St George, pray for us.
Today’s saint, Saint Benedict-Joseph Labre, was a homeless street person. His home, it is reported, used to be in a hole in the Colosseum. Probably a rarity, other street persons gave testimony for Labre’s canonization process.
For many, the Labre is a great witness to the Gospel and therefore frequently visit the Church near the Colosseum and the Angelicum, Santa Maria ai Monti, where he is entombed.
Saint Benedict-Joseph thought his vocation was to the contemplative life and therefore tried to join the Trappists, the Common Observance Cistercians, and the Carthusians; but was denied profession of vows. In many ways his cloister was the world. Wandering Europe, especially Rome, in complete poverty, spending his days in perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He begged in the streets, and if he was given more than he needed for the day, he would give the remainder to a person he considered more in need. Benedict-Joseph healed some of his fellow homeless, and was reported to have multiplied bread for them; he was also the spiritual director for many. Given to religious ecstacies when contemplating the crown of thorns; reputed to float, soar, and bilocate when in these swoons. He died in a hospice, exhausted from his life of austerity.
Father Marconi, Labre’s confessor and biographer, describes 136 miraculous cures attributed to him within three months of his death.
May Saint Benedict-Joseph Labre show us the face of Christ today.
St Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas (4 October 1843-25 March 1927), was a Dominican tertiary. She first joined the Sisters of Joseph but following a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary she received in Bethlehem, she co-founded the Rosary Sisters (Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem of the Latins; Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem). The visions were kept a secret for 53 years, and her journals read only post mortem. People recognized the virtues of humility and meekness in Mother Mariam, similar to those of the Mother of God.
Ghattas promoted the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception (later known as, “Daughters of Mary”) and also the Confraternity of the Christian Mothers.
Mother Mariam spent her life working for the poor and the education of Palestinian Christians, and her Sisters continue that work today.
St Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas was beatified on 22 November 2009, in the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth; she was the second Palestinian nun to be beatified. She was canonized by Pope Francis on 17 May 2017.
Today we liturgically honor St Polycarp. We have a letter from St Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp written around AD 110, when he was a young bishop in Smyrna. Ignatius himself going to Rome in chains to face martyrdom. Ignatius wrote:
Stand firm, like an anvil being struck with a hammer. It is the mark of a great athlete to be bruised, yet still conquer. But especially we must, for God’s sake, patiently bear all things, so that he may also bear with us. Be more diligent than you are. Understand the times. Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way. (Letter of Ignatius to Polycarp, 3)
Polycarp stood firm; he was a great athlete; he was patient; he was diligent. Are we? Do we have these traits in in following Christ, and dealing with adversity? Today, let us ask for the same grace Polycarp did so as to fight evil?