Skip to Content

Saint of the Day

Syndicate content
Updated: 7 hours 58 min ago

Venerable Pierre Toussaint

05/28/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Tousssaint-Louverture</em> | flickrImage: Tousssaint-Louverture | flickr Venerable Pierre Toussaint Saint of the Day for May 28 June 27, 1766 – June 30, 1853) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay28.mp3

 

Venerable Pierre Toussaint’s Story

Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser, and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics.

Plantation owner Pierre Bérard made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt, and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked very successfully in the homes of rich women in New York City.

When his master died, Pierre was determined to support himself, his master’s widow, and the other house slaves. He was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807.

Four years later, he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphémie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded Pierre in death. He attended daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, the same parish that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton had attended.

Pierre donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Pierre responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.”

Pierre originally was buried outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was once refused entrance because of his race. His sanctity and the popular devotion to him caused his body to be moved to the present location of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Pierre Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.

Reflection

Pierre was internally free long before he was legally free. Refusing to become bitter, he daily chose to cooperate with God’s grace, eventually becoming a compelling sign of God’s wildly generous love.

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

05/27/2017 - 12:00am
 Stained glass of <em>Apostle to the English</em> | photo by Lawrence, OPImage: Stained glass of Apostle to the English | photo by Lawrence, OP Saint Augustine of Canterbury Saint of the Day for May 27 (? – May 26, 605) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay27.mp3

 

Saint Augustine of Canterbury’s Story

In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to Gregory the Great—the pope who had sent them—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless.

Augustine set out again. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester.

Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians–who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders–ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors.

Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after his arrival, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”

Reflection

Augustine of Canterbury comes across today as a very human saint, one who could suffer like many of us from a failure of nerve. For example, his first venture to England ended in a big U-turn back to Rome. He made mistakes and met failure in his peacemaking attempts with the Briton Christians. He often wrote to Rome for decisions on matters he could have decided on his own had he been more self-assured. He even received mild warnings against pride from Pope Gregory, who cautioned him to “fear lest, amidst the wonders that are done, the weak mind be puffed up by self-esteem.” Augustine’s perseverance amidst obstacles and only partial success teaches today’s apostles and pioneers to struggle on despite frustrations and be satisfied with gradual advances.

Saint Augustine of Canterbury is the Patron Saint of:

England

Saint Philip Neri

05/26/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Madonna Apperaing to Saint Philip Neri</em> | Sebastiano ConcaImage: The Madonna Apperaing to Saint Philip Neri | Sebastiano Conca Saint Philip Neri Saint of the Day for May 26 (July 21, 1515 – May 26, 1595) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay26.mp3

 

Saint Philip Neri’s Story

Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy: the whole post-Renaissance malaise.

At an early age, Philip abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence, and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate.

As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially, they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome.

At the urging of his confessor, Philip was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor himself, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions, and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way.

Some of Philip’s followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns!

Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.

After spending a day hearing confessions and receiving visitors, Philip Neri suffered a hemorrage and died on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1595. He was beatified in 1615 and canonized in 1622. Three centuries later, Cardinal John Henry Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory in London.

Reflection

Many people wrongly feel that such an attractive and jocular personality as Philip’s cannot be combined with an intense spirituality. Philip’s life melts our rigid, narrow views of piety. His approach to sanctity was truly catholic, all-embracing, and accompanied by a good laugh. Philip always wanted his followers to become not less but more human through their striving for holiness.

Saint Bede the Venerable

05/25/2017 - 12:00am
<em>San Beda</em> | Bartolomé RománImage: San Beda | Bartolomé Román

 

Saint Bede the Venerable Saint of the Day for May 25 (c. 672 – May 25, 735) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay25.mp3

 

Saint Bede the Venerable’s Story

Bede is one of the few saints honored as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches.

At an early age, Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks, produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar, perhaps the most outstanding one of his day. He was deeply versed in all the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history, the lives of the saints and especially, holy Scripture.

From the time of his ordination to the priesthood at 30–he had been ordained a deacon at 19–till his death, Bede was ever occupied with learning, writing, and teaching. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible.

His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is commonly regarded as of decisive importance in the art and science of writing history. A unique era was coming to an end at the time of Bede’s death: It had fulfilled its purpose of preparing Western Christianity to assimilate the non-Roman barbarian North. Bede recognized the opening to a new day in the life of the Church even as it was happening.

Although eagerly sought by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius, Bede managed to remain in his own monastery until his death. Only once did he leave for a few months in order to teach in the school of the archbishop of York. Bede died in 735 praying his favorite prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever.”

 

Reflection

Though his History is the greatest legacy Bede has left us, his work in all the sciences, especially in Scripture, should not be overlooked. During his last Lent, Bede worked on a translation of the Gospel of Saint John into English, completing it the day he died. But of this work “to break the word to the poor and unlearned” nothing remains today.

Saint Bede the Venerable is the Patron Saint of:

Scholars

Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

05/24/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Ecstasy of Saint Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi</em> | Alessandro RosiImage: Ecstasy of Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi | Alessandro Rosi Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi Saint of the Day for May 24 (April 2, 1566 – May 25, 1607) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay24.mp3

 

Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi’s Story

Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the “ecstatic saint.”

Catherine de’ Pazzi was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for her to have married into wealth and enjoyed comfort, but Catherine chose to follow her own path. At 9, she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10, and made a vow of virginity one month later. At 16, Catherine entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there.

Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near, so her superiors let her make her profession of vows in a private ceremony from a cot in the chapel. Immediately after, Mary Magdalene fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths.

As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, Admonitions, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious.

The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, Mary Magdalene appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people.

It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi died in 1607 at age 41, and was canonized in 1669.

Reflection

Intimate union, God’s gift to mystics, is a reminder to all of us of the eternal happiness of union he wishes to give us. The cause of mystical ecstasy in this life is the Holy Spirit, working through spiritual gifts. The ecstasy occurs because of the weakness of the body and its powers to withstand the divine illumination, but as the body is purified and strengthened, ecstasy no longer occurs. See Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, and John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, for more about various aspects of ecstasies.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi is May 25. Help us in our mission!Help the Franciscan Friars in their mission to spread the Word of God! Click here to learn more!

 

 

 

 

Saint Gregory VII

05/23/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The great controversy between Christ and Satan during the Christian dispensation</em> | from a book by White, Ellen Gould HarmonImage: The great controversy between Christ and Satan during the Christian dispensation | from a book by White, Ellen Gould Harmon Saint Gregory VII Saint of the Day for May 23 (c. 1025 – May 25, 1085) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay23.mp3

 

Saint Gregory VII’s Story

The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. Hildebrand was to become Gregory VII.

Three evils plagued the Church then: simony–the buying and selling of sacred offices and things; the unlawful marriage of the clergy; and lay investiture–kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials. To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later as pope himself.

Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of the bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots.

Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore, I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.

Reflection

The Gregorian Reform, a milestone in the history of Christ’s Church, was named after this man who tried to extricate the papacy and the whole Church from undue control by civil rulers. Against an unhealthy Church nationalism in some areas, Gregory reasserted the unity of the whole Church based on Christ, and expressed in the bishop of Rome, the successor of Saint Peter.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Gregory VII is May 25.

Saint Rita of Cascia

05/22/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Translation of Saint Rita of Cascia</em> | Nicolas PoussinImage: The Translation of Saint Rita of Cascia | Nicolas Poussin Saint Rita of Cascia Saint of the Day for May 22 (1381 – May 22, 1457) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay22.mp3

 

Saint Rita of Cascia’s Story

Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow, and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.

Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.

Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness, and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ’s crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ’s passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery.

Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with Saint Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.

Reflection

Although we can easily imagine an ideal world in which to live out our baptismal vocation, such a world does not exist. An “If only ….” approach to holiness never quite gets underway, never produces the fruit that God has a right to expect.

Rita became holy because she made choices that reflected her baptism and her growth as a disciple of Jesus. Her overarching, lifelong choice was to cooperate generously with God’s grace, but many small choices were needed to make that happen. Few of those choices were made in ideal circumstances—not even when Rita became an Augustinian nun.

Saint Rita of Cascia is the Patron Saint of:

Difficult Marriages
Impossible Causes
Infertility
Parenthood

Saint Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions

05/21/2017 - 12:00am
Photograph of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara | UnknownImage: Photograph of Saint Cristóbal Magallanes Jara | Unknown Saint Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions Saint of the Day for May 21 (d. between 1915 and 1937) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay21.mp3

 

Saint Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions’ Story

Like Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, S.J., Cristóbal and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools, and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristóbal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. He and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28).

All of these martyrs, except three, were diocesan priests. David, Manuel and Salvador were laymen who died with their parish priest, Luis Batis. They all belonged to the Cristero movement, pledging their allegiance to Christ and to the Church that he established, to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico’s leaders had made it a crime to receive baptism or celebrate the Mass.

These martyrs did not die as a single group but over 22 years time in eight Mexican states, with Jalisco and Zacatecas having the largest number. They were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Reflection

Every martyr realizes how to avoid execution, but refuses to pay the high price of doing so. A clear conscience was more valuable than a long life. We may be tempted to compromise our faith while telling ourselves that we are simply being realistic, dealing with situations as we find them. Is survival really the ultimate value? Do our concrete, daily choices reflect our deepest values, the ones that allow us to “tick” the way we do? Anyone can imagine situations in which being a follower of Jesus is easier than the present situation. Saints remind us that our daily choices, especially in adverse circumstances, form the pattern of our lives.

Saint Bernardine of Siena

05/20/2017 - 12:00am
Saint Bernadine of Siena | Vincenzo FoppaImage: Saint Bernadine of Siena | Vincenzo Foppa Saint Bernardine of Siena Saint of the Day for May 20 (September 8, 1380 – May 20, 1444) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay20.mp3

 

Saint Bernardine of Siena’s Story

Most of the saints suffer great personal opposition, even persecution. Bernardine, by contrast, seems more like a human dynamo who simply took on the needs of the world.

He was the greatest preacher of his time, journeying across Italy, calming strife-torn cities, attacking the paganism he found rampant, attracting crowds of 30,000, following St. Francis of Assisi’s admonition to preach about “vice and virtue, punishment and glory.”

Compared with Saint Paul by the pope, Bernardine had a keen intuition of the needs of the time, along with solid holiness and boundless energy and joy. He accomplished all this despite having a very weak and hoarse voice, miraculously improved later because of his devotion to Mary.

When he was 20, the plague was at its height in his hometown of Siena. Sometimes as many as 20 people died in one day at the hospital. Bernardine offered to run the hospital and, with the help of other young men, nursed patients there for four months. He escaped the plague, but was so exhausted that a fever confined him for several months. He spent another year caring for a beloved aunt whose parents had died when he was a child, and at her death began to fast and pray to know God’s will for him.

At 22, he entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained two years later. For almost a dozen years he lived in solitude and prayer, but his gifts ultimately caused him to be sent to preach. He always traveled on foot, sometimes speaking for hours in one place, then doing the same in another town.

Especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Bernardine devised a symbol—IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek–in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. This was to displace the superstitious symbols of the day, as well as the insignia of factions: for example, Guelphs and Ghibellines. The devotion spread, and the symbol began to appear in churches, homes and public buildings. Opposition arose from those who thought it a dangerous innovation. Three attempts were made to have the pope take action against him, but Bernardine’s holiness, orthodoxy, and intelligence were evidence of his faithfulness.

General of the Friars of the Strict Observance, a branch of the Franciscan Order, Bernardine strongly emphasized scholarship and further study of theology and canon law. When he started there were 300 friars in the community; when he died there were 4,000. He returned to preaching the last two years of his life, dying while traveling.

Reflection

Another dynamic saint once said, “…I will not be a burden, for I want not what is yours, but you…. I will most gladly spend and be utterly spent for your sakes” (2 Corinthians 12:14). There is danger that we see only the whirlwind of activity in the Bernardines of faith—taking care of the sick, preaching, studying, administering, always driving—and forget the source of their energy. We should not say that Bernardine could have been a great contemplative if he had had the chance. He had the chance, every day, and he took it.

Saint Bernardine of Siena is the patron saint of:

Advertising
Gambling
Italy
Public relations

Saint Theophilus of Corte

05/19/2017 - 12:00am
Statue de Saint Théophile de Corte | photo by Pierre BonaImage: Statue de Saint Théophile de Corte | photo by Pierre Bona Saint Theophilus of Corte Saint of the Day for May 19 (October 30, 1676 – June 17, 1740) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay19.mp3

 

Saint Theophilus of Corte’s Story

If we expect saints to do marvelous things continually and to leave us many memorable quotes, we are bound to be disappointed with Saint Theophilus. The mystery of God’s grace in a person’s life, however, has a beauty all its own.

Theophilus was born in Corsica of rich and noble parents. As a young man, he entered the Franciscans and soon showed his love for solitude and prayer. After admirably completing his studies, he was ordained and assigned to a retreat house near Subiaco. Inspired by the austere life of the Franciscans there, he founded other such houses in Corsica and Tuscany. Over the years, he became famous for his preaching as well as his missionary efforts.

Though he was always somewhat sickly, Theophilus generously served the needs of God’s people in the confessional, in the sickroom, and at the graveside. Worn out by his labors, he died on June 17, 1740. He was canonized in 1930.

Reflection

There is a certain dynamism in all the saints that prompts them to find ever more selfless ways of responding to God’s grace. As time went on, Theophilus gave more and more single-hearted service to God and to God’s sons and daughters. Honoring the saints will make no sense unless we are thus drawn to live as generously as they did. Their holiness can never substitute for our own.

Saint John I

05/18/2017 - 12:00am
U.S. Archives, Book Reader Images | UnknownImage: U.S. Archives, Book Reader Images | Unknown St. John I Saint of the Day for May 18 (c. 470 – May 18, 526) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay18.mp3

 

Saint John I’s Story

Pope John I inherited the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Italy had been ruled for 30 years by an emperor who espoused the heresy, though he treated the empire’s Catholics with toleration. His policy changed at about the time the young John was elected pope.

When the eastern emperor began imposing severe measures on the Arians of his area, the western emperor forced John to head a delegation to the East to soften the measures against the heretics. Little is known of the manner or outcome of the negotiations—designed to secure continued toleration of Catholics in the West.

On his way home, John was imprisoned at Ravenna because the emperor had begun to suspect that John’s friendship with his eastern rival might lead to a conspiracy against his throne. Shortly after his imprisonment, John died, apparently from the treatment he received in prison.

John’s body was transported to Rome and he was buried in the Basilica of St. Peter.

 

Reflection

We cannot choose the issues for which we have to suffer and perhaps die. John I suffered because of a power-conscious emperor. Jesus suffered because of the suspicions of those who were threatened by his freedom, openness, and powerlessness. “If you find that the world hates you, know it has hated me before you” (John 15:18).

Saint Paschal Baylon

05/17/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Paschal Baylon</em> | Giovanni Battista TiepoloImage: Saint Paschal Baylon | Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Saint Paschal Baylon Saint of the Day for May 17 (May 24, 1540 – May 15, 1592) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay17.mp3

 

Saint Paschal Baylon’s story

In Paschal’s lifetime the Spanish empire in the New World was at the height of its power, though France and England were soon to reduce its influence. The 16th century has been called the Golden Age of the Church in Spain, for it gave birth to Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, Francis Solano and Salvator of Horta.

Paschal’s Spanish parents were poor and pious. Between the ages of seven and 24 he worked as a shepherd and began a life of mortification. He was able to pray on the job and was especially attentive to the church bell, which rang at the Elevation during Mass. Paschal had a very honest streak in him. He once offered to pay owners of crops for any damage his animals caused!

In 1564, Paschal joined the Friars Minor and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life of penance. Though he was urged to study for the priesthood, he chose to be a brother. At various times he served as porter, cook, gardener, and official beggar.

Paschal was careful to observe the vow of poverty. He would never waste any food or anything given for the use of the friars. When he was porter and took care of the poor coming to the door, he developed a reputation for great generosity. The friars sometimes tried to moderate his liberality!

Paschal spent his spare moments praying before the Blessed Sacrament. In time, many people sought his wise counsel. People flocked to his tomb immediately after his burial; miracles were reported promptly. Paschal was canonized in 1690 and was named patron of eucharistic congresses and societies in 1897.

Reflection

Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament occupied much of Saint Francis’ energy. Most of his letters were to promote devotion to the Eucharist. Paschal shared that concern. An hour in prayer before our Lord in the Eucharist could teach all of us a great deal. Some holy and busy Catholics today find that their work is enriched by those minutes regularly spent in prayer and meditation.

Saint Paschal Baylon is the Patron Saint of:

Eucharistic Congresses and Societies
Shepherds

Saint Margaret of Cortona

05/16/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Margret of Cortona</em> | Giovanni Battista PiazzettaImage: Saint Margret of Cortona | Giovanni Battista Piazzetta Saint Margaret of Cortona Saint of the Day for May 16 (1247 – February 22, 1297) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay16.mp3

 

Saint Margaret of Cortona’s Story

Margaret was born of farming parents in Laviano, Tuscany. Her mother died when Margaret was seven; life with her stepmother was so difficult that Margaret moved out. For nine years she lived with Arsenio, though they were not married, and she bore him a son. In those years, she had doubts about her situation. Somewhat like Saint Augustine, she prayed for purity—but not just yet.

One day she was waiting for Arsenio and was instead met by his dog. The animal led Margaret into the forest where she found Arsenio murdered. This crime shocked Margaret into a life of penance. She and her son returned to Laviano, where she was not well received by her stepmother. They then went to Cortona, where her son eventually became a friar.

In 1277, three years after her conversion, Margaret became a Franciscan tertiary. Under the direction of her confessor, who sometimes had to order her to moderate her self-denial, she pursued a life of prayer and penance at Cortona. There she established a hospital and founded a congregation of tertiary sisters. The poor and humble Margaret was, like Francis, devoted to the Eucharist and to the passion of Jesus. These devotions fueled her great charity and drew sinners to her for advice and inspiration. She was canonized in 1728.

Reflection

Seeking forgiveness is sometimes difficult work. It is made easier by meeting people who, without trivializing our sins, assure us that God rejoices over our repentance. Being forgiven lifts a weight and prompts us to acts of charity.

Saint Isidore the Farmer

05/15/2017 - 12:00am
Statue at Saint Isidore Catholic Church, Bloomingdale, Illinois | photo by NheyobImage: Statue at Saint Isidore Catholic Church, Bloomingdale, Illinois | photo by Nheyob Saint Isidore the Farmer Saint of the Day for May 15 (1070 – May 15, 1130) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay15.mp3

 

Saint Isidore the Farmer’s Story

Isidore has become the patron of farmers and rural communities. In particular, he is the patron of Madrid, Spain, and of the United States National Rural Life Conference.

When he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid, and worked faithfully on his estate outside the city for the rest of his life. He married a young woman as simple and upright as himself who also became a saint—Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died as a child.

Isidore had deep religious instincts. He rose early in the morning to go to church and spent many a holiday devoutly visiting the churches of Madrid and surrounding areas. All day long, as he walked behind the plow, he communed with God. His devotion, one might say, became a problem, for his fellow workers sometimes complained that he often showed up late because of lingering in church too long.

He was known for his love of the poor, and there are accounts of Isidore’s supplying them miraculously with food. He had a great concern for the proper treatment of animals.

He died May 15, 1130, and was declared a saint in 1622, with Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri. Together, the group is known in Spain as “the five saints.”

Reflection

Many implications can be found in a simple laborer achieving sainthood: Physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness. Legends about angel helpers and mysterious oxen indicate that his work was not neglected and his duties did not go unfulfilled. Perhaps the truth which emerges is this: If you have your spiritual self in order, your earthly commitments will fall into order also. “[S]eek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,” said the carpenter from Nazareth, “and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

Saint Isidore the Farmer is the Patron Saint of:

Farmers
Laborers

Saint Matthias

05/14/2017 - 12:00am
"Saint Matthias" | Serra Brothers workshopImage: “Saint Matthias” | Serra Brothers workshop Saint Matthias Saint of the Day for May 14 (? – ?) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay14.mp3

 

Saint Matthias’ Story

According to Acts 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers–about 120 of Jesus’s followers. Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation that another should take his office. “Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22).

They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven.

Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.

Reflection

What was the holiness of Matthias? Obviously, he was suited for apostleship by the experience of being with Jesus from his baptism to his ascension. He must also have been suited personally, or he would not have been nominated for so great a responsibility. Must we not remind ourselves that the fundamental holiness of Matthias was his receiving gladly the relationship with the Father offered him by Jesus and completed by the Holy Spirit? If the apostles are the foundations of our faith by their witness, they must also be reminders, if only implicitly, that holiness is entirely a matter of God’s giving, and it is offered to all, in the everyday circumstances of life. We receive, and even for this God supplies the power of freedom.

Our Lady of Fatima

05/13/2017 - 12:00am

Our Lady of Fatima Saint of the Day for May 13

 

The Story of Our Lady of Fatima

Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children–Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia dos Santos–received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners, and for the conversion of Russia.

Mary gave the children three secrets. Following the deaths of Francisco and Jacinta in 1919 and 1920 respectively, Lucia revealed the first secret in 1927. It concerned devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell. When Lucia grew up she became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.

Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See’s Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a “bishop in white” who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this vision to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.

The feast of Our Lady of Fatima was approved by the local bishop in 1930; it was added to the Church’s worldwide calendar in 2002.

Reflection

The message of Fatima is simple: Pray. Unfortunately, some people—not Sister Lucia—have distorted these revelations, making them into an apocalyptic event for which they are now the only reliable interpreters. They have, for example, claimed that Mary’s request that the world be consecrated to her has been ignored. Sister Lucia agreed that Pope John Paul II’s public consecration in St. Peter’s Square on March 25, 1984, fulfilled Mary’s request. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prepared a June 26, 2000, document explaining the “third secret.”

Mary is perfectly honored when people generously imitate her response “Let it be done to me as you say” (Luke 1:38). Mary can never be seen as a rival to Jesus or to the Church’s teaching authority, as exercised by the college of bishops united with the bishop of Rome.

Want to learn more about Our Lady of Fatima? Click the image below!

 Pray for us!

Saints Nereus and Achilleus

05/12/2017 - 12:00am
 "Flavia Domitilla van Terracina, Nereus en Achilleus" | Peter Paul RubensImage: “Flavia Domitilla van Terracina, Nereus en Achilleus” | Peter Paul Rubens Saints Nereus and Achilleus Saint of the Day for May 12 (? – ?) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay12.mp3

 

Saints Nereus and Achilleus’ Story

Devotion to these two saints goes back to the fourth century, though almost nothing is known of their lives. They were praetorian soldiers of the Roman army, became Christians, and were removed to the island of Terracina, where they were martyred. Their bodies were buried in a family vault, later known as the cemetery of Domitilla. Excavations by De Rossi in 1896 resulted in the discovery of their empty tomb in the underground church built by Pope Siricius in 390.

Two hundred years after their deaths, Pope Gregory the Great delivered his 28th homily on the occasion of their feast. “These saints, before whom we are assembled, despised the world and trampled it under their feet when peace, riches and health gave it charms.”

Reflection

As in the case of many early martyrs, the Church clings to its memories though the events are clouded in the mists of history. It is a heartening thing for all Christians to know that they have a noble heritage. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have stood in the same world in which we live—militaristic, materialistic, cruel and cynical—yet transfigured from within by the presence of the Living One. Our own courage is enlivened by the heroes and heroines who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith and the wounds of Christ.

Saint Ignatius of Laconi

05/11/2017 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Ignatius of Laconi | UnknownImage: Statue of Saint Ignatius of Laconi | Unknown Saint Ignatius of Laconi Saint of the Day for May 11 (December 17, 1701 – May 11, 1781) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay11.mp3

 

Saint Ignatius of Laconi’s Story

Ignatius is another sainted begging brother.

He was the second of seven children of peasant parents in Sardinia. His path to the Franciscans was unusual. During a serious illness, Ignatius vowed to become a Capuchin if he recovered. He regained his health but ignored the promise. When he was 20, a riding accident prompted Ignatius to renew the pledge, which he acted on the second time. Ignatius’s reputation for self-denial and charity led to his appointment as the official beggar for the friars in Cagliari. He fulfilled that task for 40 years, despite being blind for the last two years.

While on his rounds, Ignatius would instruct the children, visit the sick, and urge sinners to repent. The people of Cagliari were inspired by his kindness and his faithfulness to his work. Ignatius was canonized in 1951.

Reflection

Why did the people of Cagliari support the friars? These followers of Francis worked hard but rarely at jobs that paid enough to live on. Under these conditions St. Francis allowed them to beg. The life of Ignatius reminds us that everything God considers worthwhile does not have a high-paying salary attached to it.

Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i

05/10/2017 - 12:00am
 Father Damien on his deathbed, resting on his side | photo presumably by Dr. Sydney B. SwiftImage: Father Damien on his deathbed, resting on his side | photo presumably by Dr. Sydney B. Swift Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i Saint of the Day for May 10 (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay10.mp3

 

Saint Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i’s Story

When Joseph de Veuster was born in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840, few people in Europe had any firsthand knowledge of leprosy, Hansen’s disease. By the time he died at the age of 49, people all over the world knew about this disease because of him. They knew that human compassion could soften the ravages of this disease.

Forced to quit school at age 13 to work on the family farm, Joseph entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, taking the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. When his brother Pamphile, a priest in the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to the Hawaiian Islands as assigned, Damien quickly volunteered in his place. In May 1864, two months after arriving in his new mission, Damien was ordained a priest in Honolulu and assigned to the island of Hawaii.

In 1873, he went to the Hawaiian government’s leper colony on the island of Moloka’i, set up seven years earlier. Part of a team of four chaplains taking that assignment for three months each year, Damien soon volunteered to remain permanently, caring for the people’s physical, medical, and spiritual needs. In time, he became their most effective advocate to obtain promised government support.

Soon the settlement had new houses and a new church, school and orphanage. Morale improved considerably. A few years later, he succeeded in getting the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Mother Marianne Cope, to help staff this colony in Kalaupapa.

Damien contracted Hansen’s disease and died of its complications. As requested, he was buried in Kalaupapa, but in 1936 the Belgian government succeeded in having his body moved to Belgium. Part of Damien’s body was returned to his beloved Hawaiian brothers and sisters after his beatification in 1995.

When Hawaii became a state in 1959, it selected Damien as one of its two representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009.

 

Reflection

Some people thought Damien was a hero for going to Moloka’i and others thought he was crazy. When a Protestant clergyman wrote that Damien was guilty of immoral behavior, Robert Louis Stevenson vigorously defended him in an “Open Letter to Dr. Hyde.”

Saint John of Avila

05/09/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Portrait of Juan de Ávila</em> | El GrecoImage: Portrait of Juan de Ávila | El Greco Saint John of Avila Saint of the Day for May 9 (c. 1500 – May 10, 1569) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODMay09.mp3

 

Saint John of Avila’s Story

Born in the Castile region of Spain, John was sent at the age of 14 to the University of Salamanca to study law. He later moved to Alcala, where he studied philosophy and theology before his ordination as a diocesan priest.

After John’s parents died and left him as their sole heir to a considerable fortune, he distributed his money to the poor. In 1527, he traveled to Seville, hoping to become a missionary in Mexico. The archbishop of that city persuaded him to stay and spread the faith in Andalusia. During nine years of work there, he developed a reputation as an engaging preacher, a perceptive spiritual director, and a wise confessor.

Because John was not afraid to denounce vice in high places, he was investigated by the Inquisition but was cleared in 1533. He later worked in Cordoba and then in Granada, where he organized the University of Baeza, the first of several colleges run by diocesan priests who dedicated themselves to teaching and giving spiritual direction to young people.

He was friends with Saints Francis Borgia, Ignatius of Loyola, John of God, John of the Cross, Peter of Alcantara, and Teresa of Avila. John of Avila worked closely with members of the Society of Jesus and helped their growth within Spain and its colonies. John’s mystical writings have been translated into several languages.

He was beatified in 1894, canonized in 1970, and declared a doctor of the Church on October 7, 2012.

Reflection

Saint John of Avila knew that the lives of Christians can contradict the Good News of Jesus Christ– for example thinking racism is OK–implicitly encouraging Christians to live their faith-halfheartedly, and causing obstacles to non-Christians who might accept Baptism. In 16th-century Spain, those who advocated reforming the Church were often suspected of heresy. Saint John of Avila held his ground and was eventually recognized as a very reliable teacher of the Christian faith.