Category Archives: Saints

Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Naming of St John Baptist.jpgThe Church celebrates as a solemnity the birth of the Savior’s cousin, Saint John the Baptist. It is John who points to Jesus as the “path to salvation” and he teaches us that the encounter with the Lord requires to put aside our sinfulness and to put on purity of heart. It is as Isaiah says in the first reading which is applied to John the Baptist and it ought to be true for us: “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my rights is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”

At Mass today it struck me that the Lord was baptized by his cousin, John. How amazing is it the Savior was baptized a family member! The Baptist points the way to our salvation in Christ.

Saint Agrippina, martyr

The Church liturgically commemorates the feast of Saint Agrippina, a Roman martyr who lived at the time of Emperor Valerian (153-259). Not called to be married to a believer or unbeliever but called to fully dedicate her life to Christ, Agrippina confessed in public her faith in Christ as Savior for which she was tortured. After being beatened, tradition says, she was chained by the government yet released by an angel. She died from her torture. Initially, Saint Agrippina was buried in Sicily by three Christian women: Bassa, Paula and Agathonice; her relics were later transfered to Constantinople.
Saint Agrippina is often invoked by those who are suffering bacterial infections, evil spirits, leprosy and thunderstorms.
A liturgical hymn recalls Saint Agrippina:

With Your blood, O Christ, far beyond all price,

You redeemed us from our sin.
Bringing us new life, guarding us in strife,
Making us Your blood-brought kin.

St Agrippina.jpg

Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!
Let us form a choir, take the heav’nly lyre,
To adorn Your martyr’s feast.
Faithful unto death, with her final breath
She proclaimed You King and Priest!
Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!
In Your martyr, brave Agrippina,
You show forth Your boundless grace.
Grant that we, inspired, may like her be fired
With the zeal to see Your face!
Praise to You, O Christ our Lord,
Both in heav’n and earth adored!
Let Your martyr’s praise
Echo through our days;
Hymning You with one accord!

Saints Thomas More and John Fisher

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

The great and noble saints of the Church, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, a married man and a bishop, respectively, are liturgically commemorated today. We remember with enthusiasm their witness to Jesus Christ, the Church and to humanity. They showed us the narrow gate. To the understanding of the Church no known miracles occurred that would support the claim of “sanctity” being made for these men: their holiness was determined through evidence of their giving their lives unto death.

Shortly before his death, it was recorded that:

He spoke little before his execution. Only he asked that bystanders to pray for him in this world, and he would pray for them elsewhere. He then begged them to pray for the King, that it might please God to give him good counsel, protesting that he dies the King’s good servant, but God’s first.

More and Fisher were canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 19, 1935, who declared:

In honor of the Undivided Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after mature deliberation and imploring the divine assistance, by the advice of our Venerable Brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, the Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops present in the city, We declare and define as Saints, and inscribe in the Catalogue of the Saints, Blessed John Fisher and Thomas More, and that their memory shall be celebrated in the Universal Church on the anniversaries of their heavenly birth.

Saint John Fisher, bishop of Rochester (England) and cardinal 1469-1535 (June 22) canonized with Saint Thomas More in 1935.

Saint Thomas More, husband, father King’s chancellor of England (1529-1532)¬†1480-1535 (July 6).

In 2000, Pope John Paul II named Saint Thomas More the patron saint of politicians.

Saint Romuald

St Romuald Guercino.jpgAll that I seek to know on earth is Christ,
The power of his resurrected life,
To share the suff’rings that he bore for me,
Thus shall I triumph over death and strife.

So Romuald, the solitary man,
Became a living icon of his Lord,
In prayer and self-denial formed his monks
And molded them within the silent Word.

O Father, Son, and Spirit ever blessed,
We raise our hearts in silence and in praise!
With Romuald and all the heav’nly choir,
We praise you, Lord of Life, for all our days!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
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Saint Ephrem the Syrian

saint-ephrem2.gifIt is indeed fitting to honor the blessed deacon of
Edessa for his desire that the preaching of the divine word and the training of
his disciples rest on the purity of Sacred Scripture. He also acquired honor as
a Christian musician and poet. He was so accomplished in both arts that he was
called the “lyre of the Holy Spirit.” From this, Venerable Brothers,
you can learn what arts promote the knowledge of sacred things. Ephrem lived
among people whose nature was attracted by the sweetness of poetry and music.
The heretics of the second century after Christ used these same allurements to
skillfully disseminate their errors. Therefore Ephrem, like youthful David
killing the giant Goliath with his own sword, opposed art with art and clothed
Catholic doctrine in melody and rhythm. These he diligently taught to boys and
girls, so that eventually all the people learned them. In this fashion he not
only renewed the education of the faithful in Christian doctrine and supported
their piety with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, but also happily kept
creeping heresy at bay.

The artistry introduced by Blessed Ephrem added dignity
to sacred matters as Theodoretus stresses. The metric rhythm, which our saint
popularized, was widely propagated both among the Greeks and the Latins. Indeed
does it seem probable that the liturgical antiphonary with its songs and
processions, introduced at Constantinople in the works of Chrysostom and at
Milan by Ambrose (whence it spread throughout all of Italy), was the work of
some other author? For the “custom of Eastern rhythm” deeply moved
the catechumen Augustine in northern Italy; Gregory the Great improved it and
we use it in a more advanced form. Critics acknowledge that that “same
Eastern rhythm” had it origins in Ephrem’s Syrian antiphonary.

It is no
wonder then that many of the Fathers of the Church stress the authority of St.
Ephrem. Nyssenus says of his writings, “Studying the Old and New
Scriptures most thoroughly, he interpreted them accurately, word for word; and
what was hidden and concealed, from the very creation of the world to the last
book of grace, he illumined with commentaries, using the light of the
Spirit.” And Chrysostom: “The great Ephrem is scourge of the
slothful, consoler of the afflicted, educator, instructor and exhorter of
youth, mirror of monks, leader of penitents, goad and sting of heretics,
reservoir of virtues, and the home and lodging of the Holy Spirit.” Certainly
nothing greater can be said in praise of a man who, however, seemed so small in
his own eyes that he claimed to be the least of all and a most vile sinner”

Pope Benedict XV

Apostolorum Pet
ro (On St. Ephrem the Syrian), 5 October 1920

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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