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Saint Fabian

8 hours 22 min ago
Detail from <em>Saint John the Baptist, Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian</em> | Miguel XiménezImage: Detail from Saint John the Baptist, Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian | Miguel Ximénez Saint Fabian Saint of the Day for January 19 (c. 200 – January 20, 250) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan19.mp3

 

Saint Fabian’s Story

Fabian was a Roman layman who came into the city from his farm one day as clergy and people were preparing to elect a new pope. Eusebius, a Church historian, says a dove flew in and settled on the head of Fabian. This sign united the votes of clergy and laity, and he was chosen unanimously.

He led the Church for 14 years and died a martyr’s death during the persecution of Decius in 250 A.D. Saint Cyprian wrote to his successor that Fabian was an “incomparable” man whose glory in death matched the holiness and purity of his life.

In the catacombs of Saint Callistus, the stone that covered Fabian’s grave may still be seen, broken into four pieces, bearing the Greek words, “Fabian, bishop, martyr.”

Reflection

We can go confidently into the future and accept the change that growth demands only if we have firm roots in the past, in a living tradition. A few pieces of stone in Rome are a reminder to us that we are bearers of more than 20 centuries of a living tradition of faith and courage in living the life of Christ and showing it to the world. We have brothers and sisters who have “gone before us with the sign of faith,” as the First Eucharistic Prayer puts it, to light the way for us.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Fabian is January 20.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Saint Charles of Sezze

01/18/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Charles from Sezze, Immaculate's church, Latina | Antonio SicurezzaImage: Saint Charles from Sezze, Immaculate’s church, Latina | Antonio Sicurezza Saint Charles of Sezze Saint of the Day for January 18 (October 19, 1613 – January 6, 1670) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan18.mp3

 

Saint Charles of Sezze’s Story

Charles thought that God was calling him to be a missionary in India, but he never got there. God had something better for this 17th-century successor to Brother Juniper.

Born in Sezze, southeast of Rome, Charles was inspired by the lives of Salvator Horta and Paschal Baylon to become a Franciscan; he did that in 1635. Charles tells us in his autobiography, “Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a lay brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love.”

Charles served as cook, porter, sacristan, gardener and beggar at various friaries in Italy. In some ways, he was “an accident waiting to happen.” He once started a huge fire in the kitchen when the oil in which he was frying onions burst into flames.

One story shows how thoroughly Charles adopted the spirit of Saint Francis. The superior ordered Charles—then porter—to give food only to traveling friars who came to the door. Charles obeyed this direction; simultaneously the alms to the friars decreased. Charles convinced the superior the two facts were related. When the friars resumed giving goods to all who asked at the door, alms to the friars increased also.

At the direction of his confessor, Charles wrote his autobiography, The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God. He also wrote several other spiritual books. He made good use of his various spiritual directors throughout the years; they helped him discern which of Charles’ ideas or ambitions were from God. Charles himself was sought out for spiritual advice. The dying Pope Clement IX called Charles to his bedside for a blessing.

Charles had a firm sense of God’s providence. Father Severino Gori has said, “By word and example he recalled in all the need of pursuing only that which is eternal” (Leonard Perotti, St. Charles of Sezze: An Autobiography, page 215).

He died at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome and was buried there. Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1959.

Reflection

The drama in the lives of the saints is mostly interior. Charles’ life was spectacular only in his cooperation with God’s grace. He was captivated by God’s majesty and great mercy to all of us.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Anthony of Egypt

01/17/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Temptation of Saint Anthony</em> | Hieronymus BoschImage: The Temptation of Saint Anthony | Hieronymus Bosch Saint Anthony of Egypt (Saint Anthony the Abbot) Saint of the Day for January 17 (251 – 356) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan17.mp3 Saint Anthony of Egypt’s Story

The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, “Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor” (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony’s life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again, like Francis, he had great fear of “stately buildings and well-laden tables.”

At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. “The mule kicking over the altar” denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for “the book of nature” over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at age 105.

Reflection

In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a “rat race,” one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony’s hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God’s good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.

Saint Anthony of Egypt is the Patron Saint of:

Butchers
Gravediggers
Skin Diseases

Saint Berard and Companions

01/16/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Martyrs of Marrakesch, Franciscan friars</em> | Licinio Martiri | Saint Berard and CompanionsImage: The Martyrs of Marrakesch, Franciscan friars | Licinio Martiri | Saint Berard and Companions Saint Berard and Companions Saint of the Day for January 16 (d. January 16, 1220) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan16.mp3

 

Saint Berard and Companions’ Story

Preaching the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one’s homeland and adjusting to new cultures, governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom caps all the other sacrifices.

In 1219, with the blessing of Saint Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain, Vitalis became sick and commanded the other friars to continue their mission without him.

They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan himself on January 16, 1220.

These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed, “Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!” Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481.

Reflection

The deaths of Berard and his companions sparked a missionary vocation in Anthony of Padua and others. There have been many, many Franciscans who have responded to Francis’ challenge. Proclaiming the gospel can be fatal, but that has not stopped the Franciscan men and women who even today risk their lives in many countries throughout the world.

The Franciscan Saints

Saint Paul the Hermit

01/15/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Paul the Hermit</em> | Jusepe de RiberaImage: Saint Paul the Hermit | Jusepe de Ribera Saint Paul the Hermit Saint of the Day for January 15 (c. 233 – c. 345) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan15.mp3

 

Saint Paul the Hermit’s Story

It is unclear what we really know of Paul’s life, how much is fable, how much is fact.

Paul was reportedly born in Egypt, where he was orphaned by age 15. He was also a learned and devout young man. During the persecution of Decius in Egypt in the year 250, Paul was forced to hide in the home of a friend. Fearing a brother-in-law would betray him, he fled in a cave in the desert. His plan was to return once the persecution ended, but the sweetness of solitude and heavenly contemplation convinced him to stay.

He went on to live in that cave for the next 90 years. A nearby spring gave him drink, a palm tree furnished him clothing and nourishment. After 21 years of solitude, a bird began bringing him half of a loaf of bread each day. Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed that the world would become a better place.

Saint Anthony of Egypt attests to his holy life and death. Tempted by the thought that no one had served God in the wilderness longer than he, Anthony was led by God to find Paul and acknowledge him as a man more perfect than himself. The raven that day brought a whole loaf of bread instead of the usual half. As Paul predicted, Anthony would return to bury his new friend.

Thought to have been about 112 when he died, Paul is known as the “First Hermit.” His feast day is celebrated in the East; he is also commemorated in the Coptic and Armenian rites of the Mass.

Reflection

The will and direction of God are seen in the circumstances of our lives. Led by the grace of God, we are free to respond with choices that bring us closer to and make us more dependent upon the God who created us. Those choices might at times seem to lead us away from our neighbor. But ultimately they lead us back both in prayer and in fellowship to one another.

Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day

Saint Gregory Nazianzen

01/14/2018 - 12:00am
 Stained glass of St. Gregory Nazianzen | Saint Leonard Faith Community, Centerville, Ohio | photo by NheyobImage: Stained glass of St. Gregory Nazianzen | Saint Leonard Faith Community, Centerville, Ohio | photo by Nheyob Saint Gregory Nazianzen Saint of the Day for January 14 (c. 325 – c. 390) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan14.mp3

 

Saint Gregory Nazianzen’s Story

After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians.

An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.

When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults, and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.

His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”

Reflection

It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.

Catholic Saints

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

01/13/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Hilary of Poitiers | en l'Église Saint-Hilaire de Givet | photo by G.GaritanImage: Statue of Saint Hilary of Poitiers | en l’Église Saint-Hilaire de Givet | photo by G.Garitan Saint Hilary of Poitiers Saint of the Day for January 13 (c. 315 – c. 368) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan13.mp3

 

Saint Hilary of Poitiers’ Story

This staunch defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity, and was like his Master in being labeled a “disturber of the peace.” In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy. He was bishop of Poitiers in France.

Raised a pagan, he was converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the Scriptures. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.

The heresy spread rapidly. Saint Jerome said “The world groaned and marveled to find that it was Arian.” When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West.”

While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people.

Reflection

Christ said his coming would bring not peace but a sword (see Matthew 10:34). The Gospels offer no support for us if we fantasize about a sunlit holiness that knows no problems. Christ did not escape at the last moment, though he did live happily ever after—after a life of controversy, problems, pain and frustration. Hilary, like all saints, simply had more of the same.

 

We have great resources on prayer!

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

01/12/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Venerable Mere Marguerite Bourgeoyse</em> | Cadieux et DeromeImage: Venerable Mere Marguerite Bourgeoyse | Cadieux et Derome Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Saint of the Day for January 12 (April 17, 1620 – January 12, 1700) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan12.mp3

 

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys’ Story

“God closes a door and then opens a window,” people sometimes say when dealing with their own disappointment or someone else’s. That was certainly true in Marguerite’s case. Children from European as well as Native American backgrounds in 17th-century Canada benefited from her great zeal and unshakable trust in God’s providence.

Born the sixth of 12 children in Troyes, France, Marguerite at the age of 20 believed that she was called to religious life. Her applications to the Carmelites and Poor Clares were unsuccessful. A priest friend suggested that perhaps God had other plans for her.

In 1654, the governor of the French settlement in Canada visited his sister, an Augustinian canoness in Troyes. Marguerite belonged to a sodality connected to that convent. The governor invited her to come to Canada and start a school in Ville-Marie (eventually the city of Montreal). When she arrived, the colony numbered 200 people with a hospital and a Jesuit mission chapel.

Soon after starting a school, she realized her need for coworkers. Returning to Troyes, she recruited a friend, Catherine Crolo, and two other young women. In 1667, they added classes at their school for Indian children. A second trip to France three years later resulted in six more young women and a letter from King Louis XIV, authorizing the school. The Congregation of Notre Dame was established in 1676 but its members did not make formal religious profession until 1698 when their Rule and constitutions were approved.

Marguerite established a school for Indian girls in Montreal. At the age of 69, she walked from Montreal to Quebec in response to the bishop’s request to establish a community of her sisters in that city. By the time she died, she was referred to as the “Mother of the Colony.” Marguerite was canonized in 1982.

Reflection

It’s easy to become discouraged when plans that we think that God must endorse are frustrated. Marguerite was called not to be a cloistered nun but to be a foundress and an educator. God had not ignored her after all.

Saint of the Day by Franciscan Media

Blessed William Carter

01/11/2018 - 12:00am
St. Andrew's and Blessed George Haydock's Catholic Church, Cottam, Lancashire, UK | photo by Skodoway (Blessed William Carter was one of their companions.)Image: St. Andrew’s and Blessed George Haydock’s Catholic Church, Cottam, Lancashire, UK | photo by Skodoway (Blessed William Carter was one of their companions.) Blessed William Carter Saint of the Day for January 11 (c. 1548 – January 11, 1584) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan11.mp3

 

Blessed William Carter’s Story

Born in London, William Carter entered the printing business at an early age. For many years he served as apprentice to well-known Catholic printers, one of whom served a prison sentence for persisting in the Catholic faith. William himself served time in prison following his arrest for “printing lewd [i.e., Catholic] pamphlets” as well as possessing books upholding Catholicism.

But even more, he offended public officials by publishing works that aimed to keep Catholics firm in their faith. Officials who searched his house found various vestments and suspect books, and even managed to extract information from William’s distraught wife. Over the next 18 months, William remained in prison, suffering torture and learning of his wife’s death.

He was eventually charged with printing and publishing the Treatise of Schisme, which allegedly incited violence by Catholics and which was said to have been written by a traitor and addressed to traitors. While William calmly placed his trust in God, the jury met for only 15 minutes before reaching a verdict of guilty. William, who made his final confession to a priest who was being tried alongside him, was hanged, drawn, and quartered the following day: January 11, 1584.

He was beatified in 1987.

Reflection

It didn’t pay to be Catholic in Elizabeth I’s realm. In an age when religious diversity did not yet seem possible, it was high treason, and practicing the faith was dangerous. William gave his life for his efforts to encourage his brothers and sisters to keep up the struggle. These days, our brothers and sisters also need encouragement—not because their lives are at risk, but because many other factors besiege their faith. They look to us.

We have great resources on prayer!

Saint Gregory of Nyssa

01/10/2018 - 12:00am
Mosaic of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Hosios Loukas Monastery, Boeotia, Greece | AnonymousImage: Mosaic of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Hosios Loukas Monastery, Boeotia, Greece | Anonymous Saint Gregory of Nyssa Saint of the Day for January 10 (c. 335 – 395) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan10.mp3

 

Saint Gregory of Nyssa’s Story

The son of two saints, Basil and Emmilia, young Gregory was raised by his older brother, Saint Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in modern-day Turkey. Gregory’s success in his studies suggested great things were ahead for him. After becoming a professor of rhetoric, he was persuaded to devote his learning and efforts to the Church. By then married, Gregory went on to study for the priesthood and become ordained (this at a time when celibacy was not a matter of law for priests).

He was elected Bishop of Nyssa in 372, a period of great tension over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Briefly arrested after being falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory was restored to his see in 378, an act met with great joy by his people.

It was after the death of his beloved brother, Basil, that Gregory really came into his own. He wrote with great effectiveness against Arianism and other questionable doctrines, gaining a reputation as a defender of orthodoxy. He was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of prominence at the Council of Constantinople. His fine reputation stayed with him for the remainder of his life, but over the centuries it gradually declined as the authorship of his writings became less and less certain. But, thanks to the work of scholars in the 20th century, his stature is once again appreciated. Indeed, Saint Gregory of Nyssa is seen not simply as a pillar of orthodoxy but as one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and to monasticism itself.

Reflection

Orthodoxy is a word that can raise red flags in our minds. To some people it may connote rigid attitudes that make no room for honest differences of opinion. But it might just as well suggest something else: faith that has settled deep in one’s bones. Gregory’s faith was like that. So deeply embedded was his faith in Jesus that he knew the divinity that Arianism denied. When we resist something offered as truth without knowing exactly why, it may be because our faith has settled in our bones.

Another Saint of the Day for January 10 is Servant of God Vico Necchi.

We have great resources on prayer!

Saint Adrian of Canterbury

01/09/2018 - 12:00am
Icon of Saint Adrian of CanterburyImage: Icon of Saint Adrian of Canterbury Saint Adrian of Canterbury Saint of the Day for January 9 (d. January 9, 710) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan09.mp3

 

Saint Adrian of Canterbury’s Story

Though Saint Adrian turned down a papal request to become Archbishop of Canterbury, England, Pope Saint Vitalian accepted the rejection on the condition that Adrian serve as the Holy Father’s assistant and adviser. Adrian accepted, but ended up spending most of his life and doing most of his work in Canterbury.

Born in Africa, Adrian was serving as an abbot in Italy when the new Archbishop of Canterbury appointed him abbot of the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul in Canterbury. Thanks to his leadership skills, the facility became one of the most important centers of learning. The school attracted many outstanding scholars from far and wide and produced numerous future bishops and archbishops. Students reportedly learned Greek and Latin and spoke Latin as well as their own native languages.

Adrian taught at the school for 40 years. He died there, probably in the year 710, and was buried in the monastery. Several hundred years later, when reconstruction was being done, Adrian’s body was discovered in an incorrupt state. As word spread, people flocked to his tomb, which became famous for miracles. Rumor had it that young schoolboys in trouble with their masters made regular visits there.

Reflection

Saint Adrian spent most of his time in Canterbury not as bishop, but as abbot and teacher. Often the Lord has plans for us that are obvious only on hindsight. How often have we said no to something or someone only to end up in much the same place anyway. The Lord knows what’s good for us. Can we trust Him?

Another Saint of the Day for January 9 is Blessed Pica Bernardone.

Saints resources

Saint Angela of Foligno

01/08/2018 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Angela of Foligno (as a Blessed)Image: Statue of Saint Angela of Foligno (as a Blessed) Saint Angela of Foligno Saint of the Day for January 8 (1248 – January 4, 1309) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan08.mp3

 

Saint Angela of Foligno’s story

Some saints show marks of holiness very early. Not Angela! Born of a leading family in Foligno, Italy, she became immersed in the quest for wealth and social position. As a wife and mother, she continued this life of distraction.

Around the age of 40, she recognized the emptiness of her life and sought God’s help in the Sacrament of Penance. Her Franciscan confessor helped Angela to seek God’s pardon for her previous life and to dedicate herself to prayer and the works of charity.

Shortly after her conversion, her husband and children died. Selling most of her possessions, she entered the Secular Franciscan Order. She was alternately absorbed by meditating on the crucified Christ and by serving the poor of Foligno as a nurse and beggar for their needs. Other women joined her in a religious community.

At her confessor’s advice, Angela wrote her Book of Visions and Instructions. In it she recalls some of the temptations she suffered after her conversion; she also expresses her thanks to God for the Incarnation of Jesus. This book and her life earned for Angela the title “Teacher of Theologians.” She was beatified in 1693, and canonized in 2013.

Reflection

People who live in the United States today can understand Saint Angela’s temptation to increase her sense of self-worth by accumulating money, fame or power. Striving to possess more and more, she became more and more self-centered. When she realized she was priceless because she was created and loved by God, she became very penitential and very charitable to the poor. What had seemed foolish early in her life now became very important. The path of self-emptying she followed is the path all holy men and women must follow.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Angela of Foligno is January 7.

We have great resources on prayer!

Saint Raymond of Peñafort

01/07/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Raymond of Peñafort's Miracle by Jacopo Ligozzi | photo by SailkoImage: Saint Raymond of Peñafort’s Miracle by Jacopo Ligozzi | photo by Sailko Saint Raymond of Peñafort Saint of the Day for January 7 (1175 – January 6, 1275) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan07.mp3

 

Saint Raymond of Peñafort’s Story

Since Raymond lived into his hundredth year, he had a chance to do many things. As a member of the Spanish nobility, he had the resources and the education to get a good start in life.

By the time he was 20, he was teaching philosophy. In his early 30s he earned a doctorate in both canon and civil law. At 41 he became a Dominican. Pope Gregory IX called him to Rome to work for him and to be his confessor. One of the things the pope asked him to do was to gather together all the decrees of popes and councils that had been made in 80 years since a similar collection by Gratian. Raymond compiled five books called the Decretals. They were looked upon as one of the best organized collections of Church law until the 1917 codification of canon law.

Earlier, Raymond had written for confessors a book of cases. It was called Summa de Casibus Poenitentiae. More than simply a list of sins and penances, it discussed pertinent doctrines and laws of the Church that pertained to the problem or case brought to the confessor.

At the age of 60, Raymond was appointed archbishop of Tarragona, the capital of Aragon. He didn’t like the honor at all and ended up getting sick and resigning in two years.

He didn’t get to enjoy his peace long, however, because when he was 63 he was elected by his fellow Dominicans to be the head of the whole Order, the successor of Saint Dominic. Raymond worked hard, visited on foot all the Dominicans, reorganized their constitutions and managed to put through a provision that a master general be allowed to resign. When the new constitutions were accepted, Raymond, then 65, resigned.

He still had 35 years to oppose heresy and work for the conversion of the Moors in Spain. He convinced Saint Thomas Aquinas to write his work Against the Gentiles.

In his 100th year, the Lord let Raymond retire.

Reflection

Raymond was a lawyer, a canonist. Legalism can suck the life out of genuine religion if it becomes too great a preoccupation with the letter of the law to the neglect of the spirit and purpose of the law. The law can become an end in itself, so that the value the law was intended to promote is overlooked. But we must guard against going to the opposite extreme and seeing law as useless or something to be lightly regarded. Laws ideally state those things that are for the best interests of everyone and make sure the rights of all are safeguarded. From Raymond, we can learn a respect for law as a means of serving the common good.

Saint Raymond of Peñafort is the Patron Saint of:

Lawyers

prayerprayer

Saint André Bessette

01/06/2018 - 12:00am
photograph of Saint Andre Bessette | WikimediaImage: photograph of Saint Andre Bessette | Wikimedia Saint André Bessette Saint of the Day for January 6 (August 9, 1845 – January 6, 1937) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan06.mp3

 

Saint André Bessette’s Story

Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to Saint Joseph.

Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.

At 25, André applied for entrance into the Congregation of Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget, he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years,” he said.

In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, Saint Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.

When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “Saint Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected $200 to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying Saint Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931, there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of Saint Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

He is buried at the Oratory. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that Saint Andre “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”

Reflection

Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that? Superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets his saints help him bless his children.

Catholic Saints

Saint John Neumann

01/05/2018 - 12:00am
 Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Powell, Ohio (interior, stained glass) St. John Neumann | photo by NheyobImage: Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Powell, Ohio (interior, stained glass) St. John Neumann | photo by Nheyob Saint John Neumann Saint of the Day for January 5 (March 28, 1811 – January 5, 1860) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan05.mp3

 

Saint John Neumann’s Story

Perhaps because the United States got a later start in the history of the world, it has relatively few canonized saints, but their number is increasing.

John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic. After studying in Prague, he came to New York at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary work in New York until he was 29, when he joined the Redemptorists and became its first member to profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio, where he became popular with the Germans.

At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into a diocesan one, increasing the number of pupils almost twentyfold within a short time.

Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of sisters and the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial movement.

Well-known for his holiness and learning, spiritual writing and preaching, on October 13, 1963, John Neumann became the first American bishop to be beatified. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.

Reflection

Neumann took seriously our Lord’s words, “Go and teach all nations.” From Christ he received his instructions and the power to carry them out. For Christ does not give a mission without supplying the means to accomplish it. The Father’s gift in Christ to John Neumann was his exceptional organizing ability, which he used to spread the Good News. Today the Church is in dire need of men and women to continue in our times the teaching of the Good News. The obstacles and inconveniences are real and costly. Yet when Christians approach Christ, he supplies the necessary talents to answer today’s needs. The Spirit of Christ continues his work through the instrumentality of generous Christians.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

01/04/2018 - 12:00am
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Paul Catholic Church, Westerville, Ohio | photo by NheyobImage: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Paul Catholic Church, Westerville, Ohio | photo by Nheyob Saint of the Day for January 4 (August 28, 1774 – January 4, 1821) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan04.mp3

 

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s Story

Mother Seton is one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while raising her five children.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture and a nightly examination of conscience. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches but was a great humanitarian, teaching his daughter to love and serve others.

The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her baby sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a feel for eternity and the temporariness of the pilgrim life on earth. Far from being brooding and sullen, she faced each new “holocaust,” as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness.

At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was widowed, penniless, with five small children to support.

While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicity in action through family friends. Three basic points led her to become a Catholic: belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother and conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March 1805.

To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. From the beginning, her group followed the lines of a religious community, which was officially founded in 1809.

The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son. She died January 4, 1821, and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonized (1975). She is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Reflection

Elizabeth Seton had no extraordinary gifts. She was not a mystic or stigmatic. She did not prophesy or speak in tongues. She had two great devotions: abandonment to the will of God and an ardent love for the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote to a friend, Julia Scott, that she would prefer to exchange the world for a “cave or a desert.” “But God has given me a great deal to do, and I have always and hope always to prefer his will to every wish of my own.” Her brand of sanctity is open to everyone if we love God and do his will.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the Patron Saint of:

Catholic School
Loss of Parents

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Most Holy Name of Jesus

01/03/2018 - 12:00am
IHS monogram, on top of the main altar of the Gesù, Rome, Italy | JastrowImage: IHS monogram, on top of the main altar of the Gesù, Rome, Italy | Jastrow Most Holy Name of Jesus Saint of the Day for January 3 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan03.mp3

 

The Story of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Although Saint Paul might claim credit for promoting devotion to the Holy Name because Paul wrote in Philippians that God the Father gave Christ Jesus “that name that is above every name” (see 2:9), this devotion became popular because of 12th-century Cistercian monks and nuns but especially through the preaching of Saint Bernardine of Siena, a 15th-century Franciscan.

Bernardine used devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus as a way of overcoming bitter and often bloody class struggles and family rivalries or vendettas in Italian city-states. The devotion grew, partly because of Franciscan and Dominican preachers. It spread even more widely after the Jesuits began promoting it in the 16th century.

In 1530, Pope Clement V approved an Office of the Holy Name for the Franciscans. In 1721, Pope Innocent XIII extended this feast to the entire Church.

Reflection

Jesus died and rose for the sake of all people. No one can trademark or copyright Jesus’ name. Jesus is the Son of God and son of Mary. Everything that exists was created in and through the Son of God (see Colossians 1:15-20). The name of Jesus is debased if any Christian uses it as justification for berating non-Christians. Jesus reminds us that because we are all related to him we are, therefore, all related to one another.

Catholic Saints

Saint Basil the Great

01/02/2018 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Basil the Great</em> Line engraving | Welcome ImagesImage: Saint Basil the Great Line engraving | Welcome Images Saint Basil the Great Saint of the Day for January 2 (329 – January 1, 379) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan02.mp3

 

Saint Basil the Great’s Story

Basil was on his way to becoming a famous teacher when he decided to begin a religious life of gospel poverty. After studying various modes of religious life, he founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor. He is to monks of the East what Saint Benedict is to the West, and Basil’s principles influence Eastern monasticism today.

He was ordained a priest, assisted the archbishop of Caesarea—now southeastern Turkey—and ultimately became archbishop himself, in spite of opposition from some of the bishops under him, probably because they foresaw coming reforms.

Arianism, one of the most damaging heresies in the history of the Church which denied the divinity of Christ, was at its height. Emperor Valens persecuted orthodox believers, and put great pressure on Basil to remain silent and admit the heretics to communion. Basil remained firm, and Valens backed down. But trouble remained. When the great Saint Athanasius died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell upon Basil. He strove mightily to unite and rally his fellow Catholics who were crushed by tyranny and torn by internal dissension. He was misunderstood, misrepresented, accused of heresy and ambition. Even appeals to the pope brought no response. “For my sins I seem to be unsuccessful in everything.”

Basil was tireless in pastoral care. He preached twice a day to huge crowds, built a hospital that was called a wonder of the world—as a youth he had organized famine relief and worked in a soup kitchen himself—and fought the prostitution business.

Basil was best known as an orator. Though not recognized greatly in his lifetime, his writings rightly place him among the great teachers of the Church. Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described him as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.”

Reflection

As the French say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Basil faced the same problems as modern Christians. Sainthood meant trying to preserve the spirit of Christ in such perplexing and painful problems as reform, organization, fighting for the poor, maintaining balance and peace in misunderstanding.

Saint Basil the Great is the Patron Saint of:

Russia

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Mary, Mother of God

01/01/2018 - 12:00am
<em>The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book)</em> | Sandro Botticelli.Image: The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book) | Sandro Botticelli. Mary, Mother of God Saint of the Day for January 1 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJan01.mp3

 

The Story of Mary, Mother of God

Mary’s divine motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight. Mary has an important role to play in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. She consents to God’s invitation conveyed by the angel (Luke 1:26-38). Elizabeth proclaims: “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43, emphasis added). Mary’s role as mother of God places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan.

Without naming Mary, Paul asserts that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Paul’s further statement that “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’” helps us realize that Mary is mother to all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.

Some theologians also insist that Mary’s motherhood of Jesus is an important element in God’s creative plan. God’s “first” thought in creating was Jesus. Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the one who could give God perfect love and worship on behalf of all creation. As Jesus was “first” in God’s mind, Mary was “second” insofar as she was chosen from all eternity to be his mother.

The precise title “Mother of God” goes back at least to the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos–God-bearer–it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching about the Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos. At the end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through the street shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!” The tradition reaches to our own day. In its chapter on Mary’s role in the Church, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church calls Mary “Mother of God” 12 times.

Reflection

Other themes come together at today’s celebration. It is the Octave of Christmas: Our remembrance of Mary’s divine motherhood injects a further note of Christmas joy. It is a day of prayer for world peace: Mary is the mother of the Prince of Peace. It is the first day of a new year: Mary continues to bring new life to her children—who are also God’s children.

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Saint Sylvester I

12/31/2017 - 12:00am
Head reliquary of Pope Sylvester I. | photo by Marie-Lan NguyenImage: Head reliquary of Pope Sylvester I. | photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen Saint Sylvester I Saint of the Day for December 31 (d. 335) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODDec31.mp3

 

Saint Sylvester I’s Story

When you think of this pope, you think of the Edict of Milan, the emergence of the Church from the catacombs, the building of the great basilicas–Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s, and others–the Council of Nicaea, and other critical events. But for the most part, these events were planned or brought about by Emperor Constantine.

A great store of legends has grown up around the man who was pope at this most important time, but very little can be established historically. We know for sure that his papacy lasted from 314 until his death in 335. Reading between the lines of history, we are assured that only a very strong and wise man could have preserved the essential independence of the Church in the face of the overpowering figure of the Emperor Constantine. In general, the bishops remained loyal to the Holy See, and at times expressed apologies to Sylvester for undertaking important ecclesiastical projects at the urging of Constantine.

Reflection

It takes deep humility and courage in the face of criticism for a leader to stand aside and let events take their course, when asserting one’s authority would only lead to useless tension and strife. Sylvester teaches a valuable lesson for Church leaders, politicians, parents, and others in authority.

Catholic Saints