was born into a patrician Roman family that had settled in Gaul,
present-day France. As a young man, he renounced paganism and won his
elder brother Venantius over to Christ.
Although their father
objected and placed obstacles before them, the two brothers decided to
leave the world. Under the tutelage of the hermit St. Caprasius they
sailed from Marseilles with the intention of leading a secluded life in a
In Greece, illness struck and Venantius died in
peace. Also ill, Honoratus was obliged to return to Gaul with his
instructor. At first, he lived as a hermit in the mountains near
Fréjus. Later, he settled on the island of Lérins off the southern
coast of France. Followed by others, he founded a monastery on the
island about the year 400. The monastic community is active to this day.
St. Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland is said to have studied at
In 426 Honoratus was pressed upon to accept the bishopric
of Arles, where he reestablished Catholic orthodoxy, challenged by the
Arian heresy. He died three years later exhausted from his apostolic
island of Lérins, today the island of Saint Honorat just south of
Cannes, is home to Cistercian monks who live in a majestic monastery and
produce fine wines and liqueurs which are well-known throughout the
Among the women saints of Ireland, St. Ita holds the most prominent place after St. Brigid. She is sometimes called Deirdre.
her life is overlaid with a multitude of legendary and mythical
folklore, there is no reason to doubt her historical existence.
is said to have been of royal descent and that she had been born near
Waterford in the southeastern Irish province of Munster.
was a royal suitor but through prayer and fasting she was able to
convince her father to let her live a consecrated life of virginity. She
migrated to Hy Conaill, in the western part of County Limerick where,
at Killeedy, she founded a community of maidens.
It appears that St. Ida also led a school for small boys, and that St. Brendan was her student there for five years.
born in 1174, was the youngest of the three sons of Stephen I, founder
of the Nemanyde dynasty, of the independent Serbian State. At the age of
seventeen he became a monk on Mount Athos, on the Greek peninsula.
Abdicating the throne in 1196, his father joined him and together they
established the thriving monastery of Khilandari.
Sava returned to Serbia in 1207 to help settle an inheritance dispute between his two brothers.
his brother Stephen took the throne, Sava set to work to revamp the
faith in his country which was lax and mixed up with paganism.
the help of missionary monks from Khilandari, he established several
important monasteries in Serbia. He also convinced the Eastern Emperor
Theodore II, a relative, to establish Serbia’s own bishopric in order
that its clergy might be better managed. The emperor established the
prince-monk Sava as Serbia’s first Metropolitan of the new hierarchy.
Sava, his brother, Stephen II was duly recognized by the Holy See and
though already crowned by a papal legate in 1217, was again crowned by
his brother as Archbishop in 1222 with a crown sent by Pope Honorius
Thus, the retiring young prince, who left home to become a
monk, succeeded before the age of fifty in consolidating, both civilly
and religiously, the country founded by his father.
St. Sava died with a smile on his face on January 14, 1237 and is the patron saint of Serbia.
was born into an illustrious family in Poitiers, Gaul, in present-day
France. Although he was brought up in idolatry, its tenets and beliefs
did not satisfy his spiritual thirst. Chancing upon a copy of the Sacred
Scriptures one day, after years of searching and studying, Hilary
opened the Book of Exodus to God's words to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" "I
was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed
the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited
to human intelligence," he wrote later.
The pursuit of meaning
for his own existence, which had consumed all his thoughts up until
then, had found its answer and he converted to Christianity. By this
time he was married and had a daughter named Apra.
qualities attracted not only the attention of Gaul but of the Church,
and in 350, against his humble protests, he was chosen, by clergy and
laity alike, and consecrated Bishop of Poitiers.
He went on to
wisely and valiantly combat the Arian heresy. The Arians did not believe
in the divinity of Christ and they exerted much power and enjoyed the
support of the emperor. This led to many persecutions. When Hilary
refused to support the Arians in their condemnation of St. Athanasius in
356, he was himself exiled by Emperor Constantius. However, he
continued his courageous fight from exile. "Although in exile we shall
speak through these books, and the word of God, which cannot be bound,
shall move about in freedom," he challenged them. Doctrinal works flowed
from his pen during this period, the most renowned and esteemed of
these being On the Holy Trinity. The earliest writing of Latin hymns is also attributed to him.
to Gaul from exile, Hilary strengthened the weak in the Faith and
convoked a synod to condemn that of Rimini in 359. He fought Arianism to
his very death in 368.
St. Hilary was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1851. Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber
Though in desolation we must never change our former resolutions, it will be very advantageous to intensify our activity against the desolation. We can insist more upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves. We can make an effort in a suitable way to do some penance.
Bourgeoys was born the sixth child of twelve children in Troyes, France
in 1620. At the age of twenty, touched by a special grace from Our
Lady, and feeling called to the religious life, she applied to the
Carmelites and the Poor Clares but was unsuccessful in both ventures. A
priest friend suggested that perhaps God had other plans for her.
Marguerite was thirty-four, she was invited by the visiting governor of
the French settlement in Canada to start a school at Ville-Marie, today
Montreal. She generously accepted and traveled to the French colony
then numbering two hundred people. Ville-Marie also had a hospital and a
Jesuit mission chapel.
Marguerite started a school, but soon
realized her need for help. Returning to Troyes, she recruited a friend,
Catherine Crolo, and two other young women. In 1667 they added classes
in their school for Indian children. Six years later, on a second trip
to France, Marguerite was joined by six other young women, and had her
school approved by King Louis XIV.
The congregation of Notre Dame
de Montreal was established in 1676 but their rule and constitutions
were only approved in 1698, as orders of non-cloistered religious
sisters were then a novelty.
Marguerite and her sisters worked
untiringly for the establishment and growth of the French settlement,
and when she died in 1700 she was known as “Mother of the Colony”.
Marguerite Bourgeoys was canonized in 1982.
was born in Garissus, Cappadocia in 423. He took to the road as a
pilgrim, and, in his travels visited the famous St. Simeon the Stylite
on his pillar.
he retired as a hermit to a cave on a mountain near Bethlehem, but his
sanctity and miracles attracted many who wished to serve God under his
direction. A spacious monastery was built on a place called Cathismus,
which became a haven of saints in the desert.
Emperor Anastasius who favored the Eutychian heresy, Theodosius traveled
extensively through Palestine exhorting the faithful to remain strong
in the faith of the four general councils. The Emperor ordered the
saint’s banishment, which was executed, but Theodosius died soon after
in 529 at the advanced age of one hundred and five.
His funeral was honored by miracles, and he was buried in his first cell, called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who visited the Infant Christ were said to have lodged in it.
Peter Orseolo’s is an unusual life. He was born in 928 of a prominent
Venetian family. At twenty he was appointed to the command of the city’s
fleet and defeated the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic Sea.
976 there was a revolution in Venice that ended with the violent death
of Doge Peter Candiani IV and the partial burning of the city. Although
there are allegations that Orseolo was involved in the popular outbreak,
the testimonies are inconclusive.
Peter Orseolo was elected doge
in place of Candiani and, reputedly, ruled with energy and tact. Still,
one night in 978, he secretly left Venice and sought admittance to the
Benedictine Abbey of Cuxa, in Rousillon, on the border of France and
Spain. Though married for thirty-two years and having an only son who
was destined to become one of the greatest Venetian doges, there is
early evidence that Peter and his wife had lived as brother and sister
since their son’s birth. As early as 968 there is also evidence that he
wished to become a monk.
At Cuxa, Peter Orseolo led a life of
the strictest asceticism, and then wishing for an even greater solitude,
built a hermitage for himself. He died in 987 and many miracles were
said to have taken place at his tomb.
Adrian was North African Berber by birth. Known for his virtue and
learning, while Abbot of Nerida, near Naples, he was twice invited by
Pope St. Vitalian to travel to England as the new Archbishop of
Canterbury. In his humility, he first proposed a fellow monk for the
position. When it was again offered to him, he recommended Theodore of
Tarsus in his stead, finally accepting the Pope's condition that he
accompany Theodore as his assistant and adviser.
made St. Adrian Abbot of the Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul, later
known as the Abbey of St. Augustine at Canterbury. Under his influence,
the monastic school became a center of learning and virtue with
far-reaching influence. Greek, Latin, Roman law and the ecclesiastical
sciences were taught there.
After being a true beacon of sanctity and knowledge to England for thirty-nine years, St. Adrian died on January 9, 710.
At the name of Mary, the angels rejoice and the demons scramble.
Thomas a Kempis, author of the famous Imitation of Christ, affirms that:
“The devils fear the queen of heaven
so much that by just hearing her name pronounced they fly from the
person who utters it like from a burning fire”.
St. Ambrose compares her name to a sweet ointment, because whenever pronounced, it is a healing balm to our sinful souls. “The name of Mary heals sinners, rejoices hearts and inflames them with God’s love”, says St. Alphonsus Liguori in his Glories of Mary.
Our Blessed Lady revealed to St. Bridget that there is not on earth a
sinner, no matter how far he may be from God’s love who, on invoking
her name with the resolution to repent, does not cause the devil to flee
from him or her. No matter how imprisoned a sinner may be in the
devil’s grip, as soon as the latter hears this sinner pronounce the
sweet name of Mary, he is obliged to release him or her.
Our Lady also revealed to St. Bridget that in the same way as the
devils fly from a person invoking her name, so do the angels approach
pious souls that pronounce her name with devotion.
So, fellow sinners, this Lent let us invoke this “air-clearing” sweet
and powerful name of Mary often! We and our loved ones will be the
better, the freer and the happier for it! Taken from The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Some saints only come to light after their death. St. Thorfinn is one of these.
A Norwegian bishop, he lived the last years of his life at the Cistercian Monastery of Ter Doerst in Flanders, Belgium.
this Flemish monastery the foreign bishop remained hidden and unknown
until some fifty years after his death. It was in the course of some
building operations within the monastery that his tomb was opened and
his remains were found to exude a strong and sweet perfume.
Ruins of the Cathedral of Hamar, Norway
inquiry, a monk by the name of Walter, remembered the exiled bishop as a
person who had a quiet, kind, yet strong presence. He was then asked to
write his recollections of him.
Still, little is known of St.
Thorfinn except that he was Bishop of Hamar in Norway and had been
outlawed, along with two other bishops, by King Eric of Norway over a
dispute regarding rights granted to the clergy by the previous king.
numerous hardships, including shipwreck, the holy bishop had made his
way to the Abbey of Ter Doerst in Belgium. St. Thorfinn died on
Janurary 8, 1285.
If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him so signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged a God.
Raymond of Peñafort was born in 1175 in Spain and was a relative of the king of Aragon.
the age of twenty he was already a teacher of philosophy, and in his
early thirties earned a doctorate in both Canon and Civil Law. At
forty-one he joined the Dominican Order and was later called to Rome to
be confessor to Pope Gregory IX.
At the Pontiff’s instance
Raymond compiled all the laws and decrees of the popes and the Church
Councils. For this work he is known as the patron of canon lawyers.
the age of sixty, he was appointed Archbishop of Tarragona, but
resigned within two years after becoming ill. He was thunderstruck when
he was elected the third Superior General of the Dominicans. As such, he
visited all the Dominicans on foot and reorganized their constitutions.
King James of Aragon and St. Peter Nolasco he founded the Order of Our
Lady of Ransom dedicated to rescuing Christian prisoners from their
St. Raymond is often pictured sailing over water
using his cloak as a sail. When accompanying King James to the island of
Majorca, the latter, despite his qualities, was giving scandal. At the
saint’s rebuke, the king promised to send the woman away but did not
follow through on his word. On hearing of the saint’s threat to leave
the island, the king forbade every captain in Majorca to grant him
his cloak upon the waves and holding one end of it over a staff, the
saint prayed, made the sign of the cross, stepped onto his cloak and
sailed for six hours back to the Spanish mainland – which fact converted
St. Raymond was known as a great devotee of Our Lady,
an ascetic, contemplative, lawyer, preacher, opposer of heresies and
apostle to Muslims.
We ought to be pleased to hear that others are advancing in the service of God, especially if they are our relations or friends; and we ought to rejoice that they share in whatever spiritual good we may have ourselves.
January 6th, we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings to adore the
Infant King and to offer Him their gifts of gold, frankincense, and
Through the centuries, others will also come to venerate Thy crib:
from India, Ancient Nubia, Macedonia, Rome, Carthage, and Spain;
Gauls, Franks, Germans, Angles, Saxons, and Normans.
Both pilgrims and crusaders will come from the West to kiss the
ground of the cave where Thou were born. Your manger will be venerated
all over the earth. In the great Gothic or Romanesque cathedrals,
multitudes will gather around Thee, offering Thee presents of gold,
silver, incense, and above all the piety and sincerity of their
Then will come the period of the Western discoveries in which the benefits of Thy Redemption will reach new lands.
Incas, Aztecs, natives of various tribes, blacks from African shores
or further inland, bronze-skinned Indians, slender and pensive Chinese,
short and agile Nipponese, all will gather around Thy crib and adore
Thee. The star of Bethlehem now shines
over the whole world. The angelic promise has been heard by all
peoples, and all across the earth hearts of goodwill have found the
inestimable treasure of Thy peace. Overcoming all obstacles, the gospel has finally spread to people all over the world. In the midst of contemporary
desolation, this great gathering of people from all nations and races
around Thee is our only consolation, indeed our only hope. We are among them, kneeling before Thee. See us, Lord, and have pity on us. There is something we would like to say.
Who are we? We are those who will not kneel before the modern Baal.
We carry Thy law engraved upon the bronze of our hearts and we do not
allow the errors of our times to become engraved upon this bronze
sanctified by Thy Redemption.
We love the immaculate purity of orthodoxy above all else and reject
any pact whatsoever with heresy, its wiles and infiltrations. We are
merciful to the repentant sinner, and since - due to our unworthiness
and infidelity - we count ourselves among that number, we implore Thy
mercy. We spare no criticism, either, of insolent and conceited impiety
or of strutting vice that scorns virtue.
We pity all men, particularly the blessed who suffer persecution for
love of the Church, who are oppressed everywhere because they hunger
and thirst for virtue, who are abandoned, ridiculed, betrayed, and
disdained because they remain faithful to Thy commandments.
Many are those whose suffering is not celebrated in contemporary
literature: the Christian mother who will pray alone before Thy crib
because her children no longer practice the Faith; the strong yet
austere husband who is misunderstood or even loathed by his own due to
his fidelity to Thy teachings; the faithful wife who bears the solitude
of both heart and soul because frivolous habits have led to adultery he
who should be her support, her "other half"; the pious son or daughter
who - while Christian homes are celebrating - sense how in their own
home, family life has been stifled by egotism, hedonism, and
secularism; the student who is shunned and mocked by his colleagues
because of his fidelity to Thee; the professor who is eschewed by
fellow staff because he will not condone their errors; the parish
priest or bishop around whom a menacing wall of misunderstanding or
indifference has been raised because he refuses to compromise the
integrity of the doctrine entrusted to his care; the honest man made
penniless for refusing to swindle.
of these isolated people, scattered across the globe, ignorant of each
other, now gather around Thee with the Three Kings to offer Thee a
gift and a prayer.
Their gift exceeds the sun and the stars, the oceans with all its
riches, and the earth in all its splendour: they give themselves
entirely and faithfully.
By preferring complete orthodoxy over approval, purity over
popularity among the impure, honesty over gold; by remaining faithful
to Thy law even when this entails sacrificing career and fame, they
attain perfection in their spiritual life by practicing love of God
above all things, which is a sincere and lasting love.
Such love differs greatly from love as it is understood nowadays,
which predominantly consists of gushy and illogical feelings, senseless
and blurry affections, obscure self-condescension and trite
justifications to appease one's conscience. Instead theirs is true
love, enlightened by Faith, justified by reason, serious, chaste,
upright and persevering - in a word, theirs is love of God.
They also offer a prayer. Before all else - because they love it
above all else in this world - for Thy holy and immaculate Church: for
both the pastors and the flock; foremost, for the pastor of the pastors
of the flock, that is for Peter, whom today we call Benedict.
May the Church, which now moans as a captive in the dungeons of this
anti-Christian "civilization", finally triumph over this era of sin
and implant a new civilization for Thy greater glory.
May the saints become ever holier, may the good be sanctified, may
sinners become good, and may the impious convert. May the impenitent
who have rejected grace and are jeopardising souls be dispersed,
humbled, and their efforts frustrated. May the souls in purgatory rise
to heaven straight away.
They also pray for themselves: may their orthodoxy be ever purer, their purity ever more rigorous.
May they be more faithful amidst adversity, stand ever taller amidst humiliations, be more energetic in their struggles.
May they be more terrible to the impious, yet more compassionate
towards those who are ashamed of their sins, seriously strive to
overcome them and publicly acclaim virtue.
Finally, they pray for Thy Grace, without which no will can durably
persevere in good, and no soul can be saved; may it be more abundant
in proportion to the number of their miseries and infidelities.
Originally published in O Legionário, Nº 750 - 12-22-46, slightly adapted, by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Bessette was born in 1845 in the province of Quebec, Canada, the eighth
of ten children. An orphan at twelve, he was taken in by an aunt and
uncle. Set to various trades, he was unable to hold a job for very long
because of his frail health. For thirteen years he worked at various
occupations: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, and once at a factory in the
United States during the Civil War.
From an early age he exhibited signs of a deep spirituality with a marked devotion to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.
he had little education, at twenty-five he applied to the Congregation
of the Holy Cross, an order of educators. After a year’s novitiate his
frail health again came between him and permanent admittance, but at
Bishop Bourget’s urging, he was received and assigned the humble post of
porter at Notre Dame College, Montreal. Later, he would say, “When I
joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained
In his small room near the entrance he spent much
of the nights on his knees. As he kindly received people, listened to
their life’s woes and heard of their physical complaints, he began to
lightly rub sick persons with oil from a lamp burning in the college
chapel before a statue of St. Joseph. Word of healings began to spread.
“I do not heal,” he said simply, “St. Joseph heals”. A gentle man, he
became enraged when people ascribed healings to him.
influx of pilgrims to Brother André’s door grew, he was allowed to build
a chapel on Mount Royal with money he raised. There he continued his
ministry. His reputation grew and soon he was known as the “Miracle
Worker of Mount Royal”.
In 1924 construction for St. Joseph’s
Oratory began on the side of the mountain near Brother André’s chapel.
This shrine, the largest church outside of Rome was funded by Brother
André’s supporters around the world.
Brother André died in 1937
at the age of ninety-one. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in
2010. Pope Benedict XVI said of St. André that he “lived the beatitude
of the pure of heart.”
Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it. It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin. Real love involves real hatred: whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.
Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811 in Prachatitz, in the
Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech
Republic. He received the sacrament of Baptism the same day.
entered the seminary in 1831 and was ready to be ordained in 1835 when
the bishop temporarily suspended ordinations due to an excess of priests
in the country. As a seminarian, John had been deeply inspired by the
accounts of the missionaries among the German immigrants in North
America, particularly by those of Father Barraga, who later became the
first Bishop of Marquette. At the invitation of Bishop John DuBois of
the diocese of New York, young Neumann sailed to the New World where he
was ordained in what is now the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York
Until the age of twenty-nine, the young priest dedicated
himself to missionary work in New York. At this time, with the
permission of Bishop DuBois, he joined the Redemptorist Order becoming
its first member to profess religious vows in America.
1852 Fr. John Neumann was consecrated the fourth Bishop of
Philadelphia. His ease with languages, of which he would come to know as
many as eight, endeared him to the many immigrants arriving in the
city. He not only tended to immigrants in his native German, but
speaking fluent Italian as well, he personally ministered to Italian
newcomers in his private chapel, and went on to establish the first
ethnic church for Italians in the country. For the Irish, he studied
enough Gaelic to be able to hear the confessions of those who spoke no
English, an act of charity which the Irish government officially
recognized by a posthumous award.
Gifted with great organizing
ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities. He was the
first bishop in the country to organize a diocesan school system, and
during his tenure increased the schools in his diocese from one to one
hundred. His apostolic endeavors encompassed every facet of spiritual
need: schools, catechesis, and apologetics, in short, all that involved
the spiritual guidance of souls, their sacramental nourishment and their
zealous defense against error. He instituted the first Forty Hours
devotion throughout his vast diocese, from whence it was taken up by
others, spreading beyond the confines of the American continent.
Intensely devoted to the Virgin Mother of God, the “little bishop”, as
he was sometimes affectionately referred to, was called upon for a
singular privilege in her honor. On December 8, 1854 when Pope Pius
IX read the declaration defining the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception, John Neumann held the book from which the pope read. Thus,
his 5' 2" frame became the podium upon which rested the illustrious
document describing the future patroness of the United States: the
His efforts to expand Catholicism in
America were not without opposition. On at least two occasions he wrote
to Rome asking to be relieved of his bishopric but Blessed Pius IX
insisted that he continue. And, like the Divine Master he so faithfully
served, he persevered “until all [his] strength was exhausted, until the
insupportable weight of the wood [of the cross] hurled [him] to the
ground”. While running errands on January 5, 1860, Bishop John Neumann
collapsed and died in the streets of Philadelphia from a stroke. He was
He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on October 13, 1963
and canonized by the same pope on June 19, 1977. His remains rest in
the church of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia where they are
venerated by countless devotees.
When Our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary in 1673, He promised to
grant the following favors to all those who practiced devotion to His
12 Promises of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary:
1) I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2) I will give peace in their families.
3) I will console them in all their troubles.
4) I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5) I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6) Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7) Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8) Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9) I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10) I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11) Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12) In the excess of the
mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant
to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine
consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in
my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will
be their secure refuge in that last hour.
A veritable treasure chest of spiritual gems! And what does He ask of us in return?
How to complete the Nine First Fridays Devotion:
On the first Friday of nine consecutive months:
1. Receive Holy Communion on each of the First Fridays;
2. The nine first Fridays must be consecutive;
3. They must be made in honor of and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.
Did you know that the first church dedicated to the Blessed Mother was built while she still lived?
Indeed! Here’s the marvelous story.
Venerable Maria of Agreda who was shown the life of the Blessed
Virgin Mary in detail, writes in her Mystical City of God that St.
James, brother of St. John, whom Our Lord called “Sons of Thunder”, had a
special devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Becoming the apostle of what today is Spain, Saint James was having a
hard time evangelizing the northern region of Zaragoza. One night, as
he prayed asking help for his plight, he suddenly beheld a great light
in the midst of which he saw Our Lady surrounded by a multitude of
The interesting thing is that Mary was still living in Jerusalem at
the time. But as queen of the Church, she was given to see all that
concerned her Son’s work, and being shown the prayer of her devotee, had
obtained from Jesus to help him in a special way.
On learning of their lady’s wishes, the angels in her retinue
promptly built a throne of luminous clouds on which they sat their
queen, and swiftly carried her across the Mediterranean, serenading her
all the way.
now, the Blessed Mother consoled her son James, and assured him help
for his endeavors. She asked him to build a shrine on the spot she
appeared, and as a token of her help to the region, left a marble column
or pillar topped by a small statue of herself holding her Infant Son.
By the pillar, she left an angel to ensure the safety of the holy
image until the end of time. According to ancient Spanish tradition,
this apparition occurred on January 2nd, 40AD. Her Feast day is
celebrated on October 12th.
St. James indeed built the first shrine on that hallowed spot, around
which grew the present-day Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar of
Not long after, St. James was recalled to Jerusalem where he was the
first apostle to suffer martyrdom. As he prepared to endure death by
beheading, Our Lady and her angels again were visibly present to him
fortifying and consoling him.
Returned to Spain, St. James’ body rests in Compostela, a place of famous pilgrimages.
This author was able to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Zaragossa
and touch the heavenly pillar. One of the marvels concerning this pillar
is that it plunges into the earth, so that none have ever been able to
find its end. I was also told that the statue never gathers dust.
As to the angel that was left on guard at the spot, he must be still
on watch. As one peruses the architectural marvels of the
football-field-sized building, head tilting ever upwards, eyes come to a
dead halt at what looks like…bombs…hanging from the ceiling?
On alarmed inquiry, one is told that, O yes, these hit the basilica during Spain’s civil war but never detonated…
But no worries, they are defused now. By Andrea F. Phillips
The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair. God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other. The more we are united to Him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to Him.
Ann Bayley Seton is America’s first beatified and canonized saint. The
second child of a socially prominent New York City family, she was born
on August 28, 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence. By
birth and marriage she was linked to the most illustrious families of
She lost her mother and sister early in life, and her
father, Dr. Richard Bayley remarried. From both her mother and
step-mother, staunch Episcopalians, Elizabeth learned a love of
Scripture and the value of prayer. From her father, a great
humanitarian, she learned to serve others.
On January 25, 1794
the nineteen-year-old belle of New York married a handsome, wealthy
business man, William Magee Seton. The couple had five children before
his finances faltered and international political upheaval and tragic
business losses combined to lead to William Seton’s bankruptcy. Plagued
by tuberculosis for most of their married life, in the fall of 1803,
William, accompanied by his wife and eldest daughter, sought some relief
for his illness in the warmer climate of Italy, where he had business
friends. Quarantined for a month by the Italian port authorities, who
feared he had yellow fever, William Seton died of tuberculosis on
December 27 leaving Elizabeth a penniless widow at the age of thirty.
staying with her husband’s business partner’s family in Italy,
Elizabeth was introduced to the Catholic Faith and closely observed the
Filicchi family’s religious practices within the intimacy of their
family home. She was especially attracted to the Holy Eucharist, the
Blessed Virgin Mary, and the fact that the apostolic succession could be
traced back to the apostles and to Christ. Imperceptibly drawn to all
that she witnessed first hand, she here began a process of conversion
that ultimately led to her being received into the Catholic Church by
the pastor of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in New York City on
March 14, 1805.
At the invitation of the Bishop of Baltimore and
to support her children, she opened a school that, from the very
beginning, followed the lines of a religious establishment. Following
some difficult years of trials and struggles, in 1809 Elizabeth moved to
Emmitsburg, Maryland where she founded the first religious order for
women in America, the Sisters of Charity. From this time on, she was to
become known as "Mother Seton".
The many letters of Mother Seton
reveal her progress in the spiritual life. She suffered great trials:
sickness, the death of two daughters, misunderstandings, and the
heartache of a wayward son, but persevered through it all advancing from
ordinary virtue to heroic sanctity.
Mother Seton died on January
4, 1821, by which day her congregation numbered twenty communities
across America. Cardinal Gibbons, successor to her nephew Archbishop
James R. Bayley of Baltimore, introduced her cause in 1907. She was
canonized in 1975.
The Apostle St. Paul was probably the first promoter of the name of Jesus, when he called it “a name which is above all names (Philippians 2:9).
saints honored the Holy Name of Jesus, but the devotion became
widespread in the fifteenth century through St. Bernardine of Siena who,
when preaching, held in his hand a plaque with the logo “IHS”
surrounded by rays. The monogram is taken from the first three letters
of the Greek spelling of the name of Jesus: IHSOYS. It is also customary
though not historical to interpret “IHS” as Iesu Hominum Salvator, Jesus Savior of Mankind.
Bernardine worked countless miracles by blessing people with this logo
as the visible manifestation of his faith and recommended that it be
placed above the entrance of cities and homes; hence this symbol’s
prevalence throughout Europe. The great preacher is also responsible for
introducing the name of Jesus into the Hail Mary: Blessed art thou
among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
who had prominent roles in the history of salvation received their
names from God. These names have a direct connection with whom they are
and what their mission is. Thus, Adam means “man of the earth”; Eve
means “mother of the living”; Peter means “rock”.
Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel conveyed God’s express will
concerning the name which the divine Son of the Virgin Mary was to bear:
“You shall call His name Jesus’ – in Aramaic, Yeshua (Matthew 1:21).
St. Joseph, the angel not only spoke the name of Jesus but explained
its meaning: “…for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew
The feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is also meant to
impress upon us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name, this name
before which, “every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on
earth, and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).
have attached indulgences to the mere pronunciation of the name of
Jesus. Pope Benedict XIII granted an indulgence of 50 days as often as
the name of Jesus is pronounced devoutly, and a plenary indulgence at
the time of death provided the name of Jesus is piously invoked at least
in thought. Pope St. Pius X attached a 300 days indulgence to the pious
pronunciation of the names of Jesus and Mary.
about the year 422 in Nanterre, a small village outside of Paris,
Geneviève was the daughter of respectable townsfolk. At the age of
seven, she was singled out from a crowd of her fellow inhabitants by St.
Germain of Auxerre who foretold to her parents their child’s future
sanctity. The missionary prelate was on his way to Britain with St.
Lupus of Troyes, commissioned by the bishops of Gaul to combat the
heresy of Pelagian there. Before his departure, Geneviève renewed her
consecration in his presence, received his blessing, and was given a
medal engraved with a cross in remembrance of her dedication to Christ. On
the death of her parents she went to Paris, and lived with her
godmother. She devoted herself to works of charity and practiced severe
fasting and physical austerities. She continued these mortifications for
over thirty years until her superiors compelled her to diminish them.
Many of her neighbors accused Geneviève of being an impostor and a
hypocrite. Her numerous visions and prophecies were treated as frauds
and deceits. Driven by their envy and jealousy, her enemies eventually
conspired to drown her. It was only through the intervention of St.
Germain of Auxerre himself that their animosity was finally overcome.
The bishop of the city appointed her to look after the welfare of the
virgins dedicated to God, and by her instruction and example she led
them to a high degree of sanctity. In 451 as Attila and his Huns
swept through Gaul, pillaging and destroying all in their path, the
inhabitants of Paris prepared to flee. Geneviève prevailed upon them to
place their trust in God and urged them to avert the scourge by prayer
and penance, assuring them of the protection of Heaven. The advancing
barbarian hordes inexplicably changed the course of their advance and
headed towards Orléans, leaving Paris untouched. From henceforth, she
was looked upon as the mother of the city of Paris and her prayers and
intercession were universally sought in every malady and affliction. Some
years later, the city was again besieged and the people suffered
greatly from sickness and famine. Geneviève was indefatigable in seeking
relief for their needs, even calming a furious storm by her prayers
when it threatened to overwhelm and sink the vessels loaded with
provisions for the starving population. Through her influence, the new
king and his successors displayed unwonted clemency towards the
citizens. They regarded her with great veneration and respect and
frequently pardoned malefactors and released prisoners, through her
intercession. When King Clovis ascended the throne, he converted to
Christianity and was baptized on Christmas Day, 496. He made Paris his
capital and established an abbey dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul on
the south bank of the Seine. Geneviève died in the year 512 and when
the church was completed, her body was placed in a solid stone tomb and
interred there. The numerous miracles wrought at her tomb, caused the
name of Sainte-Geneviève to be given to it. Kings, princes, and people
enriched it with their gifts. This heroine who twice saved the capital
of France by her courage and constancy is regarded as the Patroness of
Paris. Her feast is kept on January 3.
January 2, the Church honors Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory
Nazianzen, two friends who were pillars of orthodoxy during a period of
chaos and confusion, namely the time in which the Church faced the
far-reaching heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ –
an ordeal the Church has never forgotten. These two friends steered the
barc of St. Peter safely through the dangerous and stormy seas of
Basil was born in Caesarea in Cappadocia - today, southeastern Turkey -
in 329 A.D. of a family of saints. His grandfather died a martyr in the
Roman persecution, and his grandmother, mother, sister and two brothers
are all canonized saints.
was becoming famous as a teacher when he decided to leave the world. He
lived for a while as a hermit then founded what was probably the first
monastery in Asia Minor. His monastic principles have influenced Eastern
monasticism to this day. He was a gifted orator, and his writings place
him among the great teachers of the Church.
In 370 he was made
Bishop of Caesarea. He opposed the Emperor Valens when the latter
pressured him to remain silent and admit heretics to Holy Communion. In
the end, the Emperor backed down. When the great St. Athanasius died,
the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell to Basil. He
was misunderstood, misinterpreted, accused of ambition and heresy.
Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon called him
“the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.” He died on January 1, 379.
Gregory Nazianzen was born in 330 and received baptism at the age of
thirty. For a while he joined St. Basil as a hermit, and was later
ordained to the priesthood. Consecrated Bishop of Constantinople in 381,
he presided over the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople which
defined the Nicene Creed, and which is recited every Sunday throughout
the Catholic Church.
With St. Basil, he valiantly opposed
Arianism and rebuilt the Faith in Constantinople at the cost of much
personal persecution. He is famous for his sermons on the Holy Trinity.
St. Gregory’s last days were spent in austerity and solitude. He died on
January 25, in the year 389 or 390.
Our love for Jesus is truly great when we do not feel its sweetness. It then becomes a martyrdom … When, on the contrary, we begin to seek ourselves, true love dies away. Unfortunately, many serve Jesus when He consoles them, but few are willing to keep Him company when He is asleep.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is an ancient feast first celebrated
in the East before it was in the West. By the 7th century this feast was
already celebrated in Rome. In the 13th and 14th centuries the feast of
the Circumcision of Christ replaced the Marian feast and was expanded
to the whole Roman Catholic Church when, in 1570, Pope St. Pius V
promulgated the Roman Missal.
In 1974 Pope Paul VI removed the
feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar, and
replaced it with the feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.”
title of “Mary Mother of God”, in Greek “Theotokus”, was defended and
defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. against the heresy of
Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, refuted the title
of “Theotokus” claiming that Christ had two loosely united natures, and
therefore, Mary was only the mother of the human part of Him.
Theologians rejected this claim, and defined that Christ indeed has two
natures, a divine nature and a human nature definitely united in one
divine person, and since Christ’s two natures form one single person,
Mary is the mother of the whole person of Christ.
can be properly called “Mother of God”, not in the sense that she came
before God or is the source of God, but in the sense that the Person
that she bore in her womb is indeed true God and true man.