Thursday, 21 June 2018

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

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Image: The Vocation of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga by Guercino circa 1650.

The 21st of June is the feast day of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (9 March 1568 – 21 June 1591). He is the patron saint of young students, Christian youth, Jesuit scholastics, the blind, AIDS patients, and AIDS care-givers.

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

ALOYSIUS, the eldest son of Ferdinand Gonzaga, Marquis of Castiglione, was born on the 9th of March, 1568. The first words he pronounced were the holy names of Jesus and Mary. When he was nine years of age he made a vow of perpetual virginity, and by a special grace was ever exempted from temptations against purity. He received his first Communion at the hands of St. Charles Borromeo. At an early age he resolved to leave the world, and in a vision was directed by our blessed Lady to join the Society of Jesus. The Saint’s mother rejoiced on learning his determination to become a religious, but his father for three years refused his consent. At length St. Aloysius obtained permission to enter the novitiate on the 25th of November, 1585. He took his vows after two years, and went through the ordinary course of philosophy and theology. He was wont to say he doubted whether without penance grace would continue to make head against I nature, which, when not afflicted and chastised, tends gradually to relapse into its old state, losing the habit of suffering acquired by the labor of years. “I am a crooked piece of iron,” he said, “and am come into religion to be made straight by the hammer of mortification and penance.” During his last year of theology a malignant fever broke out in Rome; the Saint offered himself for the service of the sick, and he was accepted for the dangerous duty. Several of the brothers caught the fever, and Aloysius was of the number. He was brought to the point of death, but recovered, only to fall, however, into slow fever, which carried him off after three months. He died, repeating the Holy Name, a little after midnight between the 20th and 21st of June, on the octave-day of Corpus Christi, being Prather more than twenty-three years of age.

Reflection.—Cardinal Bellarmine, the Saint’s confessor, testified that he had never mortally offended God. Yet he chastised his body rigorously, rose at night to pray, and shed many tears for his sins. Pray that, not having followed his innocence, you may yet imitate his penance.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Blesseds John Fenwick and John Gavan

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Image: John Fenwick, by Martin Bouche, print, published 1683

The 20th of June is the feast day of Blesseds John Fenwick (1628–1679) and John Gavan (1640–1679). They were English Jesuits, executed at the time of the fabricated Popish Plot. They were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

John Fenwick’s parents were protestant and disowned him when he converted to the Catholic faith. They were both accused of being involved in the Popish Plot, along with three other Jesuits. The Popish Plot was a fabricated conspiracy in England during the anti-Catholic hysteria. They were charged with plotting the assassination of King Charles II and condemned with High Treason and subversion of the Protestant religion. John Gavan acted as the spokesman for the group during their trial. Both of the priests were condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered. The King knew they were innocent but did not want to pardon them, and declared that they should be hung only in an act of clemency. They were martyred together on 20th of June 1679.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Saints Gervasius and Protasius

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Image: Martyrdom of Gervasius and Protasius

The 19th of June is the feast day of Saints Gervasius and Protasius (d. 2nd century). They are also known as Saints Gervase and Protase, Gervasis and Prothasis and in French Gervais and Protais. They are the patron saints of Milan; Breisach; haymakers; and invoked for the discovery of thieves.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Martyrs of Milan, probably in the second century, patrons of the city of Milan and of haymakers; invoked for the discovery of thieves. Feast, in the Latin Church, 19 June, the day of the translation of the relics; in the Greek Church, 14 Oct., the supposed day of their death. Emblems: scourge, club, sword.

The Acts (Acta SS., June, IV, 680 and 29) were perhaps compiled from a letter (Ep. liii) to the bishops of Italy, falsely ascribed to St. Ambrose. They are written in a very simple style, but it has been found impossible to establish their age. According to these, Gervasius and Protasius were twins, children of martyrs. Their father Vitalis, a man of consular dignity, suffered martyrdom at Ravenna under Nero (?). The mother Valeria died for her faith at Milan. The sons are said to have been scourged and then beheaded, during the reign of Nero, under the presidency of Anubinus or Astasius, and while Cajus was Bishop of Milan. Some authors place the martyrdom under Diocletian, while others object to this time, because they fail to understand how, in that case, the place of burial, and even the names, could be forgotten by the time of St. Ambrose, as is stated. De Rossi places their death before Diocletian. It probably occurred during the reign of Antoninus (161-168).

St. Ambrose, in 386, had built a magnificent basilica at Milan. Asked by the people to consecrate it in the same solemn manner as was done in Rome, he promised to do so if he could obtain the necessary relics. In a dream he was shown the place in which such could be found. He ordered excavations to be made in the cemetery church of Sts. Nabor and Felix, outside the city, and there found the relics of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. He had them removed to the church of St. Fausta, and on the next day into the basilica, which later received the name San Ambrogio Maggiore. Many miracles are related to have occurred, and all greatly rejoiced at the signal favour from heaven, given at the time of the great struggle between St. Ambrose and the Arian Empress Justina. Of the vision, the subsequent discovery of the relics and the accompanying miracles, St. Ambrose wrote to his sister Marcellina. St. Augustine, not yet baptized, witnessed the facts, and relates them in his “Confessions”, IX, vii; in “De civ. Dei”, XXII, viii; and in “Serm. 286 in natal. Ss. Mm. Gerv. et Prot.”, they are also attested by St. Paulinus of Nola, in his life of St. Ambrose. The latter died 397 and, as he had wished, his body was, on Easter Sunday, deposited in his basilica by the side of these martyrs. In 835, Angilbert II, a successor in the See of Milan, placed the relics of the three saints in a porphyry sarcophagus, and here they were again found, January, 1864 (Civiltà Cattolica, 1864, IX, 608, and XII, 345).

A tradition claims that after the destruction of Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, his chancellor Rainald von Dassel had taken the relics from Milan, and deposited them at Altbreisach in Germany, whence some came to Soissons; the claim is rejected by Milan (Biraghi, “I tre sepoleri”, etc. Milan, 1864). Immediately after the finding of the relics by St. Ambrose, the cult of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius was spread in Italy, and churches were built in their honour at Pavia, Nola, etc. In Gaul we find churches dedicated to them, about 400, at Mans, Rouen, and Soissons. At the Louvre there is now a famous picture of the saints by Lesueur (d. 1655), which was formerly in their church at Paris. According to the “Liber Pontificalis”, Innocent I (402-417) dedicated a church to them at Rome. Later, the name of St. Vitalis, their father, was added to the title. Very early their names were inserted in the Litany of the Saints. The whole history of these saints has received a great deal of adverse criticism. Some deny their existence, and make them a Christianized version of the Dioscuri of the Romans. Thus Harris, “The Dioscuri in Christian Legend”, but see “Analecta Boll.” (1904), XXIII, 427.

STOKES in Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v.; KRIEG in Kirchenlex., s.v.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints (19 June).

FRANCIS MERSHMAN

Monday, 18 June 2018

Saints Mark and Marcellian

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Image: Saint Sebastian, with Saints Mark and Marcellian

The 18th of June is the feast day of Saints Mark and Marcellian (d. c. 286). They were martyred at Rome under the Emperor Diocletian.

The following is from Butler’ Lives of the Saints:

MARCUS AND MARCELLIANUS were twin brothers of an illustrious family in Rome, who had been converted to the Faith in their youth and were honorably married. Diocletian ascending the imperial throne in 284, the heathens raised persecutions. These martyrs were thrown into prison, and condemned to be beheaded. Their friends obtained a respite of the execution for thirty days, that they might prevail on them to worship the false gods, Tranquillinus and Martia, their afflicted heathen parents, in company with their sons’ own wives and their little babes, endeavored to move them by the most tender entreaties and tears. St. Sebastian, an officer of the emperor’s household, coming to Rome soon after their commitment, daily visited and encouraged them. The issue of the conferences was the happy conversion of the father, mother, and wives, also of Nicostratus, the public register, and soon after of Chromatius, the judge, who set the Saints at liberty, and, abdicating the magistracy, retired into the country. Marcus and Marcellianus were hid by a Christian officer of the household in his apartments in the palace; but they were betrayed by an apostate, and retaken. Fabian, who had succeeded Chromatius, condemned them to be bound to two pillars, with their feet nailed to the same. In this posture they remained a day and a night, and on the following day were stabbed with lances.

Reflection.—We know not what we are till we have been tried. It costs nothing to say we love God above all things, and to show the courage of martyrs at a distance from the danger; but that love is sincere which has stood the proof. “Persecution shows who is a hireling, and who a true pastor,” says St. Bernard.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Saint Emily de Vialar

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Image: Emily de Vialar

The 17th of June is the feast day of Saint Emily de Vialer (1797–1856). She is also known as Émilie de Vialar. She was a was a French nun who founded the missionary congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.

The following is from Wikipedia:

Emily de Vialar was born on 12 September 1797 to Antoinette Portal and Jacques de Vialar. At a young age, Saint Emily was taught by her mother how to read and was also taught of God’s existence. Emily was born 3 years after the Reign of Terror, in the same year as Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner by French troops. She was the oldest of 3 children and was baptized in secret. At age 7, Emily moved to a boarding school in Paris. After a long journey, her mother got a horrible sickness. Antoinette’s father was trying to cure her as he lived in Paris and was also a doctor. However, on 17 September 1810, at the age of 35, her mother died. Poor Emily was only 15 when her died. She argued with her father daily, who wanted to pursue a religious life. In private, she lived a life of celibacy and prayer.

After many years spent between family tyranny and minor worldly pleasures, Emily decided to turn to God for help. She started helping local poor people in need but her father was furious. He would shout at her for helping out. She also helped with unfortunate women in her town get a better education. On Christmas she and 3 other women founded the sisters of Saint Joseph of the apparition. The congregation spread through Algeria, Tunisia, Greece, Malta, Jerusalem, and the Balkans. Emily and 17 other sisters received a formal approval for the rule of congregation in 1835.

After years, her grandfather had died and left a huge fortune for Emily and her brothers. And with that money, she decided to open her congregation. With that, she left her father’s house on Christmas Day, 1832.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Saint John Regis

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Image: Saint John Regis

The 16th of June is the feast day of Saint John Regis (31 January 1597 – 31 December 1640). He was born Jean-François Régis, and also known as Saint John Francis Regis and St. Regis. He is the patron saint of Regis University, Regis High School, New York City, Regis Jesuit High School Aurora, Colorado, and lacemakers.

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

ST. JOHN FRANCIS REGIS was born in Languedoc, in 1597. From his tenderest years he showed evidences of uncommon sanctity by his innocence of life, modesty, and love of prayer. At the age of eighteen he entered the Society of Jesus. As soon as his studies were over, he gave himself entirely to the salvation of souls. The winter he spent in country missions, principally in mountainous districts; and in spite of the rigor of the weather and the ignorance and roughness of the inhabitants, he labored with such success that he gained innumerable souls to God both from heresy and from a bad life. The summer he gave to the towns. There his time was taken up in visiting hospitals and prisons, in preaching and instructing, and in assisting all who in any way stood in need of his services. In his works of mercy God often helped him by miracles. In November, 1637, the Saint set out for his second mission at Marthes. His road lay across valleys filled with snow and over mountains frozen and precipitous. In climbing one of the highest, a bush to which he was clinging gave way, and he broke his leg in the fall. By the help of his companion he accomplished the remaining six miles, and then, instead of seeing a surgeon, insisted on being taken straight to the confessional. There, after several hours, the curate of the parish found him still seated, and when his leg was examined the fracture was found to be miraculously healed. He was so inflamed with the love of God that he seemed to breathe, think, speak of that alone, and he offered up the Holy Sacrifice with such attention and fervor that those who assisted at it could not but feel something of the fire with which he burned. After twelve years of unceasing labor, he rendered his pure and innocent soul to his Creator, at the age of forty-four.

Reflection.—When St. John Francis was struck in the face by a sinner whom he was reproving, he replied, “If you only knew me, you would give me much more than that” His meekness converted the man, and it is in this spirit that he teaches us to win souls to God. How much might we do if we could forget our own wants in remembering those of others, and put our trust in God!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Saint Germaine Cousin

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Image: Saint Germaine of Pibrac, Auch Cathedral, France.
The 15th of June is the feast day of Saint Germaine Cousin (1579–1601). She is also known as Germana Cousin, Germaine of Pibrac, and Germana. She is the patron saint of abandoned people; abuse victims; against poverty; disabled people; girls from rural areas; illness; impoverishment; loss of parents; shepherdesses; sick people; unattractive people; and physical therapists.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse; died in her native place in 1601. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretence of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret. In this hard school Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she heard Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks.

She is said to have practised many austerities as a reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches. She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book, and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream. Whenever she could do so, she assembled the children of the village around her and sought to instil into their minds the love of Jesus and Mary. The villagers were inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God’s signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe. In repairing to the village church she had to cross a stream. The ford in winter, after heavy rains or the melting of snow, was at times impassable. On several occasions the swollen waters were seen to open and afford her a passage without wetting her garments. Notwithstanding her poverty she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with the other children, but she begged to be allowed to remain in the humbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father finding that she had not risen at the usual hour went to call her; he found her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was then twenty-two years of age.

Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact. Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.

The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845. On 7 May, 1854, Pius IX proclaimed her beatification, and on 29 June, 1867, placed her on the canon of virgin saints. Her feast is kept in the Diocese of Toulouse on 15 June. She is represented in art with a shepherd’s crook or with a distaff; with a watchdog, or a sheep; or with flowers in her apron.

GUÉRIN in Petits Bollandistes, 15 June; VEUILLOT, Vie de la bienheureuse Germaine (2d ed., Paris, 1904).

C. Mulcahy.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Saint Joseph the Hymnographer

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Image: Saint Joseph the Hymnographer, Russian Icon

The 14th of June is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (c. 816 – 3 April 886). He is also known as “the sweet-voiced nightingale of the Church.”

Saint Joseph the Hymnographer was born in Sicily to pious Christians. His family moved to Greece to avoid persecution when the Muslims invaded. He entered a monastery at the age of 15, growing in holiness and virtue. Saint Gregory the Dekapolite went to Constantinople with Joseph to defend the traditional reference of icons and oppose the iconoclast heresy. Saint Joseph was chosen by the local clergy to obtain Pope Leo III’s assistance in their battle against the iconoclast heretics who were gaining in power. On his way there, the Muslims captured Saint Joseph and gave him to the iconoclast heretics. While he was a prisoner, Saint Nicholas appeared to Saint Joseph and asked him to sing in the name of God. He was a prisoner for six years and after being set free returned to Constantinople and founded a monastery dedicated to Saint Gregory. He dedicated a church in the name of Saint Bartholomew as well, as he had a devotion to him. In a dream, Saint Bartholomew appeared to Saint Joseph and encouraged him to write hymns for the Church. He dedicated his first hymn in honour of Saint Bartholomew and then wrote other hymns dedicated to Saint Nicholas, Our Lady and other saints. He composed nearly 1000 hymns in his life. He was first exiled when he rose against the heresy of iconoclasm for eleven years, and was exiled a second time for defending the doctrine of the orthodox Christians. He died in Constantinople.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Saint Anthony of Padua

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Image: Anthony of Padua with the Infant Jesus by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1627–1630

The 13th of June is the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua (15 August 1195 – 13 June 1231). He was born as Fernando Martins de Bulhões and is also known as Anthony of Lisbon. He was a Portuguese Catholic priest and a Franciscan friar. He is the patron saint of Lisbon, lost items, lost people, lost souls, American Indians; amputees; animals; barrenness; Brazil; elderly people; faith in the Blessed Sacrament; fishermen; Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land; harvests; horses; lost articles; lower animals; mail; mariners; oppressed people; poor people; Portugal; pregnant women; seekers of lost articles; shipwrecks; starvation; sterility; swineherds; Tigua Indians; travel hostesses; travellers; Tuburan, Cebu; Watermen; runts of litters; counter-revolutionaries; and San Antonio De Padua Parish, Taytay, Rizal.

Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, to a powerful and pious family. When he was 15 years old he chose to serve God and the Augustinians, relinquishing his wealth and nobility. After witnessing the bodies of martyred Franciscan friars passing through the town he decided to join the Franciscans and travel to Morocco to preach to the Moors. However, due to his poor health, he was forced to return to Italy where he lived a quiet and secluded life in prayer and priestly duties. One day, he was called upon to be substitute preacher and amazed everyone with his gift of preaching and depth of knowledge. He became known as a foremost preacher of the Franciscans and was sent to preach against the heretics. He was called the “Hammer of the Heretics,” and was also known for his holiness and as a miracle worker. In 1946 he was named a Doctor of the Church.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Pope Saint Leo III

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Image: Pope Saint Leo III

The 12th of June is the feast day of Pope Saint Leo III (d. 12 June 816). He was a Pope from 26 December 795 till his death in 816. He crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor and “Augustus of the Romans.”

Pope Saint Leo III was a cardinal in Rome and was elected as pope on the same day his predecessor was buried. During his life, there was tension between popes and emperors. Pope Saint Leo recognised Charlemagne as the protector of the See of Rome. This gained him enemies within the Roman nobles. Because of this, he was attacked by a mob who cut off his tongue and his eyes hoping he would not be able to serve anymore. He survived and was imprisoned by those that attacked him. His eyes and tongue were miraculously restored and he escaped to Charlemagne for protection. Charlemagne brought him back to Rome and put to trial his enemies. On 800 A.D. during Christmas Mass, Pope Saint Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor. Pope Saint Leo III was known as an effective administrator and for improving the churches. He helped create greater cooperation between the Church and the secular nations of Europe, maintaining their collective identity as Christians.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

June 02, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, I am calling you to accept my words which I am speaking to you as a mother, with a simplicity of heart, so that you may set out on the way of complete light and purity, of the singular love of my Son, man and God. A joy - a light indescribable in human words - will penetrate your soul and the peace and love of my Son will take hold of you. I desire this for all of my children. Therefore, you, apostles of my love, you who know how to love and forgive, you who do not judge, you whom I encourage, you be an example to all those who are not going on the way of light and love or who have diverted from it. By your life show them the truth. Show them love because love overcomes all difficulties, and all of my children thirst for love. Your unity in love is a gift to my Son and me. But, my children, remember that to love also means to desire the good for your neighbor and to desire conversion of your neighbor's soul. As I am looking at you gathered around me, my heart is sad, because I see so little brotherly love, merciful love. My children, the Eucharist - my Son alive among you - His words will help you comprehend, because His word is life, His word makes the soul breathe, His word brings about cognition of love. Dear children, anew, I am imploring you as a mother who desires the good for her children: love your shepherds, pray for them. Thank you.

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