Friday, 15 December 2017

Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli

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A picture of Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli, a Genoa XVI century woman.

The 15th of December is the feast day of Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli. She is the patron saint of the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Cavalry.

Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli was born in Genoa, Italy in 1587, to an aristocratic family. At the age of 15 she was forced to marry a wealthy and illustrious man and had two daughters. At the age of 20 her husband died and she refused another arranged marriage. Saint Virginia then took a vow of celibacy and began charitable works for the sick and the poor while raising her two daughters. Once they were grown, she used her wealth to create a refuge center which became a large hospital and then into two religious congregations; the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary, and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary. Among her good works included her ability to be a peacemaker between noble families. She died in 1651 and her body is incorrupt.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Saint John of the Cross

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Saint John of the Cross by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1656

The 14th of December is the feast day of Saint John of the Cross. He is the patron saint of the contemplative life; contemplatives; mystical theology; mystics; and Spanish poets.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

THE father of St. John was discarded by his kindred for marrying a poor orphan, and the Saint, thus born and nurtured in poverty, chose it also for his portion. Unable to learn a trade, he became the servant of the poor in the hospital of Medina, while still pursuing his sacred studies. In 1563, being then twenty-one, he humbly offered himself as a lay-brother to the Carmelite friars, who, however, knowing his talents, had him ordained priest. He would now have exchanged to the severe Carthusian Order, had not St. Teresa, with the instinct of a Saint, persuaded him to remain and help her in the reform of his own Order. Thus he became the first prior of the Barefooted Carmelites. His reform, though approved by the general, was rejected by the elder friars, who condemned the Saint as a fugitive and apostate, and cast him into prison, whence he only escaped, after nine months’ suffering, at the risk of his life. Twice again, before his death, he was shamefully persecuted by his brethren, and publicly disgraced. But his complete abandonment by creatures only deepened his interior peace and devout longing for heaven.

Reflection.—”Live in the world,” said St. John, “as if God and your soul only were in it; so shall your heart be never made captive by any earthly thing.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Saint Lucy

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The 13th of December is the feast day of Saint Lucy. She is the patron saint of the blind; martyrs; Perugia, Italy; Mtarfa, Malta; epidemics; salesmen; Syracuse; Italy; throat infections; and writers.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Our Lady of Guadalupe

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The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The 12th of December is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the 9th of December 1531, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Juan Diego, an Aztec peasant, saw the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Hill of Tepeyac which is near present-day Mexico City. The Bishop requested that Her identity be proved, and Our Lady instructed Saint Juan Diego to gather roses found growing on the hill and take the roses to the bishop. The roses were not native to the area and it was not in season. Saint Juan Diego gathered the roses in his tilma, a cloak, and when he opened the tilma to reveal the roses to the bishop, an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on the tilma, dressed as a pregnant Aztec princess. The designs in the tilma are like the codex to the Aztecs, and reveals the truth of the Catholic faith that was preached by the missionary priests. Millions were converted as a result of this miracle. The apparition and image are known under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and is the first apparition in the new world and the only apparition where Our Lady produced an image of Herself. The tilma is now venerated at the basilica and shrine in Mexico City. She is the patroness of the Americas, the new Evangelisation and the unborn.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Pope Saint Damasus I

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Lithography of Pope Saint Damasus I (Lisboa, 1840).
The 11th of December is the feast day of Pope Saint Damasus I. He is the patron saint of archaeologists.
The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:
ST. DAMASUS was born at Rome at the beginning of the fourth century. He was archdeacon of the Roman Church in 355, when Pope Liberius was banished to Berda, and followed him into exile, but afterward returned to Rome. On the death of Liberius our Saint was chosen to succeed him. Ursinus, a competitor for the high office, incited a revolt, but the holy Pope took only such action as was becoming to the common father of the faithful. Having freed the Church of this new schism, he turned his attention to the extirpation of Arianism in the West and of Apollinarianism in the East, and for this purpose he convened several councils. He rebuilt the church of St. Laurence, which to this day is known as St. Laurence in Damaso; he made many valuable presents to this church, and settled upon it houses and lands in its vicinity. He likewise drained all the springs of the Vatican, which ran over the bodies that were buried there, and decorated the sepulchres of a great number of martyrs in the cemeteries, and adorned them with epitaphs in verse. Having sat eighteen years and two months, he died on the 10th of December, in 384, being near fourscore years of age.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Saint Juan Diego

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Juan Diego by Miguel Cabrera, 1752
The 9th of December is the feast day of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. He is also known as Juan Diegotzil. He is the patron saint of indigenous peoples.
Saint Juan Diego lived between 1474 till 1548. He was a poor but humble peasant, the lowest class of Aztec Indians in today’s Mexico. He had native name which was Cuauhtlatoatzin, it means “eagle that talks.” At the age of 50 he was baptised by a Franciscan missionary priest and took up the Christian name of Juan Diego. On the 9th of December 1531, which was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady appeared to him as he went on his way to mass. She appeared as a pregnant Aztec princess on the hill of Tepayac in what is today’s Mexico City. She left her image on Juan Diego’s tilma as proof of her appearance to the local bishop. The image is now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe and the tilma can still be seen in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Saint Juan Diego was canonised in 2002 by Pope Saint John Paul II. He is the first indigenous saint from the Americas.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

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Mary’s holy and immaculate conception, by Francisco Rizi, Museo del Prado, 17th-century, Oil on canvas.
The 8th of December is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated 9 months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary which is on the 8th of September.
The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:
ON this day, so dear to every Catholic heart, we celebrate, in the first place, the moment in which Almighty God showed Mary, through the distance of ages, to our first parents as the Virgin Mother of the divine Redeemer, the woman destined to crush the head of the serpent. And as by eternal decree she was miraculously exempt from all stain of original sin, and endowed with the richest treasures of grace and sanctity, it is meet that we should honor her glorious prerogatives by this special feast of the Immaculate Conception. We should join in spirit with the blessed in heaven, and rejoice with our dear Mother, not only for her own sake, but for ours, her children, who are partakers of her glory and happiness. Secondly, we are called upon to celebrate that ever-memorable day, the 8th of December, 1854, which raised the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady from a pious belief to the dignity of a dogma of the Infallible Church, causing universal joy among the faithful.
Reflection.—Let us repeat frequently these words applied by the Church to the Blessed Virgin: “Thou art all fair, O Mary? and there is not a spot in thee” (Cant. iv. 7).

Saint Ambrose

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St. Ambrose with Book and Whip
The 7th of December is the feast day of Saint Ambrose. He is the patron saint of bee keepers; bees; bishops; candle makers; domestic animals; French Commissariat; geese; learning; livestock; Milan; police officers; students; and wax refiners.
The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:
AMBROSE was of a noble family, and was governor of Milan in 374, when a bishop was to be chosen for that great see. As the Arian heretics were many and fierce, he was present to preserve order during the election. Though only a catechumen, it was the will of God that he should himself be chosen by acclamation; and, in spite of his utmost resistance, he was baptized and consecrated. He was unwearied in every duty of a pastor, full of sympathy and charity, gentle and condescending in things indifferent, but inflexible in matters of principle. He showed his fearless zeal in braving the anger of the Empress Justina, by resisting and foiling her impious attempt to give one of the churches of Milan to the Arians, and by rebuking and leading to penance the really great Emperor Theodosius, who in a moment of irritation had punished most cruelly a sedition of the inhabitants of Thessalonica. He was the friend and consoler of St. Monica in all her sorrows, and in 387 he had the joy of admitting to the Church her son, St. Augustine. St. Ambrose died in 397, full of years and of honors, and is revered by the Church of and as one of her greatest doctors.
Reflection.—Whence came to St. Ambrose his grandeur of mind, his clearness of insight, his intrepidity in maintaining the faith and discipline of the Church? Whence but from his contempt of the world, from his fearing God alone?

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Saint Nicholas

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Russian icon depicting Saint Nicholas with scenes from his life. Late 15th century or early 16th century. National Museum, Stockholm.

The 6th of December is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. He is also known as Nikolaos of Myra and Nikolaos the Wonderworker. He is the patron saint of children, coopers, sailors, fishermen, merchants, broadcasters, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, brewers, pharmacists, archers, pawnbrokers, Aberdeen, Galway, Russia, Greece, Hellenic Navy, Liverpool, Bari, Siggiewi, Moscow, Amsterdam, Lorraine and Duchy of Lorraine.

The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

ST. NICHOLAS, the patron Saint of Russia, was born toward the end of the third century. His uncle, the Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him priest, and appointed him abbot of a monastery; and on the death of the archbishop he was elected to the vacant see. Throughout his life he retained the bright and guileless manners of his early years, and showed himself the special protector of the innocent and the wronged. Nicholas once heard that a person who had fallen into poverty intended to abandon his three daughters to a life of sin. Determined, if possible, to save their innocence, the Saint went out by night, and, taking with him a bag of gold, flung it into the window of the sleeping father and hurried off. He, on awaking, deemed the gift a godsend, and with it dowered his eldest child. The Saint, overjoyed at his success, made like venture for the second daughter; but the third time as he stole away, the father, who was watching, overtook him and kissed his feet, saying: “Nicholas, why dost thou conceal thyself from me? Thou art my helper, and he who has delivered my soul and my daughters’ from hell.” St. Nicholas is usually represented by the side of a vessel, wherein a certain man had concealed the bodies of his three children whom he had killed, but who were restored to life by the Saint. He died in 342. His relics were translated in 1807, to Bari, Italy, and there, after fifteen centuries, “the manna of St. Nicholas” still flows from his bones and heals all kinds of sick.

Reflection.—Those who would enter heaven must be as little children, whose greatest glory is their innocence. Now, two things are ours to do: first, to preserve it in ourselves, or regain it by penance; secondly, to love and shield it in others.

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