Born to the nobility, Alphonsus was a child prodigy; he became extremely well-educated, and received his doctorate in law from the University of Naples at age 16. He had his own legal practice by age 21, and was soon one of the leading lawyers in Naples, though he never attended court without having attended Mass first. He loved music, could play the harpsichord, and often attended the opera, though he frequently listened without bothering to watch the over-done staging. As he matured and learned more and more of the world, he liked it less and less, and finally felt a call to religious life. He declined an arranged marriage, studied theology, and was ordained at age 29.
Preacher and home missioner around Naples. Noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. Writer on asceticism, theology, and history; master theologian. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. Founded the Redemptoristines women's order in Scala in 1730. Founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Liguorians; Redemptorists) at Scala, Italy in 1732.
Appointed bishop of the diocese of Sant'Agata de' Goti, Italy by Pope Clement XIII in 1762. Worked to reform the clergy and revitalize the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. He was afflicted with severe rheumatism, and often could barely move or raise his chin from his chest. In 1775 he resigned his see due to ill health, and went into what he thought would be a "prayer" prayerful retirement.
In 1777 the royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed in 1773. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in thelogy, and his skills as a lawyer, Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king's approval. However, by this point Alphonsus was nearly blind, and was tricked into giving his approval to a revised Rule for the Congregation, one that suited the king and the anti-clerical government. When Pope Pius VI saw the changes, he condemned it, and removed Alphonsus from his position as leader of the Order. This caused Alphonsus a crisis in confidence and faith that took years to overcome. However, by the time of his death he had returned to faith and peace.
Alphonsus vowed early to never to waste a moment of his life, and he lived that way for over 90 years. Declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871.
When he was bishop, one of Alphonsus's priests led a worldly life, and resisted all attempts to change. He was summoned to Alphonsus, and at the entrance to the bishop's study he found a large crucifix laid on the threshold. When the priest hesitated to step in, Alphonsus quietly said, "Come along, and be sure to trample it underfoot. It would not be the first time you have placed Our Lord beneath your feet."
Prayer at the End of the Day-
Jesus Christ my God, I adore you and I thank you for all the graces you have given me this day. I offer you my sleep and all the moments of this night, and I implore you to keep me safe from sin. To this end I place myself in your sacred side and under the mantle of our Lady, my Mother. Let your holy angels surround me and keep me in peace; and let your blessing be upon me. Amen.
- St. Alphonsus Liguori
Peter grew up in a poor family during the anti-clerical, anti-Catholic aftermath of the French Revolution. His first attempt at the priesthood, against his family's wishes, ended when he had to withdraw from seminary due to illness; he never completely recovered his health. He returned, however, and was ordained on 20 July 1834 in the diocese of Grenoble, France. Joined the Marist Fathers on 20 August 1839. Friend of Saint John Vianney. Provincial superior of the Society of Mary in 1845.
Peter had a strong Marian devotion, and traveled to the assorted Marian shrines and apparition sites in France. Organized lay societies under the direction of the Marists, preached and taught, and worked for Eucharistic devotion. He felt a call to found a new religious society, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1856, and the lay Servants of the Blessed Sacrament in 1858. His work encountered a series of setbacks, including have to close his nascent houses and move twice, and the houses not being able to support themselves financially. However, his vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people dedicated to the spiritual values celebrated in the Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament anticipated many of the renewals brought about by Vatican Councils I and II.
Late in life, during a lengthy retreat in Rome, he became more mystical as he came in closer communion with the love of Christ. Six volumes of his personal letters, and nine volumes of his meditations have been printed in English.
"We believe in the love of God for us. To believe in love is everything. It is not enough to believe in the Truth. We must believe in Love and Love is our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That is the faith that makes our Lord loved. Ask for this pure and simple faith in the Eucharist. Men will teach you; but only Jesus will give you the grace to believe in Him. You have the Eucharist. What more do you want?" - St. Peter Julian Eymund
Born in Dalmatia.
Became a Friar Preacher at age 29. Missionary to the Slavs and Hungarians. Bishop of Zagreb, Croatia in 1303. Bishop of Luccera, Italy. Had the gift of healing.
O loving Father,
help us to follow the teaching and example of Blessed Augustine.
By assiduous meditation upon the mysteries of salvation
and intent upon service for the Church
may we come to the joys of eternal life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Born to a farm family. In his youth John taught other children their prayers and catechism. Ordained in 1815, though it took several years of study...he had little education, was not a very good student, and his Latin was terrible. Assigned as a parochial vicar to Ecully, France. In 1818 he was assigned to the parish of Ars-sur-Formans, France, a tiny village near Lyons, which suffered from very lax attendance. He began visiting his parishioners, especially the sick and poor, spent days in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, did penance for his parishioners, and leading his people by example. Had the gifts of discernment of spirits, prophecy, hidden knowledge, and of working miracles. Tormented by evil spirits, especially when he tried to get his 2-3 hours of sleep each night. Crowds came to hear him preach, and to make their reconciliation because of his reputation with penitents; by 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims a year to Ars. Spent 40 years as the parish priest.
"Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames.
But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that."
- St. John Vianney
Italian. Beheaded 303.
Patron Against Earthquakes
Bishop. Very successful missionary to Trier, Germany. However, when he started smashing pagan idols, the non-converts revolted, and he had to flee to Rome for safety. When he returned to his mission, he was martyred by pagans before he could convert anyone else.
God Our Father, You set the earth on its foundation.
Keep us safe from the danger of earthquakes and
let us always feel the presence of Your love.
Through the intercession of St. Emydius, may we
be secure in Your protection and serve You with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ celebrates the revelation of Christ's divine glory on Mount Tabor in Galilee (Matthew 17:1-6; Mark 9:1-8; Luke 9:28-36). After revealing to His disciples that He would be put to death in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21), Christ, along with Ss. Peter, James, and John, went up the mountain. There, St. Matthew writes, "he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow."
The brightness was not something added to Christ but the manifestation of His true divine nature. For Peter, James, and John, it was also a glimpse of the glories of heaven and of the resurrected body promised to all Christians. As Christ was transfigured, two others appeared with Him: Moses, representing the Old Testament Law, and Elijah, representing the prophets. Thus Christ, Who stood between the two and spoke with them, appeared to the disciples as the fulfillment of both the Law and the prophets.
At Christ's baptism in the Jordan, the voice of God the Father was heard to proclaim that "This is my beloved Son" (Matthew 3:17). During the Transfiguration, God the Father pronounced the same words (Matthew 17:5).
God, our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets and by showing to us the splendor of your beloved Son, help us to become heirs to the eternal life with Him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999
A member of a wealthy, landed, Polish noble family. He studied literature at universities in Breslau and Berlin. Contracted tuberculosis in his 20s. He dedicated his life to the service of abandoned children, the sick, and poor, teaching and spending his fortune in the service of the needy. He founded reading rooms and libraries to provide books and learning to the poor, and started the first daycare centers in the country. He funded assistance for the sick, supported orphanages, and worked in both himself. Founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Immaculate Virgin Mary whose 4,500 sisters continue the work around the world. Two years before his death Edmund entered the seminary, but did not survive long enough to graduate or be ordained.
Prayer in petition for graces through the intercession Blessed Edmund... God, Heavenly Father, giver and source of all goodness, I implore You through the intercession of Blessed Edmund, who loved You with all his heart, placed bountiful trust in You and refused You nothing in his life, to grant me the graces... Confident of the intercession of the Immaculate Servant of the Lord, I beseech You, that Your Servant Edmund, guardian of children, the Poor and the sick, becomes for the People of God a saintly intercessor in all their needs. Amen.
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory...
Born of wealthy Spanish nobility. Son of Blessed Joan of Aza. Joan had difficulty conceiving, and prayed at the shrine of Saint Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem; when she became pregnant she named the child Dominic in honor of the Saint. While pregnant, Blessed Joan mother had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth; a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order which he founded, the Dominicans. At Dominic's baptism, Blessed Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.
Studied philosophy and theology at the University of Palencia. Priest. Canon of the cathedral of Osma, Spain. Augustinian. Worked for clerical reform. Had a lifelong apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. Worked with Blessed Peter of Castelnau. Founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who live a simple, austere life, and an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls. Friend of Saint Amata of Assisi.
At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, the heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.
Reported miracle worker who brought four people back from the dead. Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.
Prayer of St. Dominic
May God the Father who made us bless us.
May God the Son send his healing among us.
May God the Holy Spirit move within us and
give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with,
and hands that your work might be done.
May we walk and preach the word of
God to all.
May the angel of peace watch over us and
lead us at last by God's grace to the
(gassed in the ovens at Auschwitz)
Canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Youngest of seven children in a Jewish family. Edith lost interest and faith in Judaism by age 13. Brilliant student and philospher with an interest in phenomenology. Studied at the University of Gottingen, Germany and in Breisgau, Germany. Earned her doctorate in philosophy in 1916 at age 25. Witnessing the strength of faith of Catholic friends led her to an interest in Catholicism, which led to studying a catechism on her own, which led to "reading herself into" the Faith. Converted to Catholicism in Cologne, Germany; baptized in Saint Martin's church, Bad Bergzabern, Germany on 1 January 1922.
Carmelite nun in 1934, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Teacher in the Dominican school in Speyer, Germany and lecturer at the Educational Institute in Munich, Germany. However, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. Profound spiritual writer.
[Auschwitz]Both Jewish and Catholic, she was smuggled out of Germany, and assigned to Echt, Netherlands in 1938. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, she and her sister Rose, also a convert to Catholicism, were captured and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they died in the ovens like so many others.
"Learn from St. Therese (of Lisieux) to depend on God alone
and serve Him with a wholly pure and detached heart.
Then, like her, you will be able to say
'I do not regret that I have given myself up to Love'."
- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Third-century archdeacon of Rome, distributor of alms, and "keeper of the treasures of the church" in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope Saint Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.
While in prison awaiting execution Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it. On 10 August Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome's crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. Martyr.
Lawrence's care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including its documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in or supply things to the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the "burning tears of Saint Lawrence" because they appear at the same time as Lawrence's feast.
O glorious Saint Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon, who, being subjected to the most bitter torments, did not lose your faith nor your constancy in confessing Jesus Christ, obtain in like manner for us such an active and solid faith, that we shall never be ashamed to be true followers of Jesus Christ, and fervent Christians in word and in deed. Amen.
Clare's father was a count, her mother the countess Blessed Orsolana. Her father died when the girl was very young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, Clare confided to him her desire to live for God, and the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday in 1212, her bishop presented Clare with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. With her cousin Pacifica, Clare ran away from her mother's palace during the night to enter religious life. She eventually took the veil from Saint Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi, Italy.
Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; this lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare's mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of silence and prayer.
Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, chivalrous, and every day she meditated on the Passion of Jesus. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who'd kicked off their blankets. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrance at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left, the house was saved, and the image of her holding a monstrance became one of her emblems. Her patronage of eyes and against their problems may have developed from her name which has overtones from clearness, brightness, brilliance - like healthy eyes.
Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television. She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light at her death.
"May you reflect the glory of the Lord. Place your heart in the divine substance through contemplation. Transform your being into the image that we reflect, the Godhead Itself. Then, you will feel what love is. Then, you will feel the sweetness that is revealed to us through the Spirit, what no eye has seen and no ear has heard, the love that God has for His lovers." - Clare of Assisi
Born to the nobility, the daughter of the president of the Parliment of Burgundy who raised her alone after the death of her mother when Jeanne was 18 months old. Married in 1592 at age twenty to Baron de Chantal. Mother of four. Widowed at 28 when the Baron was killed in a hunting accident and died in her arms. Taking a personal vow of chastity, she was forced to live with her father-in-law, which was a period of misery for her. She spent her free time in prayer, and received a vision of the man who would become her spiritual director. In Lent, 1604, she met Saint Francis de Sales, and recognized him as the man in her vision. She became a spiritual student and close friend of Saint Francis, and the two carried on a lengthy correspondence for years. On Trinity Sunday, 6 June 1610 she founded the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady at Annecy, France. The Order was designed for widows and lay women who did not wish the full life of the orders, and Jeanne oversaw the founding of 69 convents. Jeanne spent the rest of her days overseeing the Order, and acting as spiritual advisor to any who desired her wisdom. Visitationist nuns today live a contemplative life, work for women with poor health and widows, and sometimes run schools.
"We should go to prayer with deep humility and an awareness of our nothingness.
We must invoke the help of the Holy Spirit and that of our good angel,
and then remain still in God's presence, full of faith that he is more in us than we are in ourselves."
- St. Jane Frances de Chantal
No title has drawn so many to the feet of Mary than that of Refuge of Sinners. Dating back to the time of St. Germanus of Constantinople in the 8th century, this title is associated with the image of Mary as the New Eve. Where Eve was responsible for the suffering of humans since their fall from Heaven, the Virgin Mary is viewed as the source of all healing. She is the new Eve who cannot eliminate the damage created by Eve, but who can limit it. Her fullness of grace, her position among the disciples of Christ, and her title as Mother of God are seen as assurances that the Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor.
"By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the Mother of Mercy, the All-Holy One. We give ourselves to her now, in the today of our lives, and our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender wholly to her care at 'the hour of our death.' May she be there as she was at her Son's death on the Cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her Son, Jesus, in paradise." (Catechism No. 2677)
O most holy and pure Virgin! O my Mother! You who are the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the advocate and refuge of sinners! I, a most wretched sinner, now come to you. I honor you, great Queen, and give you humble thanks for the many favors which have come to me in the past through your intercession. I love you, Lady most worthy of all love, and by the love which I bear you, I promise ever in the future to honor you, and to do what lies in me to win others to your love. Receive me as your servant, and cover me with the mantle of your protection, you who are the Mother of mercy! And since you have so much power with God, implore him to deliver me from all temptations, and to give me the grace ever to overcome them. Pray for me that I may love Christ in this world as you love him, and intercede for me that I may have the grace of a good death. O my Mother! by your love for God I beseech you to be at all times my helper, but above all at the last moment of my life. Cease not your supplications until you see me safe in heaven, there for countless ages to bless you and, your holy company, to worship and adore your Son, for ever and ever. Amen. - prayer by St. Alphonsus Liguori
(b.1894 - d.1941 in Auschwitz, Poland death camp)
Second of three sons born to a poor but pious Catholic family in Russian occupied Poland. His parents, both Franciscan lay tertiaries, worked at home as weavers. His father, Julius, later ran a religious book store, then enlisted in the army of Pilsudski, fought for Polish independence from Russia, and was hanged by the Russians as a traitor in 1914. His mother, Marianne Dabrowska, later became a Benedictine nun. His brother Alphonse became a priest.
Raymond was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However, in 1906 at Pabianice, at age twelve and around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life.
I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both. - Saint Maximilian
He entered the Franciscan junior seminary in Lwow, Poland in 1907 where he excelled in mathematics and physics. For a while he wanted to abandon the priesthood for the military, but eventually relented to the call to religious life, and on 4 September 1910 he became a novice in the Conventual Franciscan Order at age 16. He took the name Maximilian, made his first vows on 5 September 1911, his final vows on 1 November 1914.
Studied philosophy at the Jesuit Gregorian College in Rome from 1912 to 1915, and theology at the Franciscan Collegio Serafico in Rome from 1915 to 1919. On 16 October 1917, while still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. Stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, and left him in frail in health the rest of his life. Ordained on 28 April 1918 in Rome at age 24. Received his Doctor of Theology on 22 July 1922; his insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II.
Maximilian returned to Poland on 29 July 1919 to teach history in the Krakow seminary. He had to take a medical leave from 10 August 1920 to 28 April 1921 to be treated for tuberculosis at the hospital at Zakpane in the Tatra Mountains. In January 1922 he began publication of the magazine Knight of the Immaculate to fight religious apathy; by 1927 the magazine had a press run of 70,000 issues. He was forced to take another medical leave from 18 September 1926 to 13 April 1927, but the work continued. The friaries from which he had worked were not large enough for his work, and in 1927 Polish Prince Jan Drucko-Lubecki gave him land at Teresin near Warsaw. There he founded a new monastery of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate which was consecrated on 8 December 1927. At its peak the Knight of the Immaculate had a press run of 750,000 copies a month. A junior seminary was started on the grounds in 1929. In 1935 the house began printing a daily Catholic newspaper, The Little Daily with a press run of 137,000 on work days, 225,000 on Sundays and holy days.
Not content with his work in Poland, Maximilian and four brothers left for Japan in 1930. Within a month of their arrival, penniless and knowing no Japanese, Maximilian was printing a Japanese version of the Knight; the magazine, Seibo no Kishi grew to a circulation of 65,000 by 1936. In 1931 he founded a monastery in Nagasaki, Japan comparable to Niepokalanow. It survived the war, including the nuclear bombing, and serves today as a center of Franciscan work in Japan.
In mid-1932 Max left Japan for Malabar, India where he founded a third Niepokalanow house. However, due to a lack of manpower, it did not survive.
Poor health forced him to curtail his missionary work and return to Poland in 1936. On 8 December 1938 the monastery started its own radio station. By 1939 the monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers.
Arrested with several of his brothers on 19 September 1939 following the Nazi invasion of Poland. Others at the monastery were briefly exiled, but the prisoners were released on 8 December 1939, and the men returned to their work. Back at Niepokalanow he continued his priestly ministry, The brothers housed 3,000 Polish refugees, two-thirds of whom were Jewish, and continued their publication work, including materials considered anti-Nazi. For this work the presses were shut down, the congregation suppressed, the brothers dispersed, and Maximilian was imprisoned in Pawiak prison, Warsaw, Poland on 17 February 1941.
On 28 May 1941 he was transferred to Auschwitz and branded as prisoner 16670. He was assigned to a special work group staffed by priests and supervised by especially vicious and abusive guards. His calm dedication to the faith brought him the worst jobs available, and more beatings than anyone else. At one point he was beaten, lashed, and left for dead. The prisoners managed to smuggle him into the camp hospital where he spent his recovery time hearing confessions. When he returned to the camp, Maximilian ministered to other prisoners, including conducting Mass and delivering communion using smuggled bread and wine.
In July 1941 there was an escape from the camp. Camp protocol, designed to make the prisoners guard each other, required that ten men be slaughtered in retribution for each escaped prisoner. Francis Gajowniczek, a married man with young children was chosen to die for the escape. Maximilian volunteered to take his place, and died as he had always wished - in service.
Prisoner's Prayer to St. Maximilian Kolbe...
O Prisoner-Saint of Auschwitz,
help me in my plight
Introduce me to Mary, the Immaculata,
Mother of God. She prayed for Jesus in
a Jerusalem jail. She prayed for you
in a Nazi prison camp. Ask her to comfort
me in my confinement. May she teach me
always to be good.
If I am lonely, may she say "God is here."
If I feel hate, may she say "God is love."
If I am tempted, may she say "God is pure."
If I sin, may she say "God is mercy."
If I am in darkness, may she say "God is light."
If I am unjustly condemned, may she say "God is truth."
If I have pain in soul or body, may she say "God is peace."
If I lose hope, may she say: "God is with you all days, and so am I."
The feast celebrates the Assumption of the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven upon her death. According to Pope Benedict XIV, it is a probable opinion, which it is impious to deny, though not an article of faith. The origin of the feast day is not known but it was celebrated in Palestine before the year 500. It is a holy day of obligation, its vigil being a fast day, in all English-speaking countries except Canada. Among the many masters who have painted the subject of the Assumption are Fra Angelico, Ghirlandajo, Rubens, Del Sarto, and Titian.
Assumption of Mary Prayer by St. Alphonsus Ligouri....
"O most sweet Lady and our Mother, thou hast already left the earth and reached thy kingdom, where, as Queen, thou art enthroned above all the choirs of angels, as tho Church sings: "She is exalted above the choirs of angels in the celestial kingdom' We well know that we sinners are not worthy to possess thee in this valley of darkness; but we also know that thou, in thy greatness, hast never forgotten us miserable creatures, and that by being exalted to such great glory thou hast never lost compassion for us poor children of Adam; nay, even that it is increased in thee. From the high throne, then, to which thou art exalted, turn, O Mary, thy compassionate eyes upon us, and pity us. Remember, also, that in leaving this world thou didst promise not to forget us. Look at us and help us. See in the midst of what tempests and dangers we constantly are, and shall be until the end of our lives. By the merits of thy happy death obtain us holy perseverance in the Divine friendship, that we may finally quit this life in God's grace; and thus we also shall one day come to kiss thy feet in Paradise, and unite with the blessed spirits in praising thee and singing thy glories as thou deserves". Amen.
French noble who early developed a sympathy for the poor and sick; reported to have been born with the image of a red cross on his breast. Orphaned at age 20, he gave his fortune to the poor, and became a mendicant pilgrim; may have been a Franciscan tertiary. While on pilgrimage Roch encountered an area afflicted with plague. He stayed to minister to the sick, and affected several miraculous cures, usually by making the sign of the cross over them, but contracted the plague himself. He walked into a forest to die, but was befriended by a dog. The dog fed him with food stolen from his master's table, and Roch eventually recovered.
When Roch returned to Montpellier, France, he was arrested for being a spy. He languished in jail for five years, never mentioning his noble connections, cared for by an angel until his death.
Prayer to St. Roque....
Dear St. Roque, you once took care of sufferers from the plague and were always ready to help others by kind service and fervent prayers. You yourself had no home and you died in a dungeon. No wonder countless individuals have confidently invoked your help. Please grant a cure to (name of the sufferer), and help us all become spiritually healthy. Amen.
Claimed by both the Franciscans and Augustinians. Pious from childhood, and devoted to Christ's Passion and the Cross. Franciscan tertiary. Joined with her blood sisters and some friends to form a new Franciscan house, Holy Cross Convent in Montefalco, Italy, with Clare's sister Joan as its first abbess. Reluctant abbess of the community at Santa Croce in 1255 following the death of her sister; the house eventually adapted the Rule of Saint Augustine. Upon her death, a cross was found emblazoned on the flesh above her heart.
Prayer and sacrifice distinguished her life. She was especially devoted to the passion of Christ. The cross symbolizes this. Her own heart is shown, recalling her words to her sisters; "If you seek the cross of Christ, take my heart; there you will find the suffering Lord."
St. Helena - August 18
Born: 248 in Asia Minor. Died: 328
Converted to Christianity late in life. Married Constantius Chlorus, co-regent of the western Roman empire. Mother of Constantine the Great. Her husband put her aside for a second marriage with better political connections. On his death, her son ascended to the throne, brought her home, and treated her as royalty. She used her high position and wealth in the service of her religious enthusiasm, and helped build churches throughout the empire.
Helen led a group to the Holy Land to search for the True Cross. She and her group unearthed three crosses in 326. At the suggestion of Saint Macarius of Jerusalem, she took them to a woman afflicted with an incurable disease, and had her touch each one. One of them immediately cured her, and it was pronounced the True Cross. She built a church on the spot where the cross was found, and sent pieces to Rome and Constantinople; the Feast of the Holy Cross on 14 September celebrates the event. Thus in art, she is usually depicted holding a wooden cross.
A Prayer to St. Helena, for Intercession...
Holy and blessed Saint Helena, with the anguish and devotion with which you sought the Cross of Christ, I plead that you give me God's grace to suffer in patience the labors of this life, so that through them and through your intercession and protection, I will be able to seek and carry the Cross, which God has placed upon me, so that I can serve Him in this life and enjoy His Glory ever after. Amen.
Farmer's son who attended the Jesuit college at Caen, France at age 14. Joined the Congregation of the Oratory of France. Studied at Paris and Aubervilliers in France. Priest. Ministered to plague victims. Missionary and preacher, working well over 100 missions. Worked against Jansenism. Established seminaries. Founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Eudists on 25 March 1643 to promote virtuous secular parochial clergy not bound by vows, but dedicated to improving the clergy through seminaries and missions; due to opposition by Oratorians and Jansenists, he never obtained papal approval. Founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity who worked for the welfare of penitent women. Author of the liturgical devotion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
"O my God, I give myself to You as my Beginning; take complete possession of me. May I always abide in You! Be the beginning and end of all my actions. O my God, I give myself to You as my End, my Center, my supreme Good. Draw me to You! Make me tend continually toward You. Be my delight, my glory, my treasure, my all!" - St. John Eudes
Born to the French nobility; brother of Saint Humbeline. At age 22, fearing the ways of the world, he, four of his brothers, and 25 friends joined the abbey of Citeaux; his father and another brother joined soon after. Benedictine. Founded and led the monastery of Clairvaux which soon had over 700 monks and eventually 160 daughter houses. Revised and reformed the Cistercians. Advisor to, and admonisher of, King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young. Attended the Second Lateran Council. Fought Albigensianism. Helped end the schism of anti-Pope Anacletus II. Preached in France, Italy, and Germany. Helped organize the Second Crusade. Friend and biographer of Saint Malachy O'More. Spritual advisor to Pope Eugene III, who had originally been one of his monks. First Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius VIII.
Every morning Bernard would ask himself, "Why have I come here?", and then remind himself of his main duty - to lead a holy life.
Memorare....written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Born: 1835. Died: August 21, 1914 at Vatican City from natural causes aggravated by worries over the beginning of World War I
Son of Giambattista Sarto, a village cobbler, and Margherita Sanson, living an impoverished childhood as one of eight children. Baptized on 3 June 1835. Confirmed on 1 September 1848. He early felt a calling to the priesthood. Studied at the seminary of Padua, Italy, and was known as an exceptional student. Ordained by Blessed Giovanni Antonio Farina on 18 September 1858. Chaplain at Tombolo from 1858 to 1867. Archpriest of Salzano from 1867 to 1875. Canon of the Treviso cathedral chapter in 1875. Rector of the Treviso seminary and its spiritual director for nine years. Primicerius of the cathedral in 1879. Chancellor of the diocese of Treviso. Vicar capitular from December 1879 to June 1880. Bishop of Mantua, Italy on 10 November 1884. Assistant at the Pontifical Throne on 19 June 1891. Created cardinal-priest of Saint Bernardo alle Terme on 12 June 1893. Patriarch of Venice on 15 June 1893. Chosen 257th pope in 1903, taking the name Pius X.
Issued decrees on early Communion (age 7 instead of 12 or 14 as previously). Destroyed the last vestiges of Jansenism by advocating frequent and even daily Communion. Reformed the liturgy, promoted clear and simple homilies, and brought Gregorian chant back to services. Revised the Breviary, and teaching of the Catechism. Fought Modernism, which he denounced as "the summation of all heresies". Reorganized the Roman curia, and the other administrative elements of the Church. Worked against the modern antagonism of the state against the Church. Initiated the codification of canon law. Promoting Bible reading by all the faithful. Supported foreign missions. His will read: "I was born poor; I lived poor; I wish to die poor." -Pope Saint Pius X
"Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: 'There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land' (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man." - Pope Saint Pius X
A Marian feast day decreed by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam to recognize and celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of the world, of the angels, of heaven, etc. The movement to officially recognise the Queenship of Mary was initially promoted by several Catholic Mariological congresses in Lyon, France, Freiburg, Germany, and Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Pro Regalitate Mariae, an international society to promote the Queenship of Mary, was founded in Rome, Italy by noted Marioligist and writer Father Gabriel Roschini.
Prayer to Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.....
O Mary, may the souls who suffer cruel torments in Purgatory, purified by the ardour of the flames, be the object of your compassion! O Mary, open spring which cleanses our faults, reconciler of sinners, reach out to those who pray to you and implore your assistance in Purgatory! O Mary, intercede for our deceased. They await patiently the end of their suffering when they will see you and taste eternal joys! O Mary, Model of the Just, guide of the faithful, salvation of those who hope in you, help us to pray ardently for the Souls of the deceased and touch the Heart of your Divine Son. O Mary, by the merits you have gained, give the dead true life, obtain mercy for them, and be the way which leads to your Son Jesus and to eternal rest. Amen.
Born to Spanish immigrants to the New World. A beautiful girl and devoted daughter, she was so devoted to her vow of chastity that she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be attractive. Lived and meditated in a garden, raising vegetables and making embroidered items to sell to support her family and help the other poor. Dominican tertiary in 1606. Mystic. Visionary. Received invisible stigmata. Suffered from assorted physical and mental ailments. First saint born in the Americas. Founder of social work in Peru. Great devotion to Saint Catherine of Siena.
Quotes by St. Rose of Lima...
"Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven."
"When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus."
Born in Galilee.
One of the Twelves Apostles. Probably a close friend of Saint Philip; Bartholomew's name is always mentioned in the Gospels in connection with Philip, and it was Philip who brought Bartholomew to Jesus. May have written a gospel, now lost; it is mentioned in other writings of the time. May have preached in Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India and Armenia; some one did, leaving behind assorted writings, and local tradition says it was Bartholomew. Martyr.
Lord, sustain within us the faith which made Saint Bartholomew ever loyal to Christ. Let your Church be the sign of salvation for all the nations of the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Youngest of five children born to Don Pedro Calasanz and Donna Maria Gastonia. His mother and a brother died while he was still in school. Studied at Estadilla, at the University of Lereda, at Valencia, and at Alcala de Henares. Obtained degrees in canon law and theology. His father wanted the Joseph to become a soldier, to marry, and to continue the family, but a near fatal illness in 1582 caused the young man to seriously examine his life, and he realized a call to the religious life.
Ordained on 17 December 1583. Parish priest at Albarracin. Secretary and confessor to his bishop, synodal examiner, and procurator. Revived religious zeal among the laity, discipline among the clergy in a section of the Pyrenees. Both his bishop and his father died in 1587.
Vicar-general of Trempe, Spain. Following a vision, he gave away much of his inheritance, renounced most of the rest, and travelled to Rome, Italy in 1592. Worked in the household of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna as thelogical advisor for the cardinal, tutor to the cardinal's nephew. Worked with plague victims in 1595.
Member of the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine. Tried to get poor children, many of them orphans and/or homeless, into school. The teachers, already poorly paid, refused to work with the new students without a raise; in November 1597, Joseph and two fellow priests opened a small, free school for poor children. Pope Clement VIII, and later Pope Paul V, contributed toward their work. He was soon supervising several teachers and hundreds of students.
In 1602 they moved to larger quarters, and reorganized the teaching priests into a community. In 1612 they moved to the Torres palace to have even more room. In 1621 the community was recognized as a religious order called Le Sciole Pie (Religious Schools), also known as the Piarists, or Scolopii or Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum or Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools; Joseph acted as superior of the Order.
The community encountered many obstacles - Joseph's friendship with the astronomer Galileo Galilei caused a stir with some Church officials. Some of the ruling class objected that to educate the poor would cause social unrest. Other Orders that worked with the poor were afraid they would be absorbed by the Piarists. But they group continued to have papal support, and continued to do good work.
In his old age, Joseph suffered through seeing his Order torn apart. He was accused of incompetence by Father Mario Sozzi, who was chosen as new superior of the Order. Sozzi died in 1643, and was replaced by Father Cherubini who pursued the same course as Sozzi, and nearly destroyed the Order. A papal commission charged with examining the Order acquitted Joseph of all accusations, and in 1645, returned him to superior of the Order, but internal dissent continued, and in 1646 Pope Innocent X dissolved the Order, placing the priests under control of their local bishops.
The Piarists were reorganized in 1656, eight years after Joseph's death. They were restored as a religious order in 1669, and continue their good work today.
Lord, You blessed Saint Joseph Calasanz with such charity and patience that he dedicated himself to the formation of Christian youth. As we honor this teacher of wisdom may we follow his example in working for truth.
-Opening prayer for the Mass for St. Joseph Calasanz
1846-1878. Born in Abellin, a village in Galilee.
Born to Giries Baouardy and Mariam Shahine, a poor Greek Melchite Catholic family. Twelve of her thirteen brothers died in infancy, and Mary's birth was an answered prayer to Our Lady. Her parents died when Mary was only two, and she was raised by a paternal uncle. Moved to Alexandria, Egypt at age eight.
Betrothed in an arranged marriage at age 13, she refused to go along with it, insisting on a religious life. As punishment for her disobedience, her uncle hired her out as a domestic servant, making sure she had the lowest and most menial of jobs. A Muslim servant with whom she worked began to act as her friend with an eye to converting her from Christianity. On 8 September 1858, Mary convinced him she would never abandon her faith; in response he cut her throat and dumped her in an alley. Mary lived, an apparition of the Virgin Mary treated her wound, and she left her uncle's house forever.
She supported herself as a domestic, working for a Christian family and praying. In 1860 she moved in with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Supernatural events began to occur around her, and the Sisters would not let her join their house. She was taken to the Carmel at Pau by a Sister in 1867, and became a lay sister. Later that year she entered the cloister, taking the name Mary of Jesus Crucified, and making her final profession on 21 November 1871.
She continued to experience supernatural events. She fought off a demonic possession for 40 days, received the stigmata, was seen to levitate, had the gift of prophecy and knowledge of consciences, and permitted her guardian angel to speak through her. Helped found the missionary Carmel of Mangalore, India. Returned to France in 1872. Built a Carmelite monastery in Bethlehem in 1875. Supernatural gifts aside, she was known for her devotion to the Holy Spirit, even sending word to Pope Pius IX that the Spirit was not emphasized enough in seminaries.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit...
Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary my Mother, look upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, from all illusion,
from all danger, preserve me.
Source of peace, Light,
come and enlighten me.
I am hungry, come and nourish me.
I am thirsty, come and quench my thirst.
I am blind, come and give me light.
I am poor, come and enrich me. Amen.
- prayer by St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified
Born 322, North Africa (modern Algeria)
Died 387, Ostia, Italy
Raised in a Christian family, she was given in marriage to a bad-tempered, adulterous pagan named Patricius. Mother of two, one of whom is Saint Augustine of Hippo whose writings about her are the primary source of our information about Monica. She prayed constantly for the conversion of her husband (who converted on his death bed), and of her son (who converted after a wild life). Spiritual student of Saint Ambrose of Milan. Reformed alcoholic.
Dear St. Monica,
troubled wife and mother,
many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
you prayed daily for the conversion
of your beloved husband, Patricius,
and your beloved son, Augustine;
your prayers were answered.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience,
and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
that God may favorably hear my plea for
(Make your request)
and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things, through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Born in North Africa (modern Algeria)
Son of a pagan father who converted on his death bed, and of Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Raised a Christian, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of God. Taught rhetoric at Carthage and Milan, Italy. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: "God, give me chastity and continence - but not just now."
Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who baptized him. On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. Monk. Priest. Preacher. Bishop of Hippo in 396. Founded religious communities. Fought Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies. Oversaw his church and his see during the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals. Doctor of the Church. His later thinking can also be summed up in a line from his writings: Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit by St. Augustine...
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Born in a small, impoverished fishing village. Her father was a fisherman named Joseph who was gone to sea most of the time, and died when Jeanne was 4 years old. Her mother was named Marie, did farm work to support her family, and raised the children in the Faith during the time of the French Revolution when Christianity was being suppressed.
At sixteen Jeanne got a job as a maid at the estate of a Christian woman who often visited the sick and poor, and took Jeanne along to help. This experience, her employer's example, and Jeanne's own relationship with God prompted her to decline marriage proposals, and dedicate her life to God.
At twenty-five Jeanne gave away most of her meager possessions, and set out to serve the poor of Saint Servan. She supported herself by working in a hospital and caring for the sick and poor. Six years of this left Jeanne exhausted. She left the hospital, and returned to work as a domestic.
At age forty-five she began to work as a spinner, and donated her excess money to the poor. After two years, she set off to devote every aspect of her life to the poor. She collected money door to door, and began to especially care for poor widows. Jeanne attracted followers to this work, the Little Sisters of the Poor were founded under her direction, and Jeanne served as superior.
Awarded by the French Academy in 1845 for her work with the poor. Jeanne was eventally removed from her position as superior by Father La Pailleur, the Sisters's spiritual moderator. She retired to the group's motherhouse in 1852 where she lived her remaining years, a humble sister, doing works of charity wherever she could.
"Little Sisters, take good care for the aged, for in them you are caring for Christ Himself." - Saint Jeanne Jugan
1832 - 1869
Born in Ecuador. Died in Lima, Peru
Daughter of Pedro Martillo Mosquera and Josefina Moran. Her people were farmers, and her parents died when she was still a child. She moved to Guayaquil for the next 15 years she worked as a seamstress to raise her younger siblings, living a single life, helping those even poorer than herself when she could, and spending her time in prayer. In 1868 she moved to Lima where she worked in a convent of Dominican nuns. She never took vows and remained a lay person her whole life, but spent eight hours a day in prayer, lived as austerely as any religious, and was known to experience ecstasies.
Blessed Narcisa pray for us!
Monk at Iona, Scotland. Studied under Saint Senan at Inish Cathay. Bishop of Clogher, Ireland. Resigned the see to became a monk at Iona c.630. Evangelizing bishop in Northumbria, England at the behest of his friend the king, Saint Oswald of Northumbria. Once when pagans attacked Oswald's forces at Bambrough, they piled wood around the city walls to burn it; Saint Aidan prayed for help, and a change in wind blew the smoke and flames over the pagan army.
Aidan was known for his knowledge of the Bible, his eloquent preaching, his personal holiness, simple life, scholarship, and charity. Miracle worker. Trained Saint Boswell. Founded the Lindesfarne monastery that became not only a religious standard bearer, but a great storehouse of European literature and learning during the dark ages. Saint Bede is lavish in his praise of the episcopal rule of Aidan.
O holy Bishop Aidan, Apostle of the North and light of the Celtic Church, glorious in humility, noble in poverty, zealous monk and loving missionary, intercede for us sinners that Christ our God may have mercy on our souls.