- St. Michael the Archangel Story
- History of St. Michael the Archangel Prayer
- St. Michael the Archangel Prayers
- St. Michael the Archangel Apparitions
- The Chaplet of St. Michael Archangel
- Novena to St Micheal the Archangel
- Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John's baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God? Read More »
BLESSED JUNIPERO SERRA
Blessed Junipero Serra was born in Petra, Spain, on November 24, 1713. The boy became a student at the Franciscan school in Palma, twenty-five miles away. He joined the Franciscan order on September 14, 1730, a few months before his seventeenth birthday. During the novitiate, Junipero read a biography of Franciscan saints. The saint whose life captivated him most was St. Francis Solano, who had lived from 1549 until 1610. This missionary priest to South America had just been declared a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. The young novice decided that, if it was God's will, he too would be a missionary.
Junipero was ordained a priest in 1736. He became a professor of philosophy. After he had been in the order twenty years, he was given a wonderful opportunity. Franciscan friars were asked to volunteer for the mission territories called "New Spain" (Mexico and California). Junipero and his close friend, Friar Francisco Palou, joined the missionary band at Cadiz, Spain, a seaport city. From there they sailed the Atlantic Ocean to Vera Cruz, Mexico. They landed on December 6, 1749. Junipero and another friar walked the next part of the journey from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, a distance of 240 miles. They began on December 15, 1749, and arrived on January 1, 1750. From Mexico City, Junipero and Friar Francisco Palou were sent to work among the Pame Indians at the Franciscan Mission of the Sierra Gorda.
of the friars were then assigned to missions in Lower California.
Junipero, Francisco and a handful of other Franciscans were asked
to bring the Gospel to the native peoples in Upper California. Junipero
started Mission San Diego on July 16, 1769, when he was fifty-six
years old. The mission was an open invitation to his beloved people
to come and meet Jesus. Gradually, they trusted the friars. Some
people were baptized and began to live the Christian faith. Father
Serra and the friars loved and protected their people. The golden
chain of new missions grew: Mission San Carlos in Monterey on June
1, 1770; Mission San Antonio de Padua on July 14, 1771; Mission
San Gabriel Archangel, September 8, 1771; Mission San Luis Obispo,
September 1, 1772; Mission San Francisco de Asis, October 9, 1776;
Mission San Juan Capistrano, November 1, 1776; Mission Santa Clara
de Asis, January 12, 1777; Mission San Buenaventura, March 31, 1782.
Eventually, six thousand native peoples were baptized. Blessed Junipero
made his final tour of the missions in Upper California from the
last part of 1783 until July of 1784. He died peacefully at Mission
San Carlos on August 28, 1784, and is buried there. In 1988, Pope
John Paul II declared Father Junipero Serra "blessed."
St. Otto lived in the twelfth century. He was born in Swabia, present-day Bavaria. He became a priest and was assigned to the service of Emperor Henry IV. Eventually, Father Otto acquired a high state office. He became Henry's chancellor. Otto tried to influence the emperor to act justly and to be moderate in his decisions. But Henry committed crimes and tried to cause division in the Church. He even appointed his own pope. Otto felt very bad and worked to help Henry reform. Henry IV took it upon himself to appoint Otto a bishop. Otto refused to be consecrated until he could go to Rome and receive the approval of the true pope, Paschal II. The pope did consecrate him. Bishop Otto became a great help to the people of Swabia, especially under Emperor Henry V. This emperor followed the ways of his father, Henry IV. But although he was harsh and severe, he respected Otto and often listened to his advice.
King Boleslaus III of Poland conquered part of Pomerania, he asked
Otto to go there. Pomerania was a province of Prussia in the Baltic
area. The people were pagans. Bishop Otto welcomed the opportunity
to bring them the Good News. In 1124, the bishop led a group of
priests and catechists into Pomerania. Many people were instructed
and baptized. Some say the number of conversions was over twenty
thousand. Bishop Otto assigned priests to minister to the new Christians.
He returned to his own country. After a while, some of the people
of Pomerania began to return to their old pagan ways. Bishop Otto
went back to Pomerania in 1128. He helped the people become fervent
Christians again. He died on June 30, 1139, and was proclaimed a
saint by Pope Clement III in 1189.
St. Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. His name in the Syriac language means "twin." St. Thomas loved Jesus greatly, even though at first his belief was not very strong. Once when Jesus was going to face the danger of being killed, the other apostles tried to keep the Master back. St. Thomas said to them, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
When Jesus was captured by his enemies, Thomas lost his courage. He ran away with the other apostles. His heart was broken with sorrow at the death of his beloved Lord. Then on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his apostles after he had risen from the dead. Thomas was not with them at the time. As soon as he arrived, the other apostles told him joyfully, "We have seen the Lord." They thought Thomas would be happy. Instead, he did not believe their message.
I see in his hands the print of the nails," he said, "and
put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into his
side, I will not believe." Eight days later, Jesus appeared
to his apostles again. This time, Thomas was there, too. Christ
called him and told him to touch his hands and the wound in his
side. Poor St. Thomas! He fell down at the Master's feet and cried
out, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus said, "Because
you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are they who
have not seen, and yet have believed." After Pentecost, Thomas
was strong and firm in his belief and trust in Jesus. It is said
that he went to India to preach the Gospel. He died a martyr there,
after making many converts.
ST. ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL
St. Elizabeth, a Spanish princess, was born in 1271. She married King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve. Elizabeth was beautiful and very lovable. She was also devout and went to Mass every day. Elizabeth was a charming wife. Her husband was fond of her at first, but soon he began to cause her great suffering. Though a good ruler, he did not have his wife's love of prayer and virtue. In fact, his sins of impurity were well-known scandals throughout his kingdom.
St. Elizabeth tried to be a loving mother to her children, Alphonso and Constance. She was also generous and loving with the people of Portugal. Even though her husband was unfaithful, she prayed that he would have a change of heart. Elizabeth refused to become bitter and resentful. She strengthened her own prayer life and followed the Franciscan spirituality. Gradually, the king was moved by her patience and good example. He began to live better. He apologized to his wife and showed her greater respect. In his last sickness the queen never left his side, except for Mass. King Denis died on January 6, 1325. He had shown deep sorrow for his sins and his death was peaceful.
lived eleven more years. She performed loving acts of charity and
penance. She was a wonderful model of kindness toward the poor.
This gentle woman was also a peacemaker between members of her own
family and between nations.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal died on July 4, 1336. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Urban VIII in 1626.
ST. ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA
St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born in Italy in 1502. While he was
still young, his father died. His mother encouraged Anthony in the
special love he felt for the sufferings of poor people. Mrs. Zaccaria
sent her son to the University of Padua so that he could become
a doctor. He was only twenty-two when he graduated.
The young doctor was very successful. Yet he did not feel satisfied. He realized that he wanted to become a priest. Anthony began to study theology. He also continued to care for the sick, to comfort and inspire the dying. He started to use all his spare moments to read and meditate on the letters of St. Paul in the Bible. He had read the life of the great apostle Paul many times, and had given much thought to his virtues. Now Anthony was burning with a strong desire to become a saint and to bring everyone to Jesus.
After he was ordained a priest, St. Anthony Mary moved to the great city of Milan. There he would be able to help many more people. He also started an order of priests. They are the Clerks Regular of St. Paul. People call them "Barnabites" after their headquarters at the Church of St. Barnabas in Milan. In imitation of the apostle Paul, St. Anthony and his priests preached everywhere. They repeated the words and sentences of Paul. They explained Paul's message with words that were easy to understand. The people loved and appreciated this. St. Anthony also had a great love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, he started the practice of the Forty Hours Devotion.
St. Anthony Mary was only thirty-seven when he died on July 5, 1539. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him a saint in 1897.
ST. MARIA GORETTI
St. Maria Goretti was born in 1890. Her father died when she and
the other five children in her family were small. At twelve, Maria
was already very pretty. She helped her mother on the farm, in the
house and with the care of the other children. She never complained
because they were so poor. In fact, she cheered up her poor mother
and was a great comfort to her. She went to Mass regularly even
though it meant a two-hour walk. Maria also received the sacrament
of Reconciliation as often as she could.
A young neighbor, Alexander, tried a few times to make Maria sin. She absolutely refused. She did her best to avoid him. July 5, 1902, was a hot summer day. Maria was alone in the cottage mending clothes. Alexander came again to try to make her sin. He dragged her into a room. When she tried to scream, he stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth. Yet Maria managed to keep saying, "No, no! It is a mortal sin. God doesn't want it. If you commit it, you will go to hell." And she struggled as much as she could. Alexander panicked. He stabbed her furiously with a dagger. Then he ran away.
Maria was taken to a hospital, where she died about twenty-four hours later. During her last hours, she forgave her murderer. Her only worry was for her mother. With great joy, the girl received Jesus in Holy Communion. Then she went to heaven. Alexander was sent to prison. For a long time, he did not repent of his horrible crime. Then one night he had a dream or vision of Maria offering him flowers. From that moment on, he was a changed man. When he was freed from prison after twenty-seven years, his first visit was to the Goretti home. He asked Maria's mother for forgiveness. Then Alexander spent the rest of his life as the gardener in a nearby monastery.
Maria was declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XII on April 27, 1947. He appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's with Maria's eighty-two-year-old mother, Assunta. Three years later, on July 25, 1950, the same pope declared Maria a saint. He called her "a martyr of holy purity."
BLESSED ROGER DICKENSON, BLESSED RALPH MILNER AND BLESSED LAWRENCE HUMPHREY
These three martyrs lived in England during the time of Church persecution by Queen Elizabeth I. "Mr." Roger Dickenson was an undercover diocesan priest. Ralph Milner was a husband and father. He worked as a farm laborer and was brought into the Church through the good example of his neighbors. The day he made his First Communion he was put into prison for being a Catholic. The jailer liked Mr. Milner so his prison confinement was not strict at first. For several years, he went on "parole" to find supplies of food and whatever the other prisoners needed. While on parole, he was of great help to "Mr." Dickenson and Father Stanney, a Jesuit. The day came when Father Dickenson, too, was caught. He and Mr. Milner were brought to trial together. Father Dickenson was tried for the crime of being a Catholic priest. Mr. Milner was tried for helping Father Dickenson perform his ministry. The judge looked at the crowd in the courtroom. He thought of Mrs. Milner and the couple's eight children. He wanted to free Milner at all costs. "All you have to do," he said, "is visit a Protestant church, just for a few minutes, to say you have been there. I'll let you go free to be with your family." Mr. Milner quietly and firmly refused. He and Father Dickenson went bravely to their deaths. It was July 7, 1591.
The third martyr, Lawrence Humphrey, had been brought into the Church by Father Stanney, S.J. He would not give up the faith he had so recently acquired. Lawrence was just twenty-one years old when he was martyred.
BLESSED EUGENE III
Blessed Eugene III was born near Pisa, Italy, in the twelfth century. He was baptized Peter. St. Antoninus, whose feast day is May 10, called Pope Eugene "a great pope with great sufferings." Pope Eugene had been Father Peter, a priest in Pisa, when he felt the call to become a Cistercian monk. He went to Clairvaux, France, and joined the monks there. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was the superior. His feast day is August 20. Peter chose "Bernard" for his religious name. He did this because of his great esteem for St. Bernard.
St. Bernard sent his namesake, Bernard, to become the superior of a monastery in Rome. Pope Lucius II died in 1145. That is when a most unusual thing happened. The cardinals elected Abbot Bernard to be pope. The abbot was not at the meeting because he was not a cardinal. He was shocked. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was surprised too. He felt sorry for Bernard. He wrote an open letter to the cardinals: "May God forgive you for what you have done," he said. "You have involved in responsibilities and placed among many people a man who fled them both."
chose to be called Eugene III. His time as pope brought him many
difficulties. The Roman senate threatened to oppose him if he did
not let them keep stolen property. A man who had been previously
excommunicated went to Pope Eugene and asked forgiveness. Soon after,
he fell back into his old ways. He even joined a faction that was
directly against the pope. Pope Eugene had to leave Rome a few times
because of the dangers surrounding him. When this happened, he would
find peace and strength at a monastery. Then he would have the courage
to go back and face his difficult task again. He wore his Cistercian
habit and lived simply. No matter how hectic his life was, he always
had the heart of a monk. One of his fellow monks wrote to St. Bernard
of Clairvaux about Pope Eugene: "There is no arrogance or domineering
way in him." Pope Eugene died on July 8, 1153.
ST. FELICITY AND HER SEVEN SONS
St. Felicity was a noble Christian woman of Rome. She lived during the second century. After her husband's death, she served God by prayer and works of charity. Her good example led others to become Christians, too. This angered the pagan priests, who complained to Antoninus Pius, the emperor. They said Felicity was an enemy of the state because she was making the gods angry. So the emperor ordered Felicity arrested. Seven young men were arrested with her. It is believed that they were her sons. Like the mother of the Maccabees in the Old Testament, Felicity remained calm. The governor tried in vain to make her sacrifice to the gods. He ended with the words, "Unhappy woman, if you wish to die, die! But do not destroy your sons."
"My sons will live forever if, like me, they scorn the idols and die for their God," Felicity answered. This brave woman was forced to watch her sons being put to death. One was whipped, two were beaten with clubs, three beheaded and another drowned. Four months later, Felicity, too, was beheaded. Her strength came from her great hope that she would be with God and her sons in heaven.
St. Felicity, it could be said, was martyred eight different times. This is because she had to watch each of her sons die. Then she too gave up her life for Jesus.
St. Benedict was born in 480. He was from a rich Italian family. His life was full of adventure and wonderful deeds. As a boy, he was sent to Rome to study in the public schools. When he was a young man, he became disgusted with the corrupt lifestyle of pagan Rome. Benedict left the city and went looking for a place where he could be alone with God. He found the right spot. It was a cave in the mountain of Subiaco. Benedict spent three years there alone. The devil often tempted him to go back to his rich home and easy life. However, Benedict overcame these temptations by prayer and penance. One day, the devil kept making him think of a beautiful lady he had once seen in Rome. The devil tried to make him go back to look for that lady. Benedict almost gave in to the temptation. Then he felt so sorry that he threw himself into a bush of long, sharp thorns. He rolled around in the thorns until he was covered with scratches. From then on, his life was calm. He did not feel powerful temptations like that again.
After three years, people started coming to Benedict. They wanted to learn how to become holy. He became the leader of some men who asked for his help. But when he tried to make them do penance, they grew angry. It is said that the men even tried to poison Benedict. He made the Sign of the Cross over the poisoned wine and the glass shattered to pieces.
Later, Benedict became the leader of many good monks. He started twelve monasteries. Then he went to Montecassino where he built his most well-known monastery. It was here that St. Benedict wrote the wonderful rules for the Benedictine order. He taught his monks to pray and work hard. He taught them especially to be humble always. Benedict and his monks greatly helped the people of their times. They taught them how to read and write, how to farm, and how to work at different trades. St. Benedict was able to do good because he prayed all the time. He died on March 21, 547. In 1966, Pope Paul VI proclaimed him the patron of Europe. In 1980, Pope John Paul II added St. Cyril and St. Methodius as patrons of Europe along with St. Benedict.
ST. JOHN GAULBERT
St. John Gaulbert was born in Florence, Italy, at the end of the tenth century. He and his father were devastated when John's only brother, Hugh, was murdered. The man who did it was supposed to have been Hugh's friend. Urged on by his father and by his own anger, John began looking for a way to avenge his brother's death. He felt that his personal honor depended on it.
One Good Friday, he came face to face with the murderer in a narrow passageway. John drew his sword and started toward the man. Hugh's killer fell to his knees. He crossed his arms on his chest and begged forgiveness for love of Jesus who died on the cross. With a tremendous effort, John dropped his sword. He embraced his enemy and moved on down the road. When he came to a monastery church, he went in and knelt before the crucifix. He asked forgiveness for his sins. Then a miracle happened! Christ on the cross bowed his head. It was as if to tell John that he was pleased with him for forgiving his enemy. John felt that his own sins were forgiven. Such a change came over him that he went straight to the abbot of that monastery. He asked if he could join the monks.
When John's father heard about it, he said he would burn the whole monastery if his son did not come out. The monks did not know what to do. John solved the problem by cutting off his hair and borrowing a habit from one of the monks. Even his father was so impressed that he let him remain. St. John later went off to live a stricter life. He started his own community of monks. John became a model for imitating the poor lifestyle of Jesus. He also took wonderful care of all the poor people who came to the monastery gate. God granted him power to work miracles and to give wise guidance. Even Pope St. Leo IX went to St. John to seek his advice. St. John died on July 12, 1073. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Celestine III in 1193.
ST. HENRY II
St. Henry II was born in 972. He became the duke of Bavaria in 995. One night he had an unusual vision. St. Wolfgang, who had been his beloved teacher when he was a boy, appeared to him. Wolfgang pointed to the words, "after six" written on the wall. What could that mean? Perhaps Henry was to die in six days? With that thought, he prayed with great fervor for six days. At the end of the six days, however, he was in perfect health. Perhaps it meant six months? The duke devoted himself to doing good more than ever. At the end of six months, he was healthier than before. So he decided he had six years to get ready for death. But instead of dying after that time had passed, he was elected emperor of Germany. Then he understood what the vision had meant.
Henry worked hard to keep his people happy and at peace. To defend justice he had to fight many wars. He was honest in battle and insisted that his armies be honorable too. Henry married a very gentle and loving woman named Cunegundes (or Kunigunda) around 998. She, too, has been proclaimed a saint. Henry and Cunegundes went to Rome in 1014. They were crowned emperor and empress of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a great honor because Pope Benedict VIII himself crowned them.
Emperor Henry was one of the best rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. He promoted Church reform. He encouraged the growth of new monasteries and built beautiful churches. He showed his own love for Jesus and the Church with sincerity and love. He was a man of prayer and was greatly attracted to religious life. But he accepted his role as husband and ruler and fulfilled his responsibilities generously. Henry was just fifty-two when he died in 1024. He was proclaimed a saint by Blessed Eugene III in 1146. Pope St. Pius X named Emperor Henry the patron of Benedictine Oblates.
BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin. Her father was a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Kateri's parents died of smallpox when the girl was fourteen. A Mohawk uncle raised her. This is how Kateri met the missionaries. On one occasion, her uncle had three Jesuit missionaries as his guests. Kateri began to receive instructions in the faith. She was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676. That is when she took the name Kateri.
The village in which she lived was
not Christian. In fact, in her lodge there was not one other Christian.
The Indians did not appreciate her choice to remain unmarried. They
insulted her and some resented that she did not work on Sunday.
But Kateri held her ground. She prayed her Rosary every day, even
when others made fun of her. She practiced patience and suffered
quietly. Kateri's life grew harder. Some people were so harsh that
their treatment was a persecution. She fled to a Christian village
near Montreal. There on Christmas Day, 1677, she received her First
Communion. It was a wonderful day. Father Pierre Cholonec, a Jesuit,
guided her spiritual life for the next three years. She and an older
Iroquois woman named Anastasia lived as joyful, generous Christians.
Kateri made a private vow of virginity on March 25, 1679. She was
just twenty-four when she died on April 17, 1680. Exactly three
hundred years later, on June 22, 1980, Kateri Tekakwitha was declared
"blessed" by Pope John Paul II.
St. was born in 1221 in Tuscany, Italy, and was baptized John. Bonaventure joined the Franciscan order, which was still new. As a young Franciscan, Bonaventure left his own country to study at the University of Paris in France. He became a wonderful writer about the things of God. He loved God so much that people began to call him the "Seraphic Doctor." Seraphic means angelic.
One of Bonaventure's famous friends
was St. Thomas Aquinas.Thomas asked Bonaventure where he got all
the beautiful things he wrote. St. Bonaventure took his friend and
led him to his desk. He pointed to the large crucifix which always
stood on his desk. "It is he who tells me everything. He is
my only Teacher." Another time when Bonaventure was writing
the life of St. Francis of Assisi, he was so full of fervor that
St. Thomas exclaimed: "Let us leave a saint to write about
a saint." St. Bonaventure always kept himself humble even though
his books made him famous.
In 1265, Pope Clement IV wanted him to become an archbishop. Bonaventure begged the pope to accept his refusal. The pope respected his decision. However, Bonaventure did agree to be master general of his order. This difficult task was his for seventeen years. In 1273, Blessed Pope Gregory X made Bonaventure a cardinal. The two papal messengers found Bonaventure at the large wash tubs. He was taking his turn scrubbing the pots and pans. The papal messengers waited patiently until Bonaventure finished the last pot. He rinsed and dried his hands. Then they solemnly presented him the large red hat which symbolized his new honor.
Cardinal Bonaventure was a great help to this pope who had called the Council of Lyons in 1274. Thomas Aquinas died on his way to the Council, but Bonaventure made it. He was very influential at the assembly. Yet he, too, died rather suddenly on July 14, 1274, at the age of fifty-three. The pope was at his bedside when he died. Bonaventure was proclaimed a saint in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V declared him a Doctor of the Church.
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226. The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title "Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo". By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES).
ST. LEO IV
St. Leo IV lived in the ninth century. He was a Roman by birth and spent his life in that city. Leo was educated in the Benedictine monastery near St. Peter's Basilica. He was ordained a priest and performed his ministry at St. John Lateran's, a large, famous basilica. Leo was well-known and loved by two popes, Gregory IV who died in 844, and Sergius II who died in 847. The death of Pope Sergius II was to have an immediate effect on Leo. Rumors of a barbarian invasion of Saracens had Romans terrified. They did not want to be left without a pope. Neither did the cardinals. They quickly elected the successor to Sergius II. He is known to history as Leo IV.
As pope, Leo had the city walls repaired. The walls had been damaged the previous year by a Saracen attack. He beautified churches and brought many relics to Rome. He started a renewal program for the clergy. In fact, in 853 he called a synod for all Roman priests. He passed forty-two rules which helped priests live more fervent, prayerful and joy-filled lives.
few bishops caused Leo great suffering because of their lives. They
confronted the pope openly and would not change their ways. No matter
how much Pope Leo was insulted, he remained just, patient and humble.
He never let his troubles get the best of him. Leo kept giving his
time and energy for Jesus and his Church. He loved the beautiful
prayers of the liturgy and encouraged liturgical chant and music.
People loved St. Leo. Even during his lifetime, he was considered a miracle worker. It is said that he was responsible for stopping the terrible fire in the English quarter of Rome. Pope Leo IV continued serving the Church with cheerfulness right up to the end of his life. He died on July 17, 855.
St. Frederick lived in ninth-century Utrecht, in the central part of the Netherlands. When he was ordained a priest, Bishop Ricfried put him in charge of instructing converts. Around 825, he was chosen to succeed Ricfried as bishop of Utrecht. Bishop Frederick became acquainted with the people of his diocese. He really cared about them. He gave high priority to missionary work too. In fact, he sent St. Odulf and other brave priests to areas where the people were still pagan. He wanted them to hear the Good News.
Because of his position
as bishop, Frederick made a few enemies. The emperor's sons were
very outspoken about their stepmother's immoral living. They asked
Bishop Frederick to speak to Empress Judith. The bishop approached
her gently but honestly. The empress did not take the advice well.
She grew angry and was insulted.
Another challenge was the people who lived in the northern part of Frederick's diocese called Walcheren. St. Frederick sent priests to bring the people there the love of Jesus. Frederick knew the area was dangerous and unfriendly. He kept close to the priests whom he sent. He encouraged them and tried to help the people receive Christianity. But they were not ready to listen in any way. They resented the bishop's concern for them.
St. Frederick continued his care of the diocese with love and diligence. Then on July 18, 838, a tragedy happened. The bishop had just celebrated Mass. He was quietly making his thanksgiving when two men lunged at him with knives. A sentence from Psalm 116 came to mind. Slowly, the dying bishop prayed: "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living." A few minutes later he died. Some say Empress Judith sent the hired killers because of her hatred for the bishop. Others think the guilty party was the people from Walcheren. The murderers were never caught and convicted. But Bishop Frederick is honored as a martyr and a saint.
St. Macrina was the first child of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. She was born around 330. Macrina was engaged when she was twelve. This was a custom of the time. But the young man died suddenly and Macrina told her parents she wished to remain unmarried. Macrina was the big sister to nine brothers and sisters. Along with her parents and herself, three of her brothers are saints. St. Basil the Great (January 2), St. Peter of Sebaste and St. Gregory of Nyssa were all bishops. Macrina helped raise the children and they loved her. St. Peter of Sebaste remembers her especially with gratitude because she took loving care of him when he was a baby. Peter had been born the year his father died. The children grew up and St. Basil the Great found an estate for his mother and Macrina. It was like a convent and many women in the area came to live a spiritual life there.
After St. Emmelia died, Macrina continued to live the kind of life a nun would lead. She worked hard and gave away everything the family owned except what she really needed. Her brother Basil died in 379. She, too, became ill later that year. Her brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, came home to visit her. He had been away for eight years. He found Macrina near death. Her frail body rested on two boards. His sister died within hours.
St. Gregory, the local bishop and two priests carried Macrina's coffin to the grave. The funeral procession was long and many people wept. St. Gregory wrote about Macrina and that is how the beauty of her life became known.
St. Charbel was born
to a poor Maronite Family on May 8, 1828 in a mountain village of
Biqa-Kafra, Lebanon. From childhood his life revealed a calling
to "bear fruit as a noble Cedar of Lebanon." Charbel "grew
in age and wisdom before God and men." At 23 years old he entered
the monastery of Our Lady of Lebanon (north of Byblos) where he
became a novice. After two years of novitiate, in 1853, he was sent
to St. Maron monastery where he pronounced the monastic vows of
poverty, chastity and obedience.
Charbel was then transferred to the monastery of Kiffan where he studied philosophy and theology. His ordination to the priesthood took place in 1853, after which he was sent back to St. Maron monastery. His teacher provided him a good education and nurtured within him a deep love for monastic life. During his 16 years at St. Maron monastery, Charbel performed his priestly ministry and his monastic duties in an edifying way. He totally dedicated himself to Christ with undivided heart and desired to live in silence before the Nameless One.
In 1875 Charbel was granted permission to live as a hermit on the hill nearby the monastery at St. Peter and Paul hermitage. His 23 years of solitary life were lived in a spirit of total abandonment to God. Charbel's companies in hermitage were the Son of God, as encountered in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, and the Blessed Mother. The Eucharist became the center of his life. He consumed the Bread of Life and was consumed by it. Though his hermit did not have a place in the world, the world had a great place in his heart. Through prayer and penance he offered himself as a sacrifice so that the world would return to God. On December 16, 1898 while reciting the "Father of Truth" prayer at the Holy Liturgy Charbel suffered a stoke. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 70. Through faith this hermit received the Word of God and through love he continued the Mystery of Incarnation.
ST. LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI
St. Lawrence was born Caesar Rossi in Brindisi, Italy, in 1559.
Brindisi was part of the Kingdom of Naples, Italy. Caesar took the
name Lawrence when he became a Capuchin Franciscan at the age of
sixteen. He was sent to the University of Padua to study theology.
Lawrence surprised everyone by learning six languages also. His
first language was Italian. But he could also speak French, German,
Greek, Spanish, Syriac and Hebrew. St. Lawrence had a wonderful
knowledge of the Bible, too.
After he was ordained a priest, he became a popular preacher. Because he could speak Hebrew, he worked for the conversion of the Jews living in Rome. Later, St. Lawrence was sent to establish his order in Austria. The emperor, Rudolph II, did not want them to come. But Lawrence's tender care for victims of a plague won Emperor Rudolph to his cause.
Next, the emperor asked Lawrence to persuade the German princes to fight the Turks. The Turks were trying to wipe out Christendom. Lawrence did convince the princes. However, the leaders insisted that he go with the army into battle to make the victory certain. When the soldiers saw how large the Turkish army was, they wanted to quit. So St. Lawrence himself rode in the lead. He was armed only with the crucifix. The Christian soldiers took heart and fought bravely. The Turks were completely defeated. St. Lawrence received the praise. But he never prided himself for success. He put his trust in God and gave him the glory.
St. Lawrence became the master general of his order. He worked,
preached and wrote to spread the Good News. He went on important
peace missions to Munich, Germany, and Madrid, Spain. The rulers
of those places listened to him and the missions were successful.
But St. Lawrence was very sick. He had been tired out by the hard
traveling and the strain of his tasks. He died on his birthday,
July 22, in 1619. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in
1881. He was honored as "apostolic doctor" by Pope John
XXIII in 1959
ST. MARY MAGDALENE
St. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. Some people identify her as a well-known sinner when she first saw Our Lord. It seems that she was very beautiful and very proud. But after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at his feet. Then, with her long, beautiful hair, she wiped his feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch him. Our Lord knew why. He could see into Mary's heart. He said, "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much." Then to Mary he said kindly, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and
his apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the
foot of his cross. She stayed with the Blessed Mother and St. John,
unafraid for herself. All she could think about was that her Lord
was suffering. No wonder Jesus said of her: "She has loved
much." After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary
went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. She was
shocked when she saw that the tomb was empty. Not finding the sacred
body, she began to weep. Suddenly she saw someone she thought was
the gardener. She asked him if he knew where the body of her beloved
Master had been taken. Then the man spoke in a voice she knew so
well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, standing right there in front
of her. He was risen from the dead. And he had chosen to reveal
himself first to her. The Gospels show Mary as being sent by the
Lord himself to announce the Good News of the resurrection to Peter
and the apostles. In the early centuries of the Church, Mary Magdalene's
feast was celebrated with the Mass of an apostle.
ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN
St. Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a
child, she was greatly devoted to the passion of Jesus. When she
was only ten, she seemed to see Jesus on the cross and hear him
say, "Look at me, my daughter." "Who has treated
you like this?" cried little Bridget. "They who despise
me and refuse my love for them," answered Jesus. From then
on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus.
When she was fourteen, she married eighteen-year-old Ulf. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget and Ulf served the Swedish court. Bridget was the queen's personal maid. Bridget tried to help King Magnus and Queen Blanche lead better lives. For the most part, they did not listen to her.
life, Bridget had marvelous visions and received special messages
from God. In obedience to them, she visited many rulers and important
people in the Church. She explained humbly what God expected of
them. After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes.
She lived as a poor nun. Later, she started the order of the Most
Holy Savior, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own
busy life, traveling about doing good everywhere. And through all
this activity, Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her. These
she received without the least bit of pride.
Shortly before she died, the saint went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in that place. All St. Bridget's revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death. St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface IX in 1391.
ST. BORIS AND ST. GLEB
St. Boris and St. Gleb, the brothers, were born toward the end of the tenth century. They were sons of St. Vladimir of Kiev, the first Christian prince in Russia. Their father had many wives before he became a Christian. Afterwards, he had lived as Jesus teaches us in the Gospel. Boris and Gleb were his sons by his Christian wife Anne. They were true Christians, too.
In an attempt to acquire more power when King Vladimir died, his oldest son planned to kill Boris and Gleb. Boris was warned as he was coming back with his soldiers from a battle against some wandering tribes. His men at once prepared to defend Boris from his older brother, but he would not permit it. "It is better for me to die alone," he said, "than to be the occasion of death to many." So he sent them away and sat down to wait. During the night, he thought about the martyrs who had been put to death by their own close relatives. He thought of how empty life becomes if we make the things of earth too important. What really counts, he thought, is good deeds, true love and true religion. When in the morning, his brother's hired murderers arrived and began striking him with spears, Boris did nothing but call down peace on them.
was killed soon after. The wicked older brother invited him to come
to his palace for a friendly visit. As he was sailing down the river,
Gleb's boat was boarded by fierce, armed men. He was terrified at
first and begged them not to kill him. Yet he would not defend himself
by fighting, not even when he saw that they were determined to kill
him. Instead, St. Gleb quietly prepared himself to die. "I
am being killed," he said, "and for what I do not know.
But you know, Lord. And I know you said that for your name's sake
brother would bring death to brother." Only a few years after
their deaths, the people of Russia began going on pilgrimages to
the tomb of the two brothers. Miracles took place. St. Boris and
St. Gleb are called martyrs because they accepted death as Christ
did, without defending themselves. They died in 1015. Pope Benedict
XIII proclaimed them saints in 1724.
ST. JAMES THE GREATER
St. James was a fisherman like his father Zebedee and his brother John. He was on his father's boat mending his nets when the Lord passed by. Jesus called each of them, James and John, to become fishers of men, to join him in spreading the Good News. Zebedee watched as his two sons left the boat to follow Jesus. With St. Peter and St. John, James was a special companion of Jesus. With them James was permitted to see what the other apostles did not see. With them he watched as Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus to life. With them he was taken up the mountain to see Jesus shining like the sun, with his robes white as snow. This event is called Jesus' Transfiguration. On Holy Thursday, the night before he died, Jesus led the apostles into the garden of Gethsemane. Matthew's Gospel tells us he invited Peter, James and John to accompany him to a secluded area to pray. They watched as the Master's face became saddened with grief. Then drops of blood began to form on his brow. It was a very sad moment, but the apostles were exhausted. They fell asleep. Then St. James ran in fear when the enemies of Jesus took him away. And James was not near the foot of the cross on Good Friday. But the Lord met up with him on Easter Sunday evening in the upper room. The resurrected Jesus came through the locked door and said, "Peace be to you." St. James and the other apostles would find that peace after the Holy Spirit's coming on Pentecost.
began his ministry as an impulsive, outspoken man. He asked Jesus
bluntly for a seat of honor in his kingdom. He demanded that Jesus
send fire down on the villages that did not receive the Lord. But
he had great faith in Jesus. Eventually, James learned to become
humble and gentle. And he did become "first" in a way
he could never have imagined. He was given the honor of being the
first apostle to die for Jesus. Chapter 12 of the Acts of the Apostles
tells us that King Herod Agrippa had St. James put to death by the
sword. As a martyr James gave the greatest witness of all.
ST. JOACHIM AND ST. ANNE
St. Anne and St. Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They spent their lives worshiping God and doing good. They had one great sorrow, however: God had not sent them any children. For years and years, Anne had begged the Lord to give her a child. She promised to consecrate the baby to him. When she was already old, God answered her prayer in a far better way than she could ever have dreamed. The child born to St. Joachim and St. Anne was the Immaculate Virgin Mary. This holiest of all women was to become the Mother of God. Anne took tender care of little Mary for a few years. Then she gave her to the service of God, as she had promised she would.
went to live in the holy Temple of Jerusalem. St. Joachim and St.
Anne continued their lives of prayer until God called them home
to heaven. Christians have always been especially devoted to St.
Anne. Many beautiful churches have been built in her honor. Perhaps
one of the most famous is the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre in Canada.
Great crowds go there all year around to ask St. Anne's help in
St. Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He lived in the fourth century. He was such a famous doctor that Emperor Galerius Maximian chose him for his personal doctor. There, at the wicked, pagan court, Pantaleon got into trouble. He was a Christian, but little by little, he let the bad example around him ruin him. He began to agree with the false wisdom praised by the pagans. At last, he committed the great sin of giving up his Christian faith entirely.
priest named Hermolaos was deeply saddened to see the famous doctor
desert Jesus. He went to him. With his wise, kind words, he made
Pantaleon realize what a sin he had committed. Pantaleon listened
to him and admitted that he had been very wrong. He detested his
sin and joined the Church once more. To make up for what he had
done, he greatly desired to suffer and die for Jesus. In the meantime,
he imitated Our Lord's charity by taking care of poor sick people
without any charge.
When Emperor Diocletian began his persecution, Pantaleon at once gave away everything he owned to the poor. Not long afterward, some jealous doctors accused him of being a Christian. He was given the choice of denying his religion or of being put to death. Pantaleon absolutely refused to say he was not a Christian and no torture could make him do it. There has been strong devotion in past ages to this saint. In the East he is called the "great martyr and wonder-worker."
St. Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They lived in the little town of Bethany near Jerusalem. They were dear friends of Jesus, and he often came to visit them. In fact, the Gospel tells us: "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary and Lazarus." It was St. Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples. She realized that the task would be easier if her sister would help. She watched Mary sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, listening to him. "Lord, tell my sister to help me," Martha suggested. Jesus was very pleased with Martha's loving service. However, he wanted her to know that listening to God's Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part."
St. Martha's great faith in Jesus was seen when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She trusted Jesus and felt the freedom to say: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Then Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, "He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. Do you believe this?" And Martha answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world." Jesus worked a great miracle and raised Lazarus from the dead!
Jesus came again to have supper with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. St.
Martha served them at table as always. This time, though, Martha
had a much more loving attitude. She served with a joyful heart.
ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS
St. Peter Chrysologus was born in the small town of Imola, Italy. He lived in the fifth century. Bishop Cornelius of Imola educated him and ordained him a deacon. Even as a boy, Peter understood that a person is truly great only if he can control his passions and put on the spirit of Christ. When the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy, died, Peter was appointed by Pope St. Leo the Great to succeed him. This was around 433. As a priest and bishop, St. Peter was effective. He worked hard to wipe out the paganism still practiced in his diocese. He helped his people grow in faith.
It was as a preacher that St. Peter became famous. Indeed, "Chrysologus" means "golden word." Yet his sermons or homilies were all short. He was afraid his audience would get bored. Besides that, these sermons were not especially unusual or beautiful. But St. Peter's message was more valuable than gold. He preached with such enthusiasm and fire that people listened to him breathlessly. In his sermons, St. Peter urged everyone to receive Jesus often in Holy Communion. He wanted people to realize that the Body of the Lord should be the daily food for their souls.
good archbishop also worked for the unity of all the members of
the Catholic Church. He tried to prevent people from getting confused
about what Catholics believe. He also tried to keep peace. St. Peter
Chrysologus died on December 2, 450, in his hometown of Imola, Italy.
For his wonderful sermons, so rich in teaching, Pope Benedict XIII
declared St. Peter to be a Doctor of the Church in 1729.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
St. Ignatius, the famous founder of the Jesuits, was born in 1491.
He was from a Spanish noble family. As a boy, he was sent to be
a page at the royal court. There he lived on the desire to someday
become a great soldier and marry a beautiful lady. Later, he did,
indeed, win honor for his courage in the battle of Pamplona. However,
a wound from a cannon ball forced him to spend months in bed at
Loyola Castle. Ignatius asked for some books to read. He preferred
stories of knights, but only biographies of Jesus and the saints
were available. Having nothing else to do, he read them. Gradually,
the books began to make an impression on him. His life began to
change. He said to himself: "These were men and women like
me, so why can't I do what they have done?" All the glory he
had wanted before seemed worthless now. He began to imitate the
saints in their prayers, penances and good works.
St. Ignatius had to suffer temptations and humiliations. Before he could begin his great work of starting the Society of Jesus, he had to go back to school. He had to study Latin grammar. The rest of the students were little boys and Ignatius was thirty-three. Yet Ignatius went to the class because he knew he would need this knowledge to help him in his ministry. With patience and even a laugh now and then, he took the boys' jeers and taunts. During this time, he tried to teach and encourage people to pray. For this he was suspected of heresy and put in jail for a while! But that was not going to stop Ignatius. "The whole city does not contain as many chains as I desire to wear for love of Jesus," he said. Ignatius was forty-three when he graduated from the University of Paris. With six other students, he professed religious vows in 1534. Ignatius and his companions who were not yet priests were ordained in 1539. They promised to work for God in whatever way the Holy Father thought best. In 1540 their order was officially recognized by the pope. Before Ignatius died, there were one thousand members of the Society of Jesus or "Jesuits." They were doing much good work teaching and preaching. Ignatius often prayed, "Give me only your love and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask." St. Ignatius died in Rome, on July 31, 1556. Pope Gregory XV proclaimed him a saint in 1622.
LIVES OF THE SAINTS
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Today we begin our new year at the Eucharistic Celebration. We thank God for Mary, Jesus' mother..
ST. BASIL AND ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN
Sts. Basil and Gregory were born in Asia Minor in the year 330. This area is modern-day Turkey..
St. Genevieve was born around 422 in Nanterre, a small village four miles from Paris. While still very young..
ST. ELIZABETH ANN SETON
St. Elizabeth was called "Mother Seton" by everyone knew her by when she died on January 4, 1821..
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
St. John Neumann was not only quiet, he was short-five feet, two inches tall. His eyes were very kind..
BLESSED ANDRE BESSETTE
St. Alfred Bessette was born on August 9, 1845, not far from Montreal, Canada. He was the eighth..
ST. RAYMOND OF PENYAFORT
St. Raymond was born between 1175 and 1180 in a little town near Barcelona, Spain. He was educated at..
St. Thorfinn's life were discovered in details long after his death. He died in 1285, in a monastery in Belgium. Fifty years later, his tomb..
ST. JULIAN AND ST. BASILISSA
St. Julian and St. Basilissa were husband and wife. They lived in the early part of the fourth century.
St. William came from a wealthy French family. Even as a boy, he did not waste time fooling around or being idle.
St. Theodosius was born in Asia Minor in 423. As a young man, he set out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
ST. MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS
St. Marguerite was born in Troyes, France, on April 17, 1620, but spent most of her eighty years in..
ST. HILLARY OF POITIERS
St. Hilary was born into a pagan family on 315 in Poitiers, a town in France. His family was rich and well-known. Hilary received a good education.
St. Macrina and her husband learned the high price of being true to their Christian beliefs.
ST. PAUL THE HERMIT
St. Paul was born into a Christian family in the year 229. They lived in Thebes, Egypt. Paul's parents showed him by their own lives how to love God..
ST. BERARD AND COMPANIONS
Six Franciscan friars accepted from St. Francis of Assisi an assignment to go to Morocco. They were to announce Christianity to the Muslims.
ST. ANTHONY OF EGYPT
St. Anthony was born in 251 in a small village in Egypt. When he was twenty years old, his parents died. They left him a large estate and placed him in charge of the care of his young sister.
Blessed Christina lived in the sixteenth century. She was born in Abruzzi, Italy. Her baptismal name was Matthia. As she grew up, Matthia felt the call to a life of prayer and penance.
St. Canute was a strong, wise king of Denmark. He lived in the eleventh century. Canute was a great athlete, an expert horseman, and..
ST. FABIAN AND ST. SEBASTIAN
St. Fabian was a pope who died a martyr in 250. It was during the persecution by Emperor Decius.
St. Agnes was a Roman girl who died in 304. She was just twelve years old when she suffered martyrdom..
ST. VINCENT OF SARAGOSSA
St. Vincent was martyred in Spain in 304. This was the same year that Agnes was martyred in Rome.
ST. JOHN THE ALMSGIVER
St. John was a dedicated Christian nobleman. He used his wealth and position to help poor people. After his wife passed away, John became a priest and bishop. In 608, he was consecrated the patriarch of Alexandria..
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
St. Francis was born at the de Sales castle in Savoy, France, on August 21, 1567. His wealthy family provided him with an excellent education. By the age of twenty-four, Francis was..
CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
St. Paul lived at the time of Jesus but as far as we know they never met. Paul was first called Saul. As a young man, he was a very bright student of..
ST. TIMOTHY AND ST. TITUS
St. Timothy was born in Lycaonia in Asia Minor. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Gentile.
ST. ANGELA MERICI
St. Angela was born in the small Italian town of Desenzano, Italy, around 1474. Her parents died when she was ten. She and her only sister, who was three years older, loved each other..
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
St. Thomas lived in the thirteenth century. He was the son of a noble family of Italy. He was very intelligent, but he never boasted about it. He knew that his mind was a gift from God.
St. Gildas was born around the year 500 in Britain. He set out as a young man to practice a self-sacrificing lifestyle.
St. Bathildis was a frightened, Christian English girl could have never imagined what her future would be like.
ST. JOHN BOSCO
St. John Bosco was born in Turin, Italy, on August 16, 1815. His parents were poor farmers. When John was two, his father died. John's mother struggled to keep the family together.
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