Tag Archives: Franciscan saints and blesseds

Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro

St Seraphin of Montegranaro.jpg

More of the simple lay friars were made saints than the Capuchin priest friars. I wonder why? But a snippet from a biography on Saint Seraphin may be helpful to get a sense of the man:

In 1556, Felix repeated his request to the provincial minister who admitted him to the novitiate at Jesi, where Felix received the name, Seraphin. Upon his reception into the Order, Seraphin remarked, “I have nothing‹just a crucifix and a rosary‹but with these I hope to benefit the friars and become a saint.”

Although he was not totally illiterate, Seraphin could speak about God more eloquently than any theologian. Even the bishop of Ascoli, the eminent theologian, Cardinal Bernerio, sought Seraphin’s advice in especially difficult cases. 

With himself, Seraphin was austere. Only once in his life did he accept a new habit, and then, only out of obedience. For 40 continuous years, all he ate was soup or salad. In keeping with the spirituality prevalent at the time, Seraphin had a personal devotion of serving as many eucharistic liturgies as possible.

Saint Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi Andrea diVanni d'Andrea.jpgFrancis, the man of God, left his home behind, abandoned his inheritance and became poor and penniless, but the Lord raised him up.

O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis’ footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you.

The mystery of the Cross is likely never made more evident in Christianity than through the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. The above prayer, in fact, the new collect for the Roman Missal brings this to bear on us. Francis’ life of charity and apostolic zeal effected God’s love for all.

The Pope offers a glimpse into the Poor Man of Assisi:

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Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

The question I am asking myself: is it possible to follow this man? Alternately, Can I even think that it is possible to be a man like Padre Pio, and seek after God without reservation? What Padre Pio has left us is a clear model of holiness and a path to walk. Holiness here is not meant to be an artificial , showy display of piety (beating the breast, hours of Adoration of Eucharistic adoration, days of fasting, no bathing, etc) but it is a way of life where we shed everything that is not ourselves, living in the manner that is coresponds to the way God the Father has educated us through His Son, Jesus (read the NT). Padre Pio’s ministerial life as a priest and as a professed Franciscan Capuchin focussed on the sanctification of souls. No greater work needed his attention and energy. The path given us to walk by Padre Pio is one that leads us back to God hearing the words of Jesus: I love you, I have mercy on you no matter what. Three tools to use on this path: prayer, confession and charity. Beauty and joy will shine through our conversation with God and by our love. If you really want to know more about the path Pio gives us, read what the Pope spoke in 2009 when he made a pilgrimage to the relics of Saint Pio:

St Padre Pio with book.jpg

Some saints have lived intensely and personally this experience of Jesus. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is one of them. A simple man of humble origins, “seized by Christ” (Phil. 3:12) — as the Apostle Paul writes of himself — to make of him an instrument chosen by the perennial power of his cross: power of love for souls, of forgiveness and of reconciliation, of spiritual paternity, of effective solidarity with those who suffer. The stigmata, which marked his body, united him closely to the Crucified and Risen One. A true follower of St. Francis of Assisi, he made his own, like the Poverello, the experience of the Apostle Paul which he describes in his letters: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20), or: “in us death is at work, but in you life” (2 Cor 5, 12). This does not mean alienation, loss of personality: God never annuls that which is human, but he transforms it with his Spirit and he ordains it to the service of his plan of salvation. Padre Pio kept his natural gifts, and even his own temperament, but he offered everything to God, who has been able to freely use them to extend the work of Christ: to proclaim the Gospel, forgive sins and heal the sick in body and spirit.

As it was for Jesus, the real struggle, the radical combat Padre Pio had to sustain, was not against earthly enemies, but against the spirit of evil (cf. Ephesians 6, 12). The biggest “storms” that threatened him were the assaults of the devil, against which he defended himself with “the armor of God” with “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11,16,17). Remaining united to Jesus, he always kept in mind the depths of the human drama, and because of this he offered himself and offered his many sufferings, and he knew how to spend himself in the care and relief of the sick, a privileged sign of God’s mercy, of his kingdom which is coming, indeed, which is already in the world, of the victory of love and life over sin and death. Guide souls and relieve suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, as the servant of God, Pope Paul VI said about him: “He was a man of prayer and suffering” (To the Capuchin Chapter Fathers, 20 February 1971).


Pope Benedict XVI

Homily during the 2009 visit to the Shrine of Saint Pio

Saint Maximillian Kolbe

Kolbe in Rome.jpg“Without sacrifice, there is no love. May his intercession further purge us of our idolatries and the sentimentalities that so mar our worship, our loves, our fatuous claims to modernity and maturity.” 

(Saint Maximilian Kolbe writing to a fellow priest)

Saint Clare of Assisi: a year to receive an indulgence

St Clare of Assisi saving a child from a wolf.jpgToday we observe the feast day of one the brilliant gems in the crown of Christ the King, Saint Clare of Assisi. 

Clare, as you know, is the close companion to the great saint Francis of Assisi, who some have called the “other Francis” because of singular vision of living with Christ poor. In time, Clare founded a group of “poor ladies” living together following the Rule written by Clare for God’s greater glory in enclosed life. First known as the Order of San Damiano, The Poor Clares as they have been known, live a life of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ. Clare’s Rule was an extraordinary act of confidence since the establishment only accepted the Rule of St Benedict for monastic living.

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Saint Clare was born on July 16, 1194 and died at the age of 59 on August 11, 1253. She was canonized by Pope Alexander IV on September 26, 1255. Our Saint is the patron of those with diseases of the eye, communication systems, goldsmiths and good weather. Perhaps brides and builders should pay more attention to Saint Clare!
For the 800th anniversary of Saint Clare’s birth holy Mother Church is offering the faithful –with the usual conditions– an indulgence.
The four minister generals of the large Franciscans groups wrote the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare a letter for the anniversary where they say they rely on the continued witness of the daughters of Clare today in the monastic life. The friars propose a consolidation that maintains a “healthy and necessary complementarity” among the friars and sisters. Here’s the letter: Letter to the Poor Clares.pdf
You may want to read an excellent t book on Saint Clare edited and translated by Capuchin Father Regis J. Armstrong, The Lady: Clare of Assisi: Early Documents (NY: New City Press, 2006).
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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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