Saints: February 2013 Archives

Saint Polycarp

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Saint Polycarp's rich writings point to one thing: a sharp focus on Jesus Christ as the only thing we ought to be concerned with today. Nothing else really matters....

Polycarp (AD 69-155) was a bishop of Smyrna and martyr of the Church. He was a disciple of the Beloved Disciple John who ordained him a bishop. Polycarp's life and work are attested to by Irenaeus, Tertullian and Jerome. He is called an Apostolic Father along with Saint Clement of Rome and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

Saint Polycarp's witness is key in knowing the early Church's life and how we work in building up the Kingdom today. The saint was instrumental in bring others to Christ.

This excerpt tells us of his call to greater conversion in the Lord.

"... if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing or blow for blow or cursing for cursing; but remembering the words which the Lord spake as He taught; Judge not that ye be not judged. Forgive, and it shall be forgiven to you. Have mercy that ye may receive mercy. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and again Blessed are the poor and they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God."

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

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Chair of Saint Peter

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With the Church we pray

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that no tempests may disturb us, for you have set us fast on the rock of the Apostle Peter's confession of faith.

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Has anyone promised you anything? As Catholics, we can say with certainty that we have been promised something. In fact, we are promised not only something, but Someone. We can identify that we have been promised the truth, happiness (in this life) and eternal life (happiness in the next life); we've also been promised a rich relationship with God, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Today's feast of the Chair of Saint Peter is the Church's way of reminding God and each other that we have been promised all these things: truth, happiness, and life eternal with God.

For a very, very long time, actually since the 4th century, the Church of Rome has had a special commemoration of the pastoral, spiritual authority of Saint Peter as the rock upon which the Lord built His Church. Historians estimate that Saint Peter was executed between the years 64 and 68. In fact, the Church in Antioch, founded by Saint Peter, has also had this feast on their liturgical calendar. The witnesses found in the Apostolic Fathers, the Roman See has always held a special place in the obedience of orthodox Christian believers because of the bishop of Rome "presides in love" and in service over all the Churches of God.

Today's feast ought to remind each one of us that we don't celebrate furniture but it calls us to see in Peter Jesus. Each feast of a saint, including the Blessed Mother, always points to Jesus. To do otherwise would be idolatry. The Chair of Saint Peter is fundamentally about work, the mission of bishop as overseer, teacher and pastor conferred by Jesus on Peter, and continued through the ages to Pope Benedict XVI (and soon on his successor). See the Gospel of Matthew 16:13-20. What we celebrate today is the communion of faith, the truth of the faith given to us by the Lord through the apostles to the bishop of Rome and to all bishops. You may even say the feast we celebrate today is the ministry of the Church's Magisterium located in the Roman Pontiff in that he cannot teach error. That does not mean the pope is a saint; that the pope does not sin; on contrary, we believe the pope is a sinner and in need of redemption like each one of us: he has clay feet like you and me. But having clay feet doesn't mean that teach that we believe in "Christ, the Son of the Living God." His job is to help us see the face of Christ in this world, and to lead us to Him so that may enjoy eternity with Him.

In 2006, Benedict XVI gave the following address on this feast which is required reading,

Saint Maron

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Holy are You O God,
Holy are You O Strong One,
Holy are You O Immortal One,
O Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us; Lord teach us to pray!

Saint Maron, pray for us.

Saint Josephine Bakhita

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Josephine Bakhita
O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ, grant, we pray, that by her example we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified, remaining steadfast in charity and prompt to show compassion.

One of the most intriguing and beautiful faces of holiness in the 20th century is Saint Josephine Bahkita (c. 1869- 8 Feb 1947), the Sudanese woman once a slave, convert, and a religious sister. She's gaining popularity and was mentioned by the Pope in Spe Salvi.

Not long ago I watched a most beautiful film, "Bakhita: From Slave to Saint." It was exemplary in the way the directors brought out the beauty of conversion for Bakhita but also for others, including the Canossian sisters and the parish priest.

I can't recommend the movie enough even with the subtitles.

In a 1993 homily Pope John Paul II said of Bakhita:

In the midst of so much hardship, Blessed Bakhita is your model and heavenly patron. In the terrible trials of her life Bakhita always listened to Christ's word. She learned the mystery of his Cross and Resurrection: the saving truth about God who so loved each one of us that he gave his only Son (Cf. Jn. 3: 16), the saving truth about the Son who loves each one of us to the end (Cf. ibid. 13: 1).

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Blessed Pius IX, pope

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Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX (13 May 1792-7 February 1878), in history known as Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning Roman Pontiff in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until death, nearly 32 years. 

The future pope was the archbishop of his hometown of Spoleto and later of Imola. Personal attributes related show him to be known for his charitable work among the poor, care for educating his people and the formation of clergy; he had a keen intellect, prayerful, was friendly and engaging. He was an advocate of making administrative changes in the Papal States. He was a cardinal in pectore in 1839 and later revealed in 1840.

Following the death of Gregory XVI, Ferretti was elected pope in 1846 with neither diplomatic nor curial experience, a source of great tension for some.

Pope Pius convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and granted the Marian title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, a famous Byzantine icon from Crete entrusted to the Redemptorist priests which now hangs in their church on the Via Merulana. He was the "Marian Pope." 

Pius IX was also the last pope to rule as the Sovereign of the Papal States, which fell to Italian nationalists by 1870 and were incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy. 

Thereafter, Pius became the first "Prisoner of the Vatican."  Pius is also the origin of the collection taken annual called the "Peter's Pence."

Pope Pius IX was beatified in 2000.

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Saint Agatha

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Tiepolo Martyrdom of Agatha.JPGMay the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity.

A woman so brutally killed in the 3rd century is not that important for many people today. I should point out that the saints, especially the virgin martyrs so very much revered in the Church are important because they show us who Jesus Christ is by the stories of their lives.

I would recommend a marvelous book by Michael J.K. Fuller, The Virgin Martyrs: A Hagiographical and Mystagogical Interpretation (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2011).

Our prayers are with the women and men who live with diseases of the breast, of whom Saint Agatha is their patron. Likewise, we ought to pray the intention of medical research for breast cancer and the medical professionals who work closely with those with the cancer.

I'd also like to pray for the cardinal titular of the Church of Saint Agatha of the Goths (in  Rome), the American Raymond Cardinal Burke, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

The prayer to Saint Agatha for us to offer.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from February 2013.

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Saints: March 2013 is the next archive.

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