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The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

14 hours 8 min ago
<em>St. John the baptist</em> | Alessandro Rosi Image: St. John the Baptist | Alessandro Rosi The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Saint of the Day for June 24 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun24.mp3

 

Saint John the Baptist’s Story

Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John….” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “[Y]et the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom, and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life. His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His baptism, he said, was for repentance. But one would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John was not worthy even to untie his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).

John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Matthew 3:14b). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15b). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. Jesus thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. But making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, when he was in prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.

Reflection

John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity—total dependence on the Father, in Christ. Except for the Mother of God, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation. Yet the least in the kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than he, for the pure gift that the Father gives. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil—all stem from his fundamental and total placing of his life within the will of God.

Saint John the Baptist is the Patron Saint of:

Baptism

Click here for more on the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist!

When the Church Was Young

 

Saint John Fisher

06/23/2018 - 12:00am
 from a book entitled <em>The life and death of Cardinal Wolsey</em> | Authors: George Cavendish, Hans Holbein, and Bruce RogersImage: from a book entitled The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey | Authors: George Cavendish, Hans Holbein, and Bruce Rogers Saint John Fisher Saint of the Day for June 23 (1469 – June 22, 1535) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun23.mp3

 

Saint John Fisher’s Story

John Fisher is usually associated with Erasmus, Thomas More, and other Renaissance humanists. His life therefore, did not have the external simplicity found in the lives of some saints. Rather, he was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day. He was interested in the contemporary culture and eventually became chancellor at Cambridge. He had been made a bishop at 35, and one of his interests was raising the standard of preaching in England. Fisher himself was an accomplished preacher and writer. His sermons on the penitential psalms were reprinted seven times before his death. With the coming of Lutheranism, he was drawn into controversy. His eight books against heresy gave him a leading position among European theologians.

In 1521, Fisher was asked to study the question of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his brother’s widow. He incurred Henry’s anger by defending the validity of the king’s marriage with Catherine, and later by rejecting Henry’s claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England.

In an attempt to be rid of him, Henry first had Fisher accused of not reporting all the “revelations” of the nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton. In feeble health, Fisher was summoned to take the oath to the new Act of Succession. He and Thomas More refused to do so because the Act presumed the legality of Henry’s divorce and his claim to be head of the English Church. They were sent to the Tower of London, where Fisher remained 14 months without trial. Finally both men were sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods.

When the two were called to further interrogations, they remained silent. On the supposition that he was speaking privately as a priest, Fisher was tricked into declaring again that the king was not supreme head of the church in England. The king, further angered that the pope had made John Fisher a cardinal, had him brought to trial on the charge of high treason. He was condemned and executed, his body left to lie all day on the scaffold and his head hung on London Bridge. More was executed two weeks later. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 22.

Reflection

Today many questions are raised about Christians’ and priests’ active involvement in social issues. John Fisher remained faithful to his calling as a priest and bishop. He strongly upheld the teachings of the Church; the very cause of his martyrdom was his loyalty to Rome. He was involved in the cultural enrichment circles as well as in the political struggles of his time. This involvement caused him to question the moral conduct of the leadership of his country.

“The Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of man and his very salvation demand it” (Justice in the World, 1971 Synod of Bishops).

Catholic Saints

 

Saint Thomas More

06/22/2018 - 12:00am
Sir Thomas More | Hans Holbein the YoungerImage: Sir Thomas More | Hans Holbein the Younger Saint Thomas More Saint of the Day for June 22 (February 7, 1478 – July 6, 1535) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun22.mp3

 

Saint Thomas More’s Story

His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church of Christ cost Thomas More his life.

Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, on July 6, 1535, More steadfastly refused to approve King Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.

Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children, and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the Church in England, breaking with Rome, and denying the pope as head.

More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience.

Reflection

Four hundred years later in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In the year 2000, in fact, Pope John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, he did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. King Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas More resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king had to get rid of him.

Saint Thomas More is the Patron Saint of:

Attorneys
Civil Servants
Court Clerks
Lawyers
Politicians
Public Servants

Saint of the Day

 

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

06/21/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Vocation of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga</em> | GuercinoImage: The Vocation of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga | Guercino Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Saint of the Day for June 21 (March 9, 1568 – June 21, 1591) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun21.mp3

 

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga’s Story

The Lord can make saints anywhere, even amid the brutality and license of Renaissance life. Florence was the “mother of piety” for Aloysius Gonzaga despite his exposure to a “society of fraud, dagger, poison, and lust.” As a son of a princely family, he grew up in royal courts and army camps. His father wanted Aloysius to be a military hero.

At age 7 Aloysius experienced a profound spiritual quickening. His prayers included the Office of Mary, the psalms, and other devotions. At age 9 he came from his hometown of Castiglione to Florence to be educated; by age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week, and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old, he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain, and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints.

A book about the experience of Jesuit missionaries in India suggested to him the idea of entering the Society of Jesus, and in Spain his decision became final. Now began a four-year contest with his father. Eminent churchmen and laypeople were pressed into service to persuade Aloysius to remain in his “normal” vocation. Finally he prevailed, was allowed to renounce his right to succession, and was received into the Jesuit novitiate.

Like other seminarians, Aloysius was faced with a new kind of penance—that of accepting different ideas about the exact nature of penance. He was obliged to eat more, and to take recreation with the other students. He was forbidden to pray except at stated times. He spent four years in the study of philosophy and had Saint Robert Bellarmine as his spiritual adviser.

In 1591, a plague struck Rome. The Jesuits opened a hospital of their own. The superior general himself and many other Jesuits rendered personal service. Because he nursed patients, washing them and making their beds, Aloysius caught the disease. A fever persisted after his recovery and he was so weak he could scarcely rise from bed. Yet, he maintained his great discipline of prayer, knowing that he would die within the octave of Corpus Christi, three months later, at the age of 23.

Reflection

As a saint who fasted, scourged himself, sought solitude and prayer, and did not look on the faces of women, Aloysius seems an unlikely patron of youth in a society where asceticism is confined to training camps of football teams and boxers, and sexual permissiveness has little left to permit. Can an overweight and air-conditioned society deprive itself of anything? It will when it discovers a reason, as Aloysius did. The motivation for letting God purify us is the experience of God loving us in prayer.

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga is the Patron Saint of:

Catholic Youth
Teenagers

Minute Meditations

 

Saint Paulinus of Nola

06/20/2018 - 12:00am
 Stained glass window of Saint Paulinus | photo by Tiroler GlasmalereiImage: Stained glass window of Saint Paulinus | photo by Tiroler Glasmalerei Saint Paulinus of Nola Saint of the Day for June 20 (354 – June 22, 431) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun20.mp3

 

Saint Paulinus of Nola’s Story

Anyone who is praised in the letters of six or seven saints undoubtedly must be of extraordinary character. Such a person was Paulinus of Nola, correspondent and friend of Saints Augustine, Jerome, Melania, Martin, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose.

Born near Bordeaux, he was the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul, who had extensive property in both Gaul and Italy. Paulinus became a distinguished lawyer, holding several public offices in the Roman Empire. With his Spanish wife, Therasia, he retired at an early age to a life of cultured leisure.

The two were baptized by the saintly bishop of Bordeaux and moved to Therasia’s estate in Spain. After many childless years, they had a son who died a week after birth. This occasioned their beginning a life of great austerity and charity, giving away most of their Spanish property. Possibly as a result of this great example, Paulinus was rather unexpectedly ordained a priest at Christmas by the bishop of Barcelona.

He and his wife then moved to Nola, near Naples. He had a great love for Saint Felix of Nola, and spent much effort in promoting devotion to this saint. Paulinus gave away most of his remaining property—to the consternation of his relatives—and continued his work for the poor. Supporting a host of debtors, the homeless and other needy people, he lived a monastic life in another part of his home. By popular demand he was made bishop of Nola and guided that diocese for 21 years.

Paulinus’ last years were saddened by the invasion of the Huns. Among his few writings is the earliest extant Christian wedding song. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 22.

Reflection

Many of us are tempted to “retire” early in life, after an initial burst of energy. Devotion to Christ and his work is waiting to be done all around us. Paulinus’ life had scarcely begun when he thought it was over, as he took his ease on that estate in Spain. “Man proposes, but God disposes.”

Saint of the Day

Saint Romuald

06/19/2018 - 12:00am
Fresco of Saint Romuald | In the Dominican Cloister of Saint Mark, Florence, Italy | Fra AngelicoImage: Fresco of Saint Romuald | In the Dominican Cloister of Saint Mark, Florence, Italy | Fra Angelico Saint Romuald Saint of the Day for June 19 (c. 950 – June 19, 1027) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun19.mp3

 

Saint Romuald’s Story

In the midst of a wasted youth, Romuald watched his father kill a relative in a duel over property. In horror he fled to a monastery near Ravenna. After three years, some of the monks found him to be uncomfortably holy and eased him out.

Romuald spent the next 30 years going about Italy, founding monasteries and hermitages. He longed to give his life to Christ in martyrdom, and got the pope’s permission to preach the gospel in Hungary. But he was struck with illness as soon as he arrived, and the illness recurred as often as he tried to proceed.

During another period of his life, Romuald suffered great spiritual dryness. One day as he was praying Psalm 31 (“I will give you understanding and I will instruct you”), he was given an extraordinary light and spirit which never left him.

At the next monastery where he stayed, Romuald was accused of a scandalous crime by a young nobleman he had rebuked for a dissolute life. Amazingly, his fellow monks believed the accusation. He was given a severe penance, forbidden from offering Mass, and excommunicated—an unjust sentence that he endured in silence for six months.

The most famous of the monasteries Romuald founded was that of the Camaldoli in Tuscany. Here began the Order of the Camaldolese Benedictines, uniting the monastic and eremetical lives. In later life Romuald’s own father became a monk, wavered, and was kept faithful by the encouragement of his son.

Reflection

Christ is a gentle leader, but he calls us to total holiness. Now and then, men and women are raised up to challenge us by the absoluteness of their dedication, the vigor of their spirit, the depth of their conversion. The fact that we cannot duplicate their lives does not change the call to us to be totally open to God in our own particular circumstances.

St. Anthony Messenger

Venerable Matt Talbot

06/18/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Venerable Matt Talbot | flickrImage: Statue of Venerable Matt Talbot | flickr Venerable Matt Talbot Saint of the Day for June 18 (May 2, 1856 – June 7, 1925) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun18.mp3

 

Venerable Matt Talbot’s story

Matt can be considered the patron of men and women struggling with alcoholism. He was born in Dublin, where his father worked on the docks and had a difficult time supporting his family. After a few years of schooling, Matt obtained work as a messenger for some liquor merchants; there he began to drink excessively. For 15 years—until he was almost 30—Matt was an active alcoholic.

One day he decided to take “the pledge” for three months, make a general confession and begin to attend daily Mass. There is evidence that Matt’s first seven years after taking the pledge were especially difficult. Avoiding his former drinking places was hard. He began to pray as intensely as he used to drink. He also tried to pay back people from whom he had borrowed or stolen money while he was drinking.

Most of his life Matt worked as a builder’s laborer. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order and began a life of strict penance; he abstained from meat nine months a year. Matt spent hours every night avidly reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. He prayed the rosary conscientiously. Though his job did not make him rich, Matt contributed generously to the missions.

After 1923, his health failed, and Matt was forced to quit work. He died on his way to church on Trinity Sunday. Fifty years later, Pope Paul VI gave him the title venerable. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 19.

Reflection

In looking at the life of Matt Talbot, we may easily focus on the later years when he had stopped drinking for some time and was leading a penitential life. Only alcoholic men and women who have stopped drinking can fully appreciate how difficult the earliest years of sobriety were for Matt.

He had to take one day at a time. So do the rest of us.

Venerable Matt Talbot is the Patron Saint of:

Alcoholics
Sobriety

Click here to read an article about patron saints for modern challenges!

Saints resources

Saint John Francis Regis

06/16/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Glory of Saint John Francis Regis</em> | Church of Our Lady of Andance, Ardèche, France | Camillo RusconiImage: The Glory of Saint John Francis Regis | Church of Our Lady of Andance, Ardèche, France | Camillo Rusconi Saint John Francis Regis Saint of the Day for June 16 (January 31, 1597 –  December 30, 1640) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun16.mp3

 

Saint John Francis Regis’ Story

Born into a family of some wealth, John Francis was so impressed by his Jesuit educators that he himself wished to enter the Society of Jesus. He did so at age 18. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, he spent many hours in chapel, often to the dismay of fellow seminarians who were concerned about his health. Following his ordination to the priesthood, John Francis undertook missionary work in various French towns. While the formal sermons of the day tended toward the poetic, his discourses were plain. But they revealed the fervor within him and attracted people of all classes. Father Regis especially made himself available to the poor. Many mornings were spent in the confessional or at the altar celebrating Mass; afternoons were reserved for visits to prisons and hospitals.

The bishop of Viviers, observing the success of Father Regis in communicating with people, sought to draw on his many gifts, especially needed during the prolonged civil and religious strife then rampant throughout France. With many prelates absent and priests negligent, the people had been deprived of the sacraments for 20 years or more. Various forms of Protestantism were thriving in some cases while a general indifference toward religion was evident in other instances. For three years, Father Regis traveled throughout the diocese, conducting missions in advance of a visit by the bishop. He succeeded in converting many people and in bringing many others back to religious observances.

Though Father Regis longed to work as a missionary among the Native Americans in Canada, he was to live out his days working for the Lord in the wildest and most desolate part of his native France. There he encountered rigorous winters, snowdrifts and other deprivations. Meanwhile he continued preaching missions and earned a reputation as a saint. Upon entering the town of Saint-Andé, one man came upon a large crowd in front of a church and was told that people were waiting for “the saint” who was coming to preach a mission.

The last four years of his life were spent preaching and organizing social services, especially for prisoners, the sick and the poor. In the autumn of 1640, Father Regis sensed that his days were coming to a conclusion. He settled some of his affairs and prepared for the end by continuing to do what he did so well: speaking to the people about the God who loved them. On December 31, he spent most of the day with his eyes on the crucifix. That evening, he died. His final words were: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

John Francis Regis was canonized in 1737.

Reflection

John longed to travel to the New World and become a missionary to the Native Americans, but he was called instead to work among his own compatriots. Unlike many famous preachers, he isn’t remembered for golden-tongued oratory. What people who listened to him heard was his own fervent faith, and it had a powerful effect on them. We can recall homilists who impressed us for the same reason. More importantly for us, we can also remember ordinary people, neighbors and friends, whose faith and goodness touched us and brought us to deeper faith. That is the calling most of us must follow.

Minute Meditations

Saint Marguerite d’Youville

06/15/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Portrait of Mère Marguerite d'Youville (1701-1771)</em> | James Duncan Image: Portrait of Mère Marguerite d’Youville (1701-1771) | James Duncan Saint Marguerite d’Youville Saint of the Day for June 15 (October 15, 1701 – December 23, 1771) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun15.mp3

 

Saint Marguerite d’Youville’s Story

We learn compassion from allowing our lives to be influenced by compassionate people, by seeing life from their perspectives, and reconsidering our own values.

Born in Varennes, Canada, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais had to interrupt her schooling at the age of 12 to help her widowed mother. Eight years later she married François d’Youville; they had six children, four of whom died young. Despite the fact that her husband gambled, sold liquor illegally to Native Americans, and treated her indifferently, she cared for him compassionately until his death in 1730.

Even though she was caring for two small children and running a store to help pay off her husband’s debts, Marguerite still helped the poor. Once her children were grown, she and several companions rescued a Quebec hospital that was in danger of failing. She called her community the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal; the people called them the “Grey Nuns” because of the color of their habits. In time, a proverb arose among the poor people of Montreal, “Go to the Grey Nuns; they never refuse to serve.” In time, five other religious communities traced their roots to the Grey Nuns.

The General Hospital in Montreal became known as the Hôtel Dieu (House of God) and set a standard for medical care and Christian compassion. When the hospital was destroyed by fire in 1766, Mère Marguerite knelt in the ashes, led the Te Deum—a hymn to God’s providence in all circumstancesand began the rebuilding process. She fought the attempts of government officials to restrain her charity, and established the first foundling home in North America.

Pope Saint John XXIII, who beatified Mère Marguerite in 1959, called her the “Mother of Universal Charity.” She was canonized in 1990. Her Liturgical Feast Day is October 16.

Reflection

Saints deal with plenty of discouragement, plenty of reasons to say, “Life isn’t fair” and wonder where God is in the rubble of their lives. We honor saints like Marguerite because they show us that with God’s grace and our cooperation, suffering can lead to compassion rather than bitterness.

Other Saints of the Day for June 15 are Servant of God Orlando Catanii and Saint Vitus.

Treasury of Women Saints

Saint Albert Chmielowski

06/14/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Opuszczona plebania</em> | Painting by Albert ChmielowskiImage: Opuszczona plebania | Painting by Albert Chmielowski Saint Albert Chmielowski Saint of the Day for June 14 (August 20, 1845 – December 25, 1916) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun14.mp3

 

Saint Albert Chmielowski’s Story

Born in Igolomia near Kraków as the eldest of four children in a wealthy family, he was christened Adam. During the 1864 revolt against Czar Alexander III, Adam’s wounds forced the amputation of his left leg.

His great talent for painting led to studies in Warsaw, Munich, and Paris. Adam returned to Kraków and became a Secular Franciscan. In 1888, when he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants to the Poor, he took the name Albert. They worked primarily with the homeless, depending completely on alms while serving the needy regardless of age, religion, or politics. A community of Albertine sisters was established later.

Pope John Paul II beatified Albert in 1983, and canonized him six years later. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 17.

Reflection

Reflecting on his own priestly vocation, Pope John Paul II wrote in 1996 that Brother Albert had played a role in its formation “because I found in him a real spiritual support and example in leaving behind the world of art, literature, and the theater, and in making the radical choice of a vocation to the priesthood” (Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination). As a young priest, Karol Wojtyla repaid his debt of gratitude by writing The Brother of Our God, a play about Brother Albert’s life.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Anthony of Padua

06/13/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Baby Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua</em> | Elisabetta Sirani Image: Baby Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua | Elisabetta Sirani Saint Anthony of Padua Saint of the Day for June 13 (1195 – June 13, 1231) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun13.mp3

 

Saint Anthony of Padua’s Story

The gospel call to leave everything and follow Christ was the rule of Anthony’s life. Over and over again, God called him to something new in his plan. Every time Anthony responded with renewed zeal and self-sacrificing to serve his Lord Jesus more completely.

His journey as the servant of God began as a very young man when he decided to join the Augustinians in Lisbon, giving up a future of wealth and power to be a servant of God. Later when the bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs went through the Portuguese city where he was stationed, he was again filled with an intense longing to be one of those closest to Jesus himself: those who die for the Good News.

So Anthony entered the Franciscan Order and set out to preach to the Moors. But an illness prevented him from achieving that goal. He went to Italy and was stationed in a small hermitage where he spent most of his time praying, reading the Scriptures and doing menial tasks.

The call of God came again at an ordination where no one was prepared to speak. The humble and obedient Anthony hesitantly accepted the task. The years of searching for Jesus in prayer, of reading sacred Scripture and of serving him in poverty, chastity, and obedience had prepared Anthony to allow the Spirit to use his talents. Anthony’s sermon was astounding to those who expected an unprepared speech and knew not the Spirit’s power to give people words.

Recognized as a great man of prayer and a great Scripture and theology scholar, Anthony became the first friar to teach theology to the other friars. Soon he was called from that post to preach to the Albigensians in France, using his profound knowledge of Scripture and theology to convert and reassure those who had been misled by their denial of Christ’s divinity and of the sacraments..

After he led the friars in northern Italy for three years, he made his headquarters in the city of Padua. He resumed his preaching and began writing sermon notes to help other preachers. In the spring of 1231 Anthony withdrew to a friary at Camposampiero where he had a sort of treehouse built as a hermitage. There he prayed and prepared for death.

On June 13, he became very ill and asked to be taken back to Padua, where he died after receiving the last sacraments. Anthony was canonized less than a year later and named a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

Reflection

Anthony should be the patron of those who find their lives completely uprooted and set in a new and unexpected direction. Like all saints, he is a perfect example of turning one’s life completely over to Christ. God did with Anthony as God pleased—and what God pleased was a life of spiritual power and brilliance that still attracts admiration today. He whom popular devotion has nominated as finder of lost objects found himself by losing himself totally to the providence of God.

Saint Anthony of Padua is the Patron Saint of:

Lost items
Poor
Travelers

Click here to learn more about Saint Anthony!

Blessed Jolenta (Yolanda) of Poland

06/12/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Jolenta of Poland | photo by Karol Ferdynand NeyImage: Saint Jolenta of Poland | photo by Karol Ferdynand Ney Blessed Jolenta (Yolanda) of Poland Saint of the Day for June 12 (c. 1235 – June 11,1298) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun12.mp3

 

Blessed Jolenta of Poland’s Story

Jolenta was the daughter of Bela IV, King of Hungary. Her sister, St. Kunigunde, was married to the Duke of Poland. Jolenta was sent to Poland where her sister was to supervise her education. Eventually married to Boleslaus, the Duke of Greater Poland, Jolenta was able to use her material means to assist the poor, the sick, widows, and orphans. Her husband joined her in building hospitals, convents, and churches so that he was surnamed “the Pious.”

Upon the death of her husband and the marriage of two of her daughters, Jolenta and her third daughter entered the convent of the Poor Clares. War forced Jolenta to move to another convent where despite her reluctance, she was made abbess.

So well did Jolenta serve her Franciscan sisters by word and example, that her fame and good works continued to spread beyond the walls of the cloister. Her favorite devotion was the Passion of Christ. Indeed, Jesus appeared to her, telling her of her coming death. Many miracles, down to our own day, are said to have occurred at her grave.

Reflection

Jolenta’s story begins like a fairy tale. But fairy tales seldom include the death of the prince and never end with the princess living out her days in a convent. Nonetheless, Jolenta’s story has a happy ending. Her life of charity toward the poor and devotion to her Franciscan sisters indeed brought her to a “happily ever after.” Our lives may be short on fairy tale elements, but our generosity and our willingness to serve well the people we live with lead us toward an ending happier than we can imagine.

Treasury of Women Saints

Saint Barnabas

06/11/2018 - 12:00am
Stained glass window of Saints Peter and Barnabas in the cathedral of Saint Corentin| photo by ThesupermatImage: Stained glass window of Saints Peter and Barnabas in the cathedral of Saint Corentin| photo by Thesupermat Saint Barnabas Saint of the Day for June 11 (c. 75) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun11.mp3

 

Saint Barnabas’ Story

Barnabas, a Jew of Cyprus, comes as close as anyone outside the Twelve to being a full-fledged apostle. He was closely associated with Saint Paul—he introduced Paul to Peter and the other apostles—and served as a kind of mediator between the former persecutor and the still suspicious Jewish Christians.

When a Christian community developed at Antioch, Barnabas was sent as the official representative of the church of Jerusalem to incorporate them into the fold. He and Paul instructed in Antioch for a year, after which they took relief contributions to Jerusalem.

Later Paul and Barnabas, now clearly seen as charismatic leaders, were sent by Antioch officials to preach to the gentiles. Enormous success crowned their efforts. After a miracle at Lystra, the people wanted to offer sacrifice to them as gods—Barnabas being Zeus, and Paul, Hermes—but the two said, “We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God” (see Acts 14:8-18).

But all was not peaceful. They were expelled from one town, they had to go to Jerusalem to clear up the ever-recurring controversy about circumcision, and even the best of friends can have differences. When Paul wanted to revisit the places they had evangelized, Barnabas wanted to take along his cousin John Mark, author of the Gospel, but Paul insisted that since Mark had deserted them once, he was not fit to take along now. The disagreement that followed was so sharp that Barnabas and Paul separated: Barnabas taking Mark to Cyprus, Paul taking Silas to Syria. Later they were reconciled—Paul, Barnabas and Mark.

When Paul stood up to Peter for not eating with gentiles for fear of his Jewish friends, we learn that “even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy” (see Galatians 2:1-13).

Reflection

Barnabas is spoken of simply as one who dedicated his life to the Lord. He was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Thereby, large numbers were added to the Lord.” Even when he and Paul were expelled from Antioch in Pisidia—modern-day Turkey—they were “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

Saint Barnabas is the Patron Saint of:

Cyprus

When the Church was Young

Blessed Joachima

06/10/2018 - 12:00am
Blessed Joachima | unknownImage: Blessed Joachima | unknown Blessed Joachima Saint of the Day for June 10 (1783-1854) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun10.mp3

 

Blessed Joachima’s Story

Born into an aristocratic family in Barcelona, Spain, Joachima was 12 when she expressed a desire to become a Carmelite nun. But her life took an altogether different turn at 16 with her marriage to a young lawyer, Theodore de Mas. Both deeply devout, they became secular Franciscans. During their 17 years of married life they raised eight children.

The normalcy of their family life was interrupted when Napoleon invaded Spain. Joachima had to flee with the children; Theodore remained behind and died. Though Joachima re-experienced a desire to enter a religious community, she attended to her duties as a mother. At the same time, the young widow led a life of austerity and chose to wear the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis as her ordinary dress. She spent much time in prayer and visiting the sick.

Four years later, with some of her children now married and younger ones under their care, Joachima confessed her desire to a priest to join a religious order. With his encouragement, she established the Carmelite Sisters of Charity. In the midst of the fratricidal wars occurring at the time, Joachima was briefly imprisoned and later exiled to France for several years.

Sickness ultimately compelled her to resign as superior of her order. Over the next four years she slowly succumbed to paralysis, which caused her to die by inches. At her death at the age of 71 in 1854, Joachima was known and admired for her high degree of prayer, deep trust in God, and selfless charity.

Reflection

Joachima understands loss. She lost the home where her children grew up, her husband, and finally her health. As the power to move and care for her own needs slowly ebbed away, this woman who had all her life cared for others became wholly dependent; she required help with life’s simplest tasks. When our own lives go spinning out of control, when illness and bereavement and financial hardship strike, all we can do is cling to the belief that sustained Joachima: God watches over us always.

Treasury of Women Saints

Saint Ephrem

06/09/2018 - 12:00am
Detail | Tryiptych of Saints George, John of Damascus, Ephrem the Syrian | UnknownImage: Detail | Tryiptych of Saints George, John of Damascus, Ephrem the Syrian | Unknown Saint Ephrem Saint of the Day for June 9 (c. 306 – June 9, 373) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun09.mp3

 

Saint Ephrem’s Story

Poet, teacher, orator, and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church.

Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the Christian emperor had to cede Nisibis to the Persians, Ephrem fled as a refugee to Edessa, along with many other Christians. He is credited with attracting great glory to the biblical school there. He was ordained a deacon but declined becoming a priest. Ephrem was said to have avoided presbyteral consecration by feigning madness!

He had a prolific pen, and his writings best illumine his holiness. Although he was not a man of great scholarship, his works reflect deep insight and knowledge of the Scriptures. In writing about the mysteries of humanity’s redemption, Ephrem reveals a realistic and humanly sympathetic spirit and a great devotion to the humanity of Jesus. It is said that his poetic account of the Last Judgment inspired Dante.

It is surprising to read that he wrote hymns against the heretics of his day. He would take the popular songs of the heretical groups and using their melodies, compose beautiful hymns embodying orthodox doctrine. Ephrem became one of the first to introduce song into the Church’s public worship as a means of instruction for the faithful. His many hymns have earned him the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”

Ephrem preferred a simple, austere life, living in a small cave overlooking the city of Edessa. It was here that he died around 373.

Reflection

Many Catholics still find singing in church a problem, probably because of the rather individualistic piety that they inherited. Yet singing has been a tradition of both the Old and the New Testaments. It is an excellent way of expressing and creating a community spirit of unity as well as of joy. An ancient historian testifies that Ephrem’s hymns “lent luster to the Christian assemblies.” We need some modern Ephrems—and cooperating singers—to do the same for our Christian assemblies today.

Another Saint of the Day for June 9 is Saint Columba.

Minute Meditations

Saint William of York

06/08/2018 - 12:00am
Medieval carved plaque showing Saint William of York as he cross the River Ouse | photo by Katy StuartImage: Medieval carved plaque showing Saint William of York as he cross the River Ouse | photo by Katy Stuart Saint William of York Saint of the Day for June 8 (c. 1090 – June 8, 1154) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun08.mp3

 

Saint William of York’s Story

A disputed election as archbishop of York and a mysterious death. Those are the headlines from the tragic life of today’s saint.

Born into a powerful family in 12th-century England, William seemed destined for great things. His uncle was next in line for the English throne—though a nasty dynastic struggle complicated things. William himself faced an internal Church feud.

Despite these roadblocks, he was nominated as archbishop of York in 1140. Local clergymen were less enthusiastic, however, and the archbishop of Canterbury refused to consecrate William. Three years later a neighboring bishop performed the consecration, but it lacked the approval of Pope Innocent II, whose successors likewise withheld approval. William was deposed, and a new election was ordered.

It was not until 1154—14 years after he was first nominated—that William became archbishop of York. When he entered the city that spring after years of exile, he received an enthusiastic welcome. Within two months he was dead, probably from poisoning. His administrative assistant was a suspect, though no formal ruling was ever made.

Despite all that happened to him, William did not show resentment toward his opponents. Following his death, many miracles were attributed to him. He was canonized 73 years later.

Reflection

“Good things come to those who wait” might be the catch phrase for today’s saint. We don’t always get what we want when we want it. Sometimes we have to wait patiently, trusting that if it is for our good, God will bless us.

Minute Meditations

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

06/07/2018 - 12:00am
 Memorial for Franz Jägerstätter in St. Radegund | photo by SziklaiImage: Memorial for Franz Jägerstätter in St. Radegund | photo by Sziklai Blessed Franz Jägerstätter Saint of the Day for June 7 (May 20, 1907 – August 9, 1943) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun07.mp3

 

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter’s Story

Called to serve his country as a Nazi solider, Franz eventually refused, and this husband and father of three daughters—Rosalie, Marie and Aloisia—was executed because of it.

Born in St. Radegund in Upper Austria, Franz lost his father during World War I and was adopted after Heinrich Jaegerstaetter married Rosalia Huber. As a young man, he loved to ride his motorcycle and was the natural leader of a gang whose members were arrested in 1934 for brawling. For three years he worked in the mines in another city and then returned to St. Radegund, where he became a farmer, married Franziska and lived his faith with quiet but intense conviction.

In 1938, he publicly opposed the German Anschluss, annexation, of Austria. The next year, he was drafted into the Austrian army, trained for seven months and then received a deferment. In 1940, Franz was called up again but allowed to return home at the request of the town’s mayor. He was in active service between October 1940 and April 1941, but was again deferred. His pastor, other priests, and the bishop of Linz urged him not to refuse to serve if drafted.

In February 1943, Franz was called up again and reported to army officials in Enns, Austria. When he refused to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler, he was imprisoned in Linz. Later he volunteered to serve in the medical corps but was not assigned there.

During Holy Week Franz wrote to his wife: “Easter is coming and, if it should be God’s will that we can never again in this world celebrate Easter together in our intimate family circle, we can still look ahead in the happy confidence that, when the eternal Easter morning dawns, no one in our family circle shall be missing—so we can then be permitted to rejoice together forever.” He was transferred in May to a prison in Berlin.

Challenged by his attorney that other Catholics were serving in the army, Franz responded, “I can only act on my own conscience. I do not judge anyone. I can only judge myself.” He continued, “I have considered my family. I have prayed and put myself and my family in God’s hands. I know that, if I do what I think God wants me to do, he will take care of my family.”

On August 8, 1943, Franz wrote to Fransizka: “Dear wife and mother, I thank you once more from my heart for everything that you have done for me in my lifetime, for all the sacrifices that you have borne for me. I beg you to forgive me if I have hurt or offended you, just as I have forgiven everything…My heartfelt greetings for my dear children. I will surely beg the dear God, if I am permitted to enter heaven soon, that he will set aside a little place in heaven for all of you.”

Franz was beheaded and cremated the following day. In 1946, his ashes were reburied in St. Radegund near a memorial inscribed with his name and the names of almost 60 village men who died during their military service. He was beatified in Linz on October 26, 2007. His “spiritual testament” is now in Rome’s St. Bartholomew Church as part of a shrine to 20th-century martyrs for their faith.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Norbert

06/06/2018 - 12:00am
<em>St. Norbert</em> | Marten PepijnImage: St. Norbert | Marten Pepijn Saint Norbert Saint of the Day for June 6 (c. 1080 – June 6, 1134) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun06.mp3

 

Saint Norbert’s Story

In the 12th century in the French region of Premontre, Saint Norbert founded a religious Order known as the Praemonstratensians or the Norbertines. His founding of the Order was a monumental tasks: combating rampant heresies—particularly regarding the Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing many of the faithful who had grown indifferent and dissolute, plus effecting peace and reconciliation among enemies.

Norbert entertained no pretensions about his own ability to accomplish this multiple task. Even with the aid of a goodly number of men who joined his Order, he realized that nothing could be effectively done without God’s power. Finding this help especially in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, he and his Norbertines praised God for success in converting heretics, reconciling numerous enemies, and rebuilding faith in indifferent believers. Many of them lived in central houses during the week and served in parishes on weekends.

Reluctantly, Norbert became archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a territory half pagan and half Christian. In this position he zealously and courageously continued his work for the Church until his death on June 6, 1134.

Reflection

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people. The same is true in regard to the Church. The indifference of vast numbers of nominal faithful to ecclesiastical authority and essential doctrines of the faith weakens the Church’s witness. Unswerving loyalty to the Church and fervent devotion to the Eucharist, as practiced by Norbert, will continue immeasurably toward maintaining the people of God in accord with the heart of Christ.

Another Saint of the Day for June 6 is Saint Claude.

Saint of the Day

Saint Boniface

06/05/2018 - 12:00am
 Saint Boniface. Engraving | H. Kipp after K. ClasenImage: Saint Boniface. Engraving | H. Kipp after K. Clasen Saint Boniface Saint of the Day for June 5 (c. 675 – June 5, 754) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun05.mp3

 

Saint Boniface’s Story

Boniface, known as the apostle of the Germans, was an English Benedictine monk who gave up being elected abbot to devote his life to the conversion of the Germanic tribes. Two characteristics stand out: his Christian orthodoxy and his fidelity to the pope of Rome.

How absolutely necessary this orthodoxy and fidelity were is borne out by the conditions Boniface found on his first missionary journey in 719 at the request of Pope Gregory II. Paganism was a way of life. What Christianity he did find had either lapsed into paganism or was mixed with error. The clergy were mainly responsible for these latter conditions since they were in many instances uneducated, lax and questionably obedient to their bishops. In particular instances their very ordinations were questionable.

These are the conditions that Boniface was to report in 722 on his first return visit to Rome. The Holy Father instructed him to reform the German Church. The pope sent letters of recommendation to religious and civil leaders. Boniface later admitted that his work would have been unsuccessful, from a human viewpoint, without a letter of safe-conduct from Charles Martel, the powerful Frankish ruler, grandfather of Charlemagne. Boniface was finally made a regional bishop and authorized to organize the whole German Church. He was eminently successful.

In the Frankish kingdom, he met great problems because of lay interference in bishops’ elections, the worldliness of the clergy and lack of papal control.

During a final mission to the Frisians, Boniface and 53 companions were massacred while he was preparing converts for confirmation.

In order to restore the Germanic Church to its fidelity to Rome and to convert the pagans, Boniface had been guided by two principles. The first was to restore the obedience of the clergy to their bishops in union with the pope of Rome. The second was the establishment of many houses of prayer which took the form of Benedictine monasteries. A great number of Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns followed him to the continent, where he introduced the Benedictine nuns to the active apostolate of education.

Reflection

Boniface bears out the Christian rule: To follow Christ is to follow the way of the cross. For Boniface, it was not only physical suffering or death, but the painful, thankless, bewildering task of Church reform. Missionary glory is often thought of in terms of bringing new persons to Christ. It seems—but is not—less glorious to heal the household of the faith.

Saint Boniface is the Patron Saint of:

Germany

Saints resources

Blessed Angeline of Marsciano

06/04/2018 - 12:00am
 Blessed Angelina of Marsciano (also, of Montegiove, or of Corbara) | author uncertainImage: Blessed Angelina of Marsciano (also, of Montegiove, or of Corbara) | author uncertain Blessed Angeline of Marsciano Saint of the Day for June 4 (1377 – July 14, 1435) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJun04.mp3

 

Blessed Angeline of Marsciano’s Story

Blessed Angeline founded the first community of Franciscan women other than Poor Clares to receive papal approval.

Angeline was born to the Duke of Marsciano near Orvieto. She was 12 when her mother died. Three years later, the young woman made a vow of perpetual chastity. That same year, however, she yielded to her father’s decision that she marry the Duke of Civitella. Her husband agreed to respect her previous vow.

When he died two years later, Angeline joined the Secular Franciscans and with several other women dedicated herself to caring for the sick, the poor, widows and orphans. When many other young women were attracted to Angeline’s community, some people accused her of condemning the married vocation. Legend has it that when she came before the King of Naples to answer these charges, she had burning coals hidden in the folds of her cloak. When she proclaimed her innocence and showed the king that these coals had not harmed her, he dropped the case.

Angeline and her companions later went to Foligno, where her community of Third Order sisters received papal approval in 1397. She soon established 15 similar communities of women in other Italian cities.

Angeline died on July 14, 1435, and was beatified in 1825. Her Liturgical Feast Day is July 13.

Reflection

Priests, sisters and brothers cannot be signs of God’s love for the human family if they belittle the vocation of marriage. Angeline respected marriage, but felt called to another way of living out the gospel. Her choice was life-giving in its own way.

Another Saint of the Day for June 4 is Saint Francis Caracciolo.

Treasury of Women Saints