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Franciscan Saints

September

 

Sep 1 - Blessed Beatrice da Silva 1425-1490

Beatrice was born of Portuguese parents at Ceuta on Moroccan soil, and manifested a special attachment to our Immaculate Mother very early in life. At the court of the king of Castile she was presented and cast into prison by a jealous queen, but by the visible intervention of the Immaculate Queen of heaven, she was released and justified with great honor. Then she left the court and went to Toledo. On the journey thither St. Francis and St. Anthony appeared to her and announced that she would be the founder of a new order.

At Toledo she repaired to a convent of Cistercian nuns and remained there for almost 40 years. She did not don the religious garb; nevertheless she was a model of religious perfection. Gradually the resolution took shape to establish a new order that would honor the Immaculate Mother of God. With 12 companions who entertained sentiments similar to hers, she withdrew to a separate house. Beatrice wrote the rule and asked Pope Innocent VIII to approve it. This occurred in the year 1489.

A few years earlier the Blessed Virgin has showed her in a vision that she should wear a habit consisting of a white tunic and scapular with a light blue mantle. This was the origin of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Conceptionist Poor Clares.

The whole life of the foundress was conformed to her religious rule. The rule itself can be summed up briefly in three short mottos: to be silent and submissive in all things that happen to us by God's ordinance or are required of us by holy obedience; to become small in the eyes of God, of the world, and of ourself, and to prefer a life of obscurity; to love everyone with a holy love, and become all to all by prayer, sacrifice, and labor.

At the age of 65, Mother Beatrice departed form this life in 1490, a year after the founding of her order. Pope Pius XI enrolled her among the beatified. The Conceptionists were incorporated into the Franciscan Order and soon spread through Europe and America. Thanks to the efforts of the Franciscan bishop, Amandus Bahlmann of Santarem, a branch of this order, under the name of Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, is doing remarkable work especially in the missions of Brazil. Their motherhouse is at Patterson, New Jersey.

ON THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD
1. Consider the danger to which the vanities of the world expose us. Honors and riches arouse the lower passions and tempt us to pride and forgetfulness of God. Blessed Beatrice was well advised when she rid herself of all vanities and chose a life of renunciation. The words of Holy Scripture can be applied to many who have indulged in worldly vanities: "As much as she has glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give to her" (Apoc 18:7). -- Do not let yourself be ensnared.
2. The vanities of the world are transient. It is written: "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain" (Prov 31:30). What will be the end of all worldly vanities? "Of earth they were made and into earth they returned altogether" (Eccl 3:20). Therefore, the Wise Man says: "Why is earth and ashes proud? (Eccli 10:9). Blessed Beatrice acted wisely when she bade farewell to all vanities. -- Frequently recall the words the Church uses on Ash Wednesday: "Remember. O man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."
3. Consider that to devote oneself to the infinite Good is the best thing we can do. Blessed Beatrice did that. All for God, that was her maxim. She found in it interior peace and satisfaction, during her sojourn on earth, and in the next world the possession of the highest Good in eternal bliss. Thomas a Kempis is correct when he says "All is vanity but love God and serve Him alone." The Franciscan pope, Clement XIV, wrote at the time of his elevation to the cardinalate: "I count this dignity as an accumulation of letters of the alphabet for an epitaph that is of no use to him who lies beneath it."

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
Hear us, O God, source of all our blessings, that we who rejoice in celebrating the feast of Thy virgin Blessed Beatrice may be ennobled in sentiments and encouraged to loving submission. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sep 2 - Blessed John Francis Burte, Apollinaris Morel, 
and Severin Girault

Practically every page in the history of the French Revolution is stained with blood. What is known in history as the Carmelite Massacre if 1792, added nearly 200 victims to this noble company of martyrs. They were all priests, secular and religious, who refused to take the schismatic oath, and had been imprisoned in the church attached to the Carmelite monastery in Paris. Among these priests were a Conventual, a Capuchin, and a member of the Third Order Regular.

John Francis Burte was born in the town of Rambervillers in Lorraine. At the age of 16 he joined the Franciscans at Nancy and there he also pronounced his solemn vows. In due time he was ordained a priest and for some time taught theology to the younger members of the order. He was at one time also superior of his convent.

After Pope Clement XIV, formerly a Conventual friar, had ordered the merging of the province of the Franciscans, to which John Francis belonged, with the Conventuals, Father john Francis was placed in charge of the large convent in Paris and encouraged his brethren to practice strict observance of the rule. His zeal for souls was outstanding, and he zealously guarded the rights of the Church in this troubled period of history.

When the French Revolution broke out, he was reported for permitting his priests to exercise their functions after they refused to take the infamous oath required by the government, and which was a virtual denial of their Faith. He was arrested and held captive with other priests in the convent of the Carmelites. His constancy in refusing to take the sacrilegious oath won for him a cruel martyrdom on September 2, 1792.

Apollinaris of Posat, who was John James Morel before his entrance into religion, was born near Friboug in Switzerland in 1739, and received his education from the Jesuits. In 1762 he joined the Capuchins in Zug and before long became a prominent preacher, a much-sought confessor, and an eminent instructor of the young clerics of the order/ He impressed on their minds the truth that piety and learning are the two eyes of a priest, and humility was a dominating virtue in his life.

In 1788 he was to be sent to the East as a missionary, and so he paused at Paris to study Oriental languages in preparation for his new appointment. But the French Revolution broke out while he was there, and because he steadfastly refused to take the oath of allegiance, he, too, was imprisoned in the Carmelite convent and suffered a cruel martyrdom on September 2, 1792.

The priest of the Third Order Regular was Blessed Severin, formerly George Girault, whose undaunted courage merited the grace to be numbered among these martyrs of Christ. He was born at Rouen in Normandy, and early in life joined the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. Because of his eminent mental gifts he was chosen a superior of his order. In the exercise of his priestly duties he displayed marked zeal for souls, and as chaplain of the convent of St. Elizabeth in Paris he was a prudent director in the ways of religious perfection.

He was also summoned to take the civil oath, and upon his refusal to do this he was seized and confined in the Carmelite convent where so many other confessors of Christ were being detained. On September 2, while he was saying his Office in the convent garden, the raving assassins made him the first victim of their cruel slaughter.

These three members of the Franciscan Order, together with 182 other servants of God who suffered martyrdom at this time, were solemnly beatified by Pope Pius XI, and the Franciscan Order was granted permission to celebrate their feast annually with an Office and special Mass.

ON THE FRANCISCAN SPIRIT
1. The Franciscan spirit is a spirit of piety. For this reason, St. Francis says in his rule that "those who are not learned, should not strive to become learned." Francis was not opposed to learning; he did, however, want to impress it on his brethren that they should guard against false learning, and subordinate learning and study to virtue and piety. The martyrs we are considering today were learned men, yet it was virtue and piety that taught them true wisdom. They were imbued with the true Franciscan spirit. -- Go and do likewise!
2. The Franciscan spirit is also a spirit of learning. Hence St. Francis wrote to St. Anthony of Padua; "I am pleased that you are teaching the brethren sacred theology." And when he was asked whether learned men should be received into the order, he replied: "That is very pleasing to me." True knowledge proceeds from the Eternal Wisdom and also leads back to it. -- Strive to acquire true learning.
3. The Franciscan spirit is a combination of piety and learning. That is why St. Francis wrote to St. Anthony saying: "The spirit of piety and of prayer should not be extinguished" by study. The most learned men of the order have ever combined learning and piety. Blessed John Francis and his companions did that and taught their brethren to do likewise. -- If your vocation requires it, do your part in acquiring knowledge, but let your piety be the main object of your solicitude.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
We beseech Thee, O Lord, enable us with filial piety always to love Thy Church, in the defense of whose rights Thy blessed martyrs John Francis, Apollinaris, and Severin suffered a cruel death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sep 4 - St. Rose of Viterbo 1234-1252

Almighty God did marvelous things in the soul of St. Rose. It appears that her parents gave her that name by divine inspiration, for it was symbolic of her entire career. As long as she lived, she bloomed like a sweet-scented rose in the garden of the Church, and in full bloom as she transplanted to Paradise. Before she was able to speak, Rose attempted to pronounce the sweet names of Jesus and Mary; and as soon as she had learned to walk, she asked to be taken to church and to other retired and quiet places to pray. When religious discourses were given, she would listen with great attention.

When Rose was only 3 years old, God showed how pleased He was with her in a most wonderful way. One of her maternal aunts died. The family were standing around the bier weeping aloud. Deeply moved by the sorrow of her relatives, little Rose went to the coffin, raised her eyes to heaven, and prayed silently. Then she placed her little hand on the body of her deceased aunt and called her by name. The dead woman immediately opened her eyes and reached out to embrace her little niece, who had raised her to life again.

The child entertained a great compassion for the poor; she always tried to save some food to give to the poor. One day when she left the house with some bread in her apron, she met her father, who asked her in curt fashion what she was carrying off now. The affrighted child opened her apron and fragrant roses were found in it.

When she was 7 years old, Rose retired to a little cell in her father's house. There she spent almost all her time in contemplation and in practicing rigorous penance. She prayed much for the conversion of sinners. Meanwhile our dear Lord was preparing her for an extraordinary mission.

Rose was not yet 10 years old when the Blessed Mother of God instructed her to join the Third Order of St. Francis. Shortly after, our Lord appeared to her on the Cross, wearing the crown of thorns on His head and bleeding profusely from all His wounds. Rose, aghast at the sight, called out: "O my Lord, who has reduced Thee to this state?" Our Lord replied, "My love, my deep love for men has done this." "But," asked Rose, "who has so pierced and torn Thee?" "The sins of men have done it," was our Lord's answer. "Sin, sin!" cried the saint, and she scourged herself to make atonement for the sins of the world.

By divine inspiration, Rose then took a cross in her hand and went up and down the streets and public squares of her city telling people of the terrible tortures our Lord suffered and of the heinousness of sin. Every now and then she would emerge from her solitude to entreat the people to do penance.

The town of Viterbo, which belonged to the Papal States, had revolted against the authority of the pope. Disregard for religion and moral degradation were the order of the day. But the sermons of this little missionary had marvelous results. the people came in crowds to hear her. The stone on which she stood was seen to rise in the air, and she was sustained there by a miracle while burning words issued from her lips. The greater part of the citizenry had already resolved to do penance and to return to the legitimate papal allegiance when Rose and her parents were repelled by the civil authorities.

The result was that she now had a wider field of activity. At Soriano and later at Vitorchiano, her preaching had the same blessed results. In the latter place, a sorceress had done much harm among the inhabitants. Fearing that after her departure this woman would undo the good effected there, Rose was desirous of her conversion. Her initial efforts failed. Then our saint had an immense pile of wood prepared in the public square; fire was set to it, and Rose stepped into the fire and mounted to the top of the pile. She remained untouched for three hours in the midst of the flames, singing the praises of God. The sorceress now cast herself at Rose's feet and was sincerely converted.

Meanwhile the rightful,authority of the pope had been re-established at Viterbo, and Rose could return. She was now 15 years old and anxious to enter the convent of the Poor Clares. As she had no dowry, she could not be admitted. "Well," said Rose, "you will not receive me while I am alive, but you will receive me after I am dead." She and several companions repaired to a secluded dwelling, where they intended to live as a community. The ecclesiastical authorities, however, did not approve of the plan, and Rose returned home. She died 2 years later, filled with the joyous desire of being united with her God.

Two and a half years after her death she appeared three times to Pope Alexander IV, who was in Viterbo at the time, told him to have her body removed to the convent of the Poor Clares. When this was done, her body was found incorrupt; and it has remained in that condition to this day. Miracles are constantly occurring at her tomb. Pope Callistus III canonized her in 1457.

ON THE OPERATIONS OF GOD IN MEN
1. Consider the marvelous operations of God in St. Rose. Entire cities that had fallen away from God and the Church and about whose conversion the greatest missionaries might have doubted, were won to a change of heart by means of a child, and a girl at that. It has often pleased God to reveal His might and wisdom by means of lowly and unimportant creatures. Thus at Milan in a trying period, when it seemed impossible to come to a decision regarding the choice of a bishop, an infant pointed out St. Ambrose as the chosen bishop; and his life story shows that none could have governed the Church at Milan in a more excellent manner. "But the foolish things of the world has God chosen, that He may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world has God chosen, that He may confound the strong. That no flesh shall glory in his sight. But that he who glories, may glory in the Lord" (1 Cor 1:27; 29; 31). -- Have you ever given thought to the fact that it is God who works through human beings?
2. Consider that the operations of grace which God manifests so extraordinarily in children are also effective, generally speaking, in adults. At such time God uses the natural powers and abilities of men in order to effect good. It is not man, however, who produces the good results, but God Himself. The Prophet speaks thus to the Lord: "For Thou hast wrought all our works for us" (Is 26:112). "God gives the increase" (1 Cor 3:7). Whatever good, therefore, is done by men, we must recognize as the work of God and thank Him for it. In like manner, we may not ascribe to ourselves the good that we do, nor think well of ourselves on that account, but we must rather give thanks to God who has done this good through us. -- Have you done this in the past?
3. Consider that in spite of the fact that God uses men to accomplish His works here on earth, He still leaves them free in their acts. If man resists, He gives him over to his own will. But he who submits himself as a useful instrument for anything God wants of him is "as the clay in the hands of the potter, who will fashion it according to his ordering" (Eccli 33:13). He will be an instrument of much blessing. Thus it was with St. Rose. When God called her to solitude, she withdrew to her little cell; when He sent her out, she went into the streets and the market places; when He commissioned her to teach others, she undertook the work; and when, despite the fact that He had formerly permitted her to work miracles, He opposed her pious design, she willingly withdrew. -- How often have we opposed the operation of God's grace, and instead of doing His holy will, used all our efforts to gain out own ends! Such a course is more apt to bring us to the curse of God than His blessing, and guilt instead of merit. May the intercession of St. Rose obtain pardon for us and her example convert us into more useful tools in the hands of God.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst deign to admit St. Rose to the company of Thy holy virgins, grant, we beseech Thee, that at her intercession and by her merits we may be cleansed from all guilt and may be admitted to the eternal presence of Thy majesty. Through Christ out Lord. Amen.

 

Sep 17 - Feast of the Stigmata of our holy father Francis

Francis imitated Christ so perfectly that towards the end of his life our Lord wished to point him out to the world as the faithful imitator of the Crucified, by imprinting His five wounds upon his body.

Two years before his death, when, according to his custom, Francis had repaired to Mt. La Verna to spend the 40 days preceding the feast of St. Michael the Archangel in prayer and fasting, this wonderful event took place. St. Bonaventure gives the following account of it:

"Francis was raised to God in the ardor of his seraphic love, wholly transformed by sweet compassion into Him, who, of His exceeding charity, was pleased to be crucified for us. On the morning of the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, as he was praying in a secret and solitary place on the mountain, Francis beheld a seraph with six wings all afire, descending to him from the heights of heaven. As the seraph flew with great swiftness towards the man of God, there appeared amid the wings the form of one crucified, with his hands and feet stretched out and fixed to the cross. Two wings rose above the head, two were stretched forth in flight, and two veiled the whole body.

"Francis wondered greatly at the appearance of so novel and marvelous a vision. But knowing that the weakness of suffering could nowise be reconciled with the immortality of the seraphic spirit, he understood the vision as a revelation of the Lord and that it was being presented to his eyes by Divine Providence so that the friend of Christ might be transformed into Christ crucified, not through martyrdom of the flesh, but through a spiritual holocaust.

"The vision, disappearing, left behind it a marvelous fire in the heart of Francis, and no less wonderful token impressed on his flesh. For there began immediately to appear in his hands and in his feet something like nails as he had just seen them in the vision of the Crucified. The heads of the nails in the hands and feet were round and black, and the points were somewhat long and bent, as if they had been turned back. On the right side, as if it had been pierced by a lance, was the mark of a red wound, from which blood often flowed and stained his tunic."

Thus far the account of St. Bonaventure. Although St. Francis strove in every way to conceal the marvelous marks which until then no man had seen, he was not able to keep them a complete secret from the brethren. After his death they were carefully examined, and they were attested by an ecclesiastical decree. To commemorate the importance of the five wounds, Pope Benedict XI instituted a special feast which is celebrated on September 17th, not only by all branches of the Franciscan Order, but also in the Roman missal and breviary.

ON LOOKING UP TO THE CROSS
1. With the example of our holy Father St. Francis in mind, consider what effect a glance at the cross should have on us. It led Francis from the service of the world to the service of God and to penance. A look at the crucifix should remove from our hearts all delight in the world and fill us with sorrow for the sins we have committed in the service of the world, and of our evil passions. For what other reason was Christ nailed to the cross, and his whole body bruised? The Prophet tells us: "He was wounded for our iniquities. He was bruised for our sins" (Is 53:5). Meditation on the sufferings of our Savior caused St. Francis to shed so many tears that his eyes became inflamed. -- Do you also kneel before the crucifix and bewail the sins through which you nailed your Savior to the Cross?
2. Consider that a look at the cross is also a consolation for the sinner. Our crucified Lord assured St. Francis of the complete remission of his sins. The Prophet also tells us: "By His bruises we are healed" (Is 53.5). Moses gave us a picture of our Savior on the Cross when he raised a brazen serpent on high in the desert, so that those who had been bitten by the poisonous serpent in punishment for their murmuring might be healed by looking up to this sign of our redemption. On the crucifix you behold our Savior Himself. "Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1:29). -- Look up to Him with sincere contrition and lively confidence; He will also take away your sins.
3. Consider how the contemplation of the Crucified finally pierced St. Francis through and through with the fire of love, so that our Lord made him even externally like Himself. A look at the crucifix should also awaken ardent charity in us. St. Augustine points this out to us when he says: "Behold the head that is bent to kiss you, the heart that is opened to receive you, the arms stretched out to embrace you." Do not look at the image of your crucified Savior in the cold and indifferent way that one looks at a work of art, to marvel at the painful expression there represented. Let it speak to your heart and let your heart speak to it. Serve Him faithfully so that you may one day be united with Him in eternity.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O Lord Jesus Christ, who when the world was growing cold, didst renew the sacred wounds of Thy sufferings in the body of our holy Father St. Francis in order to inflame out hearts with the fire of Thy divine love, mercifully grant that by his merits and intercession we may cheerfully carry our cross and bring forth worthy fruits of penance. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.

 

Sep 18 - St. Joseph of Cupertino 1603-1663

St. Augustine says: "Do you wish to become great, then begin by being small." God often deals in that way with His saints. He often permits the most glorious saints to begin in the deepest lowliness. St. Joseph of Cupertino in the old kingdom of Naples, is an example in point. His father was a humble carpenter, who has contracted very heavy debts and was in very straitened circumstances at the time Joseph was born. His mother was very strict with him. He used to say in later life that he made his novitiate while still a child. Nevertheless Joseph performed additional penances and appeared to have been given a body merely for the purpose of mortifying it. Even as a child he lived in close union with God, so that he dwelt in heaven rather than on earth.

In time he was sent to learn a trade, but it was soon noticed that this was not his vocation. He was eventually invested with the Franciscan habit among the Capuchins, but was soon dismissed because of his awkwardness. The result was that his own relatives turned him out as a useless creature and a disgrace to his family. Finally, the Conventuals took pity on the young man who so humbly pleaded for admission and employed him to take care of the convent mule. In this lowly service his virtues, especially his humility, obedience, and piety, shone forth with such brilliance that his superiors received him among the clerics, and within three years he was ordained a priest.

Joseph's natural knowledge was of small account, for his efforts to learn by study were never successful. But it was soon perceived that he possessed much infused knowledge, so that even great theologians marveled at it. His life was one of uninterrupted union with God. Everything in nature lifted him up to heaven and to the supernatural. Not only his spirit but also his body was so frequently raised above the earth in holy rapture and remained in that position for so long a time, that his biographer declares he spent more than half his religious life above the earth. Sometime he flew to the objects of his devotion in swiftest flight.

On an elevation near the convent three crosses had been erected. Repeatedly when he looked at them, he would rise in the air with a cry and fly to the cross in the center, embracing it and remaining in that position until the end of the ecstasy. On another occasion, when he visited the Basilica of St. Francis, he saw a painting of the Mother of God high up in the vault of the church; at once his body rose into the air, and he kissed the image with tender devotion. At holy Mass he was usually lifted in the air and remained there swaying over the altar for hours at a time. For that reason, he usually said Mass in the convent chapel rather than in the church.

What impression these ecstasies made on witnesses may be deduced from the story of Duke John Frederick of Brunswick. In 1649 he once attended the Mass offered up by Father Joseph. He was so impressed by the ecstasy that he was convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith and two years later made his profession of faith before Father Joseph himself.

Because these visions were so extraordinary, Father Joseph's virtue was also tested. God Himself permitted Joseph to be severely tempted by the devil. Added to this, he suffered for years from dryness of heart, so that he felt completely forsaken by God. But all these trials could not embitter his heart; he placed it within the wound of our Savior's side and preserved peace of mind. He had no other wish but to do the will of God.

After he had stood the test of many storms, he was again rewarded with heavenly consolation. Desiring to be with Christ, he died in the convent at Osimo on September 18, 1663. Numerous miracles occurred at his grave, and Pope Clement XIII canonized him in 1753. Because of his miraculous flights through the air, he is now honored as a patron of those who travel by air.

ON THE WOUND IN THE SIDE OF CHRIST
1. Just as the heart of St. Francis was filled with ardent love for his crucified Lord, so his son St. Joseph was attracted to the cross. He soared to it in marvelous flight as though his body possessed the lightness of glorified bodies, and there he rested at the open wound in the side of his Lord, at the Sacred Heart Itself. Christ said: "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to Myself" (Jn 12:32). How is it that we are not more attracted to Him, at least in the depths of our heart? We lack the proper interior sentiments. "By two wings," says Thomas a Kempis, "is man lifted up above earthly things, namely by simplicity and purity. Simplicity must be in the intention, purity in the affection." -- Examine yourself. In what are you wanting?
2. Consider with what sentiments we should be inspired by the wound in the side of Christ. We should have the sentiments of Christ's own Heart. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). From this Sacred Heart we should above all learn meekness and humility, that marvelous compassion to which our Lord alluded when He said: "Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him" (Matt 12:32), and which He exercised when He hung upon the cross praying for His executioners and blasphemers. In this Sacred Heart St. Joseph placed all his trials and crosses before they could touch his own heart. Act likewise, place your trials and temptations there, so that the meekness of Christ may encompass you.
3. Consider with what spirit we should be imbued after contemplating the wound in the side of Christ. We should be filled with zeal for the cause of Christ and the desire to promote the honor and glory of God and to gain souls for Him. It was this zeal that burned in the heart of our saint; to this end he directed all his prayers and works of penance. How much zeal have we for the cause of God, for the salvation of our own soul and the souls of our fellowmen? How lukewarm, how indifferent we are in these matters! Go frequently to the wound in the side of Christ, and beg Him to draw you to Himself, so that the zeal of His Sacred Heart may be kindled in you.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst ordain that all amen be attracted to Thy only begotten Son, who was raised above the earth, mercifully grant that, by the merits and intercession of Thy seraphic confessor Joseph, we may be raised above earthly desired and deserve to be admitted into his company. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.

 

Sep 20 - St Francis Mary of Camporosso

In the cemetery in Genoa a statue of Blessed Francis Mary may be seen which bears the following inscription: "Francis of Camporosso was born December 27, 1804, and died on September 17, 1866. This poor man in Christ was more blessed in giving than in receiving. With bread and advice and consolation, he was ever prepared to minister to the sufferings and needs of all who came to him. His austere and holy life he crowned with the sacrifice he made of himself at the beginning of the epidemic of 1866. The sorrow and gratitude of the people prompted them to immortalize his image in this marble statue."

It needed but a few words to say all that one could wish to have said of this apostle of the people. As a shepherd in the little village of Camporosso near San Remo he was obliged to contribute to the support of his family. Later he joined the Capuchins an Genoa. There he clothed his ideals and intentions in the words: "I came to the convent to be its beast of burden."

The opportunity was presented to him to carry out his intentions when he was made infirmarian, and especially when he was appointed to collect alms. He called at the palaces of the nobles, but oftener at the huts of the poor in order to distribute to them the alms he had just begged. He ventured to go into the ill-famed quarters of the seaport, where he would pick up the stones thrown at him and kiss them. Soon it was reported of him from all sides that he was working miracles, cures, and conversions of a most unusual kind. People of rank as well as the lowliest souls came to him to seek advice.

His love for our Blessed Lady was most touching. He spent entire nights on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament. When an epidemic broke out in 1866, he was seized with the desire to make his last and most magnanimous sacrifice. He knelt before the altar of the Immaculate Virgin, and through her hands offered himself to God as a victim of expiation. On September 17th, he departed this life as a victim. The epidemic ceased that very day. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI and canonized in 1962 by John XXIII.

ON SELF-SACRIFICE
1. Francis Marry offered everything he possessed. He was well aware of our Lord's words: "Everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). As a child he worked for his parents; in the order, he became a servant to other members; as the apostle of the people he worked for the poor and the sick. -- Does your life agree with the Christian principle, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"?
2. Francis Mary also sacrificed his life. He lived up to the admonition of the Apostle: "In this we have known the charity of God, because he has laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren" (1 John 3:16). Francis Mary did this literally when he sacrificed his life for the people during the epidemic. -- Pray God to give you a share of this heroic courage, of this heroic love.
3. Francis Mary received an inestimable reward for his sacrifice. Posterity is extolling him. The Church has raised him to the dignity of the altars. Almighty God has fulfilled in him the promise: "And you shall have treasure in heaven" (Matt 9:21). Whatever we do for God will not go unrewarded. God will not let Himself be outdone in generosity. -- Rouse yourself to a similar spirit of sacrifice.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst cause Thy humble servant Francis Mary to distinguish himself in an extraordinary way by works of charity, grant that by his merits and intercession Thy love may ever be increased in our hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

see also http://www.olisfo.cqc.com/cal.htm

 

Sep 23 - Padre Pio da Pietrelcina 1887-1968

This worthy follower of Saint Francis of Assisi was born on 25 May 1887 at Pietrelcina in the Archdiocese of Benevento, the son of Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio. He was baptized the next day and given the name Francesco. At the age of twelve he received the Sacrament of Confirmation and made his First Holy Communion.

On 6 January 1903, at the age of sixteen, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at Morcone, where on 22 January he took the Franciscan habit and the name Brother Pio. At the end of his novitiate year he took simple vows, and on 27 January 1907 made his solemn profession.

After he was ordained priest on 10 August 1910 at Benevento, he stayed at home with his family until 1916 for health reasons. In September of that year he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Rotondo and remained there until his death.

Filled with love of God and love of neighbor, Padre Pio lived to the full his vocation to work for the redemption of man, in accordance with the special mission which marked his entire life and which he exercised through the spiritual direction of the faithful: the sacramental reconciliation of penitents and the celebration of the Eucharist. The pinnacle of his apostolic activity was the celebration of Holy Mass. The faithful who took part witnessed the summit and fullness of his spirituality.

On the level of social charity, he committed himself to relieving the pain and suffering of many families, chiefly through the foundation of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering), opened on 5 May 1956.

For Padre Pio, faith was life: he willed everything and did everything in the light of faith. He was assiduously devoted to prayer. He passed the day and a large part of the night in conversation with God. He would say: “In books we seek God, in prayer we find him. Prayer is the key which opens God's heart”. Faith led him always to accept God's mysterious will.

He was always immersed in supernatural realities. Not only was he himself a man of hope and total trust in God, but by word and example he communicated these virtues to all who approached him.

The love of God filled him, and satisfied his every desire; charity was the chief inspiration of his day: to love God and to help others to love him. His special concern was to grow in charity and to lead others to do so.

He demonstrated to the full his love of neighbor by welcoming, for more than fifty years, countless people who had recourse to his ministry and his confessional, his counsel and his consolation. He was almost besieged: they sought him in church, in the sacristy, in the friary. And he gave himself to everyone, rekindling faith, dispensing grace, bringing light. But especially in the poor, the suffering and the sick he saw the image of Christ, and he gave himself particularly to them.

He exercised to an exemplary degree the virtue of prudence, acting and counseling in the light of God.

His concern was the glory of God and the good of souls. He treated everyone with justice, frankness and great respect.

The virtue of fortitude shone in him. He understood very early in life that his would be the way of the Cross, and he accepted it at once with courage and out of love. For many years, he experienced spiritual sufferings. For years he endured the pains of his wounds with admirable serenity.

When he had to submit to investigations and restrictions in his priestly ministry, he accepted everything with profound humility and resignation. In the face of unjust accusations and calumnies he remained silent, trusting always in the judgment of God, of his immediate superiors and of his own conscience.

He habitually practiced mortification in order to gain the virtue of temperance, in keeping with the Franciscan style. He was temperate in his attitude and in his way of life.

Conscious of the commitments which he had undertaken when he entered the consecrated life, he observed with generosity the vows he had professed. He was obedient in all things to the commands of his Superiors, even when they were burdensome. His obedience was supernatural in intention, universal in its scope and complete in its execution. He lived the spirit of poverty with total detachment from self, from earthly goods, from his own comfort and from honors. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity. His behavior was modest in all situations and with all people.

He sincerely thought of himself as useless, unworthy of God's gifts, full of weakness and infirmity, and at the same time blessed with divine favors. Amid so much admiration around him, he would say: “I only want to be a poor friar who prays”.

From his youth, his health was not very robust, and especially in the last years of his life it declined rapidly. Sister Death took him well-prepared and serene on 23 September 1968 at the age of eighty-one. An extraordinary gathering of people attended his funeral.

On 20 February 1971, barely three years after the death of Padre Pio, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the Superiors of the Capuchin Order, said of him: “Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Perhaps because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering”.

Even during his lifetime, he enjoyed a vast reputation for sanctity, because of his virtues, his spirit of prayer, sacrifice and total dedication to the good of souls.

In the years following his death, his reputation for sanctity and miracles grew steadily, and became established in the Church, all over the world and among all kinds of people.

God thus showed the Church his desire to glorify on earth his faithful servant. In a short time the Capuchin Order took the steps prescribed by canon law to begin the Cause of Beatification and Canonization. After examining the case, the Holy See, in accordance with the norm of the Motu Proprio “Sanctitas Clarior”, granted the nihil obstat on 29 November 1982. The Archbishop of Manfredonia was thus enabled to introduce the Cause and set up the informative process (1983- 1990). On 7 December 1990, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized its juridical validity. When the Positio had been completed, there was the usual discussion on whether the Servant of God had exercised the virtues to a heroic degree. On 13 June 1997 the Special Meeting of the Theological Consultors was held and gave a positive judgment. In the Ordinary Session on 21 October 1997, with Bishop Andrea Maria Erba of Velletri-Segni, the Proposer of the Cause, together with the Cardinals and Bishops, recognized that Padre Pio da Pietrelcina had lived to a heroic degree the theological, cardinal and associated virtues.

On 18 December 1997, in the presence of Pope John Paul II, the Decree on heroic virtue was promulgated.

For the Beatification of Padre Pio, the Postulation presented to the competent Congregation the healing of Signora Consiglia De Martino of Salerno. The regular canonical process on this case was held at the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno from July 1996 to June 1997. On 30 April 1998 at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints the Medical Board examined the miracle, and on 22 June 1998 the Special Meeting of Theological Consultors gave its judgment. On 20 October 1998 the Ordinary Congregation of the Cardinals and Bishops belonging to the Congregation was held in the Vatican. On 21 December 1998 in the presence of Pope John Paul II the Decree on the miracle was promulgated.

On 2 May 1999, in the course of a solemn concelebrated Mass in St Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II by his apostolic authority beatified the Venerable Servant of God Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, naming 23 September as the date of his liturgical feast.

For the canonization of Blessed Padre Pio of Pietrelcina the Postulation presented to the competent Dicastery the cure of the young Matteo Pio Colella of San Giovanni Rotondo. The regular canonical process on the case was held at the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste from 11 June to 17 October 2000. On 23 October the documents were forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On 21 November 2001 the medical testimony was examined by the same Congregation. The Theological Consultors held a special Congress on 11 December and on 18 December the ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops took place. On 20 December, in the presence of John Paul II, the Decree on the miracle was promulgated. Finally, on 28 February 2002 the Decree of Canonization was promulgated.

from the Vatican website for Padre Pio 

 

Sep 23 - Finding the Body of St. Clare

For some six centuries the body of St. Clare lay buried deep under the high altar of Santa Chiara, the church in Assisi which had been built in her honor. In 1850 Pope Pius IX granted permission that excavations be made, and after seven days the stone coffin containing the body of the saint was found. When it was opened, it was discovered that the body of St. Clare, though blackened with age, was still incorrupt. It was put into a crystal coffin, and this was placed in the crypt of the church after it was completed in 1872. The feast of the Finding of the Body of St. Clare, which was instituted by Pope Pius IX, is celebrated by the Franciscans and Conventuals, as well as the Poor Clares.

see also http://www.olisfo.cqc.com/cal.htm

 

Sep 26 - St Elzear of Sabran 

St. Elzear was born in 1285 and belonged to a very noble family. His father was the head of the house of Sabran in southern France and count of Ariano in the kingdom of Naples. His mother was a woman of great piety, who, because of her charity to the poor, was known as the good countess. Elzear was her first child. After his baptism she took him in her arms and asked God to take him out of this world if He foresaw that the child would ever stain his soul by sin. With his mother's milk he seems to have imbibed the spirit of piety, for from his babyhood he was always docile, gentle, and modest, without a trace of mawkishness in his piety. He was friendly towards everyone, and was particularly devoted to the poor. When he was only 13 years old, he undertook severe bodily mortifications in order to keep the flesh in subjection to the spirit.

Conforming to the wish of the king of Naples, who was also the Lord of Southern France, he married while still quite young, the Countess Delphina of the Glandeves family. On their wedding day both spouses vowed perpetual virginity, and persevered in living like brother and sister until death.

At the death of his father, Elzear, who was then only 23 years old, inherited his father's titles. He considered it his sacred duty to provide for the temporal, and above all, the spiritual welfare of his people. He was particularly solicitous that the laws of God and of the Church were observed in his dominions. The poor were the special object of his solicitude. Every day 12 of them dined at the same table with him and the countess. There was remarkable calmness and self-possession in his demeanor. Personal injuries did not affect him. If anyone repeated to him anything uncomplimentary that had been said about him, he did not even ask who it was that said it, but merely replied: "Worse things were said about Christ."

Going to Italy in his capacity as count of Ariano, he found that his Italian subjects were not all disposed to accept French domination. That lasted for several years. It was suggested to him that he deal severely with the offenders, but he would not consent. In four years he had won over the people by his gentleness and charity, and all looked up to him as to a father.

Upon his return to France his subjects there prepared a great feast for him. Delphina was especially happy, and the devout couple now joined the Third Order of St. Francis in order to be still more intimately united to God. Elzear redoubled his acts of piety. He prayed the divine office every day as the priests do, scourged his body severely, and nursed the sick with as much charity and reverence as if he were actually performing these services to Christ Himself.

God granted him the gift of miracles, and he cured several lepers. By his prayers he also restored health to the son of the count of Grimoard, who was the saint's godchild. On this occasion Elzear told the father that his child would one day be elevated to one of the greatest dignitaries of the Church. The child later became Pope Urban V.

Although engaged in many works of piety, Elzear never neglected his temporal duties. He was obliged to spend several years at the court of the saintly King Robert of Naples, where he gave proof of his courage and talent as army chief and minister of state.

Sent to the court of Paris on matters of state, he was seized with a serious illness. With the same serenity which he had preserved throughout life, he prepared himself for death, made a general confession of his whole life, received the last sacraments with angelic devotion, and departed from this life in his 40th year on September 27, 1323. Because of the numerous miracles that occurred at his tomb and the urgent request of the kings of France and Naples, Pope Urban V, his godchild, with great joy canonized him in the year 1369.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who didst adorn St. Elzear, Thy confessor, with the virtue of virginity in the married state along with other virtues, mercifully grant that we who celebrate his saintly memory here on earth may attain to happy association with him in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sept 26 - Blessed Delphina of Glandeves

Blessed Delphina was the only daughter of the wealthy Count William of Glandeves in southern France. She lost both parents when she was 7 years old, but the little orphan was received into a convent school were an aunt of hers was abbess. There she received an excellent education in the fear of the Lord and in everything pertaining to her eminent rank.

Delphina had already consecrated herself to God by the vow of virginity, when King Charles II chose her as Elzear's bride. Filled with consternation, Delphina had recourse to the Blessed Virgin, to whose motherly care she had entrusted herself. Our Lady appeared to her and calmed her fears. Delphina then consented to the marriage, which took place with great solemnity in the presence of the king and the archbishop of Aix. The holy innocence of his spouse filled Elzear with such love of holy purity that he made a vow to act only as the protector of her virginity, and he was faithful to this pledge all his life. They lived together like two angels, the one ever encouraging the other in more ardent love of God.

Delphina devoted herself to the care of her household. The servants, whom she had to retain because of her high rank, she instructed in piety and the fear of God. She took great personal interest in them all, loving them as if they were her children. The in turn loved and honored her as their mother, young as she was.

Elzear died on an errand to Paris in the interests of the king. Delphina wept bitterly when she heard the news. Nevertheless she prayed: "My God, may Thy most holy will be done!" Urged by the spirit of God toward still greater perfection, she presently renounced all temporal goods and added to her vow of chastity the vow of holy poverty.

The fame of Delphina's holy life induced Queen Eleonore of Sicily to appoint her mistress of the royal household. Delphina so transformed the easy morals of the court that the palace seemed changed onto a sanctuary. She lived many years yet, edifying the nobility by the brilliant example of her virtue. She died a saintly death in 1358 at the age of 74. Her tomb is next to that of her husband in the city of Apt in southern France. Numerous miracles increased the veneration paid to her and Pope Urban V solemnly approved this veneration.

PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
O God, who in addition to other virtues did adorn Blessed Delphina, Thy servant, with virginal purity in the married state, mercifully grant that we who devoutly celebrate her festival here on earth, may arrive safely in her blessed company. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

from THE FRANCISCAN BOOK OF SAINTS
edited by Marion Habig, ofm
Copyright 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

 

 

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