Saturday, 21 July 2018

Saint Victor of Marseilles

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The 21st of July is the feast of Saint Victor of Marseilles (died c. 290). He is the patron saint of cabinetmakers, millers, torture victims, sick children; and invoked against lightning.

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

THE Emperor Maximian, reeking with the blood of the Thebæan legion and many other martyrs, arrived at Marseilles, where the Church then flourished. The tyrant breathed here nothing but slaughter and fury, and his coming filled the Christians with fear and alarm. In this general consternation, Victor, a Christian officer in the troops, went about in the night-time from house to house, visiting the faithful and inspiring them with contempt of a temporal death and the love of eternal life. He was surprised in this, and brought before the prefects Asterius and Eutychius, who exhorted him not to lose the fruit of all his services and the favor of his prince for the worship of a dead man, as they called Jesus Christ. He answered that he renounced those recompenses if he could not enjoy them without being unfaithful to Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, Who vouchsafed to become man for our salvation, but Who raised Himself from the dead, and reigns with the Father, being God equally with Him. The whole court heard him with shouts of rage. Victor was bound hand and foot and dragged through the streets of the city, exposed to the blows and insults of the populace. He was brought back bruised and bloody to the tribunal of the prefects, who, thinking his resolution must have been weakened by his sufferings, pressed him again to adore their gods. But the martyr, filled with the Holy Ghost, expressed his respect for the emperor and his contempt for their gods. He was then hoisted on the rack and tortured a long time, until, the tormentors being at last weary, the prefect ordered him to be taken down and thrown into a dark dungeon. At midnight, God visited him by His angels; the prison was filled with a light brighter than that of the sun, and the martyr sung with the angels the praises of God. Three soldiers who guarded the prison,seeing this light, cast themselves at the martyr’s feet, asked his pardon, and desired Baptism. Victor instructed them as well as time would permit, sent for priests the same night, and, going with them to the seaside, had them baptized, and returned with them again to his prison. The next morning Maximian was informed of the conversion of the guards, and in a transport of rage sent officers to bring them all four before him. The three soldiers persevered in the confession of Jesus Christ, and by the emperor’s orders were forthwith beheaded. Victor, after having been exposed to the insults of the whole city and beaten with clubs and scourged with leather thongs, was carried back to prison, where he continued three days, recommending to God his martyrdom with many tears. After that term the emperor called him again before his tribunal, and commanded the martyr to offer incense to a statue of Jupiter. Victor went up to the profane altar, and by a kick of his foot threw it down. The emperor ordered the foot to be forthwith chopped off, which the Saint suffered with great joy, offering to God these first-fruits of his body. A few moments after, the emperor condemned him to be put under the grindstone of a hand-mill and crushed to death. The executioners turned the wheel, and when part of his body was bruised and crushed the mill broke down. The Saint still breathed a little, but his head was immediately ordered to be cut off. His and the other three bodies were thrown into the sea, but, being cast ashore, were buried by the Christians in a grotto hewn out of a rock.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Saint Margaret of Antioch

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Image: Saint Margaret of Antioch by Peter Candid (second half of the 16th century)

The 20th of July is the feast of Saint Margaret of Antioch (289-304). She is also known as Saint Marina the Great Martyr and Margaret the Virgin. She is the patron saint of childbirth, pregnant women, dying people, kidney disease, peasants, exiles, falsely accused people; Lowestoft, England; Queens’ College, Cambridge; nurses; and Sannat and Bormla, Malta.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

Virgin and martyr; also called MARINA; belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother dying soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a pious woman five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.

While she was one day engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire and an attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unhurt. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.

The Greek Church honors her under the name Marine on 13 July; the Latin, as Margaret on 20 July. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.

Acta Sanctorum, XXIX, 24-44, Les Petits Bollandistes, VIII, p.509-16; ASSEMANI, Kalend. Eccles. Univ., VI, pp.483-5; TILLEMONT, Hist. Eccles., V, 797-798; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 20 July.

J. MACRORY

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Saint Macrina the Younger

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Image: St. Macrina the Younger (fresco in Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev)

The 19th of July is the feast day of Saint Macrina the Younger (c. 330– 19 July 379).

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

St. Macrina the Younger, b. about 330; d. 379. She was the eldest child of Basil and the Elder Emmelia, the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder, and the sister of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. The last-mentioned has left us a biography of his sister in the form of a panegyric (“Vita Macrinæ Junioris” in P. G., XLVI, 960 sq.). She received an excellent intellectual training, though one based more on the study of Holy Writ than on that of profane literature. When she was but twelve years old, her father had already arranged a marriage for her with a young advocate of excellent family. Soon afterwards, however, her affianced husband died suddenly, and Macrina resolved to devote herself to a life of perpetual virginity and the pursuit of Christian perfection. She exercised great influence over the religious training of her younger brothers, especially St. Peter, afterwards Bishop of Sebaste, and through her St. Gregory received the greatest intellectual stimulation. On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus. Here, with their servants and other companions, they led a life of retirement, consecrating themselves to God. Strict asceticism, zealous meditation on the truths of Christianity, and prayer were the chief concerns of this community. Not only the brothers of St. Macrina, but also St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebaste were associated with this pious circle and were there stimulated to make still further advances towards Christian perfection. After the death of her mother Emmelia, Macrina became the head of this community, in which the truth of the earnest Christian life matured so gloriously. On his return from a synod at Antioch, towards the end of 379, Gregory of Nyasa visited his deeply venerated sister, and found her grievously ill. In pious discourse, the brother and sister spoke of the life beyond and of the meeting in heaven. Soon afterwards Macrina passed blissfully to her reward. Gregory composed a “Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection” (περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ ἀναστάσεως), treating of his pious discourse with his dying sister. In this, Macrina appears as teacher, and treats of the soul, death, the resurrection, and the restoration of all things. Hence, the title of the work, τὰ Μακρίνια (P.G., XLVI, 12 sq.). Her feast be celebrated 19 July.

Acta SS., Jan I, 952 sq; July. IV, 589 sq.; Allard, St-Basile (Paris, 1899); Bouty, Sainte Macrine in Revus Augustinienne (July, 1902), 265-88.

J. P. Kirsch.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Saint Camillus de Lellis

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The 18th of July is the feast day of Saint Camillus de Lellis (25 May 1550 – 14 July 1614). He is the patron saint of sick; hospitals; nurses; and physicians.

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

THE early years of Camillus gave no sign of sanctity. At the age of nineteen he took service with his father, an Italian noble, against the Turks, and after four years’ hard campaigning found himself, through his violent temper, reckless habits, and inveterate passion for gambling, a discharged soldier, and in such straitened circumstances that he was obliged to work as a laborer on a Capuchin convent which was then building. A few words from a Capuchin friar brought about his conversion, and he resolved to become a religious. Thrice he entered the Capuchin novitiate, but each time an obstinate wound in his leg forced him to leave. He repaired to Rome for medical treatment, and there took St. Philip as his confessor, and entered the hospital of St. Giacomo, of which he became in time the superintendent. The carelessness of the paid chaplains and nurses towards the suffering patients now inspired him with the thought of founding a congregation to minister to their wants. With this end he was ordained priest, and in 1586 his community of the Servants of the Sick was confirmed by the Pope. Its usefulness was soon felt, not only in hospitals, but in private houses. Summoned at every hour of the day and night, the devotion of Camillus never grew cold. With a woman’s tenderness he attended to the needs of his patients. He wept with them, consoled them, and prayed with them. He knew miraculously the state of their souls; and St. Philip saw angels whispering to two Servants of the Sick who were consoling a dying person. One day a sick man said to the Saint, “Father, may I beg you to make up my bed? it is very hard.” Camillus replied, “God forgive you, brother! You beg me! Don’t you know yet that you are to command me, for I am your servant and slave.” “Would to God,” he would cry, “that in the hour of my death one sigh or one blessing of these poor creatures might fall upon me!” His prayer was heard. He was granted the same consolations in his last hour which he had so often procured for others. In the year 1614 he died with the full use of his faculties, after two weeks’ saintly preparation, as the priest was reciting the words of the ritual, “May Jesus Christ appear to thee with a mild and joyful countenance!”

Reflection.—St. Camillus venerated the sick as living images of Christ, and by ministering to them in this spirit did penance for the sins of his youth, led a life precious in merit, and from a violent and quarrelsome soldier became a gentle and tender Saint.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Saint Alexius of Rome

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The 17th of July is the feast day of Saint Alexius of Rome (4th Century – 5th Century). He is also known as Alexis of Edessa and is the patron saint of Alexians; beggars; belt makers; nurses; pilgrims; and travellers.

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

ST. ALEXIUS was the only son of parents pre-eminent among the Roman nobles for virtue, birth, and wealth. On his wedding-night, by God’s special inspiration, he secretly quitted Rome, and journeying to Edessa, in the far East, gave away all that he had brought with him, content thenceforth to live on alms at the gate of Our Lady’s church in that city. It came to pass that the servants of St. Alexius, whom his father sent in search of him, arrived at Edessa, and seeing him among the poor at the gate of Our Lady’s church, gave him an alms, not recognizing him. Whereupon the man of God, rejoicing, said, “I thank thee, O Lord, Who hast called me and granted that I should receive for Thy name’s sake an alms from my own slaves. Deign to fulfil in me the work Thou hast begun.” After seventeen years, when his sanctity was miraculously manifested by the Blessed Virgin’s image, he once more sought obscurity by flight. On his way to Tarsus contrary winds drove his ship to Rome. There no one recognized in the wan and tattered mendicant the heir of Rome’s noblest house; not even his sorrowing parents, who had vainly sent throughout the world in search of him. From his father’s charity he begged a mean corner of his palace as a shelter, and the leavings of his table as food. Thus he spent seventeen years, bearing patiently the mockery and ill-usage of his own slaves, and witnessing daily the inconsolable grief of his spouse and parents. At last, when death had ended this cruel martyrdom, they learned too late, from a writing in his own hand, who it was that they had unknowingly sheltered. God bore testimony to His servant’s sanctity by many miracles. He died early in the fifth century.

Reflection.—We must always be ready to sacrifice our dearest and best natural affections in obedience to the call of our heavenly Father. “Call none your father upon earth, for one is your Father in heaven” (Matt. xxiii. 9) . Our Lord has taught us this not by words only, but by His own example and by that of His Saints.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Saint Marie-Madeleine Postel

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Image: Saint Marie-Madeleine Postel tomb in the abbey of St Sauveur le Vicomte

The 16th of July is the feast day of Saint Marie-Madeleine Postel (28 November 1756 – 16 July 1846). She was born as Julie Françoise-Catherine Postel and is the patron saint of Sisters of Christian Schools.

Saint Marie Magdelen Postel was born in Normandy to a family of seven other children. She was well known for her generosity as a child, she would give her food and belongings to those in need and was often rebuked for her actions. Educated by Benedictine nuns, she decided to devote her life to God and made a vow of chastity. When she was 18 she started a school for girls which ran for five years until it was shut down due to the French Revolution. She would house fugitive priests in the school and encouraged the faithful during the persecution. She was also granted special permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament in order to give it those who were in danger of death. After the unrest, she founded “The Poor Daughters of Mercy” which lived under the rule of the Third Order of Saint Francis. The community was renamed “Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy” and took the rule of Saint John Baptist de la Salle. She died at the age of 90.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Image: Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saints (Simon Stock, Angelus of Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, Teresa of Avila) by Pietro Novelli (1641)

The 16th of July is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The following is from Catholic Encyclopedia:

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title “Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex” to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, “Kal. Mar.”, 30 Jan. “Summa Aurea”, III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title “Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo”. By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the “Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES).

FREDERICK G. HOLWECK

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Saint Bonaventure

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Image: The Prayer of St. Bonaventura about the Selection of the New Pope by Francisco de Zurbarán (1628 – 1629)

The 15th of July is the feast day of Saint Bonaventure (1221 – 15 July 1274). He was born Giovanni di Fidanza.

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

SANCTITY and learning raised Bonaventure to the Church’s highest honors, and from a child he was the companion of Saints. Yet at heart he was ever the poor Franciscan friar, and practised and taught humility and mortification. St. Francis gave him his name; for, having miraculously cured him of a mortal sickness, he prophetically exclaimed of the child, “O bona ventura!”—good luck. He is known also as the “Seraphic Doctor,” from the fervor of divine love which breathes in his writings. He was the friend of St. Thomas Aquinas, who asked him one day whence he drew his great learning. He replied by pointing to his crucifix. At another time St. Thomas found him in ecstasy while writing the life of St. Francis, and exclaimed, “Let us leave a Saint to write of a Saint.” They received the Doctor’s cap together. He was the guest and adviser of St. Louis, and the director of St. Isabella, the king’s sister. At the age of thirty-five he was made general of his Order; and only escaped another dignity, the Archbishopric of York, by dint of tears and entreaties. Gregory X. appointed him Cardinal Bishop of Albano. When the Saint heard of the Pope’s resolve to create him a Cardinal, he quietly made his escape from Italy. But Gregory sent him a summons to return to Rome. On his way, he stopped to rest himself at a convent of his Order near Florence; and there two Papal messengers, sent to meet him with the Cardinal’s hat, found him washing the dishes. The Saint desired them to hang the hat on a bush that was near, and take a walk in the garden until he had finished what he was about. Then taking up the hat with unfeigned sorrow, he joined the messengers, and paid them the respect due to their character. He sat at the Pontiff’s right hand, and spoke first at the Council of Lyons. His piety and eloquence won over the Greeks to Catholic union, and then his strength failed. He died while the Council was sitting, and was buried by the assembled bishops, A. D. 1274.

Reflection.—”The fear of God,” says St. Bonaventure, “forbids a man to give his heart to transitory things, which are the true seeds of sin.”

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

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Image: Kateri Tekakwitha – Oil Painting by Father Claude Chauchetière S.J. (1690)

The 14th of July is the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 – April 17, 1680). She is also known as Lily of the Mohawks and was baptised with the Christian name of Catherine. She is the patron saint of patronage ecologists, ecology, environment, environmentalism, environmentalists, loss of parents, people in exile, people ridiculed for their piety, Native Americans, Igorots, Cordilleras, Thomasites, Northern Luzon, Diocese of Bangued, Vicariate of Tabuk, Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe, Diocese of Baguio, and Philippines.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was born in what is today’s, New York. Her father was a Mohawk chief, and her mother was converted to the Christian faith by Jesuit missionaries. A smallpox epidemic killed her entire family and at the age of four, she contracted the disease which left her partially blind, disfigured and crippled. Her uncle, who was against Christianity, raised her. Kateri was drawn to the Christian faith which the missionaries were evangelising near her village. She was baptised at the age of 20 and took the Christian name Catherine after Saint Catherine of Siena. Her uncle was opposed to her conversion and she was ostracised by her people. Since her life was in danger due to her conversion, a priest helped her to escape to Montreal, Canada to a French Jesuit mission. The journey was over 200 miles which she did on foot. She spent her life in prayer and penance and rejected marriage. She was known as a miracle worker and she died at the age of 24. In 1980 she was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II and was the first Native American saint when she was canonised in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Saint Henry II

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Image: Sacramentary of King Henry II

The 13th of July is the feast day of Saint Henry II (6 May 973 – 13 July 1024). He was Holy Emperor from 1014 till his death in 1024 and was the last of the Ottonian dynasty of Emperors as he was childless.

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

HENRY, Duke of Bavaria, saw in a vision his guardian, St. Wolfgang, pointing to the words “after six.” This moved him to prepare for death, and for six years he continued to watch and pray, when, at the end of the sixth year, he found the warning verified in his election as emperor. Thus trained in the fear of God, he ascended the throne with but one thought—to reign for His greater glory. The pagan Slavs were then despoiling the empire. Henry attacked them with a small force; but angels and Saints were seen leading his troops, and the heathen fled in despair. Poland and Bohemia, Moravia and Burgundy, were in turn annexed to his kingdom, Pannonia and Hungary won to the Church. With the Faith secured in Germany, Henry passed into Italy, drove out the Antipope Gregory, brought Benedict VIII. back to Rome, and was crowned in St. Peter’s by that Pontiff, in 1014. It was Henry’s custom, on arriving in any town, to spend his first night in watching in some church dedicated to our blessed Lady. As he was thus praying in St. Mary Major’s, the first night of his arrival in Rome, he “saw the Sovereign and Eternal Priest Christ Jesus” enter to say Mass. Sts. Laurence and Vincent assisted as deacon and sub-deacon. Saints innumerable filled the church, and angels sang in the choir. After the Gospel, an angel was sent by Our Lady to give Henry the book to kiss. Touching him lightly on the thigh, as the angel did to Jacob, he said, “Accept this sign of God’s love for your chastity and justice;” and from that time the emperor always was lame. Like holy David, Henry employed the fruits of his conquests in the service of the temple. The forests and mines of the empire, the best that his treasury could produce, were consecrated to the sanctuary. Stately cathedrals, noble monasteries, churches innumerable, enlightened and sanctified the once heathen lands. In 1022 Henry lay on his bed of death. He gave back to her parents his wife, St. Cunegunda, “a virgin still, as a virgin he had received her from Christ,” and surrendered his own pure soul to God.

Reflection.—St. Henry deprived himself of many things to enrich the house of God. We clothe ourselves in purple and fine linen, and leave Jesus in poverty and neglect.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

July 2, 2018 Message to Mirjana

Dear children, I am the mother of all of you and, therefore, do not be afraid because I hear your prayers. I know that you seek me and that is why I am praying to my Son for you, my Son, who is united with the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit - the Paraclete - my Son who leads souls to the Kingdom from where He came, the Kingdom of peace and light. My children, you are given the freedom to choose, but, as a mother, I implore you to choose the freedom for the good. You, with pure and simple souls comprehend - even if sometimes you do not understand the words - and within yourselves you feel what the truth is. My children, do not lose the truth and true life so as to follow the false one. By life in truth, the Kingdom of Heaven enters into your hearts, and that is the Kingdom of peace, love and harmony. Then, my children, there will not be the selfishness which distances you from my Son. There will be love and understanding for your neighbors. Because, remember, again I repeat to you, to pray also means to love others, your neighbors, and to give yourself to them. Love and give in my Son, and then He will work in you and for you. My children, ceaselessly think of my Son and love Him immeasurably and you will have true life, and that will be for eternity. Thank you, apostles of my love.

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