ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER
This is St. Joseph's second feast day on the Church calendar of
celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very
important saint. He is the husband of Our Lady and the foster-father
of Jesus. Today we celebrate his witness of hard work. He was a
carpenter who worked long hours in his little shop. St. Joseph teaches
us that the work we do is important. Through it we give our contribution
and our service to our family and society. But even more than that.
As Christians we realize that our work is like a mirror of ourselves.
That is why we want our work to be done with diligence.
Many countries set aside one day a year to honor workers. This encourages
the dignity and appreciation of work. The Church has given us a
wonderful model of work, St. Joseph. In 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed
this feast of St. Joseph the Worker to be celebrated every year.
Saint Jeremias (590 B.C.). Jeremias was one of the four major prophets
of the Old Testament. His Prophecy and his Lamentations constitute
a book in the Old Testament. There are forty-five books in the Old
Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament. There are
seventy-two books in the whole Bible. One of the most quoted texts
from the prophet Jeremias is from his Lamentations, Chapter 3, verse
27, where he says that, "It is good for a man to have borne
the yoke from his youth," thereby letting us know that when
one is to become a saint, or even to save one's soul, it is good
to start as a child. Saint Peregrine (1354). He was an Italian boy
who spent a life of pleasure in the world until one day he met Saint
Philip Benizi. He struck Saint Philip in the face and when Saint
Philip, in his humility, turned the other cheek, it so impressed
Peregrine that he was converted and joined the Servites. While he
was in ecstasy he was instantaneously cured of cancer. He is invoked
as the patron saint to cure cancer.
St. Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted
his life to proving that Jesus is truly God. This is important because
some people called Arians denied it. Even before he became a priest,
Athanasius had read many books on the faith. That is why he could
so easily point out the false teachings of the Arians. This saint
became the archbishop of Alexandria when he was not yet thirty years
old. For forty-six years, he was a brave shepherd of his flock.
Four Roman emperors could not make him stop writing his clear and
beautiful explanations of our holy faith. His enemies persecuted
him in every way.
Five times he was sent out of his own diocese. His first exile lasted
two years. He was sent to the city of Trier in 336. A kindly bishop,
St. Maxi-minius, welcomed him warmly. The feast of St. Maximinius
is celebrated on May 29. Other exiles lasted longer. Athanasius
was hunted by people who wanted to kill him. During one tense exile,
monks kept him safe in the desert for seven years. His enemies just
could not find him. Once the emperor's soldiers were chasing Athanasius
down the Nile River. "They are catching up to us!" cried
the saint's friends. Athanasius was not worried. "Turn the
boat around," he said calmly, "and row toward them."
The soldiers in the other boat shouted, "Have you seen Athan-asius?"
Back came the answer: "You are not far from him!" The
enemy boat sped by them faster than ever, and the saint was safe!
The people of Alexandria loved their good archbishop. He was a
real father to them. As the years passed, they appreciated more
and more how much he had suffered for Jesus and the Church. It was
the people who stepped in and saw to it that Athanasius had some
well-deserved peace. He spent the last seven years of his life safe
with them. His enemies hunted but could never find him. During that
time, St. Athanasius wrote The Life of St. Anthony the Hermit. Anthony
had been his personal friend when Athanasius was young. St. Anthony's
feast is celebrated on January 17. St. Athanasius died quietly on
May 2, 373. He remains one of the greatest, bravest saints of all
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve
apostles. Philip was one of the first apostles chosen. He was born
at Bethsaida, in Galilee. Our Lord found him and said, "Follow
me." Philip was so happy to be with Jesus. He wanted to share
his happiness with his friend, Nathaniel. "We have found the
one Moses and the prophets wrote about," Philip explained.
"He is Jesus of Nazareth."
Nathaniel was not at all excited. Nazareth was just a little village.
It was not big and important like Jerusalem. So Nathaniel said,
"Can any good come out of Nazareth?" But Philip did not
become angry at his friend's answer. He just said, "Come and
see." Nathaniel went to see Jesus. After he had spoken with
him, he, too, became a zealous follower of the Lord.
St. James was also one of Jesus' twelve apostles. He was the son
of Alpheus and a cousin of Our Lord. After Jesus ascended into heaven,
James became the bishop of Jerusalem. People thought so much of
him that they called him "James the Just," which means
"James the Holy One." He is also called "James the
Less," because he was younger than the other apostle named
James. The other James was called "James the Greater"
because he was older. The saint of today's feast was very gentle
and forgiving. He prayed very much. He kept begging God to forgive
the people who persecuted the followers of Jesus. Even when Our
Lord's enemies were putting him to death, he asked God to pardon
them. St. James died a martyr in the year 62.
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS
Blessed Marie-Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie
in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840. Her parents were poor but
devout Catholics. They loved their little girl. When Elodie was
nine, her parents decided to send her to a boarding school. They
wanted her to have an excellent education. The Sisters of Notre
Dame warmly received the new student. But Elodie and her family
missed each other very much.
Mr. Paradis worked hard running a mill. But times were bad, and
the mill did not produce enough to support his wife and children.
He heard wonderful reports of the gold rush in California. He was
so desperate that he decided to go. In California, Mr. Paradis did
not find the wealth he hoped for. When he returned to L'Acadie,
he was shocked to find that his Elodie had joined the convent. She
had entered the Holy Cross congregation on February 21, 1854. Mr.
Paradis went to the convent. He begged his daughter to return home,
but she chose to remain. Finally, her father accepted it. She pronounced
her vows in 1857. Blessed Marie-Leonie taught school in different
cities. She prayed and lived her life joyfully. As time went on,
Sister Marie-Leonie was led by Jesus to begin a new religious order
in the Church. The Little Sisters of the Holy Family were begun
in 1880. These loving sisters are devoted to the priesthood. They
serve priests in the household care so important to their ministry.
The Little Sisters of the Holy Family now have sixty-seven convents
in Canada, the United States, Rome and Honduras.
Mother Marie Leonie worked for her sisters until the last few hours
of her life. She was always frail and often ill. But she never stopped
caring for God's people. She put the last corrections on the pages
of the book of rules she had written. She had it sent to the print
shop. That book would give her sisters the guidance they would need
for their life. It was Friday, May 3, 1912. Mother Marie-Leonie
said she felt very tired. She went to rest and died a few hours
later. She was seventy-one years old.
Saint Florian (304). He was an officer in the Roman army who courageously
professed his Faith during the persecution of Diocletian. He was
terribly scourged and then thrown into a river with a stone around
his neck. He is the patron of firemen and also one of the great
patrons of Poland.
ST. JUDITH OF PRUSSIA
St. Judith lived in the thirteenth century. She was born in Thuringia.
This was in what is now central Germany. She wanted to model her
life on the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. This saint's feast
is celebrated on November 17. St. Elizabeth of Hungary had lived
from 1207 until 1231. She had been proclaimed a saint in 1235. In
St. Judith's time, many Christian women were influenced by her inspiring
Judith of Prussia was married at fifteen to a wealthy young nobleman.
Judith tried to be a good Christian wife. She was especially generous
with the poor. Her husband was a good man, but he was satisfied
with his wealthy lifestyle. He expected his wife to dress and live
like a rich woman. He felt that their well-dressed look would win
them respect. But Judith gently persuaded him to live and dress
more simply. By doing this, they would have more to give to people
less fortunate than themselves.
Judith's husband died suddenly while on a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land. The young widow raised her children alone. When the children
grew up, Judith listened to a longing that had been in her heart
during the busy, happy days of her life. She gave away everything
and lived as a hermit. She moved to Prussia where people would not
know that she was from a wealthy family. There she spent her time
praying and taking care of weary travelers who passed by her little
hut. She prayed especially for the conversion of nonbelievers. She
prayed also for the newly baptized Christians to be true to their
faith. "Three things can lead us close to God," she once
said. "They are painful physical suffering, being in exile
in a foreign land, and being poor by choice because of love for
God." St. Judith died of fever in 1260.
Saint Angelus (1220). Saint Angelus was born at Jerusalem
and was the son of Jewish parents who had been converted to Christianity.
He became a Carmelite priest and worked many miracles. He was martyred
by heretics at Palermo in Sicily for defending the Catholic Faith.
BLESSED FRANCOIS DE MONTMORENCY LAVAL
Blessed Francois was the first bishop of Quebec City, Canada. He
was born in 1623 in a small town in France. Francois received a
good, Catholic education. He studied with the Jesuits and then went
to Paris to complete his preparation for the priesthood. Francois
became a priest in May, 1647. He was consecrated a bishop on December
8, 1658, and arrived in New France in 1659.
Bishop Laval had a missionary spirit. He accepted the pioneer life
of his people. Even more, Francois had the courage to take on a
huge task. He was to organize the Church in Canada which was still
mission territory. Bishop Laval asked the Jesuit missionaries to
minister to the native people. He created new parishes for the French-speaking
Catholics. He started the seminary of Quebec in 1663. This was of
great importance because a good seminary would train future priests
for God's people.
Bishop Laval loved the people of his vast territory. He was a caring
bishop and a prayerful man. His particular cross was the constant
interference by civil authorities. He was particularly outspoken
about the harm of alcohol trafficking.
In 1688, he retired and was replaced by Bishop de Saint-Vallier.
Bishop Laval devoted the last twenty years of his life to charitable
and spiritual works. He died in 1708. Pilgrims prayed at his tomb
and miracles were reported. Pope John Paul II declared Bishop Laval
"blessed" on June 22, 1980.
SAINT JOHN BEFORE THE LATIN GATE
Saint John before the Latin Gate (95). In the year 95, Saint John
the Apostle, the beloved disciple of Our Lord and Our Lady's priest,
was arrested at Ephesus and brought to Rome. He was there thrown
into a caldron of boiling oil. He was eighty-three years old at
the time. He miraculously came out unharmed. In fear of him, the
pagan Romans exiled him to the Island of Patmos. There he wrote
his great prophetical book, the Apocalypse. He then returned to
Ephesus where, in the year 96, he wrote his Gospel, and later his
three Epistles. Saint John died in the year 100, when he was eighty-eight
years old. He was the youngest of all the Apostles, but the last
to leave this world. His body as well as his soul have been assumed
into Heaven, as Saint Robert Bellarmine assures us and as the tradition
of the Faith clearly indicates. When his grave was opened, there
was found nothing but bread, and in the eleventh century, Saint
Peter Damian tells us that miraculous bread was still being renewed
there whenever the tomb of Saint John was opened.
BLESSED ROSE VENERINI
Blessed Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father
was a physician. Rose entered the convent but returned home after
a few months. Her father had died and she felt the responsibility
for taking care of her widowed mother.
Rose, who was to remain single, recognized her own leadership qualities.
She gathered the young women in her neighborhood. They prayed the
Rosary together in the evenings. As they all got to know each other,
Rose became aware of how little the young people knew about their
faith. Rose and two helpers opened a free school for girls in 1685.
The parents who sent their daughters there were very pleased with
the quality of education and the atmosphere.
Rose was a gifted educator. Above all, she was able to teach others
to teach. In 1692, Cardinal Barbarigo invited Rose to his diocese.
He wanted her to organize his schools and train his teachers. It
was in his diocese that she became a friend and teacher of a future
saint. That person was St. Lucy Filippini who started a religious
order. Sister Lucy was proclaimed a saint in 1930.
Rose organized schools in various places. Some people resented
her work and harassed her and her teachers. But the teachers held
on to their belief in the value of education. Rose even opened a
school in Rome in 1713. Pope Clement XI congratulated Rose for starting
such a wonderful school. This dedicated teacher died in Rome on
May 7, 1728, at the age of seventy-two. After her death, Blessed
Rose's lay teachers became religious sisters. The Venerini sisters
continue to perform their teaching ministry the way Blessed Rose
would. Rose Venerini was declared "blessed" by Pope Pius
XII in 1952.
SAINT JOHN OF BEVERLY
Saint John of Beverley (721). He was an English Benedictine monk
who became a bishop. He founded a monastery at Beverley. Saint Bede,
the one English Doctor of the Church, was taught and ordained by
BLESSED CATHERINE OF ST. AUGUSTINE
St. Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village
in France. She was baptized the same day. Catherine's family were
devout Catholics. Her grandparents set the example especially because
of their genuine care for the poor. Catherine watched wide-eyed
as her grandmother invited a handicapped beggar into her home. She
offered him a bath, clean clothes and a delicious meal. As Catherine
and her grandparents sat around the fire that night, they prayed
the Our Father out loud. They thanked God for his blessings.
Because there was no hospital in their small French town, the sick
were nursed back to health in the home of Catherine's grandparents.
Catherine began to realize that sickness and suffering take patience.
She was just a little girl but she prayed to ask Jesus to make people
suffer less. When she was still quite young, she joined a new order
of Sisters of St. Augustine. They took care of the sick in hospitals.
She received the religious habit on October 24, 1646. That was the
same day her older sister pronounced her vows. In 1648, Catherine
listened to the missionary priests begging sisters to come to New
France or Canada. It was missionary territory. Catherine's sister
was chosen to be one of the first of their order to go as a missionary
to Canada. Sister Catherine was just sixteen, but she begged to
be chosen too. She pronounced her vows on May 4, 1648. Then she
sailed for Canada the next day. It was the day before her sixteenth
Life was hard in Quebec, Canada. Sister Catherine loved the people.
The Indians were so grateful for her cheerful ways. She cooked and
cared for the sick in the order's poor hospital building. But Sister
Catherine learned about fear, too. The Iroquois Indians were killing
people and burning villages. She prayed to St. John Brebeuf, one
of the Jesuit priests who had just been killed by the Iroquois in
1649. She asked him to help her be true to her calling. She heard
him speaking in her heart, telling her to remain. Food became scarce
and the winters were terribly cold. Some of the sisters could not
take the harsh life and constant fear of death. Sadly they returned
to France. Sister Catherine was afraid, too.
Sometimes she could hardly pray. And while she smiled at all the
dear people she cared for in the sick wards, she grew sad. It was
then, when things were darkest for her, that she made a vow never
to leave Canada. She promised to remain, performing her works of
charity until death. When she made that vow she was just twenty-two
years old. Despite the hard pioneer life of the French colony, more
people came. The Church grew. God blessed the new land with more
missionaries. In 1665, Sister Catherine became the novice mistress
of her community. She kept up her life of prayer and hospital ministry
until her death. Sister Marie Catherine of St. Augustine died on
May 8, 1668. She was thirty-six years old. She was declared "blessed"
by Pope John Paul II in 1989.
BLESSED NICHOLAS ALBERGATI
Blessed Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. Nicholas' family could
afford to send him to the university where he began to study law.
But then after a few years, he decided not to become a lawyer. At
the age of twenty, Nicholas joined the Carthusian order. In 1417,
this Carthusian monk was chosen to be bishop of his native diocese.
He had not counted on that at all. He could not even believe it
could be God's will. But his superiors assured him it was.
People liked Bishop Nicholas. He lived in a small, plain house.
He was like them. He began to visit the people of his diocese. He
went to the poorest families first. He talked with them and helped
them with their needs. He blessed their homes. The people were very
grateful. Bishop Nicholas became a cardinal in 1426. He was known
to be wise and spiritual. Two popes, Martin V and Eugene IV, consulted
him about important Church matters. Blessed Nicholas also encouraged
learning. In fact, he wrote several books himself.
He died while on a visit to Siena, Italy. Pope Eugene IV had his
body brought back to Bologna. The pope himself participated in the
funeral Mass and burial.
Blessed Nicholas died in 1443.
St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed
that he had good sense and will power. The story is told that when
he was fifteen, he asked to join the Dominican order. He looked
young, and he was small. The prior studied him for a moment and
then said, "I'll accept you when you know 'Gratian's Decree'
by heart." "Gratian's Decree" was a book, several
hundred pages long. So, in other words, the prior was telling Antoninus
"no." But Antoninus accepted the challenge. One year later
he returned. It would be hard to describe the prior's amazement
when he found that Antoninus had memorized the whole decree! Needless
to say, he was accepted at once. (It was not his ability to memorize
that changed the prior's mind, though. It was because he had proved
he was serious about his vocation.)
Though just sixteen, Antoninus continued to surprise everyone by
the way he lived the life of his order. As he grew older, he was
given one important position after another. He was a good influence
on his fellow Dominicans. They loved and respected him. This is
proved powerfully in the life of Blessed Anthony Neyrot whose feast
is April 10. In March, 1446, Antoninus became the archbishop of
Florence, Italy. "The father of the poor" was the name
given this saint. He never refused to help anyone. When he had no
more money, he would give his clothes, his shoes, his furniture
or his one mule. Many times this mule was sold to help someone.
Then it would be bought back for him by wealthy citizens. Of course,
he would sell it again to help someone else!
Often St. Antoninus would say, "A successor of the apostles
should not own anything except the wealth of virtue." St. Antoninus
died in 1459. He was proclaimed a saint in 1523.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LACONI
St. Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy.
He was born on December 17, 1701. When he was about seventeen, he
became very ill. He promised to be a Franciscan if he would get
better. But when the illness left him, his father convinced him
to wait. A couple of years later, Ignatius was almost killed when
he lost control of his horse. Suddenly, however, the horse stopped
and trotted on quietly. Ignatius was convinced, then, that God had
saved his life. He made up his mind to follow his religious vocation
Brother Ignatius never had any important position in the Franciscan
order. For fifteen years he worked in the weaving shed. Then, for
forty years, he was part of the team who went out from house to
house. They requested food and donations to support the friars.
Ignatius visited families and received their gift. But the people
soon realized that they received a gift in return. Brother Ignatius
consoled the sick and cheered up the lonely. He made peace between
enemies, converted people hardened by sin and advised those in trouble.
They began to wait for his visits.
There were some difficult days, too. Once in a while, a door was
slammed in his face, and often the weather was bad. Always, there
were miles and miles to walk. But Ignatius was dedicated. Yet people
noticed he used to skip one house. The owner was a rich moneylender.
He made the poor pay back much more than they could afford. This
man felt humiliated because Ignatius never visited his home to ask
for donations. He complained to Brother Ignatius' superior. The
superior knew nothing about the moneylender so he sent Ignatius
to his home. Brother Ignatius never said a word, but did as he was
told. He returned with a large sack of food. It was then that God
worked a miracle. When the sack was emptied, blood dripped out.
"This is the blood of the poor," Ignatius explained softly.
"That is why I never ask for anything at that house."
The friars began to pray that the moneylender would repent. Brother
Ignatius died at the age of eighty, on May 11, 1781. He was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1951.
ST. NEREUS, ST. ACHILLEUS AND ST. PANCRAS
Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who died around 304.
They were probably Praetorian guards under Emperor Trajan. We know
little else about them. But what we do know comes from two popes
who lived in the fourth century, Pope Siricius and Pope Damasus.
In 398, Pope Siricius built a church in their honor in Rome. Pope
Damasus wrote a brief tribute to the martyrs. He explained that
Nereus and Achilleus were converted to the Christian faith. They
left behind their weapons forever. They were true followers of Jesus
even at the cost of their own lives. Nereus and Achilleus were sent
into exile to the island of Terracina. There they were beheaded.
In the sixth century, a second church was built in another part
of Rome to honor these two martyrs.
St. Pancras, a fourteen-year-old orphan, lived at the same time.
He could possibly have been killed on the same day. Pancras was
not a native of Rome. He was brought there by his uncle who looked
after him. He became a follower of Jesus and was baptized. Although
just a boy, he was arrested for being a Christian. Pancras refused
to give up his faith. For that, he was sentenced to death. Pancras
was beheaded. He became a very popular martyr in the early Church.
People admired him for being so young and so brave. In 514, a large
church was built in Rome to honor him. In 596, the famous missionary,
St. Augustine of Canterbury, went to bring the Christian faith to
England. He named his first church there after St. Pancras.
ST. ANDREW FOURNET
St. Andrew Fournet was born on December 6, 1752. He was
from Maille, a little town near Poitiers, in France. Andrew's parents
were religious people. Mrs. Fournet had her heart set on Andrew
becoming a priest. The little boy heard this more often than he
cared to. Once he declared, "I'm a good boy, but I'm still
not going to be a priest or monk." When he grew up, he went
to Poitiers to study college subjects. But that did not last long.
He was having too good of a time. His mother followed him and steered
him to good occupations. But they fell through, one after another.
His mother was frantic. There was only one more possibility. She
talked Andrew into going to stay for a while with his uncle, a priest.
His uncle's parish was poor and his uncle was a holy man. For some
unpredictable reason, Andrew agreed. This was God's "teachable
Andrew's uncle recognized his nephew's good qualities. His own example
sparked something in Andrew and he settled down. He began to study
seriously and to make up for lost time. He was ordained a priest
and was assigned to his uncle's parish. In 1781, he was transferred
to his home parish in Maille. His mother was jubilant. He had become
a caring, prayerful priest. When the French Revolution began, St.
Andrew refused to take an oath that was against the Church. He became
a hunted man. In 1792, he was forced to flee to Spain. There he
remained for five years. But he worried about his people and went
back to France. The danger was as great as before. Father Fournet
was protected by his flock. He nearly escaped death several times.
Meanwhile, he heard confessions, celebrated the Eucharist, gave
the Last Rites.
When the Church was free again, St. Andrew came out of hiding. He
was always inviting his people to love and serve God. One of the
good ladies from the area, St. Elizabeth Bichier des Ages, helped
St. Andrew very much. Together they started an order of sisters
called the Daughters of the Cross. St. Elizabeth's feast day is
August 26. St. Andrew died on May 13, 1834, at the age of eighty-two.
He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI on June 4, 1933.
St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples.
He had been a follower of Jesus during his public life. St. Peter
asked the 120 people gathered in prayer to choose an apostle to
replace Judas. This was very important because that man would be
a bishop, as the other apostles were. He said it should be someone
who had been with Jesus from his baptism in the Jordan until the
The first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles explains that the
group proposed two names. One was Matthias, the other, Joseph, called
Barsabbas. Joseph was also called Justus. Both men-Matthias and
Joseph-were very well thought of by Jesus' followers. So now they
had two replacements for Judas. But they only needed one. So what
could they do? It was very simple. They cast lots. Matthias' name
St. Matthias was a very good apostle. He preached the Good News
in Judea. Then he continued to Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey). Many
people listened to Matthias. They believed his wonderful message.
The enemies of Jesus grew furious to see how people listened to
Matthias. They decided to stop him. Matthias died a martyr.
ST. ISIDORE THE FARMER
Saint Isidore was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were
deeply religious. They named their son after the great St. Isidore,
archbishop of Seville, Spain. We celebrate his feast on April 4.
Isidore's parents wanted to offer their son a first-rate education,
but they could not afford it. They were tenant farmers. Their son
would spend his life in the same occupation.
Isidore went to work for a rich land owner in Madrid. The man's
name was John de Vargas. Isidore worked all his life for Mr. de
Vargas. He married a good girl from a family as poor as his own.
The couple loved each other very much. They had one child, a boy,
who died as a baby. Isidore and his wife offered to Jesus their
sadness over the child's death. They trusted their son was happy
with God forever. St. Isidore began each day at Mass. Then he would
go to his job. He tried to work hard even if he didn't feel like
it. He plowed and planted and prayed. He called on Mary, the saints
and his guardian angel. They helped him turn ordinary days into
special, joyful times. The world of faith became very real to St.
Isidore, as real as Mr. de Vargas' fields. When he had a day off,
Isidore made it a point to spend extra time adoring Jesus in church.
Sometimes, on holidays, Isidore and his wife would visit a few neighboring
parishes on a one day pilgrimage of prayer.
Once the parish had a dinner. Isidore arrived early and went into
the church to pray. He arrived in the parish hall late. He didn't
come in alone. He brought a group of beggars, too. The parishioners
were upset. What if there wasn't enough food for all those beggars?
But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for
everybody else. St. Isidore said kindly, "There is always enough
for the poor of Jesus." Stories of miracles began to circulate
about this farm worker saint. Isidore was totally unselfish. He
was a loving and compassionate human being. He is one of Spain's
most popular saints. Isidore died on May 15, 1130. In March, 1622,
Pope Gregory XV proclaimed five great saints together. They were
St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, St.
Philip Neri and St. Isidore the Farmer.
St. Ubald lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan
raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education.
When he finished his schooling, he had the chance to marry. But
he became a priest instead. Eventually, the pope made him bishop
of Gubbio, the city of his birth. St. Ubald became well known for
his mild and patient disposition. One time, for example, a worker
was repairing the city wall. He badly damaged the bishop's vineyard.
The saint gently pointed it out to him. The workman must have been
very tired. He probably did not even recognize the bishop. He shoved
Bishop Ubald so hard that he fell into a pile of wet cement. He
was covered with it. He got up, cleaned himself off and went into
the house. Some people saw the whole thing and demanded that the
worker be brought to court. Bishop Ubald appeared in the courtroom
and obtained the man's freedom.
The holy bishop loved peace and he had the courage it takes to keep
it. Once, when the people of Gubbio were fighting in the streets,
he threw himself between the two angry crowds. He seemed unafraid
of the swords clashing and the rocks flying. Suddenly he fell to
the ground. The people stopped fighting at once. They thought the
bishop had been killed. But he got up. He showed them he was not
even hurt. The people thanked God. They stopped fighting and went
Another time, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was on his way to attack
Gubbio. St. Ubald did not wait for him and his army to come to the
city. He went out on the road to talk to him. No one knows what
he said. All they know is that he convinced the emperor to leave
The saint had a great amount of physical pain. Yet he never talked
about it. On Easter Sunday, 1160, he rose for Mass. He gave a beautiful
sermon and blessed the people. Then he had to go back to bed. He
was not able to get up again. He died on May 16, 1160. All the people
came to pay their respects. They cried and prayed to St. Ubald to
take care of them from heaven.
ST. PASCHAL BAYLON
St. Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the
time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity
to go to school. Yet he taught himself to read and write. He did
this mainly by asking everyone he met to help him. This he did so
that he could read from religious books. He used to whisper prayers
often during the day as he took care of the sheep. When he was twenty-four,
the shepherd became a Franciscan brother. His companions liked him.
Paschal was easy to get along with and kind.
The community noticed that he often did the most unpleasant and
hardest chores. He practiced penances that were even more strict
than the rule required. Yet he was a happy person. When he had been
a shepherd, he had wished he could be in church praying to Jesus.
But he couldn't. Now he could. He loved to keep the Lord company
in the Blessed Sacrament. He was also honored to be a server at
St. Paschal's two great loves were the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed
Mother. Every day Paschal prayed the Rosary with great love. He
also wrote beautiful prayers to our Heavenly Mother. Out of some
scraps of paper, St. Paschal made himself a little notebook. In
it, he wrote down some beautiful thoughts and prayers. After he
died, his superior showed the little book to the local archbishop.
He read the book and said, "These simple souls are stealing
heaven from us!"
Paschal died in 1592 at the age of fifty-two. He was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690.
ST. JOHN I
St. John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the
death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy's ruler,
Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. (The Arians did not believe that
Jesus is God.) Theodoric let Catholics alone at the beginning of
his reign. Later, however, he changed and became arrogant and suspicious
of everyone. He imagined there was a conspiracy against him. After
a while, he believed the whole world was out to get his throne and
his power. The one person who most certainly did not want either
was the pope.
Theodoric was trying to get Pope John involved in his political
problems. The emperor was having trouble with Emperor Justin I of
Constantinople. It had been reported that Justin was being too hard
on the Arians in the east. Theodoric sent a delegation to negotiate
with Justin. The delegation was headed by Pope John I. Emperor Justin
received the pope and his companions with rejoicing. Justin was
very willing to change his harsh policy. Pope John's mission went
very well. But Emperor Theodoric was not pleased. He imagined that
Pope John and Justin I were against him. The pope was returning
to Rome and got as far as Ravenna, Theodoric's capital. Pope John
was kidnapped and thrown into prison by Theodoric's soldiers. There
the pope died of thirst and starvation in 526.
ST. CELESTINE V
Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He
was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he
was small. The family was poor, but Peter's mother raised her children
with great love. She sent Peter to school because he showed such
promise and an eagerness to learn. Once she asked as usual, "Which
one of you is going to become a saint?" Little Peter who was
to become Pope Celestine answered with all his heart, "Me,
Mama! I'll become a saint!" And he did. But it wasn't easy.
When he was twenty, Peter became a hermit. He spent his days praying,
reading the Bible and doing his work. Other hermits kept coming
to him and asking him to guide them. Eventually, he started a new
order of monks.
When Peter was eighty-four years of age, he was made pope. It came
about in a very unusual way. For two years there had been no pope.
This was because the cardinals could not agree on whom to choose.
Peter sent them a message. He warned them to decide quickly, because
God was not pleased with the long delay. The cardinals did as the
monk said. Then and there, they chose Peter the hermit to be pope!
The poor man wept when he heard the news. He accepted sadly and
took the name Celestine V. He was pope only about five months. Because
he was so humble and simple, people took advantage of him. He could
not say "no" to anyone. Soon there was great confusion.
Pope Celestine felt very responsible for all the trouble. He decided
that the best thing he could do for the Church was give up his position.
He did so. He asked forgiveness for not having governed the Church
All St. Celestine wanted was to live in one of his monasteries in
peace. But the new pope, Boniface VIII, thought it would be safer
to keep him hidden in a small room in one of the Roman palaces.
St. Celestine spent the last ten months of his life in a plain cell-like
room. But he became his cheerful self again. "All you wanted
was a cell, Peter," he would repeat to himself. "Well,
you've got it." He died on May 19, 1296. He was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Clement VI in 1313.
ST. BERNARDINE OF SIENA
St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near
Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor. His parents
died when he was seven. His relatives loved him as if he were their
own. They also gave him a good education. He grew up to be a tall,
handsome boy. He was so much fun that his friends loved to be with
him. Yet they knew better than to use any dirty words when he was
around. He would not put up with it. Twice when a man tried to lead
him into sin, Bernardine punched him and sent him on his way.
The saint had a special love for the Blessed Mother. She was the
one who kept him pure. Even when he was a teenager, Bernardine would
pray to her as a child talks with his mother. Bernardine was tender
hearted. He felt great pity for the poor. Once, his aunt had no
extra food to give a beggar. The boy cried, "I'd rather go
without food myself than leave that poor man with none." When
a plague struck the area in 1400, Bernardine and his friends volunteered
their services at the hospital. They helped the sick and dying day
and night for six weeks until the plague had ended.
Bernardine joined the Franciscan order when he was twenty-two. He
became a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns
and cities to preach. The people needed to be reminded about the
love of Jesus. In those days, bad habits were ruining both young
and old people. "How can I save these people by myself?"
Bernardine asked the Lord in prayer. "With what weapons can
I fight the devil?" And God answered, "My Holy Name will
be enough for you." So Bernardine spread devotion to the Holy
Name of Jesus. He used this Name a great many times in every sermon.
He asked people to print Jesus' Name over the gates of their cities,
over their doorways-everywhere. Through devotion to the Holy Name
of Jesus and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bernardine brought
thousands of people from all over Italy back to the Church.
St. Bernardine spent forty-two years of his life as a Franciscan.
He died at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy. It was May 20,
1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by
Pope Nicholas V.
BLESSED EUGENE DE MAZENOD
Blessed Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a
priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the
poor and he ministered to them. He was always eager to find new
ways to reach out to the young. He wanted to bring them to the love
and practice of their faith. He believed in the value of parish
missions. He realized that missionary priests in a parish could
do so much good to reawaken in people dedication to their faith.
Father de Mazenod began a new religious order of priests and lay
brothers in 1826. They were missionaries called the Oblates of Mary
Immaculate. Their particular ministry was to go to people who had
never heard of Jesus and his Church. Father de Mazenod and his order
were courageous in answering the requests of bishops who needed
their help. Bishops of North America eagerly awaited the Oblates.
Bishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal was especially eager. He must
have been very convincing because the founder sent several of his
members. Within ten years, the Oblates had grown rapidly. They reached
all of Canada and had begun to minister in the United States, too.
In 1837, Father de Mazenod was consecrated bishop of Marseilles,
France. He became known for his loyalty and love for the pope. He
was also a gifted organizer and educator. Bishop de Mazen-od remained
superior of his order until he died in 1861. The great work Bishop
de Mazenod started continues today through the Oblate missionaries
around the world. They staff mission posts, parishes and universities.
ST. RITA OF CASCIA
St. Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village.
Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child.
They brought Rita up well. Rita wanted to enter the convent when
she was fifteen, but her parents decided that she should marry instead.
The man they chose for Rita turned out to be a mean and unfaithful
husband. He had such a violent temper that everyone in the neighborhood
was afraid of him. Yet, for eighteen years, his wife patiently took
all his insults. Her prayers, gentleness and goodness finally won
his heart. He apologized to Rita for the way he had treated her
and he returned to God.
Rita's happiness over her husband's conversion did not last long.
One day, shortly after, he was murdered. Rita was shocked and heart-broken.
But she forgave the murderers, and tried to make her two sons forgive
them, too. She saw that the boys, instead, were determined to avenge
their father's death. Rita prayed that they would die rather than
commit murder. Within several months, both boys became seriously
ill. Rita nursed them lovingly. During their illness, she pursuaded
them to forgive, and to ask God's forgiveness for themselves. They
did and both died peacefully.
Now her husband and her children were dead. Left alone in the world,
Rita tried three times to enter the convent in Cascia. The rules
of the convent did not permit a woman who had been married to join
even if her husband had died. Rita did not give up, however. At
last, the nuns made an exception for her. In the convent, Rita was
outstanding for her obedience and charity. She had great devotion
to the crucified Jesus. Once, while praying, she asked him to let
her share some of his pain. One thorn from his crown of thorns pierced
her forehead and made a sore that never healed. In fact, it grew
so bad and gave off such an odor that St. Rita had to stay away
from the others. She was happy to suffer to show her love for Jesus.
St. Rita died on May 22, 1457, when she was seventy-six. Like St.
Jude, St. Rita is often called "Saint of the Impossible."
ST. JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI
St. John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near
Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were proud when a wealthy
couple visiting their town offered to educate him. His parents knew
the couple and trusted them. John was happy to be able to go to
their house in Genoa because then he could attend school. Everything
was going well for John. He became a student for the priesthood
at the Roman College. He realized that studies were easy for him
and took on more and more of a load.
John became very sick and had to stop his studies for a while. After
he recovered enough, he completed his preparation and became a priest.
Even though his health was always poor, Father John did so much
good for the people of Rome. He knew what it was like not to feel
well, so Father Rossi took a special interest in sick people. He
was a frequent visitor in Rome's hospitals. He especially loved
to spend time with the poor people at the Hospice of St. Galla.
This was a shelter for the poor and homeless. But Father Rossi became
aware of poor people who had no one to look after their spiritual
needs. He noticed those who brought cattle and sheep to sell in
the Roman forum. What hard lives they had. They came in the morning
with their herds. Father Rossi would walk among them and stop and
talk with them. When possible, he would teach them about the faith
and offer them the sacrament of Reconciliation. Father Rossi's priestly
ministry made a big difference in their lives.
The priest also felt deep compassion for the homeless women
and girls. They wandered through the streets day and night begging.
This was dangerous and very sad. The pope gave Father Rossi money
to open a shelter for homeless women. It was right near the Hospice
of St. Galla. Father Rossi placed the house under the protection
of one of his favorite saints, Aloysius Gonzaga. The feast of St.
Aloysius is June 21. Father Rossi became best known for his kindness
and gentleness in confession. People formed lines near his confessional
and waited patiently for their turn. He once said to a friend that
the best way for a priest to reach heaven was to help people through
the sacrament of Reconciliation. Another favorite assignment given
him by Pope Benedict XIV was to teach courses of spiritual instruction
to prison officials and state employees.
Father Rossi suffered a stroke in 1763. He never regained his health.
He was able to celebrate Mass but he suffered greatly. This wonderful
priest died at the age of sixty-six. It was May 23, 1764. He was
proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1881.
ST. DAVID I OF SCOTLAND
St. David was born in 1080. He was the youngest son of St. Margaret,
queen of Scotland, and her good husband, King Malcom. David himself
became king when he was about forty. Those who knew him well saw
how little he wanted to accept the royal crown. But once he was
king, he was a very good one. St. David ruled his kingdom with great
justice. He was very charitable to the poor. All of his subjects
were free to visit him whenever they desired. He gave everyone a
good example with his own love of prayer. Under this holy king,
the people of Scotland united more closely into one nation. They
became better Christians.
King David established new dioceses. He built many new monasteries.
He gave much money to the Church during his rule of about twenty
years. Two days before he died, he received the last sacraments.
He spent his time praying with those attending him. The next day,
they urged him to rest. King David answered, "Let me think
about the things of God, instead, so that my soul may be strengthened
on its trip from exile to home." By home, the saint meant our
heavenly home. "When I stand before God's judgment seat, you
will not be able to answer for me or defend me," he said. "No
one will be able to deliver me from his hand." So he kept on
praying right up until he died. St. David died on May 24, 1153.
Venerable Bede, the English priest, was famous as a saint,
a priest, a monk, a teacher and a writer of history. He was born
in England in 673. His parents sent Bede to the local Benedictine
monastery to receive an education. He loved the life of the monks
so much that when he grew up he became a monk. He remained in that
same monastery for the rest of his life. St. Bede loved the Holy
Bible very much. He tells us that it was a joy for him to study
the Bible. He loved to teach it and write about it. When he grew
older, sickness at last forced him to stay in bed. His pupils came
to study by his bedside. He kept on teaching them and working on
his translation of St. John's Gospel into English. Many people could
not read Latin. He wanted them to be able to read the words of Jesus
in their own language.
As he grew sicker, St. Bede realized that he was about to go back
to God. The monks would miss him very much. He kept on working even
when he was seriously ill. At last, the boy who was doing the writing
for him said, "There is still one sentence, dear Father, which
is not written down." "Write it quickly," answered
the saint. When the boy said, "It is finished," the saint
said, "Good! You are right-it is finished. Now please hold
my head up. I want to sit facing the place where I used to pray.
I want to call on my Heavenly Father."
St. Bede died shortly after, on May 25, 735. His most famous book,
Church History of the English People, is the only source for much
of early English history. People call Bede by the respectful title
of "venerable." He is also a Doctor of the Church.
This pope's name was Hildebrand. He was born in Italy around 1023.
His uncle was a monk in Rome so Hildebrand went to the monastery
to be educated. Later, Hildebrand became a Benedictine monk in France.
Soon, however, he was called back to Rome. There he held very important
positions under several popes until he himself was made pope. For
twenty-five years, he had refused to let himself be elected. But
when Pope Alexander II died, the cardinals made up their minds to
elect Hildebrand pope. With one voice they cried out: "Hildebrand
is the elect of St. Peter!" "They carried me to the throne,"
the saint wrote afterward. "My protests did no good. Fear filled
my heart and darkness was all around me." Hildebrand chose
the name Gregory VII.
These were truly dark times for the Catholic Church. Kings and emperors
were interfering in Church matters. They named the men they wanted
to be bishops, cardinals and even popes. Many of those appointed
were not very good men. They were bad examples to the people. The
first thing Pope St. Gregory did was to spend several days in prayer.
He also asked others to pray for him. He realized that without prayer
nothing can be done well for God. Afterward, he began to act to
make the clergy better. He also took steps to keep civil rulers
out of the affairs of the Church. This was very difficult because
the rulers were all against the change. However, some gave in.
One ruler, Emperor Henry IV of Germany, caused Pope Gregory great
sufferings. This young man was sinful and greedy for gold. He would
not stop trying to run the affairs of the Church. He even sent his
men to capture the pope. But the people of Rome rescued the saint
from prison. Pope Gregory excommunicated the emperor. That did nothing
to stop Henry IV. He chose his own pope. Of course, the man he chose
was not the real pope. But Henry tried to make people think he was.
Then, once again, the emperor sent his armies to capture the saint.
Pope Gregory was forced to leave Rome. He was taken safely to Salerno
where he died in 1085. His last words were, "I have loved justice
and hated evil. That is why I am dying in exile." He was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Paul V in 1606.
Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) is known for his tremendous personal
courage. He stood up for the cause of Jesus and his Church.
MARY MAGDALEN DE PAZZI
St. Catherine de Pazzi was born in Florence, Italy, in 1566. She
was the only daughter of very rich parents. When she was fourteen,
Catherine became a boarder at a convent school. There she grew to
love life in a religious house. But about a year later, her father
took her home. He began to think of choosing a rich husband for
her. However, Catherine's heart was set on becoming a nun. She shocked
her parents by telling them she had already made a vow of chastity.
They could not believe it. Finally, they let her enter the Carmelite
convent. Only fifteen days later, however, they came and took her
home. They hoped to make her change her mind. After three months
of trying, they gave up. They let her go back for good, with their
blessing. It was 1582, the year St. Teresa of Avila died in Spain.
As a novice, St. Mary Magdalen became very sick. The nuns feared
she might die. She was permitted to pronounce her religious vows.
Since she was suffering greatly, one of the sisters asked her how
she could stand that pain without a word. The saint pointed to the
crucifix. She said: "See what the great love of God has suffered
for my salvation. This same love sees my weakness and gives me strength."
St. Mary Magdalen had great sufferings her whole life. She also
had very strong temptations to impurity and to greed for food. She
overcame everything by her great love for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist
and for Mary. Often she ate only bread and water. She practiced
other acts of self-denial, too. Moreover, her love for Jesus became
so great that she would say, "Love is not loved, not known
by his own creatures." With tears, she would pray and offer
her pains for sinners and unbelievers, right up until she died.
She once said: "O my Jesus, if I had a voice loud and strong
enough to be heard in every part of the world, I would cry out to
make you known and loved by everyone!" St. Mary Magdalen de
Pazzi died on May 25, 1607, at the age of forty-one. She was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Clement IX in 1669.
ST. PHILIP NERI
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child,
his nickname was "Good little Phil." He was always so
jolly and friendly that everyone he met loved him. Philip went to
Rome as a teenager. He studied theology and philosophy for three
years and was a good student. Above all, Philip was a very active
Christian. He lived simply and worked hard. But he also did much
good for the people around him. He helped poor children. He donated
his time to the sick. He was a friend to people who were troubled
and lonely. In fact, he reached out to everybody he could for the
love of Jesus.
Philip helped start an organization of lay people to take care of
needy pilgrims. That ministry gradually continued as a famous Roman
hospital. The priest who guided him realized that Philip was doing
so much to help the Christians of Rome become fervent again. But
it became obvious when Philip was thirty-six that he had the call
to be a priest. It was then that he began his most wonderful ministry
for others. He started to hear confessions. He was available for
the sacrament of Reconciliation for several hours every day. The
lines of people who came to him grew longer. But Father Philip was
never in a hurry. He never ran out of patience and gentleness. People
began to notice that he could read their minds at times. He could,
in some circumstances, foretell the future. The Lord even worked
miracles through him. But all Philip wanted to do was bring Jesus
to the people. To avoid their admiration, he acted silly once in
a while. He wanted people to laugh and forget that they thought
he was holy.
St. Philip was making a difference, though. Because of him, the
whole city of Rome was becoming better. Once he started to think
about being a missionary to far-off lands. He was very impressed
by the life of St. Francis Xavier, who had died in 1552 at the gate
of China. Philip had just been one year a priest at the time of
St. Xavier's death. Should he leave Rome and volunteer for the missions?
A holy Cistercian monk told him "Rome is to be your mission
land." After that, Father Philip was at peace. St. Philip spent
the last five years of his life offering the sacrament of Reconciliation
to the people. He died at the age of eighty in 1595. He was proclaimed
a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.
ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY
St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in
Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks
for a mission dear to his heart. They were to preach the Gospel
to the people of England. Abbot Augustine and the monks started
on their journey. When they reached southern France, people warned
them that the English were fierce. The monks felt discouraged. They
asked Augustine to go back to obtain the pope's permission to give
up the whole idea. They did, but the pope asked them to go to England
just the same. He said that the people wanted to accept the Christian
faith. The monks went to England. They arrived in 596.
The missionaries were well received by King Ethelbert, whose wife
was a Christian princess from France. The monks formed a procession
when they landed. They walked along singing psalms. They carried
a cross and a picture of our Lord. Many people received the monks'
message. King Ethelbert himself was baptized on Pentecost, 597.
Abbot Augustine became a bishop that same year.
St. Augustine often wrote to ask the pope advice. And Pope St. Gregory
gave him much holy advice, too. Speaking about the many miracles
St. Augustine worked, the pope said: "You must rejoice with
fear and fear with joy for that gift." He meant that Augustine
should be happy that through the miracles the English were being
converted. But he should be careful not to become proud.
At Canterbury, St. Augustine built a church and a monastery, which
became the most important in England. It was there that he was buried.
St. Augustine died seven years after his arrival in England, on
May 26, 605.
BLESSED MARGARET POLE
Blessed Margaret was born in 1471. She was the niece of
two English kings, Edward IV and Richard III. Henry VII arranged
her marriage to Sir Reginald Pole. He was a brave soldier and a
friend of the royal family. By the time King Henry VIII came into
power, Margaret was a widow with five children. The young Henry
VIII was new to the throne and new to power. He called Margaret
the holiest woman in England.
He was so impressed with her that he returned some property her
family had lost in the past. He also made her a countess.
Henry trusted her so much that Countess Margaret was appointed the
governess of Princess Mary, his and Queen Catherine's daughter.
But then Henry tried to marry Anne Boleyn although he already had
a wife. Margaret did not approve of the king's behavior. The king
made her leave the court. He let her know he was very displeased
with her. The king was even more upset when one of Margaret's sons,
a priest, wrote a long article against Henry's claim to be head
of the Church in England. (Her son was to become the famous Cardinal
Reginald Pole.) Henry was out of control. He had become cruel and
hateful. He threatened to get rid of Margaret's whole family.
Henry sent people to question Countess Margaret. They were supposed
to prove that she was a traitor. They questioned her from noon until
evening. She never made any mistakes. She had nothing to hide. Margaret
was kept under house arrest at the castle of a nobleman. Then she
was moved to the huge tower of London. She never even had a trial.
During the long winter months, she suffered very much from the cold
and dampness. She had no fire and not enough warm clothing.Finally,
on May 28, 1541, Blessed Margaret was led out of the tower to the
place of execution. She was tired and sick, but she stood tall and
proud to die for her faith. "I am no traitor," she said
courageously. Margaret was beheaded. She was seventy years old.
St. Maximinius was a bishop who lived in the fourth century.
It is believed that he was born in Poitiers, France. As a young
man, he heard of a saintly bishop of Trier, in Gaul. He traveled
to that city and became a disciple of St. Agritius. This holy bishop
saw to it that Maximinius received a thorough education. After several
years of study and preparation, Maximinius became a priest and then
bishop. He took over the diocese of Trier. Bishop Agritius could
not have been more pleased. He knew that his people would have a
Maximinius lived in exciting times. All you have to do is read the
May 2 saint's life to understand. When St. Athanasius of Alexandria,
Egypt, was sent into exile to Trier, it was St. Maximinius who welcomed
him. He did everything to help Athanasius and to make his time away
from his people less painful. Another brave bishop of those times,
St. Paul, bishop of Constantinople, was also protected by Maximinius
from the wrath of Emperor Constantius.
St. Athanasius wrote that Maximinius was courageous and holy. He
said that Maximinius was even well known as a miracle worker. Although
it is believed that this bishop wrote much, his works have been
lost. But what remains is the memory of his dedication to Jesus
and to the Church. Because he was a great man, he was willing to
stand up against those who persecuted the Church. He was willing
also to protect those brave bishops who fell out of favor with the
political powers. Maximinius put his own life on the line even if
it meant loss of position or even his life, if necessary. He died
around the year 347.
ST. JOAN OF ARC
St. Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a
little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard
working farmer. Her mother was gentle and loving. She taught Joan
many practical things. "I can sew and spin as well as any woman,"
she once said. Joan loved to pray, especially at the shrines of
Our Blessed Mother. This honest little peasant girl was to become
a heroine. One day while she was watching her sheep, St. Michael
the Archangel, the patron of her country, told her, "Daughter
of God, go save France!" For three years she heard the voices
of saints calling her to action. When she was sixteen, she began
At that time, there was a war going on between France and England.
It was called the Hundred Years' War. England had won so much French
land that the king of England called himself the king of France,
too. The real French king was weak and fun-loving. He thought the
French armies would never be able to save the country. With his
permission, St. Joan led an army into the city of Orleans, which
the English had almost captured. In her white, shining armor, this
young heroine rode with her banner flying above her. On it were
the names of JESUS and MARY. She was hit by an arrow in the great
battle of Orleans, but she kept on urging her men to victory. At
last they won! St. Joan and her army won more and more battles.
The English armies had to retreat.
After the victories, Joan's time of suffering began. She was captured
by the enemy. The ungrateful French king did not even try to save
her. She was put in prison and after an unfair trial, was burned
at the stake. Joan was not even twenty. She had a great horror of
fire. Yet she went bravely to her death on May 29, 1431. Her last
word was "Jesus." Four hundred and eighty-nine years later,
on May 16, 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Joan a saint.
THE VISITATION OF MARY
Visitation means "visit." The Archangel Gabriel told the
Blessed Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have
a baby. Elizabeth was an older woman. Mary knew that she might appreciate
some help. She started out at once on the journey. Mary's trip was
long and dangerous. It was uncomfortable, too. But that could not
stop her. She rode on a donkey. Mary reached her cousin's house.
She was the first to greet Elizabeth. At that moment, God revealed
to Elizabeth that Mary had become his mother. Elizabeth asked joyfully,
"How have I deserved that the Mother of my Lord should come
to me?" Mary remained humble. She quickly gave all the credit
to God. He had blessed her so richly.
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in
God my Savior," she said. "For he has regarded the lowliness
of his handmaid, and holy is his name."
What graces the Blessed Mother brought to the home of her cousin!
St. John, while still hidden in his mother's womb, was cleansed
of original sin. Zachary was able to speak again. St. Elizabeth
was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Mary stayed three months at her cousin's home. With great kindness
and love, she helped Elizabeth.