Category Archives: Saints

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.

Saint Thomas the Apostle

St Thomas 13th cent MSSaint Thomas the Apostle is celebrated by the Christian Churches today. Not much is known of Thomas but John’s gospel plugs us in at some very key moments in the Lord’s mission.

He’s the apostle –one of the 12– that tradition says brought the Good News to is today called India. Thomas died a martyr’s death. Likewise, Thomas is famous for wanting to see, to have concrete proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But I wonder if this is the most important part of Thomas’ life. Something tells me there is more than this apostle’s famous query: “not unless I probe the side of Jesus will I believe…” This 13th century German illumination illustrates the biblical narrative.

The Lord blesses us, in his beatitude as he prepares to return the Father: he gives the grace to know at some fundamental human level that those who do not have such sight and tactile proof may believe. That’s Good News for which to give thanks. Thomas had his God-mission; what is your mission for the Kingdom?

Sts Peter and Paul

Peter and PaulA meditation on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul

“Conduct yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning” (1 Peter 1:17).

These are the words of the great Apostle Peter, words that have a dual foundation: heavenly inspiration and personal experience. By divine inspiration, Peter, a simple fisherman, became a teacher of the people, a pillar of the Faith and a powerful miracle-worker. According to his own experience he learned that all of his wisdom and power was of God and, because of that, one should possess the fear of God. No other fear, except the fear of God.

The foolish one becomes frightened only when lightning flashes and thunder cracks but the wise man fears God every day and every hour. The Creator of lightning and thunder is more awesome than both of them and He does not appear before you, from time to time, as lightning and thunder rather He is continually before you and does not move away from you. That is why it is not enough, from time to time, to have fear of God, but one must breathe in the fear of God. The fear of God is the ozone in the suffocating atmosphere of our soul. This ozone brings purity, easiness, sweet fragrance and health. Until he had become strengthened in the fear of God, Peter was only Peter and not an apostle, hero, teacher of the people and miracle-worker.

O my brethren, let us not rejoice before the harvest. This, our life, is not a harvest but rather, it is a sowing, labor, sweat and fear. The plower lives in fear until he has gathered the fruits from the field. Let us also delay our rejoicing for the day of harvest, for now is the time for labor and fear. Will I be saved? This question should torment every one of us, in the same way that the plower is tormented by the question: “Will I reap the fruit of my labor in the field?” The plower labors and fears everyday. Let us also labor and fear “all the time of our sojourning” on earth.

O awesome and powerful Lord, sustain us in Your fear.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Take from the Prologue from Ochrid

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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