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1. St. Joseph the Worker
2. St. Athanasius
3. St. Philip and St. James
4. Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla
5. St. Mary Mazzarello
6. Blessed Francois de Montmorency Laval
7. Blessed Rose Venerini
8. Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine
9. Blessed Nicholas Albergati
10. Blessed Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai
11. St. Ignatius of Laconi
12. St. Pancras
13. Our Lady of Fatima
14. St. Matthias
15. St. Isidore the Farmer
16. St. Felix of Cantalice
17. St. Paschal Baylon
18. St. John I
19. St. Celestine V
20. St. Bernardine of Siena
21. St. Christopher Magallanes
22. St. Rita of Cascia
23. St. John Baptist Rossi
24. Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis
25. St. Bede the Venerable
26. St. Philip Neri
27. St. Augustine of Canterbury
28. St. Mariana of Quito
29. Blessed Eugene de Mazenod
30. St. Joan of Arc
31. Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Joseph the Worker
This is St. Joseph’s second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint. He is the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus. Today we celebrate the witness of Joseph’s hard work. He was a carpenter who worked long hours in his little shop. St. Joseph teaches us that the work we do is important. Through it we give our contribution and our service to our family and society. But even more than that, we follow God’s plan for us by carrying out the special work he has given us to do. That is why we want to try to always do our work carefully and well. Many countries set aside one day a year to honor workers. This encourages people to appreciate the dignity and importance of work. The Church has given us St. Joseph as a wonderful example to follow in doing our own work. In 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed that this feast of St. Joseph the Worker should be celebrated every year.
St. Joseph will be glad to help us become more conscientious in our study and our work if we ask him to. Let’s always try our best, no matter what we’re doing.
St. Athanasius
Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God. This was important because some people called Arians were denying this truth. Even before he became a priest, Athanasius had read many books on Scripture and theology. That is why he could explain the faith so easily. This saint became the archbishop of Alexandria before he was thirty years old. For forty-six years, he was a brave shepherd of his flock. Four Roman emperors could not make him stop writing his clear and beautiful explanations of our holy faith. His enemies persecuted him in every way. Archbishop Athanasius was sent out of his own diocese five times. His first exile lasted two years. He was sent to the city of Trier in Germany in 336. A kindly bishop, St. Maximinius, welcomed him warmly. Other exiles lasted longer. Athanasius was even hunted by people who wanted to kill him. During one tense exile, monks kept him hidden from his enemies in the desert for six years. Once the emperor’s soldiers were chasing Athanasius down the Nile River. ”They’re catching up to us!” cried the saint’s friends. Athanasius was not worried. ”Turn the boat around,” he said calmly, ”and row toward them.” The emperor’s soldiers shouted, “Have you seen Athanasius?” “You’re not far from him!” Athanasius’s friends shouted back. The enemy boat sped by them faster than ever, and the saint was safe. The people of Alexandria loved their archbishop. He was a real father to them. As the years passed, they appreciated more and more how much he suffered for Jesus and the Church. It was the people who stepped in and saw to it that Athanasius had some well-deserved peace. He spent the last seven years of his life safe with them. His enemies searched for him but could never find him. During that time, Athanasius wrote The Life of St. Anthony the Hermit. Anthony had been his personal friend when Athanasius was young. (St. Anthony’s feast day is celebrated on January 17.) St. Athanasius died quietly on May 2, 373. He remains one of the greatest, bravest saints of all time.
Today’s saint challenges us to be more enthusiastic about studying our faith. We can ask St. Athanasius to give us his love for Jesus. This love will lead us to want to know as much as we can about the Lord.
St. Philip and St. James
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Philip was one of the first apostles chosen. He was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee. When Jesus met him, he said, “Follow me.” Philip was so happy to be with Jesus that he wanted to share his happiness with his friend, Nathaniel. ”We have found the one Moses and the prophets wrote about,” Philip explained. ”He is Jesus of Nazareth.” Nathaniel wasn’t at all excited. Nazareth was just a little village. It wasn’t big and important like Jerusalem. So Nathaniel said, ”Can any good come out of Nazareth?” But Philip did not become angry at his friend’s answer. He just said, “Come and see.” So Nathaniel went to see Jesus. After he had spoken with him, he, too, became a zealous follower of the Lord. St. James was also one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. He was the son of Alpheus and a cousin of Jesus. After Jesus ascended into heaven, James became the bishop of Jerusalem. People thought so much of him that they called him “James the Just,” which means “James the Holy One.” He is also called “James the Less,” because he was younger than the other apostle named James, who was called “James the Greater.” St. James was very gentle and forgiving. He prayed very much. He kept begging God to forgive the peo- ple who persecuted the followers of Jesus. Even when Jesus’ enemies were putting James to death, he asked God to pardon them. St. James died as a martyr in the year 62.
We can all be apostles of Jesus in our own way. We can show our faith in Jesus by the way we live. That’s how we can imitate St. Philip and St. James.
Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla
Ceferino Giménez Malla was a gypsy (a member of a nomadic people who move from place to place) who was born in Spain in August of 1861. After they were married, he and his wife Teresa moved to Barbastro. They had no children of their own, but they adopted Teresa’s niece, Pepita. Ceferino was a horse trader who became well known for his fairness and his ability to settle disagreements. People who knew him were impressed by his kindness and prayerfulness. Even though he could not read or write, he was very wise, and even the bishop would come to him for advice. He was involved in his community as a city council member, and he also belonged to the Franciscan Third Order. Ceferino lived at the time of the Spanish Civil War. Certain revolutionaries targeted anyone they suspected of siding with their opponents. This included the Catholic Church. A revolutionary movement called the Red Terror burned down churches and convents and put thousands of priests and nuns to death. One day, Ceferino noticed a young priest who was being bullied by some revolutionaries. In trying to defend the priest, Ceferino was arrested. Imprisoned for fifteen days, he remained strong in his faith and continued to pray, reciting the rosary each day. On August 9, 1936, he was taken to the cemetery of Barbastro and shot to death by a firing squad because he would not renounce his Catholic faith. Eighteen other people, mostly priests and religious, were put to death with him too. Ceferino was seventy- five years old. Ceferino Giménez Malla was beatified on May 4, 1997, as the second lay martyr of the Spanish Civil War. He is the first gypsy to be beatified.
The story of Blessed Ceferino shows that all people are called by Jesus to lead holy lives. Our Church is made up of a wonderful variety of races and cultures. We should respect and appreciate them all.
St. Mary Mazzarello
Mary Mazzarello was born in 1837 near Genoa, Italy. She was the daughter of hardworking peasants, and she herself worked in the fields as a child. When she was seventeen, she joined a group of women devoted to our Lady. The group was called the Daughters of Mary Immaculate. In 1860, Mary came down with a sickness called typhoid. She was no longer able to work in the fields. She decided to start a dressmaking business with her friend, Petronilla. The two young women would pray together as they did their sewing. They talked about a holy priest they knew named Don Bosco, who was working with boys who needed help. Soon they had the idea to begin a school for girls. Don Bosco liked their idea and asked Pope Pius IX for permission to start a new order of sisters who would teach young girls. In 1872, Don Bosco (now known as St. John Bosco) founded the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians, also called the Salesian Sisters. Mother Mary Mazzarello became their superior. The community grew quickly. By 1900 there were nearly 800 convents and schools. The sisters carried out other works of charity in addition to their teaching ministry. Mother Mary Mazzarello died at the motherhouse at Nizza Monferrato on April 27, 1881. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1951.
From her childhood, St. Mary Mazzarello did whatever work she had to do with great love. When she was unable to do one kind of work, she found something else she could do. Because she was ready to serve, God entrusted her with an important work in the Church.
Blessed Francois de Montmorency Laval
Francois was born in 1623 in a small town in France. He received a good Catholic education. He studied with the Jesuits and then went to Paris to complete his preparation for the priesthood. Francois became a priest in May, 1647, and a bishop on December 8, 1658. He arrived in Canada in 1659 to serve as Quebec’s first bishop. Bishop Laval had a missionary spirit. He shared the pioneer life of his people. He took on the huge task of organizing the Church in Canada, which was still mission territory. Bishop Laval asked the Jesuit missionaries to minister to the native people. He created new parishes for the French-speaking Catholics. He started the Seminary of Quebec in 1663. This was of great importance because a good seminary would train future priests for God’s people. Bishop Laval loved the people of his vast territory. He was a caring bishop and a prayerful man. He spoke out against the harmful abuse of alcohol, which was a great problem in his area at that time. The way that the civil authorities constantly interfered with the life of the Church also made him suffer very much. In 1688, Bishop Laval retired. He was replaced by Bishop de Saint-Vallier. Bishop Laval devoted the last twenty years of his life to charitable and spiritual works. He died in 1708. People came from all over to pray at his tomb, and miracles were reported. Pope John Paul II declared Bishop Laval “blessed” on June 22, 1980.
Blessed Francois helps us understand what it means to be a missionary. He had the courage to leave his own country to go to Canada when it was still a mission land. We can ask Blessed Francois to make us aware of the Church all around the world. Let’s remember to pray that people in every country will come to learn about Jesus.
Blessed Rose Venerini
Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father was a doctor. Rose entered the convent but returned home after a few months. Her father had died and she felt responsible for the care of her mother. Rose, who would remain single, recognized her own leadership qualities. She gathered the young women in her neighborhood to pray the rosary in the evenings. As they all got to know each other, Rose became aware of how little the young people knew about their Catholic faith. Rose and two of her friends opened a free school for girls in 1685. The parents who sent their daughters there were very pleased with the quality of education and the atmosphere. Rose was a gifted educator. Above all, she was able to teach others to teach. In 1692, Cardinal Barbarigo invited Rose to his diocese. He wanted her to organize his schools and train his teachers. It was in his diocese that she became a friend and teacher of Lucy Filippini. Lucy later started her own religious order and was proclaimed a saint in 1930. Rose organized schools in various places. Some people didn’t like her work, and they said unkind things about her and her teachers. But Rose never gave up. Rose even opened a school in Rome in 1713. Pope Clement XI praised Rose for starting such a wonderful school. This dedicated teacher died in Rome on May 7, 1728, at the age of seventy-two. After Rose’s death, her group of teachers became a religious community known as the Venerini Sisters. They continue to teach in the spirit of Rose Venerini. Rose was declared “blessed” by Pope Pius XII in 1952.
Blessed Rose realized the value of education and dedicated her life to the teaching ministry. Today, think of a teacher who has made a difference in your life and thank God for her or him.
Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine
Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day. Catherine came from a religious family. Her grandparents set a wonderful example for her, especially because of their genuine care for the poor. Catherine watched wide-eyed as her grandmother invited a handicapped beggar into her home. She offered him a bath, clean clothes, and a delicious meal. As Catherine and her grandparents sat around the fire that night, they prayed the Our Father out loud. They thanked God for his blessings. Because there was no hospital in their small town, the sick were nursed back to health in the home of Catherine’s grandparents. Catherine was just a little girl but she prayed to ask Jesus to make people suffer less. When she was still quite young, Catherine joined a new order called the Sisters of St. Augustine. They took care of the sick in hospitals. Catherine received the religious habit on October 24, 1646. Her older sister pronounced her vows the same day. In 1648, Catherine listened to the missionary priests begging sisters to come to Canada, which was mission territory at that time. Catherine’s sister was chosen to be one of the first sisters of their order to go as a missionary to Canada. Sister Catherine begged to be chosen too. She pronounced her vows on May 4, 1648. She sailed for Canada the very next day. It was the day before her sixteenth birthday. Life was hard in Quebec, Canada. But Sister Catherine loved the people. The native people were so grateful for her cheerful ways. She cooked and cared for the sick in the order’s simple hospital building. But Sister Catherine learned about fear, too. The Iroquois were killing people and burning villages. She prayed to St. John Brebeuf, one of the Jesuit priests who had recently been killed by the Iroquois in 1649. She asked him to help her be true to her calling. She heard him speaking in her heart, telling her to remain in Canada. Food became scarce, and the winters were terribly cold. Some of the sisters could not take the harsh life and constant fear of death. Sadly, they returned to France. Sister Catherine was afraid, too. She found it hard to pray. And while she smiled at all her patients at the hospital, she felt sad inside. It was then, when things were darkest for her, that Sister Catherine made a vow to remain in Canada, performing works of charity for the rest of her life. She was just twenty-two years old. Despite the hard pioneer life of the French colony, more people came. The Church grew. God blessed the new land with more missionaries. In 1665, Sister Catherine became the novice directress of her community. She kept up her life of prayer and hospital ministry until her death. Sister Marie Catherine of St. Augustine died on May 8, 1668. She was thirty-six years old. She was declared “blessed” by Pope John Paul II in 1989.
Jesus never promised that our lives would be easy and without pain or trouble. But he did promise to be with us always. When we become afraid or downhearted, we can ask Blessed Catherine to help us to be as courageous as she was.
Blessed Nicholas Albergati
Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. His family could afford to send him to the university where he began to study law. But after a few years, he decided not to become a lawyer. At the age of twenty, Nicholas joined the Carthusian Order. In 1417, he was chosen to be bishop of his native diocese. He had not counted on that at all. He could not even believe it could be God’s will. But his superiors assured him it was. People liked Bishop Nicholas. He lived in a small, plain house. He was like them. He began to visit the people of his diocese. He went to the poorest families first. He talked with them and helped them with their needs. He blessed their homes. The people were very grateful. Bishop Nicholas became a cardinal in 1426. He was known to be wise and holy. Two popes, Martin V and Eugene IV, consulted him about important Church matters. Nicholas also encouraged learning. In fact, he wrote several books himself. Bishop Nicholas died in 1443, while on a visit to Siena, Italy. Pope Eugene IV had his body brought back to Bologna. The pope himself participated in the funeral Mass and burial.
Do you ever feel upset when you don’t get attention? That’s the time to pray to Blessed Nicholas. He didn’t even want the attention he received. Blessed Nicholas will show us how much better it is to spend our time praising God.
Blessed Damien Joseph de Veuster of Molokai
Joseph de Veuster was born in 1840, the son of Belgian farmers. He and his brother, Pamphile, joined the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. These missionaries were responsible for bringing the Catholic faith to the Hawaiian Islands. Joseph chose the name “Damien” when he entered the Sacred Hearts Congregation. Brother Damien was tall and strong. His years of helping on the family farm had given him a healthy look. Everybody liked him because he was good-natured and generous. More missionaries were needed in the kingdom of Hawaii (Hawaii was not a state at that time). In 1864, a group of Sacred Hearts priests and brothers were chosen to go. Pamphile, Damien’s brother, was selected. Just before the departure date, Pamphile came down with typhoid fever. He could no longer consider going to the missions. Brother Damien, still studying to become a priest, asked to take his place. The father general accepted Damien’s offer. Damien went home to his family to say goodbye. Then he took the ship from Belgium to Hawaii. The voyage lasted eighteen weeks. Damien finished his studies and was ordained a priest in Hawaii. He spent nine years among the people of three districts. He traveled on horseback and by canoe. The people loved this tall, generous priest. He saw that they responded to ceremonies. He used the little money he could raise to build chapels. He and volunteer parishioners built the chapels themselves. But the most incredible part of Damien’s life was soon to begin. The bishop asked for a volunteer priest to go to the island of Molokai. The very name struck the people with fear and dread. They knew that the section of the island called Kalawao was the “living graveyard” of people dying of leprosy. There was so much ignorance about the disease and such great fear of contagion that lepers were mostly abandoned. Many just despaired. There was no priest, no law enforcement agent on Molokai, no doctor or hospital. The Hawaiian government sent some food and medical supplies to the lepers, but it was not enough. And there was no organized way of distributing these goods. Father Damien volunteered to go to Molokai. Faced with the poverty, corruption and despair, he felt afraid at first. But he made up his mind that for him there was no turning back. The people were desperately in need of help. He went to Honolulu to confront the members of the board of health. They told him that he could not travel back and forth to Molokai for fear of contagion. Their real reason was that they didn’t want him on Molokai. They didn’t want to be reminded that they were responsible for the lepers. So Damien had to make a choice: if he went back to Molokai, he could never leave again. The board of health didn’t know Damien. He chose Molokai. Father Damien worked hard for eighteen years until his death on Molokai. With the help of the lepers and generous volunteers, Molokai was transformed. The word Molokai took on a whole different meaning. It became an island of Christian love. Father Damien eventually became a leper himself. He died on April 15, 1889, at the age of forty-nine and was buried on the island. He was proclaimed “blessed” by Pope John Paul II in 1994.
Let’s ask Blessed Damien to give us some of his bravery and generosity. There are so many people who need our love and support. Blessed Damien will help us respond to them with joy and kindness.
St. Ignatius of Laconi
Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701. When he was about seventeen, he became very ill. He promised to become a Franciscan if he would get better. But when the illness left him, his father convinced him to wait. A couple of years later, Ignatius was almost killed when he lost control of his horse. Suddenly, however, the horse stopped and trotted on quietly. Ignatius was convinced that God had saved his life. He made up his mind to follow his religious vocation at once, and he joined the Franciscans. Brother Ignatius never held any important position in the Franciscan Order. For fifteen years he worked as a weaver. Then for forty years he carried out the task of asking for donations. He went from house to house requesting food and offerings to support the friars. Ignatius visited families and received their gifts. But the people soon realized that they received a gift in return. Brother Ignatius consoled the sick and cheered up the lonely. He made peace between enemies, converted people hardened by sin, and advised those in trouble. The people began to wait for his visits. There were some difficult days too. Once in a while, a door was slammed in his face, and often the weather was bad. Always, there were miles and miles to walk. But Ignatius remained kind and faithful. He died at the age of eighty, on May 11, 1781. Ignatius was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1951.
St. Ignatius was a happy, dedicated Franciscan. He makes us realize that the best gift we can give anyone is our good example.
St. Pancras
Pancras, a fourteen-year-old orphan, lived in the late third century. He was not a native of Rome. He was brought there by his uncle who looked after him. Pancras became a follower of Jesus and was baptized. Although just a boy, he was arrested for being a Christian during the reign of the emperor Diocletian. Pancras refused to give up his faith. For that, he was sentenced to death and was beheaded. He became a very popular martyr in the early Church. People admired him for being so young and so brave. In 514, a large church was built in Rome to honor him. In 596, the famous missionary, St. Augustine of Canterbury, went to bring the Christian faith to England. He named his first church there after St. Pancras.
St. Pancras and the other martyrs we remember today remind us of the importance of our Catholic faith. It should mean as much to us as it did to each of them. If we need to grow stronger in our faith, let’s ask St. Pancras to help us. Today is also the feast day of St. Nereus and St. Achilleus.
Our Lady of Fatima
On May 13, 1917, three children were watching their sheep in a valley called the Cova da Iria, near the town of Fatima, in Portugal. They were ten-year-old Lucia dos Santos, and her cousins, nine-year-old Francisco and seven-year-old Jacinta Marto. A flash of lightning suddenly startled them. The children thought a storm was coming, so they quickly began herding their sheep toward home. A second flash made them look around. They saw a beautiful young woman standing above a small oak tree. “Don’t be afraid,” she called reassuringly. ”Come closer.“ The woman wore a robe and mantle of white, with gold trim. Her hands, joined in prayer, were holding a rosary. She shone with a light that was brighter than the sun. Lucia asked the woman, ”Who are you? What do you want?” She answered, ”I am from heaven. Come here on the thirteenth of each month for five months. On October 13, I will give a sign that will make everyone believe.” The Blessed Mother kept her promise. The children saw her once more on June 13 and July 13. The mayor of the nearby town of Ourem didn’t like this story of a heavenly lady appearing to chil- dren. On the morning of August 13, he offered Lucia and her cousins a ride to the Cova, where they were supposed to meet the lady again. But once he had them in his car, he brought them to the police station instead, and kept them in custody for two days. He couldn’t outsmart the Blessed Virgin, though. She simply appeared to the children several days later! A priest of the diocese questioned Lucia about the visions. How many times had they seen the Blessed Virgin? How long did she stay with them? What did she look like? Lucia answered all the questions. The priest also knew that Mary had told the children a secret. But he did not pressure Lucia to tell him what it was. Lucia told the priest a little prayer that Mary had taught them: ”My Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.” The Blessed Virgin again visited the children at the Cova on September 13. On October 13, 1917, 70,000 people came to the Cova to witness the miracle that Mary had promised. It was a rainy day. But Lucia asked the people to close their umbrellas. The rain stopped. Mary appeared to the children. Suddenly, the clouds left the sky and the sun came out. The crowds saw it spinning and shooting out flames like a fireworks display. One by one the sun took on all the colors of the rainbow. This happened three times and the scene lasted for ten minutes. Then the sun seemed to fall from the sky toward the earth. The people fell to their knees. Many thought it was the end of the world. They wept and asked forgiveness for their sins. Suddenly the sun stopped its fall and returned to its normal color and its usual place in the sky. While the sun had been spinning and changing colors, only Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta had seen Mary appear as Our Lady of the Rosary, with St. Joseph beside her holding the Child Jesus. Then Jesus alone appeared and blessed the crowd. Mary also appeared as Our Lady of Sorrows and then dressed as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mary told the children what she wanted: She asked that people pray the rosary and change their lives. They should ask forgiveness for sins. She also asked that a chapel be built at the Cova da Iria. The chapel was begun in 1919. Together with Lourdes, Fatima has become the most popular place of pilgrimage for Christians. In December, 1918, both Francisco and Jacinta became very sick with the flu. In those days they didn’t have the medicines we have today, and Francisco’s illness turned into pneumonia. He died on April 4, 1919. A few months later, Jacinta’s sickness developed into pleurisy, a disease which seriously affected her lungs. She underwent surgery, but died on February 20, 1920. Lucia entered the convent in 1928, becoming a Sister of St. Dorothy. In 1948 she transferred to the Carmelite monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. As of the date this book was printed, she is still living there as a Carmelite nun.
Our Lady came to Fatima as a loving mother. She wants us to be truly happy and reminds us that this can only happen when we live as Jesus taught. Let’s pray the rosary often, thinking about the lives of Jesus and Mary.
St. Matthias
Matthias was one of the Lord’s seventy-two disciples. He had been a follower of Jesus before the crucifixion. While waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit, 120 of Jesus’ followers gathered to pray. St. Peter asked them to choose an apostle to replace Judas. This was very important because that man would be a bishop, as the other apostles were. Peter said that they should choose someone who had been with Jesus from his baptism in the Jordan River until his resurrection. The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles tells us what happened. The group proposed two names. One was Matthias, the other was Joseph, also called Barsabbas. Then everyone prayed and asked the Lord to let them know which of the two men should take the place of Judas. Next they cast lots, and Matthias’ name was chosen. He became one of the twelve apostles. St. Matthias was a dedicated apostle. He preached the Good News in Judea, Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), and on the Caspian seashore. Many people listened to Matthias. They believed his wonderful message. The enemies of Jesus grew furious when they saw how people listened to Matthias. They decided to stop him by putting him to death. Matthias died a martyr at Colchis.
The story of St. Matthias reminds us that we are fortunate to be followers of Jesus and members of his Church. Let’s ask St. Matthias to show us how to be more grateful for all that we have received.
St. Isidore the Farmer
This saint was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were very religious. They named their baby after the great St. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, Spain. (We celebrated his feast on April 4.) Isidore’s parents wanted to offer their son a good education, but they could not afford it because they were tenant farmers. When Isidore was old enough, he went to work for a rich landowner in Madrid. This man’s name was John de Vargas. Isidore worked all his life for Mr. de Vargas. He married a good woman named Maria Torribia, who was from a family as poor as his own. The couple loved each other very much. They had one child, a boy, who died as a baby. Isidore and his wife offered to Jesus their sadness over the child’s death. They trusted that their son was happy with God forever. Isidore began each day at Mass. Then he would go to his job. He tried to work hard even if he didn’t feel like it. He plowed and planted and prayed. He called on Mary, the saints and his guardian angel. They helped him turn ordinary days into special, joyful times. The world of faith became very real to Isidore, as real as Mr. de Varga’s fields. When he had a day off, Isidore made it a point to spend extra time adoring Jesus in church. Sometimes, on holidays, Isidore and Maria would visit a few neighboring parishes on a one-day pilgrimage of prayer. Once the parish held a dinner. Isidore got there early and went into the church to pray. He arrived in the parish hall late. He didn’t come in alone. He brought a group of beggars with him. The parishioners were upset. What if there wasn’t enough food for all those beggars? But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for everyone else! “There is always enough for the poor of Jesus,” Isidore kindly explained. Stories of miracles began to circulate about this farm-worker saint. Isidore was totally unselfish. He was a loving and compassionate human being. He is one of Spain’s most popular saints. Isidore died on May 15, 1130. In March, 1622, Pope Gregory XV proclaimed five new saints in the same ceremony. They were St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri and St. Isidore the Farmer.
St. Isidore let his faith in Jesus and the Church light up his whole life. We can ask him to help us love the Lord and put our faith into practice as he did.
St. Felix of Cantalice
Felix was born in Cantalice, Italy, in 1515. His parents were poor peasants, and as a boy, Felix worked as a shepherd and then as a farm laborer. Even so, he managed to begin each day by attending Mass. As he worked in the fields, he prayed continually. Felix joined the Capuchins in Anticoli. He soon became a model of prayer and penance, humility and charity. He was sent to the Capuchin monastery in Rome, where he spent the rest of his life carrying out the office of questor. This meant that he would go out of his monastery every day, traveling through nearby towns asking people for donations to help support his community. The superiors were careful to choose a very holy brother who would not give in to greediness, or be tempted to forget his daily prayers because he spent so much time outside the monastery. They trusted Brother Felix so much that he had permission to use some of the donations he collected to help the poor and sick people he met each day. One day a brother asked Brother Felix how he was not distract- ed by all the things he saw each day. Brother Felix answered, “Every creature in the world will lift our hearts to God if we look at it with a good eye.” While he was in Rome, Brother Felix became friends with St. Philip Neri. When St. Charles Borromeo asked St. Philip Neri’s advice in revising the rule of life for his Oblates, St. Philip gave the book to Brother Felix and asked him to look it over. St. Charles was amazed at Brother Felix’s insights and grateful for his help. Brother Felix died on May 18, 1587, when he was seventy-two years old. He was canonized in 1709.
St. Felix teaches us that we can be united to God in any place and at any time. Whether we find ourselves in a quiet church or on a busy street, we can always raise our minds and hearts to God.
St. Paschal Baylon
Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity to go to school. Yet he taught himself to read and write. He did this mainly by asking everyone he met to help him. He wanted to learn to read religious books. As he tended sheep each day, he would also spend his time praying. When he was twenty-four, Paschal became a Franciscan brother. Paschal was kind and easy to get along with. His companions liked him. They noticed that he often chose the hardest and most unpleasant chores. He was known for his spirit of penance. Yet he was a happy person. As a shepherd, Paschal had wished he could be in church, praying to Jesus. At that time he couldn’t. Now he could. He loved to keep Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament company. He considered it an honor to be a server at Mass. Brother Paschal’s two great loves were the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Every day Paschal prayed the rosary with great love. He also wrote beautiful prayers to our heavenly Mother. Paschal made himself a little notebook out of some scraps of paper. In it, he wrote down some beautiful thoughts and prayers. After he died, his superior showed the little book to the archbishop. The archbishop read the book and said, ”These simple souls are stealing heaven from us!” Paschal died in 1592 at the age of fifty-two. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690.
What does it take to be a saint? St. Paschal had the strength to live his religious vocation because of his devotion to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Let’s ask St. Paschal to help us grow closer to Jesus and Mary.
St. John I
John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy’s ruler was Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. (The Arians did not believe that Jesus is God.) In 523 Emperor Justin of Constantinople decreed that the Arians had to give back to the Catholics the church buildings they had taken. This made Theodoric angry. He forced Pope John to go with a delegation of five bishops and four senators to speak to the emperor. The emperor and all the people of Constantinople went out to meet the pope with a joyful welcome. Justin listened to Pope John, and decided to change his harsh policy. But Theodoric was not satisfied. He imagined there was a conspiracy against him. He thought that Pope John and Justin I were against him. When the pope was returning to Rome he was kidnapped in Ravenna, Theodoric’s capital. Pope John was thrown into prison by Theodoric’s soldiers. There the pope died of thirst and starvation in 526.
When we’re tempted to have mean thoughts about others, we can pray to St. John. He’ll help us avoid Theodoric’s terrible mistake of acting upon our angry or jealous thoughts.
St. Celestine V
Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he was small. The family was poor, but Peter’s mother raised her children with great love. She sent Peter to school because he showed such promise and an eagerness to learn. Once she asked, ”Which one of you is going to become a saint?” Little Peter answered with all his heart, ”Me, Mama! I’ll become a saint!” When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit. He spent his days praying, reading the Bible and doing his work. Other hermits kept coming to him and asking him to guide them. Eventually, he started a new order of monks. When Peter was eighty-four years of age, he was made pope. It came about in a very unusual way. For two years there had been no pope. This was because the cardinals could not agree on whom to choose. Peter sent them a message. He warned them to decide quickly, because God was not pleased with the long delay. The cardinals did as the monk said. Then and there, they chose Peter the hermit to be the pope! The poor man wept when he heard the news. He accepted sadly and took the name Celestine V. He was pope for only about four months. Because he was so humble and simple, King Charles of Naples and others took advantage of him. Trusting too much in others, Pope Celestine did whatever they suggested. Soon there was great confusion. Pope Celestine felt responsible for all the trouble. He decided that the best thing he could do for the Church was give up his position. He asked forgiveness for not having governed the Church well. All St. Celestine wanted was to live in one of his monasteries in peace. But the new pope, Boniface VIII, thought it would be safer to keep him hidden in a small room in one of the Roman palaces. St. Celestine spent the last ten months of his life in a plain room. But he became his cheerful self again. ”All I wanted in this world was a cell, and that is what they have given me,” he would repeat to himself. He died on May 19, 1296. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Clement V in 1313.
St. Celestine was a great monk. The way he handled his painful time as pope proved that he really was holy. He shows us that when we try our best, we can leave the results up to God and be in peace.
St. Bernardine of Siena
St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor. His parents died when he was seven, and his aunt took him in and raised him. She loved him as if he were her own child. His relatives also gave him a good education. He grew up to be a tall, handsome boy. He was so much fun that his friends loved to be with him. Yet they knew better than to use bad language when he was around. He would not allow it. This saint had a special love for the Blessed Mother. She was the one who kept him pure. Even when he was a teenager, Bernardine would pray to her as a child talks to his mother. Bernardine had a kind heart. He felt great pity for the poor. Once his aunt had no extra food to give a beggar. The boy cried, “I’d rather go without food myself than leave that poor man with none.” When a plague struck the area in 1400, Bernardine and his friends volunteered their services at the hospital. They helped the sick and dying day and night for four months until the plague had ended. Bernardine joined the Franciscan Order when he was twenty-two. He became a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns and cities to preach. The people needed to be reminded about the love of Jesus. Bad habits were ruining both young and old people. “How can I save these people by myself?” Bernardine asked the Lord in prayer. ”With what weapons can I fight the devil?” And God answered, ”My Holy Name will be enough for you.” So Bernardine spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He used this Name a great many times in every sermon. He asked people to print Jesus’ name over the gates of their cities, over their doorways—everywhere. Through devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bernardine brought thousands of people from all over Italy back to the Church. St. Bernardine spent forty-two years of his life as a Franciscan. He was offered the opportunity to become a bishop three times, but declined each time. In 1430 he was elected vicar general and for twelve years he worked to reform his Order. As a result of his efforts, the number of members grew from three hundred to over four thousand! He died at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy, on May 20, 1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V.
St. Bernardine devoted himself to serving Jesus and making everyone love his holy name. We can learn from him to respect the Lord’s name and avoid the bad habit of using bad language.
St. Christopher Magallanes
The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of social problems and political unrest in Mexico. With the Constitution of 1917, the Mexican government sought to drive the Catholic Church out of the country. But many devout Catholics continued to practice their faith in secret. And many dedicated Mexican priests risked their lives in ministering to the underground or hidden Church. Padre Christopher Magallanes was one of those priests. He belonged to the Cristeros Movement. This was an organization of Catholic priests and laypeople who had the courage to stand up to the anti-Catholic government during the 1920s. Padre Magallanes opened an underground seminary at Totatiche. Here with other priests he preached the Gospel in secret and celebrated Mass for the faithful. The people knew they could go to Padre Christopher to receive the sacraments and to be strengthened in their faith during those difficult times of persecution. Padre Christopher Magallanes was finally arrested by government authorities and put in prison. People could hear their beloved priest cry out with conviction from his jail cell, ”I am innocent and I will die innocent! With all my heart I forgive those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood will bring peace to our divided Mexico!” Padre Christopher was put to death with twenty-one other diocesan priests and three laymen. They were all members of the Cristeros Movement. Pope John Paul canonized Padre Christopher and the other martyrs on May 21, 2000.
St. Christopher will help us to be true to our faith, even when it doesn’t seem “popular.” His story also helps us to be grateful that we are able to practice our faith in freedom.
St. Rita of Cascia
Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents, who were elderly, had begged God to send them a child. They loved Rita and brought her up well. When she was twelve, Rita wanted to enter the convent, but her parents decided that she should marry instead. The man they chose for Rita turned out to be a cruel and angry husband. He had such a violent temper that everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of him. Yet for eighteen years his wife patiently put up with his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her and he returned to God. Rita’s happiness over her husband’s conversion did not last long. One day, shortly after, he was murdered. Rita was shocked and heartbroken. But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her two sons forgive them too. She saw that the boys, instead, were determined to avenge their father’s death. Rita prayed that they would not commit murder. Within several months, both boys became seriously ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she persuaded them to forgive, and to ask God’s forgiveness for themselves. They did, and both died peacefully. Now that her husband and her children were dead, Rita asked several times to enter the convent of the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. But the rules of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join even if her husband had died. Rita didn’t give up, however. At last the nuns made an exception for her. In the convent, Rita stood out for her prayer, mortification and charity. She had great devotion to the crucified Jesus. Once, while praying in front of a crucifix, she asked Jesus to let her share some of his pain. One thorn from Jesus’ crown of thorns pierced her forehead and made a wound that never healed. In fact, it grew so bad that Rita had to stay away from the other sisters, who were afraid of contagion. But she was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus. Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like St. Jude, St. Rita is often called the “Saint of the Impossible.”
Maybe someone we know and love is not living close to God. We can ask St. Rita to help us know how to pray for that person. Our kindness and understanding can be a reflection of God’s love for that person.
St. John Baptist Rossi
John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were grateful when a wealthy couple that they knew hired John to serve in their household. John was happy to go to their house in Genoa because then he could attend school. When he was thirteen, he began studying for the priesthood at the Roman College. He realized that studies were easy for him and he signed up for more and more subjects. Then John became very sick and had to stop his studies for a while. After he recovered enough, he completed his preparation and became a priest. Even though his health was always poor, Father John did much good for the people of Rome. He knew what it was like not to feel well, so he took a special interest in sick people. He was a frequent visitor to Rome’s hospitals. Father John especially loved to spend time with the poor people at the Hospice of St. Galla. This was a shelter for the poor and homeless. But Father John became aware of poor people who had no one to look after their spiritual needs. He noticed those who brought cattle and sheep to sell at the market. What hard lives they had. They came in the morning with their herds. Father John would walk among them and stop and talk with them. When possible, he would teach them about the faith and offer them the sacrament of Reconciliation. Father John’s priestly ministry made a big difference in their lives. The priest also felt a deep compassion for the homeless women and girls. They wandered through the streets day and night begging. This was dangerous and very sad. The pope gave Father John money to open a shelter for homeless women. It was right near the hospice of St. Galla. Father John placed the house under the protection of one of his favorite saints, Aloysius Gonzaga. (The feast of St. Aloysius is June 21.) Father John became best known for his kindness and gentleness in confession. People formed lines near his confessional and waited patiently for their turn. He once said to a friend that the best way for a priest to reach heaven was to help people through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Another favorite assignment given him by Pope Benedict XIV was to teach courses of spiritual instruction to prison officials and state employees. Father John suffered a stroke in 1763. He never regained his health. He was able to celebrate Mass but he suffered greatly. This wonderful priest died at the age of sixty-six. It was May 23, 1764. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1881.
We can learn from the life of St. John Baptist to be grateful for priests and for the sacrament of Reconciliation. We can also pray to this saint and ask him to console priests for all the good they do.
Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis
Elodie Paradis was born on May 12, 1840, in the village of L’Acadie in Quebec, Canada. Her parents were poor and devout Catholics. They loved their little girl. When Elodie was nine, her parents decided to send her to a boarding school. They wanted her to have an excellent education. The sisters of Notre Dame warmly received the new student. But Elodie and her family missed each other very much. Mr. Paradis worked hard running a mill. But times were bad, and there was not enough work to support his wife and children. He heard wonderful reports of the gold rush in California. He was so desperate that he decided to go. In California, Mr. Paradis did not find the wealth he had hoped for. When he returned to L’Acadie, he was shocked to find that his Elodie had entered the convent. She had joined the Holy Cross congregation on February 21, 1854. Mr. Paradis went to the convent. He begged his daughter to return home, but she chose to remain. Finally, her father accepted her decision. Elodie pronounced her vows in 1857, taking the name Sister Marie-Leonie. She taught school in different cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on, Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun in 1880. These loving sisters are devoted to the priesthood. They do the household tasks so that priests will be able to devote more time to their people. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have many convents in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras. Mother Marie-Leonie worked for her sisters until the last few hours of her life. She was always frail and often ill. But she never stopped caring for God’s people. She put the finishing touches on the pages of the rule of life she had written. She had it sent to the print shop. That book would give her sisters the guidance they would need to live their religious life. On Friday, May 3, 1912, Mother Marie-Leonie said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours later. She was seventy-one years old. Mother Marie-Leonie was declared “blessed” by Pope John Paul II. The joyful event took place at Jarry Park, Montreal, Canada, on September 11, 1984.
Little tasks that seem unimportant can be worth a lot when they’re done with love. When we are carrying out chores that seem boring or insignificant, let’s offer them to God with the same spirit Blessed Marie-Leonie had in doing her work.
St. Bede the Venerable
This saint is famous as a priest, a monk, a teacher and a writer of history. He was born in England around 672. His parents sent Bede to school at the nearby Benedictine monastery. He loved the life of the monks so much that when he grew up he too became a monk. He remained in that same monastery for the rest of his life. Bede loved the Holy Bible very much. He tells us that it was a joy for him to study the Bible. He loved to teach it and write about it. When he grew older, sickness forced him to stay in bed. His pupils came to study by his bedside. He kept on teaching them and working on his translation of St. John’s Gospel into English. Many people could not read Latin. He wanted them to be able to read the words of Jesus in their own language. As he grew sicker, Bede realized that he was about to go back to God. The monks would miss him very much. He kept on working even when he was seriously ill. At last, the boy who was doing the writing for him said, ”There is still one sentence, dear Father, which is not written down.” “Write it quickly,” answered the saint. When the boy said, ”It is finished,” the saint said, “Good! You are right—it is finished. Now please hold my head up. I want to sit facing the place where I used to pray. I want to call on my heavenly Father.” Bede died shortly after, on May 25, 735. He is thought to be the most learned man of his time. His most famous book, Church History of the English People, is the only source for much of early English history. People call Bede by the respectful title of “venerable.” He is also a Doctor of the Church.
If St. Bede were alive today, how much time do you think he would spend watching TV? How much time do you spend in front of the TV set each day? What adjustments can you make to allow time for important things like study, playing with friends, good reading and household chores?
St. Philip Neri
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child, his nickname was “Good little Phil.” He was always so cheerful and friendly that everyone he met loved him. Philip went to Rome as a teenager. He studied theology and philosophy for three years and was a good student. Above all, Philip was a very active Christian. He lived simply and worked hard. But he also did much good for the people around him. He helped poor children. He donated his time to the sick. He was a friend to people who were troubled and lonely. In fact, he reached out to everybody he could for the love of Jesus. Philip helped start an organization of lay people to take care of needy pilgrims. That ministry gradually continued as a famous hospital in Rome. The priest who guided him realized that Philip was doing so much to help the Christians of Rome become fervent again. But it was obvious that Philip had the call to be a priest. He was ordained in 1551, at the age of thirty-six, and quickly became sought after as a confessor. He was available for the sacrament of Reconciliation for several hours every day. The lines of people who came to him grew longer. But Father Philip was never in a hurry. He never ran out of patience and gentleness. People began to notice that he could read their minds at times. He could also in some circumstances predict the future. The Lord even worked miracles through him. But all Philip wanted to do was bring Jesus to the people. To avoid their admiration, he acted silly once in a while. He wanted people to laugh and forget that they thought he was holy. Philip was making a difference in Rome. He founded a society of priests called the Oratorians, and the whole city was renewing its faith and devotion. Once he started to think about being a missionary to far-off lands. He was very impressed by the life of St. Francis Xavier, who had died in 1552 at the gate of China. Philip had been a priest for just one year at the time of St. Xavier’s death. Should he leave Rome and volunteer for the missions? A holy Cistercian monk told him, ”Rome is to be your mission land.” In fact, Father Philip had become known as “the apostle of Rome.” Philip spent the last five years of his life offering the sacrament of Reconciliation to the people. He died at the age of eighty in 1595. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.
Cheerfulness is an important part of holiness. St. Philip Neri’s story teaches us that the way to be really happy is to put God and other people first in our lives. If we only think about ourselves we’ll never feel satisfied.
St. Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew’s monastery in Rome. Pope Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for an important mission. They were to go and preach the Gospel to the people of England. Abbot Augustine and the monks started on their journey. When they reached southern France, people warned them that the English were fierce. The monks felt discouraged. They asked Augustine to go back and obtain the pope’s permission to give up the whole idea. He did, but the pope wanted the monks to go to England just the same. Pope Gregory knew that the people were ready to accept the Christian faith. And so the monks continued their journey. They arrived in England in 597. The missionary monks were kindly received by King Ethelbert, whose wife was a Christian princess from France. The monks formed a procession when they arrived. They walked along singing psalms. They carried a cross and a picture of our Lord. Many people welcomed the monks’ message. King Ethelbert himself was baptized on Pentecost, 597. That year Abbot Augustine became a bishop. Augustine often wrote to the pope. And Pope St. Gregory gave him much holy advice. Speaking about the many miracles Augustine worked, the pope said: “You must rejoice with fear and fear with joy for that gift.” He meant that Augustine should be happy that through the miracles the English people were putting faith in the Gospel. But he should be careful not to take credit for the miracles, because they were from God. At Canterbury, Augustine built a church and a monastery, which became the most important in England. It was there that he was buried. St. Augustine died on May 26, 604, seven years after his arrival in England.
If our parents or teachers ask us to do something that seems difficult or uninteresting, we should do it as best as we can. St. Augustine will help us because he knows how it feels to be given a difficult assignment.
St. Mariana of Quito
Mariana de Paredes y Flores was born at Quito, Ecuador, in 1618. At that time Ecuador was part of Peru. Mariana’s parents were Spanish nobles, but they died when she was a child. Mariana’s married sister took her into her home and raised her. From her early years, Mariana was drawn to a life of prayer. She chose to stay at home, doing humble chores and devoting her time to prayer and acts of penance. She placed herself under the guidance of a Jesuit priest. Mariana became known for her holiness of life. She had the gift of prophecy and worked miracles. In 1645, Quito was badly shaken by an earthquake. This was followed by an epidemic. Mariana offered her life to make up for the sins of the people of Quito. As soon as she made her offering, the epidemic came to an end. Mariana died on May 26 of the same year. The people of Ecuador lovingly call St. Mariana the “Lily of Quito.” She was canonized in 1950.
St. Mariana can help us to have faith in the power of prayer and penance. There are many needs to pray for in the world today. We can do our part by offering up prayers and little sacrifices for the needs of others.
Blessed Eugene de Mazenod
Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the poor, and he ministered to them. He was always eager to find new ways to reach out to young people, too. He wanted to bring them to the love and practice of their faith. Father Eugene believed in the value of parish missions. He realized that missionary priests in a parish could help the people to better love and appreciate their Catholic faith. Father Eugene began a new religious order of priests and lay brothers in 1816. They were missionaries called the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Their special work was to go to people who had never heard of Jesus and his Church. Father Eugene and the members of his order were courageous in answering the requests of bishops who needed their help. Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal was especially eager to have the help of the Oblates. He must have been very convincing because Father Eugene sent several of his members to Montreal. Within ten years, the Oblates had grown rapidly. They reached all of Canada and had begun to minister in the United States, too. In 1837, Father Eugene was consecrated bishop of Marseilles, France. He became known for his loyalty and love for the pope. He was also a gifted organizer and educator. Bishop Eugene remained superior of his order until he died in 1861. The great work Bishop Eugene de Mazenod started continues today through the Oblate missionaries around the world. They staff many mission posts, parishes and universities. saint of Paris.
Blessed Eugene had the courage to respond to the needs of God’s people as he saw them. Let’s ask him to show us how we too can help the people around us.
St. Joan of Arc
Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a little village in France. Jacques d’Arc, her father, was a hardworking farmer. Her mother was gentle and loving. She taught Joan many practical things so that Joan could later say, ”I can sew and spin as well as any woman.” Joan loved to pray, especially at the shrines of our Blessed Mother. But this honest little peasant girl was to become a heroine.... One day while Joan was watching her sheep, St. Michael the Archangel, the patron of her country, told her, ”Daughter of God, go save France!” For three years she heard the voices of saints calling her to action. When she was sixteen, she began her mission. At that time, there was a war going on between France and England. It was called the Hundred Years’ War. England had won so much French land that the king of England called himself the king of France, too. The real French king was weak and selfish. He thought that the French armies would never be able to save the country. After being examined by many priests and experts to make sure that she really was seeing visions of the saints and really had been given a special mission to carry out, Joan received permission to lead an army into the French city of Orleans, which the English had almost captured. In her white, shining armor, this young teenager rode with her banner flying above her. On it were the names of JESUS and MARY. Joan was wounded by an arrow in the great battle of Orleans, but she kept on urging the men in her army to victory. At last they won! Then Joan and her army went on to win more and more battles. The English armies had to retreat. After the victories, Joan’s time of suffering began. She was captured and sold to the British. The ungrateful French king did not even try to save her. She was put in prison and falsely charged as being guilty of witchcraft and heresy (denying or doubting a truth of the Catholic faith).After an unfair trial Joan was burned at the stake on May 29, 1431. Joan was not even twenty, yet she went bravely to her death. The last word on her lips was “Jesus.” Four hundred and eighty-nine years later, on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Joan a saint.
St. Joan was asked by God to accomplish a very difficult, nearly impossible task. She trusted God and did what he asked. When we have to do something hard, we can ask St. Joan to help us.
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
When the archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of the Savior, he also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby. Elizabeth was an older woman. Mary knew that she would appreciate some help. So she started out at once on the journey to Elizabeth’s house. Mary’s trip was long and dangerous. Riding on a donkey, it was uncomfortable too. But that didn’t stop her. Mary reached her cousin’s house and greeted Elizabeth. At that moment, God revealed to Elizabeth that Mary had become his mother. Elizabeth asked joyfully, ”How have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mary remained humble. She quickly gave all the credit to God. She exclaimed: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid, and holy is his name.” What graces the Blessed Mother brought to the home of her cousin! St. John the Baptist, while still hidden in his mother’s womb, was cleansed of original sin. Zachary, Elizabeth’s husband who had become mute for doubting the angel of God, was able to speak again. And Elizabeth was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary stayed three months at her cousin’s home. With great kindness and love, she helped Elizabeth. It was a wonderful time for them both.
Elizabeth’s home was filled with grace through Mary’s visit. We will receive many blessings too if we love and pray to our heavenly Mother.