Tag Archives: saints

Saint Katharine Drexel

DrexelSaint Katharine Drexel (1858 – 1955) was born in Philadelphia to a rich banking family. In 1889, at the age of 33, with the desire burning in her heart, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated to mission work among Indians and black people. Drexel spent her entire life and her entire fortune to this work, opening schools, founding a university, and funding many chapels, convents and monasteries. Drexel travelled well in the USA.

She died on 3 March 1955, by which time there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the United States.

“If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.”

Saint Joan de Lestonnac 

St Joan de LestonnacYou know you are in the digital age when you learn about a saint that has an interesting place in people’s lives. This morning I learned of one of today’s liturgical memorials: St. Joan de Lestonnac.

According to a biographer, Saint Joan “was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. She married at the age of seventeen. The happy marriage produced four children, but her husband died suddenly in 1597. After her children were raised, she entered the Cistercian monastery at Toulouse [at the age of 46]. Joan was forced to leave the Cistercians when she became afflicted with poor health. She returned to Bordeaux with the idea of forming a new congregation, and several young girls joined her as novices. They ministered to victims of a plague that struck Bordeaux, and they were determined to counteract the evils of heresy promulgated by Calvinism. Thus was formed the Order of the Company of Mary our Lady of Bordeaux. In 1608, Joan and her companions received the religious habit from the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Joan was elected superior in 1610, and many miracles occurred at her tomb. She was canonized in 1949 by Pope Pius XII.”

One interesting point for me is that Saint Joan’s concern for souls lost to Calvinism was aided by members of the Society of Jesus. Another biographer writes:

“Two Jesuit priests, Fathers de Bordes and Raymond, whilst they celebrated Mass, received an understanding that they should assist in founding an order to counteract the surrounding heresies and that Joan must be the first superior.  The rule and constitutions of the Order were founded on those of St. Ignatius and the first house was opened in the Holy Ghost priory at Bordeaux.”

AND, “Finally, her great love shown by her patient example even whilst she was being emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and physically abused, with her reputation being ruined as a result of lies and hatred, she still remained firm in her Faith and love of God, even converting the person who was so mean and cruel to her.  Let us remember the extraordinary example of this beautiful and incredible woman always!  St. Joan is a true feminist, true to her Faith, true to her abilities and never afraid to love, even her most vicious enemies!  God be praised for this magnificent lady!”

Saint Joan’s body, as a sign of holiness, remains incorrupt.

Saint Sebastian

St SebastianAt this morning’s Mass the Church commemorated the memory of two early martyrs of the Faith, Saints Fabian and Sebastian. When we recited the entrance antiphon mention was made of not fearing the words of the godless and when the priest prayed the opening prayer I noted that through the intercession of these two martyrs we hope to progress in the communion of the faith and service in courage. I also was struck in the Letter to the Hebrews that the author exhorts us to hope in the promises of Jesus who is both our anchor and our priest. Indeed, God remembers his covenant. That’s the hope I rely upon.

Here is a piece on Sebastian:

Saint Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army, esteemed even by the pagans as a good soldier, and honored by the Church ever since as a champion of Jesus Christ. Born at Narbonne, Sebastian came to Rome about the year 284 and entered the lists against the powers of evil. He found the twin brothers Marcus and Marcellinus in prison for the faith, and when they were close to yielding to the entreaties of their relatives, encouraged them to despise flesh and blood, and to die for Christ. God confirmed his words by miracles: light shone around him while he spoke; he cured the sick by his prayers; and in this divine strength he led multitudes to the faith, among them the Prefect of Rome, with his son Tiburtius.

He saw his disciples die before him, and one of them came back from heaven to tell him that his own end was near. It was in a contest of fervor and charity that Saint Sebastian found the occasion of martyrdom. The Governor-Prefect of Rome was converted to the faith and afterwards retired to his estates in Campania, taking with him a great number of his fellow-converts to this place of safety. It was a question whether Polycarp the priest or Saint Sebastian should accompany the neophytes. Each was eager to stay and face the danger at Rome; finally the Pope decided that the Roman church could not spare the services of Sebastian, who therefore remained amid the perils in the city.

He continued to labor at his post of danger until he was betrayed by a false disciple. He was led before Diocletian and, at the emperor’s command, pierced with arrows and left for dead. God raised him up again, cured, and of his own accord he went before the emperor and conjured him to halt the persecution of the Church. Again sentenced, he was beaten to death by clubs, and crowned his labors by the merit of a double martyrdom.

Reflection. Your ordinary occupations will give you opportunities of laboring for the faith. Ask help from Saint Sebastian, both wise and prudent.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Saint Ananias

ananiasThe Holy Apostle Ananias of the Seventy, baptizer of Saint Paul and the first bishop of Damascus. Saint Ananias is not a name Christians have on their lips. But they should. He is key in teaching what true faith in Jesus Christ meant. Today is the Byzantine Church’s observance for the saint yet the Latins celebrate him on January 25 –the same day as Saint Paul’s conversion, according to the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology.
The Lord ordered him to restore the sight of Saul, the former persecutor of Christians, then baptize him (Acts 9:10-19, 22:12). Saul became the great preacher and Apostle Paul –our first theologian. It is said that Saint Ananias boldly and openly confessed Christianity before the Jews and the pagans, despite the danger to his life and to the nascent community of Christian faith.
From Damascus Ananias went to preach at Eleutheropolis where he healed many people of their infirmities. Lucian, the prefect of the city, tried to persuade Ananias to offer sacrifice to idols. Because of Ananias’ staunch and solid confession of Jesus Christ, Lucian ordered that he be tortured. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city, where they stoned him. The saint prayed for those who put him to death. The relics first rested in Damascus before being transferred to Constantinople.

Saints Cosmas and Damian

Cosmas and DamianWith the Church we pray:

May you be magnified, O Lord, by the revered memory of your saints Cosmas and Damian,for with providence beyond words, you have conferred on them everlasting glory and on us, your unfailing help.

Mother Church commemorates twin brothers, Saints Cosmas and Damian born in Arabia.  Eminent for their practice of medicine and reputation for giving free medical care; hence being known as the “moneyless ones.” The practice of charity and service to their neighbor exemplified that it is possible to live the gospel, especially Matthew 25. They attracted many converts to the faith. The holy brothers were arrested and beheaded during the Diocletian persecution in 303.

Saints Cosmas and Damian are patron saints of physicians and pharmacists. By the 6th century, their names were placed in the canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).

Church history keeps their memory alive by the fact that we observe a feast day for them and that the faithful  erected church on the site of their burial place — later enlarged by the emperor Justinian; likewise a famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Recall that Saint Francis of Assisi rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.

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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