Category Archives: Saints

Saint Pantaleon

The Church has many stellar men and women who consciously served God and their neighbor. The Church, from the time of Jesus, cared for the health of people. Recall the miracles of cure that Jesus did for his hearers; the miracles were carried over to the Apostles who healed people in the Holy Name of Jesus. Then, several people come to mind who have special patronage either on the spiritual plane or the physical or both: Saint Luke, Saint Agatha, Saint Blase, Saint Peregrine, the 14 Holy Helpers and today’s saint, Pantaleon (the Eastern Church spells his name as Panteleimon, meaning “holy compassionate one”). The artists have rendered Pantaleon healing a child or  being in the middle of his execution for being a Christian.

The hagiography of Panteleon reveals that he was from a wealthy pagan father and a Christian mother, well-educated, a physician who was martyred in the fourth century. His cult was alive and well in the Middle Ages.

Saint Pantaleon, pray for us.

Saint Mary Magdalen

Mary Magdalene and the Risen LordSaint Mary Magdalen is honored today on our liturgical calendar. We know her for a variety of reasons but the most important one is that she is the first to encounter the Risen Christ. This meeting gave her the duty and responsibility to announce the Risen Lord to the Apostles. According to the Gospel of Saint John Mary is thus honored as the Apostle to the Apostles.

Pious tradition speaks of Saint Mary Magdalen being dedicated to prayer, and solitude. Saint Mary is the patron saint of those religious and laity committed to the contemplative life. The Order of Preachers have Mary as a co-patron, also as the patron of preachers.

Saint Mary Magdalen calls us to rejoice in the Risen Christ, to witness Him to the world, and to re-dedicate ourselves to prayer.

Saint Camillus de Lellis

DeLellisCamillus went to Rome for medical treatment on his leg and he met Saint Philip Neri, the great apostle to Rome. Because he lacked an education, Camillus began to study with children when he was 32 years old. Sounds like he followed in the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola.

At particular point Camillus founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick (known as the Camillians or Fathers of a Good Death) whose charism was to care for the sick both in the hospital and at home. The Congregation expanded to several countries. Gospel clarity of Matthew 25 gave Camillus honored the sick as living images of Christ. The service to the sick allowed Camillus to hope that he did sufficient penance for the sins of his youth.

What does Saint Camillus teach us? The answer comes from the opening prayer for the Mass of the saint. We ask for the grace that allows us to have the perspective and desire to service with “charity towards the sick,” because in serving God in our neighbor, we may enter into beatitude when it is our time –at the hour of our death. What we saw in Christ passes now over to the Mystical Body of Christ.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha




St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Maria Goretti introduced her murderer to Jesus

Alessandro SerenelliI think there is much to learn of the martyr-saint by the person who killed her. Alessandro Serenelli killed the 11 year old Maria in 1902 and then spent the rest of his life in penance until the Lord called him home on May 6, 1970.

He spent 27 in prison (released in 1929). What I take as a prompting of the Holy Spirit, Serenelli asked for forgiveness on his knees Maria’s mother, Assunta Goretti, on Christmas night 1934. According to the world, Assunta caved. According to divine justice and mercy Assunta extended forgiveness to him because of her faith in Jesus Christ, and that on her deathbed, Maria forgave him.

In a 1961 letter found 10 years after Alessandro’s death –so in 1980– we know his thoughts:

When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me. I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed.

If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.

Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society. The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I’ve been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

Alessandro also relates that Maria appeared to him showing him the face of Christ.

The balance of Alessandro’s life was lived in a Capuchin friary as a Tertiary Franciscan (a secular Franciscan) working as the gardener and porter. It can be said that Maria brought her killer to Christ’s redeeming love. Alessandro testifies that the Capuchin friars welcomed him as a brother and not a servant or murder.

Pope Pius XII canonized Maria on June 24, 1950. A first for the Church was that the saint’s mother was present for the ceremony with the four remaining siblings. Pius said that the young saint was a witness to the value of purity of soul and body but she is also known for “mastery of the spiritual over the material, for docile love of her parents, for sacrifice in harsh, daily labor, for poverty accepted as the Gospel teaches us to accept it, for love of prayer and of Jesus in the Eucharist, for charity in her heroic forgiveness [of her murderer].” A million people were in Vatican City for the canonization.

Over the years I heard that Alessandro was present for the canonization but there is no hard evidence indicating such a gesture. No matter, Saint Maria and Alessandro are great examples of conversion and mercy … what the Christian life is all about.

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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