Monday, January 31, 2022

How to make the devil powerless

Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces?
Visit Him often.
Do you want Him to give you few graces?
Visit him seldom.
Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and
an indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil.
Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
and the devil will be powerless against you.

St. John Bosco

Saint John Bosco

Feast January 31

Saint John Bosco reading

The youngest of a poor farming family of Piedmont in northern Italy, John Melchior Bosco was born on August 16, 1815.

He lost his father at the age of two, and his saintly “Mamma” Margarita brought up three sons in extreme poverty and want.

When he was nine, John had the first of a series of vivid dreams that left a profound impression upon him for the rest of his life. Standing in a field filled with fighting, cursing and blaspheming lads, he tried in vain to pacify them with arguments and fists. Then he saw a beautiful lady who said, “Softly, softly does it…if you wish to win them! Take your shepherd’s staff and lead them to pasture.” At this the boys were transformed into wild beasts and then into lambs.

Intelligent and talented, John Bosco received his first instruction from a priest who, perceiving his gifts, took him under his wing.

Saint John Bosco hearing confessions

Supported by his mother and facing many difficulties, he pursued the priesthood, and at twenty-two was ordained in the diocese of Turin.

Turin, a vast industrialized city of 117,000 inhabitants, had seen an influx of migrants from the country in search of work. Many young men, some as young as 11 and 12, lived in the streets, under bridges or in bleak public dormitories.

Visiting prisons in the city, Don Bosco was heartsick at the condition of many of these youth who ended up behind bars.

In 1842 he began to gather these social outcasts, befriend them and instruct them in the Catholic faith. By 1846 the numbers of this young flock had risen to 400.

Despite the anti-clerical government’s opposition to new religious orders, Don Bosco went on to found the Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales, known as the Salesians, where boys learned the faith, Christian morality, academics and a trade.

A teacher, spiritual director, mystic and miracle worker, Don Bosco knew how to mingle the spiritual with the human so as to win these young souls. He was beloved of his students, guiding them out of darkness and hopelessness into light and hope.

At the time of Don Bosco’s death on January 31, 1888 the Salesians had 250 houses dispersed throughout the world. His Feast day is also celebrated on January 31.

Saint John Bosco at a Salesian house

Also Read:

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pray with great confidence

Pray with great confidence, with confidence
based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God
and upon the promises of Jesus Christ.
God is a spring of living water
which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.

St. Louis de Montfort

Saint Angela Merici

Feast January 27

Angela de Merici was born in Desenzano, on the southwestern shore of beautiful Lake Garda, in northern Italy.

Left an orphan at the age of ten with an older sister and a brother, they were taken in by an uncle living in the neighboring town of Salò.

Saint Angela Merici
Photo by: Benoit Lhoest

Angela was much distressed when her sister suddenly died without the assistance of the last sacraments. At this time she had a vision, the first of many in her life, which set her mind at rest as to her sister’s salvation. In gratitude, she made a special consecration of herself to God, joined the Third Order of St. Francis and began to lead a life of great austerity.

After her uncle died when she was twenty, Angela moved back to Desenzano. Convinced of the need to instruct young girls in the Faith, she converted her home into a school.

In a vision, she was shown that she would found a congregation for the instruction of young girls. Angela talked with fellow Franciscan tertiaries and friends who began to help her.

Though petite in stature, Angela had looks, charm and leadership. Her school thrived and she was approached about starting a similar school in the larger city of Brescia where she came in contact with leading families whom she influenced with her great ideals.

In 1525 on a pilgrimage to Rome, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her holiness, suggested she found a congregation of nursing sisters in Rome. But Angela who felt called elsewhere and shunned publicity, declined and returned to Brescia.

On November 25, 1535, with twelve other virgins, Angela Merici laid the foundations for her order for the teaching of young women, the first congregation of its kind in the Church. She placed her order under the protection of St. Ursula the patroness of medieval universities and popularly venerated as a leader of women.

To this day her followers are known as the Ursulines.

Angela died only five years after establishing the Ursulines, and was canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

External devotions are useless if...


External devotions are useless
if we do not cleanse our souls from sin.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Saints Timothy and Titus



Feast January 26

Timothy and Titus were two of St. Paul’s favorite and most trusted disciples.

Saint Timothy

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. His grandmother, Lois, was the first to become Christian in the family.

Saints Timothy

Timothy was a convert of St. Paul around the year 47 and later joined his apostolic work. He is the recipient of St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy in the Gospel. He was with the great Apostle when the church of Corinth was founded and worked with him for fifteen years.

St. Paul sent Timothy on difficult missions, often to face disturbances at churches he had just established, and was installed by Paul as his representative to the church of Ephesus.

Timothy was relatively young for the work he was doing as we read in Tim. 4:12, “Let no one have contempt for your youth,” and that he suffered with his health when we read in Tim. 5:23 “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

Timothy was with St. Paul in Rome during his house arrest, and at some point was in prison himself. Around the age of eighty he tried to halt a pagan procession and was beaten and stoned to death.

Saint Titus

Titus was Greek and a convert from paganism; he is mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles.

Saints Titus

He is seen as a peacemaker, administrator and great friend of the Apostle Paul.

When St. Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of his severe letter and with tact, firmness and charity succeeded in smoothing things out, which gave St. Paul great joy.

St. Paul charged Titus with the administration of the Christian community in the Isle of Crete and instructed him to organize the faithful, correct abuses and appoint presbyter-bishops. There is no record of his death.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Will we have time? Will we have strength?


We put off our conversion
again and again, but
who says we will still have the time and strength for it then?

St. John Vianney

Conversion of Saint Paul


Feast January 25

Conversion of St. Paul

Saul, later Paul, was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. Being born at Tarsus in Cilicia, he was by privilege a Roman Citizen. As a young man he studied the Law of Moses in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, a learned and noble Pharisee, and became a scrupulous observer of the law.

Later, sincerely persuaded that the followers of Jesus opposed God’s true law, he became a zealous persecutor of the first Christians. He took part in the murder of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr of the Catholic Church.

In the fury of his zeal, he next applied to the high priest for a commission to travel to Damascus, then a Christian center, to arrest all followers of Jesus.

He was nearing the end of his trip on the road to Damascus with a contingent of armed men, when, about noon, they were surrounded by a brilliant light. Saul was struck to the ground, and though all saw the light he alone heard a clear voice:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” and the voice rejoined, “Jesus of Nazareth Whom you persecute. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.” (Acts 9:4-5)

Then Christ Our Lord instructed him to arise and proceed to Damascus where he would learn what was expected of him. On arising Saul found that he was blind, and was led into the town to the house of a man called Judas.

In Damascus, Christ appeared to Ananias, a virtuous man, and bid him go to Saul. Ananias trembled at the name of the well-known persecutor but obeyed.

St. Peter heals St. Paul's blindness

Finding Saul, the holy man laid his hands upon him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, sent me that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see.

Saul arose, was baptized, and ate. He stayed for a while with the disciples of Damascus and began to preach in the synagogues that Christ Jesus was the Son of God to the astonishment of all who knew his previous persuasion.

Saul, who became Paul, was the great apostle of the Gentiles, preaching far and wide to the pagan world.

He was martyred in Rome about the year 67.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Do not lose your inner peace


Do not lose your inner peace
for anything whatsoever,
not even if your whole world seems upset.
If you find that you have wandered away from
the shelter of God,
lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.

St. Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales


Feast January 24

Image 1: Saint Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales was born in the Duchy of Savoy, in present-day France, in the Château de Sales. His father was Francis, Lord of Boisy, Sales and Novel and his mother Frances de Sionnz, the daughter of a prominent magistrate. Born prematurely, Francis was delicate but slowly strengthened, though his health was never robust.

Being the oldest son of six, his father destined him for a secular career, despite Francis’ early leanings to the religious life. He attended the Jesuit college of Clermont in Paris where he excelled in rhetoric, philosophy and theology. During this period, Francis suffered a terrible temptation to despair of being saved. He was miraculously delivered before an image of Our Lady and there and then made a vow of chastity.

At twenty-four he received his law degree in Padua. With a brilliant career ahead of him, and a noble prospect of marriage, Francis declared his intention of following an ecclesiastical career. A sharp struggle ensued between him and his father who only relented in his opposition when Bishop Granier of Geneva offered Francis the post of Provost of the Chapter of Geneva in the patronage of the Pope.

Francis was ordained in 1593. The next year he volunteered to evangelize the region of Le Chablais, recently returned to the Duchy of Savoy from Calvinist Geneva and on which the Genevans had imposed their creed. With enormous tact, charity and zeal the young provost confuted the preachers sent to debate him, converted several prominent Calvinists and at great personal risk and traveling extensively brought back to the Church tens of thousands of the people of Chablais.

He was consecrated Bishop of Geneva in 1602, ruling his diocese from Annecy in France where he immediately established regular catechetical lessons for young and old. He himself taught the children of whom he was beloved.

He visited the parishes throughout his rugged diocese, made provisions for the clergy, reformed religious orders, and preached incessantly, everywhere known for his kindness and patient zeal.

Image 2: Saint Francis de Sales

Those who flocked to hear the holy bishop said, “Never have such holy, apostolic sermons been preached.”

With St. Jeanne Frances de Chantal he founded the Order of the Visitation for girls and widows who had not the health or inclination for the austerities of the great orders.

In the midst of all his activities he found time to write numerous letters and works, among the most famous being his Introduction to the Devout Life.

Francis de Sales died in 1622 at age fifty-six and crowds thronged to venerate him.

He was canonized in 1665 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1877.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

God punishes us because we oblige Him to do so


God does not wish to see us in affliction, but
it is we who draw down sufferings upon ourselves, and
by our sins enkindle the flames in which we are to burn.
God punishes us,
because we oblige Him to do so.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Saint Vincent of Zaragoza


Feast January 23

St. Vincent was a native of Huesca, Spain, but lived in Zaragoza.

Saint Vincent of Zaragoza

He was ordained a deacon by his friend, Saint Valerius of Zaragoza.

In 303 the Roman emperor published edicts against the clergy and in 304 against the laity. Vincent and his bishop were imprisoned in Valencia, and though they were subjected to hunger and torture, they thrived.

Speaking for Valerius who had a speech impediment, Vincent angered Dacian, the governor, by his outspoken and fearless manner. Dacian exiled Valerius but subjected Vincent to the gridiron. Seeing the deacon unmoved, the governor had the torturers beaten.

Finally Dacian suggested a compromise. He suggested that Vincent at least give up the Sacred Scriptures to be burned according to the emperor’s edict. On the saint’s refusal, Dacian lost control and had him thrown in jail where the holy deacon converted the jailer.

In despair, the governor wept but, strangely enough, ordered the martyr to be given some rest. But Vincent had earned his eternal rest. As soon as he was laid on a bed, he gave up his faithful soul to God.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The right of the child is equal to the right of the mother


The doctor should not meddle.
The right of the child is equal to the right of the mother’s life.
The doctor can’t decide;
it is a sin to kill in the womb.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Vincent Pallotti

Vincent Pallotti was born in Rome in 1795, the son of a well-to-do grocer. In school he was known as a “little saint” and, although bright, he was also considered “a bit slow” – an illusion amply disproved by the apostolic endeavors of his life.

He was ordained a priest when only twenty-three, and taking his doctorate in theology soon after, became an assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome.

As a close friend of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, a missionary in Italy, he decided to give up his teaching post for a more apostolic life. Inflamed by the missionary spirit, he longed to send missionaries throughout the world and to work for the conversion of the Mohammedans.

Don Pallotti, as he was known, was a great confessor and fulfilled that office at several colleges. He had an intense devotion to the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity and a tender love for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1835 he began the Society of Catholic Apostolate. He organized schools for shoemakers, tailors, coachmen, joiners and market-gardeners to improve their education and general pride in their trade. He started evening classes for young workers and an institute to teach better methods of agriculture.

Widely regarded as another St. Philip Neri, he was indefatigable in his work with those in need. Burning with zeal to save sinners, he once dressed as an old woman to reach a dying person whose relative had sworn to shoot the first priest to approach. He was also a great exorcist, and healed the sick with a word of encouragement or a blessing.  He foresaw the future, and once predicted the movement of Catholic Action, even its name.

Vincent Pallotti died on January 22, 1850 at the age of fifty-five. When his body was exhumed in 1906 and again in 1950, it was found to be completely incorrupt. It is enshrined in the Church of St. Salvatore in Onda in Rome.

Friday, January 21, 2022

The source of Satan's power


All the strength of Satan’s reign
is due to
the easy-going weakness of Catholics.

Pope St. Pius X

St. Agnes

Agnes was born around 291 in a Christian, patrician family of Rome, and suffered martyrdom in the terrible persecution of Diocletian.

As a young maiden, she pledged herself to Christ and defended her virginity to the death.

Exceptionally beautiful, she turned down numerous suitors, but when she refused Procop, the Prefect’s own son, things became very complicated. Procop tried to win Agnes with gifts and promises but she answered: “I’m already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!”

Angered, Procop  took  the maiden before his father, and accused her of being a Christian. The Prefect tried to turn her from her Faith first by cajolements, and then by placing her in chains, but she only rejoiced.

The pagan official, set on overcoming Agnes by any means, next had her taken to a house of prostitution but she was visibly protected by an angel.

Finally, Agnes was condemned to death, but she was happy as a bride about to meet her bridegroom. Even pagan bystanders were moved to tears at the sight of the radiant maiden going to her death, and begged her to relent, to which she retorted: “If I were to try to please you, I would offend my Spouse. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then praying, she offered her neck for the death stroke.

St. Agnes is one of seven women besides the Blessed Virgin to be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron of chastity, young girls, engaged couples, rape victims and virgins. She is depicted holding a lamb as her name in Latin means “lamb”, “agnus”. But the name “Agnes” is actually taken from the Greek “hagne” meaning chaste, pure, sacred.

Agnes’ relics repose beneath the high altar of the Church of Sant’Agnese Fuori le mura, built upon the place she was originally buried. This church was built in her honor by the daughter of the Emperor Constantine, and is one of the oldest in Rome.  St. Agnes’ skull is in the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Saints Fabian and Sebastian


Feast January 20

Although St. Fabian and St. Sebastian’s feasts are liturgically separate, they are celebrated on the same day; and the relics of the two saints are both kept and venerated together in the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Rome.

Saint Fabian

Saints Fabian and Sebastian 1

Pope St. Fabian was the first layman ever to be elected to the papacy. Before entering into his pontificate in 236, Fabian was a humble and well respected farmer.

Upon the death of his predecessor, Pope Anterus, Fabian traveled with some companions to Rome to mourn his passing with the faithful and to be present when the new pope was elected.

While attending the council to determine who Anterus’ successor would be, a dove suddenly appeared and descended upon the head of Fabian as a clear sign of his divine election. By unanimous vote, Fabian was instantly chosen as the next pope.

During his fourteen-year pontificate, the Church enjoyed relative peace under Emperor Philip, and Fabian was able to do much to consolidate and develop the Church.

He died a martyr’s death in 250 and was one of the first victims of the persecution under Emperor Decius, who considered him a rival and personal enemy. He was buried in the Catacomb of Calixtus.

Saint Sebastian

Celebrated alongside St. Fabian is the Roman martyr, Sebastian.

Saint Sebastian

Though the narrative of his story is largely unhistorical, legend tells us that he was a young officer in the imperial army, who secretly dedicated himself to the spiritual and temporal assistance of the Christians and martyrs.

It was he who exhorted Sts. Marcus and Marcellianus to constancy in the Faith and inspired them with the courage to face their deaths when they began to waver under the pleas of their friends.

Being thus discovered, Sebastian was condemned by Emperor Diocletian and delivered over to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death.

Miraculously, he survived though and was nourished back to health by St. Zoe, a convert of his and mother of Sts. Marcus and Marcellianus.

Refusing to flee, Sebastian confronted the Emperor again and harshly reproached him for his cruelty to the Christians.

He died in 288 after being clubbed to death and his body thrown into the common sewer. It was privately removed, and he also was buried in the cemetery of Calixtus.

This is why God created us



God's purpose in creating us is
to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth,
so that
we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with Him in heaven.

St. Ignatius Loyola

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The world is rotten because of silence


We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent!
Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues.
I see that the world is rotten
because of silence.

St. Catherine of Siena

St. Wulfstan of Worcester

Feast January 19

Wulfstan (Wulstan) was a native of Warwickshire, England.

Saint Wulfstan of Worcester
Photo by: Christopher Guy

After his priestly ordination, he became a novice at the monastery of Worcester where he edified all by the innocence and sanctity of his life. He was assiduous at prayer, often watching all night in church.

The first task assigned to him at the monastery was the instruction of children, then treasurer and eventually - though against his fierce resistance - he was made prior. In 1062, he was elected Bishop of Worcester.

Wulfstan was a powerful preacher, often moving his audience to tears.

To his vigorous action is particularly attributed the suppression of the heinous practice among the citizens of Bristol of kidnapping men into slavery and shipping them over to Ireland. St. Patrick who became the great apostle and patron of the Irish was such a slave in his youth.

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror was initially uncertain about Wulfstan. But acknowledging his capacity and uprightness, Wulfstan was the only bishop William retained at his post under the new rule.

For the next thirty years Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor and put forth great effort in alleviating the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons.

Whenever the English complained of the oppression of the Normans, Wulfstan told them: “This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with patience.”

The saintly bishop died on January 19 at eighty-seven years of age after washing the feet of a dozen poor men, a humble ritual he performed daily. He was canonized in 1203.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Sheer Power of Mary's Name

 Header-The Sheer Power of Mary's Name


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”.

Statue of Our Lady of FatimaSt. 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, 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


St. Margaret of Hungary

Margaret of Hungary was the daughter of King Bela IV, a champion of Christendom, and Maria Laskarina, a pious Byzantine princess. Bella IV being the brother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Margaret was the saintly Queen of Hungary’s blood niece.

King Bela and his queen, worried about an impeding Tartar invasion, vowed to dedicate to God the child they were expecting. Bela was victorious over the Tartars, and little Margaret was taken to the Dominican monastery at Vezprem at the age of three.

The child thrived in her new surroundings. By age four she had memorized the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At age ten she was moved to a convent built for her by her father on an island – today named Margaret Island – on the Danube near Buda and there she professed her vows at age twelve.

King Ottokar II of Bohemia having seen Margaret at eighteen years of age, ignoring her religious habit, sought her in marriage. A dispensation would have been possible in this case, and King Bela seemed to favor the prospect for political reasons. Yet, Margaret adamantly refused declaring she would have no other bridegroom than Jesus Christ, and would rather cut off her nose and lips.

Margaret’s was a life of astounding penance, prayer and charity toward the poor. To avoid preferential treatment in the convent because of her royal rank, she sought the most menial tasks to the point that a maid once said that she was humbler than a servant.
Her body worn out by the fatigue of long hours of labor, fasting and prayer, Margaret died at the age of twenty-eight on January 18, 1270. The virtuous princess was universally venerated as a saint from the time of her death.

Monday, January 17, 2022

People hate the truth


People hate the truth
for the sake of whatever it is they love more than the truth.
They love truth when it shines warmly upon them
and hate it
when it rebukes them.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Saint Anthony of Egypt


Feast January 17

Anthony was born in 251 in the village of Koman, south of Memphis in Egypt. Anthony’s well-to-do parents died before he was twenty leaving him in charge of a younger sister, and the owner of a considerable estate.

In 272, wishing to leave all to follow Christ, after securing his sister’s support and upbringing, he distributed his holdings among the poor, and retired to a life of solitude. He lived a life of penance, sleeping on a rush mat on the bare floor, eating and drinking bread and water. The devil was allowed to attack him grievously, on one occasion subjecting him to a beating that left him for dead, only to be saved by friends. Anthony emerged victorious from all these trials.

Saint Anthony of Egypt

At the age of thirty-five, the holy hermit moved from his solitude in the vicinity of his native village, to a location across the eastern branch of the river Nile where he made his abode in some ruins on the summit of a mountain. There he lived for twenty years, rarely seeing any man except one who brought him bread every so often.

St. Athanasius, his friend and first biographer, speaks of Anthony as not only spending his time in prayer and meditation but also in making mats. He also gardened.

At fifty-four, being sought out by men who wanted to follow his way of life, Anthony founded his first monastery in Fayum in a series of scattered caves, which he visited occasionally.

In 311 as religious persecution again broke out under Emperor Maximinus, Anthony left his solitude to give courage to the martyrs in Alexandria. When the persecution abated, he returned to his previous solitude. He later founded another community of monks near the Nile called Pispir, though he continued to live on his mountain.

Years later, at the request of the bishops, Anthony again journeyed to Alexandria to confute the Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ. All ran to hear the holy hermit, and even pagans, struck by the dignity of his character, flocked around him. Heathen teachers and philosophers often sought him out, and were astounded at his meekness and wisdom.

Anthony died at age 101 surrounded by his spiritual sons in his hermitage on Mount Kolsim.

His last words were, “Farewell, my children, Anthony is departing and will no longer be with you.” Thus saying, he stretched out his feet and calmly ceased to breathe.

*Header image: Saint Anthony of Egypt driving away devils. Drawing by Grégoire Huret (1606–1670).

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The first step to loving Jesus


If you really want to love Jesus, first
learn to suffer, because
suffering teaches you to love.

St. Gemma Galgani

Saint Honoratus of Arles



Feast January 16

Saint Honoratus of Arles

Honoratus 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 Grecian desert.

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 Lérins.

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 labors.

Monastery on the Island of Lérins

The 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 world.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Why God sends us trials and afflictions


God sends us trials and afflictions
to exercise us in patience and
teach us sympathy with the sorrows of others.

St. Vincent de Paul

Saint Ita of Killeedy

Feast January 15

Among the women saints of Ireland, St. Ita holds the most prominent place after St. Brigid. She is sometimes called Deirdre.

Saint Ita of Killeedy
Photo by: Andreas F. Borchert

Though her life is overlaid with a multitude of legendary and mythical folklore, there is no reason to doubt her historical existence.

She is said to have been of royal descent and that she had been born near Waterford in the southeastern Irish province of Munster.

There 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.

St. Ida died, probably in the year 570.

Friday, January 14, 2022

People will notice


Be sure that you first preach
by the way you live.
If you do not, people will notice that … 

St. Charles Borromeo

Saint Sava of the Serbs

Feast January 14

Sava, 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.

Saint Sava of the Serbs

Sava returned to Serbia in the year 1207 to help settle an inheritance dispute between his two brothers.

As his brother Stephen took the throne, Sava set to work to revamp the Faith in his country, which had become lax and mixed up with paganism.

With 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.

Under Sava, his brother Stephen II was duly recognized by the Holy See and although he had already been crowned by a papal legate in 1217, he was again crowned by his brother the Archbishop in 1222 with a crown sent by Pope Honorius III.

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.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

No matter how sinful


No matter how sinful one may have been,
if he has devotion to Mary,
it is impossible that he be lost.

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Feast January 13

Hilary 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.

Saint Hilary of Poitiers
Photo by: Wolfgang Sauber

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.

His eminent 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.

Returning 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.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Never change resolutions, especially in desolation


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.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Feast January 12

Marguerite 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.

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

When 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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Even if it scandalizes them...


We must not stop doing good
even if it scandalizes the Pharisees.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch

Feast January 11

Theodosius 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.

Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch

Eventually, 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.

Persecuted by 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.

Monday, January 10, 2022

When the devil wishes to make himself master


When the devil
wishes to make himself master of a soul, he
seeks to make it give up devotion to Mary.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Saint Peter Orseolo

Feast January 10

St. 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.

In 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.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Perhaps their only chance


The deeds you do may be
the only sermon some persons will hear today.

St. Francis of Assisi

Saint Adrian of Canterbury

Feast January 9

Saint Adrian of Canterbury

St. 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.

St. Theodore 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.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Why was Our Lord baptized?


Our Lord was baptized 
not that He might be cleansed by the waters, but to cleanse them: 
that, being purified by the flesh of Christ, Who knew no sin,
they might possess the power of Baptism.

St. Ambrose of Milan

Saint Thorfinn of Hamar

Feast January 8

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.

Ruins of a monastery

In 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.

On 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.

After 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.

Friday, January 7, 2022

What did the Magi seek?


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.

St. John Chrysostom

Saint Raymond of Peñafort


Feast January 7

Raymond of Peñafort was born in 1175 in Spain and was a relative of the king of Aragon.

By 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.

St Raymond of Peñafort

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.

At 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.

With King James of Aragon and St. Peter Nolasco he founded the Order of Our Lady of Ransom dedicated to rescuing Christian prisoners from their Muslim captors.

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 passage.

Laying 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 the king.

Raymond of Peñafort crossing the water on his cload

St. Raymond was known as a great devotee of Our Lady, an ascetic, contemplative, lawyer, preacher, opposer of heresies and apostle to Muslims.

He died in 1275 at the age of one hundred.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Tomorrow is First Friday


The Nine First Fridays Devotion


“I promise you, in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the first Friday for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance; they shall not die in my disgrace nor without receiving the sacraments; my divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in that last moment.”  Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary


How to complete the First Friday’s Devotion:

  1. Receive Holy Communion on each First Friday;
  2. The nine Fridays must be consecutive;
  3. They must be made in honor and in reparation to His Sacred Heart.



Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee!

The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!

The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hopes of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole hope of mankind!

The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!

The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!

The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!

The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most liberal Heart of Jesus!

The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart of Jesus, model of every virtue!

The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of souls!

The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit, O Heart of Jesus!

The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!

The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more we will honor him as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray for him, O kingly Heart of Jesus!

O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the kingdom of heaven.  Amen.


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.



Sacred Heart Devotional Set


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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

What does real love do?


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.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Saint John Neumann and The Immaculate Conception

Feast January 5

John 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.

Saint John Neumann

He 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 City.

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.

In 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.

Saint John Neumann - Missionary

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.

Painting of the Immaculate Conception
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

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 Immaculate Conception.

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 forty-eight.

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.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

When separated from our dearest friends, think of this


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.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

Feast January 4

May the most just, the most high and most amiable will of God be in all things fulfilled, praised and exalted above all forever.
Pope Pius VII

Great Saint and Great American

On the fourth of January 1821, Elizabeth Ann Seton breathed her last breath. Her favorite prayer, quoted above, was ever on her lips as she lay dying at the age of forty-six. In a last heroic effort, she whispered the name Jesus as she entered into eternity. 1

“Be true children of the Church!” This was her final exhortation to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, the religious order that she founded, and family members gathered at her bedside. It will always be good advice for her brother and sister Americans and people all over the world.

At first, the Church in the United States of America was small. Mother Seton had exhausted her last bit of strength to help lay the foundations. From her first entrance into the one and only Church built by Christ until she drew her dying breath, Elizabeth Ann Seton had one mission in mind: to see God’s glory manifest in America.

Let us look at the life of the first American whom Holy Mother Church acclaimed a citizen of Heaven.

Growing Up with the New Nation

Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born the twenty-eighth of August 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Her father, Dr. William Bayley, was a surgeon in the British army. After the war ended, he was the first American doctor to make house calls. Her mother, Catherine Charlton Bayley, was related to several of the elite New York families, including the famous Roosevelts. 2

From her earliest days, Elizabeth faced many sufferings, yet she lived a life of love and holy joy. When Elizabeth was just three years old, her mother passed away, and a short time later, her sister Catherine died. After her sister Catherine passed away, Elizabeth said, “Kitty has gone to Heaven, how I wish I could go with her too.” 3

In keeping with the times, Elizabeth’s father gave her a very feminine education. She was taught literature, French, music, drawing, dancing, sewing, and housekeeping. While still young, she began keeping a diary and sending letters, a practice she maintained until her final years.

Painting of Elizabeth Ann Seton when she was young

Early on, Elizabeth’s young mind was drawn to the things of God. Baptized and raised in the Episcopal Church, she would spend long hours contemplating sacred scripture and writing about Heaven.

When Elizabeth came of age, she was among the most beautiful young ladies of New York society, and many men vied for her hand in marriage. William Magee Seton, a merchant from a prominent family, won her affections. Due to business obligations, William made frequent trips to trading partners in Livorno, Italy, where Elizabeth’s faith eventually increased.

William and Elizabeth married in 1794, and in the following years God blessed them with five children: Anna, William Jr., Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca.

Motherhood and housekeeping soon consumed Elizabeth from morning until night. She cared for beloved her husband during his bouts with tuberculosis, and had to manage his business affairs. Amid all of that, somehow Elizabeth also made herself available as the faithful friend and confidant to growing numbers of New Yorkers.

With the death of her father-in-law in 1798, William and Elizabeth had to raise his younger children. Her own father passed away in 1801, which impacted her greatly because economic downturn and foreign wars reduced the family fortunes. Nevertheless, undaunted by these hardships, Elizabeth wrote: “At all events this life is worth possessing only because, while we have it, we are candidates for a better one.” 4

So, clearly she saw life’s sufferings with a supernatural eye.

Quarantine in Italy

When William’s health didn’t improve, his doctors recommended a trip abroad for recovery in 1803. Given William’s contacts in Italy, he and Elizabeth soon arranged passage on board the Shepherdess and they took only their eldest daughter Anna. Meanwhile, family and friends in New York cared for their other children.

Square in Livorno

Sadly, the journey to Livorno was extremely difficult. A yellow fever epidemic had broken out in New York and all passengers disembarking had to quarantine for thirty days before entering Italy. On an island offering little shelter, the Setons spent the next month in privation.

As a result, William’s health rapidly declined in the drafty seaside environment. Most of the time Elizabeth cared for him, and somehow she gave care and comfort to other passengers as well. Their Italian friends Antonio and Amabilia Filicchi, along with Antonio’s brother Philip and wife Mary Filicchi, did whatever they could to visit and send provisions. However, at the end of the Setons’ quarantine, William’s body was so wasted that he could scarcely move.

The generous Fellichis brought William, Elizabeth, and Anna to Pisa, where they spent Christmas. Two days later, William died with Elizabeth and their daughter at his side.

Light from the Altar

With the loss of her husband and her daughter Anna taken ill with scarlet fever, Elizabeth put her trust in God’s providence. The Fellichi family saw to all of her needs, and their example of Catholic charity profoundly moved her.

When they made a trip to Florence, Elizabeth noted that many Catholics knelt before the altars in churches, where they implored God for every need. The Catholic Mass was so different from the Episcopalian services she had known in New York, and she wondered whether Christ was really present in the Eucharist. 5

She began to ask questions of her hosts, who answered with patience and clarity. More impressive to Elizabeth than the arguments for Catholic truth was how the Italian family who adopted her lived their devotion. Every morning the family attended Mass in their chapel, and every day they prayed the rosary.

When Antonio Fellichi taught her to make the sign of the Cross, Elizabeth was filled with sacred awe. Contrary to what her fellow Protestants had told her, she found devotion to the Blessed Mother a sure way in growing closer to Jesus. 6

In a letter to a relative, Elizabeth wrote:

A little prayer book of Mr. Filicchi was on the table, and I opened it to a little prayer of St. Bernard to the Blessed Virgin begging her to be our Mother. I said it to her with such a certainty that God would surely refuse nothing to His Mother; that she could not help loving and pitying the poor souls He died for; that I felt I really had a mother whom you know my foolish heart so often lamented to have lost in early days.

Before returning to America, she and her daughter visited the tomb of her husband one last time. Elizabeth knelt and prayed for his soul because Catholic practices had taken deep root in her life.

Embracing the Cross in America

After long delays, in April of 1804 Elizabeth and Anna boarded the Flamingo for their return to America, and Antonio Fellichi joined them on the journey.

Drawing of Elizabeth Ann Seton

Upon arriving in New York, at long last she could embrace her other four children. But with her husband departed, Elizabeth needed help arranging the family’s affairs from relatives and friends.

When word spread of her interest in Catholicism, friends and strangers from almost every Protestant religion attempted to talk her out of converting. Her own Episcopalian ministers and friends gave her tracts on their alleged errors of Rome. Methodists, Anabaptists, and Presbyterians approached to convince her to join their congregations.

Antonio was ever insistent that she join the one and only Church that Christ built upon Pope Saint Peter (Matthew 16).

So Elizabeth begged God for certitude: “If I am right, Thy grace impart, still in the right to stay. If I am wrong, oh teach my heart to find the better way.” 7

Going Home

At Antonio’s request, Archbishop John Carroll wrote to Elizabeth, answering objections to Catholic truth. Elizabeth was greatly consoled by his intervention, but heartbroken to leave the goodness she remembered from the Episcopalian religion of her youth.

In 1789, Pope Pius VII had named Fr. John Carroll, S.J. the first bishop in the USA, then the first archbishop of the first U.S. Diocese of Baltimore. He was a phenomenal builder of Catholic institutions in America, and so he was a great teacher to Elizabeth.

The seed of wonder about Catholic truth was growing in Elizabeth’s soul. From her letters during this time, Elizabeth wrote about Blessed Mother Mary:

If anyone is in heaven, His Mother must be there. Are the angels, then, who are so often represented as being so interested for us on earth, more compassionate or more exalted than she is? Oh! no, no, Mary our Mother, that cannot be! So I beseech her, with the confidence and tenderness of her child, to pity us and guide us to the true faith if we are not in it. 8

The New Year of 1805 still found Elizabeth uncertain. On the sixth of January, the Feast of the Epiphany, Elizabeth opened a book of sermons by Fr. Louis Bordaloue, S.J. and had her own epiphany:

It is necessary that our faith be tried, and how? By those abandonments and those privations so common to the souls of the just; and if we are not strong enough to say to God with the Royal Psalmist: “Try me, O Lord!” we must, after the example of the Magi, be so disposed as to persevere in the midst of trials which it may please Him to send us. We must be mindful of the lights with which we have been favored when it shall please God to deprive us of them.

“We have seen His star!” I no longer experience what formerly impressed me and drew me to God. But I have seen it and have known its truth and its necessity, and I have been persuaded by it…9

When Elizabeth closed the book, her mind was made up. Nothing would stop her from converting, as she made known in a letter: “I will go peaceably and firmly to the Catholic Church: for if Faith is so important to our salvation, I will seek it where true Faith first began, seek it among those who received it from God Himself.” 10

On Ash Wednesday, she knelt in St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street in Manhattan to make her formal abjuration of heresy. After a general confession, she received her First Holy Communion on the Feast of the Annunciation.

In her journal, Elizabeth rejoiced: “The first thought I remember was: let God arise, let His enemies be scattered—for it seemed my King had come to take His throne and instead of the humble tender welcome I had expected to give Him, it was a triumph of joy and gladness.” 11

Some Doors Slammed and Others Opened

Word of Elizabeth’s conversion spread quickly in New York society. Long friendships abruptly ended. Neighbors with whom she had long associated abandoned her. Her children, quick to embrace the Catholic faith, were scorned with anti-Catholic insults.

But Elizabeth’s children didn’t shrink away. Instead, they took up their mother’s newfound Catholic faith with great enthusiasm. Through Antonio Fellichi, Elizabeth arranged to have her boys enrolled in Georgetown College.

Statue of Elizabeth Ann Seton

She then began assisting Mr. and Mrs. Patrick White in running a school in New York City. After just three months, however, the school closed because Protestants refused to let the notorious convert Mrs. Seton teach their children.

When this failed, others arranged for her to board students attending another school run by a Mr. William Harris. The arrangement lasted three years.

Her devoted sister-in-law, fifteen year old Cecilia Seton, was stung by an acute illness and insisted on Elizabeth’s continual presence and support. Upon Cecilia’s recovery, she told her family that she decided to become Catholic. Despite their strong objections, Cecilia formally entered the Church on the twentieth of June 1807. Cecilia joined Elizabeth in the Seton household until the unrest over her conversion died down.

Faced with opposition and hostility, Elizabeth knew she had to leave New York. At the invitation of Archbishop Carroll, she made arrangements to travel to Baltimore to start a school for girls. On the ninth of June 1808, Elizabeth Ann Seton and her family left, never to return.

Sisters of Charity

Father Louis William DuBourg, S.S. was president of Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. He had corresponded with Elizabeth, and welcomed the Seton family. He secured them a rental house on Paca Street where the school for girls soon opened.

Filled in the first year, Elizabeth soon had young women asking to join her in the work, and Archbishop Carroll made plans to unite the small group of women in a religious community. He served as witness to their simple vows of binding for a year, and thus named Elizabeth directress of the budding order. So, from then on, she was called Mother Seton.

The school work continued and grew. Soon Cecilia Seton and her sister Harriet arrived and joined as postulants. The new order quickly outgrew the house on Paca Street. At that time, Samuel Cooper, a wealthy convert from Virginia was entering a seminary to become a priest and he bought Mother Seton a property in Emmitsburg, fifty miles northwest of Baltimore.

Despite Cooper’s generosity, the first year in Emmitsburg was one continual Calvary for the Sisters. Their sparse hovel with dirt floors provided little relief from winter’s cold.

Then 1810 brought needed relief with a large log house for their use. On the twenty-second of February, the new school opened with girls enrolled.

Saint Eizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg

At Emmitsburg, plans for the new order were finalized. They would adopt the rule of the Sisters of Charity founded by Saint Vincent de Paul. (Mother Seton hoped they would one day have formal ties, and the order achieved it in1850.) The Sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg took Saint Joseph as their patron because Mother entrusted the daily needs of the whole community to the Head of the Holy Family. 12

Mother Embraced the Cross

The Cross was at the center of Mother Seton’s life at Emmitsburg. As Christ commands us in Luke 9:23, she and her children took up their crosses daily without complaint.

Her eldest daughter Anna, then a novice, suffered immensely in the winter of 1811. She continued her tasks with heroic zeal, until she could hide no longer hide the fatal signs of tuberculosis. On the thirtieth January 1812, she was given last rites. The next day she was received as a fully professed sister, fulfilling her heartfelt desire of dying as a Sister of Charity. On the twelfth of March, she passed into eternity.

The following winter, her sister Rebecca was crippled by a fall. Her health drastically broke down over the next four years, until on the third of November 1816, Rebecca gave up her soul to God at the young age of fourteen.

With the loss of these two daughters, Mother Seton’s longings for Heaven only increased.

Her daily tasks multiplied with the growth of the order, taxing her strength and her health. Fevers and illness confined her to bed for weeks at a time.

Despite suffering and isolation, Mother Seton continued to write and receive letters. Her interest in every aspect of the Church in America kept her in contact with Catholics throughout the country. She also kept in touch with non-Catholic friends, guiding them as she knew best to follow her into the Church. And thus her own sufferings united her ever closer to Christ Crucified.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Stained Glass

With gratitude, she wrote: “O Lord Jesus, how great is the merit of the blood which redeems the whole world—and would redeem a million more—and would redeem the demons themselves were they capable of penitence and salvation as I am—Yes, Lord, though your thunders should crush me and a deluge overwhelm me I will hope that while you destroy my body you will save my soul.” 13

By 1820, tuberculosis was taking its toll like it had taxed so many others in her family. Placed in a small room adjacent to the convent chapel, Mother Seton remarked, “I try to make my very breathing a thanksgiving.” 14

Through the fall of that year, she gained improvement, only to relapse. Through it all, Mother continually lived the virtues of the sick: meekness, patience, resignation, and gratitude for every help received. 15

Father Gabriel Bruté, her French confessor and confidante, visited often to administer the sacraments. After giving her Viaticum, he wrote: “Will I ever forget that face, fired with love, melted in tears at His approach in Communion? To the last, exhausted death on that face, as He came—it was still inflamed, and blushed in ardent love, desire inexpressible of eternal union in Him.”

After Christmas, Mother Seton’s death was obviously and painfully near. Her petite body was reduced to almost a skeleton. With her remaining strength, she gave final counsel to her Sisters: “Be true children of the Church! Be true children of the Church!” 16

In the early morning hours on the fourth of January 1821, everyone at her at bedside heard her final her final word: “Jesus!”

The Sisters Blessed America Far and Wide

With Mother Seton’s passing, the work of the Sisters of Charity multiplied.

Foundations grew and spread to all corners of the Republic. In 1850, the dream of Mother Seton was realized when the Sisters in America joined the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

In addition to their work as parochial school owners, the sisters became pioneers in Catholic health care.

When the American Civil War broke out, Mother Seton’s spiritual daughters ministered to wounded on both sides, and they were nicknamed Angels of the Battlefield. 17

Daughter of Charity Giving a drink to a man

One of the most noticeable effects of the Sisters’ work for God’s glory was the change that came over American society. Anti-Catholic bigotry slowly gave way to great numbers embracing the true faith. Schools and hospitals operated by the Sisters achieved a high reputation even among non-Catholics. Lies about Christ’s Church could not compete with the example of Mother Seton’s spiritual daughters. 18

With the growth of the Sisters of Charity, Mother Seton’s memory never faded.

Throughout the twentieth century, the renown of the Sisters of Charity helped to spread devotion to their beloved Mother. On the seventeenth of March 1963, she was beatified by Pope Saint John XXIII. Showing her concern from Heaven for her fellow Americans, miracles due to her intercession were soon reported. With Vatican recognition of three miraculous cures of desperately ill individuals, the time had come at last.

On the fourteenth of September 1975, Pope Saint Paul VI proclaimed Elizabeth Ann Seton a saint. In fact, he exclaimed it:

“Yes, Venerable Brothers and beloved sons and daughters! Elizabeth Ann Seton is a Saint!”19

Furthermore, the Holy Father canonized Mother Seton on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Now, 200 years since she entered into eternal life, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s witness calls every American to a life of zeal and sacrifice. May she guide us in our trying times to be true children of the Church.

Prayer by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for a Holy Death

Lord Jesus, Who was born for us in a stable,
lived for us a life of pain and sorrow,
and died for us upon a cross:

Say for us in the hour of death, “Father, forgive,”
and to Your Mother, “Behold your child.”
Say to us, “This day you shall be with Me in paradise.”

Dear Savior, leave us not, forsake us not.
We thirst for You, Fountain of Living Water.
Our days pass quickly along, soon all will be consummated for us.
To Your hands, we commend our spirits, now and forever. Amen. 20


  • 1 Annabelle M. Melville, Elizabeth Bayley Seton 1774-1821 (The Daughters of Charity, St. Louise Province, 2009. This edition was edited by Betty Ann McNeil, D.C. and is available with the express permission of educational or research use only), p. 401. Available pro bono online at
  • 2 Ibid., p. 3.
  • 3 Agnes Sadlier, Elizabeth Seton: Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity; Her Life and Work (Philadelphia, H.L. Kilner, 1905) p. 3. Available online pro bono from Vincentian Digital Books at
  • 4 Melville, p. 53
  • 5 Ibid., p. 96.
  • 6 A Daughter of Charity, The Soul of Elizabeth Seton, (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, San
    Francisco, Benziger Brothers, 1936) p. 40.
  • 7 Mellville, p. 97.
  • 8 Ibid., 118.
  • 9 Rev. John Reville, S.J., The First American
    Sister of Charity, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, (The
    American Press, New York, N.Y., 1921) p. 24.
  • 10 Melville, p. 124.
  • 11 Ibid., p. 131.
  • 12 Vincentian Encyclopedia, “Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph”,
  • 13 Melville, p. 392.
  • 14 Melville, page 397.
  • 15 Ibid., p. 401.
  • 16 Ibid., p. 415.
  • 17 George Barton, Angels of the Battlefield: A History of the Labors of Catholic Sisterhoods in the Late Civil War (Philadelphia, The Catholic Art Publishing Company, 1898). Online pro bono at
  • 18 Aubrey De Vere, Preface of Heroines of Charity, (HardPress, Miami, Florida, 2017)
  • 19 Canonization of Elisabeth Ann Seton: Homily of the Holy Father Paul VI, 14 September 1975 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana)
  • 20 Melville, p. 328. 

Written by: Ben Broussard