Saint of the day 20150316

16 March


SAINT ABRAHAM, Hermit 

(+ c. 360)

and SAINT MARY

(+ c. 355)

        Abraham was a rich nobleman of Edessa. At his parents’ desire he married, but escaped to a cell near the city as soon as the feast was over. He walled up the cell-door, leaving only a small window through which he received his food. There for fifty years he sang God’s praises and implored mercy for himself and for all men. The wealth which fell to him on his parents’ death he gave to the poor.

        As many sought him for advice and consolation, the Bishop of Edessa, in spite of his humility, ordained him priest. St. Abraham was sent, soon after his ordination, to an idolatrous city which had hitherto been deaf to every messenger. He was insulted, beaten, and three times banished, but he returned each time with fresh zeal. For three years he pleaded with God for those souls, and in the end prevailed. Every citizen came to him for Baptism.

        After providing for their spiritual needs he went back to his cell more than ever convinced of the power of prayer. His brother died, leaving an only daughter, Mary, to the Saint’s care. He placed her in a cell near his own, and devoted himself to training her in perfection. After twenty years of innocence she fell, and fled in despair to a distant city, where she drowned the voice of conscience in sin. The Saint and his friend St. Ephrem prayed earnestly for her during two years. Then he went disguised to seek the lost sheep, and had the joy of bringing her back to the desert a true penitent. She received the gift of miracles, and her countenance after death shone as the sun.

        St. Abraham died five years before her, about 360. All Edessa came for his last blessing and to secure his relics.



Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]



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Saint of the day 20150315

15 March


Saint Louise of Marillac

(1591-1660)

Louise de Marillac was born in France, on August 12th, 1591. She was educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She desired to become a nun but on the advice of her confessor, she married Antony LeGras, an official in the Queen’s service, in 1613.

After Antony’s death in 1625, she met St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected. In 1633 she set up a training center, of which she was Directress in her own home, for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though it was not formally approved until 1655). She took her vows in 1634 and attracted great numbers of candidates. She wrote a rule for the community, and in 1642, Vincent allowed four of the members to take vows. Formal approval placed the community under Vincent and his Congregation of the Missions, with Louise as Superior.

She traveled all over France establishing her Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, and other institutions.

She expired in 1660. Since then the Congregation has spread all over the world.

She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934, and was declared Patroness of Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960.




Other saints: Blessed John Anne (- 1589)

It is hard to know who he was. He may have been John Amias, born at Wakefield in Yorkshire, where he married and had a family: on his wife’s death he divided his property among his children and left for the Continent to become a priest. In this case the surname “Anne” would be an alias. But equally he may have been William Anne, youngest son of John and Katherine Anne, of Frickley near Wakefield.
  In any case, on 22 June 1580 a widower calling himself “John Amias” entered the English College at Rheims to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Rheims Cathedral on 25 March 1581 and on 5 June he set out for Paris and then England, as a missionary, in the company of another priest, Edmund Sykes. Little is known of his missionary life. Towards the end of 1588 he was arrested at the house of a Mr. Murton at Melling in Lancashire and imprisoned in York Castle. He was hanged, drawn and quartered outside York on 16 March 1589, together with a fellow priest, Robert Dalby. Both were beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

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Saint of the day 20150314

14 March


SAINT MAUD (or MATILDE)

Queen 

(c. 875-968)

        This princess was daughter of Theodoric, a powerful  Saxon count. Her parents placed her very young in the monastery of Erford, of which her grandmother Maud was then abbess. Our Saint remained in that house, an accomplished model of all virtues, till her parents married her to Henry, son of Otho, Duke of Saxony, in 913, who was afterwards chosen king of Germany. He was s pious and victorious prince, and very tender of his subjects.

        Whilst by his arms he checked the insolence of the Hungarians and Danes, and enlarged his dominions by adding to them Bavaria, Maud gained domestic victories over her spiritual enemies more worthy of a Christian and far greater in the eyes of Heaven. She nourished the precious seeds of devotion and humility in her heart by assiduous prayer and meditation. It was her delight to visit, comfort, and exhort the sick and the afflicted; to serve and instruct the poor, and to afford her charitable succor to prisoners. Her husband, edified by her example, concurred with her in every pious undertaking which she projected.

        After twenty-three years’ marriage God was pleased to call the king to himself, in 936. Maud, during his sickness, went to the church to pour forth her soul in prayer for him at the foot of the altar. As soon as she understood, by the tears and cries of the people, that he had expired, she called for a priest that was fasting to offer the holy sacrifice for his soul.

        She had three sons: Otho, afterwards emperor; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; and St. Brunn, Archbishop of Cologne. Otho was crowned king of Germany in 937, and emperor at Rome in 962, after his victories over the Bohemians and Lombards.

        The two oldest sons conspired to strip Maud of her dowry, on the unjust pretence that she had squandered the revenues of the state on the poor. The unnatural princes at length repented of their injustice, and restored to her all that had been taken from her.

        She then became more liberal in her alms than ever, and founded many churches, with five monasteries.

        In her last sickness she made her confession to her grandson William, the Archbishop of Mentz, who yet died twelve days before her, on his road home. She again made a public confession before the priests and monks of the place, received a second time the last sacraments, and, lying on a sack-cloth, with ashes on her head, died on the 14th of March in 968.



Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]



Saint of the day 20150313

13 March


SAINT EUPHRASIA 

Virgin and Martyr

(+ 303)

 

The holy virgin Euphrasia lived in Nicomedia during the reign of Maximian. She was of noble origin, beautiful and virtuous, and faithfully served Jesus Christ. Idolaters seized her and demanded that she sacrifice to demons, but she refused. They flogged her mercilessly; however, they could not break her resolve. Finally, they turned her over to a barbarian, and he took her to his home, intending to rape her. On the way, she prayed silently and ceaselessly to her most pure Bridegroom, Christ the Lord, beseeching Him to preserve her undefiled. Entering the house, the loathsome barbarian ordered her into his room. Euphrasia asked him to wait a moment before he ravished her, because she wished to give him a plant with miraculous power. 
 
“If you wear this sprout on your person, no one can harm you,” she said, hoping to mislead him into thinking she was a sorceress.
 
“Give it to me later,” replied the barbarian.

 

“The plant is powerless if touched by a woman who has lost her virginity,” she explained.

 

The barbarian agreed to let her go into the garden, where she broke off a sprig. She showed it to him, and he asked, “How will I know if you are telling the truth?”

 

Euphrasia held the sprout against her neck and said: “Strike my neck with a two-handed sword as hard as you can. You will not harm me at all.” The barbarian fetched a sword and brought it down with all his might, decapitating her. Too late, the imbecile realized he had been outwitted, and gnashed his teeth furiously. The wise virgin, who preferred to die rather than be sullied, departed to her Bridegroom Christ, providing us a wondrous example of chastity.



The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints by St. Dimitry of Rostov



Saint of the day 20150312

12 March


Saint Luigi Orione 

Priest

(1872-1940)

        Luigi Orione was born in Pontecurone, diocese of Tortona, on 23 June 1872. At thirteen years of age he entered the Franciscan Friary of Voghera (Pavia), but he left after one year owing to poor health. From 1886 to 1889 he was a pupil of Saint John Bosco at the Valdocco Oratory (Youth Centre) in Turin.

        On 16 October 1889, he joined the diocesan seminary of Tortona. As a young seminarian he devoted himself to the care of others by becoming a member of both the San Marziano Society for Mutual Help and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. On 3 July 1892 he opened the first Oratory in Tortona to provide for the Christian training of boys. The following year, on 15 October 1893, Luigi Orione, then a seminarian of twenty-one, started a boarding school for poor boys, in the Saint Bernardine estate.

        On 13 April 1895, Luigi Orione was ordained priest and, on that occasion, the Bishop gave the clerical habit to six pupils of the boarding school. Within a brief span of time, Don Orione opened new houses at Mornico Losana (Pavia), Noto – in Sicily, Sanremo and Rome.

        Around the young Founder there grew up seminarians and priests who made up the first core group of the Little Work of Divine Providence. In 1899, he founded the branch of the Hermits of Divine Providence. The Bishop of Tortona, Mgr Igino Bandi, by a Decree of 21 March 1903, issued the canonical approval of the Sons of Divine Providence (priests, lay brothers and hermits) – the male congregation of the Little Work of Divine Providence. It aims to “co-operate to bring the little ones, the poor and the people to the Church and to the Pope, by means of the works of charity“, and professes a fourth vow of special “faithfulness to the Pope”. In the first Constitutions of 1904, among the aims of the new Congregation, there appears that of working to “achieve the union of the separated Churches“.

        Inspired by a profound love for the Church and for the salvation of Souls, he was actively interested in the new problems of his time, such as the freedom and unity of the Church, the Roman question, modernism, socialism and the Christian evangelisation of industrial workers.

        He rushed to assist the victims of the earthquakes of Reggio and Messina (1908) and the Marsica region (1915). By appointment of Saint Pius X, he was made Vicar General of the diocese of Messina for three years.

        On 29 June 1915, twenty years after the foundation of the Sons of Divine Providence, he added to the “single tree of many branches” the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity who are inspired by the same founding charism. Alongside them, he placed the Blind Sisters, Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. Later, the Contemplative Sisters of Jesus Crucified were also founded.

        For lay people he set up the associations of the “Ladies of Divine Providence”, the “Former Pupils”, and the “Friends”. More recently, the Don Orione Secular Institute and the Don Orione Lay People’s Movement have come into being.

        Following the First World War (1914-1918), the number of schools, boarding houses, agricultural schools, charitable and welfare works increased. Among his most enterprising and original works, he set up the “Little Cottolengos”, for the care of the suffering and abandoned, which were usually built in the outskirts of large cities to act as “new pulpits” from which to speak of Christ and of the Church – “true beacons of faith and of civilisation“.

Don Orione’s missionary zeal, which had already manifested itself in 1913 when he sent his first religious to Brazil, expanded subsequently to Argentina and Uruguay (1921), Palestine (1921), Poland (1923), Rhodes (1925), the USA (1934), England (1935), Albania (1936). From 1921-1922 and from 1934-1937, he himself made two missionary journeys to Latin America: to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, going as far as Chile.

        He enjoyed the personal respect of the Popes and the Holy See’s Authorities, who entrusted him with confidential tasks of sorting out problems and healing wounds both inside the Church as well as in the relations with society. He was a preacher, a confessor and a tireless organiser of pilgrimages, missions, processions, live cribs and other popular manifestations and celebrations of the faith. He loved Our Lady deeply and fostered devotion to her by every means possible and, through the manual labour of his seminarians, built the shrines of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona and Our Lady of Caravaggio at Fumo. In the winter of 1940, with the intention of easing the heart and lung complaints that were troubling him, he went to the Sanremo house, even though, as he said, “it is not among the palm trees that I would like to die, but among the poor who are Jesus Christ“. Only three days later, on 12 March 1940, surrounded by the love of his confreres, Don Orione died, while sighing “Jesus, Jesus! I am going“.

        His body was found to be intact at its first exhumation in 1965. It has been exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the shrine of Our Lady of Safe Keeping in Tortona ever since 26 October 1980 – the day in which Pope John Paul II inscribed Don Luigi Orione in the Book of the Blessed. He was canonized on 16 May 2004.



– Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Saint of the day 20150311

11 March


SAINT EULOGIUS 

Martyr 

(+ 859)

        St. Eulogius was of a senatorian family of Cordova, at that time the capital of the Moors in Spain. Our Saint was educated among the clergy of the Church of St. Zoilus, a martyr who suffered with nineteen others under Diocletian. Here he distinguished himself, by his virtue and learning, and, being made priest, was placed at the head of the chief ecclesiastical school at Cordova. He joined assiduous watching, fasting, and prayer to his studies, and his humility, mildness, and charity gained him the affection and respect of every one.

        During the persecution raised against the Christians in the year 850, St. Eulogius was thrown into prison and there wrote his Exhortation to Martyrdom, addressed to the virgins Flora and Mary, who were beheaded the 24th of November, 851. Six days after their death Eulogius was set at liberty. In the year 852 several others suffered the like martyrdom. St. Eulogius encouraged all these martyrs to their triumphs, and was the support of that distressed flock.

        The Archbishop of Toledo dying in 858. St. Eulogius was elected to succeed him; but there was some obstacle that hindered him from being consecrated, though he did not outlive his election two months. 

        A virgin, by name Leocritia, of a noble family among the Moors, had been instructed from her infancy in the Christian religion by one of her relatives, and privately baptized. Her father and mother used her very ill, and scourged her day and night to compel her to renounce the Faith. Having made her condition known to St. Eulogius and his sister Anulona, intimating that she desired to go where she might freely exercise her religion, they secretly procured her the means of getting away, and concealed her for some time among faithful friends.

        But the matter was at length discovered, and they were all brought before the cadi, who threatened to have Eulogius scourged to death. The Saint told him that his torments would be of no avail, for he would never change his religion. Whereupon the cadi gave orders that he should be carried to the palace and be presented before the king’s council. Eulogius began boldly to propose the truths of the Gospel to them. But, to prevent their hearing him, the council condemned him immediately to lose his head. As they were leading him to execution, one of the guards gave him a blow on the face, for having spoken against Mahomet; he turned the other cheek, and patiently received a second.

        He received the stroke of death with great cheerfulness, on the 11th of March, 859. St. Leocritia was beheaded four days after him, and her body thrown into the river Guadalquivir, but taken out by the Christians.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]




Other saints: Saint Aengus (- 824)

He was born near Clonenagh and educated there at the monastic school founded there by St Fintan, not far from the present town of Mountrath. He lived for some time as a hermit and then joined the monastery of Tallaght, near Dublin, under St Maelruain. He was a co-author of a martyrology (written in 790 and the oldest in Ireland) and wrote a long poem, the Feliré, or Festology of the Saints, which he finished in about 805. After St Maelruain’s death he returned to his hermitage, where he died on 11 March 824. See the article in Wikipedia.

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Saint of the day 20150310

10 March


THE FORTY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE

(† c. 320)

        The forty martyrs were soldiers quartered at Sebaste in Armenia, about the year 320. When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice they separated themselves from the rest and formed a company of martyrs. After they had been torn by scourges and iron hooks they were chained together and led to a lingering death.

        It was a cruel winter, and they were condemned to lie naked on the icy surface of a pond in the open air till they were frozen to death. But they ran undismayed to the place of their combat, joyfully stripped off their garments, and with one voice besought God to keep their Tanks unbroken. “Forty,” they cried, “we have come to combat: grant that forty may be crowned.” There were warm baths hard by, ready for any one amongst them who would deny Christ.

        The soldiers who watched saw angels descending with thirty-nine crowns, and, while he wondered at the deficiency in the number, one of the confessors lost heart, renounced his faith, and, crawling to the fire, died body and soul at the spot where he expected relief. But the soldier was inspired to confess Christ and take his place, and again the number of forty was complete.

        They remained steadfast while their limbs grew stiff and frozen, and died one by one. Among the Forty there was a young soldier who held nut longest against the cold, and when the officers came to cart away the dead bodies they found him still breathing. They were moved with pity, and wanted to leave him alive in the hope that he would still change his mind. But his mother stood by, and ‘this valiant woman could not bear to see her son separated from the band of martyrs. She exhorted him to persevere, and lifted his frozen body into the cart. He was just able to make a sign of recognition, and was borne away, to be thrown into the flames with the dead bodies of his brethren.

Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894]




Other saints: St John Ogilvie (1579 – 1615)

He was born near Keith in Banffshire, in Scotland, and was educated in Germany by the Jesuits. He became a Jesuit himself in 1608 and returned to Scotland in disguise, saying Masses in secret and handing out bibles and rosaries in the streets. He was arrested in Glasgow in 1614, tortured, paraded through the streets, and hanged on 10 March 1615. His last words were “If there be here any hidden Catholics, let them pray for me but the prayers of heretics I will not have.” After he was pushed from the ladder, he threw his hidden Rosary beads out into the crowd. One of his enemies caught them, and he became a devout Catholic for the rest of his life. See the article in Wikipedia.

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