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St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Wed, 08/31/2011 - 00:00

One to Call

Aidan was a humble man. He was greatly loved and respected because of his love and compassion for the poor, his kindness toward people, and his distaste for pomp and excessiveness. He exuded genuine warmth, humility, and a deep love of goodness — a man anyone would love to call “friend”!

Aidan of Lindisfarne was born in Ireland. It is believed he studied under St. Senan before becoming a monk at Iona, the monastery St. Columba had established. At the request of King Oswald of Northumbria, Aidan became the first bishop of Lindisfarne, a small island off the coast of Northern England, in 635. He was well-known throughout the kingdom for his knowledge of the Bible and his great learnedness and eloquence as a preacher. He was known to be holy, and miracles were attributed to him.

He founded and became abbot of the monastery at Lindisfarne, which became known as the English Iona. Created by its monks was the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the most beautiful works of art from the medieval period. It was a center of learning and a great storehouse of European literature during the Middle Ages, as well as a center of missionary activity for all of northern England. He died in 651 at the royal castle at Bamburgh and his feast day is August 31.

Prayer

O loving God,
who called your servant Aidan
from the peace of a cloister
to re-establish the Christian mission
in northern England,
and gave him the gifts of gentleness,
simplicity, and strength:
Grant that we, following his example,
may use what you have given us
for the relief of human need,
and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel
of our Redeemer Jesus Christ;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Raymond Nonnatus (1240), Religious, Patron of midwives

St. Aristedes (2nd Century)

Blessed Juvenal Ancina

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 00:00

Blessed Juvenal Ancina was born John Juvenal Ancina in 1545, the son of a successful Spanish businessman. His father sent him to France to study medicine, but his excellent study habits earned him the prestigious opportunity to end his studies at the University of Turin with doctorates in both medicine and philosophy.

By age 24, he had built a thriving medical practice in Turin largely due to his love for the poor, whom he treated without charge. In his spare time, he immersed his love of philosophy through his hobby of poetry-writing, scripting lovely sonnets in Italian and Latin. In those days, his attitude towards spiritual things could be described at best as lukewarm.

His transformation arrived in his own “awakening” at a funeral mass, when the words from the solemn Dies Irae opened his eyes. In an instant, he saw that while he was good, God expected best. From that moment, he began to engage in a life of prayer. He was offered a position as the personal physician of an ambassador and therefore moved to Rome in 1575. There, Juvenal met and began theological studies with Saint Robert Bellarmine. Through this friendship, he began spiritual direction under St. Philip Neri and eventually was ordained a priest with the Oratory.

A successful preacher, he was credited with the transformation of many lives just by the words of his powerful sermons. He is also noted for promulgating the “40 hours devotion,” a practice of continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He befriended St. Francis de Sales and often became the subject of Francis’ writings.

Despite his inner protesting and his attempts to escape the ordination, Juvenal was named Bishop of Saluzzo in 1602. Through this apostolate, he was able to use many of his charisms such as healing and prophecy. One of his last prophecies foretold of his own death.

A friar, upset by the fact that Bishop Juvenal had uncovered his affair with a nun, poisoned him with tainted wine at his monastery. He died a few days later. Juvenal Ancina was declared “blessed” in 1869, as a bishop-confessor.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Rose of Lima (1617), Virgin, first canonized saint of the Americas, Patroness Saint of South America and gardeners

Saints Felix and Adauctus (304), Martyrs

St. Fiacre of Brie (670), Hermit, Patron of gardeners and cab-drivers

Blessed Bronislava (1259), Virgin, Patroness of a happy death, prevention of disease

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (Prophet and Martyr)

Mon, 08/29/2011 - 00:00

The Last Prophet’s Last Offering

John the Baptist was born about six months before his cousin, Jesus Christ. We remember the Virgin Mary, who had just conceived the Word of God, hurrying to meet her cousin Elizabeth, who was in the sixth month of her miraculous pregnancy. Elizabeth was considered far too old to conceive a child, but she waited with faith and hope, and the love of the Lord, Who was faithful as He always is. She and Zachariah, her husband, made a promise to God that they would name their child John.

The birth of John the Baptist is commemorated on June 24, and his martyrdom on August 29. John had been sent by the Lord to prepare the way for the Messiah. He is the last prophet before the Birth of Christ. He was actively “preparing the way of the Lord” by baptizing and boldly proclaiming the need for people to repent of their sins. His message was directed to the poor and weak, and the rich and powerful. He dressed in camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey, yet people were drawn to his message of repentance and forgiveness, and flocked to him to be baptized. Christ Himself came to John to be baptized, to mark the beginning of His public ministry. Humble, John tried to refuse but did baptize Jesus, and we see here the first “Theophany” — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all present as distinct Persons.

According to St. Mark’s Gospel (6:14-29), John had publicly criticized King Herod for living with his brother’s wife. (This was not Herod the Great, who had tried to kill the infant Jesus, but rather one of his sons.) Herod had John arrested and imprisoned, though he had no definite idea of what to do next. St. Mark tells us that “Herod feared John, knowing him to be a holy and upright man…. When he heard him speak he was very much disturbed, yet he felt the attraction of his words” (Mk 6:20).

Herodias, Herod’s sister-in-law, had no such respect for John. Embarrassed by his speaking out against her living arrangement with Herod, she was determined to have him killed. Her daughter (traditionally known as Salome) performed a dance at Herod’s birthday feast which delighted the king and his guests so much that he publicly promised to grant her anything she wanted, up to half his kingdom. Prompted by her mother, the girl asked for John’s head. Because of his guests, Herod reluctantly agreed, and dispatched the executioner, who beheaded John.  When his disciples heard of this, they came and took away the Baptist’s body, and then informed Jesus. Speaking of John, Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11).

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Sabina (127), Martyr

St. Medericus (or Merry) (700), Abbot

St. Augustine

Sun, 08/28/2011 - 00:00

A Wayward Son Returns Home

He was deluded by paganism and lived a sinful lifestyle. Yet he became one of the greatest thinkers in Western history, and more importantly, a saint. St. Augustine (354-430) was a brilliant scholar and teacher even as a young man, but he was led astray by the false charms of a wayward life. He lived with a mistress and fathered a child out of wedlock, and deeply resented the prayers his mother, St. Monica, offered on his behalf.

Knowing that his mother wanted to accompany him when he moved to Rome, Augustine slipped away (telling her he was going down to the docks to send off a friend, when in fact he, himself, was departing). Heartbroken, Monica followed him to Rome and then to Milan, where she was encouraged to persevere in her prayers by the great bishop, St. Ambrose.

Ambrose’s own spiritual and intellectual integrity prompted Augustine to re-examine his own beliefs, and during the spiritual crisis which resulted, Augustine heard a voice telling him to “take and read” the Bible. When he did so, he opened by chance to St. Paul’s statement that “the night is far spent, and the day draws near … therefore, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Rom 13:12-14).

Upon reading this passage, Augustine finally experienced a sense of true peace and enlightenment, leading to a profound conversion. He was baptized a Christian on Easter, 387, and he and St. Monica rejoiced together in the short time remaining before her death.

Augustine returned to North Africa and was ordained a priest; in 396 was chosen as Bishop of the city of Hippo. He was a very successful pastor and an even greater theologian, playing a major role in overcoming the heresies of Donatism (an excessively harsh understanding of Christianity) and Pelagianism (the false belief that humans can save themselves without the help of God’s grace). He helped develop the Church’s teachings on grace, original sin, and the Holy Trinity. He is a Doctor of the Church. His autobiography, the Confessions is beloved by many, and his life is an inspiration to all who seek the merciful forgiveness of God.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Hermes (132), Martyr

St. Monica

Sat, 08/27/2011 - 00:00

Rewards of Persistent Prayer

St. Monica (331-387) was the mother of St. Augustine (whose feast day is August 28). Monica, her pagan and licentious husband Patricius, his cantankerous mother, and her three children (including Augustine) all lived together in North Africa.

There was plenty of potential for family strife and discord, but Monica’s patience and charity made the difference; her saintly example eventually brought about the conversions of her husband and mother-in-law.

Augustine, however, proved a tougher nut to crack; he indulged in a free and loose lifestyle, and adhered to a pagan philosophy condemned by the Church. After Patricius died, Monica tried to discipline her brilliant but wayward son (at one point even locking him out of her house), but to no avail. Monica’s constant sacrifices, prayers, and admonitions seemed to have little effect (other than annoying her son).

At the age of twenty-nine, Augustine tried to break free of his mother’s influence, traveling to Rome and then to Milan; a determined Monica followed him and was present when her son finally experienced a conversion. Augustine became a Christian in 387; St. Monica became ill and died soon after this. The time remaining to mother and son was short but beautiful, for they shared their faith and discussed the life to come.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Joseph Calasanctius (Calasanz) (1648), Priest, Founder of the Piarists

Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Caesarius of Arles (543), Bishop

St. Joseph Calasanz (Priest)

Fri, 08/26/2011 - 00:00

The Spanish priest St. Joseph Calasanz (1556-1648) devoted his life to the education of deprived children. Joseph was ordained in 1583 after being trained in canon law and theology. He went to Rome, where it seemed he had a promising Church career, but he was shocked by the ignorance and poor morals of the common people.

Being unable to interest any of the city’s religious orders and institutes in the education of poor children, Joseph undertook this task himself. In 1617 he and his assistants formed the Clerks Regular of the Religious Schools (the first priests to teach in elementary schools). Emphasizing love, not fear, Joseph wrote, “If from the first a child is instructed in religion and letters, it can be reasonably hoped that his life will be happy.”

However, Joseph himself encountered many difficulties, including his friendship with the controversial astronomer Galileo Galilei, investigations by papal commissioners, and the rebellion of one of his subordinates in the order. Also, there were those who felt the poor shouldn’t be educated, as this would only make them dissatisfied with their lot in life. Joseph was demoted at one point, and eventually his order was suppressed, but he — like the Old Testament figure Job — remained humble and obedient. St. Joseph Calasanz died in Rome in 1648, after which his order was finally restored as a religious community.

His feast day is celebrated on August 25, with St. Louis of France.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Zephyrinus (217), Pope, Martyr

Our Lady of Czestochowa , Patroness of Poland

St. Louis of France (King)

Thu, 08/25/2011 - 00:00

King St. Louis IX (1214-1270) reigned over France for thirty-five years. The son of Louis VIII, the young king ascended to the throne in 1235 and soon showed himself to be a just and able administrator. Louis was impartial and merciful in dispensing justice (even forgiving nobles who rebelled against his reign). He insisted on upholding the rights of each of his subjects, and sometimes held court beneath a grove of trees away from his royal residence, so that even the lowliest peasant would feel free to approach him.

At the age of nineteen, Louis married Marguerite of Provence (who was herself only twelve). Though she was by nature arrogant and restless, she was charmed by Louis’ piety and love, and they and their ten children had a happy family life.

King Louis sought to bring this same harmony to France. He replaced trial by combat with an examination of witnesses, had written records kept at the royal court, and established numerous hospitals where he himself often cared for lepers and the sick. With the exception of his involvement in the Crusades, France was at peace during his reign.

Louis led an army which in 1248 captured an Egyptian port city from the Moslems, but soon afterward the Crusaders were defeated and Louis was taken prisoner. After being ransomed, Louis returned to France, but led another Crusade in 1270. This was even less successful than the earlier effort, and Louis died of dysentery in the city of Tunis. St. Louis, after whom the American city in Missouri is named, was canonized in 1297.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Joseph Calasanctius (Calasanz) (1648), Priest, Founder of Piarists

St. Patricia (665), Virgin, Patron of Naples

St. Bartholomew (Apostle)

Wed, 08/24/2011 - 00:00

The name of the Apostle St. Bartholomew is included among the lists of the Twelve Apostles, but aside from this, there’s no mention of him in the New Testament. Many scholars feel he is the same man as Nathaniel, whom St. John’s Gospel has Jesus describing as “an Israelite in whom there is no guile” (Jn 1:45).

Bartholomew initially doubted the possibility of the Messiah coming from Nazareth, but upon meeting Jesus he immediately declared Him to be “the Son of God and the King of Israel” (Jn 1:49). Early Church legends describe Bartholomew as having preached the gospel in India and Armenia, where he supposedly suffered martyrdom by being flayed alive; the historical value of these legends is open to question.

St. Bartholomew is in a sense the “unknown Apostle,” and for this reason, he can serve as a patron saint for almost all of us. Most of us will never become famous or important in the eyes of the world, but this matters little; all of us are perfectly known, and infinitely important, in the eyes of God. The simple, everyday lives we lead can, if we offer them to God, become ways of helping bring about His Kingdom. St. Bartholomew isn’t as well known as Peter, John, Thomas, or some of the other Apostles; what matters is that he responded wholeheartedly to God’s call.

Other Saints We Remember Today

Our Lady, Health of the Sick

St. Rose of Lima (Virgin)

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 00:00

The first canonized saint of the western hemisphere was St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617). Isabel de Flores y del Oliva was the daughter of Spanish parents in Peru. Because her family was poor, young Rose helped support them by growing flowers and doing embroidery and other needlework.

At an early age Rose was attracted by the spirituality and mysticism of St. Catherine of Siena, but her attempts to imitate her brought only opposition and criticism from her family and friends. (Rose sometimes went to what others considered extreme lengths. For instance, because she feared that the admiration of her beautiful face by young men might distract her from serving God, she used to rub her cheeks with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches.)

Rose’s parents wanted her to marry, and for ten years they tried in vain to arrange this. Rose refused. Her parents in turn refused to let her enter a convent, so she became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic (intended specifically for lay persons) and lived at home, continuing her life of solitude and penance.

A few years before her death, Rose used a room in the family home to care for the elderly, the homeless, and the sick (particularly Indians and slaves). She is today considered the originator of social services in Peru. After years of poor health and violent temptations by Satan, St. Rose of Lima died at the age of thirty-one. Most of the city’s inhabitants attended her funeral, with prominent men taking turns carrying her casket.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Philip Benizi (1285), Priest, Religious

Queenship Of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Mon, 08/22/2011 - 00:00

This Feast was established by Pope Pius XII in 1954. The Holy Father taught that

Jesus Christ alone, God and man, is King in the full, proper, and absolute sense of the term. Mary also, in a restricted and only analogous way, shares in the royal dignity as the Mother of Christ who is God, as His associate in the work of Redemption, in His conflict with the enemy, and in His complete victory. From this association with Christ the King, she obtains a height of splendor unequaled in all creation (Ad Caeli Reginam , no.25).

Through Mary’s “yes” to bringing the Savior of the world into the world, she receives a place of spiritual royalty as the Mother of our King. As early as the fourth century, St. Ephrem was referring to Mary as “Queen” in his prayers and poems. The hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries sing of Mary’s queenship and the hope that is alive in Scripture, which promises us a share in royal dignity. While Western Protestantism continues to misunderstand the Catholic view of Mary, Christians of the Eastern rites, both Catholic and non-Catholic, celebrate her queenship in their prayers and liturgies.

The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church , the Church calls

the entire body of the faithful [to] pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church , 69).

As an expectant mother draws the community around her to the coming of her child, our Blessed Mother draws us to her as we wait together for the coming of the King. Her queenship is an acknowledgment of her testimony to our redemption and her role is to convince us that He fulfills His promise to be with us always as our King until the end of time (Mt 28:20).

Other Saints We Remember Today

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saints Timothy, Hippolytus, and Symphorian (3rd Century), Martyrs

St. Pius X (Pope)

Sun, 08/21/2011 - 00:00

Giuseppe Sarto (1835-1914), the future Pope Pius X, was one of the greatest religious figures of the early twentieth century. He was born near Venice, the second of ten children in a very poor family. Giuseppe was educated at the village school and eventually ordained a priest in 1858 (a year before the usual minimum age). After twenty-six years of parish work he became bishop of the Italian city of Mantua, and in 1893 he was made Cardinal of Venice.

At the papal enclave following the death of Pope Leo XIII in 1903, Cardinal Sarto was elected, taking the name Pius X. The new pope remained very aware of his humble origins, and was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said tearfully to a friend. On another occasion he remarked, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They led me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when He was seized in Gethsemane.” Pius and his family did have a sense of humor, however. It’s said that after his mother kissed his papal ring at his installation, she then presented her hand with her wedding ring, saying, “Now you kiss my ring — for without it, you never would have received yours.”

During his pontificate, Pius struggled with the anti-religious government of France over control of the French Church, and strongly opposed the heresy of Modernism (a belief that the Church should exchange some of its teachings and practices for more modern or up-to-date views).

Pope St. Pius X is known for his efforts to improve the Church’s worship, and especially for his encouragement of frequent reception of the Eucharist and for lowering the age at which children are allowed to make their First Communion from twelve to seven. He foresaw the coming of World War I, but to his great regret was unable to help prevent it, and died heartbroken a few weeks after the war began.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1641), Widow, Religious, Co-Foundress of the Visitation Order

Our Lady of Knock (1879)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Abbot and Doctor)

Sat, 08/20/2011 - 00:00

St. Bernard (1090-1153) was an important medieval theologian and a major figure in the Cistercian Order of monks. He was one of six very gifted sons of a French nobleman.

After some hesitation, Bernard joined the Cistercian Order in 1111, persuading four of his brothers and twenty-seven of his friends to come with him. Several years later Bernard was sent to establish a new monastery at Clairvaux, which then prospered under his leadership and contributed greatly to the renewal of the Church.

St. Bernard was a prolific writer, in spite of his poor health, and his widespread fame brought him into a number of the religious controversies and disputes of the age. Though personally charitable and kind, he was a formidable opponent, and he spared no effort in attacking injustice (such as excessive luxury among the clergy or persecution of the Jews).

St. Bernard was a great theologian, and he particularly relied upon the Bible in his preaching and writing, “not so much,” he said, “to expound the words as to touch the people’s hearts.” Bernard was canonized only twenty-one years after his death in 1153, and in 1830 he was declared a Doctor (an eminent and reliable teacher) of the Church.

St. John Eudes (Priest and Founder)

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 00:00

The French priest St. John Eudes (1601-1680) founded two religious orders and encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He joined the Oratorians and was ordained a priest at the age of twenty-four.

During several plagues in Normandy, he devoted himself to the care of the sick (living in a huge cask in the middle of a field, so as to avoid infecting his fellow religious).

Later John began giving missions at many different parishes; his skills as a preacher and confessor made him very successful, but he noticed that the local clergy were often ineffective in their ministry, due to inadequate training. John became convinced of the need to have seminaries for the training of priests introduced on a larger scale, and he founded a new religious order — the Congregation of Jesus and Mary — for this purpose.

One day a woman caring for several reformed prostitutes reproached John, saying, “Where are you off to now? To some church, I suppose, where you’ll gaze at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures.” John was struck by these words, and thereupon formed the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, who actively cared for the needs of such women.

John is especially known for his writings on the Sacred Heart; he presented Christ as the source of holiness, and Mary as the model of Christian life. St. John Eudes died at the age of seventy-nine, and was later declared the father of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Louis (1297), Bishop of Toulouse, France

St. Beatrice da Silva

Wed, 08/17/2011 - 00:00

Saint Beatrice of Silva (1424–90) was both a relative and friend of Princess Isabella of Portugal and grew up in the castle with her. She followed Isabella to Spain when she married John II of Castile and became Queen of Castile and León. Unfortunately, her great beauty aroused the jealousy of the queen. Beatrice escaped with difficulty and took refuge in the Dominican convent at Toledo. Here for forty years she led a life of holiness, without becoming a member of the Order. Inspired by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to found a new congregation in her honour, Beatrice of Silva, with some companions, took possession of a convent (the Convent of the Order of the Immaculate Conception) set apart for them by Queen Isabella I of Castile in Toledo. Beatrice founded the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1489, by permission of Pope Innocent VIII, the sisters adopted the Cistercian rule, bound themselves to the daily recitation of the Office of the Immaculate Conception, and were placed under obedience to the ordinary of the archdiocese. In 1501, Pope Alexander VI united this congregation with the Benedictine community of San Pedro de las Duenas, under the Rule of St. Clare, but in 1511 Julius II gave it a rule of its own, and in 1616 special constitutions were drawn up for the congregation by Cardinal Francis Quiñones. The second convent was founded in 1507 at Torrigo, from which, in turn, were established seven others. The congregation soon spread through Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France.

Saint Beatrice of Silva Menezes (sometimes cited as “Brites”), was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976.

St. Stephen (King)

Tue, 08/16/2011 - 00:00

St. Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) played an important role in Christianizing his country. Stephen was born a pagan, but as a youth, he and his father, Duke Geza, were baptized by the Bohemian bishop St. Adalbert of Prague. At the age of twenty Stephen married Gisela, the sister of the Emperor St. Henry II.

In 997 Stephen succeeded his father as duke, and immediately began promoting Christianity (for both religious and political reasons). After consolidating his rule, he asked the pope to confer the title “king” upon him; this was done on Christmas Day 1001.

Stephen energetically guided and assisted the establishment of the Church in Hungary. He abolished pagan customs (sometimes violently, for that was the accepted manner of the age); he established monasteries and aided efforts to convert the common people. Though successful in many ways, Stephen’s last seven years were bitter ones. His beloved son Emeric (also revered as a saint), whom he had carefully prepared to be his successor, was killed in a hunting accident in 1031, and his relatives shamelessly fought over which of them would be the heir to the throne (with some of his nephews actually trying to kill him). Stephen died in 1038; in 1083 both he and his son Emeric were canonized.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Joachim (1st Century), father of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Roch (1327), devotee of the Sign of the Cross

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Mon, 08/15/2011 - 00:00

Holy Day of Obligation

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.

– Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus

Mary was exempted from bodily corruption because, by an entirely singular privilege, she completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception. Jesus ascended to Heaven by His own power as Creator and Lord. Mary was taken to Heaven by the power of God, raised aloft by grace, not by nature.

Pope Pius showed the relation of the Assumption to the Immaculate Conception: “For these two privileges are most closely related to each other. Christ has overcome sin and death by His own death; and one who is reborn in a heavenly way through baptism has, through Christ Himself, conquered sin and death. However, in accord with His general rule, God does not wish to grant the full effect of victory over death to the just until the end of time shall have come…. Yet God wished that the Blessed Virgin Mary be exempt from this general law. For she, by a completely singular privilege, conquered sin in her Immaculate Conception, and thus was not liable to that law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, nor did she have to wait for the end of time for the redemption of her body” (AAS 42. 754).

Other Saints We Remember Today

Dormition of Our Lady

St. Tarcisius (255), Martyr

St. Maximilian Kolbe (Priest and Martyr)

Sun, 08/14/2011 - 00:00

As a child, Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) had a deep devotion to Our Lady. On one occasion he had a vision in which Mary offered him either a white garment, symbolizing purity, or a red one, symbolizing martyrdom. “I choose both,” the boy replied. His heart was transfixed by Our Lady. Later he prayed that when he died, he would be blessed with departing life on a Feast Day of the Blessed Mother.

Maximilian entered the Franciscan Order at age thirteen, and was ordained a priest in 1918. After serving some years as a humble parish priest, Fr. Kolbe was named director of one of the largest Catholic publishing firms in Poland.

To better “win the world for the Immaculata,” St. Maximilian’s friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques. This enabled them to publish countless catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000, and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio — he was a true “Apostle of the Mass Media.”

Following the German conquest of Poland in 1939, he (like many priests) was arrested, but soon released. Maximilian devoted himself to helping Jewish refugees. When the Nazis discovered this, he was again arrested and sent to Auschwitz in 1941. There he tried to set an example of faith and hope for the other prisoners.

When a prisoner escaped from camp, the Germans chose ten men at random and sentenced them to death by starvation; one of them was a Polish sergeant, Franciszek Gajowniczek, whom Kolbe had befriended. Fr. Kolbe left his place in the ranks and asked permission from the commandant to take Gajowniczek’s place. The shocked German officer agreed, and Kolbe and nine others were taken away to die. Maximilian helped the others prepare for death. He was the last to succumb, dying on August 14, the eve of the Assumption.

Other Saints We Remember Today

Vigil of the Assumption

St. Eusebuis (357), Priest, Martyr

Saints Pontian and Hippolytus (Pope and Martyr)

Sat, 08/13/2011 - 00:00

St. Pontian was a Roman Christian who served as Bishop of Rome (Pope) from 230-235; when banished to Sardinia by the Roman Emperor, he resigned so that a successor could be elected to take his place. St. Hippolytus was a presbyter, or priest, in Rome; his name literally means “a horse turned loose,” and this image accurately suggests his energy and impact — both favorable and unfavorable — on the Church.

Hippolytus was a great scholar. His work Apostolic Tradition is the foremost source of knowledge about third-century Christianity. However, he was something of a rigorist because he felt the Church had to adopt extreme measures in avoiding the “corruption” of the world. He also thought the Church’s practices in forgiving sinners were much too lax. In this he came into conflict with Pope St. Zephyrinus, Pope St. Callistus, and Pope St. Pontian.

Hippolytus actually had himself elected the leader of a separate church, thus becoming the first antipope. However, in 235 he, like St. Pontian, was exiled to Sardinia, at which time (or perhaps slightly before) he was reconciled to the Church and ended his schism. Both Saints Pontian and Hippolytus died of rough treatment in exile; their bodies were brought back to Rome and they were solemnly buried as martyrs.

Other Saints We Remember Today

Blessed Philip Monarriz and Companions (1936), Martyrs of Spain

St. Hippolytus (235) and St. Cassian (3rd Century), Martyrs; Cassian was pierced by stilets of pagan pupils

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Foundress)

Fri, 08/12/2011 - 00:00

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) was born in Dijon, France. Because her mother died only eighteen months later, her father (the head of the local parliament) took on the responsibility of educating her. Jane grew up to be a lovely and refined young woman with a cheerful temperament. She married Baron de Chantal and became the mother of six children (three of whom died in infancy).

Jane was very happy as a wife and mother, and she devoted herself to charitable activities. After eight years of marriage, however, her husband died, and she went into a period of deep depression. Her father-in-law, a vain and stubborn old man, forced Jane and the children to live with him. He treated Jane unkindly, but she remained cheerful nevertheless.

In 1604 Jane met St. Francis de Sales, a great bishop and spiritual author. He became her spiritual director, and a very warm, human, and holy friendship developed between them. In 1607 the bishop enlisted Jane’s help in founding a religious order for women whose age or health prevented them from entering the rigorous lifestyle of other religious orders. Three years later the first convent of the Order of the Visitation was established, with Jane as director.

Jane had much to suffer in the remaining years of her life. Her religious order faced much opposition, her friend St. Francis died in 1622, and her own son was killed in a war against England in 1627. Soon after this a plague ravaged France, killing her daughter-in-law and son-in-law. Jane and her order actively cared for the sick and the dying. Throughout this period she suffered frequent doubts and temptations against the faith, but she remained cheerful and active, establishing many other convents for her order. St. Jane de Chantal died in 1641, and was canonized in 1767.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Agapitus (3rd century), 15-year-old Martyr

St. Helena (326), Widow, Empress, mother of Constantine, finder of the True Cross, Patroness of Converts and Difficult Marriages

St. Clare of Assisi

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 00:00

St. Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) was born of a noble family, twelve years after the birth of her famous townsman St. Francis, who had a major influence on her life. At the age of eighteen, Clare left home secretly and, with Francis’ help, arranged to reside in a Benedictine convent. Her family’s attempts to persuade her to return home were unsuccessful, and eventually she was joined by her sister (St. Agnes) and later by her widowed mother.

St. Francis established the three of them as the nucleus of a religious community for women and drew up a “way of life” for them, thus establishing the Order which became known as the “Poor Clares.” In 1215 Pope Innocent III granted the Order the “privilege of property”: permission to live wholly on alms, without any personal or communal property or revenue whatever. (This was a privilege Clare later had to defend against good-intentioned Church officials worried about the community’s well-being.)

Clare was known as a great contemplative, and she provided able leadership for her community for some forty years. In spite of her own austere lifestyle, she urged others not to overdo their acts of penance, for “our bodies are not made of brass.”

Clare had a deep spiritual friendship with St. Francis, whom she outlived by twenty-seven years. On her deathbed, Clare was heard to say to herself, “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for He Who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be You, my God, for having created me.”

Other Saints We Remember Today

Sts. Tiburtius & Susanna (295), Martyrs

St. Philomena (304), Virgin, Martyr, “The Wonder-Worker”

The mission of St. Mary’s Parish is to proclaim and celebrate our salvation through Jesus Christ,our pilgrimage to the Father’s Kingdom enlivened by the Holy Spirit. Our Catholic faith community is nourished by our sacramental life, especially the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. With Mother Mary as our model, we demonstrate our faith through worship, education, vocations and service.