Skip to Content

Saint of the Day

Syndicate content
Updated: 37 min 55 sec ago

Saint Mary Magdalene

6 hours 42 min ago
Saint Mary Magdalene, <em>Head hands and feet</em> | photo by Simon Webster | flickerImage: Saint Mary Magdalene, Head hands and feet | photo by Simon Webster | flicker Saint Mary Magdalene Saint of the Day for July 22 (d. c. 63) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul22.mp3

 

Saint Mary Magdalene’s Story

Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.

Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or possibly, severe illness.

Writing in the New Catholic Commentary, Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” In the Jerome Biblical Commentary, Father Edward Mally, S.J., agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses who might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given. She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”

Reflection

Mary Magdalene has been a victim of mistaken identity for almost 20 centuries. Yet she would no doubt insist that it makes no difference. We are all sinners in need of the saving power of God, whether our sins have been lurid or not. More importantly, we are all with her “unofficial” witnesses of the Resurrection.

Saint Mary Magdalene is the Patron Saint of:

Penitents
Perfumers

Click here to read Friar Jim’s thoughts on Saint Mary Magdalene!

 

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi

07/21/2017 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi on the church at the Capuchin Friary and Seminary | photo by threecharlieImage: Statue of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi on the church at the Capuchin Friary and Seminary | photo by threecharlie Saint Lawrence of Brindisi Saint of the Day for July 21 (July 22, 1559 – July 22, 1619) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul21.mp3

 

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi’s Story

At first glance, perhaps the most remarkable quality of Lawrence of Brindisi is his outstanding gift of languages. In addition to a thorough knowledge of his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, and French.

Lawrence was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.

When he was just 16, he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

With his facility for languages Lawrence was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.

Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion, and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.

Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619.

In 1956, the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of Lawrence’s writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Reflection

His constant devotion to Scripture, coupled with great sensitivity to the needs of people, present a lifestyle which appeals to Christians today. Lawrence had a balance in his life that blended self-discipline with a keen appreciation for the needs of those whom he was called to serve.

Saint Apollinaris

07/20/2017 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Apollinaris in Santa Maria del Suffragio, Ravenna | José Luiz Bernardes RibeiroImage: Statue of Saint Apollinaris in Santa Maria del Suffragio, Ravenna | José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro Saint Apollinaris Saint of the Day for July 20 (d. c. 79) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul20.mp3

 

Saint Apollinaris’ Story

According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.

Reflection

Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.

Saint Mary MacKillop

07/19/2017 - 12:00am
Stained glass window at Saint Mary MacKillop shrine, Penola South Australia | photo by Pru.mitchellImage: Stained glass window at Saint Mary MacKillop shrine, Penola South Australia | photo by Pru.mitchell Saint Mary MacKillop Saint of the Day for July 19 (January 15, 1842 – August 8, 1909) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul19.mp3

 

Saint Mary MacKillop’s Story

If Saint Mary MacKillop were alive today, she would be a household name. It’s not that she sought the limelight. On the contrary, she simply wanted to serve the poor wherever she found them in her native Australia. But along the way, she managed to arouse the ire of some rather powerful churchmen. One even excommunicated her for a time.

Born in Melbourne in 1842, to parents who had emigrated from Scotland, Mary grew up in a family that faced constant financial struggles. As a young woman she was drawn to religious life but could not find an existing order of Sisters that met her needs. In 1860, she met Father Julian Woods, who became her spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of women—the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, also known as the Josephite Sisters. Its members were to staff schools especially for poor children, as well as orphanages, and do other works of charity.

As the congregation grew, so did Mary MacKillop’s problems. Her priest-friend proved unreliable in many ways and his responsibilities for direction of the Sisters were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local bishops as she and her Sisters went about their work. But the bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary—charging her with disobedience—and dispensed 50 of her Sisters from their vows. In truth, the bishop’s quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom. He ultimately rescinded his order of excommunication.

Mary insisted that her congregation should be governed by an elected mother general answerable to Rome, not to the local bishop. There also were disputes about whether or not the congregation could own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary’s best source of support. After a long wait official approval of the congregation—and how it was to be governed—came from Pope Leo XIII.

Despite her struggles with Church authorities, Mary MacKillop and her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any, government agencies in Australia could. They served Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the aborigines. They taught in schools and orphanages and served unmarried mothers.

Money, actually the lack of it, was a constant worry. But the Sisters who begged from door to door, were bolstered by faith and by the conviction that their struggles were opportunities to grow closer to God.

By the time Mary was approaching the end of her life, the congregation was thriving. She died in 1909 at the age of 67. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1995. In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI canonized her, she became Australia’s first saint.

Reflection

The story of many foundresses of religious communities and the tales of the early days of those communities can make for fascinating reading. Those women were dedicated and tough and fought for those they served. Let’s thank the Lord for raising up such wonderful examples of faith.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Mary MacKillop is August 8. Love the saints? So do we!
Click here to learn more about these holy men and women of God!

 

Saint Camillus de Lellis

07/18/2017 - 12:00am
 Saint Camillus de Lellis in facade of church Santa Maria Maddalena | photo by Livioandronico2013Image: Saint Camillus de Lellis in facade of church Santa Maria Maddalena | photo by Livioandronico2013 Saint Camillus de Lellis Saint of the Day for July 18 (1550 – July 14, 1614) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul18.mp3

 

Saint Camillus de Lellis’ Story

Humanly speaking, Camillus was not a likely candidate for sainthood. His mother died when he was a child, his father neglected him, and he grew up with an excessive love for gambling. At 17, he was afflicted with a disease of his leg that remained with him for life. In Rome he entered the San Giacomo Hospital for Incurables as both patient and servant, but was dismissed for quarrelsomeness after nine months. He served in the Venetian army for three years.

Then in the winter of 1574, when he was 24, Camillus gambled away everything he had–savings, weapons, literally down to his shirt. He accepted work at the Capuchin friary at Manfredonia, and was one day so moved by a sermon of the superior that he began a conversion that changed his life. He entered the Capuchin novitiate, but was dismissed because of the apparently incurable sore on his leg. After another stint of service at San Giacomo, he came back to the Capuchins, only to be dismissed again, for the same reason.

Again, back at San Giacomo, his dedication was rewarded by his being made superintendent. Camillus devoted the rest of his life to the care of the sick. Along with Saint John of God he has been named patron of hospitals, nurses, and the sick. With the advice of his friend Saint Philip Neri, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained at the age of 34. Contrary to the advice of his friend, Camillus left San Giacomo and founded a congregation of his own. As superior, he devoted much of his own time to the care of the sick.

Charity was his first concern, but the physical aspects of the hospital also received his diligent attention. Camillus insisted on cleanliness and the technical competence of those who served the sick. The members of his community bound themselves to serve prisoners and persons infected by the plague as well as those dying in private homes. Some of his men were with troops fighting in Hungary and Croatia in 1595, forming the first recorded military field ambulance. In Naples, he and his men went onto the galleys that had plague and were not allowed to land. He discovered that there were people being buried alive, and ordered his brothers to continue the prayers for the dying 15 minutes after apparent death.

Camillus himself suffered the disease of his leg through his life. In his last illness, he left his own bed to see if other patients in the hospital needed help.

Reflection

Saints are created by God. Parents must indeed nurture the faith in their children; husbands and wives must cooperate to deepen their baptismal grace; friends must support each other. But all human effort is only the dispensing of divine power. We must all try as if everything depended on us. But only the power of God can fulfill the plan of God–to make us like himself.

Saint Camillus de Lellis is the Patron Saint of:

Hospitals
Nurses
Sick

Saint Francis Solano

07/17/2017 - 12:00am
Saint Francis Solano Saint Francis Solanus in Howard University School of Divinity | photo by Jim McIntoshImage: Saint Francis Solanus in Howard University School of Divinity | photo by Jim McIntosh Saint of the Day for July 17 (March 10, 1549 – July 14, 1610) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul17.mp3

 

Saint Francis Solano’s Story

Francis came from a leading family in Andalusia, Spain. Perhaps it was his popularity as a student that enabled Francis in his teens to stop two duelists. He entered the Friars Minor in 1570, and after ordination enthusiastically sacrificed himself for others. His care for the sick during an epidemic drew so much admiration that he became embarrassed and asked to be sent to the African missions. Instead he was sent to South America in 1589.

While working in what is now Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, Francis quickly learned the local languages and was well received by the indigenous peoples. His visits to the sick often included playing a song on his violin.

Around 1601, he was called to Lima, Peru, where he tried to recall the Spanish colonists to their baptismal integrity. Francis also worked to defend the indigenous peoples from oppression. He died in Lima in 1610 and was canonized in 1726.

Reflection

Francis Solano knew from experience that the lives of Christians sometimes greatly hinder the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Francis lived an exemplary life himself, and urged his fellow Spaniards to make their lives worthy of their baptisms.

The Liturgical Feast Day of Saint Francis Solano is July 14.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

07/16/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Virgin of the Carmelitas</em> | unknown Image: The Virgin of the Carmelitas | unknown Our Lady of Mount Carmel Saint of the Day for July 16 https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul16.mp3

 

The Story of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

Saint Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” Saint John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Thérèse dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition–which may not be historical—that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.

Reflection

The Carmelites were known from early on as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” The title suggests that they saw Mary not only as “mother,” but also as “sister.” The word sister is a reminder that Mary is very close to us. She is the daughter of God and therefore can help us be authentic daughters and sons of God. She also can help us grow in appreciation of being sisters and brothers to one another. She leads us to a new realization that all human beings belong to the family of God. When such a conviction grows, there is hope that the human race can find its way to peace.

Mary, under the Title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is the Patron Saint of:

Chile

Saint Bonaventure

07/15/2017 - 12:00am
<em>The Prayer of St. Bonaventura about the Selection of the New Pope</em> | Francisco de ZurbaránImage: The Prayer of St. Bonaventura about the Selection of the New Pope | Francisco de Zurbarán Saint Bonaventure Saint of the Day for July 15 (1221 – July 15, 1274) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul15.mp3

 

Saint Bonaventure’s Story

Perhaps not a household name for most people, Saint Bonaventure, nevertheless, played an important role in both the medieval Church and the history of the Franciscan Order. A senior faculty member at the University of Paris, Saint Bonaventure certainly captured the hearts of his students through his academic skills and insights. But more importantly, he captured their hearts through his Franciscan love for Jesus and the Church. Like his model, Saint Francis, Jesus was the center of everything—his teaching, his administration, his writing, and his life. So much so, that he was given the title “Seraphic Doctor.”

Born in Bagnorea in 1221, Saint Bonaventure was baptized John, but received the name Bonaventure when he became a Franciscan at the age of 22. Little is known about his childhood, but we do know that his parents were Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritell. It seems that his father was a physician and a man of means. While Saint Francis died about five years after the saint’s birth, he is credited with healing Bonaventure as a boy of a serious illness.

Saint Bonaventure’s teaching career came to a halt when the Friars elected him to serve as their General Minister. His 17 years of service were not easy as the Order was embroiled in conflicts over the interpretation of poverty. Some friars even ended up in heresy saying that Saint Francis and his community were inaugurating the era of the Holy Spirit which was to replace Jesus, the Church, and Scripture. But because he was a man of prayer and a good administrator, Saint Bonaventure managed to structure the Order through effective legislation. But more importantly, he offered the Friars an organized spirituality based on the vision and insights of Saint Francis. Always a Franciscan at heart and a mystical writer, Bonaventure managed to unite the pastoral, practical aspects of life with the doctrines of the Church. Thus, there is a noticeable warmth to his teachings and writings that make him very appealing.

Shortly before he ended his service as General Minister, Pope Gregory X created him a Cardinal and appointed him bishop of Albano. But a little over a year later, while participating in the Second Council of Lyon, Saint Bonaventure suddenly died on July 15, 1274. There is a theory that he was poisoned.

Saint Bonaventure left behind a structured and renewed Franciscan Order and a body of work all of which glorifies his major love—Jesus.

Reflection

Bonaventure so united holiness and theological knowledge that he rose to the heights of mysticism while remaining a very active preacher and teacher, one beloved by all who met him. To know him was to love him; to read him is still for us today to meet a true Franciscan and a gentleman.

Click here for Fr. Don Miller’s thoughts on Saint Bonaventure!

 

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

07/14/2017 - 12:00am
Stained glass of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha | Saint Stephen Catholic Church, Chesapeake, Virginia | photo by NheyobImage: Stained glass of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha | Saint Stephen Catholic Church, Chesapeake, Virginia | photo by Nheyob Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Saint of the Day for July 14 (1656 – April 17, 1680) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul14.mp3

 

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha’s Story

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and Jean de Lelande were tomahawked by Iroquois warriors, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Tekakwitha lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes–Jesuit missionaries–but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. Tekakwitha refused to marry a Mohawk brave, and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri–Catherine–on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, Kateri received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, Kateri stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity, and in strenuous penance. At 23, Kateri took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: Kateri did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. Kateri Tekakwitha died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980 and canonized in 2012.

Reflection

We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri Tekakwitha repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and almsgiving: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.

Saint Henry

07/13/2017 - 12:00am
 Stained glass window of Saint Henry | photo by Lawrence, OP | flickerImage: Stained glass window of Saint Henry | photo by Lawrence, OP | flicker Saint Henry Saint of the Day for July 13 (May 6, 972 – July 13, 1024) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul13.mp3

 

Saint Henry’s Story

As German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Henry was a practical man of affairs. He was energetic in consolidating his rule. He crushed rebellions and feuds. On all sides he had to deal with drawn-out disputes so as to protect his frontiers. This involved him in a number of battles, especially in the south in Italy; he also helped Pope Benedict VIII quell disturbances in Rome. Always his ultimate purpose was to establish a stable peace in Europe.

According to eleventh-century custom, Henry took advantage of his position and appointed as bishops men loyal to him. In his case, however, he avoided the pitfalls of this practice and actually fostered the reform of ecclesiastical and monastic life. He was canonized in 1146.

Reflection

All in all, this saint was a man of his times. From our standpoint, he may have been too quick to do battle and too ready to use power to accomplish reforms. But granted such limitations, he shows that holiness is possible in a busy secular life. It is in doing our job that we become saints.

Saints John Jones and John Wall

07/12/2017 - 12:00am
<em> Forty Martyrs of England and Wales</em> commissioned by the General Postulation of the Society of JesusImage: Forty Martyrs of England and Wales commissioned by the General Postulation of the Society of Jesus | Daphne Pollen Saints John Jones and John Wall Saint of the Day for July 12 (c.1530 – 1598; 1620 – 1679) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul12.mp3

 

Saints John Jones and John Wall’s story

These two friars were martyred in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for refusing to deny their faith.

John Jones was Welsh. He was ordained a diocesan priest and was twice imprisoned for administering the sacraments before leaving England in 1590. He joined the Franciscans at the age of 60 and returned to England three years later while Queen Elizabeth I was at the height of her power. John ministered to Catholics in the English countryside until his imprisonment in 1596. He was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. John was executed on July 12, 1598.

John Wall was born in England but was educated at the English College of Douai, Belgium. Ordained in Rome in 1648, he entered the Franciscans in Douai several years later. In 1656 he returned to work secretly in England.

In 1678, Titus Oates worked many English people into a frenzy over an alleged papal plot to murder the king and restore Catholicism in that country. In that year Catholics were legally excluded from Parliament, a law which was not repealed until 1829. John Wall was arrested and imprisoned in 1678, and was executed the following year.

John Jones and John Wall were canonized in 1970.

Reflection

Every martyr knows how to save his/her life and yet refuses to do so. A public repudiation of the faith would save any of them. But some things are more precious than life itself. These martyrs prove that their 20th-century countryman, C. S. Lewis, was correct in saying that courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, that is, at the point of highest reality.

Saint Benedict

07/11/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Patriarch of Western Monks</em> | Saint Benedict | photo by Lawrence, OPImage: Patriarch of Western Monks | Saint Benedict | photo by Lawrence, OP Saint Benedict Saint of the Day for July 11 (c. 480 – c. 547) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul11.mp3

 

Saint Benedict’s Story

It is unfortunate that no contemporary biography was written of a man who has exercised the greatest influence on monasticism in the West. Benedict is well recognized in the later Dialogues of Saint Gregory, but these are sketches to illustrate miraculous elements of his career.

Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome, and early in life was drawn to monasticism. At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.

He soon realized that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years. Some monks chose Benedict as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste. Still the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him. He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity, and permanent worship in one house. Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.

The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor, and living together in community under a common abbot. Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside. In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.

Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation encompassing the men and women of the Order of St. Benedict, and the Cistercians, men and women of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.

Reflection

The Church has been blessed through Benedictine devotion to the liturgy, not only in its actual celebration with rich and proper ceremony in the great abbeys, but also through the scholarly studies of many of its members. Liturgy is sometimes confused with guitars or choirs, Latin or Bach. We should be grateful to those who both preserve and adapt the genuine tradition of worship in the Church.

Saint Benedict is the Patron Saint of:

Europe
Kidney Disease
Monks
Poisoning
Schoolchildren

Saint Veronica Giuliani

07/10/2017 - 12:00am
Statue of Saint Veronica Giulliani | Mercatello sul Metauro, Marches, Italie | photo by Adri08Image: Statue of Saint Veronica Giuliani | Mercatello sul Metauro, Marches, Italie | photo by Adri08 Saint Veronica Giuliani Saint of the Day for July 10 (December 27, 1660 – July 9, 1727) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul10.mp3

 

Saint Veronica Giuliani’s Story

Veronica’s desire to be like Christ crucified was answered with the stigmata.

Veronica was born in Mercatelli, Italy. It is said that when her mother Benedetta was dying she called her five daughters to her bedside and entrusted each of them to one of the five wounds of Jesus. Veronica was entrusted to the wound below Christ’s heart.

At the age of 17, Veronica joined the Poor Clares directed by the Capuchins. Her father had wanted her to marry, but she convinced him to allow her to become a nun. In her first years in the monastery, she worked in the kitchen, infirmary, sacristy, and also served as portress. At the age of 34, she was made novice mistress, a position she held for 22 years. When she was 37, Veronica received the stigmata. Life was not the same after that.

Church authorities in Rome wanted to test Veronica’s authenticity and so conducted an investigation. She lost the office of novice mistress temporarily and was not allowed to attend Mass except on Sundays or holy days. Through all of this Veronica did not become bitter, and the investigation eventually restored her as novice mistress.

Though she protested against it, at the age of 56 she was elected abbess, an office she held for 11 years until her death. Veronica was very devoted to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart. She offered her sufferings for the missions, died in 1727, and was canonized in 1839.

Reflection

Why did God grant the stigmata to Francis of Assisi and to Veronica Giuliani? God alone knows the deepest reasons, but as Celano points out, the external sign of the cross is a confirmation of these saints’ commitment to the cross in their lives. The stigmata that appeared in Veronica’s flesh had taken root in her heart many years before. It was a fitting conclusion for her love of God and her charity toward her sisters.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Veronica Giuliani is July 9.

Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions

07/09/2017 - 12:00am
Stained glass window of Saint Augustine Rhao Rong and companions | The Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception | photo by hugo poonImage: Stained glass window of Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and companions | The Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception | photo by hugo poon Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions Saint of the Day for July 9 (d. 1648 – 1930) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul09.mp3

 

Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions’ Story

Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China’s relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.

The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Eighty-seven of them were born in China, and were children, parents, catechists, or laborers, ranging in age from nine years to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests. The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Society of Jesus, Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese soldier who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse of the Paris Foreign Mission Society to his martyrdom in Beijing. Not long after his baptism, Augustine was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.

Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized together in Rome on October 1, 2000.

Reflection

The People’s Republic of China and the Roman Catholic Church each have well over a billion members, but there are only about 12 million Catholics in China. The reasons for that are better explained by historical conflicts than by a wholesale rejection of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Chinese-born martyrs honored by today’s feast were regarded by their persecutors as dangerous because they were considered allies of enemy, Catholic countries. The martyrs born outside China often tried to distance themselves from European political struggles relating to China, but their persecutors saw them as Westerners and therefore, by definition, anti-Chinese.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is intended to benefit all peoples; today’s martyrs knew that. May 21st-century Christians live in such a way that Chinese women and men will be attracted to hear that Good News and embrace it.

Saint Gregory Grassi and Companions

07/08/2017 - 12:00am
Images from Whitworth University | Whitworth Digital CommonsImage: Images from Whitworth University | Whitworth Digital Commons Saint Gregory Grassi and Companions Saint of the Day for July 8 (d. July 9, 1900) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul08.mp3

 

Saint Gregory Grassi and Companions’ Story

Christian missionaries have often gotten caught in the crossfire of wars against their own countries. When the governments of Britain, Germany, Russia, and France forced substantial territorial concessions from the Chinese in 1898, anti-foreign sentiment grew very strong among many Chinese people.

Gregory Grassi was born in Italy in 1833, ordained in 1856, and sent to China five years later. Gregory was later ordained Bishop of North Shanxi. With 14 other European missionaries and 14 Chinese religious, he was martyred during the short but bloody Boxer Uprising of 1900.

Twenty-six of these martyrs were arrested on the orders of Yu Hsien, the governor of Shanxi province. They were hacked to death on July 9, 1900. Five of them were Friars Minor; seven were Franciscan Missionaries of Mary–the first martyrs of their congregation. Seven were Chinese seminarians and Secular Franciscans; four martyrs were Chinese laymen and Secular Franciscans. The other three Chinese laymen killed in Shanxi simply worked for the Franciscans and were rounded up with all the others. Three Italian Franciscans were martyred that same week in the province of Hunan. All these martyrs were beatified in 1946, and were among the 120 martyrs canonized in 2000.

Reflection

Martyrdom is the occupational hazard of missionaries. Throughout China during the Boxer Uprising, five bishops, 50 priests, two brothers, 15 sisters and 40,000 Chinese Christians were killed. The 146,575 Catholics served by the Franciscans in China in 1906 had grown to 303,760 by 1924, and were served by 282 Franciscans and 174 local priests. Great sacrifices often bring great results.

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions

07/07/2017 - 12:00am
Stained glass window in St. Peter church | Jaffa | photo by yiftah-sImage: Stained glass window in St. Peter church | Jaffa | photo by yiftah-s Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions Saint of the Day for July 7 (1804 – 1860) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul07.mp3

 

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions’ Story

Not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz, but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us.

Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time.

Among these were Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars, and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom.

Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.

Reflection

The Church in Syria has known persecution throughout its history. Yet it has produced saints whose blood was shed for the faith. Let us pray for the Church in Syria.

Saint Maria Goretti

07/06/2017 - 12:00am
 Stained glass window of Saint Maria Goretti | Reinhard MüllerImage: Stained glass window of Saint Maria Goretti | Reinhard Müller Saint of the Day for July 6 (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul06.mp3

 

Saint Maria Goretti’s Story

One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti.

She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When Maria made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class.

On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, 18-year-old Alessandro, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it,” she cried out. “It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.

Maria was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family), and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack.

Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother.

Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her 82-year-old mother, two sisters and a brother, appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later at Maria’s canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.

Reflection

Maria may have had trouble with catechism, but she had no trouble with faith. God’s will was holiness, decency, respect for one’s body, absolute obedience, total trust. In a complex world, her faith was simple: It is a privilege to be loved by God, and to love him—at any cost.

Saint Maria Goretti is the Patron Saint of:

Catholic Youth
Girls
Teenagers

Saint Anthony Zaccaria

07/05/2017 - 12:00am
Sculpture of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria, at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican | Cesare AureliImage: Sculpture of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria, at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican | Cesare Aureli Saint Anthony Zaccaria Saint of the Day for July 5 (1502  – July 5, 1539) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul05.mp3

 

Saint Anthony Zaccaria’s Story

At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18, and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22, and while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men, one for women, and an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious, and lay people.

Greatly inspired by Saint Paul–his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint–Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions, and was not ashamed of doing public penance.

He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion, and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. His holiness moved many to reform their lives, but as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated.

While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.

Reflection

The austerity of Anthony’s spirituality and the Pauline ardor of his preaching would probably “turn off” many people today. When even some psychiatrists complain at the lack of a sense of sin, it may be time to tell ourselves that not all evil is explained by emotional disorder, subconscious and unconscious drives, parental influence, and so on. The old-time “hell and damnation” mission sermons have given way to positive, encouraging, biblical homilies. We do indeed need assurance of forgiveness, relief from existential anxiety, and future shock. But we still need prophets to stand up and tell us, “If we say ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal

07/04/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Santa Isabel de Portugal</em> | Francisco de Zurbarán Image: Santa Isabel de Portugal | Francisco de Zurbarán Saint Elizabeth of Portugal Saint of the Day for July 4 (1271 – July 4, 1336) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul04.mp3

 

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal’s Story

Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality.

Thus fortunately prepared, Elizabeth was able to meet the challenge when at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God’s love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom.

Denis, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. Elizabeth long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king’s illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, Elizabeth set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.

Reflection

The work of promoting peace is anything but a calm and quiet endeavor. It takes a clear mind, a steady spirit and a brave soul to intervene between people whose emotions are so aroused that they are ready to destroy one another. This is all the more true of a woman in the early 14th century. But Elizabeth had a deep and sincere love and sympathy for humankind, an almost total lack of concern for herself, and an abiding confidence in God. These were the tools of her success.

Saint Thomas the Apostle

07/03/2017 - 12:00am
<em>Saint Thomas</em> | Georges de La TourImage: Saint Thomas | Georges de La Tour Saint Thomas the Apostle Saint of the Day for July 3 (1st Century – December 21, 72) https://www.franciscanmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SODJul03.mp3

 

Saint Thomas the Apostle’s Story

Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Thomas should be equally well-known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).

Reflection

Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men. But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting, and loving one.

Saint Thomas the Apostle is the Patron Saint of:

Architects
Argentina
Construction Workers
Cooks