- November 28, 2019 - 1:00am
St. James of the Marches was a Franciscan priest in the 15th century. He was born into a poor family in Monteprandone, Italy in 1391 and was educated by his uncle who was a priest. He continued his education, eventually achieving the degree of Doctor in Canon and Civil Law from the University of Perugia. He worked for some time as a tutor in a noble family, but on July 26, 1416, he was received into the order of Friars Minor in the Chapel of the Portiuncula in Assisi.
After completing his novitiate, he studied theology under St. Bernardine of Siena. On June 13, 1420, St. James was ordained a priest, and soon began to preach in Tuscany, in the Marches, and in Umbria. For half a century, he continued as a missionary and preacher. St James of the Marches preached penance, combated heretics, and was on legations in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Bosnia. He was also appointed inquisitor against the Fratelli, a heretic sect that dissented from the Franciscans on the vow of poverty, among other things. He was offered the See of Milan in 1460, but he refused it.
Inspired by St. Jame's apostolic example, more than 200 young men of Germany were impelled to enter the Franciscan Order. The crowds who came to hear him were so great that the churches were not large enough to accommodate them, and it became imperative for him to preach in the public squares. At Milan he was instrumental in converting 36 women of bad repute by a single sermon on St. Mary Magdalen. It is said that he brought 50,000 heretics into the Church and led 200,000 nonbelievers to baptism. In addition, God granted St James such wisdom that popes and princes sought counsel from him. He possessed the gifts or miracles and of prophesy in great measure, yet his humility surpassed all those distinctions. On Easter Monday, 1462, St. James, while preaching at Brescia, repeated the ideas of some theologians that the Precious Blood shed during the Passion was not united with the Divinity of Christ during the three days of His burial. He was accused of heresy for saying that, but no discussion or resolution was ever granted to his case, and the matter was ignored or forgotten. James spent the last three years of his life at Naples, and was buried there in the Franciscan church of St. Maria la Nuova, where his body can be seen today.
He was beatified by Urban VIII in 1624 and was canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726. Naples venerates him as one of its patron saints.
- October 16, 2019 - 1:00am
On October 16, we celebrate the feast of St. Gerard Majella. St. Gerard was born the son of a tailor on April 6, 1726. He grew up about fifty miles south of Naples in Muro Lucano, Italy in a large, poor family. When St. Gerard was only 12, his father Dominic Majella entered eternal rest. Upon the death of his father, his mother, beholden to poverty, sent St. Gerard away to live with his uncle. St. Gerard thereafter became an apprentice to a tailor. This tailor treated him well; however, the foreman treated him poorly. After serving as a sewing apprentice for a couple years, he instead became a servant in the household of the bishop of Lacedonia, who was a cantankerous master. Upon the death of the bishop in 1745, he returned home. At the age of 21, he became a journeyman. He split his earnings for his mother and the poor, and made offerings for the holy souls in purgatory. Afterwards, he opened his own tailor shop.
At a young age, St. Gerard tried to join the local Capuchins, but he was turned down twice due to his youth and poor health. He also tried to become a hermit, but that too was not God's will for him. He then entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1749 and professed of perpetual vows under the Redemptorist's founder, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, in 1751.
He served as tailor and infirmarian and became known for his extraordinary supernatural gifts of bilocation, prophecy, ecstasies, visions, and infused knowledge. Though not ordained to the holy order of priest, his spiritual direction and advice were sought by many among the clergy and communities of nuns, to which he also gave conferences. He was most successful in converting sinners, and was widely known for his sanctity and charity.
In 1754, he was calumniated and accused of lechery by a woman named Neria Caggiano. Caggiano later admitted her charge was a lie. Even before she admitted to her falsehood, St. Gerard did not deny her charges. As these charges were still up in the air, his superiors became suspicious, so they put him under surveillance and excluded him from communion for months until the girl admitted that she had lied. When asked by Saint Alphonsus why he had kept silent in such circumstances, St. Gerard replied that he thought such patience was required in the face of unjust accusations. As St. Gerard bore this calumny with such humility and patience, Saint Alphonsus said, "Brother Gerard is a saint."
St. Gerard was sent to Naples soon after, but when the house was inundated by visitors wanting to see him, he was sent to Caposele a few months later. He served as the porter there and ministered to the poor of the town. St. Gerard spent the last few months of his life raising funds for new buildings at Caposele.
Just prior to his death, St. Gerard visited his friends, the Pirofalo family. One of the daughters ran and called after him as he left the home, as he dropped his handkerchief. Speaking through the gift of prophecy, he replied, "Keep it. It will be useful to you someday." Years down the road, when this young women was in danger of childbirth, she recalled these words of St. Gerard, and requested the handkerchief. The handkerchief was applied to her, thus a miracle: her pain immediately ceased and she gave birth to a healthy child.
St. Gerard died of tuberculosis on October 16, 1755 at the age of 29 in Caposele. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on January 29, 1893, and was canonized on December 11, 1904 by Pope Saint Pius X. He is the patron saint of mothers, motherhood, expectant mothers, childbirth, children, pregnant women, unborn children, the pro-life movement, the falsely accused, good confessions, and lay brothers.
- October 11, 2019 - 1:00am
St. Firminus was born circa 480 in Narbonne, France on October 11. He was born to the senator and aristocrat Tonnatius Ferreolus, otherwise known as Tonance Ferréol the Second, and his wife Industria.
St. Firminus was well-educated by his 80-year-old uncle, Roricius (Ruricius or Rorice), who was a patrician. His uncle served as the third bishop of Uzès from 533 to 538. St. Firminus thereafter succeeded his uncle as bishop of Uzès.
In 538, he signed the fourth and fifth Councils of Orléans in 541 and 549, respectively. In 551, he assisted at the second council of Paris. At the time, the bishop of Uzès was under the metropolitan Archdiocese of Arles. St. Firminus was a spiritual student of Saint Cæsarius of Arles.
He died 15 years after he became bishop, in 553.
Saint Firminus is locally venerated as Saint Firmin and his relics are located in the Uzès Cathedral.
- October 8, 2019 - 1:00am
St. Pelagia was head of a dance troupe in Palestinian Antioch, and lived a life of frivolity and prostitution. One day while she was still a dancer, Pelagia was passing by a church dressed with her very elegant and provocative clothing. Bishop Nonnus of Edessa was preaching at that moment. Even though the parishioners turned their faces away from the sinner, the Bishop noticed her great outer beauty and spiritual greatness. Later that day, he prayed in his cell for the sinner and learned that as she took care of the adornment of her body to appear beautiful, he and his fellow priests should put more work in adorning their wretched souls.
The following day Pelagia went to hear St. Nonnos preach. He was talking about the Last Judgement and its consequences. She was so moved and impressed with the sermon, that with tears of repentance in her eyes, she asked the Bishop to baptize her. Seeing the sincerity of her wishes and repentance, he agreed.
That same night the devil appeared to Pelagia urging her to return to her former life. She started praying and signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, after which the devil vanished.
She gave all her wealth and valuables to St. Nonnos so that he could distribute them and give them to aid the poor. The bishop then ordered their distribution and said: "Let this be wisely dispersed, so that these riches gained by sin may become a wealth of righteousness." She left Antioch dressed in man’s clothes.
After that, she journeyed to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where she became a hermitess and lived in a cell disguised as the monk Pelagius. There she lived in great austerity, performing many penances in a ascetic seclusion which helped her attain many spiritual gifts. At her death she was buried in her cell. She was known as “the beardless monk” until her sex was discovered when she died.
Even though a young teenager existed and suffered martyrdom at Antioch back in the fourth century, the story described here is a pious fiction that eventually helped arise more similar stories but under different names.
- October 5, 2017 - 1:00am
On October 5, the church celebrates the Memorial of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska, virgin.
St. Faustina was born Helena Kowalska on August 25, 1905 to a poor but devout Polish family in 1905. At the age of 20, with very little education, and having been rejected from several other convents because of her poverty and lack of education, Helen entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. There, she took the name Sr. Faustina and spent time in convents in both Poland and Lithuania.
Throughout her life, Jesus appeared to Sr. Faustina. He asked her to become an apostle and secretary of his mercy, by writing down his messages of Divine Mercy for the world in her diary. Jesus also asked Sr. Faustina to have an image painted of his Divine Mercy, with red and white rays issuing from his heart, and to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy novena.
Even before her death on October 5, 1938, devotion to Divine Mercy began to spread throughout Poland.This little nun and Jesus’ message of Divine Mercy impacted Karol Wojtyla greatly, which became obvious to the world when he was elected Pope.
“It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts! This is doubtlessly a sign of the times — a sign of our twentieth century. The balance of this century, which is now ending, in addition to the advances which have often surpassed those of preceding eras, presents a deep restlessness and fear of the future. Where, if not in the Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope? Believers understand that perfectly,” Pope St. John Paul II wrote.
On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina in what he was widely reported as saying was “the happiest day of my life.”
“Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr. Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy,” the Pope said in his homily that day.
It was also on this day, the Sunday after Easter, that Pope John Paul II instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, which Jesus had asked for in his messages to Sr. Faustina.
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