Blessed Pica Bernadone

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Blessed Pica, pray for us !

The Franciscan menologium says concerning the servant of God Pica, that she not only gave bodily birth to St Francis, but by her prayers and the example of her virtues gave him as a brightly shining light to Holy Church.

Pica was descended from a noble French family of the Bourlemonts. In France she was given in marriage to the wealthy Italian merchant, Peter Bernardone of the house of Moriconi, the father of St Francis.

Concerning the birth of her first child, our Seraphic Founder, an old manuscript, which is preserved in the Vatican, relates the following: When Pica had for several days suffered the severe pains of labor, there appeared an unknown stranger, in pilgrim’s garb, and announced to the mother that her child would not come into the world until she had been conveyed to a stable. Tradition relates that the chapel which now bears the title, “To St Francis the Little One,” was the stable wherein the mother happily gave birth to her first son.

When the child was carried about later, the manuscript continues, again a mysterious stranger came, made the Sign of the Cross on the child’s right shoulder, and recommended that the greatest care be tendered the child. Being a truly Christian mother, Pica did that. One can readily assume that it was she who animated the boy who, as St Bonaventure records, grew up from his earliest youth with a passionate love for the poor.

His father was not so compassionately inclined. When, at the beginning of the extraordinary career to which God called him, Francis had sold his riding horse, and gathered alms to restore a ruined church, his father went out in search of him, laid hold of him, maltreated him, and cast the twenty-five-year-old young man into a dark room in the cellar of his home. His mother, however, who in dealing with her son recognized the workings of God, did not in any way sanction the actions of her husband; soon after, when he was gone for a few days, she set Francis free.

Undoubtedly she had on that account to hear reproaches and angry words upon Bernardone’s return, but in this son of hers she had the comfort of seeing the signs of holiness stand out in ever bolder relief.

After the death of her husband, Blessed Pica Bernardone committed herself to Francis’s spiritual guidance, donned the penitential garb of the Third Order, and lived a secluded life devoted to piety and the practice of good works. Blessed Pica Bernardone has never been formally beatified.

Reflection: Motherhood and rearing  children is always a sublime task a married woman can do in this world! For in it the future of her children lies. A great of number of great Saints came from a very religious families and influenced by a very devout mothers. If women of today realize this great task then they will certainly do it with zeal and enthusiasm like Blessed Pica did patterned in the Blessed Mother’s motherhood.

Prayer: O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of blessed Pica, grant, we pray, that we, who are called to honor her, may also follow her example of holy living. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

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St. Hermenegild, Martyr

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Saint Hermenegild, pray for us !

LEOVIGILD, King of the Visigoths, had two sons, Hermenegild and Recared, who reigned conjointly with him. All three were Arians, but Hermenegild married a. zealous Catholic, the daughter of Sigebert, King of France, and by her holy example was converted to the faith. His father, on hearing the news, denounced him as a traitor, and marched to seize his person. Hermenegild tried to rally the Catholics of Spain in his defence, but they were too weak to make any stand, and, after a two years fruitless struggle, he surrendered on the assurance of a free pardon. When safely in the royal camp, the king had him loaded with fetters and cast into a foul dungeon at Seville. Tortures and bribes were in turn employed to shake his faith, but Hermenegild wrote to his father that he held the crown as nothing, and preferred to lose sceptre and life rather than betray the truth of God. At length, on Easter night, an Arian bishop entered his cell, and promised him his father’s pardon if he would but receive Communion at his hands. Hermenegild indignantly rejected the offer, and knelt with joy for his depth-stroke. The same night a light streaming from his cell told the Christians who were watching near that the martyr had won his crown, and was keeping his Easter with the Saints in glory.

 

Leovigild on his death-bed, though still an Arian, bade Recared seek out St. Leander, whom he had himself cruelly persecuted, and, following Hermenegild’s example, be received by him into the Church. Recared did so, and on his father’s death labored so earnestly for the extirpation of Arianism that he brought over the whole nation of the Visigoths to the Church. “Nor is it to be wondered,” says St. Gregory, “that he came thus to be a preacher of the true faith, seeing that he was brother of a martyr, whose merits did help him to bring so many into the lap of God’s Church.”

Reflection: St. Hermenegild teaches us that constancy and sacrifice are the hest arguments for the Faith, and the surest way to win souls to God.

Prayer: O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Hermenegild with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his  footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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St. John Baptist De La Salle, Founder Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools

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Saint John Baptist De La Salle, pray for us !

Born at Reims into a devout and influential family, John Baptist de La Salle received the tonsure at age eleven and was named Canon of the Reims Cathedral at sixteen. Though he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died, he completed his theological studies and was ordained priest on 9 April, 1678. Two years later he received the doctorate in theology. Meanwhile he became tentatively involved with a group of rough and barely literate young men who wanted to establish schools for poor boys. Almost by accident, the young De La Salle gradually assumed the leadership of the small group of lay teachers. Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so “far from salvation” either in this world or the next, he determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children “often left to themselves and badly brought up.” To be more effective, he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his position as Canon and his wealth, and so formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

His enterprise met opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life, a community of consecrated laymen to conduct gratuitous school “together and by association.” The education establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on gratuity for all, regardless of whether they could afford to pay. Nonetheless De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of quality schools throughout France that featured instruction in the vernacular, students grouped according to ability and achievement, integration of religious instruction with secular subjects, well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission, and the involvement of parents. In addition, De La Salle pioneered in programs for training lay teachers, Sunday courses for working young men, and one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents. Worn out by austerities and exhausting labors, he died at Saint Yon near Rouen early on Good Friday, only weeks before his sixty-eighth birthday.

Reflection: Charity  makes us fearless even to the point of losing one’s valuables. It makes us to stand for what is true and genuine. It gives us the courage to fight for what is right and just. Like Truth, it may suffer yet it never dies. We may suffer because of it but it in the end we are victorious because we know that we are doing His Will like Saint John Baptist De La Salle does.

Prayer: O God, who chose Saint John Baptist de la Salle to educate young Christians, raise up, we pray, teachers in your Church ready to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the human and Christian formation of the young. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Vincent Ferrer: Wonder Worker

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Saint Vincent, pray for us !

St. Vincent Ferrer is the patron saint of builders because of his fame for “building up” and strengthening the Church: through his preaching, missionary work, in his teachings, as confessor and adviser.  At Valencia in Spain, this illustrious son of St. Dominic came into the world on January 23, 1357. In the year 1374, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in a monastery near his native city. Soon after his profession he was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. On being sent to Barcelona, he continued his scholastic duties and at the same time devoted himself to preaching. At Lerida, the famous university city of Catalonia, he received his doctorate. After this he labored six years in Valencia, during which time he perfected himself in the Christian life. In 1390, he was obliged to accompany Cardinal Pedro de Luna to France, but he soon returned home. When, in 1394, de Luna himself had become Pope at Avignon he summoned St. Vincent and made him Master of the sacred palace. In this capacity St. Vincent made unsuccessful efforts to put an end to the great schism. He refused all ecclesiastical dignities, even the cardinal’s hat, and only craved to be appointed apostolical missionary. Now began those labors that made him the famous missionary of the fourteenth century. He evangelized nearly every province of Spain, and preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Numerous conversions followed his preaching, which God Himself assisted by the gift of miracles. Though the Church was then divided by the great schism, the saint was honorably received in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy. He was even invited to Mohammedan Granada, where he preached the gospel with much success. He lived to behold the end of the great schism and the election of Pope Martin V. Finally, crowned with labors, he died April 5, 1419. His feast day is April 5.

Reflection: God is in control of everything. The message of the Divine Mercy is to trust in His mercy. And what is trusting in His mercy means? This mean that we have to abandoned ourselves to the hands of God. He who is the Maker of all things has the control of everything. We should be like Saint Vincent whose faith never waver when the darkest moment not only of his life but also of the Church came. Nothing is harmful to him for his trust and confidence in God is not wanting. Only God is reliable!

Prayer: O my protector, St. Vincent Ferrer, as the eternal God has deposited in you an inexhaustible treasurer of grace and of supernatural virtues, hear my earnest petition, and help me with your intercession, more powerful now even than when you were on earth. Hence with blind confidence do I cast myself at your feet, there to place my requests for all those in whom I am concerned but more particularly for (special favor). O glorious saint, let not my confidence in you be deceived. Present for me, to the Divine Majesty, your suppliant prayers and watch over my soul. Should sorrow and trials increase, so also will my rejoicing increase, and may my patience grow with each day, that I may thus save my soul. Amen.

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St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

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San Gabriele di Maria Addolorata, prega per noi!

This lovable saint was born at Assisi in Italy. He received the name Francis at Baptism, in honor of the great St. Francis of Assisi. His mother died when he was only four years old. Francis’ father hired a governess to raise his thirteen children.

Francis Possenti grew to be very handsome and likable. He was often the most popular person at a party. He loved to have fun and enjoyed hunting and attending the theater. But there was another side to him, too. Even while having good times, he was sometimes bored. He couldn’t explain why.

He seemed to feel in his heart a strong desire for God and the deeper things of life. Twice he became so sick he nearly died. Each time he promised Our Lady that if she would help cure him, he would become a priest. He got better both times, but he did not keep his promise.

One day, he saw a picture of the Sorrowful Mother that was being carried in a procession. It seemed that the Blessed Mother was looking straight at him. At the same time, he heard a voice in his heart telling him, “Francis, the world is not for you anymore.”

That did it. At the age of eighteen, Francis entered the Passionist monastery and took the name Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. The Passionists were preachers of the Passion of Jesus.

Gabriel’s great loves became the Holy Eucharist and Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. He loved to spend time thinking about the passion of Jesus and how much the Lord had suffered for him. His great devotion to Mary also caused him to think deeply about her sorrows over the suffering of Jesus.

Gabriel learned to practice two virtues in a special way: humility and obedience. His special trademark was joy. He was always happy and spread that happiness to those around him.

After only four years in the Passionist order, Gabriel died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862 at Abruzzi in Italy. After his death many miracles took place when people prayed to him.

Reflection: Love Mary!… She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.

—St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Prayer: O God, You taught blessed Gabriel diligently to ponder the sorrows of Your most sweet Mother, and exalted him to the glory of sanctity and the working of miracles; grant us, through his intercession and example, so to mourn with Your Mother, that we may be saved through her maternal care. You Who are God, living and reigning with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

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St. Caesarius of Nazianzen

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St. Caesarius of Nazianzen, pray for us!

St. Caesarius lived in present-day Turkey. His mother was St. Nonna and his father St. Gregory of Nazianzen the Elder was the bishop of Nazianzen. At that time bishops and priests could marry.

St. Caesarius’ brother was St. Gregory of Nazianzen, a close friend of St. Basil. Besides being a saint, St. Gregory is an important writer from the early Church. His books are still read today.

Both Sts. Caesarius and Gregory received an excellent education. But while St.Gregory wanted to be a priest, St. Caesarius wanted to be a medical doctor. Both went to the schools that would help them carry out their goals.

St. Caesarius completed his studies in medicine at Constantinople. He soon became a well-known and trusted doctor. In fact, Emperor Constantius, who lived in Constantinople, wanted St.Caesarius to be his personal physician. St. Caesarius thanked the emperor but gently refused. He wanted to go back to Nazianzen, his home city.

Some time later, however, St.t. Caesarius was again called to serve the emperor at Constantinople. This time the emperor was Julian the apostate. An apostate was someone who gave up his Christian faith and Julian was against the Christians.

But he was willing to excuse St. Caesarius, since he was such a good doctor. Julian tried to charm the doctor into giving up his faith. St. Caesarius was offered high positions, bribes and many good things if he did. St. Caesarius’ father and brother advised him not to accept the offers. They asked him to return home to practice medicine instead.

In 368, St. Caesarius was almost killed in an earthquake. He escaped unharmed but was badly shaken by the incident. He felt that God was telling him to live a life of prayer away from the noise and flattery of the court.

St. Caesarius gave away all his belongings to the poor and began to live a quiet, prayerful life. One year later St. Caesarius died and at his funeral the sermon was preached by his brother, St. Gregory.

Reflection: Faithfulness to Christ is greater than the good of this earth. No earthly power, fame or prestige can compare to the love of Christ. Our faithfulness is most important without it we are nothing.

Prayer: O God, who in your Saints have given an example and brought us protection in our weakness to help us tread the path of salvation, mercifully grant that we, who honor the heavenly birthday of blessed Caesarius, may, through his example, make our way to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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St. Eucherius, Bishop

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St. Eucherius, pray for us !

St. Eucherius was born in Orleans, France. He was very pious in his youth as he received a Christian upbringing and he was also highly educated.

A sentence from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians made a big impression on him: “This world as we see it is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). It made Eucherius realize that our lives on this earth are very short and that heaven and hell last forever. He decided to seek the joys of heaven by living for God alone.

In 714, St. Eucherius left his rich home and entered a Benedictine abbey as a monk. There he spent seven years in close union with God. After the death of his uncle, the bishop of Orleans, the people asked for Eucherius to take his place.

Eucherius was then only twenty-five and he was very humble. He did not want to leave his beloved abbey. With tears, he begged to be allowed to remain alone with God in the monastery. But finally, he gave in for love of obedience. Eucherius became a holy, wise bishop and did much good to his priests and people.

A powerful man Charles Martel sold some of the Church’s property to support his wars. Because Bishop Eucherius told him that was wrong, when Charles won the war, he had Eucherius taken prisoner.

He was sent away to Cologne in Germany. The people there greeted him with joy and he was given the job of distributing the governor’s alms. Later he was transferred to a fort near Liege.

But the governor in whose charge Martel had placed the bishop was touched by Eucherius’ meekness toward his enemies. Some time later, the governor quietly released the bishop from prison and sent him to a monastery. Here the saint spent all his time peacefully in prayer until his death in 743.

Reflection: Resignation to the Will of God in all times is a sign of a true disciple. A disciple must have a confidence in the words of his Master. Being Christians, we put our trust in Christ as Christ commend Himself to the hands of His Father.

Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, who gave your holy Church blessed Eucherius as Bishop, grant that what he taught when moved by the divine Spirit may always stay firm in our hearts; and as by your gift we embrace him as our patron, may we also have him as our defender to entreat your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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