through her quiet, simple life Casilda served her Creator—first in one faith, then in another.

Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations

Saint Julie Billiart

04/08/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Julie Billiart | Saint Julie Billiart Catholic Church, Hamilton, OH | photo by NheyobImage: Statue of Saint Julie Billiart | Saint Julie Billiart Catholic Church, Hamilton, OH | photo by Nheyob Saint Julie Billiart Saint of the Day for April 8 (July 12, 1751 – April 8, 1816) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr08.mp3

 

Saint Julie Billiart’s Story

Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julie Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm laborers.

A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralyzed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades, she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice, and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness.

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends, she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart. She then spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time.

But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, “Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an institute marked by the cross.”

As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie’s interest in teaching the faith. In 1803, the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor, young Christian girls, and the training of catechists. The following year, the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years.

Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Françoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium.

Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.

Reflection

Julie’s immobility in no way impeded her activities. In spite of her suffering, she managed to co-found a teaching order that tended to the needs of both the poor and the well-to-do. Each of us has limitations, but the worst malady any of us can suffer is the spiritual paralysis that keeps us from doing God’s work on earth.

Minute Meditations

Saint John Baptist de la Salle

04/07/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of St. John Baptist de la Salle | Saint Peter Basilica, Rome | photo by JordiferrerImage: Statue of St. John Baptist de la Salle | Saint Peter Basilica, Rome | photo by Jordiferrer Saint John Baptist de la Salle Saint of the Day for April 7 (April 30, 1651 – April 7, 1719) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr07.mp3

 

Saint John Baptist de la Salle’s Story

Complete dedication to what he saw as God’s will for him dominated the life of John Baptist de la Salle. In 1950, Pope Pius XII named him patron of schoolteachers for his efforts in upgrading school instruction. As a young 17th-century Frenchman, John had everything going for him: scholarly bent, good looks, noble family background, money, refined upbringing. At the early age of 11, he received the tonsure and started preparation for the priesthood, to which he was ordained at 27. He seemed assured then of a life of dignified ease and a high position in the Church.

But God had other plans for John, which were gradually revealed to him in the next several years. During a chance meeting with Monsieur Nyel, he became interested in the creation of schools for poor boys in Raven, where he was stationed. Though the work was extremely distasteful to him at first, he became more involved in working with the deprived youths.

Once convinced that this was his divinely appointed mission, John threw himself wholeheartedly into the work, left home and family, abandoned his position as canon at Rheims, gave away his fortune, and reduced himself to the level of the poor to whom he devoted his entire life.

The remainder of his life was closely entwined with the community of religious men he founded, the Brothers of the Christian School (Christian Brothers or De La Salle Brothers). This community grew rapidly and was successful in educating boys of poor families, using methods designed by John. It prepared teachers in the first training college for teachers and also set up homes and schools for young delinquents of wealthy families. The motivating element in all these endeavors was the desire to become a good Christian.

Yet even in his success, John did not escape experiencing many trials: heart-rending disappointment and defections among his disciples, bitter opposition from the secular schoolmasters who resented his new and fruitful methods, and persistent opposition from the Jansenists of his time, whose moral rigidity and pessimism about the human condition John resisted vehemently all his life.

Afflicted with asthma and rheumatism in his last years, he died at 68 on Good Friday, and was canonized in 1900.

Reflection

Complete dedication to one’s calling by God, whatever it may be, is a rare quality. Jesus asks us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30b, emphasis added). Paul gives similar advice: “Whatever you do, do from the heart…” (Colossians 3:23).

Saint John Baptist de la Salle is the Patron Saint of:

Teachers

 

Saint Crescentia Hoess

04/06/2018 - 12:00am
 Detail | Stained glass of Saint Crescentia Hoess | photo by GFreihalterImage: Detail | Stained glass of Saint Crescentia Hoess | photo by GFreihalter Saint Crescentia Hoess Saint of the Day for April 6 (October 20, 1682 – April 5, 1744) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODApr06.mp3

 

Saint Crescentia Hoess’ Story

Crescentia was born in 1682, the daughter of a poor weaver, in a little town near Augsburg. She spent play time praying in the parish church, assisted those even poorer than herself and had so mastered the truths of her religion that she was permitted to make her first Holy Communion at the then unusually early age of 7. In the town she was called “the little angel.”

As she grew older, she desired to enter the convent of the Tertiaries of Saint Francis. But the convent was poor, and because Crescentia had no dowry, the superiors refused her admission. Her case was then pleaded by the Protestant mayor of the town to whom the convent owed a favor. The community felt it was forced into receiving her, and her new life was made miserable. She was considered a burden and assigned nothing other than menial tasks. Even her cheerful spirit was misinterpreted as flattery or hypocrisy.

Conditions improved four years later when a new superior was elected who realized her virtue. Crescentia herself was appointed mistress of novices. She so won the love and respect of the sisters that, upon the death of the superior, Crescentia was unanimously elected to that position. Under her, the financial state of the convent improved and her reputation in spiritual matters spread. She was soon being consulted by princes and princesses; bishops and cardinals too sought her advice. And yet, a true daughter of Francis, she remained ever humble.

Bodily afflictions and pain were always with her. First it was headaches and toothaches. Then she lost the ability to walk, her hands and feet gradually becoming so crippled that her body curled up into a fetal position. In the spirit of Francis she cried out, “Oh, you bodily members, praise God that he has given you the capacity to suffer.” Despite her sufferings she was filled with peace and joy as she died on Easter Sunday in 1744.

She was beatified in 1900 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2001. The Liturgical Feast Day for Saint Crescentia Hoess is April 5.

Reflection

Although she grew up in poverty and willingly embraced it in her vocation, Crescentia had a good head for business. Under her able administration, her convent regained financial stability. Too often, we think of good money management as, at best, a less-than-holy gift. But Crescentia was wise enough to balance her worldly skills with such acumen in spiritual matters that heads of State and Church both sought her advice.

 Saint of the Day and Minute Meditations