Category Archives: Saints

Saint Josephine Bakhita

St JosephineI posted this text last year but I thought it was so good that I’d do it again…. Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical on Hope, Spes Salvi gave Saint Josephine Bakhita as an oustanding example of one who discovered Christian hope.

3. Yet at this point a question arises: in what does this hope consist which, as hope, is “redemption”? The essence of the answer is given in the phrase from the Letter to the Ephesians quoted above: the Ephesians, before their encounter with Christ, were without hope because they were “without God in the world”. To come to know God—the true God—means to receive hope. We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God. The example of a saint of our time can to some degree help us understand what it means to have a real encounter with this God for the first time. I am thinking of the African Josephine Bakhita, canonized by Pope John Paul II. She was born around 1869—she herself did not know the precise date—in Darfur in Sudan. At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan. Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life. Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy as the Mahdists advanced. Here, after the terrifying “masters” who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of “master”—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name “paron” for the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. Now, however, she heard that there is a “paron” above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme “Paron”, before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. What is more, this master had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father’s right hand”. Now she had “hope” —no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed”, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world—without hope because without God. Hence, when she was about to be taken back to Sudan, Bakhita refused; she did not wish to be separated again from her “Paron”. On 9 January 1890, she was baptized and confirmed and received her first Holy Communion from the hands of the Patriarch of Venice. On 8 December 1896, in Verona, she took her vows in the Congregation of the Canossian Sisters and from that time onwards, besides her work in the sacristy and in the porter’s lodge at the convent, she made several journeys round Italy in order to promote the missions: the liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ, she felt she had to extend, it had to be handed on to others, to the greatest possible number of people. The hope born in her which had “redeemed” her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.

The concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and the early Church

4. We have raised the question: can our encounter with the God who in Christ has shown us his face and opened his heart be for us too not just “informative” but “performative”—that is to say, can it change our lives, so that we know we are redeemed through the hope that it expresses? Before attempting to answer the question, let us return once more to the early Church. It is not difficult to realize that the experience of the African slave-girl Bakhita was also the experience of many in the period of nascent Christianity who were beaten and condemned to slavery……

5. We must add a further point of view. The First Letter to the Corinthians (1:18-31) tells us that many of the early Christians belonged to the lower social strata, and precisely for this reason were open to the experience of new hope, as we saw in the example of Bakhita……,

Martyrs of Korea

Korean MartyrsThe Catholic Church in Korea is atypical because it was established and sustained by the laity. The missionary impulse of Catholicism was not a clergy enterprise but a lay one. This particular church faced persecution from day one. Today, we honor several of the lay martyrs who were beheaded on 31 January 1840 in Dangkogae, Seoul, Korea.

They are:

• Saint Agatha Kwon Chin-i – Married lay woman
• Saint Agatha Yi Kyong-I – Lay woman.
• Saint Augustinus Park Chong-Won – Lay catechist 
• Saint Maria Yi In-Dok – Young lay woman
• Saint Petrus Hong Pyong-Ju – Lay catechist

Blessed Carmen Marie Anne García Moyon

Blessed Carmen Marie Anne García MoyonA rather unknown beatus is the lay woman from the archdiocese of Valencia, Spain, who vocation it was to be a Catechist and Martyr is honored today. Blessed Carmen Marie (1888-1937) was born in Nantes, France; she met the Lord after being raped and martyred in the Spanish Civil War; burned alive on 30 January 1937 in Torrent, Valencia, Spain.

A brief biography available in French can be read here.

John Paul II beatified García Moyon on March 11, 2001.

Blessed Carmen Marie, pray for all teachers of Christian Doctrine and those who live with the trauma of rape.

Conversion of St Paul

St PaulPrayer for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

O glorious St. Paul, who, from being a persecutor of the Christian name, didst become its most zealous Apostle, and who, to carry the knowledge of Jesus, our Divine Savior, to the uttermost parts of the earth, didst joyfully suffer prison, scourgings, stonings, shipwreck and all manner of persecutions, who didst finish thy course by shedding the last drop of thy blood: obtain for us the grace to accept, as favors bestowed by the mercy of God, the infirmities, sufferings and misfortunes of this life, that we may not grow slack in our service of God by reason of these vicissitudes of our exile, but that we may rather show ourselves all the more devoted, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

V. Pray for us, St. Paul the Apostle.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who has taught the multitudes of the Gentiles by the preaching of blessed Paul the Apostle: grant unto us, we beseech Thee, that we who keep his memory sacred, may feel the might of his intercession before Thee. Through Christ Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, forever and ever. Amen. (500 days — plenary if recited daily for one month.)

Saint Agnes

OTHER128892_ArticoloSaint Jerome spoke these words in a sermon for today’s feast: “This is a virgin’s birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr’s birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married women with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, receives the name of Agnes [Greek: pure] not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be.”

Two very young lambs were blessed by Pope Francis in the Urban VIII Chapel. When the wool is ready, they will be shorn and the wool used to make the pallia for the recently appointed metropolitan archbishops. At this writing, there are no new archbishops in the USA who will receive one of the pallia unless a new archbishop in Anchorage is appointed soon.

You would recognize the pallium as the outer stole worn by the Pope and the archbishops while they offer Holy Mass. Each pallium is white decorated with six black crosses and 3 pins symbolizing their pastoral communion and authority share with the Pope. The white connects the purity of heart each bishop ought to have with the chaste love he has for the Church. The white pallium recognizes her faithfulness. The quote taken from Saint Jerome above gives the real sense of what is going on today with the lambs viz. Agnes viz. the archbishops.

The name Agnes means “lamb” in Latin and “pure” in Greek. The young virgin-martyrd Agnes lived in the early 4th century and was known for her consecrated virginity. Her life was taken from her because she believed in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and not pagan gods. Saint Agnes is buried in the Basilica of Saint Agnes on the via Nomentana.

The Trappist monks raise the lambs to a certain age before they given to the Benedictine nuns at St Cecilia Abbey in Trastevere weave the pallia and given to the Apostolic Household to be placed in an urn at the tomb of Saint Peter until the Pope blesses them on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

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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