Category Archives: Saints

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

St Jane de Chantal“Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you. Instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the time speaking words of love and trust to our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults God allows us to become aware of in ourselves, we must forget them and go forward.”

Many of us have few personal connections with Saint Jane Frances (1572-1641) as the holy foundress –and the co-founder Saint Francis deSales– of the Order of the Visitation in 1610.. A native of Dijon, France, Jane Frances was a wife and mother and who united her sufferings with the Heart of Jesus.

There are monasteries of the Order of the Visitation around like the Georgetown Visitation, the Tyrringham Visitation, the Toledo Visitation, or the Brooklyn Visitation. In 2010, the Order celebrated 400 years of monastic witness and began a new era in their holy vocation.

The impression one gets from the Visitation Order is that while being serious contemplatives their stamina for a more traditional form of life is different and no less holy and inviting; the Visitation has a certain suppleness of life that is not easily explained –it needs to be experienced. The journey of a nun of the Visitation is accompanied with these words of the foundress: “Daughters of the Gospel, established especially to be imitators of the Sacred Heart of the Word Incarnate in His gentleness and humility. These virtues are, as it were, the foundation and basis of their Order, giving them the incomparable grace and privilege of bearing the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, pray for us!

St Lawrence

Bernardo Daddi St LawrenceThe martyr with a sense of humor, St Lawrence is honored today by the Church. He was roasted on a gridiron. This little piece of Chant gives voice to the saint:

“Blessed Lawrence, while burning on the grid-iron,
said to the impious tyrant:
‘This side is done, turn me over and then eat;
the riches of the Church, which you demand,
have been carried into the heavenly treasury by the hands of the poor.'”

Blessed Edmund Bojanowski

Blessed Edmund BojanowskiBlessed Edmund Bojanowski (1814-1871) is a rather unique person of faith: he died before entered seminary education complete and he founded 4 congregations of women religious. Blessed Edmund is a stellar example of being a holy layman building up the Kingdom of God, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Edmund Bojanowski was from a wealthy Polish family; he studied literature at a time when literature and music were well regarded at universities in Breslau (modern Wroclaw, Poland) and Berlin, Germany. His intellect work included translating works from Serbia to Polish, wrote his own poetry, and a history of Serbia.

Bojanowski was known for his love of God and Our Lady above all else. In many ways he is a great model of what Pope Francis teaches about being protagonists in the work of mercy. While another blessed of the Church has the title of “Man of the Beatitudes”, a case can be made for Blessed Edmund having the same.

His Christian formation, in part, was as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Poland. Another aspect of his formation is devotion to Lectio Divina (meditated daily on Sacred Scripture), went to Confession weekly, and made his annual retreats making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As a consequence of meeting Jesus Christ, Edmund dedicated his whole life to the service of abandoned children, the sick, the poor, and those in greatest need.He dedicated his life to the service of abandoned children, the sick, and poor, teaching and spending his fortune in the service of the needy.

He founded reading rooms and libraries to provide books and education to the poor, and started the first day-care centers in the country. He funded assistance for the sick, supported orphanages, and worked in both himself.

Founded the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the Sisters Handmaids of the Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the Sisters Handmaids of the Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate Conception; together their 3,300 sisters continue the work around the world. Two years before his death Edmund entered he entered the seminary in Gniezno, but did not survive long enough to graduate or be ordained.

The last will of Edmund Bojanowski to his Sisters was the recommendation of the blessing of simplicity and communal love. John Paul II declared him Blessed in Warsaw on June 13, 1999. At this time the Pope said he

is remembered as a good man with a big heart, who for love of God and neighbor was able to bring different sectors together, effectively rallying them around a common good. In his many-faceted activity, he anticipated much of what the Second Vatican Council said about the apostolate of the laity. His was an exceptional example of generous and industrious work for man, the homeland and the church.

St John Vianney

john vianneyLiturgically we recall the memory of Saint John Vianney. We have linked as saintly patron of secular priesthood Vianney for a very long time; the weight of Vianney’s example led Pius XII to say, “The wonderful example of St. John Mary Vianney retains all of its force for our times.” But this designation was refined by Pope Pius XI as the heavenly patron of all “pastors, to promote their spiritual welfare throughout the world.” Until this time he was spoken of as the patron of priests in France.

Pope Pius XI spoke of Saint John Vianney in this way: “the gaunt figure of John Baptist Vianney, with that head shining with long hair that resembled a snowy crown, and that thin face, wasted from long fasting, where the innocence and holiness of the meekest and humblest of souls shone forth so clearly that the first sight of it called crowds of people back to thoughts of salvation.”

Reflecting on priesthood, Pope Pius XII stated: “Through the character of Sacred Orders, God willed to ratify that eternal covenant of love, by which He loves His priests above all others; and they are obliged to repay God for this special love with holiness of life. . . So a cleric should be considered as a man chosen and set apart from the midst of the people, and blessed in a very special way with heavenly gifts–a sharer in divine power, and, to put it briefly, another Christ. . . He is no longer supposed to live for himself; nor can he devote himself to the interests of just his own relatives, or friends or native land. . . He must be aflame with charity toward everyone. Not even his thoughts, his will, his feelings belong to him, for they are rather those of Jesus Christ who is his life.”

You see the importance of the holy priesthood and the reason why the Church would look to John Vianney for special help. In 1959 Saint John XXIII fine tuned this point in saying about Vianney, “The Catholic Church, which elevated this man in sacred orders, who was “wonderful in his pastoral zeal, in his devotion to prayer and in the ardor of his penance” to the honors of the saints of heaven, now, one hundred years after his death, offers him with maternal joy to all the clergy as an outstanding model of priestly asceticism, of piety, especially in the form of devotion to the Eucharist, and, finally, of pastoral zeal.”

One last point today from Pius XII: the holds that the secular priesthood “requires a greater interior holiness than is demanded by the religious state.”

St Lydia

St LydiaSaint Lydia Purpuraria (1st century) is famous for the mention in Acts 16 for her work with selling purple material (hence, her name which means purple seller), used for for expensive Roman clothing.

Lydia was born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar), a town in Asia Minor. She met Paul on his second missionary journey in ca. AD50. Lydia became Paul’s first convert at Philippi and he baptized her with her household in the Gaggitis River –called the Angst River. Paul with his companions stayed at her home in Philippi. Thus, it is her home that becomes the first church in Europe.

The Orthodox recall her memory liturgically on May 20.

For most Catholics praying to Saint Lydia for her intercession would be very novel. But what she models for us is not new. In his 1995 Letter to Women, Saint John Paul II wrote “In this vast domain of service, the Church’s two-thousand-year history, for all its historical conditioning, has truly experienced the ‘genius of woman’; from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history.” Right, Lydia’s genius is instructive and worthy of our consideration for knowing the desires of her heart: she was a business woman, she lived the virtue of hospitality, a leader of people, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

Let us ask Lydia to guide all women, indeed, all Christians, in their responding sacrificially to the holy desires of the heart.

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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