Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a native of Bayonne, New Jersey was declared a blessed by Pope Francis. The official ceremony was held in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark on October 4, 2014 and was the first beatification to take place on American soil. Sister Miriam served in the community of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, New Jersey. After entering religious life at the age of 24, she died only two years later. Her life of prayer and dedication to God inspired many prayers for her intercession after her death. The many favors supplicants received apparently hastened her cause for beatification. The church verified miracle for her beatification was the healing of a young boy's blindness from macular degeneration.
Each of these saints is mentioned in readings for today's mass. Since St. James is often depicted holding a club as the instrument of his martyrdom, his patronage has been invoked by fullers and pharmacists, both groups which use club-like instruments in their profession: fullers to flatten wool and cloth and pharmacists to grind and compound medications.
(Does it look a little like a golf club to anyone?)
I liked this battered icon of St. Athanasius and though I fixed up the cracks and dents in its halo, I left the poor saint battered as I imagine he would have been from his multiple exiles for teaching the truth about the Son of God. May St. Athanasius give us courage to embrace the true faith.
St. Joseph says not one word recorded in Scripture but was strong and decisive, listening for God's will and taking action on it immediately. May we have his prayerful attentiveness and his docility of spirit to accomplish God's will in our lives.
I did a bit of reminiscing today, since St. Vincent Ferrer in Brooklyn was my home parish growing up and the grammar school I attended. In searching for an image of St. Vincent, I discovered that my old parish has two great photos on their webpage.
St Vincent was a Dominican priest who preached during a turbulent time in the Church when there were three claimants to the papacy and the church was still trying to reconcile the Great Schism with the Eastern churches. None of the controversy diminished his apostolic zeal and he converted great numbers of people and gained a reputation for being a healer and miracle worker.
St. Darerca is said to be the second most popular female saint in Ireland after St. Bridget. She was sister to St. Patrick and had 19 children, many of whom became bishops and saints themselves. She and her children helped St. Patrick evangelize Ireland. They could have made their own congregation!
Not many other specifics are known for certain about her life. I've shown her here with a shamrock on her cowl for each of her children, holding wedding bands for her motherhood and an Irish cross for her evangelizing role with her brother.
St. John Nepomucene was martyred on the orders of King Wencelaus IV for refusing to divulge the sins of his wife, the queen confessed in the Sacrament of Confession. He was imprisoned, tortured, burned then thrown affixed to a wheel to drown in the Charles River.
The bridge holds a memorial to St. John, including the spot from which he is said to have been thrown. Touching or rubbing his effigy on the plaque is said to bring good luck, or a guaranteed return visit to Prague. A dog, a sign of loyalty, is also featured in one of the memorial plaques and it too has been burnished by well wishers and luck seekers.
The Seal of the Sacrament of Confession has generally been respected by our nation's laws but due to the recent scandals in the church, is now under attack at the moment in New York State. Please pray we have the wisdom to deal effectively with child abuse without attacking the seal of the confessional.
All the legends of St. Valentine agree that he was a martyr, a not so gentle reminder that true love is a sacrificial love not easily captured in a Valentine's Day Card.
The World Day of the Sick coincides with the feast of our Lady of Lourdes, emphasizing the importance of prayer for the sick in the gathered communities of the healthy. It is important not to exclude the sick, many of whom may be out of sight, but they should never be out of mind.
The site of the apparition in Lourdes is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world and a place of miraculous healings ever since Bernadette reported her visions.
Saint Josephine Bahkita was kidnapped into the Turkish slave markets and eventually brought to Italy where she was freed and entered the convent. As she began to speak about her past life, a story of torture and mistreatment emerged though she never harbored feelings of hatred in her heart toward those who violated her human dignity.
She was canonized by Pope John Paul II as an example of forgiveness and reconciliation and a modern icon against human trafficking - any activity which commodifies human life.
St. Paul Miki and Companions were 26 Christians martyred for the Christian faith in the sixteenth century in a wave of Japanese isolationism and just before expulsion of all Christian missionaries.
They were a group of all ages, including elderly and children. Their courage in witnessing to the faith and their mutual support of each other on the way to martyrdom are examples for all time.
St. John Bosco innovated a respectful and compassionate, but firm way of relating to young people. The overuse of corporal punishment in education and treatment of children as less than persons was eliminated. Instead, a compassionate, understanding method of discipline was embraced.
His emphasis of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as a means not only of growing closer to the Lord, but as a source of protection from evil and the snares of the devil reminds us that Jesus will come to the aid of those who love him.
He founded the Salesians under the protection of St. Mary Help Of Christians and St. Francis de Sales.
St. Thomas Aquinas struggled to synthesize reason and faith and believed there was no intrinsic conflict between the two. His lifelong effort led to a mystical experience which ushered him into the presence of God.
St. Francis de Sales reminded us that we are all called to holiness. He remarked that small deeds done with great love are more estimable than greater deeds done with less love. An interesting meditation on what confers value in this world.
The Father of Western monasticism, Anthony chose a life a solitude in the desert, but as so often happens, the holiness and reputation of a holy hermit draws pilgrims and eventually he founded a monastery of like-spirited desert dwellers. Their poverty and solitude embodied their vision of leaving all and following Jesus.
I never paid too much attention to the pig or wild boar which is depicted with St. Anthony in some works of art, but now see that the boar is very frequently at his side. The original association was with a healing Anthony performed on a wild boar but became joined to the medieval use of lard as a soothing skin lotion for certain maladies for which the afflicted prayed to St. Anthony for relief. St. Anthony is joined atop the facade in St. Peter's by a faithful, grateful boar.
Old timers may remember Sri Lanka as Ceylon, an island off the southeast coast of India. Father Vaz, a native of Goa, India, evangelized there in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and was instrumental in re-establishing the church in Sri Lanka. Pope Francis canonized Fr. Vaz during his pastoral visit to Sri Lanka in 2015.
An admiral at age 20, married with child, selected Doge of Venice. Served for two years during which he used substantial funds of his own to help rebuild and restore the Kingdom of Venice from fire and destruction. Built orphanages, hospitals and showed care for the poor while helping rebuild St. Mark's Cathedral. Abdicated his throne and left his wife (with her consent) to become a monk and later a hermit. He became known for his sanctity and miracle working. He certainly led an interesting and varied life.