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Dedication of Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

11/18/2017 - 12:00am
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican | photo by Fczarnowski / Statue of Saint Paul in front of the facade of the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall, Rome | photo by Berthold WernerImage: The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican | photo by Fczarnowski / Image: Statue of Saint Paul in front of the facade of the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Wall, Rome | photo by Berthold Werner Dedication of Churches of Saints Peter and Paul Saint of the Day for November 18 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov18.mp3

 

The Story of the Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul

St. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at Saint Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319, Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.

St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where Saint Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine’s doing.

Constantine’s building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.

Reflection

Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen, and missionary to the gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey’s end: both, according to tradition, died a martyr’s death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.

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Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

11/17/2017 - 12:00am
Detail | Saint Elizabeth of Hungary | Series of frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Martin of tours in the Lower Church of Saint Francis of Assisi | Simone MartiniImage: Detail | Saint Elizabeth of Hungary | Series of frescoes with scenes from the life of St. Martin of tours in the Lower Church of Saint Francis of Assisi | Simone Martini Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Saint of the Day for November 17 (1207 – November 17, 1231) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov17.mp3

 

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary’s Story

In her short life, Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers. This choice endeared her in the hearts of the common people throughout Europe.

At the age of 14, Elizabeth was married to Louis of Thuringia, whom she deeply loved. She bore three children. Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan friar, she led a life of prayer, sacrifice, and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land who came to her gate.

After six years of marriage, her husband died in the Crusades, and Elizabeth was grief-stricken. Her husband’s family looked upon her as squandering the royal purse, and mistreated her, finally throwing her out of the palace. The return of her husband’s allies from the Crusades resulted in her being reinstated, since her son was legal heir to the throne.

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order, spending the remaining few years of her life caring for the poor in a hospital which she founded in honor of Saint Francis. Elizabeth’s health declined, and she died before her 24th birthday in 1231. Her great popularity resulted in her canonization four years later.

Reflection

Elizabeth understood well the lesson Jesus taught when he washed his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper: The Christian must be one who serves the humblest needs of others, even if one serves from an exalted position. Of royal blood, Elizabeth could have lorded it over her subjects. Yet she served them with such a loving heart that her brief life won for her a special place in the hearts of many. Elizabeth is also an example to us in her following the guidance of a spiritual director. Growth in the spiritual life is a difficult process. We can play games very easily if we don’t have someone to challenge us.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary is the Patron Saint of:

Bakers
Catholic Charities
Secular Franciscan Order

Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day

Saint Margaret of Scotland

11/16/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Margaret of Scotland</em> | François Augustin Caunois | photo by BastienMImage: Saint Margaret of Scotland | François Augustin Caunois | photo by BastienM Saint Margaret of Scotland Saint of the Day for November 16 (1045 – November 16, 1093) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov16.mp3

 

Saint Margaret of Scotland’s Story

Margaret of Scotland was a truly liberated woman in the sense that she was free to be herself. For her, that meant freedom to love God and serve others.

Not Scottish by birth, Margaret was the daughter of Princess Agatha of Hungary and the Anglo-Saxon Prince Edward Atheling. She spent much of her youth in the court of her great-uncle, the English king, Edward the Confessor. Her family fled from William the Conqueror and was shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland. King Malcolm befriended them and was captivated by the beautiful, gracious Margaret. They were married at the castle of Dunfermline in 1070.

Malcolm was good-hearted, but rough and uncultured, as was his country. Because of Malcolm’s love for Margaret, she was able to soften his temper, polish his manners, and help him become a virtuous king. He left all domestic affairs to her, and often consulted her in state matters.

Margaret tried to improve her adopted country by promoting the arts and education. For religious reform she encouraged synods and was present for the discussions which tried to correct religious abuses common among priests and laypeople, such as simony, usury, and incestuous marriages. With her husband, she founded several churches.

Margaret was not only a queen, but a mother. She and Malcolm had six sons and two daughters. Margaret personally supervised their religious instruction and other studies.

Although she was very much caught up in the affairs of the household and country, she remained detached from the world. Her private life was austere. She had certain times for prayer and reading Scripture. She ate sparingly and slept little in order to have time for devotions. She and Malcolm kept two Lents, one before Easter and one before Christmas. During these times she always rose at midnight for Mass. On the way home she would wash the feet of six poor persons and give them alms. She was always surrounded by beggars in public and never refused them. It is recorded that she never sat down to eat without first feeding nine orphans and 24 adults.

In 1093, King William Rufus made a surprise attack on Alnwick castle. King Malcolm and his oldest son, Edward, were killed. Margaret, already on her deathbed, died four days after her husband.

Reflection

There are two ways to be charitable: the “clean way” and the “messy way.” The “clean way” is to give money or clothing to organizations that serve the poor. The “messy way” is dirtying your own hands in personal service to the poor. Margaret’s outstanding virtue was her love of the poor. Although very generous with material gifts, Margaret also visited the sick and nursed them with her own hands. She and her husband served orphans and the poor on their knees during Advent and Lent. Like Christ, she was charitable the “messy way.”

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Saint Albert the Great

11/15/2017 - 12:00am
Saint Albert the Great | Vincenzo Onofri | photo by sailkoImage: Saint Albert the Great | Vincenzo Onofri | photo by sailko Saint Albert the Great Saint of the Day for November 15 (1206 – November 15, 1280) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov15.mp3

 

Saint Albert the Great’s Story

Albert the Great was a 13th-century German Dominican who decisively influenced the Church’s stance toward Aristotelian philosophy brought to Europe by the spread of Islam.

Students of philosophy know him as the master of Thomas Aquinas. Albert’s attempt to understand Aristotle’s writings established the climate in which Thomas Aquinas developed his synthesis of Greek wisdom and Christian theology. But Albert deserves recognition on his own merits as a curious, honest, and diligent scholar.

He was the eldest son of a powerful and wealthy German lord of military rank. He was educated in the liberal arts. Despite fierce family opposition, he entered the Dominican novitiate.

His boundless interests prompted him to write a compendium of all knowledge: natural science, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, ethics, economics, politics, and metaphysics. His explanation of learning took 20 years to complete. “Our intention,” he said, “is to make all the aforesaid parts of knowledge intelligible to the Latins.”

He achieved his goal while serving as an educator at Paris and Cologne, as Dominican provincial, and even as bishop of Regensburg for a short time. He defended the mendicant orders and preached the Crusade in Germany and Bohemia.

Albert, a Doctor of the Church, is the patron of scientists and philosophers.

Reflection

An information glut faces us Christians today in all branches of learning. One needs only to read current Catholic periodicals to experience the varied reactions to the findings of the social sciences, for example, in regard to Christian institutions, Christian life-styles, and Christian theology. Ultimately, in canonizing Albert, the Church seems to point to his openness to truth, wherever it may be found, as his claim to holiness. His characteristic curiosity prompted Albert to mine deeply for wisdom within a philosophy his Church warmed to with great difficulty.

Saint Albert the Great is the Patron Saint of:

Medical Technicians
Philosophers
Scientists

Another Saint of the Day for November 15 is Blessed Mary of the Passion.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint Gertrude the Great

11/14/2017 - 12:00am
The high altar statue of Saint Gertrude the Great with a mouse on the distaff| Grafenbach, Austria | photo by RollroboterImage: The high altar statue of Saint Gertrude the Great with a mouse on the distaff| Grafenbach, Austria | photo by Rollroboter Saint Gertrude the Great Saint of the Day for November 14 (January 6, 1256 – November 17, 1302) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov14.mp3

 

Saint Gertrude the Great’s Story

Gertrude, a Benedictine nun in Helfta, Saxony, was one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Together with her friend and teacher Saint Mechtild, she practiced a spirituality called “nuptial mysticism,” that is, she came to see herself as the bride of Christ. Her spiritual life was a deeply personal union with Jesus and his Sacred Heart, leading her into the very life of the Trinity.

But this was no individualistic piety. Gertrude lived the rhythm of the liturgy, where she found Christ. In the liturgy and in Scripture she found the themes and images to enrich and express her piety. There was no clash between her personal prayer life and the liturgy.

Reflection

Saint Gertrude’s life is another reminder that the heart of the Christian life is prayer: private and liturgical, ordinary or mystical, but always personal.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Gertrude the Great is November 16. She is the Patron Saint of:

West Indies

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Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

11/13/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Statue of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in the portico of the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompei</em> | photo by Dario CrespiImage: Statue of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in the portico of the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompei | photo by Dario Crespi Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini Saint of the Day for November 13 (July 15, 1850 – December 22, 1917) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov13.mp3

 

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini’s Story

Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first United States citizen to be canonized. Her deep trust in the loving care of her God gave her the strength to be a valiant woman doing the work of Christ.

Refused admission to the religious order which had educated her to be a teacher, she began charitable work at the House of Providence Orphanage in Cadogno, Italy. In September 1877, she made her vows there and took the religious habit.

When the bishop closed the orphanage in 1880, he named Frances prioress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Seven young women from the orphanage joined her.

Since her early childhood in Italy, Frances had wanted to be a missionary in China but, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, Frances went west instead of east. She traveled with six sisters to New York City to work with the thousands of Italian immigrants living there.

She found disappointment and difficulties with every step. When she arrived in New York, the house intended to be her first orphanage in the United States was not available. The archbishop advised her to return to Italy. But Frances, truly a valiant woman, departed from the archbishop’s residence all the more determined to establish that orphanage. And she did.

In 35 years, Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.

As a child, she was always frightened of water, unable to overcome her fear of drowning. Yet, despite this fear, she traveled across the Atlantic Ocean more than 30 times. She died of malaria in her own Columbus Hospital in Chicago.

Reflection

The compassion and dedication of Mother Cabrini is still seen in hundreds of thousands of her fellow citizens who care for the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, and state institutions. We complain of increased medical costs in an affluent society, but the daily news shows us millions who have little or no medical care, and who are calling for new Mother Cabrinis to become citizen-servants of their land.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is the Patron Saint of:

Hospital Administrators
Immigrants
Impossible Causes
India

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Saint Josaphat

11/12/2017 - 12:00am
 <em>Icon of St. martyr Josaphat Kutsevych, Archbishop of Polotsk</em> | photo by Mykola SwarnykImage: Icon of St. martyr Josaphat Kutsevych, Archbishop of Polotsk | photo by Mykola Swarnyk Saint Josaphat Saint of the Day for November 12 (c. 1580 –  November 12, 1623) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov12.mp3

 

Saint Josaphat’s Story

In 1964, newspaper photos of Pope Paul VI embracing Athenagoras I, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, marked a significant step toward the healing of a division in Christendom that has spanned more than nine centuries.

In 1595, the Orthodox bishop of Brest-Litovsk in present-day Belarus and five other bishops representing millions of Ruthenians, sought reunion with Rome. John Kunsevich– who took the name Josaphat in religious life–was to dedicate his life, and die for the same cause. Born in what is now Ukraine, he went to work in Wilno and was influenced by clergy adhering to the 1596 Union of Brest. He became a Basilian monk, then a priest, and soon was well known as a preacher and an ascetic.

He became bishop of Vitebsk at a relatively young age, and faced a difficult situation. Most monks, fearing interference in liturgy and customs, did not want union with Rome. By synods, catechetical instruction, reform of the clergy, and personal example, however, Josaphat was successful in winning the greater part of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the next year a dissident hierarchy was set up, and his opposite number spread the accusation that Josaphat had “gone Latin” and that all his people would have to do the same. He was not enthusiastically supported by the Latin bishops of Poland.

Despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk, still a hotbed of trouble. Attempts were made to foment trouble and drive him from the diocese: A priest was sent to shout insults to him from his own courtyard. When Josaphat had him removed and shut up in his house, the opposition rang the town hall bell, and a mob assembled. The priest was released, but members of the mob broke into the bishop’s home. Josaphat was struck with a halberd, then shot, and his body thrown into the river. It was later recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

Josaphat’s death brought a movement toward Catholicism and unity, but the controversy continued, and the dissidents, too, had their martyr. After the partition of Poland, the Russians forced most Ruthenians to join the Russian Orthodox Church.

Reflection

The seeds of separation were sown in the fourth century when the Roman Empire was divided into East and West. The actual split came over customs such as using unleavened bread, Saturday fasting, and celibacy. No doubt the political involvement of religious leaders on both sides was a large factor, and doctrinal disagreement was present. But no reason was enough to justify the present tragic division in Christendom, which is 64 percent Roman Catholic, 13 percent Eastern—mostly Orthodox—Churches, and 23 percent Protestant, and this when the 71 percent of the world that is not Christian should be experiencing unity and Christ-like charity from Christians!

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Saint Martin of Tours

11/11/2017 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Martin of Tours on the dome of the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours | photo by ZohaStelImage: Statue of Saint Martin of Tours on the dome of the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours | photo by ZohaStel Saint Martin of Tours Saint of the Day for November 11 (c. 316 – November 8, 397) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov11.mp3

 

Saint Martin of Tours’ Story

A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr.

Born of pagan parents in what is now Hungary, and raised in Italy, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. Martin became a Christian catechumen and was baptized when he was 18. It was said that he lived more like a monk than a soldier. At 23, he refused a war bonus and told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” After great difficulties, he was discharged and went to be a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers.

He was ordained an exorcist and worked with great zeal against the Arians. Martin became a monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island. When Hilary was restored to his see following his exile, Martin returned to France and established what may have been the first French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside.

The people of Tours demanded that he become their bishop. Martin was drawn to that city by a ruse—the need of a sick person—and was brought to the church, where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated bishop. Some of the consecrating bishops thought his rumpled appearance and unkempt hair indicated that he was not dignified enough for the office.

Along with Saint Ambrose, Martin rejected Bishop Ithacius’s principle of putting heretics to death—as well as the intrusion of the emperor into such matters. He prevailed upon the emperor to spare the life of the heretic Priscillian. For his efforts, Martin was accused of the same heresy, and Priscillian was executed after all. Martin then pleaded for a cessation of the persecution of Priscillian’s followers in Spain. He still felt he could cooperate with Ithacius in other areas, but afterwards his conscience troubled him about this decision.

As death approached, Martin’s followers begged him not to leave them. He prayed, “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.”

Reflection

Martin’s worry about cooperation with evil reminds us that almost nothing is either all black or all white. The saints are not creatures of another world: They face the same perplexing decisions that we do. Any decision of conscience always involves some risk. If we choose to go north, we may never know what would have happened had we gone east, west, or south. A hyper-cautious withdrawal from all perplexing situations is not the virtue of prudence; it is in fact, a bad decision, for “not to decide is to decide.”

Saint Martin of Tours is the Patron Saint of:

Horses
Soldiers
South Africa

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Saint Leo the Great

11/10/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Meeting between Leo the Great (painted as a portrait of Leo X) and Attila</em> | Raphael | photo by Art Renewal CenterImage: The Meeting between Leo the Great (painted as a portrait of Leo X) and Attila | Raphael | photo by Art Renewal Center Saint Leo the Great Saint of the Day for November 10 (d. November 10, 461) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov10.mp3

 

Saint Leo the Great’s Story

With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as “Peter’s successor,” guiding his fellow bishops as “equals in the episcopacy and infirmities.”

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism–overemphasizing human freedom– Manichaeism–seeing everything material as evil–and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs.

A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.

It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and Saint Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

Reflection

At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace, and pastoral care. He avoided an “angelism” that tries to live without the body, as well as the “practicality” that deals only in externals.

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Dedication of St. John Lateran

11/09/2017 - 12:00am
Archbasilica of St John Lateran, Rome | photo by Livioandronico2013Image: Archbasilica of St John Lateran, Rome | photo by Livioandronico2013 Dedication of St. John Lateran Saint of the Day for November 9 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov09.mp3

 

Story of the Dedication of St. John Lateran

Most Catholics think of St. Peter’s as the pope’s main church, but they are wrong. St. John Lateran is the pope’s church, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome where the Bishop of Rome presides.

The first basilica on the site was built in the fourth century when Constantine donated land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family. That structure and its successors suffered fire, earthquake, and the ravages of war, but the Lateran remained the church where popes were consecrated. In the 14th century when the papacy returned to Rome from Avignon, the church and the adjoining palace were found to be in ruins.

Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. One of Rome’s most imposing churches, the Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds Saint Peter himself celebrated Mass.

Reflection

Unlike the commemorations of other Roman churches, this anniversary is a feast. The dedication of a church is a feast for all its parishioners. In a sense, St. John Lateran is the parish church of all Catholics, because it is the pope’s cathedral. This church is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church.

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Blessed John Duns Scotus

11/08/2017 - 12:00am
Detail | Stained glass in Franciscan Convent Chapel in Paris | Saints Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, Anthony of Padua, and Paschal Baylon | André Pierre and P. Villette | photo by GFreihalterImage: Detail | Stained glass in Franciscan Convent Chapel in Paris | Saints Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, Anthony of Padua, and Paschal Baylon | André Pierre and P. Villette | photo by GFreihalter Blessed John Duns Scotus Saint of the Day for November 8 (c. 1266 – November 8, 1308) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov08.mp3

 

Blessed John Duns Scotus’ Story

A humble man, John Duns Scotus has been one of the most influential Franciscans through the centuries. Born at Duns in the county of Berwick, Scotland, John was descended from a wealthy farming family. In later years, he was identified as John Duns Scotus to indicate the land of his birth; Scotia is the Latin name for Scotland.

John received the habit of the Friars Minor at Dumfries, where his uncle Elias Duns was superior. After novitiate, John studied at Oxford and Paris and was ordained in 1291. More studies in Paris followed until 1297, when he returned to lecture at Oxford and Cambridge. Four years later, he returned to Paris to teach and complete the requirements for the doctorate.

In an age when many people adopted whole systems of thought without qualification, John pointed out the richness of the Augustinian-Franciscan tradition, appreciated the wisdom of Aquinas, Aristotle, and the Muslim philosophers—and still managed to be an independent thinker. That quality was proven in 1303, when King Philip the Fair tried to enlist the University of Paris on his side in a dispute with Pope Boniface VIII. John Duns Scotus dissented, and was given three days to leave France.

In Scotus’s time, some philosophers held that people are basically determined by forces outside themselves. Free will is an illusion, they argued. An ever-practical man, Scotus said that if he started beating someone who denied free will, the person would immediately tell him to stop. But if Scotus didn’t really have a free will, how could he stop? John had a knack for finding illustrations his students could remember!

After a short stay in Oxford, Scotus returned to Paris, where he received the doctorate in 1305. He continued teaching there and in 1307 so ably defended the Immaculate Conception of Mary that the university officially adopted his position. That same year the minister general assigned him to the Franciscan school in Cologne where John died in 1308. He is buried in the Franciscan church near the famous Cologne cathedral.

Drawing on the work of John Duns Scotus, Pope Pius IX solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854. John Duns Scotus, the “Subtle Doctor,” was beatified in 1993.

Reflection

Father Charles Balic, O.F.M., the foremost 20th-century authority on Scotus, has written: “The whole of Scotus’s theology is dominated by the notion of love. The characteristic note of this love is its absolute freedom. As love becomes more perfect and intense, freedom becomes more noble and integral both in God and in man” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1105).

Click here for more on John Duns Scotus!

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Saint Didacus

11/07/2017 - 12:00am
<em>San Diego (Didacus) de Alcalá</em> | Francisco de ZurbaránImage: San Diego (Didacus) de Alcalá | Francisco de Zurbarán Saint Didacus Saint of the Day for November 7 (c. 1400 – November 12, 1463) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov07.mp3

 

Saint Didacus’ Story

Didacus is living proof that God “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

As a young man in Spain, Didacus joined the Secular Franciscan Order and lived for some time as a hermit. After Didacus became a Franciscan brother, he developed a reputation for great insight into God’s ways. His penances were heroic. He was so generous with the poor that the friars sometimes grew uneasy about his charity.

Didacus volunteered for the missions in the Canary Islands and labored there energetically and profitably. He was also the superior of a friary there.

In 1450, he was sent to Rome to attend the canonization of Saint Bernardine of Siena. When many of the friars gathered for that celebration fell ill, Didacus stayed in Rome for three months to nurse them. After he returned to Spain, he pursued a life of contemplation full-time. He showed the friars the wisdom of God’s ways.

As he was dying, Didacus looked at a crucifix and said: “O faithful wood, O precious nails! You have borne an exceedingly sweet burden, for you have been judged worthy to bear the Lord and King of heaven” (Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 834).

San Diego, California, is named for this Franciscan, who was canonized in 1588.

Reflection

We cannot be neutral about genuinely holy people. We either admire them or we consider them foolish. Didacus is a saint because he used his life to serve God and God’s people. Can we say the same for ourselves?

Another Saint of the Day for November 7 is Saint Willibrord.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions

11/06/2017 - 12:00am
Altar of Saint Nikola Tavelić in church of St. Francis of Assisi, Šibenik, Croatia | photo by ignotImage: Altar of Saint Nikola Tavelić in church of St. Francis of Assisi, Šibenik, Croatia | photo by ignot Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions Saint of the Day for November 6 (1340 – November 14, 1391) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov06.mp3

 

Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions’ Story

Nicholas and his three companions are among the 158 Franciscans who have been martyred in the Holy Land since the friars became custodians of the shrines in 1335.

Nicholas was born in 1340 to a wealthy and noble family in Croatia. He joined the Franciscans, and was sent with Deodat of Rodez to preach in Bosnia. In 1384, they volunteered for the Holy Land missions and were sent there. They looked after the holy places, cared for the Christian pilgrims, and studied Arabic.

In 1391, Nicholas, Deodat, Peter of Narbonne, and Stephen of Cuneo decided to take a direct approach to converting the Muslims. On November 11, they went to the huge Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem and asked to see the Qadi–Muslim official. Reading from a prepared statement, they said that all people must accept the gospel of Jesus. When they were ordered to retract their statement, they refused. After beatings and imprisonment, they were beheaded before a large crowd.

Nicholas and his companions were canonized in 1970. They are the only Franciscans martyred in the Holy Land to be canonized.

Reflection

Francis presented two missionary approaches for his friars. Nicholas and his companions followed the first approach–live quietly and give witness to Christ–for several years. Then they felt called to take the second approach of preaching openly. Their Franciscan confréres in the Holy Land are still working by example to make Jesus better known.

The Liturgical Feast of  Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions is November 14.

The Franciscan Saints

Venerable Solanus Casey

11/04/2017 - 11:00pm
Venerable Solanus Casey Shrine | Saint Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton, Michigan | photo by NheyobImage: Venerable Solanus Casey Shrine | Saint Mary Magdalen Church, Brighton, Michigan | photo by Nheyob Venerable Solanus Casey Saint of the Day for November 5 (November 25, 1875 – July 31, 1957) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov05.mp3

 

Venerable Solanus Casey’s Story

Barney Casey became one of Detroit’s best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions!

Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator, and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there, and in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous.

On July 24, 1904, Solanus was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, he was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction “brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way.”

During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized Solanus as a fine speaker. James Derum, his biographer writes, “For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons, he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them.” His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.

Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.

Father Solanus’ sense of God’s providence inspired many of his visitors. “Blessed be God in all his designs” was one of his favorite expressions.

The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today.

In failing health, Solanus was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, in 1946,  where he lived for ten years until needing to be hospitalized in Detroit. Father Solanus died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.

At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: “His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them.”

In 1960, a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967, the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. Solanus Casey was declared Venerable in 1995.

Reflection

His biographer James Patrick Derum writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. “Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one’s fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man” (The Porter of St. Bonaventure’s, page 199).

The Liturgical Feast of Venerable Solanus Casey is November 3. Click here for our page devoted to Solanus Casey!

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Charles Borromeo

11/03/2017 - 11:00pm
<em>Saint Carlo Borromeo, cardinal of Milan</em> | Wellcome ImagesImage: San Carlo Borromeo, cardinal of Milan | Wellcome Images Saint Charles Borromeo Saint of the Day for November 4 (October 2, 1538 – November 3, 1584) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov04.mp3

 

Saint Charles Borromeo’s Story

The name of Charles Borromeo is associated with reform. He lived during the time of the Protestant Reformation, and had a hand in the reform of the whole Church during the final years of the Council of Trent.

Although he belonged to the Milanese nobility and was related to the powerful Medici family, Charles desired to devote himself to the Church. In 1559, when his uncle, Cardinal de Medici was elected Pope Pius IV, he made Charles cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan. At the time Charles was still a layman and a young student. Because of his intellectual qualities Charles was entrusted with several important offices connected with the Vatican, and later appointed secretary of state with responsibility for the papal states. The untimely death of his elder brother brought Charles to a definite decision to be ordained a priest, despite his relatives’ insistence that he marry. Soon after being ordained a priest at age 25, Borromeo was consecrated bishop of Milan.

Working behind the scenes, Saint Charles deserves the credit for keeping the Council of Trent in session when at several points it was on the verge of breaking up. Borromeo encouraged the pope to renew the Council in 1562, after it had been suspended for 10 years. He took upon himself the task of the entire correspondence during the final phase. Because of his work at the Council, Borromeo was unable to take up residence in Milan until the Council concluded.

Eventually, Borromeo was allowed to devote his time to the Archdiocese of Milan, where the religious and moral picture was far from bright. The reform needed in every phase of Catholic life among both clergy and laity was initiated at a provincial council of all the bishops under him. Specific regulations were drawn up for bishops and other clergy: If the people were to be converted to a better life, Borromeo had to be the first to give a good example and renew their apostolic spirit.

Charles took the initiative in giving a good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury, and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem, and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576, Borromeo tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. Whereas the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want.

Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect Archbishop Borromeo’s health, leading to his death at the age of 46.

Reflection

Saint Charles Borromeo made his own the words of Christ: “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Borromeo saw Christ in his neighbor, and knew that charity done for the least of his flock was charity done for Christ.

Saint Charles Borromeo is the Patron Saint of:

Catechists
Catechumens
Seminarians

Our saints collection

Saint Martin de Porres

11/02/2017 - 11:00pm
Saint Martin de Porres | St Dominic's priory church in London | photo by Lawrence OPImage: Saint Martin de Porres | St Dominic’s priory church in London | photo by Lawrence OP Saint Martin de Porres Saint of the Day for November 3 (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov03.mp3

 

Saint Martin de Porres’ Story

“Father unknown” is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. “Half-breed” or “war souvenir” is the cruel name inflicted by those of “pure” blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.

He was the son of a freed woman of Panama, probably black but also possibly of indigenous stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. His parents never married each other. Martin inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother. That irked his father, who finally acknowledged his son after eight years. After the birth of a sister, the father abandoned the family. Martin was reared in poverty, locked into a low level of Lima’s society.

When he was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. Martin learned how to cut hair and also how to draw blood–a standard medical treatment then–care for wounds, and prepare and administer medicines.

After a few years in this medical apostolate, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper,” not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility, led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. It was particularly impressive that he treated all people regardless of their color, race, or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa, and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality, as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of “blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!” When his priory was in debt, he said, “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me.”

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry, and infirmary, Martin’s life reflected God’s extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bi-location, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister’s house.

Martin became a formidable fundraiser, obtaining thousands of dollars for dowries for poor girls so that they could marry or enter a convent.

Many of his fellow religious took Martin as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a “poor slave.” He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima.

Reflection

Racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a “sin of the world” that is everybody’s responsibility but apparently nobody’s fault. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness–on the part of those discriminated against–and Christian justice–on the part of reformed racists–than Martin de Porres.

Saint Martin de Porres is the Patron Saint of:

African Americans
Barbers
Hairdressers
Race Relations
Radio
Social Justice

Another Saint of the Day for November 3 is Saint Hubert.

Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

11/01/2017 - 11:00pm
Orthodox service for the Faithful Departed | Vasily VereshchaginImage: Orthodox service for the Faithful Departed | Vasily Vereshchagin Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Saint of the Day for November 2 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov02.mp3

 

The Story of the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

The Church has encouraged prayer for the dead from the earliest times as an act of Christian charity. “If we had no care for the dead,” Augustine noted, “we would not be in the habit of praying for them.” Yet pre-Christian rites for the deceased retained such a strong hold on the superstitious imagination that a liturgical commemoration was not observed until the early Middle Ages, when monastic communities began to mark an annual day of prayer for the departed members.

In the middle of the 11th century, Saint Odilo, abbot of Cluny, France, decreed that all Cluniac monasteries offer special prayers and sing the Office for the Dead on November 2, the day after the feast of All Saints. The custom spread from Cluny and was finally adopted throughout the Roman Church.

The theological underpinning of the feast is the acknowledgment of human frailty. Since few people achieve perfection in this life but, rather, go to the grave still scarred with traces of sinfulness, some period of purification seems necessary before a soul comes face-to-face with God. The Council of Trent affirmed this purgatory state and insisted that the prayers of the living can speed the process of purification.

Superstition easily clung to the observance. Medieval popular belief held that the souls in purgatory could appear on this day in the form of witches, toads or will-o’-the-wisps. Graveside food offerings supposedly eased the rest of the dead.

Observances of a more religious nature have survived. These include public processions or private visits to cemeteries and decorating graves with flowers and lights. This feast is observed with great fervor in Mexico.

Reflection

Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God’s presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Solemnity of All Saints

10/31/2017 - 11:00pm
Evening of All Saints' Day at Malmi Cemetery, Helsinki, Finland | photo by Jori Samonen | flickrImage: Evening of All Saints’ Day at Malmi Cemetery, Helsinki, Finland | photo by Jori Samonen | flickr Solemnity of All Saints Saint of the Day for November 1 https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODNov01.mp3

 

The Story of the Solemnity of All Saints

The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of “all the martyrs.” In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagon-loads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended “that the memory of all the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the worship not of gods but of demons” (On the Calculation of Time).

But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or immediately after Pentecost.

How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.

Reflection

This feast first honored martyrs. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their consciences, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop’s approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today’s feast honors the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.

Our saints collection

Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg

10/30/2017 - 11:00pm
 Statue of Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg | main altar, Parish church in Metnitz | Raul de ChissotaImage: Statue of Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg | main altar, Parish church in Metnitz | Raul de Chissota Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg Saint of the Day for October 31 (c. 924 – August 31, 994) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct31.mp3

 

Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg’s Story

Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy.

At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results.

Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg, near Munich. Wolfgang immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigor and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life.

The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back. In 994, Wolfgang became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe.

Reflection

Wolfgang could be depicted as a man with rolled-up sleeves. He even tried retiring to solitary prayer, but taking his responsibilities seriously led him back into the service of his diocese. Doing what had to be done was his path to holiness—and ours.

Another Saint of the Day for October 31 is Blessed Thomas of Florence.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez

10/29/2017 - 11:00pm
Detail | <em>Vision of Alphonsus Rodriguez</em> | Francisco de ZurbaránImage: Detail | Vision of Alphonsus Rodriguez | Francisco de Zurbarán Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez Saint of the Day for October 30 (1533 – October 30, 1617) https://wp.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODOct30.mp3

 

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez’s Story

Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer.

Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter, and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business, and with his young son, moved into his sister’s home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation.

At the death of his son years later, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations.

His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including Saint Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’ life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but centuries later he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.

Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.

Reflection

We like to think that God rewards the good, even in this life. But Alphonsus knew business losses, painful bereavement, and periods when God seemed very distant. None of his suffering made him withdraw into a shell of self-pity or bitterness. Rather, he reached out to others who lived with pain, including enslaved Africans. Among the many notables at his funeral were the sick and poor people whose lives he had touched. May they find such a friend in us!

Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez is the Patron Saint of:

Majorca

Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day