Category Archives: Saints

St. Josaphat

st-josaphatSt. Josaphat (1580-1623) was born to a devout religious family of Ruthenian ancestry in what is now Ukraine, and was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He devoted his virginity to the Virgin Mary and grew in his reverence for ancient liturgy. During a revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life he became a monk in the Order of St. Basil, and was ordained to Holy Orders in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1609. He was noted for his life of asceticism, holiness, and virtue which led to his appointment as Archbishop of Polotsk in what is today Belarus. During his lifetime there was much sociopolitical and ecclesiastical rivalry between the Catholics and Orthodox and the Latin and Byzantine rites, especially in the wake of the 1596 Union of Brest which saw the Ruthenian Church break with Orthodox and place itself under the authority of the Holy See. St. Josaphat was passionate about working for the reunification with Rome and won many heretics and schismatics back to communion with the Holy See. However, he was also strongly opposed to the Latinization of his people. This combination of views drew ire from both Catholic and Orthodox clergy. His diocese was contested by the Orthodox, and a rival Orthodox bishop was set up to oppose him, causing riots. During one uprising Josaphat tried to calm the tensions and work for reunification and peace, but his enemies plotted to kill him. A mob of Orthodox Christians entered Josaphat’s home, stabbed and axed his body and threw it into a river. His body was seen glowing in the water and was recovered, and after his martyrdom many miracles were attributed to his intercession. Josaphat’s sacrifice became a blessing as regret and sorrow over his death converted many hearts toward reunification with Rome. In 1867, Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome. His feast day is November 12.

St Martin of Tours

st-martin-of-tours“Martinmass”
John Clare written on 11 Nov 1841.

‘Tis Martinmass from rig to rig
Ploughed fields and meadow lands are blea
In hedge and field each restless twig
Is dancing on the naked tree
Flags in the dykes are bleached and brown
Docks by its sides are dry and dead
All but the ivy-boughs are brown
Upon each leaning dotterel’s head

Crimsoned with awes the awthorns bend
O’er meadow-dykes and rising floods
The wild geese seek the reedy fen
And dark the storm comes o’er the woods
The crowds of lapwings load the air
With buzes of a thousand wings
There flocks of starnels too repair
When morning o’er the valley springs

St José Sánchez del Río

jose-sanchez-del-rio“José Sánchez del Río was born on 28 March 1913 in Sahuayo, in the State of Michoacán, Mexico. At the outbreak of the so-called “Cristero War” in 1926, his brothers joined the rebel forces fighting the violent anti-Christian regime which had been established in the country. José too was enlisted. Catholicism flourished in Sahuayo and for this reason the “Cristeros” were deeply rooted in the area. Priests secretly remained in Sahuayo throughout the persecution and never abandoned the faithful, clandestinely celebrating the Eucharist and administrating the sacraments, at which young José assiduously participated. 

“In those years, the first Christian martyrs were often spoken of and many young people wanted to follow in their footsteps. During a violent battle on 25 January 1928, José was captured and brought to his city of birth, where he was imprisoned in the parish church which had already been desecrated and laid waste by federalists. It was suggested that he flee in order to avoid being sentenced to death, but he refused.

“While in prison, in an effort to make José renounce his faith to save himself, he was tortured and forced to watch the hanging of another boy who had been imprisoned with him. The soles of his feet flayed, José was made to walk to the cemetery where, positioned in front of the grave prepared for him, he was shot, but not mortally, and asked again to renounce the faith. But José, with every wound inflicted, cried out: “Long live Christ the King! Long live our Lady of Guadalupe!” In the end he was shot and executed. It was 10 February 1928, and he was nearly fifteen years old. Three days before he had written to his mother: “Trust in God’s will. I die happy because I am dying next to our Lord.” In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified José.

The feast day is February 10th.

Saint José Sánchez del Río’s body is incorrupt. Given that he died more than 80 years ago at the age of 14, that the mortal remains are free from any sign of decomposition is a minor but not insignificant miracle.

Pope Francis canonized del Rio today, Sunday, October 16, 2016.

May Saint José Sánchez del Río’s love of Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe be a sign for us today.

St John XXIII

john-xxiiiAlmighty ever-living God,
who chose blessed John the Twenty-third to preside over your whole people
and benefit them by word and example,
keep safe, we pray, by his intercession,
the shepherds of your Church
along with the flocks entrusted to their care,
and direct them in the way of eternal salvation.

St Abraham

sacrifice-of-abrahamIn the Roman Martyrology today, is the feast day of St. Abraham, patriarch and father of all believers, who is celebrated by all three of the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). “The LORD took Abram outside and said, ‘Gaze into the sky and count the stars–if you are able to count them!’ Then he said to him, ‘So will your descendants be.’” (Genesis 15:5)

As you know, the Roman Martyrology is the official list of saints recognized by the Catholic Church. Several times on this blog I have drawn our attention to various OT prophets that we commemorate as saints and now Abraham brings us closer to the reality that the Church transcends time as well walks on earth.

The Orthodox Church commemorates Father Abraham on August 21 with Isaac, and Jacob. With the help of the Orthodox we can appreciate the place of Abraham in our theology from a hymn sung on the second Sunday preceding Christmas, the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers:

Come feast-lovers, let us extol with hymns the assembly of the forefathers – Adam the first father, Enoch, Noah, and Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and those after the Law – Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Samuel; and with them Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve Prophets, with Elijah and Elisha, and all the rest.

The author at St Sypridon Church’s web writes this that I believe is helpful for Catholics, too:

“The Church’s high esteem for the Old Testament saints is also seen in her custom of depicting the forefathers and prophets around the base of the interior central dome of a church. And by remembering these saints in her liturgical calendar, the Orthodox Church demonstrates her understanding that the Body of Christ transcends limitations of time and space. This awareness is clearly expressed at every Divine Liturgy: “And again we offer unto You this reasonable service for all those who in faith have gone before us to their rest: patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.”

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]yahoo.com.
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