St. Otto, Bishop

St. Otto, pray for us !

St. Otto, pray for us !

St.Otto was born in Swabia, present-day Bavaria which is in southern Germany and came from a rich family. He became a priest and entered the service of Emperor Henry IV. About then years later, Father Otto became Henry’s chancellor.

St.Otto tried to convince the emperor to act fairly and to be reasonable when faced with decisions. But Henry did many wrong things, causing trouble and tried to split the Church into two groups. He even appointed his own pope. St. Otto felt very bad and did his best to help Henry change.

Henry IV then appointed St. Otto as bishop but St.Otto refused saying that only the true pope in Rome, Pope Paschal II had the power to do this. Henry was forced to agree and St. Otto traveled to Rome where he was consecrated a Bishop.

Bishop Otto became a great help to the people of Swabia, especially under Emperor Henry V. This emperor followed his father, Henry IV’s bad habits. But although he was unkind and very strict, he respected St. Otto and often listened to his advice.

When King Boleslaus III of Poland conquered part of Pomerania in Prussia, he asked St. Otto to go there. The people there were pagans and believed in false gods. Bishop Otto welcomed the chance to tell them about Jesus and God’s great love for people. A couple of years later, the bishop led a group of priests and catechists into Pomerania.

More people were taught the faith and more than twenty thousand people were baptized. Bishop Otto appointed priests to minister to the new Christians. He returned to his own country and then a few years later the people of Pomerania began to return to their old pagan ways.

When he heard this, Bishop Otto went back to Pomerania helping the people become fervent Christians again. He started more than twenty monastries, built churches and worked hard to heal the problems between the king and the pope. He died on June 30, 1139.

Reflection: Only in the hands of St. Peter that the keys of the heaven and earth were given and it continues today in the person of the Pope. Faithfulness to his teachings leads us to perfection as what the Lord says,  “He who hears you hears me”, that is the tangible voice of the Shepherd in the midst of the world today. Listening to him gives us the grace that was only given to the Vicar of Peter alone.

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Otto to preside as Bishop over your holy people, we pray that, by his merits, you may bestow on us the grace of your loving kindness. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Paulinus of Nola, Bishop

St. Paulinus of Nola, ora pro nobis!

St. Paulinus of Nola, ora pro nobis!

St. Paulinus was born in Bordeaux, France. His father was a governor and a wealthy landowner. Paulinus received a good education and became a famous lawyer and poet. He traveled in France, Spain and Italy, wherever work or pleasure took him. In 381, at the age of twenty-eight, he became the governor of Campania, Italy.

When he was thirty-six, Paulinus and his Spanish wife, Theresia were baptized and became Catholics. They had one child, a son who died when he was just a few weeks old. The couple then decided to devote their lives to God and gave away their wealth and property to the poor. They kept only what they needed to live on.

Paulinus and Theresia agreed that they wanted to live simply and decided not to live as a married couple any more. They prayed, made sacrifices and lived holy lives to show their love for Jesus. Paulinus and his wife were greatly admired by the Christian community.

They were very pleased when Paulinus became a priest in 394. Then he and Theresia started a small community of monks in Nola, Italy. They decided to remain in Nola near the shire of one of his favorite saints, St. Felix of Nola. There they opened a hospital for poor people and travelers, too.

St. Felix a priest and bishop who had died in 260 had been a great defender of his people during the cruel torture of Christians by Emperor Decius. Bishop Felix had been known for his prayerfulness, his love for the people, and his poor lifestyle.

Almost hundred years later, Paulinus prayed to him and wrote about him. Then in 409, Paulinus was chosen to be bishop of Nola. The people were so happy. He was a wise, gentle bishop, just as St. Felix had been. He was praised by many great saints who lived at that time, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Martin of Tours and others.

Although some of his wonderful writings have been lost, thirty-two poems and fifty-one letters remain. St. Paulinus was bishop of Nola, living in his own home until his death in 431.

Reflection: “Go to Campania,” writes St. Augustine; “there study Paulinus, that choice servant of God. With what generosity, with what still greater humility, he has flung from him the burden of this world’s grandeurs to take on him the yoke of Christ, and His service how serene and unobtrusive his life!”

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Paulinus to preside as Bishop over your holy people, we pray that, by his merits, you may bestow on us the grace of your loving kindness. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Emily De Vialar, Foundress

St. Emily De Vialar, pray for us !

St. Emily De Vialar, pray for us !

Anne Marguerite Adelaide Emily de Vialar was born at Gaillace, Albi in southern France. She was the only daughter of Baron James Augustine de Vialar and Antoinette. Her wealthy parents sent her to school in Paris but at the age of fifteen, she returned to her small town of Gaillac when her mother died.

Fifteen-year-old Emily would be good company for her father. Mr. de Vialar was interested in finding a suitable husband for his daughter. He became very angry when Emily flatly refused to marry because she wanted to be a religious sister and give her life to God.

When Emily was twenty-one, a new priest, Father Mercier, arrived in Gaillac. Emily went to him for direction as she wanted to help the poor and the sick. Father Mercier helped her set up an out-patient service right on the terrace of the de Vialar home.

Emily’s father was upset by all the bother and this tense situation between Emily and her father existed for fifteen years. Then Emily’s grandfather, the Baron de Portal, died leaving Emily a large fortune. At last she could have the independence she needed to begin her great work for God.

With the help of Father Mercier, Emily bought a large house in her hometown. She and three other women began a religious order. They designed a habit and chose the name “Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition”.

The archbishop blessed their congregation and ministry. These sisters would be care for the sick and poor, and educate children. Twelve young women joined the group within three months. Sister Emily pronounced her vows in 1835 along with seventeen other sisters.

The Sisters of St. Joseph started branch convents. In 1847, the sisters went to Burma and in 1854, to Australia. In forty years, Mother Emily saw her congregation grow from the patio of her home in Gaillac, France, to some forty convents around the world.

Mother Emily wrote many letters which showed her great love for God, for his Church and for people. She saw in her heart people everywhere who needed the truth of the Gospel and the love that Christ brings. She asked Jesus for the strength she needed to continue her mission. Mother Emily’s died on August 24, 1856.

Reflection: The poor, the helpless and the sick are some of the treasures of the Church. We must have a compassionate heart toward them and be sensitive to their needs like St. Emily who was docile to the Will of God in showing care to these least of our brethren. Only by compassion that we can received compassion. Be compassionate and you will obtain Heaven!

Prayer: O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Emily, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. John Francis Regis, Priest

St. John Francis Regis, pray for us !

St. John Francis Regis, pray for us !

St. Jean-Francois Regie was born at Font-Couverte, Languedoc in France and was the son of a wealthy merchant. He was educated at the Jesuit College and when he was eighteen, he joined the Jesuit order.

In the seminary (where men are trained to become priests), John’s love for God and his vocation showed in the way he prayed. He was also eager to teach catechism in the parishes when he could. He was so good as a Catechist that children he taught helped bring their parents back to the Church.

After he was ordained a priest, St. John Francis began his work as a missionary preacher. He gave very simple talks that came right from his heart. He willingly spoke to the poor, ordinary folks and they came in great crowds to hear him. Many farmers, workers and country folk were converted.

He spent his mornings praying, performing the sacrament of Reconciliation and preaching. In the afternoon, he would visit prisons and hospitals. He lived on apples, black bread and whatever came his way not bothering with proper meals because he preferred to spend his time preaching, teaching and hearing confessions.

St. John Francis journeyed to wild mountain parishes even on the coldest days of winter to preach his missions. “I have seen him stand all day on a heap of snow at the top of a mountain preaching,” one priest said, “and then spend the whole night hearing confessions.” Sometimes he would start off for a far-away town at three o’clock in the morning with a few apples in his pocket for his day’s food.

Once, on his way to a village, St. John Francis fell and broke his leg. But he kept on going, leaning on a stick and on his companion’s shoulder. When he reached the village, he went at once to hear confessions. He did not have his leg taken care of. At the end of the day, when the doctor looked at it, his leg was already completely healed.

He started hostels for women who had fallen into sin but wanted to change and called them the “Daughters of Refuge”. Because of this, he was often attacked by bad men for saving them. He also helped many country girls stay away from the big, bad cities by setting up a center for lacemaking and embroidery where they could work to earn a living.

He sarted a granary (a barn or shed to store grains) for the poor which sometimes refilled by a miracle before it got empty. St. John Francis died on one of his preaching missions. He became very ill while lost at night in the woods. Just before he died, he exclaimed: “I see Our Lord and his mother opening heaven for me.” He died on December 31, 1640.

In 1806, St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars joined the crowds as a pilgrim going to pray at the shrine of St. John Francis Regis. And he believed that his pilgrimage and the payers of this saint helped make him a priest too.

Reflection: When St. John Francis Regis was struck in the face by a sinner whom he was reproving, he replied, “If you only knew me, you would give me much more than that.” His meekness converted the man, and it is in this spirit that he teaches us to win the souls to God. How much might we do if we could forget our own wants in remembering those of others, and put our trust in God!

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who have made sacred this day’s rejoicing at the glorification of blessed John Francis , graciously grant that we may strive always to keep and to put into practice the faith which, with unquenchable zeal, he strove to proclaim. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs

Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, pray for us !

Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, pray for us !

These two saints were greatly honored and prayed to by the early Christians. The feast of these two martyrs was included in the Roman calendar of saints by Pope Vigilius in 555.

Marcellinus was a priest and Peter assisted Marcellinus in his ministry. Both very bravely practiced their Christian faith. They served the Christian community fearlessly and with great self-sacrifice even though they knew that their lives were in danger.

When Emperor Diocletian began punishing Christians for their faith, many Christians were killed. St. Marcellinus and Peter were also killed along with many others. They were beheaded.

But before they died, they were forced to dig their own graves. They were taken to a hidden spot, deep in the Silva Nigra forest, to do this difficult job.

Years later, their graves were discovered in that remote spot. Their executioner, the man who cut off their heads, asked for God’s forgiveness and repented of the killings becoming a Christian himself.

He led devoted Christians to the remains, which were then buried in the catacomb of St. Tiberius. Pope Gregory IV sent the relics (or remains) to Frankfurt, Germany, in 827. He believed that the relics of these two saints would bring blessings to the Church in that nation.

Reflection: In early times the Christians were called the “children of joy”. Let us seek the joy of the Holy Spirit to sweeten the suffering, to temper earthly delight, till we enter into the joy of Our Lord.

Prayer: Grant a joyful outcome to our prayers, O Lord, so that we, who each year devoutly honor the day of the passion of the holy Martyrs Marcellinus and Peter, may also imitate the constancy of their faith. 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

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Eugene De Mazenod, Founder and Bishop

St. Eugene, pray for us !

St. Eugene, pray for us !

St. 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.

Reflection: There is no zeal if love is lacking.

Prayer: Look, O Lord, upon your family, which  blessed Eugene de Mazenod engendered by the Word of truth and fed with the Sacrament of life, that your grace, which has made them faithful through his ministry, may through his prayers make them fervent in charity. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saint Celestine V, Pope

Saint Celestine V, pray for us !

Saint Celestine V, pray for us !

Pietro (Peter) di Morrone was the born in Isernia, Italy. He was the eleventh of twelve children and 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 well.

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.

Reflection: When we feel discouraged because we do not see the fruits of our work, this might be an invitation from the Lord to simply do our best and leave the results up to him.

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Celestine V to preside over your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. 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.

Posted in Lives of the Saints | Tagged , , | Leave a comment