Thursday, May 25, 2006
Peter, the first pope, was a fisherman from Galilee. Jesus invited Peter to follow him, saying: "I will make you a fisher of men." Peter was a simple, hard-working man. He was generous, honest and loved Jesus very much.
This great apostle's name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means "rock." "You are Peter," Jesus said, "and on this rock I will build my Church."
When the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus, Peter was afraid. In his fright he committed the sin of denying that he knew Jesus, three times. Peter was terrified that they would kill him too, but before Jesus died, Peter repented totally. He wept over his denials for the rest of his life and Jesus lovingly forgave Peter.
After the resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times: "Do you love me?" "Lord," Peter answered, "you know all things. You know that I love you." Jesus truly did know! Peter was so right. Jesus said "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." He was telling Peter to take care of his Church because he would be ascending into heaven. Jesus left Peter as the leader and head of His Church.
Peter later went to Rome to live. Rome was the center of the whole Roman Empire. Peter converted many nonbelievers there. When the fierce torture of Christians began, they begged Peter to leave Rome and save himself. Peter started out and on the road and Jesus appeared to him. Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "I am coming to be crucified a second time."
Peter turned around and went back. He understood that this vision meant that he was meant to suffer and die for Jesus. Soon, he was taken prisoner and condemned to death. Because he was not a Roman citizen, he, like Jesus, could be crucified. This time he did not deny the Lord. This time he was ready to die for Jesus. Peter asked to be crucified with his head downward since he was not worthy to suffer as Jesus had. The Roman soldiers did not find this unusual because slaves were crucified upside down.
Peter was martyred on Vatican Hill. It was around the year 67. A large church was built over that sacred location in the fourth century.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
This lovable Saint was born at Assisi in Italy. Gabriel was the eleventh of thirteen children. He received the name Francis at Baptism, in honor of the great St. Francis of Assisi. His mother died when he was only four years old. Francis' father hired a governess to raise his thirteen children.
Francis grew to be very handsome and likable. He was often the most popular person at a party. He loved to have fun and enjoyed hunting and attending the theater. There was also another side to him, too. Even while having good times, he was sometimes bored but he couldn't explain why.
He seemed to feel in his heart a strong desire for God and the deeper things of life. Twice he became so sick he nearly died. Each time he promised Our Lady that if she would help cure him, he would become a priest. He got better both times, but he did not keep his promise.
One day, he saw a picture of the Sorrowful Mother that was being carried in a procession. It seemed that the Blessed Mother was looking straight at him. At the same time, he heard a voice in his heart telling him, "Francis, the world is not for you anymore."
That did it! At the age of eighteen, Francis entered the Passionist monastery and took the name Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. The Passionists were preachers of the Passion of Jesus.
Gabriel's great loves became the Holy Eucharist and Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. He loved to spend time thinking about the passion of Jesus and how much the Lord had suffered for him. His great devotion to Mary also caused him to think deeply about her sorrows over the suffering of Jesus.
Gabriel learned to practice two virtues in a special way: humility and obedience. His special trademark was joy. He was always happy and spread that happiness to those around him.
After only four years in the Passionist order, Gabriel died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862 at Abruzzi in Italy. After his death many miracles took place when people prayed to him. His feast day is February 27th.
Message of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother:
Love Mary!... She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.
O God, You taught St.Gabriel to dwell upon the sorrows of Your most sweet Mother, raised him to the glory of holiness and miracles. Grant that we may also share her sorrows and be saved by her protection. Amen.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Ivan Merz was born in the year 1896 in Bosnia. Like all children Ivan attended school, but he was unhappy that his school did not have much teaching on the Catholic Church.
Ivan loved God and he loved to pray, while other children would run and play and sometimes be naughty Ivan instead chose not to mix with those who were mean to others.
Once Ivan was old enough he attended University in Vienna, for his great wish was to go back to his homeland and teach the Faith to all who would listen.
Though Ivan loved his faith, he did not want to become a Priest but instead chose to learn the Catholic Faith so he could talk to people about why he loved God and the Church so much.
Unfortunately the First World War broke out and Ivan had to go and fight, even though Ivan fought he also prayed for peace, and was a brave soldier.
When the war was over Ivan returned to the university and finished his studies, he was greatly pleased to gain good scores this meant that he could teach young people all about the Catholic Faith.
Once Ivan left school he started several youth groups which instructed the young on the meaning of the Liturgy and explained all the reasons how and why Catholics celebrate Mass.
It was very important to Ivan that the young people understand why they must be obedient to the Catholic Churches Teachings and to the Pope as well as learning the Bible so they could love God as much as he did.
God was very pleased with Ivan and the way he instructed the youth of his country.
Finally God called Ivan to Heaven to spend eternity with Him and the Holy Mother.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Sometimes men and women are so holy that our Lord comes to talk to them and He likes to bring His mother with Him.
Gertrude was born in 1256 at Eisleben, Germany. She was raised in the Cistercian abbey of Helfta, Eisleben, Saxony from age 5.
Gertrude was very intelligent and was interested in Philosophy and studied it to the exclusion of all else. When she was 26, she had a vision of Our Lord. He redirected her energies and she quit seeking wisdom from the world and began studying the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers.
Gertrude received many visions and instructions from Our Lord and Our Lady which continued until the end of her life. She wrote all of it down. Gertrude wrote a series of prayers that became very popular. Through her writing, she spread devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Saint Gertrude was "the Great" because of her great devotion to the Sacred Humanity of our Lord in His Passion and in the Blessed Eucharist as well as a tender love for our Blessed Mother and the souls in purgatory. She died in 1302 and we remember her on November 16th.
Model of total fidelity to the Heavenly Bridegroom and to your Cistercian Rule, the Lord was pleased to make available wonderful private revelations through you. Help religious to realize that where there is total generosity trials are usually not lacking, but there is also God's infinite love. Make all religious generous like you.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Anna Maria Gianetti was born in the year 1769 in Siena Italy. Her family were not rich so when Anna Marie was six years old the family moved to Rome so that her father, Louis Gianetti could find work.
When Anna Maria grew old enough she left school in order to find work and help her parents to provide for them all. During this time Anna Marie began not to take her faith seriously and joined some of her friends in wanting to have fun and go to parties. This did not make God happy.
When she was about 21 Anna Maria married Dominic Taigi, who worked as a servant to a wealthy family. This was not a happy time for Anna Maria as her husband at times was bad tempered. Soon a baby was born to Anna Maria this made her very happy and also made her think much more about God as she loved her baby dearly.
Anna Maria grew to love God as she helped raise all her children, she was a very good mother and taught her children to love God above all others. Even though her husband could be bad tempered Anna Maria also loved him much and prayed for him.
Because of Anna Maria's love of her Faith, God Gifted her with many visions and miracles, this only made Anna Maria even more humble.
Even though Anna Maria's life was very busy, she always placed her family first and was an excellent mother and a loving wife, this made God very happy with her.
Though Anna Maria was given many visions about the future, she always remained happy and content and prayed much for the Church, her family and the world.
What was most important to Anna Maria was to be a good wife and mother and a good and faithful Catholic, because Anna Maria knew that it is this that makes God most happy when His children are obedient to Him by following the Bible and the Church.
When Anna Maria turned 78 years of age God called her to Heaven.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Saint George is one of the great martyrs of the early Church. He was a soldier and rose to high rank in the Roman Army. The Emperor Diocletian honored George for his great bravery.
When George became a Christian, he resigned his position in the army, and rebuked the Emperor himself for being so cruel to the Christians. He first sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor. Then, free to follow Jesus and bearing the shield of faith, he became a loyal soldier for Christ.
George paid a very high price for his bravery. He was put into prison and tortured, but nothing could make him change his mind. He was beheaded.
The Christians took his body to Palestine. Pilgrimages were made later to his tomb in the Holy Land, and many miracles were worked through his prayers before God.
The figure of St. George and the Dragon is a symbol of his Christian courage in overcoming the spirit of evil, the devil, who in the Bible is called the dragon.
Many songs and poems were written about this martyr who gave his life for Jesus. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him. Because of his gracious behavior (protecting women, fighting evil, strong faith, strength, bravery, and generosity to the poor), devotion to Saint George became popular in the Europe and he was named the patron of England. His feast day, April 23rd was declared a public holiday.
O Lord, we acclaim Your might and humbly pray. Just as St. George imitated the Lord's Passion, so let him come to the aid of our weakness. Amen.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Francis was born in a castle in France. When he was baptized, his mother said, "Now, my son, you are the friend of the angels, the brother of Jesus, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and a member of the Church. Now you must belong to God forever."
His wealthy family provided him with an excellent education. When Francis was nine years old, he received Holy Communion. He said, "Jesus is the teacher of holiness. I go to Him because I want Him to teach me how to become a saint. Of what use to me is all I learn in school if I do not become holy?"
Francis studied law at the University of Padua. By the age of twenty-four, he was a Doctor of Law. He returned home, and led a hard-working life as Senate advocate. He was not really interested in important positions or a social life.
In his heart, Francis was listening to a call that kept coming back like an echo. It seemed to be an invitation from the Lord telling him to "Leave all and follow Me." Francis finally tried to explain his struggle to his family.
His father was very disappointed. He wanted Francis to be a great man of the world. Francis spent lots of time in prayer, finally his gentle ways won over the family and Francis became a priest on December 18, 1593.
In those times Christians were bitterly divided. Father Francis offered to go to a dangerous area of France to win back Catholics who had become Protestants. His father tried to stop him. He said it was bad enough that he had allowed Francis to become a priest, he was not going to let him die as a martyr as well.
Francis knew that the Lord would protect him. He and his cousin, Father Louis de Sales, began their long walk to the Duchy of Chablais. The two priests soon learned how to live with insults and physical discomforts and their lives were often in danger.
Francis explained the teachings of the Catholic faith in very simple and clear language. And his gentle way with everyone slowly brought many back to the Roman Catholic Church.
When he was thirty-five years old, Francis became the bishop of Geneva, Switzerland. He travelled and preached and worked with children whenever he could.
He was a good friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. With the help of Saint Jane de Chantal, he started a religious order of sisters in 1610. These women are called the order of the Visitation.
Francis wrote wonderful books about the spiritual life and the way to become holy. They are considered spiritual "classics."
Bishop de Sales died at Lyons on December 28, 1622, at the age of fifty-six. Because of his good work that brought many people back to God and the Church, he was given the special title "Doctor of the Church." He is also the Patron Saint of journalists. His feast day is January 24th.
Father in heaven, You prompted St. Francis de Sales to become all things to all men for the salvation of men. May his example inspire us to dedicated love in the service of our brothers. Amen.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Vincent, was born in a town in Southwest France and was the son of poor French peasants. Today the town is called Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Landes, France.
When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school to study under the Franciscan friars.
After finishing his studies Vincent became a priest at the age of 20. He was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. But while he was traveling by sea from one city to another, he fell into the hands of Turkish pirates who sold him as a slave. Two years later after he was finally set free by one of his owners, who he converted to Christianity and he returned to France where he served as a parish priest.
One day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones.
Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor.
The charities of Saint Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much.
· He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships
· He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity
· He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people
· He collected large sums of money for poor areas
· He sent missionaries to many countries
· and he bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans
Even though he was such a charitable man, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace." "It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor."
Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. His feast day is September 27th.
O God, You gave St.Vincent de Paul apostolic virtues for the salvation of the poor and formation of the clergy. Grant that, endowed with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and act according to his teaching. Amen.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Francis Xavier was born in 1506 in Spain of noble parents He went to the University of Paris when he was eighteen, where he studied and taught Philosophy. Here he met St. Ignatius Loyola, who was about to start the Society of Jesus.
St. Ignatius tried to get Francis to join him and at first the happy-go-lucky young man just laughed. St. Ignatius repeated to him the words of Jesus in the Gospel: "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" At last, Francis saw clearly that he could use his talents to bring people to God and agreed to join the Jesuits.
When Francis was thirty-four, St. Ignatius sent him as a missionary to the East Indies. The king of Portugal wanted to give him presents to take along and a servant. Francis refused his kind offer and explained: "The best way to acquire true dignity is to wash one's own clothes and boil one's own pot."
During his travels as a missionary in Goa, India, Japan and other lands of the east, Francis converted thousands. He baptized so many people that he became too weak to raise his arms.
Francis' love for Jesus was so strong that he could not rest at the thought of so many people who had never heard the Gospel. He found that there were so many villages where there were Christians but no priest to say Mass or teach them their prayers and the Commandments of God's Law.
When he landed in India, he would go down the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. He would take them to a nearby Church and teach them Catechism and prayers. He made little lay apostles of them and invited them to spread the faith they had learned.
There was nothing St. Francis wouldn't do to help people. Once he faced a fierce band of robbers alone with no weapon but his crucifix. They backed up and did not attack his Christian tribes. He brought many bad-living Christians to repentance. His only "tools" were his gentle, polite ways and his prayers.
During his painful journeys and hard work, Francis was full of a special joy that came from God. He longed to get into China, into which no foreigner was permitted. At last, the arrangements were made, but he fell ill. He died almost alone in 1552 on an island off the Chinese coast when he was just forty-six-years-old. Today his body is preserved in a church in Goa. We remember Saint Francis Xavier on December 3rd.
O Lord, You won many peoples for Your Church through the preaching of St. Francis. Inspire the faithful today with the same zeal for spreading the Faith, so that everywhere the Church might rejoice in her many children. Amen.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Teresa was born in Avila in Spain. As a little girl in her parents' rich home, Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved to read the lives of the Saints and Martyrs. They felt that the martyrs got to heaven an easy way.
The two children set out secretly to go to the land of the Moors. As they walked along, they prayed that they might die for Christ. But they had not gotten far when they met an uncle. He took them back to their worried mother at once. They then decided to be hermits in their garden. This didn't work out either. They could not get enough stones together to build their huts.
Teresa herself wrote down these amusing stories of her childhood. But when she grew to be a teenager she changed. She read so many novels and foolish romances that she lost much of her love for prayer. She began to think more of dressing up to look pretty. But after she recovered from a bad illness, Teresa read a book about the great Saint Jerome.
Then and there, she made up her mind to become a bride of Christ. As a nun, Teresa often found it hard to pray. She had poor health and also wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations. One day, in front of a picture of Jesus, Teresa felt great sorrow that she did not love God more. She started then to live for Jesus alone, no matter what sacrifice had to be made.
In return for her love, the Lord gave Teresa the privilege of hearing him talk to her. She also began to see visions and Jesuit and Dominican priests came to see if this was true. They were convinced and declared that the visions were holy and true.
She learned to pray in a marvelous way, too. Saint Teresa of Avila is famous for having opened new Carmelite convents. These convents were filled with sisters who wanted to live holy lives. They made many sacrifices for Jesus with Teresa herself giving them the example. She prayed with great love and worked hard at her duties in the convent.
Teresa was a great leader and true lover of Jesus and his Church. She died in 1582. We celebrate her feast day on October 15th.
Her many writings show her great love of God. Teresa wrote these beautiful words: "Let nothing trouble you, nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough."
Saint Teresa taught that we must have a great trust in God's care for us. She wrote that a person who has God, will need nothing; God alone is enough.
O God, You raised up St. Teresa by Your Spirit so that she could manifest to the Church the way to perfection. Nourish us with the food of her heavenly teaching, and fire us with a desire for holiness. Amen.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska was born in Poland. She came from a very poor family that had struggled hard on their little farm during the terrible years of the First World War. She had only three years of very simple education.
When she was twenty years old, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Her tasks were the humblest in the convent, usually in the kitchen or the vegetable garden, or as a porter.
On the 22nd of February, 1931, she had a vision of Jesus. He appeared to her and said, "paint an image of what you see with the signature: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over (its) enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory". The picture shows Jesus with two rays coming from his heart, one red and one white.
Jesus Himself gives the explanation of the rays to St. Faustina:
The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls... These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.
He asked her to remind the world of His unending Divine Mercy and He taught her a very special devotion to the Divine Mercy based on trust in Him called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Jesus asked her to record these experiences, which she compiled in notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of St. Maria Faustina and the words contained within are God's loving message of Divine Mercy.
Sister Faustina died on October 5, 1938, at a convent in Krakow. She was buried in the convent chapel beneath the image of the Divine Mercy.
Sister Faustina was beatified on April 18, 1993, her canonization took place on April 30, 2000 the first Sunday after Easter, on Divine Mercy Sunday. She was honoured by becoming the first saint of this millenium, giving great emphasis to the Divine Mercy Devotion.
As one of the great events of the Jubilee 2000, John Paul II, conducted the ceremony of the canonization of St Faustina, before a crowd of around 200000 Divine Mercy Pilgrims.
We are encouraged to study and to practice the devotions of the Divine Mercy:
•Veneration of the Divine Mercy Image with the caption, "Jesus, I trust in You."
•Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, especially at 3:00 - the Hour of Divine Mercy.
•Praying a Novena of Divine Mercy from Good Friday to the Sunday after Easter, which has been designated the Feast of the Divine Mercy.
Jesus said, "On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet."
Friday, April 21, 2006
Frances was born at Lombardy in Italy. She was one of thirteen children and was raised on a farm. As a child, she dreamed about being a missionary to China. She sailed paper boats down a stream to play her "pretend game." The paper boats were ships taking missionaries to China. And she began giving up candy because in China, she probably wouldn't be able to have any.
When she grew up, Frances was not accepted into the two convents that she asked to join. Her health was not too good, so she taught at girl's school for six years. Then a priest asked her to help out in a small home for orphans. Things were very hard for Frances because of the lady who ran the house. Yet Frances stuck to the work, and some other generous women joined her. Together they took vows.
At last the bishop told Frances to begin her own congregation of missionary nuns, which Frances did without hesitation. This congregation is called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Soon it began to grow, first in Italy and then in many other countries. Frances, whom everyone called Mother Cabrini, had always had her heart set on going to China. But it seemed that God wanted her to come to America.
When Pope Leo XIII told her, "Go west, not east," the matter was settled. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini sailed for the United States and became an American citizen. She helped large numbers of Italian immigrants and was like their real mother and friend.
Mother Cabrini and her sisters found things very difficult in the beginning. The Archbishop of New York even suggested that they go back to Italy. But Mother Cabrini answered, "Your excellency, the Pope sent me here and here I must stay."
The Archbishop admired her pioneer spirit, and so she and her sisters were allowed to begin their great work for God. Schools, hospitals, and homes for children were opened up in different states.
As the years passed, Mother Cabrini made many trips to spread her congregation and its works. She founded 67 institutions, and there were always difficulties, but she put all her trust in the Sacred Heart. "It is he who is doing everything, not us," she would say.
Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 23, 1917. Her feast day is November 13th.
O God, through the work of St. Frances Cabrini, You brought comfort and love to the immigrants and those in need. May her example and work be continued in the lives of those dedicated to You.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Edith Stein was born October 12, 1891 and was the youngest of a large Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. She graduated with a doctorate in philosophy from University of Freiburg. Edith had a brilliant mind.
After reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila, she converted to Catholicism. She was baptized on New Year's Day, 1922.
After her conversion, Edith spent her days teaching, lecturing, writing and translating, and she soon became known as a philosopher and author. The Nazi persecution of the Jews brought to a close her public activities.
She entered the Discalced Carmelie Nuns cloistered community at Cologne-Lindenthal on October 14, 1933. The following April, Easter Sunday, April 21, 1935, she made her Profession of Vows taking the name "Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce".
When the Jewish persecution increased in violence, Sister Teresa Benedicta asked to transfer to another monastery. On the night of December 31, 1938, she secretly crossed the border into Holland and entered the Carmel of Echt. There she wrote her last work, The Science of the Cross.
The Nazis invaded Holland and when the Dutch bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of the Jews and the removal of Jewish children from the Catholic school system, the Nazis arrested all Catholics of Jewish extraction in Holland. Edith was taken from the Echt Carmel on August 2, 1942, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was canonized on October 11, 1998. Her feast day is August 9th.
Saint Edith Stein, holy martyr, philosopher of truth, defender of the human person against the evils of this age enlighten our minds, illuminate our hearts, fill our lives with the passion of your love for the Cross. Amen.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Thomas means "twin." Thomas loved Jesus very much. Once when Jesus was going to face the danger of being killed, the other apostles tried to hold Jesus back. Thomas said to them, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
When Jesus was captured by his enemies, Thomas lost his courage and ran away with the other apostles. It broke his heart when Jesus died. Then on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his apostles after He had risen from the dead but Thomas was not with them. As soon as he arrived, the other apostles told him joyfully, "We have seen the Lord." They thought Thomas would be happy. Instead, he did not believe them.
"Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails," he said, "and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
Eight days later when Jesus appeared to His apostles again, Thomas was there. Jesus called him and told him to touch his hands and the wound in his side. He fell down at Jesus' feet and cried out, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said, "Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."
After Pentecost, Thomas was strong and firm in his belief and trust in Jesus. He took the mission he was given seriously and went to Parthia, Persia and India to preach the Gospel. He was killed by his enemies while kneeling in front of a cross and praying. He died a martyr there, after many years of preaching.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Mary Magdalene was from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. She was very beautiful and very proud. She forgot that God gave her all her beauty. She wanted to be popular at all costs so she sinned. One day she met Jesus. He looked at her and showed her how sad He was about her sin. At that moment she felt great sorrow for her evil life and made up her mind to live a good life.
Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon. The guests laughed and jeered at her. She knelt at His feet and washed His feet with her tears. Then, with her long, beautiful hair, she wiped his feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume.
People were surprised that Jesus would let such a sinner touch him. Our Lord who could see into Mary's heart said, "I came into your house and you did not give Me water to wash My feet, but this woman washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her many sins are forgiven because she has loved Me very much." Then Jesus said to Mary, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith saved you. Go in peace."
From then on she loved only our Lord. She with the other holy women humbly served Jesus and his apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of his cross. She stayed with our Blessed Mother and Saint John, unafraid for herself. All she could think about was that Jesus was suffering.
After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. She was shocked when she saw that the tomb was empty. Not finding the sacred body, she stood outside the tomb and began to weep. Suddenly she saw someone she thought was the gardener. She asked him if he knew where the body of her beloved Master had been taken.
Touched by her deep sorrow, the man spoke in a voice filled with love that she knew so well "Mary!" It was Jesus, standing right there in front of her. He was risen from the dead. And he had chosen to reveal himself first to her. The Gospels tell us that Mary was sent by Jesus himself to announce the Good News of the resurrection to Peter and the apostles.
Her Feast Day is July 22 nd.
O God, it was St. Mary Magdalene before all others that Your Son committed the message of Easter joy. Through her intercession, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day contemplate Him reigning in glory. Amen.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Not much is known about this awesome Saint. We know of the one important incident in the life of Saint Veronica which took place on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion.
Jesus was carrying His cross. The cross was heavy and the crowds were jeering and laughing at Him. They threw rocks and spat in His face. Jesus stumbled and fell many times.
One time when Jesus fell, He was so weak that He could not stand. Veronica was in the crowd. She was timid and afraid but she knew she had to help Him. She pushed her way to the front of the crowd, pushing the soldiers aside. She took the veil from her head and lovingly wiped Jesus’ face. Jesus looked tenderly at her with so much love in His eyes. He thanked her with a small smile before He was whipped and forced to continue to the place He was to be crucified.
Later that day when she got home, she looked at the veil. She found a most amazing thing! On the veil was a picture of Jesus! The entire world would remember the compassion she showed our Lord.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Gemma was born near Lucca, Italy, in 1878. When she was 20 years old she was attacked by an incurable tuberculosis of the spine. After many novenas to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, she was completely cured.
Gemma tried to imitate St. Gabriel by becoming a Passionist but was rejected. She was again stricken with an illness. Her life of love and suffering came to an end in great misery and loneliness. She said, "0 Jesus, I can bear no more. If it be Your holy Will, take me." She lifted her eyes to a picture of Our Lady and said, "Mother, I commend my soul into your hands, do ask
Jesus to be merciful to me."
She died April 11, 1903. Her feast day is April 11th.
Gemma's remains are in the chapel of the Passionist Sisters Lucca. A marble tablet states: "Gemma Galgani from Lucca, most pure virgin, being in her twenty-fifth year, died of consumption, but was more consumed by the fire of divine love than by her wasting disease."
O God, hear prayers through intercession of St. Gemma, Your Servant, by imitating her for the Passion of Your Loving Son, we grow in our own of Jesus Crucified. Amen.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Jane was born in Dijon, in France. Her father was a devout man and brought up his children well after the death of his wife.
Jane, whom he dearly loved, married Christopher, the baron de Chantal. Jane and Christopher loved each other very much. God blessed them with six children, four of whom lived. Jane showed her love for God by loving her husband and children with her whole heart.
Then, suddenly, that happy home suddenly became sad. Baron Christopher was accidentally shot by a friend who had gone hunting with him. When he died, Jane was heart-broken. She forgave the man who had caused his death and even became his child's godmother. Jane asked the Lord to send a holy priest into her life to guide her. In the meantime, she prayed and brought up her children in the love of God. She visited the poor and the sick and comforted the dying.
When she met Saint Francis de Sales, she knew this was the holy man God had sent to guide her. We celebrate his feast on January 24. Under his guidance, Jane and three other young women started the order of the Visitation. But first, she had to make sure that her children, although older, were settled.
Although she had other responsibilities and challenges, Jane tried to follow God's plan as she saw it, no matter how difficult. Jane faced all the difficulties with courage. She opened up many convents and prayed to God for help when she was tempted to do wrong.
St. Vincent de Paul, wrote "Despite all her suffering, her face never lost its peaceful look. And she was always faithful to God. So I consider her one of the holiest souls I have ever met."
St. Jane died on December 13, 1641. We celebrate her feast day on August 18th.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Zoe Laboure, was born at Burgundy in France as the bells of the Angelus sounded. She was the ninth of eleven children of Peter and Louise Laboure had. Her father Peter, was a rich French farmer.
When Zoe was just nine years old her mother died. Zoe was her father's favourite and he depended on her. When she was twelve, she received her First Holy Communion. From that day on she got up at 4:00 am every morning and walked many miles to church to attend Mass.
Her older sister became a nun and Zoe had to run the house. Zoe, would have liked to enter the convent when she was in her early teens but because she was needed at home, she waited until she was twenty-four. She became a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and took the name of Catherine.
When she finished her training, Sister Catherine received a special favor. She prayed to St. Vincent de Paul that she might see with her own eyes the mother of God. Catherine was sure her wish would be granted.
One night, she was awakened from sleep by a brilliant light and the voice of a child saying "Sister Laboure, come to the Chapel, the Blessed Virgin awaits you." Catherine followed the little Angel who touched the locked Chapel doors and they swung open. The Blessed Virgin appeared with a rustle of silk in a blaze of glory and spoke with Catherine.
Then one Advent, in another vision, the Blessed Mother showed herself standing on a globe with streams of light coming from her hands. Underneath were the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to thee!" The Virgin this time gave her a direct order: "Have a medal struck as I have shown you. All who wear it will receive great graces."
Sister Catherine told her confessor and he later told the bishop. So it was that the medal, which we call the miraculous medal, was made. Soon many, many people all over the world were wearing it. Yet no one in the convent knew that humble Sister Catherine was the one to whom Our Lady had appeared.
She spent the remaining forty-five years of her life doing ordinary convent tasks. She answered the door. She looked after the hens that provided the nuns with eggs. She also took care of elderly and sick people.
She was happy to keep her special privilege hidden, and was only interested in serving God as best she could. Then before she died in 1876, Mother Mary gave her permission to reveal her secret, which she shared with her Sister Superior. After she died, many miracles were reported at her tomb. Her feast day is November 28th.
Lord Jesus Christ, You were pleased to gladden the holy Virgin Catherine by the wonderful apparition of Your Immaculate Mother. Grant that by following the example of this saint we may obtain the joy of eternal life.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Dominic was born in Spain of a wealthy family. He was a member of the Guzman family and his mother was a very holy woman, Blessed Joan of Aza.
When Dominic was seven, he began to go to school. His uncle who was a priest, guided him all through his school years. After years of study, Dominic became a priest.
He lived a quiet life of prayer and obedience with other good priests. God had amazing plans for Dominic. He began a new religious order called the Order of Preachers or "Dominicans," after Saint Dominic. The Dominicans preached the faith to the people. They helped correct false teachings called heresies.
It all began when Dominic was on a trip through southern France. He realized that some people had formed a group and were going about teaching people things that were not true. This was doing them great harm. Dominic felt such pity for all the people who had joined the group and wanted to help them.
The Dominicans conquered that dangerous heresy with prayer, especially by praying the Holy Rosary. Dominic also encouraged the people to be humble and to make sacrifices.
Once someone asked Dominic what book he used to prepare his wonderful sermons. "The only book I use is the book of love," he said. He always prayed to be filled with true love of neighbor. He begged the Dominicans to be devoted to the study of the Bible and to prayer. Dominic and his preachers spread the beautiful practice of saying the Rosary.
Saint Dominic was a brilliant preacher, while Saint. Francis of Assisi was a humble beggar. They were very close friends. Their two orders, the Dominicans and Franciscans helped Christians become holier. Dominic also founded an order of nuns to care for young girls and the Lay Tertiaries, persons of both sexes living in the world.Dominic's friars opened centers in Paris (France), Madrid (Spain), Rome and Bologna (Italy). He lived to see his order spread to Poland, Scandinavia and Palestine. The friars also went to Canterbury, London, and Oxford (in England).
Dominic died in Bologna (Italy) on August 7, 1221. His great friend, Cardinal Ugolino of Venice became Pope Gregory IX and a few years later he proclaimed Dominic a Saint. Saint Dominic’s feast day is celebrated on August 8th.
O God, let St. Dominic help Your Church by his merits and teaching. May he who was an outstanding preacher of truth become a most generous intercessor for us.
Catherine was born at Siena, Tuscany in Italy. Catherine was the youngest in a family of twenty-five children. When she was six years old Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her mother and father wanted her to be happily married. But, Catherine wished only to be a nun.
To make herself as unattractive as possible, she cut off her long, beautiful hair. Her parents were very upset and scolded her often. They also gave her the most difficult housework to do. But Catherine did not change her mind. Finally, her parents stopped bothering her and allowed her to become a nun.
Catherine was very honest and straightforward with Jesus and scolded Him when He was not around to help her in her struggles and temptations. Jesus told her that because He was in her heart she was able to win her struggles by His grace.
One night when the people of Siena were out on the streets celebrating, the little baby Jesus and His mother Mary appeared to Catherine who was praying alone in her room. Mary took Catherine's hand and the infant Jesus put a ring on the saint's finger and she became his bride.
In those days the Church had many problems. There were fights going on all over Italy. Catherine wrote letters to kings and queens. She even went to beg rulers to make peace with the pope and to avoid wars.
Catherine asked the pope to leave Avignon, France, and return to Rome to rule the Church as it was God's will. He listened to Catherine and did as she said.
Catherine never forgot that Jesus was in her heart. Through her, Jesus helped the sick people she nursed and comforted the prisoners she visited in jail.
This great Saint died in Rome in 1380 when she was just thirty-three. She is the patroness of Italy, her country. Hundreds of years later Saint Catherine was named a Doctor of the Church. She received this great honor because she served Jesus' Church boldly during her short lifetime. Her feast day is April 29th.
O God, You caused St. Catherine to shine with Divine love in the contemplation of the Lord's Passion and in the service of Your Church. By her help grant that Your people, associated in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of His glory.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Helen was a British princess and became a Christian late in life. Her faith and piety had a good influence on her son Constantine, the first Christian Emperor. She used her wealth for charity and in building churches. When the Emperor planned to build a church on Mount Calvary, Helen, at the age of eighty, began a journey to Jerusalem, hoping to find the Holy Cross.
Three crosses were found on Mount Calvary, together with the nails and the inscriptions. The three crosses were brought before a woman who was afflicted with an incurable disease. When the third cross touched her, she was perfectly cured.
With great joy the pious Empress went about building a glorious church on Mount Calvary in which she placed the precious relic of the true Cross. She sent pieces of it to Rome and Constantinople. She also had a church built on Mount Olivet.
In the year 312, Constantine obtained a great victory through the power of the Cross. Shortly after, Helen returned to Rome where she died in the year 328. Her feast day is celebrated on August 18th.
Lord Jesus Christ, You revealed Your Cross to St. Helen because You wanted to give us a great treasure. Grant, through her prayers, that the ransom paid on that life giving wood may win us the rewards of everlasting life. Amen.
Barbara was brought up as a pagan. She was a very beautiful young woman, and many princes came to ask her father for her hand in marriage. But she refused to marry. Her father built a tower in which he jealously guarded his daughter. She gave herself to prayer and study, and managed to receive instruction and Baptism secretly.
When her father discovered her conversion, he was so angry that he drew his sword to kill her, but God saved her. Later, her father brought her before a civil judge. The judge said to her, "Choose either to offer to the gods or be put to death by cruel torments." Barbara answered, "I offer myself to my God, Jesus Christ, who created Heaven and earth and all things."
After Barbara was beaten, our Lord came to comfort her in a vision. The judges ordered her to be slain with the sword. But her father came for her and took her to a mountain, where he himself beheaded her while she was praying to God to have mercy on his soul.
Suddenly, fire came from heaven and consumed her father.
Barbara was martyred in the year 235. She is invoked against lightning and fire. Her feast day is December 4th.
O God, You give us joy each year when we celebrate the feast of St. Barbara. May she inspire us by her example of courage and chastity and help us by her prayers. Amen.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Torello was born in Tuscany in Italy. His life as a child in the village was ordinary and normal. After his father's death, he was left with a small fortune and made the wrong kind of friends. They were boys who drank and wasted their time instead of working. Torello liked his new friends and tried hard to please them.
Then while he was playing sport one day, a rooster flew down from its roost. It landed on Torello's arm and crowed three times, long and loud. Torello was speechless and walked away without finishing the game. He knew he was being warned, just as St. Peter had once been warned that his foolish way of life was leading him away from Jesus.
Torello made up his mind then and there to change his life. He went to see the abbot of San Fedele who helped him make a good confession. Then Torello went out to a quiet place in the forest and chose a spot near a big tree where he spent eight days in prayer. At the end of that time he decided that he would be a hermit.
He went back to Poppi and sold all his property. He kept only enough money to buy the small square plot of land around the big tree he had found in the woods. Next to that tree he built a little shack where he spent the rest of his life. He grew his own vegetables for food and got water from the stream. He prayed and performed penances, the hardest of which was sleeping only three hours a night.
Being a hermit Torello felt close to God and he spent fifty years of his life in peace with God. While he was alive, only one friend knew of Torello's hidden life as a hermit in the forest. Blessed Torello died at the age of eighty in 1282. We remember him on March 16th.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Jerome was a Roman Catholic who was born in Dalmatia. His father taught him his religion well, but sent him to a famous pagan school where Jerome grew to love pagan writings and lost some of his love for God. He became great friends with a group of holy Christians, and his heart was turned completely to God.
Later, this brilliant young man decided to live alone in a wild desert. He was afraid that his love for pagan writings would lead him away from the love of God. He welcomed the hard penance and the burning hot desert.
Even there, he suffered terrible temptations. Jerome did not give in. Instead he increased his acts of penance and wept for his sins. He also went to study Hebrew with a monk as his teacher. He did this to get rid of the bad thoughts that kept attacking his mind. He became such a great scholar of Hebrew that he could later translate the Bible into Latin. Many more people were then able to read, learn and enjoy it.
Jerome spent long years of his life in a little cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born. There he prayed, studied the Bible, and taught many people how to serve God. He wrote many letters and even books to protect the faith from non-believers.
Saint Jerome had a bad temper, and because of his sharp tongue he made many enemies yet he was a very holy man who spent his life trying to serve Jesus in the best way he could. So despite his temper, he became a great Saint. He died in 420. His feast day is celebrated on September 30th.
O God, You gave St. Jerome a great love for Holy Scripture. Let Your people feed more abundantly on Your word and find in it the source of life. Amen.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
When he was twenty years old, John studied under Father Balley. He was very patient but John became sad when he found it difficult to learn Latin. He decided to walk sixty miles, which was a very long walk, to the shrine of St. John Francis Regis whose feast we celebrate on June 16. John prayed to St. John Francis for help. After the pilgrimage, he still found his lessons difficult but now he was not sad. He just decided to study harder.
John was finally able to enter the seminary to become a priest. No matter how much he tried, he found his studies quite hard. In the final exams, which were spoken, not written, John had to face a group of teachers and answer their questions. He was very worried and could not complete the test.
He was a holy man, he was full of common sense and understood what the Church taught about the subjects and he knew the right answers when asked what should be done in this case or that. He just couldn't say those answers in the difficult way they were taught in the Latin text books. John was ordained and became a priest. He understood what his job was as a priest and everyone knew he was a good man.
After he became a priest, he was sent to a little parish called Ars. Father Vianney fasted, prayed and did hard penance so that God would save the people of his parish from sin. He ate very little and lived like the poorest of the poor. He did penance for his people and prayed for hours before the Blessed Sacrament. "That is the way to win souls to God," he said. He was often tormented by the devil who tried to keep him from saving souls. The people of his parish were not all good. They drank too much liquor, used bad language, worked even on Sundays and never went to Church.
God heard Fr. Vianney's prayer and one by one the liquor shops closed down. People slowly started going to Church for Mass and began worshipping God. God gave John the power to see into people's minds and to know the future. Because of this gift, he converted many sinners and helped people make the right choices in life.
Hundreds of pilgrims began to come to Ars and St. John Vianney spent sometimes eighteen hours everyday hearing confessions. Father Vianney spent forty years as the parish priest of Ars, dying at the age of 73. His feast day is celebrated on August 4th.
Almighty and merciful God, in St. John Vianney, You have given us a priest who was outstanding in pastoral zeal. Through his intercession help us to win others for Christ and together with them attain eternal glory. Amen.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Saint Joseph of Nazareth is a great Saint who lived his life by faith, a faith that made him a real hero. He was chosen by our Heavenly Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of His greatest treasures, Jesus, His divine son and Mary Queen of heaven. Joseph was Jesus’ foster-father and Mary’s husband.
He was poor all his life and had to work very hard in his carpenter shop but he never complained. Joseph was happy to work for his little family. He loved Jesus and Mary so very much. In the Holy Bible we do not find even one word spoken by Saint Joseph yet, even without words, he shows his deep faith and trust in the Living God.
Whatever the Lord wanted him to do, Joseph did at once, no matter how difficult it was. He was humble and pure, gentle and wise. Jesus and Mary loved him and obeyed him because God had placed him as the head of their family. What a joy for St. Joseph to live with the Son of God himself. Jesus obeyed him, helped him, and loved him.
We pray to St. Joseph as the protector of the dying for a special reason. We believe that Joseph died peacefully in the arms of Jesus and Mary when God finally called his faithful servant to the joy of heaven. St. Joseph died before Jesus' passion and death on the Cross.
St. Teresa of Avila chose St. Joseph as the protector of her order of Carmelite sisters. She had a great trust in his prayers. "Every time I ask St. Joseph for something," she said, "he always obtains it for me." St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church. We celebrate his feast day on March 19th.
Almighty God, You entrusted to the faithful care of Joseph the beginnings of the mysteries of man's salvation. Through his intercession may Your Church always be faithful in her service so that Your designs will be fulfilled. Amen.
A few years after St. Patrick arrived, a little girl named Brigid was born at Faughart, County Louth, in Ireland. Her father was an Irish lord named Dubthac and her mother was a Christian salve named Brocca.
As Brigid grew up, her love for Jesus grew deep. She once heard St. Patrick preach and never forgot his teaching for the rest of her life. She looked for Jesus in the poor and often brought food and clothing to them.
One day she gave away a whole pail of milk and then she began to worry about what her mother would say. She prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away. When she got home, her pail was full again.
Brigid was very pretty and her father thought that it was time for her to marry. But, she had decided in her heart to give herself entirely to God. She did not want to marry anyone. When she realized that young men wanted to marry her because of her beauty, she made an unusual request to God. She asked God to take away her beauty and God granted her request.
Seeing that his daughter was no longer pretty, Brigid's father gladly agreed when Brigid asked to become a nun. She even started a convent with just seven nuns so that other young women could become nuns, too.
As Brigid took her vows in the convent, a miracle happened. Brigid became beautiful again! She reminded people of the Blessed Mother because she was so lovely and gentle. Some called her the "Mary of the Irish." St. Brigid died in 525. Her feast day is February 1st.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents. When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken on a ship to Ireland. There he was sold as a slave. His owner sent him to look after his flocks of sheep on the mountains. Patrick had very little food and clothing yet he took good care of the animals in rain, snow and ice.
Patrick was so lonely on the hillside that he turned often in prayer to Jesus and his Mother Mary. His life was hard but Patrick's trust in God grew stronger all the time. Six years later, he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain. He saw this as a sign and escaped from Ireland.
In Britain he studied to become a priest. Patrick had a strong feeling that he had to go back to Ireland to bring that pagan land of non-believers to Christ. At last his wish came true. He became a priest and then a bishop. Pope St. Celestine I asked Patrick to go as a missionary and preach first in England then in Ireland. How happy he was to bring the Good News of the true God to the people who once held him a slave!
Patrick suffered much in Ireland and there was always the danger that he would be killed, yet he kept on preaching about Jesus. He traveled from one village to another where tribe after tribe became Christian.
One of the pagan kings of Ireland arrested Patrick. When he saw the miracles worked by Patrick, he said, "Tell us about your God. He has given you great power." "There is but one God," answered Patrick, "and three divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Picking up a green shamrock he said, "Even as there are three leaves on this one stern, so there are three Persons in one God." He was allowed to preach the new Faith everywhere in Ireland.
He hardly ever rested and made sacrifices and did hard penance for these people whom he loved so dearly. Before he died, within the thirty-three years he worked in Ireland, the whole nation was Christian.
He was one of the most successful missionaries in the world but his great success in no way made St. Patrick proud. He called himself a poor sinner and gave all praise to God. Patrick died in 461. We celebrate his feast day on March 17th.
O God, You sent St. Patrick to preach Your glory to the Irish people. Through his merits and intercession grant that we who have the honor of bearing the name of Christians may constantly proclaim Your wonderful designs to men. Amen.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Matilda was the daughter of Count Dietrich of Westphalia, Germany. When Matilda was still quite young, her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman named Henry. Soon after their marriage, Henry became king of Germany.
As queen, Matilda lived a simple life and made time for daily prayer. Everyone who saw her realized how good and kind she was. She was more like a mother than a queen. Matilda loved to visit and comfort the sick. She taught the ignorant, helped prisoners and did not let herself be spoiled by her position, but tried to reach out to people in need.
King Henry realized that his wife was a very special person. He often told her that he was a better person and a better king because she was his wife. Even though their marriage had been arranged, Henry and Matilda loved each other very much. They were happily married for twenty-three years.
Matilda was free to use the treasures of the kingdom for her charities and Henry never asked her how she planned to use it. Because of her he became more aware of the needs of people. He realized that as king he had the power to lessen their suffering.
King Henry died quite suddenly in 936. The queen was very sad and felt his loss very much. She made up her mind to live for God alone. So she called the priest to celebrate Mass for King Henry's soul. Then she gave the priest all the jewels she was wearing to show that she meant to give up the things of the world from then on.
Although she was a saint, Matilda favored her son, Henry, more than her son, Otto, in the struggle to be king but she was later very sorry for having done this. She made up for it by accepting without complaint the sufferings that came her way.
She spent the rest of her years practicing charity and penance. Matilda died peacefully in 968 and was buried beside her husband. Her feast day is March 14th.
Euphrasia was a Roman and born to rich but deeply Christian parents. Her father, a relative of Emperor Theodosius I, died when she was just a year old and the emperor looked after Euphrasia and her mother. Emperor Theodosius accomplished his mission of converting Rome into a Christian state.
When Euphrasia was seven, her mother took her to Egypt. There they lived in a large house near a convent of nuns. Euphrasia was fascinated by the nuns. She begged her mother to let her serve God in the convent. She was just a little girl, but she was not about to give up the idea or forget her request. Soon after, Euphrasia's mother took her to the convent and put her in the care of the abbess.
Euphrasia's mother died and the emperor reminded the young woman that her parents had promised her in marriage to a rich young senator. Of course Euphrasia wanted to belong to no one but Jesus. So she wrote a respectful letter to the emperor.
In it she said, "I belong to Jesus, and I cannot give myself to anyone else. My only desire is that the world should forget about me completely. I humbly beg Your Majesty to take all the riches my parents left me and give them to the poor. I ask Your Majesty to free all the slaves of my family. Please cancel all the debts people owe me."
The emperor thought her letter was so beautiful that he read it out loud to all the senators. He agreed to do everything she had asked.
Euphrasia spent the rest of her life as a nun. She never regretted that the Lord had chosen her to be a religious. She often fasted and when faced with temptations, would sometimes spend the day carrying heavy stones from one place to another as penance.
Euphrasia died in 420. We celebrate her feast day on March 13th.
Seraphina was born in a little Italian town called San Geminiano, Tuscany. Her parents had once been rich, but difficult times had made them poor. Fina as her family affectionately called her, was their pretty and lively daughter who had a generous nature.
Each day she saved half of her dinner for someone in the town poorer than she was. During the day she sewed and spun cloth to help the family with expenses. At night, she usually spent a long time praying to Jesus and Mary.
When she was still quite young, her father died. Fina was struck with an illness that deformed and paralyzed her. She found it very painful to move and had to be carried everywhere on a piece of board. Fina lay for six years on wooden planks.
Pain rushed through her whole body and the only way she could bear it was to think of Jesus as he was nailed to the cross. "I unite my sufferings to yours, Jesus," she would whisper. Sometimes, when the pain was just too much, she would say, "It is not my wounds but yours, O Christ, that hurt me."
Fina was left alone for many hours every day because her mother had to go out to work or beg. The neighbors knew about Fina, but her sores smelled so bad that people made excuses not to go and visit her.
Fina's mother suddenly died and she was left alone. Only one neighbor, her good friend Beldia, came to care for her giving Fina as much attention as she could, but Fina had to be left alone most of the time. Fina knew that she could not live much longer but she refused to lose heart.
Someone talked to her about the terrible sufferings St. Gregory the Great had to undergo during his life. Fina became devoted to him and although she did not join the order, she lived the rest of her life following the Benedictine rule.
One day, as she groaned in pain, St. Gregory appeared to her. He said kindly, "Child, on my feast day God will grant you rest." which in older calendars was celebrated on March 12 that was the day he died in 604. And as promised, on March 12, 1253, St. Gregory came to take Fina home to heaven. We celebrate her feast day on March 12th.