Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti

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Image: An English engraving of a Benedictine nun: Sr. Maria Fortunata lived as a nun for more than seventy years.

The 20th of November is the feast day of Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti O.S.B. (10 February 1827 – 20 November 1922). She is the patron saint against temptation; impoverishment; loss of parents; and mental illness.

Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti lived between 1827 and 1922. She was the eldest daughter of nine children and was born in Italy. When she was 14 years old, her mother died, her father was also addicted to gambling and alcohol. Maria had to work as a housekeeper to earn money for the family as well as taking care of her siblings, as her father sank deeper into his addiction. Maria became a Benedictine nun at the age of 24, rejecting an offer of marriage. Though Sr Maria Fortunata was illiterate, she spent her time in the monastery as a housekeeper, washing, sewing and doing other simple tasks. She was simple of heart and her confessor said that she was often accosted by the devil with threats, physical attacks and with insults hoping to break her virtue. She was greatly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and visited the chapel frequently as she performed her daily tasks. After she died at the age of 95, miracles were reported at her grave.



Monday, 19 November 2018

Saint Barlaam of Antioch

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The 19th of November is the feast day of Saint Barlaam of Antioch (d. 304 A.D.).

Saint Barlaam of Antioch died in 304 A.D. He was an uneducated, elderly peasant living in a village near Antioch. During the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, he was arrested and detained for a long time in a dungeon. He was eventually sent before a judge who at his trial had him severely scourged, bound him on the rack and had him tortured to force him to renounce his faith in Christ as well as sacrifice to the idols. Instead, he was meek in answers and showed joy in his countenance. The judge then had an altar lit with a fire and had Barlaam’s right hand held over the hot coals. This he hoped, would force Barlaam to recoil his hand and the incense he held to fall on the pagan altar which will be an act of sacrifice to the idols. Instead of doing this, Barlaam endured the pain and held his hand steady until it burnt completely off. The judge then ordered his immediate death.

Image: Miniature from the Menologion of Basil II, Cod. Vat. Gr. 1613, Sheet 187, Vatican Apostolic Library

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

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The 18th of November is the feast day of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (August 29, 1769 – November 18, 1852). She is the patron saint of perseverance amid adversity and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Founder in America of the first houses of the society of the Sacred Heart, born at Grenoble, France, 29 August, 1769; died at St. Charles, Missouri, 18 October, 1852. She was the daughter of Pierr-Francois Duchesne, an eminent lawyer. Her mother was a Périer, ancestor of Casimir Périer, President of France in 1894. She was educated by the visitation Nuns, entered that order, saw its dispersion during the Reign of Terror, vainly attempted the re-establishment of the convent of Ste-Marie-d’en-Haunt, near Grenoble, and finally, in 1804, accepted the offer of Mother Barat to receive her community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. From early childhood the dream of Philippine had been the apostolate of souls: heathen in distant lands, the neglected and poor at home. Nature and grace combined to fit her for this high vocation; education, suffering, above all, the guidance of Mother Barat trained her to become the pioneer of her order in the New world. In 1818 Mother Duchesne set out with four companions for the missions of America. Bishop Dubourg welcomed her to New Orleans, whence she sailed up the Mississippi to St. Louis, finally settling her little colony at St. Charles. “Poverty and Christian heroism are here”, she wrote, “and trials are the riches of priests in this land.” Cold, hunger, and illness; opposition, ingratitude, and calumny, all that came to try the courage of this missioner, served only to fire her lofty and indomitable spirit with new zeal for the spread of truth. Other foundations followed, at Florissant, Grand Côteau, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Michael; and the approbation of the society in 1826 by Leo XII recognized the good being done in these parts. She yearned to teach the poor Indians, and old and broken as she was, she went to labour among the Pottowatomies at Sugar Creek, thus realizing the desire of her life. Stirred by the recitals of Father De Smet, S.J., she turned her eyes towards the Rocky Mountain missions; but Providence led her back to St. Charles, where she died. Thirty-four years of mission toil, disappointment, endurance, self-annihilation sufficed, indeed, to prove the worth of this valiant daughter of Mother Barat. She had opened the road, others might walk in it; and the success hidden from her eyes was well seen later by the many who rejoiced in the rapid spread of her order over North and South America. Sincere, intense, generous, austere yet affectionate, endowed with large capacity for suffering and work, Mother Duchesne’s was a stern character that needed and took the moulding of Mother Barat. Preliminary steps for her beatification have already been taken.

Catherine M. Lowth

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

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The 17th of November is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary T.O.S.F. (7 July 1207 – 17 November 1231), also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia or Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia. She is the patron saint of hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lace-makers, widows and the Third Order of Saint Francis. The following is from Butler’s Lives of the Saints:

ELIZABETH was daughter of a king of Hungary, and niece of St. Hedwige. She was betrothed in infancy to Louis, Landgrave of Thuringia, and brought up in his father’s court. Not content with receiving daily numbers of poor in her palace, and relieving all in distress, she built several hospitals, where she served the sick, dressing the most repulsive sores with her own hands. Once as she was carrying in the folds of her mantle some provisions for the poor, she met her husband returning from the chase. Astonished to see her bending under the weight of her burden, he opened the mantle which she kept pressed against her, and found in it nothing but beautiful red and white roses, although it was not the season for flowers. Bidding her pursue her way, he took one of the marvellous roses, and kept it all his life. On her husband’s death she was cruelly driven from her palace, and forced to wander through the streets with her little children, a prey to hunger and cold; but she welcomed all her sufferings, and continued to be the mother of the poor, converting many by her holy life. She died in 1231, at the age of twenty-four.

Reflection.—This young and delicate princess made herself the servant and nurse of the poor. Let her example teach us to disregard the opinions of the world and to overcome our natural repugnances, in order to serve Christ in the persons of His poor.

Image: Saint Elizabeth of Hungary T.O.S.F.




Friday, 16 November 2018

Saint Gertrude the Great

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The 16th of November is the feast day of Saint Gertrude the Great (January 6, 1256 – c. 1302). She is also known as Saint Gertrude of Helfta. She is the patron saint of the West Indies.

Saint Gertrude the Great lived between 1256 till 1302 and is also known as Gertrude of Helfta. She was born on the feast of Epiphany in Thuringia which is now modern Germany. At the age of four or five years old, she was sent to the Benedictine monastery in Helfta to be educated. She was a bright student studying secular studies though she was negligent in her prayer life. She received visions of Christ when she was 26, where He chastised her for not leaving room for God in her studies. Saint Gertrude abandoned her secular studies and studied Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers in response. She became one of the great writers and mystics of the 13th century and is the only female saint to have the title “The Great.” She also helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Image: Ecstasy of St. Gertrude by Pietro Liberi

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Saint Albert the Great

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The 15th of November is the feast day of Saint Albert the Great O.P. (c. 1193 – November 15, 1280), also known as Albertus Magnus. He is the patron saint of Cincinnati, Ohio; medical technicians; natural sciences; philosophers; scientists; and students.

Saint Albert the Great lived between 1206 till 1280 and was born in Bavaria, Germany. His father was a powerful military count and Saint Albert was his first son. He studied in the University of Padua and entered the Dominican order as a mendicant friar. He gained a Master of Theology degree, the first Dominican to do so, and was sent to lecture in the University of Paris and launched a Dominican house of studies in Cologne. He taught the works of Aristotle which influenced St Thomas Aquinas, helping him to establish his philosophy. He was called by his contemporaries as “the teacher of everything there is to know,” as he wrote an encyclopedia of all human knowledge in that point in history. He was one of the most famous preachers in his day and was a papal theologian in Rome. In 1931 he was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Piux XI.

Image: Saint Albertus Magnus, a fresco by Tommaso da Modena (1352), Church of San Nicolò, Treviso, Italy

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Saint Giovanni Liccio

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The 14th of November is the feast day of Saint Giovanni Liccio (1400 – 14 November 1511), he is also known as John Licci. He is the patron saint of Caccamo and against head injuries.

Saint Giovanni Liccio lived between 1400 till 1511 and was born to a poor peasant farmer near Palermo, Sicily. His mother died during childbirth, and his father had no choice but to leave the child alone at home while he worked in the fields. A neighbour heard the cries of the baby and brought him home to care for him. Her husband was paralysed, but when she brought the child next to her husband while he was on the bed, he was miraculously cured. Giovanni’s father brought the baby back home, but the neighbour’s husband paralyses returned. Giovanni’s father thought this was a sign from God that He wanted the neighbour to take care for his son. Giovanni would work many miracles throughout his life. In 1415, he joined the Dominican Order and was a friar for 96 years which was the longest period known for any religious to wear the habit. During his life, he would miraculously multiply building materials used for a convent he founded, miraculously fed a poor widow and her six children, raised a dead boy to life, and cure three people whose heads were crushed in accidents. He is the longest living saint, dying at the age of 111.

Image: Painting from 1787 – Francesco Manno

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

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The 13th of November is the feast day of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850 – December 22, 1917). She is the patron saint of Immigrants, hospital administrators, and Lincoln.

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini lived between 1850 and 1917 and was the 13th child. Her farming family lived near Milan, Italy and her father would read them stories on the lives of the saints from a book. Saint Frances became inspired by the stories of missionaries working in the Orient and wanted to become a missionary herself, though during at that time, the role was only for men. She was rejected from becoming a nun because of her bad health, so she turned to her patron saint Francis Xavier, praying at his tomb. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart was approved by Pope Leo XIII and she was sent to America to serve the growing European immigrant population. There, she became an American citizen, living in New York and founded 67 institutions which included schools, orphanages, and hospitals throughout the Western Hemisphere. In 1946 she became the first United States citizen to be canonised as a saint.

Image: Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Monday, 12 November 2018

Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct

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Image: Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct
The 12th of November is the feast day of Saint Josaphat Kuncevyct O.S.B.M. (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623). He is the patron saint of Ukraine.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Martyr, born in the little town of Volodymyr in Lithuania (Volyn) in 1580 or — according to some writers — 1584; died at Vitebsk, Russia, 12 November, 1623.

The saint’s birth occurred in a gloomy period for the Ruthenian Church. Even as early as the beginning of the sixteenth century the Florentine Union had become a dead-letter; in the case of the Ruthenian Church, complete demoralization followed in the wake of its severance from Rome, and the whole body of its clergy became notorious alike for their gross ignorance and the viciousness of their lives. After the Union of Berest’ in 1596 the Ruthenian Church was divided into two contending parties — the Uniates and those who persevered in schism — each with its own hierarchy. Among the leaders of the schismatic party, who laboured to enkindle popular hatred against the Uniates, Meletius Smotryckyj was conspicuous, and the most celebrated of his victims was Josaphat.

Although of a noble Ruthenian stock, Josaphat’s father had devoted himself to commercial pursuits, and held the office of town-councilor. Both parents contributed to implant the seeds of piety in the heart of their child. In the school at Volodymyr Josaphat — Johannes was the saint’s baptismal name — gave evidence of unusual talent; he applied himself with the greatest zeal to the study of ecclesiastical Slav, and learned almost the entire casoslov (breviary), which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, for the unlettered clergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction. Owing to the straitened circumstances of his parents, he was apprenticed to the merchant Popovyc at Vilna. In this town, remarkable for the corruption of its morals and the contentions of the various religious sects, he seemed specially guarded by Providence, and became acquainted with certain excellent men (e.g. Benjamin Rutski), under whose direction he advanced in learning and in virtue.

At the age of twenty-four (1604) he entered the Basilian monastery of the Trinity at Vilna. The fame of his virtues rapidly spread, and distinguished people began to visit him. After a notable life as a layman, Rutski also joined the order, bringing with him a wide erudition. When Josaphat reached the diaconate, regular services and labour for the salvation of souls had been already begun; the number of novices steadily increased, and under Rutski — who had meanwhile been ordained priest — there began the regeneration of religious life among the Ruthenians. In 1609, after private study under the Jesuit Fabricius, Josaphat was ordained priest. He subsequently became superior in several monasteries, and on 12 November, 1617, was reluctantly consecrated Bishop of Vitebsk, with right of succession to the Archbishopric of Polotsk. He became archbishop in 1618.

While each succeeding year saw fresh evidence of his fruitful labours, it also witnessed the steady growth of the hatred of the schismatic party. Finally on 12 November, 1623, an axe-stroke and a bullet brought Josaphat his martyr’s crown. After numerous miracles had occurred, a commission was appointed by Urban VIII in 1628 to inquire into the cause of Josaphat, and examined on oath 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat’s death, his body was still incorrupt. In 1637 a second commission investigated the life of the martyr, and in 1643 — twenty years after his death — Josaphat was beatified. His canonization took place in 1867. Great were the virtues of the saint. As a boy he shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity of assisting at the Divine services. Children especially regarded him with the greatest affection, and found in him a worthy model. As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Popovyc viewed this behaviour with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Popovyc offered him his entire fortune and his daughter’s hand. But Josaphat’s love for the religious life never wavered. At first without a human guide along the paths of virtue, he received all spiritual direction immediately from the Holy Ghost.

His favourite pious exercise was to make a poklony (i.e. a reverence, in which the head touches the ground) with the ejaculation: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.” Never eating meat, he fasted much, wore a hair-shirt and an angular chain, slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.

From his zealous study of the liturgical books he drew many proofs of Catholic truth, using his knowledge in the composition of several works — “On the Baptism of St. Volodymyr”; “On the Falsification of the Slavic Books by the Enemies of the Metropolitan”; “On Monks and their Vows”. As deacon, priest, and bishop, he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in the service of souls. Not alone in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his journeys. Even where his words of instruction might by themselves have failed, his entreaties and tears ensured him success. This zeal, united with his kindness and extraordinary love for the poor, won numbers to the Catholic Faith. Among his converts were included many important personages such as Ignatius, Patriarch of Moscow, and Emmanuel Cantacuzenus, who belonged to the family of the Greek Emperor Palæologus.

As archbishop he restored the churches; issued a catechism to the clergy with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Imperial Chancellor Sapieha, when he wished to make many concessions in favour of the schismatics. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his exemplary life as a religious, and never abated his zeal for self-mortification and prayer.

He awaited death with a certain yearning, refusing to avail himself of the opportunity of flight afforded him. After his death his influence was still greater: conversions were numerous, and veneration for him continued to extend. His feast is kept on the first Sunday after 12 November, according to the Julian Calendar. [Note: His feast is currently kept on November 12 on the Universal Calendar.]

GUÉPIN, Un Apòtre de l’Union des Eglises en XVIIe siècle (2 vols., Paris, 1898); CONTIERI, Vita di S. Giosafat Arcivescovo e Martire Ruteno dell’ Ordine di S.Basilio il Grande (Rome, 1867); SUSZA,Cursus vitæ et certamen martyrii B. Josaphat Kuncewicz (Rome, 1665), ed. MARTINOV (Paris, 1865); SUSZA, Saulus et Paulus Ruthenæ Unionis sanguine B. Josaphat transformatus (Rome, 1666); GUÉPIN AND KALINKA, Zywot S. Józafata Kuncewicza, meczennika, arcybiskupa polockiego (Lemberg, 1885); KOZANEVYC, Zytje sv. Svjašcenomucenyka Josafata Kuncevyca (Zovkva, 1902); URBAN, Swiety Józafat Kuncewicz, biskup i meczennik (Krakow, 1906) — the two last-mentioned are popular works.

JOSAPHAT J. MARKEVYC

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Saint Martin of Tours

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The 11th of November is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (316 or 336 – 8 November 397). He is the patron saint against poverty; against alcoholism; Baħrija, Malta; beggars; Beli Manastir; Archdiocese of Bratislava; Buenos Aires; Burgenland; cavalry; Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade; Dieburg; Edingen equestrians; Foiano della Chiana; France; geese; horses; hotel-keepers; innkeepers; Kortrijk; diocese of Mainz; Montemagno; Olpe; Ourense; Pietrasanta; Pontifical Swiss Guards; quartermasters; reformed alcoholics; riders; Taal, Batangas; Bocaue, Bulacan; Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart; soldiers; tailors; Utrecht; vintners; Virje; wine growers; wine makers; and Wissmannsdorf and Villadoz.

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

WHEN a mere boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents’ wish; and at fifteen was therefore seized by his father, a pagan soldier, and enrolled in the army. One winter’s day, when stationed at Amiens, he met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having no money, he cut his cloak in two and gave him the half. That night he saw Our Lord clothed in the half cloak, and heard Him say to the angels: “Martin, yet a catechumen, hath wrapped Me in this garment.” This decided him to be baptized, and shortly after he left the army. He succeeded in converting his mother; but, being driven from his home by the Arians, he took shelter with St. Hilary, and founded near Poitiers the first monastery in France. In 372 he was made Bishop of Tours. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan in heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people, whence he is known as the Apostle of Gaul. His last eleven years were spent in humble toil to atone for his faults, while God made manifest by miracles the purity of his soul.

Reflection.—It was for Christ crucified that St. Martin worked. Are you working for the same Lord?

Image: St Martin leaves the life of chivalry and renounces the army (fresco by Simone Martini)

Our Lady of Medjugorje

November 2, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, My motherly heart suffers as I am looking at my children who do not love the truth, those who are hiding it - as I look at my children who do not pray with their feelings and actions. I am sad as I am saying to my Son that many of my children no longer have faith, that they do not know Him - my Son. That is why I call you, apostles of my love: you strive to look to the very depth in human hearts and there you are certain to find the little hidden treasure. To look in this way is mercy from the Heavenly Father. To seek the good even where there is the greatest evil - to strive to comprehend each other and not to judge - that is what my Son is asking of you. And I, as a mother, am calling you to listen to Him. My children, the spirit is mightier than the flesh, and, carried by love and actions, it overcomes all obstacles. Do not forget: my Son has loved you and loves you. His love is with you and in you when you are one with Him. He is the light of the world and no one and nothing will be able to stop Him in the final glory. Therefore, apostles of my love, do not be afraid to witness the truth. Witness it with enthusiasm, with works, with love, with your sacrifice, and, above all, in humility. Witness the truth to all those who have not come to know my Son. I will be alongside you. I will encourage you. Witness the love which never ends because it comes from the Heavenly Father who is eternal and who offers eternity to all of my children. The spirit of my Son will be alongside you. Anew I am calling you, my children: pray for your shepherds, pray that the love of my Son may lead them. Thank you.

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