Category Archives: Saints

Ursuline Martyrs of Orange

Our Catholic Church is a church of martyrs and at this time of year we learn more and more of those many who lived for Christ and sacrificed themselves for the Good News. For example, today we have the following recorded as being martyred:

•Martyrs of Africa – 4 saints
•Martyrs of Antioch – 10 saints
•Martyrs of Damascus – 11 beati
•Martyrs of Nicopolis – 45 saints
•Martyrs of Nitria – 5 saints
•Martyrs of Tomis – 45 saints
•Seven Holy Brothers – 7 martyrs

This period of our ecclesiastical history is known as the reign of Terror –a consequence of the fierce anti-catholic persecution of the French Revolution. Plus, we have more martyrs from July 9 to 26 – 103 Martyrs of China; 25 Franciscan Martyrs of China: priests, friars, nuns, seminarians and lay people, murdered together for their faith in the Boxer Rebellion; 19 Martyrs of Gorkum hanged on July 9, 1572 in the Netherlands by Calvinists for loyalty to the Pope and for their belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist; 32 Martyrs of Orange: sixteen Ursuline sisters, thirteen Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, two Bernardine sisters and one Benedictine sister guillotined during the French Revolution; A Capuchin martyred by the Nazis in WWII; Several martyrs of the 16th century English persecution of the Church: layman, Carthusian; Several martyrs of the early Church

Ursuline nuns murderedYesterday and today we liturgically recalled the Ursuline nuns martyred in the French Revolution known as the Martyrs of Orange. The sisters were guillotined on 9 and 10 July 1794 in Orange, Vaucluse, France.

They climbed the scaffold with joy, singing and praying for their persecutors who admired their courage : “These rascals die with laughter!”

Arrested for refusing to take the oath repudiating their catholic faith, all the sisters were condemned to the guillotine. Their ages ranged from 31 to 70. For the previous 2 years they had prepared for this hour – expelled from their convents and living a life of prayer and semi-destitution. And they went to their death with courage and serenity.

Among the Ursulines,

on July 9, Sister Sainte-Mélanie, from Bollène, (Madeleine de Guilhermier, born in Bollène en 1733, 61 years of age) and Sister Marie-des-Anges, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne de Rocher, born in Bollène in 1755, 39 years of age),

on July 10, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Bollène, (Gertrude d’Alauzier, born in Bollène in 1757, 37 years of age) and Sister Agnès, from Bollène, (Sylvie de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1750, 44 years of age),

on July 11, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marguerite d’Albarède, born in Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols in 1740, 54 years of age),

on July 12, Sister Saint-Bernard, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Jeanne de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1753, 41 years of age),

on July 13, Sister Saint-François, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne Lambert, born in Pierrelatte in 1742, 52 years of age) and Sister Sainte-Françoise, lay Sister from Carpentras, (Marie-Anne Depeyre, born in Tulette en 1756, 38 years of age),

on July 15, Sister Saint-Gervais, Superior of the Ursulines of Bollène (Anastasie de Roquard, born in Bollène in 1749, 45 years of age),

on July 16, lay Sisters from Bollène, Sister Saint-Michel, (Marie Anne Doux, born in Bollène in 1738, 56 years of age), Sister Saint-André, (Marie Rose Laye, born in Bollène in 1728, 66 years of age); Sister Madeleine, from Pernes, (Dorothée de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1743, 51 years of age),

on July 20, Sister Saint-Basile, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Anne Cartier, born in Livron in 1733, 61 years of age),

on July 26, Sister Catherine, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marie-Madeleine de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1724, 70 years of age), Sister Claire, from Bollène (Claire Dubas, born in Laudun in 1727, 67 years of age) and Sister du Cœur-de-Jésus, Superior of the Ursulines of Sisteron (ElisabethThérèse Consolin, born in Courthézon in 1736, 58 years of age).

With the Church at prayer,

Lord our God, you have given to the Blessed Ursuline Martyrs of Orange the strength of overcoming the trial of martyrdom: grant us, through their prayer, to be firm in our faith and fervent in our charity, so that we may share with them the joys of eternal life.

Saint Maria Goretti

Goretti's mother forgiving the man who killed her daughterToday we are given a saint to follow –she shows us the beauty of following Christ Jesus in this world when danger lurks. Chaste living is a real challenge for many.

One significant and overlooked part of Saint Maria’s biography is the heroic act of virtue given by her beloved mother in her forgiving her daughter’s killer, Alessandro Serenelli, who died with the sacraments of the Church in the company of the Capuchin friars on May 6, 1970.

It is true that this type of virtue is beyond most of us, even on the best of days of grace being present in our life. What can be said? Not much except to stand in awe of such a beautiful and needed action of the Blessed Trinity. Her the Gospel meets reality and shows us that it it possible to live virtuously. As a consequence, we take what Saint Maria’s mother did and try to implement it into our own reality.

The spiritual counsel offered here is that we can at least pray for the grace to forgive, even if we don’t want to forgive or don’t think we can forgive. Ask God.

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Baptist Nativity stoneHic Præcursor Domini natus est!

Indeed, we honor the nativity of John the Baptist today. Only two others are honored with a feast day for their Nativity: Our Lord and Savior and His beloved and Great Mother, Mary.

The Church prays to God who lifted up for us the Baptist as the precursor for the Incarnate Word of God, that he make ready a nation for the Lord’s coming and direct the hearts of all the faithful into the way of salvation and peace.

It is revealed to us that the blessed forerunner of the Lord, John, was a martyr. His martyrdom was for his stance, that is, his teaching, on adultery: “It is not lawful for thee to have your brother’s wife.” At the heart of it all was that John spoke the truth; he challenged civil authority to live as they should and he called his contemporaries to be faithful to the faith of their Fathers. Yet, the crafty concubine of Herod silenced John before he could convert the King Herod and his court to repentance and belief in the Messiah.

John the Baptist was not alone in the witness of his life and death as many revered saints spoke similar truths and ended their lives by spilling their blood: among them, Saints John Chrysostom, Thomas Becket, and Stanislaus. Who will do similar today? Is our faith strong enough to face death?

Blessed Alvaro del Portillo

Don AlvaroToday is the first time the Church is able to celebrate the liturgical memorial of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo since he was beatified in 2014. The Church designated May 12th (the anniversary of his First Communion) as his feast day.

To mark the occasion, Fr. Javier del Castillo prepared a special meditation for listeners (a podcast) published by the St. Josemaria Institute.

Don Alvaro was known for his humility and his faithfulness but it was also said that he had the heroic virtue of courage (he was a man of fortitude, a gift of the Spirit). We need to be sure in our walking in the ways of the Lord building the Church. He is called Saxum (rock), a metaphor for fortitude by Saint Josemaría.

“The Lord is my rock….” May Blessed Alvaro help us in our daily life, to show us what it means to be people of humility, faithfulness, and courage.

Saint Isaiah, the Holy Prophet

Isaiah MichelangeloThe Prophet Isaiah lived nearly 700 years before the birth of Jesus. He genealogy names him as part of a royal lineage. We know from biblical study that Isaiah’s father Amos raised his son in the fear of God and in the law of the Lord. Isaiah weds the pious prophetess (Is 8:3) and had a son Jashub (Is 8:18).

God called Isaiah into His prophetic service during the reign of Uzziah, king of Judea, and he prophesied for 60 years during the reign of kings Joatham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. The start of his service was marked by the following vision: he beheld the Lord God, sitting in a majestic heavenly temple upon a high throne. Six-winged Seraphim encircled Him. With two wings they covered their faces, and with two wings they covered their feet, and with two wings they flew about crying out one to another, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with His glory!” The pillars of the heavenly temple shook from their shouts, and in the temple arose the smoke of incense.

Several important things are instructive for us today:

“Oh, an accursed man am I, granted to behold the Lord Sabaoth, and having impure lips and living amidst an impure people!” A Seraphim (one of the angels) was sent to him having in hand a red-hot coal, which he took with tongs from the altar of the Lord. He touched it to the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah and said, “Lo, this has touched thy lips, and will take away with thine iniquities, and will cleanse thy sins.” After this Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord, directed towards him, “Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I, send me” (Is 6:1 ff).

Prophets announced to the people the consequences of their sin; denounces the Jews for their unfaithfulness to God and they call them back to relationship with God through the observance of the law and tradition. For example: turn from impiety and idol worship; repent.

Famously, Isaiah predicted the captivity of the Jewish people and their eventual return during the time of the emperor Cyrus (a pagan but seen as a messiah), the destruction and renewal of Jerusalem and of the Temple; predicts the historical fate also of the other nations bordering the Jews; and with clarity and certainty spoke of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, the Christ as the Savior.

Christians rely on Isaiah because it is his vision and that we come to accept  the birth of the Messiah from a Virgin, and the work of the Messiah: the Suffering of the Messiah for the sins of the world and resurrection

Isaiah died a martyr. King Manasseh him killed by a wood-saw. Initially, he was buried not far from the Pool of Siloam. In time, the relics of holy Isaiah transferred by the emperor Theodosius the Younger to Constantinople located in the church of Saint Laurence, Blachernae. Presently, the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos has a portion of the prophet’s skull.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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