ST. THERESA OF THE CHILD JESUS
St. Theresa, often called the Little Flower, was born in Normandy,
France, in 1873. She was the youngest of the five daughters born
to Louis and Zelie Martin. Theresa was a very lively, lovable little
girl. Her father called her his "little queen." Yet she
could be too sensitive and irritable. In the story she wrote of
her life, she tells how the Infant Jesus helped her overcome this
It was Theresa's great desire to enter the Carmelite
convent where two of her sisters were already nuns. But since she
was only fifteen, permission was not granted. Theresa felt sure
that Jesus wanted her to spend her life loving him alone. She kept
praying and asking the superior to admit her. She even dared to
ask Pope Leo XIII himself to grant her heart's desire. And finally
she was allowed to enter.
Although she was only fifteen, Theresa did not expect to be babied.
"Obedience, prayer and sacrifice" were her program. She
had a thirst to suffer for love of God. Theresa had the spiritual
courage of a real heroine. "May Jesus make me a martyr of the
heart or of the body-or better, both!" she wrote. And she meant
it. In winter she suffered from the bitter cold and dampness of
her plain bedroom. There were other kinds of sufferings, too. Whenever
she was humiliated, she would offer her pain to her beloved Jesus.
She would hide her hurts under a smile. She told Jesus to do with
her whatever was his will.
Sister Theresa tried hard to be humble. She called
her great confidence in God her "little way" to holiness.
She always had a burning desire to become a saint. The young nun
wanted to find a "short cut," an "elevator,"
to take her quickly to sanctity. So she looked in the Bible, and
found the words, "Whoever is a little one, come to me."
When she lay dying, she could say: "I have never given the
good God anything but love, and it is with love that he will repay.
After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend
my heaven doing good on earth." The Little Flower died on September
30, 1897. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
ST. GERARD OF BROGNE
St. Gerard was born at the end of the ninth century in France. His
family was wealthy, but Gerard was not proud. In fact, he was known
because of his friendly, kind ways. After a hunting trip, he and
his friends returned to his estate tired and hungry. After he invited
the others inside for refreshments and rest, he left. Gerard went
out and slipped into a little chapel that was on his property. He
prayed for a long time. His tired body seemed rested and he forgot
all about his hunger.
The idea occurred to Gerard that if people only
realized the joy of praying, they would be so much more willing
to pray. Then he thought about the monks who spend their life praising
God. Imagine how privileged they are, he thought. He prayed over
the possibility of a religious vocation and joined the monastery
Gerard loved the life he had chosen and after studies became a priest.
He had been a monk for eleven years when he was given permission
to start a monastery on his own property at Brogne. The monastery
flourished but Gerard felt there was too much activity and excitement.
He built himself a little hermitage next to the church. He lived
there quietly and alone. But he was not allowed to stay in peace
for very long. His superiors asked Gerard to visit the monasteries
in Flanders and Normandy. The monks needed some guidance and help
in becoming more fervent. This work took Gerard on many journeys
for some twenty years.
All of his life Gerard lived a strict life filled
with sacrifices. He did this because he wanted to show Jesus that
he loved him. He showed that love by willingly offering little acts
of self-denial. When he knew his life on earth was nearly over,
he asked to be able to return to his little hut back in Brogne.
He was given permission to do that. Gerard died peacefully on October
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
St. Francis was born around 1181. As a young man in his Italian
hometown of Assisi, he loved parties and good times. He was handsome
and rich, so he bought himself the finest clothes and spent money
freely. Francis had no desire to study or to learn his father's
business-he just wanted to have fun. After two illnesses and other
adventures, Francis realized that he was wasting precious time.
He became aware that he should be serving Jesus. He began by praying
more and making sacrifices to grow strong in spirit. Once he kissed
a horrible-looking leper, while giving him money. Often he gave
his clothes and money to the poor. He served the sick in hospitals.
Still he felt he must do more. He fasted and began to go around
in rags to humble himself.
It is not hard to imagine how his former rich friends
must have looked at him now! His father was so angry that he beat
him and locked him up at home. Francis bore all this suffering for
love of Jesus. When his father took everything from him in disgust,
Francis put all his trust in his Father in heaven. He said that
he was married to "Lady Poverty" and he began to live
as a beggar. He had no shelter. His food was what kind people gave
him. Everywhere he went, he urged people to stop sinning and return
to God. Soon many men began to realize how close to God this poor
man was, and they became his disciples. That is how the great Franciscan
order of priests and brothers began. They helped the poor and sick
and preached everywhere. Even after the order had spread all over
Italy, Francis insisted that they should not own anything. He wanted
the friars to love poverty as he did.
Francis had the power of working miracles and even of making birds
and animals obey him! As a reward for his great love, Jesus gave
him his own wounds in his hands and feet. The humble Francis tried
to hide them. Toward the end of his life, he became very sick. He
was told he would live only a few more weeks. Then he exclaimed,
"Welcome, Sister Death!" He asked to be laid on the ground
and covered with an old habit. Then he urged his brothers to love
God, to love being poor, and to obey the Gospel. "I have done
my part," he said. "May Jesus teach you to do yours."
Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was proclaimed a saint.
Bruno was born around 1030. This founder of the Carthusian order
of monks was at first not a hermit at all. For eighteen years he
was a professor of theology in his own country of France. He tried
his best to bring his students closer to God. Then he was given
an important position in the diocese of Rheims.
But Bruno was not impressed with the honors or frightened
by responsibilities. He became aware that his heart was longing
to be alone with Jesus. St. Hugh of Grenoble gave Bruno and his
friends a hidden desert land called Chartreuse. There they built
a church and little huts to live in. This was the beginning of the
Carthusian order. They were very happy there, working their fields,
fasting and praying, hidden in God.
After six years, however, Pope Urban II, one of
Bruno's former students, required a great sacrifice of him. He asked
him to go to Rome to be his advisor. It broke the saint's heart,
but he obeyed. He left one of the monks in charge at Chartreuse.
Bruno served Pope Urban II well. Then finally he was allowed to
live his monk's life nearer to Rome. So with new disciples, Bruno
began all over again in Calabria, Italy.
As we know by his letters, St. Bruno was always a cheerful, active
man. He did not want to see any of his monks sad. He describes their
hard life in delightful expressions. Bruno urged a close friend
to come see for himself. St. Bruno died in 1101. His order continues
today. It is the only religious order in the Church that has never
had to be reformed. The followers of St. Bruno keep his loving,
self-sacrificing spirit alive.
BLESSED MARIE ROSE DUROCHER
Blessed Eulalie Durocher was born in 1811 in Quebec, Canada. She
was the tenth of eleven children. Eulalie's mother died when she
was eighteen. Her brother, the pastor of a parish in Beloeil, invited
his younger sister to his parish. She became a lay apostle. She
took charge of the household duties for her brother, the priest.
She also started the first parish sodality in Canada. The thirteen
years she was involved in the life of the Church and the parish
were preparing her for a special work for God.
In 1843, when Eulalie was thirty-two, the bishop
of Montreal asked her to begin a very special mission. Eulalie started
a new religious order of women called the Sisters of the Holy Names
of Jesus and Mary. Their particular work for Jesus would be to educate
the poorest and most neglected children. Eulalie became Mother Marie
Rose. Others followed this generous woman. They, too, believed in
the importance of educating children for the love of Jesus.
Marie Rose lived only six years after her congregation began. However,
she helped her sisters from heaven because the community continued
to grow and open new convents. They started a mission in America,
too. They went to Oregon in 1859. Today the Sisters of the Holy
Names of Jesus and Mary are spread throughout the world. Mother
Marie Rose Durocher was declared "blessed" by Pope John
Paul II on May 23, 1982.
OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY
It was St. Dominic in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries
who encouraged everyone to say the Rosary. St. Dominic was greatly
saddened by the spread of a terrible heresy called Albigensianism.
With the members of his new Order of Preachers, he was trying his
best to destroy this dangerous heresy. He begged the Blessed Virgin
for help, and it is said that she told him to preach devotion to
the Holy Rosary. St. Dominic obeyed and he was very successful in
stopping the heresy.
Holy Rosary is a simple devotion which can be practiced by all people-old
and young, learned and unlearned. It can be said anywhere, at any
time. While we say the Our Father, ten Hail Marys and Glory to the
Father, we think about great moments in the lives of Jesus and Mary.
In this way, we grow closer and closer to Jesus and his Blessed
Mother. We learn to imitate their holy lives.
is very pleased when we say the Holy Rosary often and well. She
used to say it with St. Bernadette when she appeared to her at Lourdes.
The three little children of Fatima learned from Mary the power
of the Rosary. Mary taught them that the Rosary obtains graces and
saves sinners from hell. A Dominican pope, Pius V, established today's
feast. It is to show our gratitude to Mary for a military victory
over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
St. Simeon lived in the first century. In Luke's Gospel, chapter
two, Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. That
is where they meet Simeon. The holy man had waited patiently for
the Lord to grant him a request: he wanted to live to see the Messiah,
the Savior of the world. But he did not know who that person would
be, or when and if his prayer would be fulfilled.
The young couple from Nazareth approached him with
their baby. He looked into the eyes of the Child and felt a burst
of joy in his heart. His eyes glowed. He lifted Jesus into his arms,
then held him up and prayed: "Now, my God, I can die in peace.
I have seen with my own eyes the world's salvation. You have prepared
this for all your people."
and Joseph looked at one another. They were silently amazed. Then
the old man turned to Mary. His eyes became sad as he said softly,
"Your own soul will be pierced by the sword." Mary did
not understand what this meant, and she prayed to God for courage.
Holy Simeon had received his request from God. He remained in joyful
thanksgiving as the couple and their baby left.
ST. DENIS AND COMPANIONS
St. Denis is very popular in France. In fact, he is considered the
patron saint of France. Because he lived at the beginning of Christian
history-during the third century-we don't know as much about him
as we would like to.
do know that Denis was born in Italy. He came to France and became
the bishop of Paris. He was preaching the Good News of Jesus when
he and two companions were martyred. It is believed that his companions
were a priest and a deacon. The Christian community cherished the
memory of these brave martyrs. At first, they were able to build
a little chapel to mark the sight of their death. Later the chapel
became the great church of St. Denis.
Denis and his companions remind us of the brave men, women and children
who have gone before us. They give us the example of their lives.
They also remind us that they will help us now if we ask them.
ST. JOHN LEONARDI
St. JOhn was born in 1541and became a pharmacist in Lucca, Italy.
When he was twenty-five, John felt the call to become a priest.
He began studies and was ordained in 1572. He spent his time teaching
children the faith and training catechists. His active ministry
also took him to hospitals and prisons. Several young men in Lucca
gathered around Father John and helped him with his wonderful works.
Eventually, this group was to become a new religious congregation
of priests. They were called the Clerks of the Mother of God.
Father Leonardi was given a church as his headquarters
in Lucca. His followers took care of the spiritual needs of the
people in their new parish. Father Leonardi moved to Rome where
his good friend St. Philip Neri lived. St. Philip was his spiritual
director. Father Leonardi's work was hard at times because of all
the political and spiritual turmoil in Europe. But St. Philip believed
in Father Leonardi and in the good his congregation of priests was
doing. St. Philip gave him his own house in Rome. It was called
"St. William of Charity." With the building came St. Philip's
cat. St. John gladly took care of it.
St. John Leonardi and his priests made a strong
religious impact on the people of Italy. The order was officially
recognized by Pope Clement VIII in 1595. Their founder died of the
plague on October 9, 1609, while ministering to victims of the disease.
He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1938.
ELEVEN MARTYRS OF ALMERIA, SPAIN
The Spanish civil war began in 1936. It has been described as a
struggle between atheism and belief in God. The particular object
of persecution was the Catholic Church. In three years, 12 bishops;
4,184 priests; 2,365 monks and 300 nuns died for the faith. Today
we celebrate eleven of those martyrs: two bishops, a diocesan priest,
seven Brothers of the Christian Schools, and a young lay woman.
The bishops were from Almeria and Gaudix, Spain. The seven Brothers
of the Christian Schools were teachers at St. Joseph College in
Almeria. Father Pedro Castroverde was a well-known scholar and founder
of the Teresian Association. Victoria Diez Molina belonged to the
Teresians. She had found a spiritual treasure in the way this group
prayed and lived their Christian responsibilities. Victoria was
a teacher in a country school and was very active in her parish.
All eleven martyrs chose to die for Jesus rather
than give up their Catholic faith. Brother Aurelio Maria, soon to
be killed, was the director of St. Joseph College. He said: "What
happiness for us if we could shed our blood for the lofty ideal
of Christian education. Let us double our fervor so to become worthy
of such an honor." Bishop Medina of Gaudix said: "We have
done nothing to deserve death. But I forgive you so that the Lord
will also forgive us. May our blood be the last shed in Almeria."
Bishop Ventaja of Almeria had many opportunities to flee the country.
He chose instead to remain with his suffering people, his suffering
Church. Father Castroverde, the Teresian founder, wrote in his diary:
"Lord, may I think what you want me to think. May I desire
what you want me to desire. May I speak as you want me to speak.
May I work as you want me to work." He was killed on July 28,
Molina was jailed on August 11, 1936. She and seventeen others were
led to an abandoned mine shaft and to their death. Victoria comforted
the others and said: "Come on, our reward is waiting for us."
Her last words were: "Long live Christ the King." Pope
John Paul II proclaimed these martyrs "blessed" on October
We can ask these eleven heroes of God to give us their courage.
We could make the prayer of Blessed Pedro Castroverde our own: Lord,
may I think what you want me to think. May I desire what you want
me to desire. May I speak as you want me to speak. May I work as
you want me to work. Amen.
St. Kenneth who is sometimes called St. Canice or Kenny, lived in
the sixth century. He was born in Ireland and is famous in both
Ireland and Scotland. His father was a bard, that is, a professional
singer of ballads and stories in song. As a young man, Kenneth went
to Wales to study for the priesthood. St. Cadoc was his teacher.
After he became a priest, he went to visit Rome. He then returned
to Ireland to study at the school of St. Finnian. Kenneth became
good friends with three other Irish saints-Kieran, Comgall and Columba.
After preaching throughout Ireland, St. Kenneth
went with St. Columba to Scotland on a mission to the pagan King
Brude. When this king angrily seized his sword to strike the two
missionaries, it is said that St. Kenneth made the sign of the cross,
and a miracle took place. The king's hand was suddenly paralyzed,
and the saints were saved. St. Kenneth and St. Columba were always
close friends. Once Columba was sailing with some companions. Kenneth
was far away in his monastery in Ireland. Suddenly he became aware
that Columba was in great danger at sea. He jumped up from the dinner
table and ran to church to pray for his beloved friend. Out at sea,
Columba cried to his frightened companions: "Don't be afraid!
God will listen to Kenneth. Right now he is running to church with
only one shoe on to pray for us!" And as he said, they were
St. Kenneth started several monasteries and converted
many nonbelievers. He became famous for his zealous preaching of
the Gospel. Even more, he became well-known for the perfect way
in which he himself practiced the teachings of Jesus.
ST. FELIX AND ST. CYPRIAN
Sts. Felix and Cyprian were African bishops who lived in the fifth
century. They suffered with over 4,900 martyrs in the terrible persecution
by the Vandals. Huneric, the Vandal king, drove these Christians
into exile in the Libyan desert. They were treated with great cruelty
by the Moors.
A holy bishop named Victor used to try to help the
poor Christians who had been shut up in a horrible prison. They
were packed in without sufficient air or light. He wrote the story
of their courage and their sufferings. Bishop Victor says that when
they were ordered into exile in the terrible desert, they came out
of that prison singing hymns. Other Christians burst into tears
at the sight of their great courage. Even women and children went
with them to exile and death. The story is told of Bishop St. Felix.
He was so old and so crippled that someone said to the Vandal king:
"You might just as well leave him here to die." But King
Huneric cruelly answered, "If he cannot ride a horse, he can
be dragged by oxen." In the end, they decided to tie the brave
old bishop to a donkey and he was carried off to die in the desert.
also celebrate St. Cyprian. This bishop lived two centuries after
St. Cyprian of Carthage who is honored on September 16. Today's
Cyprian risked his own life to take care of as many prisoners as
he could. He spent all his time and strength, plus everything he
owned, to assist them. At last, he, too, was arrested and sent into
exile. There he also died a martyr from the cruel treatment reserved
King St. Edward was one of the best loved of all the English kings.
He lived in the eleventh century. Because of enemies in his own
country, he had to live in Normandy, France, from the time he was
ten until he was forty. However, when he came back to rule, all
the people welcomed him with great joy.
St. Edward was a tall, well-built man, but he was
never healthy. Still he was able to rule his country well and keep
peace most of the time. This was because he trusted in God and held
firm when necessary. King Edward went to daily Mass. He was a gentle,
kind man who never spoke sternly. To poor people and foreigners,
he showed special charity. He also helped monks in every way he
could. It was his justice to everyone and his love for God's Church
that made St. Edward so popular with the English people. They would
cheer him as he rode out of the castle.
Although he was a king with great power, St. Edward
showed his honesty by the way he kept his word-to God and to people.
While he was still living in Normandy, he had made a promise to
God. He said that if his family would see better times, he would
go on a pilgrimage to St. Peter's tomb in Rome. After he was made
king, he wanted to keep his vow. But the nobles knew that there
would be no one to keep the peace among the warlike people in the
land. So, although they admired his devotion, they did not want
him to go. The whole matter was brought to the pope, St. Leo IX.
He decided that the king could stay home. He said that King Edward
was to give to the poor the money he would have spent on the trip.
He also was to build or repair a monastery in honor of St. Peter.
Obediently, the king carried out the pope's decision. He died in
1066 and was buried in the marvelous monastery he had rebuilt. He
was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander III in 1161.
ST. CALLISTUS I
St. Callisturi, the great pope and martyr, lived in the first part
of the third century. He was once a young slave in Rome, who got
into serious trouble. His master, a Christian, had put him in charge
of a bank. Somehow, Callistus lost the money deposited with him
by other Christians. In fear, he ran away from Rome. He was caught,
after jumping into the sea to try to get away. His sentence was
a terrible one: he was chained and put to hard labor in a mill.
From this punishment Callistus was released, only
because his creditors hoped he could get some of their money back.
But once again he was arrested, this time for having gotten into
a fight. He was sent to the mines of Sardinia. When the emperor
freed all the Christians who had been condemned to those mines,
Callistus was freed, too. From that time on, things began to go
better for him.
Pope St. Zephrinus came to know and trust the freed
slave. He placed him in charge of the public Christian cemetery
in Rome. This cemetery is now named after St. Callistus himself.
Many popes were buried in it. Callistus proved himself worthy of
the pope's confidence in him. St. Zephrinus not only ordained him
a priest, but also made him his friend and advisor. Later on, St.
Callistus himself became pope. Some people complained because he
showed too much mercy to sinners. However, the holy pope ruled that
even murderers could be admitted to communion after they had done
penance for their sin. This great pope always defended the true
doctrine of Jesus. He ended his life in 222 with a glorious martyrdom.
ST. TERESA OF AVILA
St. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. As a little
girl in her parents' rich home, Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved
to read the lives of the saints and martyrs. It seemed to them that
the martyrs got to heaven an easy way. The two children set out
secretly to go to the land of the Moors. As they walked along, they
prayed that they might die for Christ. But they had not gotten far
when they met an uncle. He took them back to their worried mother
at once. Next the children decided to be hermits in their garden.
This didn't work out either. They could not get enough stones together
to build their huts.
St. Teresa herself wrote down these amusing stories
of her childhood. The fact is that when she grew to be a teenager,
however, she changed. Teresa read so many novels and foolish romances
that she lost much of her love for prayer. She began to think more
of dressing up to look pretty. But after she recovered from a bad
illness, Teresa read a book about the great St. Jerome. Then and
there, she made up her mind to become a bride of Christ. As a nun,
Teresa often found it hard to pray. Besides that, she had poor health.
wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations. But one day,
in front of a picture of Jesus, she felt great sorrow that she did
not love God more. She started then to live for Jesus alone, no
matter what sacrifice had to be made. In return for her love, the
Lord gave St. Teresa the privilege of hearing him talk to her. She
learned to pray in a marvelous way, too. St. Teresa of Avila is
famous for having opened new Carmelite convents. These convents
were filled with sisters who wanted to live holy lives. They made
many sacrifices for Jesus. Teresa herself gave them the example.
She prayed with great love and worked hard at the convent tasks.
St. Teresa was a great leader and true lover of Jesus and his Church.
She died in 1582 and was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XV in
1622. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in
ST. MARGARET MARY
St. Margaret Mary lived in the seventeenth century. She is the famous
French nun to whom Jesus showed his Sacred Heart. As a child, she
was a happy little girl who loved the nuns at school. But when she
was eleven, she became very sick. It was four years before she was
well again. Her father had died, and an aunt had moved into their
home. This aunt and her husband made Margaret Mary and her mother
suffer very much. Almost every day, the teenager would hide in the
garden to cry and pray. What hurt her most was seeing her mother
Margaret Mary grew to love good times. A few years later, she was
considering marriage. Her mother wanted her to marry and so did
her relatives. They were worried about her, especially when she
brought beggar children into the garden to try to teach them. Margaret
Mary hesitated a while, neither marrying nor entering the convent.
At last she decided on the convent.
joined the Visitation sisters and was a kind, humble sister. Often
she made others impatient since she was slow and clumsy. But she
was dear to Jesus. He began to appear to St. Margaret Mary to show
her how much he loves us all. Jesus wanted her to spread devotion
to his Sacred Heart. It was a very hard thing to do. Many people
thought Margaret Mary had not really seen Jesus at all. Some were
angry with her for trying to spread the new devotion. This brought
her great suffering. Yet she did her best to carry out the Lord's
wish. Jesus blessed her hard work and pain. Today, this wonderful
devotion to the Sacred Heart is practiced all over the world.
Lord made great promises to St. Margaret Mary for those who are
devoted to his most Sacred Heart. Some of these promises are: "I
will comfort them in all their afflictions. I will establish peace
in their homes. I will bestow abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
I will bless every place where a picture of my Heart shall be displayed
and honored." The greatest promise Jesus made is this: "My
divine Heart shall be the safe refuge in the last moment to all
those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday for nine months
in a row."
ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH
St. Ignatius of Antioch has been well-known since earliest times.
He was born in the year 50. St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom both
thought of his tomb as near the city gates of Antioch. Ignatius
was the third bishop of Antioch. This is the city where St. Peter
labored before he moved to Rome. It is also the city where followers
of Jesus were first called Christians. Ignatius was condemned to
death during the reign of Emperor Trajan. He was led from Antioch
to the center of Roman cruelty-the amphitheater.
he journeyed to Rome under military guard, Ignatius stopped in Smyrna
and Troas. From each of those cities, he wrote letters to the Christian
communities. In this way, he used the same methods of preaching
the Good News as the great St. Paul. One of the letters Ignatius
wrote from Troas was to St. Polycarp, a fellow bishop, who is also
a martyr. We celebrate his feast on February 23.
the beloved Ignatius arrived in Rome, he joined the brave Christians
who waited in prisons. The day came when the bishop was pushed out
into the amphitheater. Two fierce lions devoured him. He left the
beautiful witness of Christian life and his letters. St. Ignatius
died around 107.
Luke is generally believed to be a gentile doctor. He was a good,
kind man who came to know the Lord from the great apostle Paul.
After he had become a Christian, he went everywhere with Paul. Luke
was a great help to him in spreading the faith. The Bible calls
Luke "the beloved physician."
Luke is the author of two books in the Bible: the Gospel of Luke
and the Acts of the Apostles. Although he did not meet Jesus while
the Lord was on this earth, he wanted to write about him for new
converts. So he talked to those who had known Jesus. He wrote down
all that they had seen the Lord do and heard him say. It is believed
that Luke learned some important information from the Blessed Virgin
Mary herself. Mary would have been the person who could describe
the details of the angel Gabriel's appearance to her at the Annunciation.
Mary could have best told about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem
and the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt.
also wrote the story of how the apostles began to teach the message
of Jesus after he went back to heaven. It is in Luke's book, The
Acts of the Apostles, that we learn how the Church began to grow
and spread. St. Luke is the patron saint of doctors. We are not
sure when or where Luke died. He is one of the four evangelists,
or Gospel writers.
ST. ISAAC JOGUES, ST. JOHN DE BREBEUF AND COMPANIONS--THE NORTH
three hundred years ago, six Jesuit priests and two holy laymen,
all from France, died as martyrs here in North America. These eight
men were martyred between 1642 and 1649. They were a group of the
bravest and most daring missionaries in the New World. They risked
everything they had to bring Christ to the native people. After
much hard work, they converted many of the Huron tribe. But the
Iroquois, bitter enemies of the Hurons, put them all to death.
John de Brebeuf had tuberculosis. He was so sick in France that
he could not even teach many classes. Yet he became a marvelous,
valiant apostle. His courage amazed the fierce Iroquois as they
tortured him to death. St. Isaac Jogues was tortured by the Mohawks,
but was freed by the Dutch. He went back to France, but as soon
as he could, he returned to North America. Father Jogues was killed
with a tomahawk by the Bear Clan of the Mohawks. St. Anthony Daniel
had just finished celebrating Mass for his Huron converts when the
Iroquois attacked the village. The Christian Indians begged him
to try to escape. But Father Daniel stayed. He wanted to baptize
all those who were crying to him for Baptism before they would be
killed. The Iroquois burned him to death in his little chapel. St.
Gabriel Lallemont was tortured to death with St. John de Brebeuf.
St. Charles Garnier and St. Noel Chabenel were both killed with
tomahawks. St. Charles was first shot by an Iroquois musket during
a surprise attack, but he still tried to crawl to help a dying man.
He was killed by a hatchet blow.
Chabenel had found life very hard, but had made a vow to stay in
North America. He was killed by a Huron traitor. The two lay helpers,
Rene Goupil and John Lalande, were both killed with tomahawks. So
it was that these heroes of Christ gave their lives for the native
people of North America. After their death, new missionaries were
able to convert almost every tribe that the martyrs had known. These
brave men, often called the North American martyrs, were proclaimed
saints in 1931 by Pope Pius XI.
ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS
Paul Danei of Ovada, Italy, was born into a family of merchants
in 1694. He was a good Christian and practiced his faith. When he
was nineteen, Paul decided to become a soldier. After a year he
left the army. During the summer of 1720 Paul had some kind of a
spiritual experience. He had three visions of starting a new religious
order. He couldn't imagine what was happening, so he went to his
bishop for guidance. The bishop investigated and believed that the
visions were real. He told Paul to go ahead with his special call.
He should do what he was being told in the visions to do.
Paul spent forty days in prayer and penance. During that time he
wrote a rule that he and the followers of his new congregation could
base their style of life on. Paul was joined by his brother John
and two other young men. Paul and John were ordained priests by
Pope Benedict XIII in 1727.
years later, the first Passionist monastery was started. Pope Clement
XIV approved the new order. He also approved the rule a short time
later. Besides the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,
Paul of the Cross added a fourth vow: devotion to the passion of
Christ. By 1747, the Passionists had three monasteries. They were
preaching parish retreats throughout Italy.
he died in 1775, Paul of the Cross was starting a congregation of
Passionist nuns. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius IX in 1867.
Hilarion lived in the fourth century. He was an unbelieving teenager
when he left his home in Palestine. He was on his way to Egypt to
go to school. There he learned about the Christian faith, and soon
he was baptized. Hilarion was only about fifteen at the time. His
conversion started him out on a glorious journey leading him closer
to God. Before long, he was off to visit the famous St. Anthony
in the desert. (We celebrate his feast on January 17.) Hilarion
wanted to be alone to serve Jesus, whom he had just come to love.
stayed two months with St. Anthony, but it was not quiet enough
there for him. Many people came to St. Anthony for help. Hilarion
could not find the peace he was looking for, so he left. After giving
everything he had to the poor, he went into the wilderness to live
as a hermit.
had to battle many temptations. At times it seemed to him as if
none of his prayers were heard at all. Yet he did not let these
temptations stop him from praying even harder. After twenty years
in the desert, the holy man worked his first miracle. Soon many
people began coming to his hut to beg his help. Several men asked
him to let them stay with him to learn from him how to pray and
do penance. In his great love for God and people, the saint invited
them to stay. But finally, when he was sixty-five, he began to travel.
He went from one country to another in search of peace and quiet.
However, the fame of his miracles of mercy always brought crowds
of visitors. A few years before his death in 371, Hilarian at last
felt that he was truly alone with God. He was eighty years old when
BLESSED TIMOTHY GIACCARDO
Giaccardo was born on June 13, 1896, in Narzole, Italy. His parents
were hard-working farmers. Joseph acquired good habits from them.
They loved their Catholic faith, which he learned from them. Joseph
prayed to Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary. He had a little statue
of Mary on a ledge in his room.
became a regular Mass server. That is how he met a young priest
who came to help at St. Bernard's church. The priest was about to
begin a wonderful new religious order, the Society of St. Paul.
His name was Father James Alberione. Joseph liked him very much.
Father Alberione was impressed with Joseph, too. He guided Joseph
in the spiritual life. The boy entered the seminary in Alba to study
for the priesthood. In 1917, though still a seminarian, Joseph asked
his bishop for permission to leave the seminary. He wanted to join
Father Alberione's new order. The bishop reluctantly permitted Joseph
to enter the Society of St. Paul.
professed his vows in 1920. He chose the name "Timothy"
after the best loved disciple of St. Paul. Father Timothy was ordained
two years later, the first priest in Father Alberione's new congregation.
The order had just been started in 1914.
Father Timothy's particular vocation as a Pauline priest was to
be a media apostle. He wrote, edited, printed and distributed the
Word of God. He performed many responsible tasks with courage and
humility. Some people did not understand the apostolate of the Society
of St. Paul and the Daughters of St. Paul. They wondered how priests,
brothers and sisters could be publishers. How could they use media
as their tools for communicating the Good News? Father Timothy helped
people understand the marvelous vocation of the Paulines. He also
was a great teacher of the priests and religious who were called
to this new apostolate. He served the Lord in northern Italy and
in Rome. He became Father Alberione's closest associate. In fact,
Father Alberione called Blessed Timothy "most faithful of the
faithful." But he was not going to be the successor of the
Pauline Founder, as Father Alberione had hoped. Father Timothy became
very ill with leukemia. He died on January 24, 1948. He was proclaimed
"blessed" by Pope John Paul II on October 22, 1990.
ST. JOHN CAPISTRANO
John Capistrano was born in Italy in 1386. He was a lawyer and governor
of the city of Perugia. When enemies of the city threw John into
prison, he started to think about the real meaning of life. John's
political enemies were not in a hurry to release him. He had plenty
of time to realize that what mattered most was the salvation of
his soul. So when he was miraculously set free, John entered a Franciscan
monastery. He was thirty at the time. For John, life as a poor friar
was a big change. He had to sacrifice his independence for the love
of Jesus. And he tried with all his heart to do this.
he became a priest, John was sent out to preach. He and his former
novice master, St. Bernardine of Siena, spread devotion to the Holy
Name of Jesus everywhere. John preached throughout Europe for forty
years. All who heard him were moved to love and serve the Lord better.
outstanding moment in the life of this saint came at the battle
of Belgrade. The Turks had made up their minds to conquer Europe
and to wipe out the Church of Jesus. The pope sent St. John Capistrano
to all the Christian kings of Europe to beg them to unite to fight
the mighty Turkish army. The kings obeyed this poor, barefoot friar.
He stirred up their love of God and their courage with his fiery
words. But even though a big army of Christians came to fight Mohammed
II and his Turks, it looked as though they would lose. The enemy
army was much bigger. Then it was that the saint himself, though
he was seventy years old, ran to the front lines and encouraged
the men to keep fighting. Holding his crucifix up high, this thin,
small old man kept crying, "Victory, Jesus, victory!"
And the Christian soldiers felt full of more courage than ever.
They fought until the enemy ran away in fear. St. John Capistrano
died a short time later, on October 23, 1456. He was proclaimed
a saint in 1724.
ST. ANTHONY CLARET
Anthony was born in Spain in 1807. It was the same year that Napoleon
invaded the country. Perhaps that was a "hint" of the
exciting events that would follow Anthony through life. He became
a priest in 1835 and was assigned to his home parish. Later he went
to Rome and worked to help the missions. He joined the Jesuits as
a novice, but his health failed. He returned to Spain and became
a pastor. Father Anthony knew that the whole world was a mission
field. He had the heart of a missionary. He was a dedicated preacher
in his parish. He gave conferences to priests. Father Anthony was
convinced of the power of the printed word. He wrote at least 150
books. His most well-known book, The Right Way, has reached millions
people did not understand the value of Father Anthony's initiatives.
His success and his zeal threatened them. Perhaps the opposition
was permitted by the Lord so that this energetic priest could visit
the Canary Islands in 1848. He spent a year there preaching the
Good News. Then he returned to Catalonia, Spain, and his preaching
ministry there. In 1849, Anthony started a new religious order called
the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are known
Isabella II of Spain thought highly of St. Anthony. She suggested
that he was the best person to become archbishop of Santiago, Cuba.
His apostolate in Cuba turned out to be an exciting seven years.
Archbishop Anthony visited parishes, speaking out against social
evils, especially slavery. He blessed marriages and baptized children.
He was a reformer and had enemies. He received death threats often
but did not stop his wonderful work until he was recalled to Spain
in 1857. During Anthony's priesthood he was head of a seminary in
Madrid. He established the school of St. Michael to foster arts
and literature and even tried to start a school of agriculture.
He went to Rome to help prepare for the First Vatican Council in
1869 and died in 1870. St. Anthony Mary Claret was declared a saint
by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
BLESSED RICHARD GWYN
Richard was a Welshman who lived in the sixteenth century. Queen
Elizabeth I ruled England and Wales. Because most people in Wales
were still Catholic, the queen and her officials tried to crush
the faith by cruel laws. Priests or people who were loyal to the
Holy Father were put in prison. They were often tortured and killed.
Richard became a Catholic after he had finished college and had
become a teacher.
long, he was a hunted man. He escaped from jail once and a month
later was arrested again. "You will be freed," he was
told, "if you will give up the Catholic faith." Blessed
Richard absolutely refused. He was brought to a non-Catholic church
by force. He upset the preacher's whole sermon by clanking his chains
loudly. Furious, the officials put him in the stocks for eight hours,
and many came to abuse and insult him.
time in prison and torture sessions followed. The queen's men wanted
him to give them the names of other Catholics, but Richard would
not. At his trial, men were paid to lie about him, as one of them
admitted. The men on the jury were so dishonest that they asked
the judge whom he wanted them to condemn. After Blessed Richard
was sentenced to death, his wife and baby were brought to court.
"Do not imitate your husband," the poor woman was told.
In disgust, she bravely snapped, "If you want more blood, you
can take my life with my husband's. If you give more money to your
witnesses, they will surely find something to say against me, too."
Blessed Richard was being martyred, he cried out in terrible pain:
"Holy God, what is this?" One of the officials mockingly
answered: "An execution of her majesty, the queen." "Jesus,
have mercy on me!" exclaimed the martyr. Then he was beheaded.
The beautiful religious poems Blessed Richard wrote in prison are
still in existence. In them, he begged his countrymen of Wales to
be loyal to the Catholic faith. Blessed Richard died a martyr in
1584. He was proclaimed "blessed" by Paul VI in 1970.
Evaristus lived in the second century. He was from a Jewish family
in Bethlehem. They were living in Greece at the time of their son's
birth. Evaristus was brought up in the Jewish religion. His father
was so pleased with the boy's virtue and knowledge that he sent
him to the best teachers.
became a Christian when he grew older. So great was his love for
his new faith that he decided to become a priest. At Rome, where
he performed his ministry, everyone grew to admire and love him.
So it was that when the pope was martyred, Evaristus was chosen
to take his place. He felt he was completely unworthy of being pope,
but God knew better.
were times of persecution for the Church. Such bad lies were spread
about the Catholic faith that the Romans thought nothing of putting
Christians to death. Every man who became pope was almost certain
of being arrested. For about eight years, Pope St. Evaristus ruled
the Church. His zeal was so great that the number of believers grew
larger every day. At last, however, he was captured. The jailers
were amazed to see the joy on the holy old man's face as he was
led to prison. St. Evaristus thought himself very privileged to
have been found worthy to suffer and die for Jesus. No better gift
could have been given him than his martyrdom. Pope St. Evaristus
died in 107.
BLESSED CONTARDO FERRINI
Contardo was born in 1859. His father was a teacher of mathematics
and physics. Mr. Ferrini began very early to teach his little son
his own love for study. As a young man, Contardo could speak many
languages besides Italian. He did very well in every school and
college he went to. His great love for study and for his Catholic
faith made his friends nickname him their own "St. Aloysius."
(St. Aloysius Gonzaga was a young Jesuit saint known for the goodness
and generosity of his life.) It was Contardo who first started clubs
for college students to help them become good Christians.
he was twenty-one, he was offered a chance to study at the University
of Berlin in Germany. It was hard for him to leave his home in Italy,
but he was happy to meet devout Catholics at the university. He
wrote down in a little book what he felt the first time he received
the sacrament of Reconciliation in a foreign land. It thrilled him
to realize that the Catholic Church is really the same everywhere
a person goes.
the next year, Contardo was trying to decide whether he should become
a priest or a monk, or whether he should marry. He kept asking himself
just what he should do. As it turned out, he took a vow to give
himself only to God. He lived that vow as a lay person; he never
became a priest or brother. He went on teaching and writing. He
tried always to become a more perfect Christian. While enjoying
his favorite sport of mountain-climbing, he would think of God,
the Creator of all the beauty he saw. People noticed that there
was something different about Professor Ferrini. Once when he had
passed by with his usual warm smile, someone exclaimed, "That
man is a saint!" Contardo Ferrini died of typhoid fever on
October 17, 1902. He was only forty-three years old. He was declared
"blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
ST. SIMON AND ST. JUDE
two apostles of Jesus are honored on the same day. St. Simon was
called "the zealous one" because he had so much devotion
to the Jewish law. Once he had been called by the Lord to be an
apostle, he gave his heart and his energy to preaching the Gospel.
With the other apostles, he received the Holy Spirit on the first
Pentecost. Then it is believed that he went to Egypt to preach the
faith. Afterward he went to Persia with the apostle St. Jude, and
the two of them were martyred there.
Jude is sometimes called Thaddeus, which means "the brave one."
It was he who asked the Lord a famous question at the Last Supper.
Jesus had said: "He who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and manifest myself to him." And St. Jude
wanted to know: "Lord, how is it that you are about to manifest
yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus gave him the answer:
"If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will
love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him."
Jude is sometimes called the saint of "desperate or impossible
cases." People pray to him when things seem hopeless. Often
God answers their prayers through the intercession of this beloved
Narcissus lived in the second and early part of the third centuries.
He was an old man when he was made bishop of Jerusalem. Narcissus
was an excellent bishop. Everyone admired his virtues-everyone except
people who chose to live evil lives. Three enemies of the saint
accused him of a terrible crime. One said: "May I die by fire
if it is not true!" The second said: "May I be wasted
away by leprosy if it is not true." The third said: "May
I be struck blind if it is not true." Yet no one believed their
lie. The people had seen Narcissus' good life. They knew the kind
of person he was.
no one believed the wicked story, Narcissus used it as an excuse
to go off to live in the desert. His whole trust was in God, whom
he had served so lovingly. And God showed that the story of those
men was absolutely false. Narcissus returned to be bishop of Jerusalem,
to the great joy of his people. Although he was even older, he seemed
to be more zealous than ever. In fact, he seemed stronger than ever,
too, for a few years. Then he became too weak to carry on. He begged
God to send him a bishop to help out. Our Lord sent him another
saint, Alexander of Cappadocia. With great love and zeal, they ruled
the diocese together. Narcissus lived to be over 116 years old.
He died in the year 215.
ST. ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ
Alphonsus, the Spanish saint, was born in 1553. He took over the
family business of buying and selling wool when he was twenty-three.
Three years later, he got married. God sent him and his wife Mary
two children. But many sufferings now came to Alphonsus. Business
began to be bad, his little daughter died and then his wife. Now
this businessman began to think of what God might have in mind for
him. He had always been a devout Christian. But from then on, he
prayed, did penance, and received the sacraments more than he had
he was nearly forty, Alphonsus' son died, too. Despite his great
sorrow, he prayed and asked God for the gift of trust. Alphonsus
soon asked to be admitted into the Society of Jesus. However, he
was told that he must study first. So he went back to school. Little
boys made fun of him. He had to beg for his food, because he had
given his money to the poor. At last, he was accepted as a brother
and was made door-keeper at a Jesuit college.
brother is not a man-he is an angel!" his superior said of
him years later. Priests who knew him for forty years never heard
him say or do anything wrong. His kindness and obedience were known
to all. Once, all the chairs in the house, even the chairs from
the bedrooms, had been used for a Forty Hours Devotion. By mistake,
Brother Alphonsus' chair was not returned until the following year.
Yet he never mentioned the fact to anyone. During his long life,
St. Alphonsus had to conquer very strong temptations. Besides that,
he had physical pains. Even as he lay dying, he spent a half hour
in terrible agony. Then, just before he died, he was filled with
peace and joy. He kissed his crucifix and looked lovingly at his
fellow religious. He died in 1617 with the name of Jesus on his
Foillan was an Irish monk who lived in the seventh century. His
two brothers have also been declared saints. They were some of the
many zealous Irish apostles. They left their homeland to help other
countries that had fewer priests than Ireland. Sts. Foillan, Fursey
and Ultan went to England first. They established a monastery in
Burgh Castle. From this spot, they did missionary work among the
East Angles. When invaders of the land robbed the monastery of everything
it had, Sts. Foillan and Ultan decided to preach the Gospel in France.
Their other brother, St. Fursey, had already worked as a missionary
and had died there.
Clovis II welcomed the two holy missionaries as he had welcomed
their brother before them. Foillan was given land by Blessed Itta
and her daughter. St. Gertrude asked him to preach to the nuns of
the convent over which she was abbess. He did so, and had great
influence on them. He also did missionary work among the people.
In fact, St. Foillan is a well-remembered Irish saint in Europe.
day, after celebrating Mass for St. Gertrude and her nuns, Father
Follian set out on a journey with three companions. They were going
to see his brother Ultan, who was preaching in another area. While
passing through a forest, they were attacked by a band of robbers
and killed. Their bodies were not found for about two and a half
months. Then St. Gertrude had St. Foillan buried with honor in the
abbey he had started.