Category Archives: Saints

Saint Marianne Cope

Marrianne CopeToday’s the feast of one of our great American saints, Saint Marianne Cope, a Franciscan sister who spent 35 years ministering to people living with Hansen’s Disease (called leprosy) on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. Cope is part of a small group of American saints.

Saint Marianne (1838-1918) was a close collaborator of the famous Saint Damian DeVeuster of Molokai.

Cope’s venerable body was recently returned to the Diocese of Hawaii.

Bishop Larry Silva said this in a homily:

When Mother Marianne made her famous statement that she was hungry for the work, it was not because she needed more to do.  It was because she knew that her own deep hunger pangs for the true bread of life would be better satisfied if she met the Eucharistic Lord in those she fed, in those she clothed, in those she nursed, and in those least of the least whom she set free from a prison of self-pity, no matter how justified it might be. Who will make the rest of the world as hungry as was our beloved St. Marianne?

More about her inspiring life can be found on her order’s website, the Sisters of St. Francis:

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem:

To the Reverend Sister Marianne,  Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa. 

To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breasts of pain!
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.

Saint Sebastian

St SebastianAt this morning’s Mass the Church commemorated the memory of two early martyrs of the Faith, Saints Fabian and Sebastian. When we recited the entrance antiphon mention was made of not fearing the words of the godless and when the priest prayed the opening prayer I noted that through the intercession of these two martyrs we hope to progress in the communion of the faith and service in courage. I also was struck in the Letter to the Hebrews that the author exhorts us to hope in the promises of Jesus who is both our anchor and our priest. Indeed, God remembers his covenant. That’s the hope I rely upon.

Here is a piece on Sebastian:

Saint Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army, esteemed even by the pagans as a good soldier, and honored by the Church ever since as a champion of Jesus Christ. Born at Narbonne, Sebastian came to Rome about the year 284 and entered the lists against the powers of evil. He found the twin brothers Marcus and Marcellinus in prison for the faith, and when they were close to yielding to the entreaties of their relatives, encouraged them to despise flesh and blood, and to die for Christ. God confirmed his words by miracles: light shone around him while he spoke; he cured the sick by his prayers; and in this divine strength he led multitudes to the faith, among them the Prefect of Rome, with his son Tiburtius.

He saw his disciples die before him, and one of them came back from heaven to tell him that his own end was near. It was in a contest of fervor and charity that Saint Sebastian found the occasion of martyrdom. The Governor-Prefect of Rome was converted to the faith and afterwards retired to his estates in Campania, taking with him a great number of his fellow-converts to this place of safety. It was a question whether Polycarp the priest or Saint Sebastian should accompany the neophytes. Each was eager to stay and face the danger at Rome; finally the Pope decided that the Roman church could not spare the services of Sebastian, who therefore remained amid the perils in the city.

He continued to labor at his post of danger until he was betrayed by a false disciple. He was led before Diocletian and, at the emperor’s command, pierced with arrows and left for dead. God raised him up again, cured, and of his own accord he went before the emperor and conjured him to halt the persecution of the Church. Again sentenced, he was beaten to death by clubs, and crowned his labors by the merit of a double martyrdom.

Reflection. Your ordinary occupations will give you opportunities of laboring for the faith. Ask help from Saint Sebastian, both wise and prudent.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Saint Anthony of Egypt

Anthony of the DesertToday, the Church recalls the memory of Saint Antony, Abbot (251-356) ~ “Father of Monasticism”! The saint was born in Egypt: he listened to and then followed the words of the Gospel and gave all his material things to the poor. Anthony left civilization as it was known then and went into the wilderness to begin a life of penitence, living in absolute poverty, praying, meditating, and supporting himself by manual work. He suffered many temptations, both physical and spiritual, but he overcame them. As you would expect, disciples found his manner of life and teaching attractive: his wisdom, love, moderation, and holiness. He gave support to the victims of the persecutions of Diocletian, and helping Saint Athanasius in his fight against the Arians. He lived to be over a hundred years old.

Saint Anthony of the Desert taught,

“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain. Those who are devout and whose intellect enjoys the love of God participate in the life of virtue; the ordinary intellect, however, is worldly and wavering, producing both good and evil thoughts, because it is changeful by nature and directed towards material things. But the intellect that enjoys the love of God punishes the evil which arises spontaneously because of man’s laziness.”

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

St Elizabeth Ann SetonElizabeth Ann Seton was a woman of great and persevering generosity and service – as a wife, a mother, a widow, and as a religious. She was canonized on September 14, 1975 by Pope Paul VI. At that time he told the Church in America, “Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a Saint! She is the first daughter of the United States of America to be glorified with this incomparable attribute!”

Mother Seton came to Baltimore and then to Emmitsburg to educate the young and the poor, a healing of body, mind and spirit. Her discipleship with the Lord as Master was informed by her femininity, her spousal relationship with her husband, her motherhood, her conversion to the Church of Rome and most importantly, her spousal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a consequence of Seton’s intense faith in Christ and the sacrament of the Church Seton was able to follow the invitation of the Sulpician who invited her to serve the Church in a new way. The founding of the Daughters of Charity was just one concrete way of living of the spiritual and corporal works. As we know, love knows no limitations; where man’s mercy may have limitations, God’s mercy does not and that was Seton’s message.

When death was imminent and it came on January 2, 1821, Mother Seton said as her final words: “Be children of the Church!” Hers was the message she learned from experience and from Ignatian spirituality, “sentire cum ecclesiae.” Her words were an exhortation to be a close and intimate friend of Jesus, a mature offspring of the Divine Master.

For Mother Seton, and therefore for us who are close to her, our vocation is to bear witness to that mercy in ministries of the mission, education and healing formed by charity. The gospel knows no other way.

Saint Sylvester

St SylvesterOn this final day of the civil year Mother Church honors the memory of Pope Saint Sylvester, who guided the Church with his teaching and life during the persecutions of Diocletian, and during the period of Arianism and the Council of Nicæa. That his feast day is so close to Christmas ought to indicate to us that he had concern for the Christology of Catholic belief and life.

Pope Sylvester’s pontifical ministry saw the construction of great churches in Rome by Constantine, namely the basilica and baptistery of the Lateran near the former imperial Lateran palace where the pope lived (he now resides at the Vatican), the basilica of the Sessorian palace (the Basilica of Santa Croce where the relics of the holy passion are located), the first Church of St. Peter on Vatican Hill, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs.

More to the point for this blog, and the desire to live in a theology of communion, the sainted Pope contributed to the development of the sacred Liturgy of the Roman Church and drew together the first martyrology of Roman martyrs. Moreover, Sylvester established of the Roman school of chant and music.

Pope Saint Sylvester is buried at the Church connected with the Catacomb of Priscilla.

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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