Saint Gianna: A Model For Mothers
Helen Hull Hitchcock
The Foreword from Saint Gianna Molla: Wife, Mother, Doctor
by Pietro Molla and Elio Guerriero
"A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and
mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of
the Gospel." In his homily on the occasion of her beatification, April
24, 1994, Pope John Paul II proposed Gianna Beretta Molla as a model
for all mothers: "By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian
perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of
families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in
giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of
sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others."
In canonizing Gianna Beretta Molla this spring, the Church
officially recognized the extraordinary sanctity of a woman who chose
to live an ordinary life-as a professional and, later, as a wife and
mother. Though she had once considered entering a religious order,
instead she practiced medicine (receiving her medical degree in 1949,
and her specialty in pediatrics in 1952). She devoted herself to caring
for her patients, and her selflessness and dedication as a physician
endeared her to the people. But it was not only her practice of
medicine that influenced them. She regarded her profession as a mission
through which she could aid and nurture both bodies and souls. The
young doctor's devotion to her Catholic faith was well known in her
community, and especially her instruction of young Catholic girls in
Gianna meditated long and prayerfully on God's will for
her. "What is a vocation?" she wrote: "It is a gift from God-it comes
from God Himself! Our concern, then, should be to know the will of God.
We should enter onto the path that God wills for us, not by 'forcing
the door', but when God wills and as God wills."  Gianna believed
she was called to marriage and * family life, but she waited patiently
for God's will to be revealed.
Gianna Beretta did not marry until she was thirty-three
years old-to an engineer ten years her senior, Pietro Molla, whose
sister had earlier been a patient of the young Dr. Beretta. Letters
Gianna wrote during their year-long courtship reveal her deep
commitment to this new vocation. The couple married in September 1955.
Several days before their wedding, Gianna wrote to Pietro, reflecting
on their vocation to marriage: "With God's help and blessing, we will
do all we can to make our new family a little cenacle where Jesus will
reign over all our affections, desires and actions.... We will be
working with God in His creation; in this way we can give Him children
who will love Him and serve Him."
Gianna's faith and her communion with Christ were
profound, and from this grace she drew deeper understanding of the
dedication and self-giving love that is fundamental to Christian
marriage and family life.
After her marriage and even after she had children Gianna
continued her medical practice, extending her gifts beyond her
immediate family to the children of others, Three children, a son and
two daughters, were born between 1956 and 1959, and Gianna had two
miscarriages before conceiving another baby in 1961 Pietro and Gianna
referred to their children as their "treasures".
In his own account of these years, Pietro Molla says that
he did not object to Gianna's continuing her medical practice, because
she was so deeply attached to her patients, though after she became
pregnant with their fourth child, Pietro and Gianna had agreed that she
would stop working outside the home after the baby was born.
Early in the pregnancy it was discovered that Gianna had a
fibroma, a benign tumor, on her uterine wall. Surgery that would
involve aborting the baby was suggested, but the Mollas instantly and
firmly rejected this idea, and chose surgery that would remove only the
tumor. Because of her medical knowledge, Gianna understood more fully
than most the risks involved in this delicate surgery-both to her and
to her unborn child. She insisted that the baby be protected at all
The surgery successfully removed the fibroma, and the
pregnancy continued, apparently normally, and the family made plans for
the future in joy and hope. But all was not well, and a few days before
the baby was born, Gianna realized it would be a difficult-possibly
life-threatening delivery. She asked her husband to promise that if it
were necessary to choose between saving her and saving the baby, he
should choose the baby. "I insist", she said.
On Good Friday, Gianna entered the hospital. And a lovely,
healthy baby daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born the next day, April
21, 1962. But the mother had developed a fatal infection-septic
peritonitis. (Modern antibiotics most likely would have saved her.) The
inflammation caused immense suffering during her final week on earth.
In the midst of her terrible pain, Gianna called to her own mother,
Maria, who had died in 1942-and she prayed. As she lay dying, she
repeated, "Jesus, I love you", over and over. Her agony ended on April
She was thirty-nine. The tiny infant, Gianna Emanuela, was
exactly one week old.
The bereft Pietro was left to raise four very young
children without their mother: Pierluigi, the eldest, was not yet six;
Mariolina, four; Laura, nearly three; and of course the new baby. In
this book are Pietro's own reflections on the difficult years that
followed, and how the example of his wife's serene and joyous faith
helped sustain him through his grief at Gianna's death; when their
little daughter, Mariolina, died only two years later; and through all
the ordinary difficulties of raising a family alone–with the added
extraordinary challenges of raising children whose absent mother had
already become a revered public figure.
Almost immediately upon her death a devotion to Gianna
arose among those whose lives she had so deeply touched, and who knew
her heroic devotion to her faith and her family.
Her "cause" was introduced formally in 1970. She was
beatified April 24, 1994; and canonized on May 16, 2004–forty-two years
after her death.
That her husband, now ninety-one, and three children
attended her canonization ceremony is one of several historic "firsts"
connected with her canonization. (Pierluigi, an engineer, is married;
Laura is a political scientist; Gianna Emanuela is a physician who
specializes in Alzheimer's disease.)
Gianna Beretta Molla is the first married laywoman to be
declared a saint (though there are many sainted widows). She is also
the first canonized woman physician–a professional woman who was also a
"working mom" four decades ago, when this was unusual.
Her witness of abiding faith in Christ, and her example of
generous, loving self-donation–wherever and however she was called to
serve the Lord–provide particular inspiration for women of our time and
in our culture, where conflicting demands and confusing signals are a
daily part of our lives.
There is another aspect of this new saint's life that is
worth pondering–and this book affords a glimpse of it. That is, the
role of her family–the example of her parents -in her formation as a
committed, active young Catholic. Her family was outstanding for its
deep Christian faith, expressed not only in worship, in private prayer
and family devotions, but in generously extending their gift of faith
Her family's example of unselfish love set the direction
of young Gianna's life. It gave her the firm foundation upon which,
through the grace of God and her trusting acceptance of his will for
her, she confidently built her life–a life that would shelter, nurture,
guide, and inspire countless others. Gianna's plans for raising her own
children in the faith was influenced by her own experiences growing up.
Her understanding of motherhood came from her own mother. Even though
her own children could not know her tender motherly presence while they
were growing up, she interceded for them. At the very end of her life,
as Gianna suffered mortal pain, she sought her mother's prayers. As
we-especially mothers of young families–may now seek hers.
Saint Gianna, pray for us.
Helen Hull Hitchcock
Feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne | July 26, 2004
Martyr's Beatification Cause Moves Forward
Worked With Poor
SEOUL, South Korea, JAN. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The
diocesan phase of the cause of beatification and canonization of John
Song Hae-bung, a lay missionary martyred during the Korean War, has
opened in the Diocese of Incheon.
The present cause is the first of a layman in the
period following the Japanese colonial era, the Fides news agency of
the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples reported
The diocesan commission has been established which
will guide this phase of the process, collecting the necessary
testimony and documentation for the cause of beatification.
According to a biography published by Fides, John Song
was the eldest of a Catholic family, and entered the seminary in 1944.
After Korea's liberation from Japanese occupation, he
left his theological studies to dedicate himself to active missionary
work. He opened schools and homes for orphans and the poor in the
Diocese of Incheon.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he was falsely
accused of being a Communist. He was arrested and killed by a death
squad, reported Fides.
Korea has over 10,000 Christian martyrs, killed in
various persecutions over the centuries.
In 1984, in the first canonization ceremony held
outside the Vatican, Pope John Paul II inscribed 103 martyrs of the
Korean Church into the catalogue of saints.
In 2003, the Holy See approved the opening of the
beatification process for Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions,
tortured and killed for the faith in 1791, when Christianity had just
OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE CAUSES OF SAINTS
VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, during a private
audience with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., president of the
Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the
Pope authorized the congregation to promulgate the decrees concerning
the following causes:
- Blessed Szymon of Lipnica, Polish, priest of the Order of
Friars Minor (1439-1482).
- Blessed Antonio de Santa Ana (ne Antonio Galvao de Franca),
Brazilian, priest of the Order of Alcantarine or Discalced Friars
Minor, and founder of the Convent of Conceptionist Sisters (1739-1822).
- Blessed Charles of St. Andrew (ne Johannes Andreas Houben),
priest of the Congregation of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- Blessed Marie Eugenie de Jesus (nee Anne-Eugenie Milleret de
French, foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Assumption of the
Virgin Mary (1817-1898).
- Venerable Servant of God Carlo Liviero, Italian, bishop of
Castello and founder of the Congregation of Little Handmaidens of the
Sacred Heart (1866-1932).
- Venerable Servant of God Stanislaus of Jesus Mary (ne Jana
Papczynski), Polish, priest and founder of the Congregation of Marian
Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (1631-1701).
- Venerable Servant of God Celina Chludzinska, Polish, widow and
foundress of the Congregation of Sisters of the Resurrection of Our
Lord Jesus Christ (1833-1913).
- Venerable Servant of God Marie Celine of the Presentation (nee
Jeanne-Germaine Castang), French, nun of the Second Order of St.
- Servants of God Manuel Gomez Gonzalez, Spanish, diocesan
born in 1877, and Adilio Daronch, Brazilian, lay person born in 1908,
both killed in Feijao Miudo, Brazil, in 1924.
- Servant of God Albertina Berkenbrock, Brazilian, lay person
born in 1919, killed in 1931.
- Servant of God Eufrasio of the Baby Jesus (ne Eufrasio Barredo
Fernandez), Spanish, born in 1897, priest of the Order of Discalced
Carmelites, killed during religious persecution in Spain in 1934.
- Servants of God Lorenzo, Virgilio and 44 companions of the
Institute of Brothers of the Marist Schools, Spanish, killed during
religious persecution in Spain in 1936.
- Enrique Izquierdo Palacios and 13 companions, Spanish, of the
of Friars Preachers, killed during religious persecution in Spain in
- Servants of God Ovidio Beltran, Hermenegildo Lorenzo, Luciano
Pablo, Estanislao Victor and Lorenzo Santiago, Spanish, members of the
Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools, and Jose Maria Canovas
Martinez, Spanish, parish helper, killed during religious persecution
in Spain in 1936.
- Servants of God Maria del Carmen, Rosa and Magdalena Fradera
Ferragutcasas, Spanish, religious of the Congregation of Daughters of
the Blessed and Immaculate Heart of Mary, killed during religious
persecution in Spain in 1936.
- Servant of God Lindalva Justo de Oliviera, Brazilian, of the
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, born in 1953, killed in 1993
in Sao Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.
- Servant of God Mamerto Esquiu, Argentinean (1826-1883), of the
Order of Friars Minor, bishop of Cordoba, Argentina.
- Servant of God Salvatore Micalizzi, Italian (1856-1937),
professed priest of the Congregation of the Mission.
- Servants of God Jose Olallo Valdes, Cuban (1820-1889),
professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God.
- Servant of God Stefan Kaszap, Hungarian (1916-1935), novice of
the Society of Jesus.
The Virtually Venerable Fulton J. Sheen by Charles F. Harvey
Has Archbishop Fulton Sheen been
declared an American saint? Not exactly. In fact, not at all. At least
not yet. Only now is the process of opening his cause for canonization
begun. It would be presumptuous, then, to declare Sheen a
saint-in-the-making. We aren't in a position to anticipate the Church's
judgment and even though not everyone who is a saint by virtue of
making it to heaven is declared a saint by the Church, we can't settle
the question of "who's in" and "who's not" by our own lights. But we
can say that Sheen certainly embodied two qualities that characterized
many canonized American saints: zeal for personal sanctity and a drive
to realize the unique possibilities for spreading the Gospel that
America affords. -- Mark Brumley
On May 8, 1895, in
El Paso, Illinois, a son born to Newton and Delia Sheen was given the
name Peter. Yet, when it came time to enroll him in parochial school
and his maternal grandfather (whose last name was Fulton) was asked the
boy's name, he replied: "It's Fulton." The Confirmation name "John"
completed the name that would become world-famous as one of the most
vibrant spokesmen for the Church since the Protestant Reformation:
Fulton J. Sheen.
Archbishop Sheen notes in his autobiography, Treasure in
Clay, that in Gaelic "Fulton" means "war" and "Sheen" means "peace." It
is as though his very name foretold the kind of life he was to have: an
uninterrupted warring against the powers of darkness to promote the
peace of Christ's kingdom.
After high school, while attending St. Viator's College,
the young Sheen took part in a national examination and won a
scholarship entitling him to three years of university training with
all expenses paid. His close friend, Fr. William J. Bergan, counseled
him not to accept the prize, but, instead, to enter the seminary. He
took his friend's advice, and after completing theological studies at
St. Viator's and at St. Paul's Seminary in Minnesota, he was ordained
to the priesthood on September 20, 1919.
Since he had excelled in his studies for the priesthood,
he was selected to attend the Catholic University of America for
advanced academic work. It was there that he earned his S.T.L. and
In September of 1921--just two years after ordination--he
was off to the University of Louvain in Belgium where he took his Ph.D.
in 1923. Offers of teaching positions at Columbia and at Oxford were
declined in obedience to his bishop. Instead of a prestigious academic
post, he would be an assistant pastor assigned to a parish where the
streets had not even yet been paved.
Academic offers continued (an invitation to organize and
head the philosophy department at the seminary in Detroit was
especially attractive), but Sheen dedicated himself to the task at
hand, immersing himself in the work of the parish.
Then, late in the summer of 1926, his bishop told him that
he was to join the faculty at Catholic University. He remained on the
faculty there for the next twenty-five years. So popular were his
lectures that sometimes extra seats were brought in to accommodate the
Two years after his appointment to Catholic University, he
began a parallel career: a long-time media presence as a Catholic
spokesman and apologist on radio and, later, on television. After
anchoring a series of religious broadcasts on radio, he was selected to
host The Catholic Hour on NBC radio until he moved to TV. In 1952,
Bishop Sheen (he had been named auxiliary bishop in New York under
Cardinal Spellman in 1951) starred in the first religious television
show in New York: Life Is Worth Living. That program (with his
trademark "God love you") brought him instant recognition by the
American TV-viewing public in the early-to-mid 1950s.
By 1954, his ratings were competitive with those of Mr.
Television himself, Milton Berle. His popularity increasing, Sheen
moved to ABC for a national hook-up. By 1956, his show was being
broadcast on one-hundred eighty-seven stations in the U. S. and Canada.
He said, "Little did I know in those days that it would be given to me
through radio and television to address a greater audience in half an
hour than Paul in all the years of his missionary life."
If God raised up the great bishop Athanasius to fight
Arianism in the fourth century, perhaps it is not too far afield to
think that he raised up the great bishop Sheen to combat Communism in
the twentieth. Sheen stressed the need for reason in dealing with
Communism, which had continued to gain appeal in America since the
1920s. His prophetic program on Stalin's death, which was broadcast
live a week before the Soviet ruler died, cemented Sheen's position as
America's top Catholic anti-Communist. Some high-level party members
called him "Public Enemy No. 1."
Contrary to some, Sheen was no intellectual featherweight,
and he brought his formidable powers of intellection to bear on the
problem of Communism, the better to refute it. He absorbed Marx, Lenin,
and Stalin to prepare himself for the assaults he would sustain in his
attack on their theories. He was a tremendous success. He converted or
influenced a number of Communists and leftists in the heyday of
American Communism, including Louis Budenz, Elizabeth T. Bently, Bella
Dodd, and Heywood Broun.
One incident related in his autobiography is worth
recounting here, revealing as it does the intensity of pro-Communist
sentiment in America during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. According
to Bishop Sheen's own account, "The foreign policy of the United States
was considering lifting [sic] the embargo against sending arms to the
Communists in Spain. In order to combat this movement, a meeting was
held in Constitution Hall, Washington. The speakers were three: a
former Spanish Ambassador, a young woman who had been in Spain and had
fought against the Communists, and myself. Thousands were turned away
from Constitution Hall. It is very likely that the meeting had
something to do with breaking down the movement to send arms to the
Sheen used that episode to lead into an anecdote that
reveals to us something about President Franklin Roosevelt that his
apologists would prefer remain unspoken. Bishop Sheen recalled that the
day after the meeting in Constitution Hall, he had a meeting with FDR.
He went to ask for a political favor for an old friend who had lost his
re-election bid to Congress. During the meeting, FDR took Sheen to task
for something that he mistakenly thought the bishop had said at the
Constitution Hall meeting. Sheen tried to disprove Roosevelt's
allegation, but the President would not permit him to follow through.
Next Roosevelt said: "You think you know a great deal about the
Church's attitude toward Communism, don't you? I want to tell you that
I am in touch with a great authority, and he tells me that the Church
wants the Communists to win in Spain." Sheen answered: "Mr. President,
I am not the least bit impressed with your authority." FDR: "I did not
tell you who it was." The bishop checkmated Roosevelt with: "You are
referring to Cardinal Mundelein, and I know that Cardinal Mundelein
never made the statement you attributed to him."
Roosevelt had stuck his foot in his mouth; but Bishop
Sheen wanted to conduct the business he came for in the first place. He
said: "Mr. President, I came to see you about a position in Housing."
FDR said: "Oh, Eddie voted for everything I wanted in Congress. He
wants to be in Housing, does he not?" Sheen said that was correct.
Roosevelt made a note on a pad and continued: "The moment you leave
this office I will call Mrs. So-and-So [he mentioned the name of the
woman who was in charge of Housing] and you call Eddie and tell him he
has the job." When Sheen left the White House he called Eddie and said:
"Eddie, I saw the President. I am sorry, you do not get the job." Eddie
said: ""Is that what the President said after all I did for him?" Sheen
said: "No, he said you would have it." Eddie never got the job.
Needless to say, Bishop Sheen was a shrewd observer of the human heart.
Sheen also told a story that reveals the depth of
pro-Soviet sympathy in America during his radio days. He said that
because of his position on the USSR, his talks were closely monitored.
If he "veered from the then-popular position of Russia being a
democracy," a technician in the studio would cut him off. Once he
submitted a manuscript for an upcoming broadcast that had the line,
"Poland was crucified between two thieves--the Nazis and the Soviets."
Sheen got a telegram from the Bishops' Conference asking him not to say
that, because one of the thieves was, of course, the USSR. Never one to
miss a beat, the bishop answered the telegram with: "How would it be to
call Russia the 'good' thief?"
20th Century Missionary Giant
In 1950, Bishop Sheen was tapped to head the national
office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He founded a
magazine named Mission and published God Loves You, a weekly column in
Catholic newspapers. Between 1950 and 1966, he irrigated the fields of
the foreign missions with $200 million (a tremendous sum these days;
how much more so then!).
In Treasure in Clay, Archbishop Sheen recounts some of his
dealings with the foreign missions. For example, he tells the story of
a missionary priest in Australia who labored in the desert there. The
heat averaged 125 degrees, and the only kind of food he could carry was
canned peaches, since everything else exploded in the desert heat. His
"rectory" was his Volkswagen, which was eventually swept away in a
flood. Bishop Sheen wrote him a check for a new VW. In his capacity as
national head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, his
decisions benefited the mission efforts in New Guinea, Borneo, Pacific
Islands, China, Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, and countless other
Archbishop Sheen, known primarily for his oratorical
skills, was, nonetheless, a superb prose stylist. (He wrote more than
sixty books!) And he gave full exercise to both of these talents in
defending and promoting the Church. His many works include such gems as
God and Intelligence in Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion,
Preface to Religion, Three to Get Married, The Divine Romance, Peace of
Soul, Life Is Worth Living, The Seven Last Words, The Way of the Cross,
This Is the Mass, The Power of Love, The Divine Verdict, The Armor of
God, Way To Inner Peace, God Loves You, Thinking Life Through, and
Thoughts For Daily Living.
In 1966, Pope Paul VI appointed him Bishop of Rochester,
New York, where he served for four years before stepping down at age
seventy-four. He was named titular Archbishop of the Titular See of
Newport (Wales) in 1969.
His quicksilver wit and golden smile softened the
patrician bearing that would quickly stiffen in defense of Christ's
Church and the honor of His Bride. And he had a marvelous sense of
humor: Pope Paul VI once reportedly told him that he would have a high
place in heaven. "Is that an infallible statement?" he grinned.
His high-caliber intellect (steeped as it was in the
wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas), the magnitude of his writing and
speaking skills, his shrewd sense of theater, and his unflagging love
for Christ's Church combined to produce the most colorful and effective
Catholic apologist in twentieth century America.
By his own account, each day of his priestly life included
a continuous hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. This daily
prayer and mediation and his deep devotion to the Blessed Mother formed
the spine of his fidelity to his priestly vocation and the foundation
for the holiness to which he aspired.
Some two months before his death, he met the visiting John
Paul II, who embraced him warmly and told him: "You have written and
spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church."
Archbishop Sheen died in New York City on December 9, 1979.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2001
issue of Catholic Dossier magazine.
Archbishop Sheen books and videos available through
• Treasure in Clay
• Life Is Worth Living
• The Priest Is Not His Own
• The World's First Love
• Through the Year with Fulton Sheen
• Fulton Sheen: Good Friday (VHS)
• Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: His Irish Wit and Wisdom (VHS)
• Fulton Sheen: His Last Words (VHS)
• Bishop Sheen on Angels (VHS)
• Sheen Gems (VHS)
• Retreat with Fulton Sheen (DVD)
• Fulton Sheen Mission Rosary (CD)
• Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: A Prophet for Our Time (VHS)
• Fulton Sheen: His Last Words (DVD)
• The Hour That Makes My Day | Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
| From Treasure in Clay
• On Advent and Eternity | Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen |
From Through the Year with Fulton Sheen
Charles F. Harvey worked at Ignatius Press from 1998 until
his death in February 2003. He became the full-time managing editor of
Homiletic & Pastoral Review in 2001. He had previously worked for
Catholic Answers, the San Diego diocesan Office of Social Ministry, and
St. Joseph Communications.
John XXIII, Minus the Myths
Pope's Great-Nephew Marco Roncalli
ROME, NOV. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The life of Pope
Blessed John XXIII is still the focus of intense debate and numerous
clichés which distort his intellectual and spiritual figure.
To clarify the matter, a book has just been published
in Italian by Marco Roncalli, entitled "Giovanni XXIII -- Angelo
Giuseppe Roncalli. Una vita nella storia" (John XXIII -- Angelo
Giuseppe Roncalli: A Life in History), published by Mondadori.
The author is John XXIII's great-nephew, who, among
other things, has been the editor of the correspondence (1933-1962)
between Loris Francesco Capovilla, Giuseppe De Luca and Angelo Giuseppe
Roncalli, published this year by Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura.
The new biography of
John XXIII was to be presented today in Bergamo, Italy, by Archbishop
Loris Capovilla, who was John XXIII's secretary, and by Monsignor
Gianni Carzaniga, president of the Giovanni XXIII Foundation.
To understand better the figure of John XXIII, ZENIT
interviewed his great-nephew, Marco Roncalli.
Q: What are the clichés that you hope to refute
on the human and spiritual history of the beloved Pope John XXIII?
Roncalli: I would say they are many. They stand out
clearly if one revises carefully all the Roncalli sources, especially
those that are unpublished.
I am thinking of certain youthful notebooks, agendas
or diaries, some collected letters and collections of homilies. But I'm
also referring to documentation relative to his figure, which has
appeared in several archives and was known by few specialists in the
most recent congresses.
And we can start with those of long ago. Let us think
of the spent cliché of a peasant Roncalli, virtually the
receiver of an ancestral wisdom. It is true that his roots are
important, also his family.
But let's not forget that he entered the seminary
while still a child and that was his new family. The seminary formed
the man, and the man of the Church.
In sum, Roncalli's social extraction is not a
secondary fact -- though common to most of the Italian northern clergy
at the beginning of the 20th century: From this extraction a certain
tenacity and constancy are derived, joined to a strong practical sense
and respect for the times necessary in each cycle […], all elements of
And from this stems also a certain harmony between
nature and the supernatural, a way of living in the present, looking at
the future with unconditional confidence in God's providence.
However, I repeat, the cliché of Roncalli as an
exclusive product of a peasant culture -- or of the country boy who
became Pope who does not forget the "least," as if Roncalli's roots
alone "sic et simpliciter" could explain everything to us -- does not
stand on its own.
Instead, beginning with the years of the seminary,
without breaking or attenuating the bond with his own and his land, the
awareness soon matures in him of being a member of the universal
Church. Once elected Pope, he said immediately that the world was his
Another cliché is that of a simple Roncalli,
whereas whoever studies his life has before him a complex figure -- but
a figure in which culture has had an important role: studies, meetings
with writers, philosophers, theologians, etc., in the course of his
Thus, exploring the archives, we come across a very
young Roncalli who is, yes, the one known until now for the "Diary of a
Soul," his spiritual compendium, but also a very sensitive seminarian,
attentive to the widest cultural horizons of his time.
We see him at the dawn of the 20th century, very aware
of the problematic relationship between tradition and renewal, of the
need for the Church's progressive attention to new cultural realities.
Whoever, for example, leafs through one of his
unpublished notebooks entitled "Ad Omnia," sees him wondering not only
about the phenomenon of Modernism, a storm through which he also goes
through, but also about Americanism: ecclesiological theories, his idea
of the unavoidable confrontation between Christianity and modernity.
Another point: Pope John has often been depicted as a
weak Pope, who suffered. Instead, if one wishes to weigh up his
gestures in a correct manner, suffice it to read his agendas or diaries
to realize how well he was able to move decisively.
Some biographers have said that John XXIII read at the
last minute texts prepared by others. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Several journal notes document whole days spent preparing an
address in his own handwriting.
On June 28, 1962, for example, he wrote: "Day of the
vigil of St. Peter: occupied entirely in preparing an address in St.
Peter's after Vespers. It was a bit of an effort for me to write it,
word by word as I do, and all by myself in these circumstances. But in
the end, though I'm not always delighted with myself, I am happy to
fulfill a function, and to transmit to the clergy and the faithful a
sentiment that is entirely my own. I am Pope by the will of the Lord
who is my good witness: But to be a parrot who repeats by heart others'
thought and voice, truly mortifies me."
He certainly was born -- to use a slogan -- "to bless
and not to condemn," but his humble and amiable being was not
equivalent to being weak or accommodating.
He was certainly less decisive than his predecessor;
however, he put meekness to one side when it became an alibi for others.
I am thinking of May 1962, when the so-called crisis
of exegesis continued, and, seeing the inactivity of the commission
with the same name -- to say nothing of the frictions with Cardinal
Augustin Bea's work, ever more active in the Council's preparation --
he wrote a letter to Cardinal Eugène Tisserant which seems like
an ultimatum: "Either the commission intends to move, work and provide,
suggesting to the Holy Father measures appropriate to the needs of the
present hour, or it is worthwhile for it to be dissolved and a higher
authority provide 'in Domino' a reconstitution of this organism.
"However, it is absolutely necessary to remove the
impression about uncertainties circulating here and there, which honor
no one, of fears about clear positions that must be taken on the
orientations of persons and schools. [...] It would be a motive of
great consolation if with the preparation of the Ecumenical Council a
biblical commission could be established of such resonance and dignity
that it would become a point of attention and respect for all our
separated brothers who, leaving the Catholic Church, took refuge as
shelter and salvation under the shadows of the sacred Book, diversely
read and interpreted."
This fact emerges also in relations with his
collaborators. When someone did something he didn't like, while being
careful to safeguard relations, he was not afraid to make his
interlocutors understand his displeasure.
It happened especially with Cardinal Alfredo
Ottaviani, but also with Cardinal Angelo Dell'Acqua. An example? The
latter -- the day after the ministerial crisis of the winter of 1961,
centered on Fanfani -- realized the Pope was colder toward him.
The reason? It became known that Dell'Acqua, the
substitute of the Secretariat of State, had dined at Fanfani's home,
and the family dinner became, thanks to the Curia's "telltale," a
meeting for the definition of the government's team with the
outstanding role of Dell'Acqua.
The substitute's quick clarification was the occasion
to hear from the Pope words of dissociation from Italian political
issues: "I was told something else and I'm sorry! We cannot be
concerned with issues that correspond exclusively to the Italian state:
We are not the ones who must intervene in this matter.…"
Examples with Ottaviani are more numerous. And so John
XXIII intervened directly with Ottaviani when he was worried about the
identity of the Holy Office, which was running the risk of being no
longer, as he wrote in his diary, that "monastery of very strict
cloister, left to its task, severe certainly, but most reserved in all
that concerned the vigilance, custody and defense of the doctrine and
precepts of the Lord," no longer the "Supreme Congregation of which the
Pope is the true Superior" and "from whose authority all should depend
and by right and in fact does depend, at least in the most important
and significant matters" -- but rather the "bulwark" around which, even
from the perspective of defending Christian values, ends up by engaging
one in unimportant politics.
Also recently there has been talk of a naive Pope in
the face of Khrushchev. We read what John XXIII wrote in his diary on
September 20, 1961, commenting on the Soviet leader's speaking well of
the Pope for the first time, after the papal radio-message of September
This is his private comment: "In the afternoon on TV
they reported the communication of Khrushchev, the despot of Russia, on
my appeals to statesmen for peace: respectful, calm, comprehensible. I
believe it is the first time that a Pope's invitatory words to peace
were treated with respect. In regard to the sincerity of the intentions
of one who is proud to profess himself an atheist and materialist,
though he speak well of the Pope's word, to believe him is something
else. Meanwhile, this is better than silence or contempt. 'Deus vertat
monstra in bonum' [God converts monsters into something good]. It is
Q: What were the Pontiff's real expectations in regard to Vatican II?
Roncalli: In the last four chapters of the book, in fact, I concentrate
on the Council. Based on new sources, I recount how this idea
germinated, how it was received.
I follow the venture of Vatican II in the coming to light of the first
idea, in the phase that preceded the preparation, in the preparation
itself, in the beginning, also talking about a free confrontation --
what the Pope called the holy freedom of the children of God -- which
the whole world witnessed.
And I reflect on the anxieties and consolations of the Pope who every
day thought of the Council.
The Council was not his invention. It was a valuable instrument
verified by history of the Church which he knew well. The instrument
that would have enabled him to interpret -- in the line of tradition,
but open to updating -- the role to which he had been called; an
instrument that would have allowed him to make the Church advance on
her path in step with the world, questioning the whole episcopate
involved in the exercise of collegiality in an extensive "universal"
But let us go back to the beginning of it all: the idea of the Council.
As he stated, it did not ripen within him "as the fruit of a prolonged
meditation, but as the spontaneous flower of an unexpected spring."
Therefore, he applied to himself that rather familiar spiritual rule
"of absolute simplicity in accepting divine inspirations, and prompt
submission to the apostolic needs of the present time."
"In announcing the ecumenical Council, we have listened to an
inspiration; we have considered its spontaneity, in the humility of our
soul," he said in a message to the Venetian clergy.
It's true, he had the applause of the secretary of state, Domenico
Tardini, as the latter's diary documents. And there are also the
statements of Cardinal Ruffini and of others who maintain -- plausible
fact -- that they suggested to the Pope the idea of a Council, an idea
that, moreover, according to several unanimous and concordant
statements, Roncalli had also expressed repeatedly during the years of
delegation in Istanbul to Monsignor Righi, to Jacquin of the Institut
Catholique of the Paris Nunciature, to Monsignor Bortignon of the
Venetian Patriarchate, and also to his nephew Privato Roncalli, my
We should recall that the convocation of a Council had already been
considered at least twice in the 20th century, by Pius XI in 1923 --
who then put it to one side awaiting a solution to the "Roman question"
-- and by Pius XII -- to whom in fact Cardinals Ruffini and Ottaviani
had written a memorandum enumerating the reasons for a convocation.
There were two outlines, held for a long time in strict secret, for the
second of which Monsignor Francesco Borgoncini Duca -- a friend of
Roncalli, who also might have spoken about it with him, but before
1954, the year when he died -- was appointed director general of all
the preparatory works.
And this is not all. There were also other prelates in the past who had
supported the idea of a Council for a long time as a "necessity" or
"wish," such as Monsignor Celso Constantini, author of a lengthy
dossier dated February 15, 1939, and reported under the title "The
Council: On the Appropriateness of Convoking an Ecumenical Council."
A week after Constantini's reflections, Giovanni Papini wrote in Il
Corriere della Sera: "We like to think that the new Pontiff will see to
the reopening of the Vatican Council that was suspended on October 20,
1870. (...) Now that the independence and authority of a sovereign have
been restored to the Pope, a resumption of the Council interrupted
seventy years ago, will take place in a more moderate climate and would
be welcomed with very great joy by Catholics worldwide."
And now we come to the central point: the meaning that John XXIII
wished to give, at least in the focus, to "his" Council, something that
at the beginning was not at all defined: that it should probably be
more pastoral than dogmatic -- pastoral, however, but not in a
It should make room to evaluate everything. As Monsignor Dell'Acqua has
attested, Pope Roncalli "never thought of opening and closing the
Ecumenical Council. Whoever thinks this, is outside of the truth. Pope
John told me repeatedly: 'What matters is to begin; the rest we leave
to the Lord'; in how many other circumstances a Pope began a Council
that was concluded by another Pope. It was not his intention,
therefore, to speed things up."
When he announced it for the first time, take note, he wrote in his own
writing on the text that he invited everyone to pray for "a good
beginning, continuation and happy success of these intentions of hard
work, for the light, edification and joy of the whole Christian people,
as a kind and renewed invitation to our brethren of the separated
Churches to take part with us in this encounter of grace and
Moreover, the event of the Council convoked by John XXIII, in keeping
with the preceding perspectives and being open to the breath of the
Spirit, should manifest to the Church and the world the holy freedom of
the children of God, in the sign of a less defensive general vision,
[…] more open to confidence, respect, to confrontation, to
co-responsibility, to the "signs of the times."
Evaluated carefully, it was also a courageous choice. Conscious of his
age, he could have remained tranquil between blessings and
canonizations, ordinary activity and the writing of some document,
leaving to his successors all the problems that cardinals and bishops
put on his desk, and dismissing situations in continual evolution.
Instead, he did the opposite. He addressed everything and not on his
own. It was his sensitivity, his historical studies: "A Council is
necessary." He confided to his secretary a "biblical reason" to explain
his idea: "Did Jesus ever speak to Peter on his own? No, the other
disciples were always present."
Q: In what ways was Pope John XXIII prophetic?
Roncalli: Suffice it to read his October 11 address with which he
opened the Second Vatican Council, a memorable text because of the
breadth of its horizon and prophetic inspiration. Do you not perceive
in him, in his essence, the force of a religion that unifies?
It was Pope John's prophetic task, however, to indicate the goal of
peace: urgent, which cannot be delayed. ... Let us think of his
encyclical testament, "Pacem in Terris."
He is the one who is writing -- speaking of himself in that text as
"the vicar of Him whom the prophet announced as the Prince of Peace,
[we] conceive of it as Our duty to devote all Our thoughts and care and
energy to further this common good of all mankind. Yet peace is but an
empty word, if it does not rest upon that order which Our hope
prevailed upon Us to set forth in outline in this encyclical. It is an
order that is founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and
animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of
Cardinal Bertone Comments on Blessed John XXIII
"I Want to Be Kind, Today and Always, to Everyone"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily given by
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's on Oct.
11, memorial of Blessed John XXIII.
* * *
Pope John XXIII's message is still extraordinarily timely today. His
life, his discourses and his actions bring us to the heart of the faith
and the heart of Christian commitment.
As we know, one of Pope John's most important decisions was to convoke
the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which was inaugurated on Oct.
11, 1962, here in St. Peter's Basilica.
I was present -- indeed, by a fortunate circumstance, it was I who
organized the distribution of the first council documents "sub
peculiari secreto" to the council fathers -- and I remember how the day
unfolded to its extraordinary conclusion in St. Peter's Square by
We could recall a wealth of Pope John's teachings and episodes
concerning him, but today I intend to focus on several thoughts which
might be useful in our personal life and spiritual renewal.
The Church, in his view, has a motherly face: Her task is to keep "her
arms open to receive everyone." She is a "home for one and all" that
"desires to belong to everyone, and in particular she is the Church of
the poor, like the village fountain," with no distinctions of race or
The Church's holiness and human wisdom are expressed very clearly in
what is called "the daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII":
1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively
without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I
will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in
my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve
or to discipline anyone except myself.
3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created
to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all
circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good
reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the
body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing;
and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it
to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two
evils: hastiness and indecision.
9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the
good providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this
10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be
afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed,
for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were
I to believe I had to do it all my life.
To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: "I want to be kind,
today and always, to everyone."
In this way, we can put Pope John's hope for every Christian into
practice: "Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a
core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so,
the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God."
John Bosco's Mother Is Decreed "Venerable"
Margaret Occhiena, Co-founder of Salesian Family
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The prefect of the
Congregation for Saints' Causes read a decree recognizing the heroic
virtues of Margaret Occhiena, mother of St. John Bosco, as well as her
reputation for holiness.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins read the decree Wednesday in the
chapel of the Salesian community in the Vatican.
On hand were the rector major of the Salesians, Father Pascual
Chávez; the postulator general, Father Enrico dal Cóvolo;
the prefect of the Apostolic Vatican Library, Father Raffaele Farina;
the director general of the Vatican Press, Father Elio Torrigiani; and
the members of the religious community.
After the reading, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
came to offer his greetings and his blessing.
The Congregation for Saints' Causes, at the invitation of Benedict XVI,
promulgated the decree Oct. 23.
At the end of the brief ceremony the rector major, Father
Chávez, said: "This is a memorable day for the Salesian family
which sees Mama Margaret take a further step toward the altars.
"It is an event the whole Salesian world has been waiting for and for
which it has been preparing with many initiatives in honor of the mama
of Don Bosco. We entrust ourselves to her so that she may intercede for
the whole Salesian family and for the congregation as it prepares to
celebrate the 26th General Chapter in 2008."
Margaret Occhiena was born on April 10, 1788, in Caprigli, Italy. She
lived at home until she married Francis Bosco. Later she moved to
After her husband's premature death, Margaret, 29, had to raise her
family alone at a time of starvation.
She took care of her husband's mother and of the latter's son Anthony,
while educating her own sons, Joseph and John.
She supported her son John in his journey toward the priesthood. At age
58, she left her little house of Colle and followed her son in his
mission among the poor and abandoned boys of Turin.
There, for 10 years, mother and son united their lives in the
beginnings of the Salesian Work. She was Don Bosco's first and
principal cooperator. She contributed her maternal presence to the
Preventive System. Thus she became the "co-founder" of the Salesian
Margaret was illiterate but full of a wisdom that helped so many street
boys. "For her, God was first, so she consumed her life in the service
of God, in poverty, prayer and sacrifice," explains a biography issued
by the Salesians.
She died on Nov. 25, 1856, in Turin at age 68. A throng of boys, who
wept for her as for a mother, accompanied her remains to the cemetery.
The Virtually Venerable Fulton J. Sheen | Charles F. Harvey
Has Archbishop Fulton Sheen been declared an American
saint? Not exactly. In fact, not at all. At least not yet. Only now is
the process of opening his cause for canonization begun. It would be
presumptuous, then, to declare Sheen a saint-in-the-making. We aren't
in a position to anticipate the Church's judgment and even though not
everyone who is a saint by virtue of making it to heaven is declared a
saint by the Church, we can't settle the question of "who's in" and
"who's not" by our own lights. But we can say that Sheen certainly
embodied two qualities that characterized many canonized American
saints: zeal for personal sanctity and a drive to realize the unique
possibilities for spreading the Gospel that America affords. -- Mark
On May 8, 1895, in El Paso, Illinois, a son born to Newton and Delia
Sheen was given the name Peter. Yet, when it came time to enroll him in
parochial school and his maternal grandfather (whose last name was
Fulton) was asked the boy's name, he replied: "It's Fulton." The
Confirmation name "John" completed the name that would become
world-famous as one of the most vibrant spokesmen for the Church since
the Protestant Reformation: Fulton J. Sheen.
Archbishop Sheen notes in his autobiography, Treasure in Clay, that in
Gaelic "Fulton" means "war" and "Sheen" means "peace." It is as though
his very name foretold the kind of life he was to have: an
uninterrupted warring against the powers of darkness to promote the
peace of Christ's kingdom.
After high school, while attending St. Viator's College, the young
Sheen took part in a national examination and won a scholarship
entitling him to three years of university training with all expenses
paid. His close friend, Fr. William J. Bergan, counseled him not to
accept the prize, but, instead, to enter the seminary. He took his
friend's advice, and after completing theological studies at St.
Viator's and at St. Paul's Seminary in Minnesota, he was ordained to
the priesthood on September 20, 1919.
Since he had excelled in his studies for the priesthood, he was
selected to attend the Catholic University of America for advanced
academic work. It was there that he earned his S.T.L. and J.C.B.
In September of 1921--just two years after ordination--he was off to
the University of Louvain in Belgium where he took his Ph.D. in 1923.
Offers of teaching positions at Columbia and at Oxford were declined in
obedience to his bishop. Instead of a prestigious academic post, he
would be an assistant pastor assigned to a parish where the streets had
not even yet been paved.
Academic offers continued (an invitation to organize and head the
philosophy department at the seminary in Detroit was especially
attractive), but Sheen dedicated himself to the task at hand, immersing
himself in the work of the parish.
Then, late in the summer of 1926, his bishop told him that he was to
join the faculty at Catholic University. He remained on the faculty
there for the next twenty-five years. So popular were his lectures that
sometimes extra seats were brought in to accommodate the overflow.
Two years after his appointment to Catholic University, he began a
parallel career: a long-time media presence as a Catholic spokesman and
apologist on radio and, later, on television. After anchoring a series
of religious broadcasts on radio, he was selected to host The Catholic
Hour on NBC radio until he moved to TV. In 1952, Bishop Sheen (he had
been named auxiliary bishop in New York under Cardinal Spellman in
1951) starred in the first religious television show in New York: Life
Is Worth Living. That program (with his trademark "God love you")
brought him instant recognition by the American TV-viewing public in
the early-to-mid 1950s.
By 1954, his ratings were competitive with those of Mr. Television
himself, Milton Berle. His popularity increasing, Sheen moved to ABC
for a national hook-up. By 1956, his show was being broadcast on
one-hundred eighty-seven stations in the U. S. and Canada. He said,
"Little did I know in those days that it would be given to me through
radio and television to address a greater audience in half an hour than
Paul in all the years of his missionary life."
If God raised up the great bishop Athanasius to fight Arianism in the
fourth century, perhaps it is not too far afield to think that he
raised up the great bishop Sheen to combat Communism in the twentieth.
Sheen stressed the need for reason in dealing with Communism, which had
continued to gain appeal in America since the 1920s. His prophetic
program on Stalin's death, which was broadcast live a week before the
Soviet ruler died, cemented Sheen's position as America's top Catholic
anti-Communist. Some high-level party members called him "Public Enemy
Contrary to some, Sheen was no intellectual featherweight, and he
brought his formidable powers of intellection to bear on the problem of
Communism, the better to refute it. He absorbed Marx, Lenin, and Stalin
to prepare himself for the assaults he would sustain in his attack on
their theories. He was a tremendous success. He converted or influenced
a number of Communists and leftists in the heyday of American
Communism, including Louis Budenz, Elizabeth T. Bently, Bella Dodd, and
One incident related in his autobiography is worth recounting here,
revealing as it does the intensity of pro-Communist sentiment in
America during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. According to Bishop
Sheen's own account, "The foreign policy of the United States was
considering lifting [sic] the embargo against sending arms to the
Communists in Spain. In order to combat this movement, a meeting was
held in Constitution Hall, Washington. The speakers were three: a
former Spanish Ambassador, a young woman who had been in Spain and had
fought against the Communists, and myself. Thousands were turned away
from Constitution Hall. It is very likely that the meeting had
something to do with breaking down the movement to send arms to the
Sheen used that episode to lead into an anecdote that reveals to us
something about President Franklin Roosevelt that his apologists would
prefer remain unspoken. Bishop Sheen recalled that the day after the
meeting in Constitution Hall, he had a meeting with FDR. He went to ask
for a political favor for an old friend who had lost his re-election
bid to Congress. During the meeting, FDR took Sheen to task for
something that he mistakenly thought the bishop had said at the
Constitution Hall meeting. Sheen tried to disprove Roosevelt's
allegation, but the President would not permit him to follow through.
Next Roosevelt said: "You think you know a great deal about the
Church's attitude toward Communism, don't you? I want to tell you that
I am in touch with a great authority, and he tells me that the Church
wants the Communists to win in Spain." Sheen answered: "Mr. President,
I am not the least bit impressed with your authority." FDR: "I did not
tell you who it was." The bishop checkmated Roosevelt with: "You are
referring to Cardinal Mundelein, and I know that Cardinal Mundelein
never made the statement you attributed to him."
Roosevelt had stuck his foot in his mouth; but Bishop Sheen wanted to
conduct the business he came for in the first place. He said: "Mr.
President, I came to see you about a position in Housing." FDR said:
"Oh, Eddie voted for everything I wanted in Congress. He wants to be in
Housing, does he not?" Sheen said that was correct. Roosevelt made a
note on a pad and continued: "The moment you leave this office I will
call Mrs. So-and-So [he mentioned the name of the woman who was in
charge of Housing] and you call Eddie and tell him he has the job."
When Sheen left the White House he called Eddie and said: "Eddie, I saw
the President. I am sorry, you do not get the job." Eddie said: ""Is
that what the President said after all I did for him?" Sheen said: "No,
he said you would have it." Eddie never got the job. Needless to say,
Bishop Sheen was a shrewd observer of the human heart.
Sheen also told a story that reveals the depth of pro-Soviet sympathy
in America during his radio days. He said that because of his position
on the USSR, his talks were closely monitored. If he "veered from the
then-popular position of Russia being a democracy," a technician in the
studio would cut him off. Once he submitted a manuscript for an
upcoming broadcast that had the line, "Poland was crucified between two
thieves--the Nazis and the Soviets." Sheen got a telegram from the
Bishops' Conference asking him not to say that, because one of the
thieves was, of course, the USSR. Never one to miss a beat, the bishop
answered the telegram with: "How would it be to call Russia the 'good'
20th Century Missionary Giant
In 1950, Bishop Sheen was tapped to head the national office of the
Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He founded a magazine named
Mission and published God Loves You, a weekly column in Catholic
newspapers. Between 1950 and 1966, he irrigated the fields of the
foreign missions with $200 million (a tremendous sum these days; how
much more so then!).
In Treasure in Clay, Archbishop Sheen recounts some of his dealings
with the foreign missions. For example, he tells the story of a
missionary priest in Australia who labored in the desert there. The
heat averaged 125 degrees, and the only kind of food he could carry was
canned peaches, since everything else exploded in the desert heat. His
"rectory" was his Volkswagen, which was eventually swept away in a
flood. Bishop Sheen wrote him a check for a new VW. In his capacity as
national head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, his
decisions benefited the mission efforts in New Guinea, Borneo, Pacific
Islands, China, Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, and countless other
Archbishop Sheen, known primarily for his oratorical skills, was,
nonetheless, a superb prose stylist. (He wrote more than sixty books!)
And he gave full exercise to both of these talents in defending and
promoting the Church. His many works include such gems as God and
Intelligence in Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Preface to
Religion, Three to Get Married, The Divine Romance, Peace of Soul, Life
Is Worth Living, The Seven Last Words, The Way of the Cross, This Is
the Mass, The Power of Love, The Divine Verdict, The Armor of God, Way
To Inner Peace, God Loves You, Thinking Life Through, and Thoughts For
In 1966, Pope Paul VI appointed him Bishop of Rochester, New York,
where he served for four years before stepping down at age
seventy-four. He was named titular Archbishop of the Titular See of
Newport (Wales) in 1969.
His quicksilver wit and golden smile softened the patrician bearing
that would quickly stiffen in defense of Christ's Church and the honor
of His Bride. And he had a marvelous sense of humor: Pope Paul VI once
reportedly told him that he would have a high place in heaven. "Is that
an infallible statement?" he grinned.
His high-caliber intellect (steeped as it was in the wisdom of St.
Thomas Aquinas), the magnitude of his writing and speaking skills, his
shrewd sense of theater, and his unflagging love for Christ's Church
combined to produce the most colorful and effective Catholic apologist
in twentieth century America.
By his own account, each day of his priestly life included a continuous
hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. This daily prayer and
mediation and his deep devotion to the Blessed Mother formed the spine
of his fidelity to his priestly vocation and the foundation for the
holiness to which he aspired.
Some two months before his death, he met the visiting John Paul II, who
embraced him warmly and told him: "You have written and spoken well of
the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church." Archbishop Sheen
died in New York City on December 9, 1979.
Holiness Is Simplicity: Father Mariano de la Mata (1905-1983)
Interview With a Blessed's Contemporary
SAO PAULO, Brazil, NOV. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Father Mariano de la Mata
is an example to the Church not because of his great works, but because
of his simple and virtuous life, says the vice postulator of his cause
Father Miguel Lucas, who lived with the Spanish priest in the
Augustinian community in Brazil, says in this interview with ZENIT that
his companion is an example for all to see that sanctity is reached by
living the little things in life well.
Father Mariano de la Mata (1905-1983) was beatified Sunday in the
Cathedral of Sao Paulo, during a ceremony presided over by Cardinal
José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints'
Q: Who was Father Mariano de la Mata?
Father Lucas: A Spanish Augustinian priest. He was born in 1905 and
came to Brazil in 1931; he died in Sao Paulo in 1983. He was a man of
charity for the poor and spiritual director of the St. Rita of Cassia
charity workshops, which are dedicated to making clothes for the poor.
During Father Mariano's life, there were about 9,000 women members.
Father Mariano always visited the four hospitals that existed within
Sao Paulo's Parish of St. Augustine. He liked children very much, and
was always surrounded by them and had sweets in his pockets to give
He was a friend to his students. He made a friend of each student. He
loved nature. He looked after plants as if they were patients. He
cultivated many flower pots in the terrace of St. Augustine School.
Q: What led to the start of his process of beatification?
Father Lucas: Since Father Mariano's death, his reputation for holiness
spread rapidly. God has granted many graces through his intercession.
When, in 1977, my superior in Brazil and I went to ask Cardinal Paulo
Evaristo Arns to open Father Mariano's process of beatification, he
replied: "This man deserves to be a saint; this one does."
Q: You lived together with Father Mariano. Did you think he would reach
the glory of the altar?
Father Lucas: No. First because there was no blessed or saint in
Brazil. And second, because he isn't outstanding for great works. It's
true that everything he did, he did well. He practiced all the virtues
to a higher degree than normal. He was always dedicated to the poor,
the sick, to prayer. This makes us think that sanctity is within our
Q: Can you illustrate how he lived the virtues?
Father Lucas: When he was in the sacristy of St. Augustine Church he
was visited by the poor. He would put his hands on their shoulders,
which were sometimes dirty or wounded, and talk with them. He always
gave them some money.
His assiduous visitors left the church happier because of Father
Mariano's embrace, than for the pennies he gave them. On cold winter
nights, Father Mariano would go down with blankets to the school's
square to cover the poor who slept there.
Another story about Father Mariano is that, despite his impaired
vision, he would go by car all day through the streets of Sao Paulo to
visit the premises of the St. Rita of Cassia charity workshops.
When he arrived late for a meal, some friend would say: "Father
Mariano, the meal is almost over." He would reply: "The meal can wait,
but not the sick; many times they do not wait."
Father Mariano also enjoyed sports. He himself had a soccer team in the
school, of which he was director, and played with the youths. There is
even a photograph of him with the school's soccer team and several
trophies his team won.
Q: What message has Father Mariano left the Church in Brazil and in the
Father Lucas: With his life and testimony, Father Mariano is telling us
that holiness continues to apply today in the Christian life and is
Above all, he is a saint who gives credit to the fact that the building
of the kingdom of God is also done on the city streets and in the
little acts of every day.
Father Mariano's life challenges all of us. He is a saint of today for
the life of today.
Benedict XVI Canonizes 4
Says They Invested in Heaven
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Saints gain heaven by
trusting in the word of God, said Benedict XVI on proclaiming the
sanctity of a bishop, a priest and two women religious.
"Their names will be remembered forever," he said today at the
canonization Mass of the four saints in St. Peter's Square.
Rafael Guízar Valencia
(1878-1938) was born in Cotija de la Paz, in the Mexican state
of Michoacan, the fourth of 11 children.
His evangelizing work was often impeded by the political situation in
During the religious persecution of the 1920s, he was exiled in the
United States, Guatemala and Cuba, where he continued his missionary
Many miracles were attributed to him in his lifetime. He died on June
"Imitating Christ," the Holy Father said during the homily of the more
than two-hour celebration in St. Peter's Square, St. Guízar
Valencia "gave up his properties and never accepted gifts from the
powerful, or gave them away immediately."
"That is why he received a 'hundredfold' and was able to help the poor,
even amid relentless 'persecutions,'" (cf. Mark 10:30) added the
His heroic charity earned him the name "bishop of the poor,'" the Pope
said to the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square, including some 10,000
Benedict XVI said that "in his priestly and later episcopal ministry,
he was a tireless preacher of popular missions, the most appropriate
way to evangelize people then, using his 'Catechism of Christian
Doctrine,'" he said in reference to the book which became the manual of
faith for several generations of Mexicans.
The Bishop of Rome added that one of the bishop's priorities was "the
formation of priests," the reason why he "reconstructed the seminary,
which he considered 'the apple of his eye.'"
"That is why he used to exclaim: 'A bishop might not have a miter, a
staff or even a cathedral, but he can never be without a seminary,
because the future of his diocese depends on it,'" the Pope said.
The Holy Father continued: "May the example of St. Rafael Guízar
Valencia be a call to brother bishops and priests to consider as
essential in pastoral programs, in addition to the spirit of poverty
and to evangelization, the fomenting of priestly and religious
vocations, and their formation according to the heart of Christ."
Mother Theodore Guérin (1798-1856),
founder of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in the United States.
The French religious entered the Congregation of the Sisters of
Providence in 1823, and devoted herself to the work of teaching in
In 1839 she was asked by her superiors to move to the United States to
become the head of a new community in Indiana.
"After their long journey over land and sea, the group of six sisters
arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. There they found a simple
log-cabin chapel in the heart of the forest," said the Pope today at
the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father continued: "They knelt down before the Blessed
Sacrament and gave thanks, asking God's guidance upon the new
"With great trust in divine providence, Mother Theodore overcame many
challenges and persevered in the work that the Lord had called her to
"By the time of her death in 1856, the sisters were running schools and
orphanages throughout the state of Indiana," said the Pontiff.
Benedict XVI quoted the 19th-century nun: "How much good has been
accomplished by the sisters of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods! How much more
good they will be able to do if they remain faithful to their holy
At the end of the canonization, when reciting the Angelus, the Holy
Father prayed in French that St. Theodore will encourage "us to live
the faith and to witness before our contemporaries, paying ever more
attention to little ones and to the most abandoned in society."
Italian Father Filippo Smaldone
(1848-1923), known as the apostle of those who
can't hear or speak.
St. Filippo Smaldone was a "priest of great heart," said the Holy
Father during today's canonization Mass, which could be followed in
sign language on large screens in St. Peter's Square.
"[N]ourished by constant prayer and Eucharistic adoration, he was above
all a witness and servant of charity, manifested eminently in service
to the poor, in particular deaf-mutes, to whom he was completely
dedicated," said the Pope.
The saint founded the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, which has
convents in Italy, Brazil, Moldavia, Paraguay and Rwanda.
"St. Filippo Smaldone saw the image of God reflected in deaf-mutes, and
he used to repeat that, just as we prostrate ourselves before the
Blessed Sacrament, so we should kneel before a deaf-mute."
Sister Rose Venerini (1656-1728), founder of
the first public school for women in Italy.
St. Venerini "was not content to give the girls a good
education," said the Holy Father during today's canonization Mass in
St. Peter's Square, "but was concerned to give them a complete
formation, with firm references in the doctrinal teaching of the
"Her apostolic style still continues to characterize the life of the
Religious Teachers Venerini, which she founded," said the Pope.
The Pontiff added: "And how timely and important also for present-day
society is the service they carry out in the field of education,
especially in the formation of women!"
Mother Theodore Guerin
An Indiana nun once banished from her
congregation by a bishop will be proclaimed a saint on Sunday,
providing a model of virtuous life to America's Roman Catholics — even
if they find themselves at odds with church leaders.
Pope Benedict XVI
will canonize Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin as the first new U.S.
saint in six years, a span marked in this country by the scandal over
the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
The pontiff also will canonize a Mexican bishop and two Italians who
founded religious orders.
The celebration of a new saint offers a respite from the lawsuits and
settlements that have dominated much of the discussion of the U.S.
church in recent years, and Guerin's life story can inspire those
struggling in their own faith, said members of the religious order she
founded, the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
"The bishop here in Vincennes was impossible to work with, yet she
always kept her faith. She held on to it," said Sister Marcia Speth,
one of the order's leaders. "In that way, she witnesses to us how to be
today in an imperfect, flawed, sinful church."
Guerin led a group of six French nuns who arrived in Indiana on Oct.
22, 1840, to establish a community in the woods outside Terre Haute.
She and Vincennes Bishop Celestin de la Hailandiere struggled over
control of the fledgling order, and he dismissed Guerin from her vows,
threatened her with excommunication and banished her for a time from
St. Mary-of-the-Woods. She did not return until after his resignation
In that way, she is like many saints who found themselves bucking
church authorities while alive, only to be acclaimed as saints after
their deaths, said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a theologian at the
University of Notre Dame and the author of the 2001 book "Lives of the
"So many leading figures who had tussles with their bishop or other
high-ranking ecclesiastical officials were later rehabilitated. History
remembers them, but not the officials who gave them a difficult time,"
McBrien said. "I dare say that Mother Guerin, as a soon-to-be-canonized
saint, will achieve an elevated status that will forever elude the
bishop who dismissed her."
When Guerin and fellow sisters stepped off the stagecoach at St.
Mary-of-the Woods, only a simple church in a dense forest awaited them.
They boarded with a local family until acquiring a small cabin that was
so cold their bread froze. They faced anti-Catholic prejudice in
frontier western Indiana.
Guerin raised money and built an academy for girls billed as the oldest
Roman Catholic college for women in the U.S. It's known today as St.
Mary-of-the-Woods College. The sisters also founded schools across
Indiana. Today the order has 465 sisters, with 10 women currently in
formation to become nuns.
Guerin, who died in 1856 at the age of 57, remains a role model for
women at the college, said Samantha Dumm, a 19-year-old sophomore from
Morgantown, Ind., who is traveling with other students to the
Vatican for Sunday's canonization.
"She wants us to be strong women, stand up for ourselves and make our
own way in life," Dumm said.
Guerin will become the eighth U.S. saint and the first one canonized
since Sister Katherine Drexel in October 2000.
A little more than a year after Drexel's canonization, the scandal over
the sex abuse by Catholic priests erupted in the Archdiocese of Boston
and spread across the country. Since then, hundreds of millions of
dollars in settlements have been paid out, and bishops' popularity has
waned, despite reform measures.
Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, who promoted Guerin's cause for sainthood for
the order, said she hopes the canonization will refocus the attention
of Catholics and non-Catholics alike on holiness.
"I think every time it happens, it is an impetus for the rest of us,"
Tighe said. "God did not create just some people to be special. We are
all on earth on a faith journey to heaven."
Cause Opens for Native
Archbishop Ganguly on Track for Beatification
DHAKA, Bangladesh, SEPT. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The diocesan phase
opened for the process of beatification of the first native archbishop
of Bangladesh, Theotonius Amal Ganguly.
The solemn Mass to mark the occasion Sept. 2 was reported by Vatican
Radio, which also explained that it is a historic event for the
country, whose population of 147 million includes 280,000 Catholics.
About 3,000 people were on hand for the Mass, including Archbishop Paul
Tschang In-Nam, the apostolic nuncio, and Archbishop Paulinus Costa of
In 1960 Pope John XXIII appointed Father Ganguly the first native
bishop of the then territory of East Pakistan, making him auxiliary of
Five years later, Pope Paul VI appointed him coadjutor archbishop of
the same place, eventually becoming archbishop at the age of 47. Four
years later, after separation from the rest of the Pakistani territory,
the country was named Bangladesh. The prelate died at age 57 from a
In his homily, Archbishop Costa mentioned that many lay people, both
young and old, asked him to initiate his predecessor's process of
The prelate made this request to Benedict XVI last March.
"We will pray that God will grant a good outcome to this cause,"
Archbishop Costa told the thousands of faithful present. "Each one of
you will receive a photo of the Servant of God and a prayer. Please
pray it in every home and parish."
At the end of the ceremony, the faithful went in great numbers to pray
at Archbishop's Ganguly's tomb in the Archbishop's Residence.
Beatification for Hungarian nun
executed for saving Jews
In the first beatification to take place in Hungary
since that of St Stephen nearly 1000 years ago, Sara Salkahazi, a nun
honoured by Jewish organisations for saving the lives of dozens of Jews
during World War II, is to be declared Blessed in Budapest later this
Sara Salkahazi, who
was recognised in 1972 by Yad Vashem, was killed by
the Arrow Cross - the Hungarian allies of the Nazis - on 27 December
1944 for hiding Jews in a Budapest building used by her religious
order, the Sisters of Social Service, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Salkahazi was taken along with several other occupants of the home and
shot, their bodies falling into the Danube River and never recovered.
The beatification rite will take place 17 September at St Stephen's (St
Istvan's) Basilica, Budapest and will be the first beatification to
take place in the country since the beatification of St Stephen himself
who was beatified in 1083 along with his son, St Imre, and St Gellert,
an Italian bishop who had a key role in converting Hungarians to
"Sara Salkahazi heroically exercised her love of humanity stemming from
her Christian faith," said Budapest Cardinal Peter Erdo, who will
celebrate the beatification mass. "This is for what she gave her life."
Salkahazi was born in the city of Kassa in 1899, at the time in Hungary
but now known as Kosice and part of Slovakia.
Changes introduced by Pope Benedict again allow beatification rites to
be held around the world, instead of only in the Vatican, as was the
norm for centuries.
Church officials also highlighted Salkahazi's modest middle-class
roots, saying she will be first Hungarian to be beatified who is not
royalty or a member of the country's aristocracy, the Post added.
Before taking her religious vows in 1930, Salkahazi worked as a
bookbinder, journalist and newspaper editor.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority,
was established in 1953 by an act of the Israeli Knesset. Since its
inception, Yad Vashem has been entrusted with documenting the history
of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period, preserving the memory
and story of each of the six million victims, and imparting the legacy
of the Holocaust for generations to come through its archives, library,
school, museums and recognition of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Interview With Cardinal Peter
of Hungary, before the beatification.
Q: Of what importance is this event?
Cardinal Erdo: First I wish to say that the last canonization that took
place in Hungary was in 1083, at a time when there was still no
technical distinction between beatification and canonization.
Therefore, it is correct to say that it is the first beatification that
is effected in Hungary.
Above all it is a great joy, not only for Catholic believers but for
the whole society: a completely extraordinary event. And it is also
very important that all this is happening in the year of Hungary's
jubilees, in a year that the Hungarian episcopal conference has
declared a year of prayer for the spiritual renewal of the Magyar
nation. Above all it is the 50th anniversary of the 1956 revolution.
What does this beatification mean for us in the city of Budapest? It
means that a woman of today, of the 20th century, let us say an
ordinary woman, that is, not aristocratic or of the royal household,
can live the Christian ideal and also be shown to all the people as an
example of Christian life.
The blessed and saints are, on one hand, our patrons who intercede for
us and, on the other, they are always examples of Christian life and
this example must be current, palpable for people today.
Hungarians have relatively few canonized saints, also because our
administrative strength, to carry out these processes, was somewhat
lacking in our very agitated history.
Therefore, it is an extraordinary joy that John Paul II already
beatified three Hungarians and now Benedict XVI has permitted the
beatification of Sister Sara Salkahazi, who was a martyr and died in
Budapest, in this city which has existed under this name only since
1873, because before, Buda and Pest were two different cities.
The patron saint of our city is St. Gerard Sagredo of Venice, who was
an Italian bishop. After St. Stephen's death, [St. Gerard] was thrown
into the Danube from the mountain that now bears his name. His statute
raises the cross over the city of Budapest. His martyrdom was closely
linked to the Danube's waters.
And now we celebrate the beatification of a saintly woman of the 20th
century, who also suffered martyrdom and whose martyrdom is also
related to the waters of the Danube.
She was shot on the Danube, with many people of Jewish origin, because
she was a martyr of Christian charity. She gave her life for her
neighbors. She hid many persecuted people in her convent, and when this
fact was discovered at the end of 1944 she was arrested and then,
together with the women she was hiding, was shot on the Danube.
Later, eyewitnesses of this event were found who stated how she died.
She made the sign of the cross in the last moment of her life;
therefore, fully conscious, she wished to give witness of the way that
a true Christian must behave in such tragic situations.
Q: In the history of the Church, including during difficult periods,
some charismatic personalities have appeared as compasses in the storm.
What role did Sister Sara play in the tormented period in which she
Cardinal Erdo: Above all, Sister Sara was a very modern woman. A
journalist in the city of Kosice, which belonged to Hungary when it was
born and later formed part of Czechoslovakia, she wrote for several
newspapers and later she also wrote plays and her writings are full of
human sensibility but also full of Christian thought.
Through her intellectual activity, she was open to a vocation and
decided to dedicate her life to the service of her neighbor. That is
why she entered the Society of the Social Sisters, which was a new
congregation of that time and which was engaged above all in service to
the poor and the sick.
In regard to the poor, Sister Sara discovered the extreme need of women
in the society of that time; women who were obliged to work even though
they had a family, who often lived in utter dependence and poverty.
She also organized several houses for women in situations of crisis.
Thus, a Christian feminism characterized the thought of this religious
and also the house in Budapest where she was a superior at the end of
Initially it was a house for women workers and in this house they later
hid many women of Jewish origin. This was not an isolated action of
Sister Sara but also organized centrally by her whole congregation.
It was Margit Slachta, superior general of the congregation, who wrote
that in each house of her Society, persecuted women were hidden; yet
more than that, when students were in boarding schools, they were sent
home to have enough room for persecuted women.
Hungarian laws at that time exempted people of Jewish origin from the
juridical consequences of their origin if they were members of a
religious congregation, or if they were priests or clerics of a
Because of this, for example, in the city of Cluj, in present-day
Romania, which also belonged to Hungary, this Society had a large
house, where not a few young women were dressed as religious to save
their lives. So, we have many testimonies of this kind.
We have other information also that in another house of the Society in
Budapest, until the last moment of Nazism, there were many people
hidden, also men, naturally not as religious, but, for example, in
compartments under the house's roof and other such things.
In fact, after her death, no other religious was killed, either by the
Nazis or the Communists who arrived later. It was a truly moving story
already at that time, but a story about which, under Communism,
relatively little was said; hence the cause of beatification could only
be initiated after the change of the system.
Q: Saints and blessed leave us an ideal testament and a strong example
to follow in which the Catholic community should be inspired in life
and in daily difficulties. Sister Sara's testimony is an up-to-date
message for us all. In what way can we propose her exemplary life in
the contemporary context of irresponsibility and relativism?
Cardinal Erdo: By presenting the details of her life, because in at
least 10 places she worked for the poor: for example, in Ukraine of the
Carpathians, where also at that time there were enormous social
problems and poverty.
Then, we can present her as a person who fought for her vocation, a
person who was very determined to follow the will of God, once she
All those who knew her say she was a severe and strong personality,
even though she knew how to joke, but who never wished to give up when
she had recognized something as the will of God.
This clarity of decision could be a great example for people today who
have great difficulty in deciding, in finding their vocation, their
spouse, or their life's profession.
She is also a great example of Christian attitude that helps others
without calculation, without taking her own interests into account and
who looks with open eyes at the social situation of the people, of the
city where she lives and who is aware of the needs of people who live
around her, because today we are often very isolated and do not even
realize the misery in which some of those close to us live.
Hence, there is a very strong alienation in present-day society and we
as Christians must pull down this wall of alienation. We must open our
eyes and also our hearts to those who have some kind of need, which
might have to do with health, or be material, psychological, spiritual
or social in people who are oppressed or persecuted.
Today's world is full of such situations; hence, the testimony of this
religious is, sadly, of great present importance.
Q: What was her charism? How can you describe her spirituality?
Cardinal Erdo: Her life was inscribed harmoniously in her congregation;
hence, social service to the human person.
Today the great systems of social welfare, of health, if they work, do
not function as before, including in the Western world; this is one
Another issue is that the loans given by these systems are generally
material loans and not directly personal, so that the systems are
de-personalized, while the help that these religious tried to give was
always a most personal help which did not just calculate the quantity
of foods distributed but tried to be in personal contact with the
needy. This too, in my opinion, is a very timely aspect of Christian
Q: Her motto was: "Ecce ego, mitte me!" (Here I am. Send me!). How can
this motto be interpreted and applied in the contemporary world?
Cardinal Erdo: All of us are obliged to seek the will of God in
general, if we want the objective norms of human behavior that are
already written in our hearts and nature.
But we are also obliged to seek the concrete will of God: his plan for
our person, hence, our vocation.
Surely it cannot be impossible to find this vocation. God does not call
us to hide himself but he calls us to meet us; therefore, we must
believe with much optimism in the fact that it is possible to know the
will of God also in the concrete situations of our lives.
When Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us the
whole truth that he taught and would make us recall all the teachings
of Jesus Christ, we have no illusions, we do not think that the Holy
Spirit works a miracle with our memory, but instead points out to us in
each concrete situation what Jesus Christ wants, what his teaching
means for us in that specific situation -- hence, [...] baptism, which
also implies the Holy Spirit as gift of God, and, in a special way,
confirmation, which gives us this indelible sign of the Holy Spirit,
the capacity to hear the voice of the Spirit which points out to us
what God wills, what he expects from us in the specific circumstances
of each day.
There are traditional and current phrases of Christian life, such as
the examen of conscience every day, or a good resolution every morning
looking ahead, foreseeing how the day will go, which will certainly be
full of stress and agitation, and we try to foresee what the greatest
temptations of the day will be which are predictable or perhaps what
occasions there are to do good.
Therefore, if we have a small project for the day, no doubt at night,
in our examen of conscience, we can ask ourselves if, with the grace of
God, we have been able to accomplish the project. Or, if there were
sins, we can ask for God's forgiveness and begin again with our eyes
If we succeed in learning this attitude of attention to the Holy
Spirit, it will become increasingly easier. And this promptness is
called virtue in the theological sense of the word.
Q: What has impressed you personally of the figure of Sister Sara?
Cardinal Erdo: I still know personally ladies who were rescued by
Sister Sara or other religious of her congregation. For me, her figure
was always a figure of the stories of the ancestors, if we want a
It is a proof that the saints are not persons who are remote from us,
from daily life, from our possibilities; rather, they are people like
ourselves who simply -- even in the trivial circumstances of daily life
-- succeed in following God's will consistently. And this promptness of
the person then receives God's blessing.
And through our simple actions, miracles take place, events that later
shake a whole generation and that leave their mark for a long time,
including on the conscience of an entire city or a whole nation.
Blessed Bartolo Longo
The Feast of the Assumption was Aug. 15, and to mark
the occasion thousands of pilgrims gathered at the Sanctuary of the
Holy Rosary of Pompei, one of the world's most famous Marian shrines.
Among other things, the pilgrims celebrated the 100th anniversary of
the gift of the shrine to the Holy See in 1906 by Blessed Bartolo
Longo, its founder and a tireless advocate of the dogma of Mary's
Beatifying Longo in 1980, John Paul II called him the "Man of Mary."
If every saint (and near-saint) has an interesting story, some are more
interesting than others, and Longo's may be close to the most
interesting of all. He holds the singular distinction that he was once
a priest -- but not of the Catholic church, or even of the Christian
Improbably, Longo was a priest of Satan.
He grew up in a Catholic household, but fell in with a different crowd
when he went to Naples for law school. Attracted to the 19th century
"Spiritist" movement, he began attending séances, and eventually
became involved in a Satanic cult. He was formally made a priest, and
regularly conducted Black Masses and other Satanic rituals for the
better part of a decade.
Eventually, however, Longo came under the influence of a Dominican who
brought him back to Catholicism. Longo became a lay member of the
Dominicans' Third Order, taking the name "Brother Rosary."
Longo organized a petition drive for world peace from 1896 to 1900,
collecting more than four million signatures in dozens of countries.
For his efforts, he was nominated for the 1902 Noble Peace Prize.
At the same time, Longo also led a petition drive supporting the dogma
of Mary's Assumption. More than 120 bishops signed, and the petition
was given to Pope Leo XIII. Some questioned the idea of a layperson
meddling in theology, but Leo declared that the Holy Spirit can speak
through any of the baptized.
Longo did not live to see the proclamation of the Assumption by Pius
XII on Nov. 1, 1950. Forty years later, however, John Paul acknowledged
him as the father of "the promotional movement of the definition of the
The moral of this story? If a former Satanist can become the architect
of an infallible papal declaration, maybe there's hope for us all.
John Paul I's Cause Expected to Advance
Diocesan Phase Might End in November
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The vice postulator of the
cause for the beatification of Pope John Paul I announced that the
diocesan phase of the process could end this year.
The announcement, reported on Vatican Radio, was made public on the
occasion of the presentation of the celebrations for the 28th
anniversary of the election to the papacy of the patriarch of Venice,
Cardinal Albino Luciani. The celebrations will be held Aug. 26.
Speaking of John Paul I's birthplace, Canale d'Agordo, the vice
postulator, Monsignor Giorgio Lise, revealed that "170 witnesses have
been heard in 190 sessions; there are some missing in Rome and Vittorio
Veneto. Therefore, the diocesan phase is drawing to a close and, in
November, on the patronal feast of St. Martin, on the 11th of that
month, it might well be concluded."
According to the vice postulator, the focus has been on the purported
miracle that occurred in Puglia, in southern Italy. A man says he was
cured of a tumor after praying to God for the grace through the
The diocesan phase of the cause began in Belluno in 2003. Once the
diocesan phase is concluded, the cause will be taken up by the Vatican
Congregation for Saints' Causes.
Albino Luciani, born on Oct. 17, 1912, was elected Pope on the second
day of the conclave, on Aug. 26, 1978. He died a month later.
Sister Teresa Benedicta of the
Cross | Edith Stein | August 9th
August 9th is the Feast Day of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who
was martyred on that day in 1942 in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Fr. Charles P. Connor, in Classic Catholic Converts, writes:
The story of the Jewish Carmelite
Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, known in the world as Edith
Stein, presents us with one of the more brilliant converts to come to
the Faith in [the twentieth] century; it also places us in close
contact with a horrendous tragedy of the modern world, the Holocaust.
Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Germany on October
12, 1891, the youngest of eleven children. In 1913 she began studies at
the University of Göttingen in Germany. She soon became a student
of the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl and was later attracted to the
work of Max Scheler, a Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism
in 1920. A chance reading of the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila
revealed to her the God of love she had long denied. She entered the
Church in 1922.
For eight years Edith lived with the Dominicans, teaching at Saint
Magdelene's, which was a training institute for teachers. She wrote:
Initially, when I was baptized on New
Year's Day, 1922, I thought of it as a preparation in the Order. But a
few months later, when I saw my mother for the first time after the
baptism, I realized that she couldn't handle another blow for the
present. Not that it would have killed her—but I couldn't have held
myself responsible for the embitterment it would have caused.
In fact, after her conversion Edith continued to
attend synagogue with her mother. Meanwhile, she continued to grow and
impress as a philospher. In 1925 she met the Jesuit Erich Pryzwara, a
philosopher who would have a tremendous influence on Hans Urs von
Balthasar. Pryzwara encouraged Edith to study and translate St. Thomas
Aquinas; she eventually wrote a work comparing Usserl with Aquinas.
In 1933 Edith entered the religious life with the Carmel of Cologne,
Germany. She fell in love with the person and writing of Saint
Thérèse of Lisieux. She wrote:
My impression was, that this was a life
which had been absolutely transformed by the love of God, down to the
last detail. I simply can't imagine anything greater. I would like to
see this attitude incorporated as much as possible into my own life and
the lives of those who are dear to me.
After taking her first vows, Edith was known as
Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She continued to write, Fr.
Connor notes, "continually developing the theme that Christ's sacrifice
on the Cross and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are in fact one and the
same sacrifice. From her religious background, she knew the importance
of sacrificial prayer for Old Testament prophets." She wrote of how
Jesus' sacrifice as the Incarnate God-man was the final, perfect
sacrifice that replaced all of the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
Because of the rise of Nazi power, Edith and her sister Rosa, who had
also converted to Catholicism, moved to Holland in 1938. On August 2,
1942, Edith and her sister were taken from the convent by two S.S.
officers. She was martyred seven days later. Fr. Connor writes: "On
October 11, 1998, fifty-six years, two months, and two days after her
death at Auschwitz, Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,
was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul
Ferdinand Holböck writes in New Saints and Blesseds of the Catholic Church :
1984-1987 (Volume 2):
The Church now presents Sister Teresa
Benedicta a Croce to us as a blessed martyr, as an example of a heroic
follower of Christ, for us to honour and to emulate. Let us open
ourselves up for her message to us as a woman of the spirit and of the
mind, who saw in the science of the cross the acme of all wisdom, as a
great daughter of the Jewish people, and as a believing Christian in
the midst of millions of innocent fellow men made martyrs. She saw the
inexorable approach of the cross. She did not flee in fear. Instead,
she embraced it in Christian hope with final love and sacrifice and in
the mystery of Easter even welcomed it with the salutation,"ave crux
spes unica". As Cardinal Höffner said in his recent pastoral
letter, "Edith Stein is a gift, an invocation and a promise for our
time. May she be an intercessor with God for us and for our people and
for all people."
by Waltraud Herbstrith
A powerful and moving story of the remarkable Jewish woman who
converted to Catholicism, became a nun, achieved remarkable success in
the male-dominated world of German philosophy, and was sent to a Nazi
death camp when she refused to deny her Jewish heritage.
Waltraud Herbstrith has fashioned a warm, memorable portrait of this
woman who, as Jesuit philosopher Jan Nota points out in the
introduction, "discovered in Christ the meaning of human existence and
suffering ... Edith Stein was one of those Christians who lived out of
a hope transcending optimism and pessimism." Hers is a voice that
speaks powerfully to all of us today, and a life that stands as
testimony to the profoundest values of human existence, the
significance of the individual, and the truths of faith that can
reconcile Christian and Jew, philosophy and religion, oppressor and
oppressed to heal a troubled world.
Whittaker Chambers | From Saints For Now, edited by Clare
Queen Victoria left this world almost at the moment that I chanced to
enter it. Her memory, when I was old enough to
identify it, fell thinly across my earliest childhood. People still
"the Queen", as if in all history there had been only one and
everybody must know at once that Queen Victoria was meant. Somewhat
sensed that her going had stirred a deep-set uneasiness, as if with her
of the mainland of human experience had sunk into the sea and no one
what further subsidences and commotions to expect. Yet, in those far
no one ever chanted to me that grim line of the Queen's favorite poet:
And the great aeon sinks in blood:
though I was not very old when I had the
"Death of Arthur" read to me in full, and, after the depressingly long
glories of the winter moon, I noted with relief that
The new sun rose, bringing the new year.
With the rest of my generation, I grew in that
sun's illusory light. For the historical skies of my boyhood were only
frequently troubled, chiefly by a triad of figures powerful and
enough to thrill from time to time the nerve of reality. They were, of
in America, Theodore Roosevelt; in England, King Edward VII; and, on
continent of Europe, bestriding it like a self-inflated colossus, the
Kaiser. Each had a characteristic motif; too, like a Wagnerian hero: a
repetitive phrase that set the historic mood or forecast that each, for
ill, was about to vault again upon the world stage, to give some new
turn to the plot. Thus, from the heart of Europe, would come
variations on the Bismarckian theme of Blut und Eisen. In
blithe shouts of "Bully! It's bully!" While Edwardian England had
reversed the plea in which Swinburne exhorted Walt Whitman to "send but
song oversea to us", and both shores of the Atlantic rocked to the
and thunder of Tarara-boom-de-ay.
Long before I had the slightest notion what
the barbaric sounds might mean, as language or destiny, I listened
A Brussels carpet on the floor:
It was not only because of its gayness that it
embedded it self in my memory. For what others found gay, I found
ominous, as fixing a tone, a touch of dissolution that, even as a
child, I could not possibly have explained to myself or anybody else.
day, much later, the echo of Tarara-boom-de-ay fused itself
something that would seem to have nothing to do with it--a more or less
remark by one of my college instructors in Contemporary Civilization.
Contemporary Civilization, a course required for all freshmen at
College, was taught by several young men whom I remember chiefly as
lugubrious--disillusioned veterans of the First World War, and a
objector who had refused to take part in it. One day, the objector,
staring at some point far beyond the backs of our heads, observed that
world is entering upon a new Dark Ages."
An elevator at the door:
It was one of the few things that I carried
away from Contemporary Civilization, required for all freshmen. And it
so much the meaning of the words, which I was far too unfledged to
as the toneless despondency with which they were uttered that struck
and their acceptance of the Dark Ages as something relevant, and
recurrent in history.
For under the sunlit skies of my boyhood, the
Dark Ages were seldom mentioned: if at all, chiefly by way of contrast
light of our progress. For the voice of that time was, at least as it
me, wholly incapable of the irony with which, little more than a decade
Jean de Bosschére would ask: "Qui se leva pour
dire que nous ne sommes pas en plein jour?"
The Dark Ages were inexcusable and rather
disreputable--a bad time when the machine of civilization in its
climb to the twentieth century had sheared a whole rank of king-pins
mankind in a centuries-long ditch. At best, it was a time when monks
unsanitary cells with a human skull before them, and copied and
lack of more fruitful employment, the tattered records of a dead
was the Dark Ages at best, which, as anybody could see, was not far
If a bright boy, leafing through history,
asked: "How did the Dark Ages come about?" he might be told that
"Rome fell!"--as if a curtain simply dropped. Boys of ten or twelve,
even if bright, are seldom bright enough to say to themselves: "Surely,
Rome did not fall in a day." If a boy had asked: "But were there no
great figures in the Dark Ages, like Teddy Roosevelt, King Edward, and
Kaiser?" he might well have been suspected of something like an
interest in the habits and habitats of spiders. If he had persisted and
"But isn't it clear that the Dark Ages are of a piece with our age of
light, that our civilization is by origin Catholic, that, in fact, we
understand what we have become without under standing what we came
from?" he would have been suspected of something much worse than
distressing turn to popery.
I was no such bright boy (or youth). I reached
young man hood serene in the knowledge that, between the failed light
antiquity and the buzzing incandescence of our own time, there had
thousand years of darkness from which the spirit of man had begun to
itself (intellectually) first in the riotous luminosity of the
Human ism, in the eighteenth century, and at last (politically) in the
Revolution. For the dividing line between the Dark Ages is not fast,
were easily lumped together.
To be sure, even before Queen Victoria died,
the pre Raphaelites had popularized certain stage properties of the
And on the Continent there had been Novalis, to mention only one name
one in my boyhood mentioned Novalis). There had been Huysmans (we knew
mans, but his name was touched with decadence). There was a fad of the
and figures like Viollet-le-Duc: while an obscure American, Henry
even then composing Mont St. Michel and Chartres, and inditing
thoughts on the Virgin and the Dynamo that would echo briefly above the
their swizzle sticks in the patter of my generation.
I was in my twenties, a young intellectual
savage in college with thousands of others, before the fact slowly
me that, for a youth always under the spell of history, the his tory I
practically no history at all. It consisted of two disjointed
history of Greece and Rome, with side trips to Egypt and the Fertile
and a history of the last four hundred years of Europe and America. Of
in between, what joined the parts and gave them continuity, and the
life and breath of spirit, my ignorance was darker than any Dark Age.
intelligence than by the kind of sixth sense which makes us aware of
ahead in the dark, I divined that a main land mass of the history of
civilization loomed hidden beyond my sight.
I turned to medieval history. But the
distinguished teachers who first guided me into the Dark Ages seemed,
even to my
blindness, not too sure of their own way. They knew facts, more facts
would ever know. Yet in their understanding of the facts something was
something that would enable them to feel that the life of the times
exploring was of one tissue with the life of ours, that neither could
from the other, without an arterial tearing, that neither could be
without the other. Their exposition, even of so obvious a problem as
for the fall of the Roman West left me with a sense of climbing
above a chasm at night. Rome fell, I learned, because of the barbarian
and a series of great barbarian leaders. H. G. Wells would presently
with the information that the hordes had been comparative handfuls
populations they conquered, while, somewhat later, I would come to
the barbarian leaders were scarcely more barbarian than the Romans,
that many of
them were disaffected officials of the Roman state and their conduct
was not so
much that of invaders as what we should now call Fifth Columnists.
Or I was taught that Rome's collapse was due
in part to the disrepair of the Roman roads and the breakdown of
Or the resurgence of the Pontine marshes and the high incidence of
Rome. Or that the conquest of the East had introduced alien and
masses into the Empire, and corrupted Rome, and so it fell. But even a
collegiate savage could scarcely fail to note that it was precisely the
Eastern half of the Empire that survived as a political unit, and, for
eight hundred years, stood against the vigorous East, and was the
bulwark of the
There were other facts and factors. My
ignorance could question them only so far, and then not their reality
most part, but their power to explain by themselves an event so complex
thunderous as the crash of a civilization. Some more subtle dissolvent,
sensed, must also have been, undivined, at work. I thought I had caught
of it in Salvianus' moritur et ridet: "The Roman Empire is
luxurious, but it is filled with misery. It is dying but it laughs--moritur
et ridet." But Salvian, we learned with a deflecting smile, was an
extremist, though, in the hindsight of disaster, his foresight would
seem overstated. What interested me was that men had smiled
Salvian's words when he spoke them, and men still smiled at them
a thousand years later--the same kind of men, I was beginning to
I also suspected, a similar turning point of history.
In any case, for me it was too late. What the
missing some thing was in the crisis of Rome I was not to learn in
The crisis of civilization in my own time had caught me in its undertow
swept me far beyond that earlier Dark Ages. Not until it had cast me
its rocks, by grace a defeated fugitive from its forces, would I again
peace or pause to seek to determine what, if anything, that mortal
had taught me about the history of our own time, or any other.
This century was half gone, and with it more
than half my life, that at that moment seemed all but to have ended in
with which my name is linked, when someone, seeking only to comfort me,
more directed my eyes to that point in the past from which, some thirty
before, I had abruptly taken them. Anne Ford, my friend of many years
sent me from the Monastery of Gethsemani a little silver medal, blessed
family's name and mine, by Father Louis--Thomas Merton of The
Mountain, who, as a later student, had sat in the same college
listening to some of the same instructors I had known. On the medal was
of St. Benedict.
I found myself asking who St. Benedict had
been. I knew that he had founded a monastic order, which bore his name,
for it he had written a famous Rule. I knew that he had uttered a
precept that I
had taken for my own: Laborare est orare--to labor is to pray.
once written a little news story about plans for the restoration of his
monastery of Monte Cassino after its destruction in the World War of
I had written had presumably been read at least by one hundred thousand
(so much for journalism in our time). But a seeker after knowledge at
certainly one fifty years old, must begin by confessing that he
less about St. Benedict than many a pupil in parochial school. Nor, had
a dozen friends, regarded as highly intelligent by themselves and the
could one of them have told me much more about St. Benedict than I knew
The fact that such ignorance could exist, could be taken as a matter of
was more stunning than the abyss of ignorance itself.
For the briefest prying must reveal that,
simply in terms of history, leaving aside for a moment his sanctity,
Benedict was a colossal figure on a scale of importance in shaping the
civilization of the West against which few subsequent figures could
of those who might measure in terms of historic force, almost none
in terms of good achieved.
Nor was St. Benedict an isolated peak. He was
only one among ranges of human height that reached away from him in
time in both
directions, past and future, but of which, with one or two obvious
one was as ignorant as of Benedict: St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St.
St. Leo the Great, Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Francis of Assisi,
(Pope Gregory VII).
Clearly, a cleft cut across the body of
Christendom itself, and raised an overwhelming question: What, in fact,
civilization of the West? If it was Christendom, why had it turned its
half its roots and meanings and become cheerfully ignorant of those who
embodied them? If it was not Christendom, what was it? And what were
values that it claimed to assert against the forces of active evil that
in the greatest crisis of history since the fall of Rome? Did the
failure of the
Western World to know what it was lie at the root of its spiritual
its intellectual confusion, its moral chaos, the dissolving bonds of
loyalty within itself, its swift political decline in barely four
hegemony of the world to a demoralized rump of Europe little larger
than it had
been in the crash of the Roman West, and an America still disputing the
of the crisis, its gravity, whether it existed at all, or what to do
Answers to such questions could not be
extemporized. At the moment, a baffled seeker could do little more than
for St. Benedict's hand and pray in all humbleness to be led over the
of the saint's progress to the end that he might be, if not more
knowledgeable, at least less nakedly ignorant. The biographical facts
synoptic enough and chiefly to be found in the Dialogues of
Gregory the Great or inferred between the lines of St. Benedict's Rule.
Benedict had been born, toward the end of the
fifth century, of good family in the sturdy countryside of Nursia,
close enough to Rome to catch the tremors of its sack, in 410, by
Alaric's West Goths (the first time in eight hundred years that the
city had fallen) and
the shock of its sack by the Vandals, who, in 455 completed the
and human havoc that the West Goths had begun. To a Rome darkened by
disasters, Benedict had been sent to school as a boy of fourteen or
There he was shaken by the corrupt customs of his schoolmates, it is
we may surely conjecture that he was touched, too, like sensitive minds
own day, by a sense of brooding, indefinable disaster, of doom still
for the Dark Ages were scarcely more than begun.
The boy fled from Rome, or, as we might say,
ran away from school, and settled with a loose-knit congregation about
miles from the city. There he performed his first miracle. When, as a
men called him good, he fled again. For, though he was a boy, he was
enough to fear the world, especially when it praises. This time he fled
desert wilderness near Subiaco, where for three years he lived alone in
To those who presently found him, he seemed more like a wild creature
man. Those were the years of the saint's conquest of his flesh, his
illumination, and perhaps his prayerful union with God. They must also
the years when he plumbed all the perils of solitary austerities and
life, by suffering them.
At any rate, the saint left Subiaco to enter
on his first experience in governing a community of monks. He returned
Subiaco, and, in twelve years, organized twelve Benedictine
days were filled with devotion and with labor and touched with
again human factors threatened failure. St. Benedict with a few
withdrew to Monte Cassino, some eighty miles southeast of Rome. There
overthrew an ancient altar of Apollo (for paganism was still rooted in
countryside), and there he raised his own altar. On those heights, he
his community, ruled his monks, performed new miracles, distilled his
experience in his Holy Rule. There he died at a date which is in
was probably about 547, when the campaigns of the Eastern Roman Empire
recover Italy from the East Goths had so permanently devastated the
that the irruption of the Lombards into the ruins brought a new horror
than any novelty in havoc.
Against that night and that ruin, like a man
patiently lighting a wick in a tempest, St. Benedict set his Rule.
been other monastic Rules before--St. Pachomius' and St. Basil's, for
example. St. Benedict called his the Holy Rule, setting it
setting it apart from all others, with a consciousness of its singular
that has led some biographers to speculate whether he had not been
the Holy See to write it. Perhaps it is permissible to hazard that his
need have proceeded from nothing more than that unwavering confidence
commonly sustains genius.
What was there in this little book that
changed the world? To us, at first glance, it seems prosaic enough,
obvious. That, indeed, is the heart of its inspiration. In an age of
saints and furiously competing athletes of the spirit, when men plunged
thousands into the desert, in a lunge toward God, and in revulsion from
Benedict's Rule brought a saving and creative sanity. Its temper was
moderation as against excesses of zeal, of fruitful labor as against
pushed to the point of fruitlessness, of discipline as against
continence of spirit and conduct as against in continence.
It has been said (by T. F. Lindsay in his
sensitive and searching St. Benedict) that, in a shattered
Holy Rule, to those who submitted to its mild but strict sway, restored
discipline and power of Roman family life.
I venture that it did something else as well.
For those who obeyed it, it ended three great alienations of the spirit
action, I suspect, touched on that missing something which my
to find among the causes of the fall of Rome. The same alienations, I
suspect, can be seen at their work of dissolution among ourselves, and
perhaps among the little noticed reasons why men turn to Communism.
the alienation of the spirit of man from traditional authority; his
from the idea of traditional order; and a crippling alienation that he
the point where civilization has deprived him of the joy of simple
These alienations St. Benedict fused into a
new surge of the human spirit by directing the frustrations that
into the disciplined service of God. At the touch of his mild
bones of a new order stirred and clothed themselves with life, drawing
much of what was best and most vigorous among the ruins of man and his
the Dark Ages, and conserving and shaping its energy for that
outburst of mind and spirit in the Middle Ages. For about the
monasteries what we, having casually lost the Christian East, now
the West, once before regrouped and saved itself.
So bald a summary can do little more than indicate the dimensions of
the Benedictine achievement and plead for its
constant re-examination. Seldom has the need been greater. For we
sense, in the
year 1952, that we may stand closer to the year 410 than at any
other time in the centuries since. If that statement seems as extreme
as any of
Salvian's, three hundred million Russians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, East
Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, and all the Christian Balkans, would
that it is not--would tell you if they could lift their voices through
night of the new Dark Ages that have fallen on them. For them the year
Whittaker Chambers (April 1, 1901 - July 9, 1961) was an American
writer, editor, and famous defector from the American Communist Party.
He is best known for his testimony about the espionage of Alger Hiss,
detailed in his book Witness, published in 1952.
A Study In Faithful Obedience |
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
| New Foreword to From Slave to Priest
Sister Caroline Hemesath's powerful narrative of Father
Augustine Tolton's life is a poignant reminder that with God all things
welcome new edition, reacquaints us with the first black
American priest of the United States and chronicles the profound
equality and acceptance faced by black Catholics in the postbellum era.
Confronted with a succession of seemingly indomitable challenges (a
escape from slavery, his father's death, abject poverty, exclusion from
seminaries), Father Tolton's fervent desire to study Catholicism, his
longing for the priesthood and his mother's loving support were the
from which he drew the strength to persevere.
Father Tolton knew that unconditional trust in God meant
that he must become completely vulnerable before the God who made him.
Tolton reveled in the folly of divine abandonment, confidently exposing
deepest parts of his soul before God who gave him the strength to
priestly ministry under the weighty yoke of racism. He was a beacon of
black Catholics in the nineteenth century who were trying to find a
home in the
American Church. Father Tolton, in his abiding faith and selfless
the instrument through which God's love shone brightly. The resplendent
"I have come ... not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent
me" (Jn 6:38) echoed majestically throughout Father Tolton's brief life.
Despite the oppressive hardships placed upon Father Tolton
by a culture firmly rooted in the arid soil of hatred and malevolence,
brought him out of the heart of darkness and used him as an instrument
grace. Father Tolton was a tireless messenger of the Gospel and "was
afraid to go into the deep South, where racial hatreds had reached a
and where segregation was decreed by harsh laws." Despite the novelty
being the only black priest in an all-white clergy, the gifted Father
was able effectively to convey the richness, beauty and truth of the
faith, which penetrated even the hardest hearts ("Wherever he went, he
respected and honored").
When we look beneath the surface of our national life, we
see that the septic undercurrent of racism flows largely unabated.
alive and well, and is intricately woven into the fabric of American
But unlike the 1950s and '60s, where racism was overt, extreme, and
institutionalized, the structure of racism today is more subtle and
exhibiting itself through outward manifestations of a now unconscious
philosophy of dehumanization.
Since the 1960s and '70s, many black Catholics, in response
to racism in the Church, have turned to and been heavily influenced by
theology, a Christian belief in the transcendent as a vehicle for
liberation. Liberation theology does not ask what the Church is, but
it means to be the Church in the context of liberating the poor and
As such, the Church's primary mission is to challenge oppression and
herself with the poor. For liberation theology, the Magisterium (that
is, the teaching
authority of the Church) is part of the oppressive class by definition
in this view, it does not participate in the class struggle.
this "liberation" version of Catholicism, faith is subordinate to
political ideology, and the Church becomes an instrumental good rather
an intrinsic good and the necessary means of salvation.
Father Tolton, a former slave become Catholic priest, knew
well that the basis for any authentic theology of liberation must
truth about Jesus, the Church and man's dignity. He endured years of
frustration, humiliation, and rejection in a country boasting openness
religious freedom and tolerance. Despite the fact that slaves were
they were far from liberated. In Father Tolton's own words: "We are
class-a class of dehumanized, brutalized, depersonalized beings." The
nation failed the "freedom" litmus test rooted in its own Declaration
of Independence, while the Catholic Church in America failed to live up
tenets of her own creed and gospel by not recognizing that genuine
means freedom from the bondage of iniquity and sin.
With the assistance and
support of several very persistent
and undaunted priests, Father Tolton was finally accepted by the
Church--in Rome! He thrived in the Eternal City where his priestly
nurtured and where his gifts and talents were recognized, prompting
prefect of the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide to note
what the American Church failed to appreciate:
"Father Tolton is a good priest, reliable, worthy, and capable. You
discover that he is deeply spiritual and dedicated." For his part,
acknowledged the great gift of his Catholic faith and, despite bitter
and turmoil, remained faithful to the teachings of the Church. He was a
visionary who saw far beyond race and politics, looking inward-into the
of the Church herself. He taught, "The Catholic Church deplores a
slavery--that of the mind and that of the body. She endeavors to free
us of both
.... She is the Church for our people."
The life of Father Tolton is a study in faithful obedience. When
the Vatican assigned Father Tolton to serve as a missionary priest in
United States, where he was "a slave, an outcast, a hated black", he
obeyed in faith. His was not the faith of blind obedience, like that of
automaton or domesticated animal, but a spirit of faith that, as a
child of our
Heavenly Father--in complete humility and generosity--he continually
discern and fulfill the will of God under the loving guidance and
the Holy Spirit. It is precisely duc et altum--into the void,
the unknown--that Father Tolton received his mission to
be a fisher of men.
The greatest legacy of Father Augustine Tolton does not lie
in the fact that lie was a pioneer, the first black American priest in
United States. Yes, he was that-but lie was so much more! Father Tolton
and served the Lord with great fervor and intensity. He knew that God's
so immense, its power so limitless, its embrace so tender and intimate,
that Love Himself brings forth life. Father Tolton
was a living testimony to God's creative, life-giving work.
Father Tolton serves as a role model for those who seek to
be configured more perfectly to Christ. Amid great persecution, Father
showed us that being configured to Christ means emptying ourselves so
can fill us; it means exposing the weakest parts of who we are so that
make us strong; it means becoming blind to the ways of this world so
can lead us; it means dying to ourselves so that we can rise with
pray that everyone who reads this biography will be inspired by Father
Tolton, who, guided by the Holy Spirit, became a living example of what
means to be fully alive in our Catholic faith.
-- Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
Holy Thursday, 2006
Harold Burke-Sivers, MTS is a deacon in the Archdiocese of
Portland, Oregon, and the founder of Aurem Cordis, an apostolate dedicated "to promote
the truth and beauty of the gospel by encouraging others to submit
themselves freely to the life-giving love of the Trinity and to become
living witnesses to that love in the world." Deacon Burke-Sivers gives
talks around the country on spirituality, family life, lay vocations,
and other topics, and has appeared on "Catholic Answers Live", EWTN,
and many local television and radio programs. He has a BA in economics
from Notre Dame and an MTS from the University of Dallas. He, his wife
Colleen, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon.
Process for Beatification of Cardinal Pironio Opens
Phase Begins in Rome for Argentina-born Prelate
ROME, JUNE 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Pope's Vicar for Rome opened the
diocesan phase of the process of beatification of Cardinal Eduardo
Pironio, who helped John Paul II launch World Youth Days.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar, on Friday described the three
characteristics of the faith of the Argentine cardinal: God the Father,
the Virgin Mary and the cross.
The vicar for Rome explained that these three loves gave Cardinal
Pironio the courage not to draw back, not even when he received death
threats in his country.
The opening of the diocesan phase took place in Rome because that was
the diocese in which the Cardinal Pironio lived during his last years,
and where he died on Feb. 5, 1998.
Eduardo Pironio, born on Dec. 3, 1920, played an important part in
Church history in the last quarter of the 20th century.
John Paul II appointed him president of the Pontifical Council for the
Laity on April 8, 1984, and in that Vatican dicastery, he became the
Pontiff's right-hand man in his pastoral work with youth worldwide.
Before, Cardinal Pironio had been prefect of the Congregation of
Institutes of Consecrated Life, the dicastery which oversees more than
1 million religious and consecrated persons in the world. He was
spiritually close to Sister Lucia, the visionary of Fatima.
Pope Paul VI elevated him to cardinal in May 1976 after having worked
for many years in the Latin American bishops' council, first as
secretary and later as president.
In Argentina, he was bishop of Mar del Plata, in the province of Buenos
Aires. He was the youngest of an Italian immigrant family of 22
Sister Sara Salkahazi Helped Jews
BUDAPEST, Hungary, JUNE 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Sister
Sara Salkahazi, a nun shot to death for sheltering Jews in Hungary
during World War II, will be beatified in Budapest this fall.
Bishop Andras Veres, secretary of the Hungarian bishops' conference,
said on Thursday that the beatification will be conducted by Cardinal
Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and president of the
Hungarian episcopal conference, on Sept. 17 in St. Stephen's Basilica.
In April, Benedict XVI signed a decree on Sister Salkahazi's martyrdom,
a document paving the way for her beatification.
A member of the Sisters of Social Service, a charity organization
helping the poor, the woman religious was a journalist, a writer and a
cultural activist. She helped to shelter hundreds of Jews, including
many women and children, in a convent in the final months of the war.
She was reported to the authorities, and henchmen of the ruling fascist
Arrow Cross Party drove her and the people she had sheltered to the
banks of the Danube River and shot them on Dec. 27, 1944.
The Sisters of Social Service saved more than 1,000 lives during the
Cardinal Erdo, the primate of Hungary, said in reaction to the Pope's
decision: "I believe that in the year of the nation's spiritual
renewal, the Holy Father could not give a more beautiful gift to the
Church, and also to the whole of Hungarian society."
Italian Priest, Father Mose
Tovine, to Be Beatified in Bresica
BRESCIA, Italy, JUNE 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Father Mosè Tovini,
an Italian priest who was passionate about the catechism, will be
beatified in Bresica this fall.
The beatification will take place on Sept. 17 in the city's cathedral.
In December, Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for Sainthood
Causes to publish a decree of acknowledgment of a miracle due to Father
Tovini's intercession, which opened the door to his beatification.
The miracle attributed to Father Tovini is the cure of an Italian
priest, Father Giovanni Flocchini, a former pastor of Comero.
Father Tovini (1877-1930), a priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a
professor at the Brescia Seminary, teaching mathematics, philosophy,
sociology, apologetics and dogmatic theology.
Father Eustaquio Van Lieshout
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, JUNE 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).-
Dutch-born Father Eustaquio Van Lieshout, beatified in Brazil, was
presented as a model of contemplation as well as apostolic action and
dedication to souls.
Last Thursday, on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, 70,000 faithful
attended the beatification of this missionary of the Sacred Hearts of
Jesus and Mary.
During the beatification Mass, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins,
prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, read at Benedict
XVI's behest the apostolic letter with which the Pope inscribed the
servant of God, Father Van Lieshout, in the list of the blessed.
The cardinal stressed the importance of Father Van Lieshout's "social
message." He was a man who was greatly concerned about "the poor, the
afflicted, all those who suffered and children," the Vatican prefect
According to Cardinal Saraiva Martins, ceremonies such as this
represent a stimulus so that the faithful have as reference people whom
the Church considers models of humility and humanity.
Some 50 bishops and 60 priests attended the ceremony, in addition to
the crowd that gathered in Belo Horizonte's Mineiro stadium.
Also present were some 30 members of the new blessed's family, who
traveled for the occasion from the Netherlands, as well as Father
Gonxalo Belem, 82, whose miraculous cure of cancer of the larynx four
decades ago opened the doors to the beatification.
Inspired by biography
Van Lieshout was born in Aarle-Rixtel, in the Netherlands, on Nov. 3,
1890. He was baptized the same day and given the name Humberto. He was
the eighth of 11 siblings in a farming family, explains the
biographical note issued by the Vatican Information Service.
It was the reading of the biography of Blessed Father Damien de
Veuster, the Belgium-born apostle of lepers, which led Van Lieshout to
enter the same Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
During his novitiate, he took the name Eustaquio.
He was ordained a priest in 1919 and carried out his pastoral ministry
in his country until 1924. He arrived in Rio de Janeiro the following
For 18 years, he worked as a missionary in Brazil. In April 1942 he
became parish priest of St. Dominc's in Belo Horizonte, where he died
on Aug. 30, 1943.
In 1949, his remains were translated from the cemetery to his last
Last Oct. 19, Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of the decree
recognizing the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Dutch
missionary, which opened the doors to his beatification.
Fr. Eustaquio Van
VATICAN CITY, JUN 14, 2006 (VIS) - At 4 p.m. tomorrow,
in the Mineirao Stadium of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Cardinal Jose
Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of
Saints, will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration during which, by
order of Benedict XVI, he will read out the Apostolic Letter in which
the Holy Father proclaims as Blessed, Servant of God Fr. Eustaquio Van
Fr. Eustaquio Van Lieshout was born in Aarle-Rixtel,
Netherlands, on November 3, 1890, the eighth of eleven children, and
baptized the same day with the name of Humberto. He came from a very
Catholic rural family. After reading the biography of the Belgian
Blessed, Fr. Damian de Veuster of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts
of Jesus and Mary, he decided to join the same order. During his
noviciate, he took the name of Eustaquio. He was ordained a priest in
1919, and exercised the pastoral ministry in his own country until 1924.
He arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1925, and for the next 18 years
worked as a missionary in Brazil. In April 1942, he took over the
parish of Santo Domingo in Belo Horizonte, where a few months later, on
August 30, 1943, he died.
In 1949, his mortal remains were transferred to his last parish,
which is dedicated to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
On December 19, 2005 Benedict XVI authorized the
promulgation of a decree concerning a miracle attributed to the
intercession of Fr. Eustaquio.
88 Japanese Martyrs Closer
TOKYO, JUNE 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Congregation
for Sainthood Causes has approved the cause of beatification for 188
Japanese martyrs of the 17th century.
The Catholic bishops' conference of Japan confirmed the announcement in
Father Fuyuki Hirabayashi, secretary of the episcopal commission in
charge of the cause, said the beatification ceremony will most likely
take place some time after May 2007.
Bishop Jun-ichi Nomura of Nagoya, president of the bishops' conference
in Japan, Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe of Takamatsu, and Father
Hirabayashi visited the Vatican in January to submit a petition signed
by all the members of episcopal conference.
Cardinal Seiichi Shirayanagi, retired archbishop of Tokyo, also
personally presented a petition with the same request to Benedict XVI.
The next step will be the Pope's signature and promulgation of the
decree of beatification.
The beatification "will be an extraordinary event for the Church in
Japan," the Fides news agency said.
The news agency said the beatification of Peter Kassui Kibe and 187
other martyrs "will bring enthusiasm, immense joy and spiritual
consolation to the little flock of Catholic faithful in the country of
the rising sun."
Already recognized among Japan's martyrs are Paul Miki and companions.
Remembers Its Martyrs
Looks Back, and Ahead, at 150th Anniversary
ROME, JUNE 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The 150th anniversary of the
foundation of the Chinese Diocese of Cangzhou helped to stimulate the
Catholic community's missionary effort, said diocesan representatives.
Bishop Joseph Li Liangui of Cangzhou, in the province of Hebei, opened
the anniversary ceremonies last month, reported Eglises d'Asie, an
agency of the Foreign Missions of Paris.
A key event took place in the Catholic cemetery of Xianxian, where a
small monument was recently erected in memory of the diocese's
founders. Buried in the cemetery are five French bishops, a Chinese
bishop and many Chinese priests and foreign missionaries.
All their tombs were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution of
Using the cathedral's paschal candle to light a 2-meter torch, the
bishop appealed to priests and faithful to continue the missionary
endeavor undertaken in the region more than 150 years ago.
In a pastoral letter last January, Bishop Li, 44, a prelate accepted by
both Rome and Beijing, invited the diocesan faithful to prepare for
The French missionaries who "brought to this land the seeds of light
and truth" founded the diocese in 1856.
"Today, the hour has come to write new pages of the history of our
diocese," wrote the bishop. "Animated by an unbreakable spirit, we have
inherited from our predecessors the seed of the Good News."
Accompanied by saints' relics, including those of St.
Lisieux, for five months the torch will go from parish to parish,
symbolizing the light of Christ spread throughout the region. The torch
will be returned to the cathedral Oct. 15.
In early October, an assembly will be held of representatives of the
diocese, culminating with the baptism of 150 catechumens, and, on Oct.
12-13, a university colloquium will take place on evangelization.
Known for its numerous priestly and religious vocations, the Diocese of
Cangzhou has more than 200 parishes and 75,000 faithful.
The bishop is assisted by some 100 priests and 227 women religious.
About 80 seminarians are studying in the diocese's intermediate
seminary, before attending the regional seminary of Shijiazhuang.
The Holy See established the diocese in 1856, splitting the Catholic
mission of Tcheli in three territories. The southeastern Vicariate of
Tcheli was entrusted to the French Jesuits and, in 1924, it took the
name Vicariate of Xianxian.
Elevated to the rank of diocese in 1946, Xianxian was renamed Cangzhou
Fourteen of China's 120 martyrs, canonized in Rome in October 2000,
were from the Diocese of Xianxian during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.
Four priests and 5,153 faithful died as a result of the rebellion
directed against the Western presence in China.
Cause Advancing for 2 Poles Slain in Peru
Diocesan Inquiry Nears End for Conventual
KRAKOW, Poland, MAY 31, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Father Michael Tomaszek and
Father Zbigniew Strzalkowski, both of Krakow, were on mission in the
Peruvian Andes when they were killed by Maoist terrorists 15 years ago.
On June 5, 1995, the fourth anniversary of their death, the
Congregation for Sainthood Causes authorized the opening of their
process of beatification as martyrs of the faith.
The following year, inquiries were made in Krakow to obtain information
about the infancy, formation and first years in ministry of these
Polish Servants of God.
Now, the diocesan inquiry is nearing completion, stated the
Communications Office of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals.
After completing their theological studies at the Conventual Franciscan
Major Seminary in Krakow and obtaining a master's degree in Spanish,
the two religious left to go on mission in the Andes with another
Conventual Franciscan, Father Jaroslaw Wysoczanski.
They carried out their "difficult ministry," as the order noted, in a
poor parish of Pariacoto and in many surrounding villages of the area.
The country in which they were missionaries was one of the top world
producers of coca, destined to become cocaine and yield huge "profits
for drug dealers" and a "miserable income for farmers," the order noted.
The northern areas of the Andes, where the Franciscan religious were
working, at the time had an intense coca leaf trade.
In the early 1990s, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) terrorist group
"controlled the region, guaranteeing safety and prosperity for the drug
traders and taking advantage of the fear and ignorance of the local
people," the communiqué stated.
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 22, 1991, there were a record 1,638 violent deaths
in the country.
In this environment, the action of the Church -- a more incisive
catechesis, the opening of centers for Christian activities and the
training of lay leaders -- "represented a threat and a danger," the
Conventual Franciscan order said. As a result, violence increased
against foreign missionaries and lay people.
One of Shining Path's numerous leaflets read: "With the Bible and the
Cross they are trying to stop the advance of revolution."
Imbued with a mixture of Maoism and nationalism, full of hatred for
"exploiters," the terrorists were also willing to kill poor farmers who
opposed their plans or were suspected of collaborating with the
government or army.
Father Strzalkowski and Father Tomaszek arrived in Pariacoto in 1990.
They helped leave the imprint of their Franciscan charism in their
mission, reflected in humility, poverty, prayer, affability, commitment
to the good and tenacity in community life, the order said.
On the afternoon of Aug. 9, 1991, Father Strzalkowski, 32, and Father
Tomaszek, 30, celebrated their last Mass.
The terrorists knocked at the friary door. The two priests were dragged
outside, loaded on a jeep and taken to the village center. A make-shift
"trial" was held. The religious were clear in expressing their
Taken in the jeep to the mountains, the two religious were pushed out
of the vehicle and made to lie on the road with their hands tied behind
their back with their death sentence written on a bloodstained piece of
cardboard: "This is the way the lackeys of imperialism die." They were
"The area where the missionaries intended to have a place of retreat
for the local people," wrote the order, "became the scene of their
Verbum Dei Founder Gets Papal Greeting
Father Jaime Bonet Turns 80
VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent a message of
congratulations on the 80th birthday of Father Jaime Bonet, founder of
the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.
The Pope's message, issued by the Vatican on May 18, was read by the
fraternity's president, Isabel Maria Fornari, during the thanksgiving
Mass that Father Bonet celebrated May 21 in the church of the Verbum
Dei Theological Institute in Madrid, Spain.
The Holy Father conferred his apostolic blessing on the founder and
invoked an "abundance of divine graces and the maternal protection of
the Holy Virgin Mary."
Pope John Paul II gave his consent to the declaration of the Verbum Dei
Missionary Fraternity as a unique fraternity of consecrated life, which
was ratified by the Holy See with a decree of papal approval in April
Jaime Bonet was born in Alqueria Blanca, Spain. While still a
seminarian, he organized a school or "preaching academy" to give sound
preparation for engaging in the ministry of the Word.
Later, Father Bonet was noted for his preaching of the spiritual
exercises. In the 1960s, the growth of groups wishing to prepare for
preaching led him to create "apostolic schools" or schools of
evangelization with youths who, in the measure they were formed, became
leaven in many other parishes.
In 1963 a group of girls belonging to the schools of evangelization
asked Father Bonet about the possibility of consecrating themselves
completely to the life of evangelization that he inspired with his
This first such group, called Diocesan Missionaries of the Word of God,
were dedicated "to prayer and the ministry of the Word." They received
their approval from the bishop of Mallorca in October 1963.
As the fruit of Father Bonet's preaching, groups of youth and some
diocesan priests adopted this form of life. And, in 1969, two priests
were given permission by the bishop to be incorporated in Verbum Dei.
On Wednesday, Father Jaime Bonet will celebrate 50 years of priesthood.
Verbum Dei is present in 35 countries. It has about 1,000 consecrated
persons and 35,000 disciples.
New Portuguese Blessed Put Kids
Mother Rita Beloved of Jesus (1848-1913)
VISEU, Portugal, MAY 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The plight of children in
the 21st century makes newly-beatified Mother Rita Beloved of Jesus an
important figure, says Cardinal José Saraiva Martins.
Cardinal Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood
Causes, said this Sunday when he presided over the rite of
beatification of the Portuguese founder, in Viseu, her birthplace.
The "characteristic point" of the Portuguese religious' holiness "was
the maternal and charitable care of poor and abandoned children, for
whom she heroically gave her life," Cardinal Saraiva Martins said.
Rita Lopes de Almeida was born on March 5, 1848. In 1880 she laid the
bases for her institute with the opening of a school for poor girls.
She would later found the Institute of Sisters of Jesus, Mary and
Mother Rita's work extended to several localities and she was able to
surmount the existing difficult political conditions by moving to
Brazil. She died on Jan. 6, 1913.
A native of the same region as the new blessed, Cardinal Saraiva
Martins recalled on Vatican Radio the circumstances of the time in
which Mother Rita was born: "a time, socially and religiously, of
notable wounds between the civil authorities and the Church."
He continued: "At the beginning of the 19th century, given the
political vicissitudes and the consequent suppression of the religious
orders, the Church in Portugal wrote very lofty pages of martyrdom, to
the point of undergoing the desert of exodus, as happened to Mother
Rita's spiritual daughters, precisely in 1913, as she was going to the
house of the Father."
She "literally gave her life" for poor and abandoned children, the
cardinal said. "There is no greater love."
The Vatican official added: "In the wake of the material and moral
destructions of World War II, the Servant of God Pius XII cried out
several times in his messages: 'Save the children, who are the future
"More than 70 years earlier, in a similar climate of riots and
destruction, Blessed Rita placed poor and abandoned children at the
center of her attention."
"Her spiritual daughters received and developed this commission,
gathering up, at the same time, the solidity and simplicity of Mother
Rita's pedagogical intuitions and her concrete contribution to the
literacy" of the people of Portugal and Brazil, the cardinal said.
"Still today she is the loving mother of thousands of children in
Europe, Africa and Latin America," he added.
Love of rosary
"Mother Rita could not give us a more timely message, given that the
daily news reports again present to us the grief of murdered and
rejected children, offended in their modesty and innocence, sold,
enslaved or prematurely trained for war," lamented the cardinal.
In his homily, quoted by the Ecclesia agency, Cardinal Saraiva Martins
highlighted the new blessed's Marian devotion, "with her particular
predilection for the rosary," which anticipated in a certain way all
that would come with the "message of Our Lady to the three little
shepherds of Fatima," just four years after the woman religious' death.
"In love" with Jesus, from whom she drew her apostolic zeal, Mother
Rita also left a "very important" message, because "she struggled with
all her might for the liberation of women from all forms of slavery,"
Cardinal Saraiva Martins said.
"The future of a country, of the whole of society, depends on
education, above all of children and youth," he added. "This is Mother
Rita's great and precious teaching."
to Session of Congregation for Sainthood Causes
"The Last Word Is Given to Theology"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation
of the letter Benedict XVI recently sent to the participants in the
plenary session of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes.
* * *
To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
On the occasion of the plenary assembly of this Congregation for the
Causes of Saints, I would like to address my cordial greetings to you,
Your Eminence, which I gladly extend to the cardinals, archbishops and
bishops who are taking part in the meeting. I likewise greet the
secretary, the undersecretary, the consultors and medical experts, the
postulators and all the members of this dicastery.
Together with my greeting, I also express my sentiments of appreciation
and gratitude for this congregation's service to the Church in
promoting the causes of saints, who "are the true bearers of light
within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love," as
I wrote in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" (No. 40).
This is why from the outset the Church has held their commemoration and
worship in great honor, dedicating down the centuries ever more
vigilant attention to the procedures that lead the servants of God to
the honors of the altar.
In fact, the causes of saints are "major causes," both because of the
nobility of the subject treated and their effect on the life of the
People of God. In light of this reality, my Predecessors often
intervened with special legislative measures to improve the examination
and celebration of their causes. In 1588, Sixtus V willed the Sacred
Congregation for Rites to be established for this purpose.
Then how can we forget the provident legislation of Urban VIII, the
promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the norms of Pius XI for
ancient causes, the "motu proprio" "Sanctitas Clarior" and Paul VI's
apostolic constitution "Sacra Rituum Congregatio"?
My Predecessor Benedict XIV, rightly considered "the master" of the
causes of saints, deserves a grateful mention. More recently, in 1983,
beloved John Paul II promulgated the apostolic constitution "Divinus
Perfectionis Magister," followed in the same year by the publication of
the "Normae Servandae in Inquisitionibus ab Episcopis Faciendis in
Causis Sanctorum" [Norms to be Observed in Inquiries made by Bishops in
the Causes of Saints].
More than 20 years' experience has prompted this congregation to draft
an appropriate "Instruction for the Process of the Diocesan Inquiry in
the Causes of Saints."
This document is addressed primarily to diocesan bishops and its
preparation constitutes the first item on the agenda of your plenary
meeting. Its intention is to facilitate the faithful application of the
"Normae Servandae" cited, in order to ensure the seriousness of the
investigations carried out in diocesan inquiries into the virtue of
servants of God and in cases claiming martyrdom or possible miracles.
The evidence for the causes is collected and studied with supreme care
and with a diligent search for the historic truth through testimonies
and documentary proof "omnino plenae," for they have no other aim than
the glory of God and the spiritual good of the Church and of all who
are in search of the Gospel truth and perfection.
The diocesan pastors, deciding "coram Deo" on which causes deserve to
be initiated, will first of all evaluate whether the candidates to the
honors of the altar truly enjoy a firm and widespread fame of holiness
and miracles or martyrdom. This fame, which the Code of Canon Law of
1917 stipulates should be "spontanea, non arte aut diligentia
procurata, orta ab honestis et gravibus personis, continua, in dies
aucta et vigens in praesenti apud maiorem partem populi" (Canon 2050
§2), is a sign of God who points out to the Church those who
be set on the lamp stand to "give light to all in the house" (cf.
It is clear that it will not be possible to introduce a cause of
beatification or canonization if proven holiness does not exist, even
if the person concerned was distinguished for conformity with the
Gospel and special ecclesial and social merits.
The second theme that your plenary assembly is treating is "the miracle
in the causes of saints." It is well known that since ancient times,
the process for arriving at canonization passes through the proof of
virtues and miracles, attributed to the intercession of the candidate
to the honors of the altar.
As well as reassuring us that the servant of God lives in heaven in
communion with God, miracles constitute the divine confirmation of the
judgment expressed by the ecclesiastical authority on his/her virtuous
life. I hope that the plenary meeting will be able to examine this
subject in greater depth in the light of the Tradition of the Church,
of present-day theology and of the most reliable scientific discoveries.
It should not be forgotten that in the examination of events claimed to
be miraculous the competence of scholars and theologians converges,
although the last word is given to theology, the only discipline that
can give a miracle an interpretation of faith.
This is why the process of saints' causes moves from the scientific
evaluation of the medical council or technical experts to a theological
examination by the consultors and later by the cardinals and bishops.
Moreover, it should be clearly borne in mind that the uninterrupted
practice of the Church establishes the need for a physical miracle,
since a moral miracle does not suffice.
Martyrdom, a gift of the Spirit
The third subject reflected upon at the plenary meeting concerns
martyrdom, a gift of the Spirit and an attribute of the Church in every
epoch (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 42). The Venerable Pontiff John Paul
II, in his apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," noted that
since the Church has once again become the Church of martyrs, "as far
as possible, their witness should not be lost" (No. 37).
The martyrs of the past and those of our time gave and give life
("effusio sanguinis") freely and consciously in a supreme act of love,
witnessing to their faithfulness to Christ, to the Gospel and to the
Church. If the motive that impels them to martyrdom remains unchanged,
since Christ is their source and their model, then what has changed are
the cultural contexts of martyrdom and the strategies "ex parte
persecutoris" that more and more seldom explicitly show their aversion
to the Christian faith or to a form of conduct connected with the
Christian virtues, but simulate different reasons, for example, of a
political or social nature.
It is of course necessary to find irrefutable proof of readiness for
martyrdom, such as the outpouring of blood and of its acceptance by the
victim. It is likewise necessary, directly or indirectly but always in
a morally certain way, to ascertain the "odium Fidei" [hatred of the
faith] of the persecutor. If this element is lacking there would be no
true martyrdom according to the perennial theological and juridical
doctrine of the Church. The concept of "martyrdom" as applied to the
saints and blessed martyrs should be understood, in conformity with
Benedict XIV's teaching, as "voluntaria mortis perpessio sive
tolerantia propter Fidem Christi, vel alium virtutis actum in Deum
relatum" ("De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione,"
Prato 1839-1841, Book III, chapter 11, 1). This is the constant
teaching of the Church.
The subjects being examined at your plenary meeting are of indisputable
interest and the reflections, with the possible suggestions that may
arise, will make a valuable contribution to the achievement of the
objectives indicated by John Paul II in the apostolic constitution
"Divinus Perfectionis Magister," in which he says: "Most recent
experience, finally, has shown us the appropriateness of revising
further the manner of instructing causes and of so structuring the
Congregation for the Causes of Saints that We might meet the needs of
experts and the desires of Our Brother Bishops, who have often called
for a simpler process while maintaining the soundness of the
investigation in matters of such great import.
"In light of the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council on
collegiality, We also think that the Bishops themselves should be more
closely associated with the Holy See in dealing with the Causes of
To be consistent with these instructions, elected to the Chair of
Peter, I was glad to act on the widespread desire that greater emphasis
be placed in their celebration on the essential difference between
beatification and canonization, and that the particular Churches be
more visibly involved in Rites of Beatification on the understanding
that the Roman Pontiff alone is competent to declare a devotion to a
servant of God.
Your Eminence, I thank you for this congregation's service to the
Church and, while I wish those who are taking part in the work of the
plenary meeting every success through the intercession of all the
saints and of the Queen of the saints, I invoke upon each one the light
of the Holy Spirit. For my part, I assure you of my remembrance in
prayer as I cordially bless you all.
From the Vatican, April 24, 2006
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
President's Cause Is Under Way
ROME, MAY 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The cause of
beatification for Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, considered one of Africa's
"fathers of the nation," is under way.
Nyerere was president of the Tanganyika African National Union and,
after independence, the first president of Tanzania.
The Catholic Information Service for Africa has confirmed that the
diocesan phase of the process of Nyerere's beatification has been
Nyerere (1922-1999) became president in 1961, and through the Arusha
Declaration of 1967 introduced a national policy of self-reliance based
on a socialist model of cooperative village farms.
Critics blame his Ujamaa system for the country's past economic woes.
He voluntarily relinquished power in 1985.
Bishop Justin Samba of Nyerere's home Diocese of Musoma is directing
the cause of beatification, while Father Wojciech Koscielniak is the
postulator and Maryknoll Father Ed Hayes the vice postulator.
Father John Civille of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, who has
written a book on Nyerere, and Fathers Laurenti Magesa and Philbert
Rwehumbiza are the theological censors involved in the process.
More information is available from Father Andrzej Madry, of the Musoma
Diocese communications office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Among the
latest people in line to be canonized as saints is Bishop Rafael
Guízar Valencia, a standout evangelizer in Mexico at the time of
its religious persecution last century.
Last Friday Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of a decree
recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Rafael,
who was bishop of Veracruz.
Rafael Guízar Valencia (1878-1938) was born in Cotija de la Paz,
in the state of Michoacan, the fourth of 11 children. His brother
Antonio became archbishop of Chihuahua.
Rafael Guízar received his priestly ordination at age 23 in
Zamora in June 1901. He was in charge of spiritual direction in the
Zamora seminary, where he taught dogmatic theology.
He was soon appointed apostolic missionary by Pope Leo XIII, and
evangelized the villages he visited, basing his teaching on a simple
catechism that Father Guízar wrote.
At the time of the Mexican revolution of 1910, he dedicated himself in
particular to the dying and their families. In 1913, he carried out
mission work among soldiers in Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos.
Disguised as a vendor of trinkets, and sometimes under a hail of
bullets, he attended to the dying, imparted sacramental absolution and
often gave them viaticum, which he carried concealed to avoid detection
as a priest.
In July 1919, he was in Havana when he received the news that Pope
Benedict XV appointed him bishop of Veracruz.
On Nov. 30, 1919, he received episcopal consecration in the Cuban
capital by the apostolic delegate, Archbishop Tito Trocchi.
Among his works, Bishop Guízar revived the diocesan seminary,
establishing it in Xalapa, moving it later to Mexico City, when
anti-clerical forces confiscated the Church's buildings.
During the religious persecution of the 1920s, he was exiled in the
United States, Guatemala and Cuba, where he continued his missionary
Later he returned. But under the government of Plutarco Elías
Calles he had to travel to Mexico City with many of his seminarians and
asked the priests of Veracruz to continue their services in anonymity.
Bishop Guízar succeeded in keeping the seminary open. The
authorities sought him and he was again forced to leave the country. He
went to the United States, Cuba, Guatemala and Colombia.
On May 7, 1929, President Portes Gil stated his willingness to dialogue
with the bishops. On hearing the news, Bishop Guízar returned to
his homeland, to his diocese and to his seminary.
That May 24 he wrote a letter to all the faithful asking for prayers
for a speedy peaceful arrangement between the Church and state. The
arrangement, though provisional, was made public on June 22, 1929.
In 1931, the governor of Veracruz, Adalberto Tejeda, imposed a law
limiting the number of priests to one for every 100,000 inhabitants --
13 priests for the entire state of Veracruz. This forced Bishop
Guízar to flee his diocese a third time. This time he went to
Puebla and Mexico City.
He returned later despite a death sentence passed against him. After a
painful illness, he died in a house next to his seminary in Mexico City.
He was beatified Jan. 29, 1995, by Pope John Paul II.
One of the future saint's sisters, María, was the mother of
Maura Degollado Guízar, whose son Father Marcial Maciel founded
the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi movement.
In a book-length interview, "Christ Is My Life," Father Maciel recalled
his great-uncle: "I remember that on one occasion he invited me to
accompany him to Mexico City's Alameda. He was carrying an accordion
which he played very well, but I didn't know for what he would use it.
We arrived at this place, which was very crowded and he took out his
accordion and began to play popular songs.
"People gathered around him. When there was a sufficiently large
number, he put the accordion aside and began to preach Christ. I don't
know if he did so to teach me a lesson. I think it flowed from his soul
and it was obvious that he really enjoyed talking about Christ to
2 Priests Beatified in Milan
Father Luigi Monza and Monsignor Luigi Biraghi
MILAN, Italy, APRIL 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Milan's cathedral was the
setting, for the first time since 1662, for the rite of beatification
of two priests and founders.
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, presided over the
beatification ceremony of Father Luigi Monza and Monsignor Luigi
"We have great need to have many blessed and saints, so that their
example of life will denounce the evil present in us, but above all so
that it will awaken and strengthen the drive toward the authentic
good," the cardinal said in the homily.
Also present was the papal legate, Cardinal Joséé Saraiva
Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, who read the
formula of beatification in the Pope's name.
"With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servants of
God, Luigi Biraghi and Luigi Monza, be called henceforth blessed and
that their feast be celebrated in places and according to the rules
established by law: every year, on May 28 for Luigi Biraghi and on
Sept. 28 for Luigi Monza," said Cardinal Saraiva Martins.
Father Monza (1898-1954) founded the Little Apostles, a community of
consecrated women that seeks to bring to society the charity of the
"Our Family," an institution that looks after handicapped children in
several countries worldwide, is a product of the Little Apostles.
Monsignor Biraghi (1801-1879) was doctor of the Ambrosian Library and
undertook intense charitable works and support of mission countries.
In 1838 he founded the Sisters of St. Marcellina, dedicated in numerous
countries to the cultural and moral education of young people, and to
"Apostle of the Untouchables" Beatified
Father Augustine Thevarparampil
RAMAPUAN, India, APRIL 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Father Augustine
Thevarparampil, known as the apostle of the untouchables, was beatified
in Ramapuan, India.
Cardinal Varkev Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly,
presided at the beatification ceremony today in the name of Benedict
Here is a biography of Father Thevarparampil, adapted from a Holy See
* * *
Everybody knew him as Kunjachan which, in the Malayalam language of
India, means "little priest."
Father Augustine Thevarparampil was very short, but was a giant in
announcing Christ among the dalit, the outcasts.
Born in Ramapuram, in the Diocese of Palai, Kerala, on April 1, 1891,
Augustine entered the seminary after completing his studies in public
He was ordained a priest at age 33, on Dec. 17, 1921, by Servant of God
Mar Tommaso Kurialacherry. (Mar in the Syrian Oriental Churches is a
title of respect used to address bishops.)
In 1923 Kunjachan was sent as vice parish priest to Kadanad, in the
Church of St. Sebastian. His pastoral service in this place did not
last long. Ill-health forced him to return to his native village in
During his convalescence, he became aware of the miserable living
conditions of the "untouchables," those belonging to the lowest caste
of the Indian society. Gandhi used to call them Harijan -- "the people
Father Augustine decided to devote his life to the evangelization and
human betterment of the poorest of his society.
The priest rose at 4 each morning. After celebrating Mass, he and a
catechist used to go and visit the families in the villages. He took
care of the dalits in his parish, as well as all those he could
He used to call "child" anybody who needed help. He offered assistance
and comfort, tried to solve disputes and took care of the sick. Some
used to avoid him and hide from him.
His short height was a blessing because he could go in and out, without
any difficulty, of the poor village huts. Kunjachan was a friend to the
children; he always carries some sweets for them. The children enjoyed
his company tremendously.
Father Augustine spent his entire life in simplicity, living like the
poor to whom he had devoted his existence.
His will begins: "I possess neither land nor money, and I owe no one
anything. I want my funeral to be a very simple one."
A man of great spirituality, he used to pray continuously even during
his frequent traveling. He was always patient and understanding with
the outcasts. He knew how to overcome mistrust.
During his priesthood days among the dalits he personally baptized
almost 6,000 people. And he was known as the "apostle of the
After celebrating 50 years of priesthood, he died on Oct. 16, 1973, at
He wished to be buried among his beloved children, in the barren land,
but the parishioners demanded that he be laid to rest in the church, at
the foot of the altar of St. Augustine, patron of the community.
Ever since then his tomb has been the destination of thousands of
pilgrims every year. Solemn celebrations are held especially on Oct. 16
to commemorate his death.
Legacy of Slain Monks of
Tibhirine Recounted by Priest Who Was in
Last Testament of Victim Prior Blesses Murderers
TIBHIRINE, Algeria, MARCH 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A friend of the prior
of the Trappist monks of Tibhirine is trying to stir interest in the
spiritual legacy of those men who were murdered a decade ago.
On the night of March 26-27, 1996, some 20 gunmen invaded the Monastery
of Notre Dame of Atlas in Tibhirine and kidnapped its seven Trappist
monks, of French nationality.
A month later, Djamel Zitouni, leader of the Armed Islamic Groups,
claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and proposed an exchange of
prisoners to France.
The following month, a second communiquéé from the group
announced: "We have slit the monks' throats." The killings reportedly
took place May 21, 1996; their bodies were found nine days later.
Father Thierry Becker, of the Algerian diocese of Oran, was a guest of
the monastery the night that the Muslim fundamentalists abducted Father
Christian de Chergéé, the prior, and the other six
In recent statements to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Father Becker
asserted that he is recounting the legacy of the monks of Tibhirine.
Theirs was "a message of poverty, of abandonment in the hands of God
and men, of sharing in all the fragility, vulnerability and condition
of forgiven sinners, in the conviction that only by being disarmed will
we be able to meet Islam and discover in Muslims a part of the total
face of Christ," the priest said.
Father Becker is no stranger to strife in Algeria. He was vicar general
in Oran when on Aug. 1, 1996, his own bishop, Pierre Lucien Claverie,
58, was killed along with an Algerian friend, Mohammed Pouchikhi. The
Dominican prelate, born in Algeria, had dedicated his life to dialogue
between Muslims and Christians. He had such a deep knowledge of Islam
that he was often consulted on the subject by Muslims themselves.
A welcoming in truth
"Precisely the desire to welcome one another in truth, brought us
together 10 year ago in Tibhirine," said Father Becker. "The meeting
'Ribat es-Salam,' Bond of Peace, was being held in those days, a group
of Islamic-Christian dialogue which was oriented to share respective
spiritual riches through prayer, silence…….
"The Ribat still exists; it has not given up the challenge of communion
with the spiritual depth of Islam. Thus we make our own the spiritual
testimony of Father Christian de Chergéé, whose monastic
choice matured after an Algerian friend saved his life during the war
of liberation, while that friend, a Muslim of profound spirituality,
was killed in reprisal."
Father Becker continued: "'We are worshippers in the midst of a nation
of worshippers,' the Prior used to say to his brothers in community,
all of whom had decided to stay in Tibhirine even when violence was at
"In the course of the decades, the monastery stripped itself of its
riches, donated almost all of its land to the state, and shared its
large garden with the neighboring village. The monks chose poverty,
also in the sense of total abandonment to the will of God and of men.
"And great trust was born with the local people, so much so that 10
years after the events, nothing has disappeared from the monastery,
everything has been respected. But the future of that holy place is in
the hands of the Algerians."
The spiritual legacy of the monks also has caught the eye of a member
of the International Theological Commission.
Archbishop Bruno Forte, who participated in a Vatican-organized
videoconference on "Martyrdom and the New Martyrs," quoted the
"spiritual testament" of the Trappist prior. He described it as a
"splendid example of how martyrdom is the crowning of a whole life of
faith and love of Christ and his Church."
The text of the testament follows.
* * *
Testament of Dom Christian de Chergéé
(opened on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1996)
Facing a GOODBYE ...
If it should happen one day -- and it could be today -- that I become a
victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the
foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and
my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country.
I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a
stranger to this brutal departure.
I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of
such an offering?
I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent
ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity.
My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. In any
case, it has not the innocence of childhood.
I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil
which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which
might blindly strike me down.
I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual
clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow
human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one
who would strike me down.
I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this.
I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were
indiscriminately accused of my murder.
It would be too high a price to pay for what will perhaps be called,
the "grace of martyrdom" to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he might be,
especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to
I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians
I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism
It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious
way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists.
For me, Algeria and Islam are something different: it is a body and a
I have proclaimed this often enough, I think, in the light of what I
have received from it.
I so often find there that true strand of the Gospel which I learned at
my mother's knee, my very first Church, precisely in Algeria, and
already inspired with respect for Muslim believers.
Obviously, my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me
naive or idealistic:
"Let him tell us now what he thinks of his ideals!"
But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will
be set free.
This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in
that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just
as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His
Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will
always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with
For this life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God, who
seems to have willed it entirely for the sake of that JOY in everything
and in spite of everything.
In this THANK YOU, which is said for everything in my life from now on,
I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you, my
friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my sisters and
brothers and their families -- you are the hundredfold granted as was
And also you, my last-minute friend, who will not have known what you
Yes, I want this THANK YOU and this GOODBYE to be a "GOD BLESS" for
you, too, because in God's face I see yours.
May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the
Father of us both.
Algiers, 1st December 1993
Tibhirine, 1st January 1994
Elisha of St. Clement (1901-1927)
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).-
Elisha of St. Clement of the Order of Discalced Carmelites will be
beatified this Saturday during a Mass in the cathedral of Bari, Italy.
Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto will preside, according to
the announcement from the Holy See's office of liturgical celebrations.
Below is a biography of the religious, written by the Discalced
Carmelite Order. It is adapted here.
* * *
The new blessed was born in Bari, on Jan. 17, 1901, the third child of
Joseph and Pasqua Fracasso. Four days later she was baptized in the
Church of St. James by her uncle, Father Charles Fracasso, chaplain at
the cemetery, and given the name Theodora. She was confirmed in 1903.
Her family then lived in St. Mark's Square and were supported by what
the father earned as a master painter and decorator. Around 1929, after
many sacrifices, he opened a shop for the sale of paint. Her mother was
always busy with work in the home.
They were both good practicing Christians and had in all nine children;
four died in infancy. The five remaining children were Prudence, Anne,
Theodora Domenica and Nicola.
In 1905 the family moved to Via Piccinni, to a house with a little
garden, in which, the little Theodora, aged 4 or 5, said she saw a
beautiful Lady in a dream, who moved among the rows of blooming lilies,
then suddenly disappeared in a beam of light.
Later her mother explained to her the possible significance of the
vision and Theodora promised that she would become a nun when she grew
Theodora was sent to a nursery school run by the Stigmata Sisters, and
continued her studies until third grade. On May 8, 1911, after making a
long preparation, she received her first holy Communion. The night
before she dreamed of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus who predicted to
her: "You will be a nun like me." Later she attended a work shop for
sewing and embroidery near the same institute.
Theodora entered the Association of the Blessed Imelda Lambertini, a
Dominican nun with a special devotion to the Eucharist.
Afterward she joined the "Angelic Army" of St. Thomas Aquinas. She met
with her friends from time to time in the dormitory where they would
meditate and pray together, read the Gospel, "The Eternal Maxims," "The
Imitation of Christ," the "Fifteen Saturdays of Our Lady," the lives of
the saints and, in particular, the autobiography of St. Teresa of the
Her behavior and the good influence she had on her companions did not
go unnoticed. In the meantime Theodora's vague religious vocation was
becoming clearer thanks to the advice of Dominican Father Peter
Fiorillo, her spiritual director.
He introduced her to the Third Order Dominicans, who accepted her as a
novice on April 20, 1914. She took the name Agnes, and made her
profession on May 14, 1915, with a special dispensation because of her
During the war years, 1915-1918, Theodora found numerous occasions to
increase her apostolic work, as a catechist and helper.
Toward the end of 1917, Theodora decided to seek advice from a Jesuit,
Father Sergio Di Gioia. He became her new confessor. About a year later
he decided to direct her, together with her friend Clare Bellomo, the
future Sister Diomira of Divine Love, to the Carmel of St. Joseph, Via
De Rossi, in Bari. They went there together for the first time in
1919 was a year of intense spiritual activity, as, under the guidance
of Father Di Gioia, she prepared to enter the convent.
She entered the community on April 8, 1920, and took the habit that
Nov. 24, taking the name Sister Elisha of St. Clement.
She made her first simple vows on Dec. 4, 1921. Besides St. Teresa of
Jesus, she took as her guide Théérèèse of
the Child Jesus, following the "little way of spiritual childhood where
I felt," she affirmed, "called by the Lord." She made her solemn
profession Feb. 11, 1925.
Her journey, from the beginning, was not easy. Already in the first
months of the novitiate she had to face not a few difficulties.
The real problem arose after Mother Prioress Angelica Lamberti in the
spring of 1923, appointed Sister Elisha to be in charge of the
embroidery machine in the girls boarding school attached to the Carmel.
The head mistress, Sister Columba of the Blessed Sacrament, was of an
authoritarian disposition, severe and with little understanding of
others. She refused to see the goodness and gentleness with which
Sister Elisha treated her pupils, and, so, after two years, had her
removed from her post.
Always observant of the rule and community acts, Sister Elisha passed
much of her day in her cell, dedicating her time to the embroidery that
was given her. The mother prioress continued to esteem her greatly,
and, in 1927, appointed her sacristan.
During her painful trial, Father Elias of St. Ambrose, the procurator
general of the Discalced Carmelite Order, was a great comfort. He had
first come to know of her in 1922, on the occasion of a visit to St.
Joseph's Carmel. The young Carmelite kept up an exchange of letters
with him from which she drew great benefit.
In January 1927 Sister Elisha was struck down and weakened by
influenza. She started to suffer from frequent headaches, but did not
When, on Dec. 21, Sister Elisha also began to have a violent fever and
other disturbances, the community assumed it was just one of her usual
illnesses, but each day her situation caused more concern.
On Dec. 24 a doctor came to see her. Even though he diagnosed possible
meningitis or encephalitis, he did not consider the clinical situation
particularly serious. Only on the following morning were two doctors
called to her bedside. At that point they declared that her condition
Sister Elisha of St. Clement died at noon on Christmas Day 1927. She
had predicted: "I will die on a feast day."
Life of Father Michael McGivney
By Catherine Smibert
ROME, MARCH 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- You could call it an American success
story, with a Catholic twist.
A new book, "Parish Priest," tells the life of Father Michael McGivney,
the founder of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's fraternal
It is about a meek yet strong leadership. It shows how one priest, by
helping his parishioners, changed the face of the Church in his own
country and beyond.
A co-author of the work, Julie Fenster, was in Rome for a book-signing
held at the North American College last Tuesday.
Fenster talked about her subject, Father McGivney (1852-1890).
"There's always going to be prejudice in any age and anywhere," she
said, "and the way this parish priest chose to deal with his very
anti-Catholic surroundings of the mid-late 1800s is inspiring."
Fenster isn't your typical biographer of saintly folks. Actually she's
a historian who tends to specialize in American heritage, presenting
often-untold stories of pioneers and heroes. But, there was something
about Father McGivney that put him in this category for her and her
co-author, historian David Brinkley.
"Father McGivney wasn't negative but positive, and felt that Catholic
values coincided with fundamental American ones," Fenster contended.
"One of the ways he proved that, was through the founding of the
Knights of Columbus which gave Catholic men a spiritual support system
and drew them into their Church even more," she said. "But it could
also put a pragmatic yet deeply spiritual face on Catholicism for a lot
of mainstream Americans so they could see and understand how crucial
family life is to Catholics."
Her co-author Brinkley agrees: "Father McGivney served as a sort of
John the Baptist of the modern insurance movement."
Also on hand at the book-signing was the postulator for the cause of
Father McGivney's beatification, Dominican Father Gabriel O'Donnell. He
said the backgrounds of the authors strengthen the book.
"Though it has not been written in any way to promote Catholicism or
the priesthood, it does just that and more effectively," Father
O'Donnell said. "The authors, as credible historians, can say things
about the Church that are more objective and won't risk sounding
Fenster observed how Father McGivney promoted the American dream to his
faithful in a less conventional way: "Moving beyond the influences of
kings, generals, etc., Father McGivney was different because he led
from the back.
"He wasn't a ferocious leader who swung his arms around, but one whose
idea of being a leader was to live the Christian life -- to be mild in
his personal relationships with other people. If we look at successful
businesspeople we see these are qualities that translate even into our
It's through this leadership, and a vision of the family as the
building block of society, that have brought the current count of
members of his benevolent order to 1.7 million. It’’s also what
attracted the around 175 diocesan seminarians present for the
"The book focuses on a very humble priest who was never swayed or
tempted toward apathy," Fenster said. "And our goal through this event
is to turn that focus to those studying for the priesthood as if to
honor them through this book and to respect what they have the
potential to be."
Nick Schneider, a seminarian from North Dakota, said he was impressed
and enlightened by the presentation.
"Anyone who has a great zeal for the faith and is familiar with our
social climate is always a great example for us," he told me afterward.
"It's important for us studying in Rome and for all American Catholics
to know more about exceptional characters in the history of the Church
in our nation."
Father O'Donnell, the postulator, commented on the daily e-mails from
people who learn about Father McGivney: "They say they feel that though
he is a model figure, he's reachable and ever present."
The diocesan phase of Father McGivney's cause has been completed. The
Congregation for Sainthood Causes is now reviewing his case.
Father O'Donnell called Father McGivney "a remarkable example of what
makes a good parish priest at a difficult time. And there was a deep
spirituality there that is a witness to the whole world, to families
and certainly to priests and seminarians."
Father Andrea Santoro
ROME, FEB. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Jewish-Italian
Fund planted a tree in Jerusalem in memory of Father Andrea Santoro,
the missionary who was killed in Turkey on Feb. 5.
The initiative was promoted by Emmanuele Pacifici, a member of the
Jewish Community of Rome and president of the Friends of Yad Vashem
Association. He contacted the Jewish-Italian Fund and wrote a letter of
solidarity to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome.
Pacifici told ZENIT that he "felt immense grief" for what happened to
Father Santoro, who was killed while he was praying.
Pacifici's own father, the chief rabbi of Genoa, has been seized while
praying, and then tortured and deported to Auschwitz, from where he
As a child, Pacifici was saved from Nazi persecution thanks to the help
of the nuns of St. Martha in Settignano, Florence.
He explained that in Jewish religious tradition a tree symbolizes life.
Since 1962 a tree is planted in the Avenue of Righteous Gentiles, near
Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, in memory of those who risked their lives to
save Jews from extermination and who have been declared "Righteous
among the Nations."
Remembering a Missionary Killed in
Note of Cardinal Sepe in Memory of Father Andrea Santoro
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the note of Cardinal
Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of
Peoples, in memory of Father Andrea Santoro, the Italian missionary who
was killed in Turkey on Feb. 5.
The text, adapted here, was published by Fides, the dicastery's news
* * *
"Unless the grain of wheat which falls to the ground dies, it remains
alone; if it dies, it produces much fruit" (John 12:24). This Gospel
verse, we learn from those around him, was often on the lips of Father
Andrea Santoro. Almost like a program for life, to be kept continually
in mind, or, considering his death, a forewarning, an announcement that
his life offered for the cause of the Gospel would not be fruitless.
Father Andrea was neither unprepared nor imprudent: He had studied and
had become very familiar with the culture and environment in which he
chose to live, he was aware that an extreme act such as the one which
killed him was not to be excluded.
He loved God profoundly and with the same intensity he loved all those
whom the Lord placed on his path in Rome and in Turkey. Besides, there
is an unbreakable bond between love of God and love of neighbor: "One
is so closely connected to the other that to say that we love God
becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbor or hate him altogether
…… love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God and
closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God" (cfr. "Deus
Caritas Est," No. 16).
All missionaries know they may be called to sacrifice their life for
the cause of the Gospel. However, a violent death is not something
accidental which must be simply taken into account, it is the supreme
offering of self.
Missionaries put their lives in the hands of the Lord with full
awareness and with love, knowing that should their blood be shed it
will not be in vain, it will be nourishment and source of life for the
local community and indeed for the whole Church.
Reverend Andrea was a missionary sent by the Diocese of Rome, the
Church bathed in the blood of Sts. Peter and Paul and built on the
sacrifice of a host of other martyrs. He went to the origins of the
Church, to the place where the good news of the Gospel first began to
spread, thanks to the work of St. Paul.
As a Christian who received the faith from that part of the world, he
wanted to return there to give the faith in his turn. Reverend Andrea
went to Turkey not to proselytize or to try to impose a change on the
situation and society: His mission was one of presence, a presence of
prayer and of concern for the material and spiritual poverty around
him; he was absorbed in love for God and for every brother and sister
with whom he came into contact.
"Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbor," the Holy
Father Benedict XVI writes in his first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est"
(cfr. No. 15). "The concept of neighbor is now universalized, yet it
remains concrete ... it is not reduced to a generic, abstract and
undemanding _expression of love, but calls for my own practical
commitment here and now" (ibid.).
The Father called Reverend Andrea home on the Lord's day, just after
Mass when he had renewed the sacrifice of Christ's death and
resurrection [……], as he was saying his prayers in the church entrusted
to his care.
The profound, intimate, spiritual communion the priest was experiencing
at that moment has now become fullness of life in the eternal embrace
of God. His blood has been added to that of the host of other
missionary martyrs who died while on mission in many different parts of
the world and on many different frontiers: Many of them remain unknown,
unknown their names and unknown their burial places.
But in the eyes of God their death was precious and the whole Church is
indebted to them for their witness of faith, love and courage. Reverend
Andrea was a Fidei Donum priest (gift of faith) sent on mission to
Turkey by the Diocese of Rome. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of
the "Fidei Donum" encyclical written by Pope Pius XII who instituted
this form of missionary service, let us pray that the blood shed by
this priest may irrigate the soil of our local Churches, flow
abundantly in the hearts of priests and men and women religious, pour
into our young people and enflame them with love and readiness for
As we return the mortal body of Reverend Andrea to the earth while
waiting for the glorious day of resurrection and unending joy, we pray
to the Lord "that the sacrifice of his life may promote the cause of
dialogue among religions and peace among peoples" (Benedict XVI,
General Audience, Feb. 8, 2006), certain that -- when and how the Lord
alone wills and knows -- the Church and the world will reap abundant
fruits from this little seed now buried in the earth.
Pope Hears Support for Beatification of Mafia Victim
Palermo Prelate Extols Example of Father Giuseppe
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- In a private audience with
Benedict XVI, the archbishop of Palermo supported the cause of
beatification of a diocesan priest who was murdered by the Mafia.
Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, prelate of the Sicilian capital, recalled
the "heroic witness" of Father Giuseppe Puglisi, who was gunned down
Sept. 15, 1993, outside his church.
The Archdiocese of Palermo on Monday disclosed the content of the
cardinal's audience with the Pope, held three days earlier.
Cardinal De Giorgi expressed to the Holy Father "the greetings of the
Church of Palermo" and thanked him "for the interest he has shown in it
since the start of his pontificate," states the note.
"The archbishop made particular reference to this pastoral interest of
the Pope, reminding him of the heroic testimony of the Servant of God,
Giuseppe Puglisi," it adds. The priest was killed by the Sicilian Mafia
on his 56th birthday.
Father Puglisi was "guilty" of being concerned for the children of
Palermo's Brancaccio neighborhood. His concern conflicted with Mafia
interests and cost him his life. A film has been made of the priest's
"As he already did during the conclave," the statement of the
Archdiocese of Palermo says, Cardinal De Giorgi "emphasized to the Pope
that Father Puglisi was killed because, as priest, he educated the
children and young people evangelically, in respect for legality and
thus removed them from the seductions of the Mafia."
The note states that the cardinal stressed how Father Puglisi's witness
is already known beyond Italy's borders.
It "constitutes an exemplary point of reference both for priests as
well as faithful in the struggle against evil and the promotion of
good," the statement says.
"The Holy Father followed with great interest the exposition of the
cardinal, who expressed the expectation of a favorable result of the
process of beatification for martyrdom, under examination by the
Congregation for Sainthood Causes," states the
Benedict XVI assured the cardinal that "the witness of this priest is
very important to him."
Recognition of the martyrdom would open the doors of Father Puglisi's
beatification without the need to verify a miracle attributed to his
Pontiff Praises St. John Bosco as "Teacher of Life"
Bosco VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1,
Benedict XVI extolled the example of St.
John Bosco as a "teacher of life" for young people.
The Holy Father referred to the famed priest and educator (1815-1888)
at the end of today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.
"See in him, dear young people, an authentic teacher of life and
holiness," the Pope said, a day after the liturgical memorial of the
Addressing the sick in attendance at the audience, Benedict XVI
encouraged them to learn "from your spiritual experience to trust the
crucified Christ in all circumstances."
He also addressed the newlyweds present, who arrived in their wedding
clothes. The Holy Father urged that they take recourse to St. John
Bosco's intercession, "that he may help you to assume with generosity
your mission of spouses."
The saint, who founded the Salesian Society, the Institute of the
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and the Pious Union of Salesian
Cooperators, dedicated his life to the education of the poor in Turin,
Antonio Rosmini: A Thinker Vindicated
Defenders Hoping to Start Cause of Beatification
ROME, NOV. 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A 19th-century priest whose writings
were once condemned by the Holy Office is now a possible candidate for
The process of beatification might begin for Antonio Rosmini Serbati
(1797-1855), a profound thinker. Some of his works were condemned
because of erroneous interpretations promoted by a few of his followers.
Ordained a priest in 1821, he went on in 1830 to found the Institute of
Charity, a religious congregation recognized in 1839 by Pope Gregory
Despite his absolute fidelity to Pope Pius IX, in 1849 the
ecclesiastical authorities placed two of Father Rosmini's works on the
Index of banned books. Condemned later with the doctrinal decree "Post
Obitum" were 40 of his propositions, taken especially from posthumous
works and others published in his lifetime.
It was not until July 1, 2001, that a note of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, signed by the then prefect, Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, removed every shadow doubt about Father Rosmini.
Father Vito Nardin, provincial superior of the Italian Rosminians from
1997 to 2003, said in statements to ZENIT that he believes the cause of
beatification of Father Rosmini might begin before July, to mark the
150th anniversary of his death.
Explaining why the Vatican's doctrinal congregation lifted the ban on
Father Rosmini's writings, Father Nardin explained that "the serious
and rigorous scientific publications demonstrate that the
interpretations contrary to the faith do not correspond with Rosmini's
The conclusion, he said, is that "the reasons for concern and prudence
and the doctrinal difficulties which determined the promulgation of the
'Post Obitum' decree of condemnation of the Forty Propositions, taken
from Antonio Rosmini's works, can be considered surmounted."
"The condemnation continues to be valid for those who read them outside
the context of Rosmini, …… with a meaning contrary to the Catholic
faith and doctrine," clarified the priest.
In his encyclical "Fides et Ratio," Pope John Paul II presented Rosmini
as one of the thinkers who effected a fruitful encounter between
philosophic learning and the Word of God.
"In words that are comprehensible to all it can be expressed thus: 'The
accused has not committed the deed,'" said Father Nardin.
He also noted the "humility" of Father Rosmini, which "led him to
accept condemnations and bans."
José Luis Sánchez: A Congregation's
Interview With Legion of Christ Founder Father Marcial
ROME, NOV. 20, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- Among those who witnessed the 1928
martyrdom of a now-beatified teen-ager in Mexico was a friend who went
on to found the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement.
Marcial Maciel was only 7 years old when he saw the execution of his
14-year-old friend Joséé Luis Sáánchez del
Ríío. Joséé Luis was among 13 martyrs
beatified today in Guadalajara, Mexico.
José Luis had joined the Cristeros, a large group of
Mexican Catholics who rose against the religious persecution of the
government of Plutarco Elíías Calles.
Q: You were a witness of Joséé Sáánchez del
Ríío's martyrdom in Mexico. After almost 80 years, what
do you remember of those moments? How did you meet Joséé?
Father Maciel: Joséé Luis -- as we, his friends, called
him -- was from Sahuayo, Michoacan, a village not far from Cotija, my
My maternal grandmother, Maura Guíízar Valencia, had her
home there, and we often went to visit her. I was six years younger
than Joséé Luis. He liked to organize games for the
children. He would speak to us of Jesus. I remember that he took me to
visit the Blessed Sacrament. He was very good.
When the religious persecution began, he wanted to join the Cristeros
to defend the faith. He asked for permission several times, and in the
end was received.
In February 1928 -- I was 7 years old, almost 8 -- I was in Sahuayo
when we learned that Joséé Luis had been arrested and had
been locked in the parish's baptistery.
One of the windows looked out on the street and from there we could
hear him sing: "To heaven, to heaven, to heaven I want to go," while
awaiting his sentence. The federals were using the parish as a prison,
and also as a corral. Rafael Picazo, who controlled the village of
Sahuayo, put as a condition to release him that he deny his faith
before Picazo himself and his soldiers.
We all heard about this, and we were very worried and in a tremendously
emotional and sad state. We, his friends, met together to pray for him.
We cried a lot, asking the Most Holy Virgin that he not be killed but,
at the same time, that he not renounce his faith. In fact,
Joséé Luis wanted no part in [renouncing the faith].
And at the end of two days we learned, in the afternoon, that he had
been taken to the Refuge inn. That night they cut off the soles of his
feet and forced him to walk barefoot to the cemetery, which was several
We -- a few relatives, friends, village acquaintances -- followed him
from a distance. I remember the stains of blood left by his footsteps.
He went with his hands bound behind his back and I remember the
federals pushing him, insulting him and demanding that he stop crying
out "Hail to Christ the King!" And his answer was always to cry: "Hail
to Christ the King and Holy Mary of Guadalupe!"
We were only allowed to go to the cemetery's wall. They put him next to
the grave. They say he was stabbed several times and that they kept
insisting that he renounce his faith, but he answered: "Hail to Christ
the King and Holy Mary of Guadalupe!" His father wasn't with us. He
wasn't there. And they asked him mockingly: "What do you want your
father to be told?" He answered: "That we will see each other in
Finally they shot him in the temple. I heard the shot that put an end
to his life. You can imagine the profound impression this made on us,
especially the children.
I have a very beautiful, profound memory of this friend of mine who
gave his life for Christ; he has always been for me a testimony of what
authentic love of Christ means. I also remember him with some
nostalgia, because I would say to Our Lord: "Why did you choose him to
be a martyr and leave me behind?"
Q: How did that testimony of martyrdom influence you in your personal
life and in the work you would later undertake to found the Legionaries
of Christ and the lay movement Regnum Christi?
Father Maciel: As I said, Joséé Luis' martyrdom left a
profound, indelible mark on me. His death contributed to root in me the
certainty that faith is worth more than life. It spoke to me of the
eternal value of a life totally given for love of Christ, it stirred in
me a longing for eternity ... but it was not only Joséé
In my village of Cotija, during the Cristero war, we often saw those
who were hung in the square or witnessed the shooting of Cristeros who
died crying out, "Hail to Christ the King!" They were leaving behind,
perhaps, a family, children, a mother -- how many mothers encouraged
their children not to renege on their faith!
I witnessed the martyrdom of Antonio Ibarra, a musician from by
village, of Leonardo and several others. I still have engraved in my
mind some of those faces and scenes, especially when they took Antonio
down from the gallows and placed him in the arms and lap of his mother,
Isabel Ibarra. And it was all kinds of people who were martyred in many
villages of Mexico: children, youths and adults, men and women, rich
and poor, priests and lay faithful.
I think the testimony of martyrdom of so many Christians, who preferred
to shed their blood before betraying Jesus Christ, influenced my own
life very much and my mission as founder, as it was a testimony that,
so to speak, made one live the heroic faith of the early Christians.
That testimony helped me to understand that, to be coherent, a
Christian life must be fully committed to Jesus Christ. A half-baked
Christianity, of compromises, which "lights a candle to God and another
to the devil," as the popular saying says, is not Christianity.
I would have liked to have given my life, as Joséé Luis
Sáánchez did, as hundreds of thousands of Cristero
martyrs did; but I understood that God was asking another kind of
martyrdom of me, that of living the Gospel to its ultimate
consequences. And it is this, in the end, that is behind the foundation
of the Legion of Christ and of the Regnum Christ Movement: to help
other people also to commit themselves to know, live and transmit the
love of Jesus Christ.
When the time came to choose the name for the congregation that the
Holy Spirit was inspiring me to found, I thought of several names in my
mind, but the memory of the testimony of the Cristeros was an element
that helped me to understand that the name that would best express our
mission was that of Legionaries of Christ -- men who join the struggle
for the Kingdom of Christ without keeping anything for themselves, men
who are prepared to give their lives.
Q: José was killed and the Cristero movement he
supported failed. Was it a futile death?
Father Maciel: In 1929 the Cristeros lay down their arms in obedience
to the order of Pope Pius XI. The political authorities of the time did
not keep their agreements with the Church and with the Cristeros, and
many disarmed Cristeros afterward were killed.
It all ended in nothing. It seemed a failure. But as Tertullian said:
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."
On his first trip to Mexico in 1979, the first of his trips as a
pilgrim around the world, John Paul II witnessed the enthusiasm and
life of the faith that is breathed in Mexico, undoubtedly watered by
the blood of the martyrs.
A martyrdom not only is never a futile death, but rather is a fruitful
and redeeming death.
It is the death of the disciple who associates himself to his Master's
cross, and who with him offers his life for the salvation of many men,
including his own executioners.
Like Jesus, [the martyr's] death seems immediately a failure, but he is
a luminous witness of the resurrection and of eternal life over death.
I have been able to witness several times that since
Joséé Luis' death until today, many visit his tomb, take
flowers to him, light candles, and pause there to pray, praying for his
As Jesus said: "God is not God of the dead, but of the living." When we
pray to the saints, we know we are speaking with people who are alive,
who have triumphed definitively and have reached happiness with God,
toward which we journey during this life and to which we are all called.
Q: At 15 years, is a boy capable of giving his life for Christ? Can a
15-year-old boy know his vocation clearly?
Father Maciel: You ask me if a 15-year-old adolescent is capable of
giving his life for Christ. The very context of this interview,
Joséé Luis Sáánchez del
Ríío's martyrdom, a boy of 14 years, is in itself an
In your second question you establish a beautiful relationship, which
encloses a great truth. Martyrdom is a call from God to give the whole
of one's life for Christ in a few minutes. A vocation is also a call to
give the whole of one's life for Christ, but day by day, minute by
We must not forget that it is God who calls, and he chooses the moment
to do so. God is the sower who deposits the seed.
He can awaken a priestly vocation in the heart of a child, as in that
of a youth, as in that of an adult; when he sees the opportune moment.
He knows how to find the way to make them feel clearly in their
interior his invitation to follow him.
Of course, as happens with every process of maturation, in the life of
a child and of a youth, the seed must grow in time, and the call will
be studied and will have time to be pondered and verified.
The path toward the priesthood or consecrated life goes through
different stages of formation, and the Church will admit those who are
What is important is to be able to offer these children and adolescents
who feel God's call in their interior at an early age, a space of
freedom and a propitious environment, a "good earth," sun, water and
air so that the seed can sprout in its time; this is what we try to do
in the vocational centers of the Legion and of the Regnum Christi.
This was also my personal experience: I received the call to the
priesthood at 14 years of age; I left my home for the seminary at 15
years; I have never doubted my vocation; I have been and am fully happy
in my priesthood and I am already 85 ...
Q: Do you know that the founder of another religious congregation which
arose in Mexico was also a witness of this martyrdom?
Father Maciel: I suppose you are referring to Father Enrique Amezcua
Medina, founder of the priestly Confraternity of the Laborers of the
Kingdom of Christ. He is from Colima.
I cannot tell you if he was a witness of the martyrdom, I rather think
not, but I do believe that he owes his priestly vocation to
Joséé Luis Sáánchez, whom he met in 1927,
at the height of the Cristero war.
He said that when he was 9 years old, when he approached
Joséé to get to know him, Joséé hugged the
flag of Christ the King against his chest and spoke with much fervor
about the Most Holy Virgin to a discouraged Cristero youth.
Father Enrique ... the boy Enrique, approached him and said he wanted
to be like him, a soldier of Christ the King. Joséé
smiled at him and said he was still too young, but that what he had to
do was to pray much for him and for all the Cristeros.
Father Enrique recalled how he fixed his gaze on him and said: Perhaps
God will want you to be a priest. And if one day you become a priest,
you will be able to do many things that neither I nor we can do. So,
They made a pact to always pray for one another, and they sealed it
with a handshake. And Joséé Luis said good-bye to him:
"Now, until God wills, see you soon, or in heaven ..."
Q: For what do you pray to Joséé Luis?
Father Maciel: For what I always pray: that he obtain from God the
grace for all of us to be faithful to our faith and to our
unconditional love of Christ until death. I entrust to him all children
I think that, as he was for me, Joséé will be for all of
them an excellent model of friendship with Christ and of Christian
faithfulness and coherence.
Message of the Mexican Martyrs
Interview With Father Luis Orozco, Author
ROME, NOV. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The 13 Mexicans martyrs of the 1920s
religious persecution who will be beatified next Sunday, help to
explain the flowering of the Church in that country, says a scholar.
Legionary Father Luis Alfonso Orozco, a professor of theology at the
Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, has published a book on the
subject, "Martyrdom in Mexico During the Religious Persecution."
The priest, who gave an interview to ZENIT, says that the blood of
these martyrs made possible the maturation of the Church in Mexico in
the 20th century.
Q: Are they martyrs of the Cristero war of 1926-1929, or martyrs of the
religious persecution which that conflict sparked? Is there a
Father Orozco: A martyr is one who gives his life for confessing his
faith. The circumstances of martyrdom are very varied.
Specifically, in Mexico, it was the lot of these people -- who were
priests, farmers and youths, like Joséé Luis
Sáánchez del Ríío, killed at 14 -- to live
in circumstances that were particularly complex as were those that
sparked the religious persecution.
The Church, in her theological and historical judgment, does not raise
them to the altar because they participated in the "Cristiada," but
because they confessed their faith in Christ.
Q: How important are these 13 beatifications? Is there some general
characteristic that unites the new Mexican blessed?
Father Orozco: They are the third group of martyrs of the "Cristiada"
raised to the altar. The essential characteristic of this group is that
the majority of the blessed are lay people. An interesting
heterogeneous group, but in these 13 blessed is reflected the variety
and the richness of martyrdom in the Church.
Q: What importance does the martyrs' message have for our time?
Father Orozco: The Christian people are called to confess their faith
in Jesus, but not all Christians are called to be martyrs. Martyrdom is
a gift given to us by God.
Pope John Paul II said that in these times Christians might not be
asked for the testimony of blood but for the testimony of fidelity: to
be faithful to the given word, to commitments assumed, to public
witness of what we are.
Whoever is faithful to Christ in these difficult times is in a certain
sense also a martyr.
Q: Is the blood of martyrs useful to people?
Father Orozco: In my particular case, one of the motivations that
induced me to carry on with my research on martyrdom in Mexico during
the religious persecution, is the immortal phrase of Tertullian, who,
around the third century A.D., said: "The blood of martyrs is the seed
of Christian life."
It has been confirmed in the course of the history of the Church that,
precisely, wherever there was a persecution, wherever there were
martyrs who shed their blood in different circumstances, those places,
those particular Churches afterward grew and flourished.
It is as if God, in his providence, has a very outstanding place
reserved for the martyrs. And, of course, for peoples who have given
martyrs to the universal Church.
Q: Their blood is not shed in vain?
Father Orozco: Their testimony does not fall into the void. That
generous blood is united, in a certain way, to the blood of Christ shed
on the cross, with which he redeemed the human race.
The blood of martyrs shed in all ages, contributes -- with its part --
to the work of redemption initiated by Christ.
In Mexico, in the 20th century, the Mexican Church reached its
maturity, precisely because of the blood of these martyrs. The popular
faith and family unity experienced in Mexico is also its consequence.
There is no doubt that the faith of the Mexican people has emerged
strengthened from the events of martyrdom.
A Mexican Gandhi Nears Beatification
Anacleto Gonzáález Flores, Symbol of
GUADALAJARA, Mexico, NOV. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Thirteen Mexicans
martyred during the religious persecution of the 1920s will be
beatified in Guadalajara next Sunday according to Benedict XVI's new
Among the martyrs who died during the so-called Cristero war of
1926-1929, the most outstanding is Anacleto González Flores.
He was a lay leader who was very active from 1915 until the year of his
martyrdom, 1927, at the hands of the federal army commanded by Mexican
President Plutarco Elíías Calles.
González Flores founded the Popular Union, better known as the
"U," a movement that included labor, women and farmers. It promoted
catechesis and actively opposed the local and federal governments in
their measures to suppress religious freedom.
Because of his option for pacifism and nonviolence during the Cristero
war, González Flores was known as the "Mexican Gandhi."
Married and the father of two, "Master Cleto," as he was known, was
born in Tepatitlan, in the state of Jalisco, in July 1888.
He came from humble origins. The son of an alcoholic weaver, he did
various jobs until he received his law degree at 33 in 1921. Before
that, he had been a seminarian and postulant in the seminaries of San
Juan de los Lagos and Guadalajara.
In 1914, when all churches were closed on the order of
Joséé Guadalupe Zuno, governor of Jalisco,
González Flores organized the Popular Union and founded the
newspaper Gladium, "sword" in Latin, a word with which he already
dreamed of martyrdom.
Confrontations between the government and Catholics started in July
1918, to which González Flores responded with the philosophy of
He was arrested in 1919 for his social, political and religious ideals.
Three years later he coordinated the first Catholic Labor Congress in
Guadalajara and organized the National Catholic Labor Conference that
spread throughout the country.
In May 1925 the National League in Defense of Religious Freedom was
founded in Mexico City. It favored recourse to arms, but
González Flores disagreed, and insisted on moral strength to win
Militants arrived in the capital in 1926 with an ultimatum for the
Popular Union, which obliged him to enter the National League. The
armed movement began the following year, which Gonzáález
Flores accepted with regret.
General Jesús Ferreira decided to put an end to the Popular
Union by taking the "Master" prisoner. González Flores was
arrested on March 31, 1927, and martyred the following day. His
executioners hanged him by his thumbs and then, at bayonet point, kept
torturing him to disclose the whereabouts of the archbishop of
Guadalajara and other leaders of the Cristero Revolution.
Finally, the steel blade fatally pierced his heart. At the same time,
his companions in the struggle and martyrdom were shot in the courtyard
of the same prison.
The "Master" asked to be killed after his companions, so as to be able
to console them.
Before dying, González Flores told the general in charge: "I
forgive you from my heart; we will soon meet before the divine
tribunal, the same judge who will judge me will judge you; then you
will have an intercessor in me with God."
González Flores' process of beatification was opened officially
and solemnly on Oct. 15, 1994, in the Shrine of Guadalupe, in
Guadalajara, where his mortal remains rest. Many faithful flock there
to venerate his memory.
Maria Pia Mastena: Saw Jesus in the Sick and Poor
Founder of the Sisters of the Holy Face to
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See issued a
biography of Maria Pia Mastena (1881-1951), founder of the Sisters of
the Holy Face, who will be beatified Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica. An
adapted excerpt of the biography appears below.
* * *
Maria Pia Mastena was born in Bovolone in the Italian province of
Verona on Dec. 7, 1881.
Her parents were exemplary Christians and very fervent in the practice
of the faith and in works of charity. Of their four children, the last,
Tarcisio, entered the Capuchin Franciscans, and he too died with a
reputation for sanctity.
The future blessed received her first Communion on March 19, 1891, with
great fervor, and on this occasion she made a private vow of perpetual
chastity. On Aug. 27, 1891, she received the sacrament of confirmation.
During her adolescence she was assiduous at religious functions and at
parish activities, especially as a catechist.
Shortly afterward she sensed a calling to religious life, and she
pursued this ideal that was characterized by a strong Eucharistic
devotion and devotion to the Holy Face. She requested to enter
religious life at age 14, but she was only accepted as a postulant in
1901 in the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona.
With the permission of her superiors, on April 11, 1903, she made "a
private vow to be a victim soul."
She was vested with the religious habit on Sept. 29, 1902, and on Oct.
24, 1904, she professed vows of religious life and received the name
Sister Passitea Maria of the Child Jesus.
The blessed lived this phase of her life with particular spiritual
intensity and she would also recall that it was a time of grace and
blessing. The fervor which she experienced in the institute would be an
inspiration for her to take a vow to seek perfection in all things.
She was a teacher in various places in the Veneto region, in particular
for more than 19 years in Miane, where she dedicated herself to an
intense apostolate to students of every age, infirmity and disability.
With the authorization of her superiors and the "nulla osta" of the
Holy See, on April 15, 1927, she entered the Cistercian monastery of
Veglie, to fulfill a deep desire for the contemplative life.
On Nov. 15, 1927, with the encouragement of the bishop of Vittorio
Veneto, she left the monastery, resumed teaching and proceeded toward
the foundation of a new religious institute called the Sisters of the
Holy Face. It was canonically recognized on Dec. 8, 1936, and, after
great suffering, it was recognized as a congregation of pontifical
right on Dec. 10, 1947.
The entire apostolic ministry that followed was dedicated to the
establishment and the expansion of the congregation, through promoting
new initiatives for the poor, the suffering and the sick.
The blessed entrusted to the institute the mission to "engender,
restore, and rediscover the image of the gentle Jesus in souls."
She died in Rome on June 28, 1951.
Maria Crocifissa Curcio: Her Life
Founder of Carmelite Missionary Sisters to
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See issued a
biography of Maria Crocifissa Curcio (1877-1957), founder of the
Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St.
Théérèèse of the Child Jesus, who will be
beatified Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica. An adapted excerpt of the
biography appears below.
* * *
Maria Crocifissa Curcio, founder of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was born in Ispica,
Sicily, in the Diocese of Noto, on Jan. 30, 1877. Her parents were
Salvatore Curcio and Concetta Franzòò.
The seventh of 10 siblings, she spent her childhood in a highly
cultural and social home environment, in which she quickly exhibited
lively intelligence and a pleasant personality. Strong-willed and
determined, in her early teens she developed a strong tendency toward
piety, with specific attention toward the weak and marginalized.
At home she was raised under the strict moral guidelines. But according
to the customs of the era, her father did not permit her to study
beyond grade six.
This deprivation cost her greatly. However, eager to learn, she drew
comfort from the many books in the family library, where she found a
copy of the "Life of St. Teresa of Jesus." The impact of this saint
enabled her to come to know and love the Carmel, and so she began her
"study of celestial things."
In 1890, at age 13, she succeeded, not without difficulty, in enrolling
in the Carmelite Third Order. Because of her regular attendance at the
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and her deep devotion to Our Lady
of Mount Carmel, who "had captured her heart since childhood" by
assigning her the mission of "making the Carmel reflourish," her
knowledge of Carmelite spirituality made her understand the divine
plans in store for her.
She desired to share the ideal of a Missionary Carmel, which unites the
contemplative dimension with that of a specifically apostolic
dimension. So she began an initial experience of community life with a
few fellow members of the Third Order in a small apartment in her
ancestral home, which her siblings had bequeathed to her.
She then transferred to Modica, where she was entrusted with the
management of the "Carmela Polara" conservatory for the acceptance and
assistance of young females who were orphans or in any way needy. Maria
had the firm resolution to turning them into "worthy women who would be
useful to themselves and to society."
After several years of trials and hardships in the vain attempt to see
this undertaking of hers in some way supported and officially
recognized by the local ecclesiastic authorities, she finally managed
to obtain the support and agreement of her missionary ideal in Father
Lorenzo Van Den Eerenbeemt, a Carmelite Father of the Ancient Order.
On May 17, 1925, she came to Rome for the canonization of St.
Théérèèse of the Child Jesus, and the next
day, accompanied by Father Lorenzo, she visited Santa Marinella, a
small town on the Latium coast north of Rome. She was struck by the
natural beauty of this region, but also by the extreme poverty of a
great number of this town's inhabitants. It was here that she finally
realized that she had reached her landing place.
Having obtained an oral permission "of experiment" from the bishop of
the Diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, Cardinal Antonio Vico, on July 3,
1925, she definitively settled in Santa Marinella. On July 16, 1926,
she received the decree of affiliation of her small community with the
In 1930, after many sufferings, her small nucleus obtained the
recognition of the Church. Cardinal Tommaso Pio Boggiani, ordinary of
the Diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, established the Congregation of the
Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St.
Théérèèse of the Child Jesus as an
institute of diocesan rights.
"To bring souls to God" is the objective that brought to life the
numerous openings of educational and charitable institutions in Italy
and abroad. For this reason Maria urged her daughters to bring a
Christian point of view to families.
She was able to achieve her missionary yearning in 1947 when she sent
the first sisters to Brazil with the mandate to "never forget the poor."
With her entire life marked by poor health and diabetes, which she
forced herself to always accept with strength and a serene adhesion to
the will of God, she passed the last years of her life in illness,
continuing to pray and to give of herself to her sisters, to whom she
offered a precious example of virtues.
She intensely cultivated the union of love with Christ in the Eucharist
by giving all of herself to make amends "for the immense number of
souls who do not know and do not love God." She urged her sisters to
"love with holiness the treasures with which the Divine Goodness
entrusts you; the souls of the youth, the hope of the future."
The hidden life of Charles de Foucauld
An explorer, monk and priest who did
nothing by half-measures: by KATE WHITE
Charles de Foucauld lived a remarkable life of adventure, deprivation
and devotion. He was a man of extremes, an aristocratic bon vivant
whose conversion to Christianity led him to embrace a life of radical
solitude and prayer. He was killed in 1916 by a group of rebels in the
Algerian desert where he had lived in the midst of a Berber tribe for
10 years, drawn to serve the poor and the forsaken.
Foucauld, who will be beatified in Rome Nov. 13, was inspired by the
“hidden life” of Jesus in Nazareth and hoped that other disciples of
Jesus would be as well. He championed a life for religious that would
not only be found in enclosed communities, monasteries or convents but
lived among ordinary people.
He hoped lay missionaries would come to the southern part of Algeria.
He envisioned Christians who would participate in the local economy and
live a Christian life among a Muslim population. All this in the early
The Muslim holy man who said of Foucauld, “He has given his time to the
Eternal,” did not say, “He has given his life” but rather “his time.”
To give one’’s time is a very concrete, demanding experience. To give
one’’s life seems more abstract. During many hours of adoration in
front of the Eucharist, Foucauld had images of the role of the church.
Missionaries should live among the poor and be witnesses to the life of
Christ. They should not necessarily preach the Gospel with words, but
live the joy and simplicity and poverty of a life like that of Jesus.
He thought the liturgy should be celebrated in the language of the
people of the country where it was being celebrated. Foucauld wanted
the Catholic worship of God to be open and understandable to
His belief in the real presence in the Eucharist was so strong that he
felt the presence of Christ in the Eucharist had a spiritual effect on
the persons around it. He believed the real presence held the world
Those who were influenced or inspired by Foucauld include Dorothy Day,
Thomas Merton, Jacques Maritain and John Howard Griffin, author of
Black Like Me. “This man, he’s like an addiction. He’s contagious,”
said Fr. Lennie Tighe, a Boston priest who is a member of Jesus
Caritas, a fraternity of diocesan priests inspired by the spirituality
of Charles de Foucauld. It, like the many Foucauld-inspired lay
fraternities, emphasizes solitude, simplicity, a spirit of adoration
and “a love of the desert, of withdrawal from time to time,” said Fr.
For some, Foucauld’s appeal lies in his nonconformism. For others, the
purity and intensity of his calling and the human struggles he
experienced in his life attract them. Certainly, he was a man of
paradoxes. The Web site for Jesus Caritas describes Foucauld in these
words: “While longing to establish a community, he never had a member.
He was a human being: attractive and enigmatic, a product of his time
yet classically mysterious.”
He inherited a fortune
Charles de Foucauld was born Sept. 15, 1858, into a noble family
in Strasbourg, France. During the summer, his extended family would
meet in the country home of his parents. Charles’’ parents died while
he was still a child, and he inherited a large fortune. Aside from his
sister, his closest family relationship was with Marie Moitessier, a
first cousin nine years older, whose quiet faith would later greatly
Charles de Foucauld was excessive in whatever he did. As a young army
officer at the Military Academy of Saumur, he was known for a great
consumption of the best foie gras and the best champagne. He became
almost obese. As a young army officer assigned to duty in the French
department of Algeria, he made a liaison with a young woman, “Mimi,”
whom he brought to all the gatherings of officers and their wives. This
was the 1880s and the French army was known for its strong Catholic
traditional opinions. The wives of the officers “were not amused” by
the presence of Charles’ mistress.
When Charles’ superior officers requested that he not bring the lady to
all the social functions, he refused to conform, resigned from the army
and with Mimi returned to France. In 1881, back in France and living in
Evian, he read in a newspaper that the army division of which he was a
member in Algeria had been attacked by a rebellious tribe and had taken
serious casualties. Immediately he left for Algeria and rejoined his
division to fight in the Sahara. In fighting the Arab tribes, he came
to respect his adversaries and set out to learn Arabic. This led to
studying the Quran and then the Bible. He was struck by the great sense
of hospitality found in even the poorest Muslim homes. His spirit
became immersed in the vast spaces of the desert. In their unlimited
horizons, he saw an icon of eternity.
Charles was not the first Frenchman to grow to respect the Muslim
faith. Several young Frenchmen, including Ernest Psichari, the
grandchild of Renan, were converted back to their childhood faith
through the experience of adoration by the Muslims in the desert. But
while Charles was moved by the sight of a Muslim stopping in the desert
to spread a rug and bow to the presence of the Almighty, he remained an
agnostic. God, if he existed, was unknowable In 1882, Charles resigned
from the army. Shortly afterward, he decided to go on an exploratory
mission in the region of the Sahara that was along Morocco’s Algerian
border. Morocco, at that time, did not allow Europeans to enter its
borders. Charles joined a caravan of Eastern European and Middle
Eastern Jews traveling through Algeria and Morocco. He was
exceptionally gifted in foreign languages and managed to pass as an
itinerant rabbi fleeing persecution in Russia. He took notes on the
geography of the area and upon his return to Paris published his
Another exploratory expedition, in 1885-86, took him to the oases in
South Algeria and Tunisia. French soldiers were posted in the Algerian
Sahara, and Charles ascribed to their presence a “peacekeeping”
mission. Before the French army took control of the area, it was common
for the villages in the desert oases to be raided by traveling tribes
on horseback. It was so common that people in the oases felt
discouraged from storing water, planting crops, building permanent dirt
houses or undertaking other long-term plans. In his caravan trip to
Algeria and Morocco, Charles saw up close the local population and
their relationship with the French military. He thought the military
could and should bring the benefits of the French republic to the
desert dwellers and should put an end to intertribal warfare. Later
when he lived in the Sahara, he worked to stop the practice of slavery
among the nomadic tribes.
In 1886 back in Paris, Charles took an apartment near his cousin Marie
Moitessier, now married and the vicomtesse Olivier de Bondy, and
prepared his conferences on the topography of the Sahara near and
inside Morocco. The Eiffel Tower was being built in Paris, but Charles
was worlds away in his mind studying Arabic and the Muslim faith.
“Mimi” seems to have disappeared from the picture.
‘God, if you exist ……’
He was frequently in the home of his cousin, a devout Roman Catholic
who never mentioned his excesses but hoped he would return to the faith
of his childhood and incorporated him into her family. Her confessor
was l’Abbé Henri Huvelin, a popular diocesan priest assigned to
the church of St. Augustine in Paris. Not yet 30, he found the question
of “faith” was much on his mind. According to a biography by Jean
François Six, Foucauld would visit churches and silently pray,
“God, if you exist, let me know it.” One October day in 1886 he went to
see l’Abbé Huvelin in the confessional at the church of St.
Augustine. Charles said he wanted to talk about “the faith” and the
priest answered, “Why don’’t you begin with a good confession?” Charles
converted to faith in Christ at that instant. It reminds one of the
conversion of Paul Claudel, the French poet, playwright and diplomat,
who said that one Christmas day, as he was standing by a pillar in the
Cathedral of Notre Dame, faith came to him in a flash.
Charles would later remark, “My religious vocation dates from the same
hour as my faith: God is so great.” Three events shaped his vocation.
The first was a sermon by l’Abbé Huvelin in which he said that
Jesus took the last place. Foucauld wanted to be with Jesus in the last
place. With a friend, he visited a Trappist monastery and happened to
see a monk who had an old mended habit. The monk looked like a beggar
and Charles decided he wanted to be that poor. The third was a visit to
the Holy Land beginning at the end of November 1888 and ending in
February 1889. His visit to Nazareth brought him a great desire to live
as Jesus lived, hidden, a workman, without prestige or power.
Prayer, poverty, solitude
In 1890, Foucauld entered the Trappist monastery of Our Lady of
the Snows in France. At the insistence of l’’Abbéé
Huvelin, he had waited three years before entering. Almost from the
beginning, he struggled to fulfill his own sense of religious calling.
He fought frequently with his superiors, who wanted him to become a
priest, while Foucauld wanted to return to the desert to be a hermit.
He longed to live a life of prayer, poverty and solitude, to triumph
over his own feelings of laziness and half-heartedness. He wished for
self-abnegation, even abjection, in his desire to imitate the life of
Six months after he entered Our Lady of the Snows, Foucauld, at his
request, moved to a poorer monastery in Syria, then part of the Ottoman
Empire. The monastery employed over a dozen laborers, and Foucauld was
in put in charge of the workers who were building a road. Foucauld was
uneasy with this; he felt he had not become a monk to give orders to
others. He wanted “the last place” and began dreaming of a new
community of persons living with and among the poor. He remarked,
“Jesus lived by the work of his hands. He did not live on donations,
offerings or the work of foreign workers to whom he gave orders.”
In Syria, Foucauld drafted his initial rule for a religious community.
As he saw it, no past worldly status of a monk should influence his
place in the community. He did not want some monks to be priests and
others to do manual labor. He believed that monks should not own
property but should live from day to day as simply as possible. The
diet was to be meager, based on that of the local people. He sent his
rule to his spiritual confessor. Concerned that the rule was too
demanding, even frightening in its severity, l’Abbé Huvelin
replied, “Live as a poor person …… as abjectly as you like, but I beg
of you, don’’t write a rule for others.”
In 1897 Foucauld moved to the Holy Land to live as a servant to the
cloistered Poor Clares in Nazareth. He lived in a tool hut in the back
of the garden and was in charge of running the community’s errands in
town. He did odd jobs, carpentry and masonry, dug in the garden and
studied the Bible. He organized each hour of the day, praying, writing
in his diary, eating the minimum possible, working, reading the Gospel,
and back to praying. He would spend all night in the chapel in
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Shortly before his move to Nazareth, the Ottoman Turks had massacred
some 140,000 Armenians in 1895. Foucauld was deeply affected by the
slaughter. He regretted not being a priest who could comfort the
Armenians and minister to them in their own language. In Nazareth he
began to think seriously of becoming a missionary and priest.
On June 9, 1901, Charles de Foucauld was ordained a priest and went to
the Sahara near Morocco to live as a “hermit missionary” among
non-Christians. He still dreamed of being joined by a small community
that would live with him in the desert. He revised his rule, which was
nonetheless still severe. He wrote that he would demand three things of
his companions: that they be ready to have their heads cut off, to die
of starvation and to obey him “in spite of his worthlessness.”
For the next 15 years he lived as a missionary hermit, settling first
near a French military base and later in a Touareg village in the
southern part of the Sahara. The Touareg were a Berber people, and
Foucauld prepared the first dictionary and grammar of the Touareg
language, translated the four Gospels into Touareg and undertook a
translation of Touareg poetry. He divided his time between prayer,
intellectual work and visits from the Touareg. All the time, he longed
for manual work.
In a way he was not hidden at all like Jesus of Nazareth but was a
focal point for the community. He gave as little time as possible to
eating and sleeping -- to the point of becoming ill with scurvy. (This
is the man who once had enjoyed the best foie gras and champagne.) The
local people respected his life of poverty, prayer and hospitality.
Foucauld made no attempt to convert them. Foucauld said once, “It would
make as much sense to start by preaching the news of Jesus to the
Muslims here as it would for a Muslim preacher to go to a town in
Brittany [a Catholic stronghold in France].”
In 1916, Fr. Charles de Foucauld was shot by a band of robbers during
an anti-French uprising. He was alone when he died, but within a decade
of his death a biography had spread word of him and over time
Foucauld’’s life and writings came to inspire others to follow in his
path of prayer, adoration of the Eucharist, love of the desert and
Today 19 different movements exist throughout the world of lay people,
priests and religious following Foucauld’s instructions to live simply
among the poor, to do the same kind of work as their neighbors do and
to live the Gospel faith not so much by word as by example. Initially,
most of the members of the religious communities inspired by Foucauld
worked in factories or as manual laborers. These days members of the
Little Brothers of Jesus or the Little Sisters of Jesus do many kinds
of work, for religious specialization is the antithesis of what
Foucauld thought important -- that is, humble, fraternal love for Jesus
and for others. Foucauld’s originality lay in recognizing that it is
not necessary to teach others, to cure them or to improve them; it is
only necessary to live among them, sharing the human condition and
being present to them in love.
Kate White lived in France for 20 years where she worked at the House
of Ananias, a center for the catechumenate in Paris. (November 11, 2005)
Eurosia Fabris was born in
Quinto Vicentino, an agricultural area, near Vicenza, on Sept. 27,
1866. Her parents, Luigi and Maria Fabris, were farmers.
At the age of 4, Eurosia moved with her family to Marola, a village in
the municipality of Torri di Quartesolo. She lived there for the rest
of her life. She attended only the first two years of elementary school
between 1872 and 1874 because even at such a young age, she was forced
to help her parents with farm work and her mother in particular with
the household chores.
It was enough, however, for her to learn to read and write with the
help of the Scriptures or religious books such as a catechism.
Besides her domestic tasks, she helped her mother in her work as a
dressmaker, a practice which Eurosia would also take on later. Even as
a child, she was rich in virtue and spirituality, always careful in
providing for the needs of her family.
She was 12 when she made her first Communion. From then on, she
received the Eucharist on all religious feasts, since at that time
daily Communion was not the practice.
Eurosia joined the Association of the Daughters of Mary in the parish
church of Marola, and was faithful in participating in their devotions.
She diligently observed the practices of the group which helped
increase in her a love for Mary. In Marola, she lived within sight of
the shrine of the Madonna of Monte Berico.
Her favorite devotions were to the Holy Spirit, the infant Jesus, the
cross of Christ, the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, and the souls in the
purgatory. She was an apostle of good will in her family, among her
friends, and in her parish, where she taught catechism to the children
and sewing to the girls who came to her home.
By age 18, Eurosia was dedicated, pious and hardworking. These virtues,
along with her pleasant personality, did not go unobserved and several
young men proposed marriage to her, though she did not feel called to
In 1885, Rosina, as she was called by her family, was affected by a
tragic event. A young married woman near her home died, leaving three
very young daughters. The first of them died shortly after her mother.
The other two girls, Chiara Angela and Italia, were only 20 months and
2 months old, respectively. The father of these girls was away, living
with his uncle and a grandfather who suffered from a chronic disease.
They were three very different men, always quarrelling among themselves.
For six months, every morning, Rosina would go to care for the children
and take care of their home. Later, following the advice of her
relatives and that of the parish priest, and after praying about this
turn of events, she decided to marry.
Rosina was joined in marriage to a man named Carlo Barban, well aware
of the sacrifices that married life would hold for her in the future.
She accepted this fact as the will of God who she now felt was calling
her through these two babies to embrace a new mission. The parish
priest would often comment: "This was a true act of heroic charity
The marriage was celebrated on the fifth of May 1886 and, in addition
to the two orphaned babies, was blessed with nine other children. Her
home was always opened to other children as well. Among them were
Mansueto Mazzuco, who became a member of the Order of Friars Minor,
taking the name Brother Giorgio.
To all these children, "Mamma Rosa," as she was called since her
marriage, offered affection and care, sacrificing her own needs to
provide for them a solid Christian formation. From 1918 to 1921, three
of her sons were ordained priests, two for the diocesan clergy and one
as a Franciscan (Father Bernardino), who would become her first
Once married, she embraced her marital obligations, always showing the
greatest love and respect for her husband and becoming his confidant
and adviser. She had a tender love for all her children. She was a hard
worker who fulfilled her duties.
Mamma Rosa lived an intense life of prayer, which was evident by her
great devotion to God love's, to the Eucharist and to the Blessed
Virgin Mary. Like the strong woman in Scripture, she became a treasure
to her family.
She knew how to balance the family budget and at the same time
exercised great charity toward the poor, sharing her daily bread also
with them. She cared for the sick and gave them continuous assistance,
showing heroic strength during the final illness of her husband Carlo,
who died in 1930.
Mamma Rosa became a member of the Franciscan Third Order, known today
as the Secular Franciscans. She faithfully attended all their meetings,
but above all tried to live the true Franciscan spirit of poverty and
joy in her home, in the midst of her daily work and prayer.
She had a gentle manner with everyone and praised God as the Creator
and source of all good and the giver of all hope.
Mamma Rosa's family home was an ideal Christian community where her
children were taught to pray, to obey, to respect the will of God, and
to practice Christian virtues. In her vocation as a Christian mother,
Mamma Rosa sacrificed herself day by day. She died on Jan. 8, 1932, and
was buried in the church of Marola.
The canonical process of beatification and canonization was initiated
last Feb. 3, at the diocesan curia of Padova, after getting passed
several difficulties and misunderstandings among juridical persons
trying to promote the cause.
Mamma Rosa was a model of holiness in what should be the daily life of
a Catholic family. Her three sons who became priests were encouraged in
their vocation by her example of holiness. She was proclaimed venerable
on July 7, 2003, by Pope John Paul II for her heroic and singular
Cause Opens for Religious Slain in
Sister Maria Laura Mainetti Murdered by 3 Teen-age Girls
CHIAVENNA, Italy, NOV. 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The cause of beatification
has opened for Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, a 60-year-old religious
murdered by three girls during a Satanic rite in 2000.
Bishop Alessandro Maggiolini of Como solemnly opened the process in
Chiavenna on Oct. 23.
"After the time of sorrow and mourning, now is the moment of joy and
light," said Monsignor Ambrogio Balatti, archpriest of Chiavenna San
Lorenzo, as reported by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
Sister Laura, as she was known, was stabbed 18 times on the night of
June 6-7, 2000, after being taken to a dark alley by two 17-year-olds
and a 16-year-old.
Monsignor Balatti said: "The three hapless girls could find no better
excuse to attract Sister Laura, than to convince her that one of them
was expecting a child, that she had been rejected by her family and
boyfriend, and that she didn't know what to do or where to go.
"It makes me angry when they say that Sister Laura was naive. She took
every precaution, but so did the girls. They were able to set up an
astute and diabolic plan."
"Saw them lost"
"How could Sister Laura, whose birth cost her mother her life, who died
a few days after her birth, refuse to help that young girl who said she
was a mother?" the monsignor asked.
Sister Laura had "a special predilection for young people," whom she
"considered the real poor of today: She saw them lost, without points
of reference, exposed to the risk of the existential void."
Under interrogation, the accused said they killed the nun to "dispel
the boredom of a life that was always the same in the small city," said
Officials soon learned that the trio initially wanted to sacrifice a
priest in their Satanic rite -- and their first choice for a victim was
"At that time, interest in Satanism and occultism had become a fad,"
said the archpriest. "Even dress, music and some books contributed to
the spread of such a tendency.
"Many young people followed more than anything out of a desire to call
attention, to defy the rules. It found fertile ground in some because
they were angry with God, perhaps because of personal problems, because
of family troubles."
During the cause's opening ceremony, some of Sister Laura's thoughts
were read out: "My life belongs to you, Jesus," "Lord, take also the
little I have and the misery I am."
The killers themselves admitted that when she was dying, Sister Laura
found the strength to pray for them, saying: "Lord, forgive them."
Bishop Maggiolini said: "I am certain that all this will reflect
positively also on the three girls: Sister Laura's is a light that will
help them grow and mature."
Sister Laura, who was baptized Teresina, was born in Colico, Italy, on
Aug. 20, 1939. At the time of her death she was superior of the
Community of Daughters of the Cross, in the Mary Immaculate Institute
A foundation and a series of charitable and pro-life services have been
established in her memory. Several denominational centers in Italy and
Africa have been named after the murdered religious.
Speaking of beloved Italian Catholic women, Rome suffered a loss in
late October with the death of Sr. Teresilla, a well-known figure
locally for her ministry in prisons, bringing comfort to inmates from
all social classes and all walks of life. She became famous for the
role she played in transmitting a "secret diary" from a former member
of the Red Brigades, containing insight into the 1978 kidnapping and
murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, to the Italian president at
the time, Francesco Cossiga. Shortly thereafter, the former Red Brigade
member received an amnesty after 11 years in prison and began working
in a church-run social service center in Calabria.
Her death as the result of an automobile accident on Oct. 24 was a deep
shock to many Italian Catholics.
Sr. Teresilla, whose birth name was Chiara Barillàà and
who belonged to a community known as the Serve di Maria Riparatrice,
was taking part in an annual candlelight Marian procession at the time
she died. The procession begins on a Saturday evening and continues
until Sunday dawn, ending at the Sanctuary of Divino Amore on the
outskirts of the city. The route winds through a number of narrow,
dimly lit streets, and just at the end of this year's procession, a car
came around a corner and struck Sr. Teresilla. She died on the spot at
the age of 61.
Sr. Teresilla was remembered as a driven but deeply compassionate woman
who smiled upon presidents and prisoners alike. "Hers was a form of
pure volunteerism, not linked to any organization," said Fr. Sandro
Spriano, chaplain of Rome's sprawling Rebibbia prison. "She did
everything possible for the reinsertion of detainees in society,
finding work for them in businesses and social agencies. She followed
them even after they left prison, but anonymously, because she didn't
like to be in the limelight."
Martyr of Spanish Civil War to Be Beatified
Maríía de los Ángeles
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Maríía de los
Ángeles Ginard Martí, a martyr who died amid the
religious persecution unleashed by the Spanish Civil War, will be
beatified this week.
Sister Maríía de los ÁÁngeles died in
Madrid on Aug. 26, 1936. On Saturday, Cardinal Joséé
Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, will
preside at the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
At Benedict XVI's request, the cardinal will read the apostolic letter
with which the Pope will inscribe among the blessed of the Church, the
Servant of God, "virgin and martyr," and seven other martyrs of the
Spanish Civil War.
The Vatican's office of liturgical celebrations confirmed the news. In
a statement it noted that those to be beatified, "sustained by the
Bread of Life and strengthened by the Word of God, faced the good fight
of the faith and now participate in the glory of Christ the King,
Master and Shepherd."
The third of nine siblings, Maríía de los
ÁÁngeles Ginard Martíí was born in
Lluchmayor, in the Balearic Islands, on April 3, 1894. She was a
professed religious of the Congregation of Sisters Zealous of
Killed by a group of republican militiamen who previously had destroyed
the congregation's convent in the Dehesa de la Villa, in the Spanish
capital, her remains were found in a common grave. They now rest in the
cemetery of the congregation's present convent in Madrid, according to
the archdiocese's Digital Analysis service.
Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, published a
pastoral letter for the beatification. He called it a celebration that
"impels us to live the faith in such a way that we can communicate it
to our contemporaries, especially the youngest," according to the
archdiocesan press office.
Centered on Eucharist
Maríía de los ÁÁngeles Ginard
Martíí felt drawn to the religious life around the time
of her first Communion, which took place on April 14, 1905, explains a
biography by the Holy See.
In her youth she had to work to help her family financially, noted
"But she rose early every day to participate in the Eucharist," he
said, "and her work did not prevent her from reciting the rosary,
visiting the Blessed Sacrament and spending long periods of adoration
in the church of the Sisters Zealous of Eucharistic Worship." She
entered the congregation in 1921.
Between 1926 and 1929 "she lived and worked …… in the house of the
Sisters in Madrid where, sent by her superiors, she returned in 1932
and spent the four years prior to her death," the cardinal recalled.
The Holy See's biography noted: "When the Spanish Civil War broke out
in 1936, Sister Maríía de los ÁÁngeles was
in Madrid. Events prior to the war were alarming for the Church and its
members. The religious persecution manifested itself openly with the
burning of churches and convents and threats to priests, religious and
"In these circumstances, Sister Maríía de los
ÁÁngeles was grieved by the destruction and threats
embarked upon by the persecutors 'out of hatred for the faith,' for
everything related to God and the Church. In her adoration of Jesus in
the Blessed Sacrament she prayed for a solution to these problems and,
firm in the faith, offered her life in martyrdom, if it was God's will,
for the triumph of Christ."
Having sought refuge on July 20, 1936, together with the religious of
her community, in the home of friends, "on the afternoon of Aug. 25,
1936, denounced by a porter of the dwelling where she had been
received, she was seized," wrote Cardinal Rouco in his letter.
Sister Maríía de los ÁÁngeles saved the
life of a married woman who had also been detained when she said: "I am
the only nun here." Incarcerated, she was shot at sunset on Aug. 26 in
the Dehesa de la Villa in Madrid.
The diocesan phase of her process of canonization opened in Madrid in
April 1987; it closed in March 1990. On April 19, 2004, Pope John Paul
II approved the publication of the decree on martyrdom for her
Newman's Papal Influence; Jesuit Agency's Milestone
New Book Focuses on British Cardinal
By Catherine Smibert
ROME, OCT. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- He is a figure whose work and persona
have inspired innumerable pursuits of truth, and now he might have a
greater impact still.
Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) has inspired a wealth of
studies, publications and organizations -- and even influenced our
current Pope, according to a new book represented at the English
College last week.
"Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman" was presented to an audience of
Curia members, journalists and pontifical university students during an
upright English, yet relaxed Roman affair.
The glossy book is filled with select writings from both Church figures
and other leading English clergy, and is edited by longtime religious
commentator Peter Jennings.
Produced in only six months (from the time of the papal election),
Jennings' book clearly presents Benedict XVI's keen interest in this
convert from Anglicanism which dates back to his seminary days.
Declared venerable in 1991 for heroic virtues, the cardinal's effect on
the current Holy Father is recognized throughout the writings in the
These include introductory addresses given by the then Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger at the symposium "John Henry Newman, Lover of Truth," to his
address on conscience and truth, presented at a bishops workshop in
Jennings told me how he tried to enhance the in-depth chronology of
Newman's life by using previously unpublished pictures like that of
Newman in his role as founder of the English Oratory of St. Philip
Neri, from the archives of the Birmingham Oratory.
"Having been baptized in the Oratory and now being the press secretary
for the archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, I’’ve had the great
fortune of working more directly with the Oratory Fathers and thus, the
postulator for the cause" of canonization, Jennings said.
The postulator is the provost of the Birmingham Oratory, Father Paul
Chavasse. He told me he thinks the book will encourage a resurgence in
"In the passing years there has been a steady, increasing devotion to
the cardinal on a world scale," Father Chavasse said, "but it was
enormously encouraging for us to see the interest that was expressed by
all attending the reception. Each expressed a desire for the cause to
reach a happy conclusion as soon as it's practical."
That conclusion might be close at hand, he added.
"At the moment, we're investigating a possible miraculous cure through
the intercession of Cardinal Newman in the Archdiocese of Boston," the
priest said. "It was the healing of a 60-year-old permanent deacon who
had suffered from a severe degenerative spinal disease which was
threatening his mobility.
"Although there had been an operation, the surgeons were not at all
convinced that he would be restored to health but, in fact, that's just
what happened, he got out of bed and ... I read the medical reports in
which one of the principal surgeons says: 'If you want an explanation
for what has happened to you, I suggest you ask God.'"
Cause for Solidarity Chaplain Is Advancing, Says Official
Postulator Thinks Ceremony Could Occur in
WARSAW, Poland, OCT. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The process of
beatification for Father Jerzy Popieluszko might be concluded within a
year, says the postulator of the cause.
The postulator, Father Tomasso Kaczmarek, has finished the "positio,"
or report, on the cause of martyrdom.
The 1,100-page volume describes both events in the life of Solidarity's
chaplain, as well as evidence that "demonstrate that he was killed out
of hatred of the Church and God," said the postulator.
He contended that the "positio" shows that "Father Jerzy died
reconciled with God and that he accepted the sufferings and violent
death he received in the spirit of Love."
According to the postulator, the beatification could take place in June
2006, during Benedict XVI's possible visit to Poland.
The "positio" will be handed to the relator, Father Hieronim Fokcinski,
who represents the Congregation for Sainthood Causes. It will then be
read by seven consultors. If their opinion is positive, the secretary
of the Vatican congregation will prepare a report on the state of the
cause, which the prefect will present to the Holy Father.
If the Pope accepts it, the decree of the heroic virtues will be read
in the Consistory. In the case of a cause of martyrdom, in fact, this
means that the Servant of God could be proclaimed blessed.
The postulator underlined that the date of beatification would depend
on the work of the consultors, who he said will treat this as a
Father Popieluszko, Solidarity's chaplain, was only 37 when he died.
The Communist regime regarded him as a fanatic, an example of militant
clericalism. Many Poles, however, considered him a wise and courageous
Father Popieluszko was kidnapped and killed on Oct. 19, 1984, by secret
service agents, who beat him and threw him into the icy waters of the
Vistula River. His body was found later in a lake at the Wloclawek dam,
about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Warsaw.
The priest's tomb, located in Warsaw next to the church where he
celebrated Masses for the homeland, has drawn millions of pilgrims.
Joseph Bilczewski, Tireless Archbishop of Leopoli
Prelate to Be Canonized This Sunday
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the biography issued
by the Holy See of Joseph Bilczewski (1860-1923), who will be canonized
with four other blessed this Sunday by Benedict XVI.
* * *
Blessed Archbishop Joseph Bilczewski was born April 26, 1860, in
Wilamowice near Kety, in the present-day Diocese of Bielsko Zywiec,
then part of the Diocese of Krakow. Having finished elementary school
at Wilamowice and Kety, he attended high school at Wadowice receiving
his diploma in 1880.
On July 6, 1884, he was ordained a priest in Krakow by Cardinal Albino
Dunajewski. In 1886 he received a doctorate in theology from the
University of Vienna. Following advanced studies in Rome and Paris he
passed the qualifying exam at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow.
The following year he became professor of dogmatic theology at the John
Casimir University of Leopoli.
He also served as dean of theology for a period of time prior to
becoming rector of the university.
He dedicated himself to scientific work and, despite his young age,
acquired fame as a learned man. His extraordinary intellectual and
relational abilities were recognized by Franz Joseph, the emperor of
Austria, who presented Monsignor Bilczewski to the Holy Father as a
candidate for the vacant metropolitan See of Leopoli. Pope Leo XIII
responded positively to the emperor's proposal and on Dec. 17, 1900, he
named the 40-year-old monsignor archbishop of Leopoli of the Latin rite.
Given the complex social, economic, ethnic and religious situation,
care for the large diocese required of the bishop a deep commitment and
called for great moral effort and strong confidence in God. Archbishop
Bilczewski became known for his goodness of heart, understanding,
humility, piety, commitment to hard work and pastoral zeal.
Upon taking possession of the Archdiocese of Leopoli he spelled out
clearly his pastoral plan, which can be summed up in the words "totally
sacrifice oneself for the holy Church." Among other things he pointed
out the need for the development of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament
and frequent reception of Communion.
A particular form of pastoral action of Archbishop Bilczewski were the
pastoral letters and appeals addressed to the priests and the faithful
of the archdiocese. In them he spoke of the problems of faith and
morals of the time as well as of the most pressing issues of the social
sphere. He also explained devotion to the Eucharist and to the Sacred
Heart and the importance of religious and moral formation of children
and youth in the family and in school.
He taught for the Church and for the Pope, and took care to cultivate
many priestly vocations. He saw the priest as first and foremost a
teacher of faith and an instrument of Christ, a father for the rich as
well as for the poor. Taking the place of Christ on earth, the priest
was to be the minister of the sacraments and for this reason his whole
heart had to be dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist, in order
to be able to nourish the people of God with the body of Christ.
He often exhorted the priests to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In
his pastoral letter devoted to the Eucharist he invited the priests to
participate in the priestly associations: the Association for Perpetual
Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Association of Aid to Poor
Catholic Churches, whose goal was to rejuvenate the zeal of the priests
He also dedicated a great deal of care to the preparation of children
and to full participation in the Mass, desiring that every catechesis
would lead children and youth to the Eucharist.
Archbishop Bilczewski promoted the construction of churches and
chapels, schools and day-care centers. He developed teaching to help
enable the growth in the instruction of the faithful. He materially and
spiritually helped the more important works which were springing up in
His holy life, filled with prayer, work and works of mercy led to his
meriting great appreciation and respect on the part of those of various
faiths, rites and nationalities present in the archdiocese. No
religious or nationalistic conflicts arose during the tenure of his
pastoral work. He was a proponent of unity, harmony and peace. On
social issues he always stood on the side of the people and of the
poor. He taught that the basis of social life had to be justice made
perfect by Christian love.
During the First World War, he pointed out to the people the infinite
love of God, capable of forgiving every type of sin and offense. He
reminded them of the need to observe the commandments of God and
particularly that of brotherly love.
During his 23 years of pastoral service he changed the face of the
Archdiocese of Leopoli. Only his death on March 20, 1923, could end his
vast pastoral action.
Wanting to rest among those for whom he was always father and
protector, in accord with his desires, he was buried in Leopoli in the
cemetery of Janow, known as the cemetery of the poor. Thanks to the
efforts of the Archdiocese of Leopoli the process for his beatification
and canonization was initiated. The first step was concluded on Dec.
17, 1997, with the declaration of the life of heroic virtue of
Archbishop Bilczewski by Pope John Paul II.
In June 2001, the Congregation for Sainthood Causes recognized as
miraculous the fact of the rapid lasting and unexplainable "quo ad
modum" healing through the intercession of Archbishop Bilczewski of the
third-degree burns of Marcin Gawlik, a 9-year-old boy, thus opening the
way for his beatification.
The beatification took place in the Diocese of Leopoli on June 26,
2001, during John Paul II's apostolic visit to Ukraine.
Cure could speed Cardinal Newman's path to sainthood
A 'miracle cure' in Boston may help clear
the way for the canonisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman, whose cause
is promoted in a book launched in Rome on Monday night in the presence
of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
The announcement was made by Fr Paul Chavasse, Provost of the
Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Cause for the beatification
and canonisation of Cardinal Newman, at the launch of Pope Benedict XVI
and Cardinal Newman, a collection of writings edited by Peter Jennings
and published by Family Publications, Oxford. The book was launched at
the English College. Among those attending were the Archbishops of
Westminster and Birmingham, the president of the Vatican's Council for
Social Communications, Archbishop John P Foley; and leading Newman
Fr Chavasse told them: "A couple of years ago, we received reports at
the Birmingham Oratory, of a cure which had taken place in Boston, in
the United States of America, of a man, a deacon. I am not at liberty
to give the name of this man, who had been suffering from severe spinal
problems, and who has now recovered, as a result of the intercession of
the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman."
Fr Chavasse thanked Andrea Ambrosi, "a most active member of the
College of Postulators, who is now involved most intimately in
advancing the Cause to a new stage, and whose assistance at this time
has become indispensable."
He said: "Postulators are not known for rushing, indeed, they cannot,
given the caution needed before anyone can be certain that a presumed
miraculous cure is just that. Time has to elapse, evidence has to be
gathered and so forth. Well, time has elapsed, evidence has been
gathered, and guided by the Avvocato Ambrosi's expert knowledge and,
with the approval of the Archbishop of Boston, a tribunal opened there
on 25 June this year to investigate this cure.
"Much work has been done and much remains to be done: the tribunal will
not finish its work until the beginning of February next; the last
session is scheduled for 6 to 7 February 2006. After that, all the
evidence gathered comes to Rome and the Congregation for the Causes of
Saints begins its meticulous work, examining the medical and
theological aspects of it. If these processes end positively,
undoubtedly a miracle will be announced and Cardinal Newman, the
best-known English churchman of the nineteenth century, will be
declared Blessed in the usual way."
Fr Chevasse ended: "I commend this whole matter to your prayers, that
all will go well and that before too long has elapsed we will be able
to be gathered together again to celebrate the happy conclusion of
another stage of the great English Cardinal's journey to officially
recognised Sainthood." Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Newman brings
together talks, sermons and addresses given to commemorate a variety of
anniversaries and events concerned with Cardinal Newman's life, as well
as several important new contributions which highlight the relevance of
the great Cardinal's life and teachings for the contemporary Church.
The book contains articles by Fr Chevasse as well as by Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O'Connor and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, whose chapter is entitled: "The Importance of
Newman Today", said he had discovered Newman's writings on the
development of Christian doctrine while studying for the priesthood in
Rome. He had chosen as a dissertation topic Newman's concept of the
Peter Jennings said he hoped the book would increase popular devotion
to Cardinal Newman, "the best-known churchman of the nineteenth
The Birmingham launch of the book will take place on Friday 21 October
at the Birmingham Oratory, Upper Cloister Hall, 12.30pm to 2pm. The
Oxford Launch will take place on Friday 28 October at the Oxford
Oratory, 4.30pm to 5.45pm. (Mass at 6pm.) Further information from
Felix of Nicosia, a Humble Capuchin Friar
18th-Century Blessed to Be Canonized
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the biography issued
by the Holy See of Felix of Nicosia (1715-1787), who will be canonized
with four other blessed this Sunday by Benedict XVI.
* * *
Felix of Nicosia was born of the marriage between Filippo Amoroso and
Carmela Pirro, in Nicosia, Sicily, on Nov. 5, 1715. He was baptized on
the same day, and was given the names Philip James. His father, a
shoemaker by trade, died Oct. 12, 1715, leaving his widow with three
The family was poor but very religious. As a young boy, Felix worked in
the workshop of the shoemaker Giovanni Cavarelli, close to the Capuchin
friary, and so he often had opportunities to visit the community, get
to know the friars and admire their way of life. Like most Sicilian
boys in those days, he never attended school. The more time he spent
with the friars, the more strongly he felt drawn to their life: their
joyful austerity, their liberating poverty, their penance and prayer,
their charity and missionary spirit.
At age 20 he asked the superior of the friary in Nicosia to speak for
him to the father provincial of Messina so that he could be admitted to
the order as a lay brother. Being illiterate, he could not be admitted
as a cleric; the lay vocation was more suited to his humble, simple
nature. His request was repeated for eight successive years, and each
time was met with the answer no, but his desire was as strong as ever.
His was a mature vocation, well weighed and ardently longed for.
Certainly it is surprising that, after so many refusals, he never tried
to join another similar order. For him, being a man of God and being a
Capuchin were one and the same.
In 1743, hearing that the provincial of Messina was visiting in
Nicosia, Felix asked to see him. He then explained his cherished wish.
At last, the provincial admitted him to the order and sent him to the
friary at Mistretta for his novitiate year.
A Capuchin friar
On Oct. 10, 1743, he began his novitiate, taking the name of Brother
Felix. For him, the novitiate was a particularly intense year, spent in
the practice of the virtues.
All his biographers tell us that Brother Felix was distinguished for
his flair for obedience, his angelic purity, his love of mortification
and his truly seraphic patience. It was with these virtues that he made
his profession on Oct. 10, 1744.
Streets of Nicosia
Immediately after profession his superiors, contrary to the custom,
sent him to the friary of Nicosia. In fact it was not common practice
to assign a young religious to his own home town, in case he might be
distracted by relatives and acquaintances. But Brother Felix's
detachment from earthly affections was such that the superiors
considered that no harm would come to his spiritual growth.
He had already made his own the maxim of St. Francis, that a friar
should live in the world as a pilgrim and a stranger, calling nothing
on earth his own, neither house, nor place, nor anything at all.
He was given the job of collecting alms. Every day he would walk
through the streets, knocking on the doors of the rich, inviting them
to share their prosperity, and of the humble dwellings of the poor,
offering them comfort in their daily necessities.
There was a tranquil serenity and discretion about him as he moved
through the streets, going from house to house. He would always say
"thank you" whenever he received something, and even when he was sent
away roughly he would answer: "Let it be for the love of God."
Thirsting for Scripture
Brother Felix was unable to read and write, yet full of Christian
doctrine. Whatever he could not learn by reading Scripture, he learned
by heart. He made every effort to absorb the passages of Scripture and
the edifying books that were read at table in the friary, and lost no
opportunity to listen to the sermons in the churches of Nicosia.
Devotions and penances
He was devoted to the crucified Christ. Every Friday he used to
contemplate the passion and death of Jesus. Each Friday in March he
fasted on bread and water and knelt in choir with his arms outstretched
in the form of a cross, meditating before the crucifix.
He had a particular veneration for the Eucharist, spending hours in
front of the tabernacle even after having endured the trials of
every-day life. He showed tender devotion to the Mother of God.
Now relieved of all duties, and physically ill on account of his
extreme penances and mortifications, he was always ready for any kind
of service, especially for the sick brothers in the friary infirmary.
The more his strength declined, the more intense was his concentration
on God and his joyful, simple obedience.
At the end of May 1787 he was overtaken by a sudden, raging fever while
working in the garden. His superior, Father Macario, ordered him under
obedience to lie down. Brother Felix told the doctor who prescribed
medicines for him that they were useless, because this was his "final
illness." His earthly life ended at 2 a.m. on May 31, 1787.
He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on Feb. 12, 1888.
Alberto Hurtado, Servant of Chile's Poor
Biography of a Soon-to-Be-Canonized
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Among the five people to be
canonized a saint this Sunday is Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga. Here is an
excerpt from a biography issued by the Holy See.
* * *
Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga was born in Viñña del Mar,
Chile, on Jan. 22, 1901. His father died when he was 4 years old. His
mother had to sell, at a loss, their modest property in order to pay
the family's debts.
As a further consequence, Alberto and his brother had to go to live
with relatives and were often moved from one family to another. From an
early age, therefore, he experienced what it meant to be poor, without
a home and at the mercy of others.
He was given a scholarship to the Jesuit College in Santiago. Here he
became a member of the Sodality of Our Lady and developed a lively
interest in the poor, spending time with them in the most miserable
neighborhoods every Sunday afternoon.
When he completed his secondary education in 1917, Alberto wanted to
become a Jesuit, but he was advised to wait in order to take care of
his mother and his younger brother. By working in the afternoons and
evenings, he succeeded in supporting them; at the same time, he studied
law at the Catholic University. In this period, he maintained his care
for the poor and continued to visit them every Sunday. Obligatory
military service interrupted his studies, but once he fulfilled this
duty he went on to earn his degree early in August 1923.
On Aug. 14, 1923, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in
Chillan. In 1925 he went to Cordoba, Argentina, where he studied
humanities. In 1927 he was sent to Spain to study philosophy and
However, because of the suppression of the Jesuits in Spain in 1931, he
went on to Belgium and continued studying theology at Louvain. He was
ordained a priest there on Aug. 24, 1933, and in 1935 obtained a
doctorate in pedagogy and psychology.
After having completed his tertianship in Drongen, Belgium, he returned
to Chile in January 1936. Here he began his activity as professor of
religion at Colegio San Ignacio and of pedagogy at the Catholic
University of Santiago.
He was entrusted with the Sodality of Our Lady for the students, and he
involved them in teaching catechism to the poor. He frequently directed
retreats and offered spiritual direction to many young men,
accompanying several of them in their response to the priestly vocation
and contributing to the formation of many Christian laymen.
In 1941 Father Hurtado published his most famous book: "Is Chile a
Catholic Country?" The same year he was asked to assume the role of
assistant for the Youth Movement of the Catholic Action, first within
the Archdiocese of Santiago and then nationally. He performed these
roles with a spirit of initiative, dedication and sacrifice.
In October 1944, while giving a retreat, he felt impelled to appeal to
his audience to consider the many poor people of the city, especially
the numerous street children in Santiago. This request evoked a ready
and generous response. This was the beginning of the initiative for
which Father Hurtado is especially well known: a form of charitable
activity which provided not only housing but a homelike milieu for the
homeless: "El Hogar de Cristo."
By means of contributions from benefactors and with the collaboration
of committed laity, Father Hurtado opened the first house for children;
this was followed by a house for women and then one for men. The houses
multiplied and took on new dimensions; in some houses there were
rehabilitation centers, in others trade-schools, and so on.
In 1945 Father Hurtado visited the United States to study the Boys Town
movement and to consider how it could be adapted to his own country.
The last six years of his life were dedicated to the development of
various forms in which "El Hogar" could exist and function.
In 1947 Father Hurtado founded the Chilean Trade Union Association to
promote a union movement inspired by the social teaching of the Church.
Between 1947 and 1950, Father Hurtado wrote three important works: on
trade unions, on social humanism, and on the Christian social order. In
1951 he founded Mensaje, a well-known Jesuit periodical dedicated to
explaining the doctrine of the Church.
Pancreatic cancer brought him, within a few months, to the end of his
life. In the midst of pain, he was often heard to say, "I am content,
Lord." He died on Aug. 18, 1952.
His apostolate had been an _expression of a personal love for Christ
the Lord. It was characterized by a great love for poor and abandoned
children, an enlightened zeal for the formation of the laity, and a
lively sense of Christian social justice.
Father Hurtado was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16, 1994.
Pope Gregory the Great
Perhaps this saint of almost
1,500 years ago seems a little too far away from us. He was from a
wealthy Roman patrician family and didn't die the glorious and gruesome
death of a martyr, so what is there to capture the imagination of the
Plenty. The 14-year pontificate of Gregory the Great has many
resounding messages for the Catholic world today.
"Magnus, magnus" we all heard during the funeral of John Paul II and
many wondered at its meaning. The term "magnus" (the great) has not
been used in a very long time, not since Pope Nicholas I died in 867.
It is a popular acclamation, not a granted title, something that people
use and it sticks. Johannus Paulus Magnus certainly sounds as if it
will stand the test of time.
What earns this title is a pontificate of great theological and
intellectual advances, brilliant navigation of the Church through dark
times and troubled waters, and the genuine love of the flock.
When Gregory was unanimously elected Pope, he was living as monk in
Rome. He had transformed his family palace on the Caelian Hill into a
monastic community. Although often sent by his predecessor, Pope
Pelagius II, on delicate and complicated diplomatic missions, Gregory's
first and true love was the contemplative life. Upon election to the
papacy, like John Paul II, Gregory had balance his mystical side with
his active responsibilities as Pope.
Responsibilities that Pope Gregory took very seriously. He was the
first Pope to refer to himself as "Servus servorum Dei," or Servant of
the servants of God, a title that John Paul II used frequently of
himself. He fortified Rome against the Lombards, gave his own lands to
feed the starving population and sent out missionaries to evangelize
new lands, especially England.
As our John Paul II was actor and poet, so Pope Gregory left a lasting
artistic gift to the Church, Gregorian chant.
Pope Gregory's last years were spent in constant illness and physical
pain, but according to biographer Paul the Deacon, "he never rested"
and continued his ministry until he died a peaceful and happy death in
604. His ceaseless work and prayer for the souls in his care served as
an example for all those who witnessed it.
Another significant link between St. Gregory and our present times can
be found in St. Benedict. Although St. Benedict died in 547 when
Gregory was still a child, the Pope admired the monastic founder and
furthered Benedictine monasticism with every means at his disposal. In
these days of renewed interest in Benedict and his teachings, Pope
Gregory seems to have planted the seeds that we are reaping now.
The legacy of Pope Gregory the Great earned him the title of Father of
the medieval Church. Maybe John Paul II will be known as the Father of
the Church of the third millennium.
Sáánchez Gave His Life at 14
2 Founders Witnessed Execution
GUADALAJARA, Mexico, SEPT. 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The execution of
José Luis Sáánchez del Ríío, a
14-year-old martyr who will be beatified this fall, was witnessed by
two founders of ecclesial entities in the Church.
Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, and
Enrique Amezcua Medina, founder of the priestly confraternity of the
Laborers of the Kingdom of Christ, both met the young martyr, and are
able to recount years later the heroism he exhibited.
José Luis, of Sahuayo, in the state of Michoacan, joined the
Cristeros, a large group of Mexican Catholics who rose against the
religious persecution of the government of Plutarco
Elíías Calles, a year before he was executed on Feb. 10,
A 7-year-old Marcial Maciel witnessed the martyrdom of his young friend.
José Luis "was captured by government forces, which wanted to
give the civilian population that supported the Cristeros, an exemplary
lesson," said Father Maciel in the book "Christ Is My Life."
"Under pain of death, they asked him to give up his faith in Christ.
Joséé Luis refused to apostatize. His mother was
overwhelmed by sorrow and anguish, but kept encouraging her son," he
"Then the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off, and he was
obliged to walk through the village towards the cemetery. He wept and
moaned with pain, but would not give in."
"Hail to Christ the King!"
Father Maciel continued: "Every now and then they stopped and said: 'If
you cry out "Death to Christ the King," we will spare your life. Say
'Death to Christ the King!' But he answered, 'Hail to Christ the King!'"
Father Maciel said that at the cemetery, "before shooting him, they
asked him once more if he would deny his faith. He refused and was
killed right then and there. He died crying out as many other Mexicans
did: 'Hail to Christ the King!'
"These are indelible images of my memory and of the memory of the
Mexican people, although often there is not much mention of it in the
Father Medina, then 9 years old, said in the biography of the
confraternity he founded that he considers providential his meeting
with the young martyr.
He met the child-martyr of Sahuayo and asked him if he could follow him
but, seeing that he was so young, the future martyr told him: "You will
do things that I will not be able to do," which, eventually, led him to
The confraternity's seminary in Salvatierra, Guanajuato, has been named
Christ the King Seminary, and the boarding school was called
José Luis, in honor of the future Mexican blessed.
The remains of José Luis rest in the church of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus in Sahuayo.
Charles de Foucauld
Charles de Foucauld, a French Army officer who entered
religious life and became a hermit, will be beatified Nov. 13 in St.
Peter's Basilica, says the postulator of the cause.
Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858, de Foucauld was orphaned at 6.
After a brief military career, in 1883 he undertook an expedition in
the Moroccan desert which won him the gold medal of the French
Geographic Society. His religious conversion occurred in 1886. He went
on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1888.
Heart of the Sahara
After de Foucauld's experience as a Trappist in Syria and as a hermit
in Nazareth, in 1901 he was ordained a priest. He studied Arabic and
Hebrew. "He lived in poverty, contemplation and humility, witnessing
fraternally to God's love among Christians, Jews and Muslims," said
Cardinal Joséé Saraiva Martins, prefect of the
Congregation for Sainthood Causes, during the ceremony for the decree's
"In order to imitate Jesus' hidden life in Nazareth, de Foucauld went
to live in Tamanrasset, in the heart of the Sahara Desert," added the
cardinal. De Foucauld wrote several books on the Tuaregs, members of a
Berber people of the western and central Sahara, including a book of
grammar and a French-Tuareg dictionary. He founded the Union of
Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart that was committed to the
evangelization of the Tuaregs.
On Dec. 1, 1916, at 58, de Foucauld was shot dead in the midst of a
skirmish among Berbers of Hoggar.
Ten religious congregations and eight spiritual life associations have
been inspired by his testimony and charism.
Bishop Who Defied Hitler to Be Beatified in October
According to Muenster Diocese
ROME, JULY 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal August
Galen, who dared to defy Hitler, will be beatified Oct. 9, according to
the Muenster Diocese Web page.
The cardinal, who lived 1878-1946, would become the
German to be proclaimed blessed in Benedict XVI's pontificate, the page
In a letter addressed to Bishop Reinhard Lettmann
dated June 29, Benedict XVI announced von Galen's beatification for
The diocese stated that the beatification will be
in St. Peter's Basilica, with a papal decree to be read by Cardinal
Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, who
will preside over the ceremony. The beatification is taking place after
a miracle occurred in December attributed to Cardinal von Galen.
While bishop of Muenster, during the Nazi regime,
August von Galen spoke out in defense of the rights of the poor and the
sick, protesting strongly against euthanasia, the confiscation of
and convents, the persecution of Jews and the expulsion of religious.
To avoid uprisings resulting from Bishop von Galen's
Hitler gave orders on Aug. 3, 1941, to officially block the euthanasia
program. Euthanasia continued, though on a much smaller scale.
During von Galen's process of beatification, it was
that Pope Pius XII read his homilies and presented him as a "hero" to
priests of Westphalia.
Salesian Pushes the Cause of Don Bosco's Mother
Meets With Pope at Vacation Residence
LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- When
Benedict XVI to the chalet where he is spending vacation, the
of the Salesians asked a special favor.
Father Pascual Chávez asked the Pope to speed
the beatification of Margaret Occhiena, the mother of St. John Bosco,
of the Salesians.
The rector-major, who spoke in private Monday with
Holy Father in the Salesian-owned chalet, handed him documents and a
from all Salesian bishops worldwide, in which they request the
of the decree of heroism of "Mama Margaret's" virtues.
The Salesian family would like Margaret Occhiena to
declared venerable on the 150th anniversary of her death, reported the
congregation's ANS news agency.
Benedict XVI responded that the holiness of Occhiena
so evident that there should be no need for the whole process, showing
how familiar he was with her virtues, added the news service.
"We are following the stages of the regular
replied Father Chávez. The "positio" stating the formal argument
for beatification was handed in June 25, 2000, while the examination by
the historical experts ended in a positive manner the following Oct. 3.
The Holy Father expressed the hope that the
might be possible in 2006, ANS reported.
Margaret Occhiena was born on April 1, 1788, in
and remained there until her marriage to Francis Bosco.
After her husband's premature death, she had to take
of her family, helping her husband's mother, and taking care of his son
Anthony, and educating her sons Joseph and John.
When John was ordained a priest, she left her home
accompany him for 10 years on his mission among the poor and abandoned
young people of Turin.
"Without knowing it, she became 'co-founder' of the
Family," states a biography issued by the Salesians.
"Without knowing how to write, but full of wisdom
comes from on high, she helped many poor street boys, no one's
She put God before anything else, giving herself for him in a life of
prayer and sacrifice," adds a brief biography.
She died at age 68 in Turin, in 1856.
Edith Stein's Appeal to the Young
Superior of Discalced Carmelites on the Saint's Impact
ROME, JULY 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Edith Stein, the
saint and co-patroness of Europe, could be a very engaging figure for
of the 800,000 expected to attend World Youth Day next month in Germany.
That is the opinion of Father Luis Aróstegui
superior general of the Discalced Carmelites. "The search for Truth of
Edith Stein -- Teresa Benedicta of the Cross -- could be a stimulus for
young people who will go to Cologne, where she lived in the Carmel," he
"Edith Stein is a very different figure from
of Lisieux, also a Carmelite saint, who enthused young people at Paris'
World Youth Day," Father Aróstegui said.
"In the same way," he added, "I think that there are
young people, perhaps not all, who might be attracted by Stein's
as she is modern and her biography is very interesting in the best
of the term: Jewish, German, seeker, who lost her faith and found it."
The Carmelite religious died in Auschwitz in August
"She accepted her death in the concentration camp as
with the cross of Christ, for her people and for peace in the world,"
the superior general of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. "This is
"Edith Stein was a person who was very committed to
faith and an exceptional personality; she was called to give lectures
classes when this was unusual, and she defended woman's rights and
"This faith and fidelity, but at the same time
with freedom and responsibility, might be very attractive to young
Father Aróstegui added.
He continued: "Moreover, her continuity of life when
entered the Cologne Carmel is also very interesting, as it was not a
of the intellectual life but, on the contrary, an entering more
into contemplation, which isn't inaction. In fact, her superiors asked
her to continue with her intellectual work and she did so, in union
the Church and the needs of the world.
"Above all, the fact that she was a seeker and
values in her life and thought, and her profundity in the faith are
good for the world of young people who will meet in her native Germany."
Testimonies Sought About Holiness of Cardinal
Argentine Helped to Plan World Youth Days
ROME, JUNE 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Diocese of
appealed for testimonies about the holiness of Cardinal Eduardo Pironio
who, as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, planned the
first World Youth Days.
An edict, published in today's Italian edition of
Romano and signed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for Rome, stated
"with the passing of the years," the Argentine cardinal's "fame for
has increased, so there has been a formal request "to begin the cause
beatification and canonization of the Servant of God."
Cardinal Pironio died Feb. 5, 1998, in Rome. He was
The edict requests that "if any writing that has the
of God as author, [and] has not already been handed in to the
of the cause," it should be sent to the diocesan tribunal of the
of Rome. The edict noted that printed works have already been collected.
Those who wish to keep originals of the cardinal's
may send authenticated copies.
The diocese also asks the faithful to communicate to
tribunal "all news from which may be gathered elements favorable or
to the fame for holiness of the Servant of God."
It was also established that the edict be published
the curia of La Plata, Argentina, and in that diocese's review.
Eduardo Pironio was born Dec. 3, 1920. He played an
part in Church history during the last quarter of the 20th century.
He organized the World Youth Days from the time John
II appointed him president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in
Prior to this appointment, the cardinal had been
of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, which oversees
the Church's religious and consecrated persons.
Pope Paul VI elevated Archbishop Pironio to cardinal
May 24, 1976, after he had worked for many years in the Latin American
bishops' council, first as secretary and later as president. In
he was bishop of Mar del Plata.
3 Beatifications Delegated to Warsaw Cardinal
Includes Communist-Era Martyr
WARSAW, Poland, JUNE 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- At
XVI's request, Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw will preside here over
closing Mass of a National Eucharistic Congress and the beatification
three Polish priests.
Among the future blessed is a martyr, Father
Findysz. He was born in Kroscienko Nizne, in the then Diocese of
of the Latins, on Dec. 13, 1907.
As a parish priest in Nowy Zmigrod, in the
Diocese of Rzeszow, he carried out his mission during World War II. In
1963, under the Communist regime, he was imprisoned because of his
In prison, he was humiliated and mistreated. His
broken, he was released from prison but died a few months later, on
Cardinal Glemp, the primate of Poland, will also
at the beatification of Father Bornislaw Markiewicz, who was born in
near Przemysl, on July 13, 1842.
He was a parish priest and seminary professor. He
the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco in Turin, Italy.
Returning to Poland, he worked primarily in the
of poor and orphaned young people.
He founded the men's and women's congregations of
Michael the Archangel. The congregations were approved after his death,
which occurred in Miejsce Piastowe on Jan. 29, 1912. The two
have belonged to the Salesian Family for years.
Formator of youth
The third future blessed is Father Ignatius
He was born on July 20, 1866, in Korzeniowka.
He was committed to charitable works. As a parish
in Warsaw, he founded the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto.
He worked in the formation of young people, the rehabilitation of
girls, and the care of orphans and the elderly. He died in Warsaw on
Pilsudski Square in Warsaw will be the setting of
solemn Mass. Pope John Paul II presided at a Mass there during his
pastoral visit to Poland in 1979; at the time it was called Victory
Benedict XVI has revived a papal tradition of not
at beatifications, a practice that was interrupted in 1971 by Pope Paul
VI, when beatifying Maximilian Kolbe. For his part, Pope John Paul II
over the beatification of 1,330 Servants of God.
Process for "Righteous" Emmanuele Stablum Moves
Saved Jews in Italy During Nazi Occupation
ROME, JUNE 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The diocesan
has been concluded for the beatification of Emmanuele Stablum, a
hailed by Israel as "Righteous among the Nations" for saving Jews from
"An angel," is how he was described by Tibor
adviser of the Israeli Embassy, during the November 2001 ceremony in
Stablum was conferred the "Righteous" recognition posthumously by the
Vashem Institute of Jerusalem.
Born in Terzolas in 1895, Stablum wanted to be a
but the superiors of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate
asked him to become a doctor first, in order to treat patients of the
Institute of the Immaculate Conception (IDI), a sanatorium in Rome.
After the Nazi occupation of Italy in September
Brother Emmanuele Stablum, who at the time was director of IDI, decided
to save 51 Jews, by hiding them in the institute.
He put cream on the Jews' faces, so that the police
think they were patients with dermatological problems.
When Stablum died, Italo Levi-Luxardo, a Jewish
wrote that Stablum, in addition to helping Jews, hid officers who did
want to be allied with the German occupation, as well as fugitives from
the Nazi purges.
Elio Toaff, the former chief rabbi of Rome,
"To speak of the Israeli community's recognition is too little in
to the work of salvation undertaken by the IDI which, without taking
account the grave danger it was in by helping Jews, showed with deeds
solidarity its determination to oppose injustice and oppression."
Brother Stablum was assistant general and later
general of his religious congregation. He died in 1950, at age 55.
Today the IDI is considered one of the most
medical centers in Italy for dermatological problems.
American, Spanish Missionary Women Beatified
Benedict XVI Resumes Tradition of Not Presiding at
VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Two women
from the United States and Spain, are the first to be beatified during
the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.
American Marianne Cope (1838-1918) and Spanish
of the Heart of Jesus (1868-1940) were raised to the altars on Saturday
in St. Peter's Basilica. Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva
prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, presided at the
The Bishop of Rome has taken up on this occasion the
tradition of not presiding at beatifications, a practice that was
in 1971 by Paul VI, when beatifying Polish priest Maximilian Kolbe.
Beginning in the Holy Year of 1975, Paul VI presided
beatifications until the end of his Pontificate. John Paul II continued
in the steps of Paul VI, and presided over the beatification of 1,338
of the Church.
Cardinal Saraiva Martins delivered his homily in
Spanish and English, taking into account a numerous presence of
Latin American and Spanish pilgrims.
He described Marianne Cope's life as "a wonderful
of divine grace."
An evangelizer of lepers in Molokai, she was the
of the apostle of the lepers on the Hawaiian island, Blessed Father
Born in Heppenheim, Germany, she was christened
She immigrated to New York in the United States when she was
old, and eventually became a U.S. citizen.
She belonged to the Sisters of the Third Order of
Francis of Syracuse, New York. She held several positions of
but gave her final testimony of charity working with the lepers in the
secluded island community, where she died Aug. 9, 1918.
"Blessed Marianne loved those suffering from leprosy
than she loved her very self. She served them, educated them, and
them with wisdom, love and strength. She saw in them the suffering face
of Jesus," explained the cardinal.
"Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.
drew strength from her faith, the Eucharist, her devotion to our
Mother, and from prayer. She did not seek earthly honors or approval.
wrote: 'I do not expect a high place in heaven. I will be very grateful
to have a little corner where I can love God for all eternity,'" he
The cardinal described Ascensión of the Heart
Jesus, co-founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary,
to the evangelization of the Amazonian tribes, as "one of the great
of the past century."
"She made frequent apostolic trips to Peru and
and even went to China. She had the temper of an intrepid and tireless
fighter, as well as a maternal tenderness capable of conquering
Born Florentina Nicol Goñi in Tafalla, Spain,
eventually entered the congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Third
of Huesca. She was a teacher and directress of the school adjacent to
At 45, she traveled as a missionary to Peru, where
helped Dominican Bishop Ramón Zubieta in the foundation of the
Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, of whom she was the first general
She died in Pamplona, Spain, Feb. 24, 1940.
Cardinal Saraiva Martins announced that Benedict XVI
the feast day of Marianne of Molokai on Jan. 23, and that of
of the Heart of Jesus on Feb. 24.
Blessed Elisabetta Hesselblad Hailed
for Wartime Aid to Jews
Religious Founder Proclaimed "Righteous Among The
ROME, MAY 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Blessed Elisabetta
founder of the Order of Our Most Holy Savior of St. Bridget, was
"Righteous Among the Nations" for helping Jews in Rome during World War
The medal awarded to the Swede will be given on June
to her successor as general abbess of the Order, Mother Maria Tekla
by Shai Cohen, adviser of the Israeli Embassy.
The Yad Vashem remembrance authority in Israel,
the title of Righteous Among the Nations to non-Jews who risked their
to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The award ceremony in the Chancery Palace will be
by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of
State; Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome; Swedish ambassadors; and
of the blessed.
Mother Hesselblad, a Lutheran convert to
founded the religious order in 1911. Today the order has spread to 16
Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000.
The religious lived in Rome during the German
of Italy. Her residence as general abbess of the order was St.
Convent in Piazza Farnese.
After moving because of the Nazi occupation, the
Jewish families Piperno and Sed decided to return to the Eternal City
Sept. 8, 1943, and sought refuge in St. Bridget's Convent.
Mother Hesselblad hid them and also took care that
not be compelled to attend Christian prayers.
An extraordinary Roman girl, Antionetta Meo.
Buried in the Church of the Holy Cross, she is
as a "servant of God," the first step toward sainthood.
Antonietta, or "Nennolina" as her family called her,
like most any little girl except for her precocious and deep love of
She was born on Dec. 15, 1930, and baptized on the feast of the Holy
The date of her baptism turned out to be a foreshadowing of her life.
age 5, she was diagnosed with cancer and at age 6 her leg was
Shortly before her 7th birthday, she died.
What would appear to be a tragic story, takes on its
tone through the letters of Nennolina. Even as she was learning to
her first letters were to Jesus.
One side of the room shows the possessions of any
girl. Dolls, tea sets, school dresses neatly arrayed seem normal enough
until one notices the cane by Nennolina's Sunday coat and remembers the
trauma she suffered.
The other side of the room documents the rich,
and exemplary spiritual life of this little Christian soldier who was
just before she died. The same little girl who asked God to "let me die
before I commit a mortal sin."
Nennolina would put her letters under a statue of
by her bed so "at night he could read them." The letters show her
of suffering as a mark of Jesus' favor. "I am happy that Jesus sent me
this difficulty, it means I am his beloved," she wrote.
Offering up her lost leg to God for lost souls, she
Jesus to "give me many souls … to make them good so they can come to
The little suffering girl wrote 105 letters to Jesus
Mary, some in the awkward script of a young hand, some when she was too
ill to write and dictated to her mother. In 1937, one letter found its
way to Pope Pius XI.
It read, "Dear Jesus crucified, I love you so very
I want to be with you on Calvary. Dear Jesus, give me the necessary
to stand the pain which I offer to you for those who have sinned."
The next day, the Pope sent a legate to bring his
blessing to Nennolina. Shortly after, she died.
Her example has not only provided much solace to
suffering but has also spurred conversions. Her age, however, has
a difficulty on her path to sainthood. Her bravery, faith and deep love
of Christ continues, nonetheless, to set an example for those many
Pope to Proclaim Cry of Abitene Martyrs
"We Cannot Live without Sunday!"
BARI, Italy, MAY 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- On his first
outside the province of Rome, Benedict XVI will make known to the world
the message left by the martyrs of Abitene: "We cannot live without
The martyrs' message is the theme of the 24th
National Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Bari May 21-29. The Pope
preside at the closing Mass, confirmed the Vatican.
Martyred in 303, the Christians lived in Abitene, a
of the Roman province called "Africa Proconsularis," today's Tunis.
were victims of Emperor Diocletian's persecution, initiated after years
of relative calm.
The emperor ordered that "the sacred texts and holy
of the Lord and the divine Scriptures be found, so that they could be
the Lord's basilicas were to be pulled down; and the celebration of
rites and holy reunions of the Lord were to be prohibited" (Acts of the
Martyrs, I), explained the organizers of the eucharistic congress.
Disobeying the emperor's orders, a group of 49
of Abitene (among them Senator Dativus, the priest Saturninus, the
Victoria, and the reader Emeritus) gathered weekly in one of their
to celebrate Sunday Mass.
Taken by surprise during one of the meetings in
Felice's home, they were arrested and taken to Carthage to Proconsul
to be interrogated.
When the Proconsul asked them if they kept the
in their homes, the martyrs answered courageously that "they kept them
in their hearts," revealing that they did not wish to separate faith
"I implore you, Christ, hear me," "I thank you, O
"I implore you, Christ, have mercy" were exclamations uttered by the
during their torment. Along with their prayers they offered their lives
and asked that their executioners be forgiven.
Among the testimonies, is that of Emeritus, who
fearlessly that he received Christians for the celebration. The
asked him: "Why have you received Christians in your home,
the imperial dispositions?"
"Sine dominico non possumus" ("We cannot live
Sunday"), answered Emeritus.
"The term 'dominicum' has a triple meaning. It
the Lord's day, but also refers to what constitutes its content -- his
resurrection and presence in the eucharistic event," explained the
The motive of martyrdom "must not be sought in the
observance of a 'precept,'" as "in that period the Church had not yet
in a formal way the Sunday precept," noted Monsignor Vito Angiuli,
of the Archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto, in last Sunday's edition of the
daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
"Deep down was the conviction that Sunday Mass is a
element of one's Christian identity and that there is no Christian life
without Sunday and without the Eucharist," he stressed.
This is clearly appreciated, he said, in the
that the writer of the Acts of the Martyrs made to the question posed
the Proconsul to martyr Felice: 'I am not asking you if you are a
but if you have taken part in the assembly or if you have a book of the
Scriptures," he stressed.
"O foolish and ridiculous question of the judge!"
the commentary of the acts. "As if a Christian could be without the
Eucharist, or the Sunday Eucharist could be celebrated without there
a Christian! Don't you know, Satan, that it is the Sunday Eucharist
makes the Christian and the Christian that makes the Sunday Eucharist,
so that one cannot subsist without the other, and vice versa?"
"When you hear someone say 'Christian,' know that
is an assembly that celebrates the Lord; and when you hear someone say
'assembly,' know that a Christian is there," concludes the quotation.
book review by Edmund Campion
Life of Eileen O'Connor; Waterhole of Hope;
by John Hosie
You may start getting ready for another Australian
The appearance of John Hosie's biography Eileen: The Life of Eileen
O'Connor (Sydney: St Paul's $29.95) is a signal that the Brown
have recharged their drive to see their co-founder canonised. It's a
story. Church history is often an account of the quarrels of good
but in its purest form it is a saga of the saints. Spilled from a pram
at the age of three, Eileen O'Connor suffered an extreme curvature of
spine that kept her in pain and often in bed for much of her short
Her twisted body refused to grow; all her life she was just over one
in height. Eileen offered her suffering as a prayer for the missionary
work of the church.
Then a real life missionary came into her life,
Ted McGrath MSC, the local priest who brought her Holy Communion, and a
spark ignited between them. They began to dream a great dream that
join them together for eternity. At the time - this was early in the
century - social services for the very poor were limited. There were
such as St Vincent's where the poor could find a place but often the
and disabled poor just stayed at home and rotted. But what if, Eileen
Father Ted dreamed, you could inspire some nurses to devote their lives
to caring for the poor "and the poor only" in their own homes. And so,
just as World War I was about to start, Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor
came into being.
They were nurses, not nuns, wearing a washable white
uniform with a brown hat and a brown cloak (St Joseph's colour) - so
called them the Brown Nurses and later the Brown Sisters. They lived in
a home, not a convent, and the heart of their home was the invalid
O'Connor whom they called their "little mother". She liked games and
and picnics and playing with her dog, Rags. She ate little but was
to tea, so that taking tea with her was always an occasion, almost
in its rituals. Personally she was very close to her nurses, teaching
to pray and giving them points for daily meditation and keeping their
pure. When they left the home each morning, it was to serve Christ in
poor; and when they returned in the evening it was to Eileen's bedside,
to discuss their work and to be encouraged by her.
That home of theirs, however, became a cause of
Among their earliest supporters were a well-off brother and sister, the
Gells. Father Edward Gell, parish priest of Ryde in Sydney, was a
of Propaganda Fide College, Rome, the training school for future
so not easily spooked by church authorities (although he met his match
when Norman Gilroy came to town - but that's another story). He and his
sister Frances put up the money to buy a home for the nurses in Coogee,
a seaside suburb. They put ownership in the names of Eileen and Father
Ted. Hello? Father Ted was a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, a priest
a vow of poverty. Unlike Father Gell, an unvowed secular priest, he
not own property. Thus when an enforcer from head office came out to
to smarten up the Missionaries, he quickly got onto Father Ted's case.
Take your name off those title deeds, he told Eileen's co-founder. No
said the young priest. Well, then, off to Tasmania you go.
The story now becomes somewhat operatic. Father Ted
go to Tasmania but Eileen, thinking he might be losing his vocation,
after him. Then they travel back to Sydney, where Father Gell invites
to join him on a Pacific cruise. On their return Father Ted is
of disobedience and the canonical crime of "flight with a woman" and he
is expelled from the Missionaries. I'll appeal to Rome, he responds.
says, I'll go with you - when they see me they'll know this "flight
a woman" business is absurd; I'm no sex object - as a later age might
it. Afterwards it all went pearshaped. Father Ted got back into the
all right, but he was exiled from Australia and posted to the United
On her return to Sydney, Eileen was given the cold shoulder by church
and the Catholic gossip mill ground her small. She and Father Ted had a
couple of furtive meetings - one notably in Bombay, whither she sailed
from Sydney, Father Ted, by then a WWI military chaplain, coming from
in Iraq, or Mesopotamia as it was then called. Under these conditions
survival of the Brown Nurses may be thought providential.
They have been well served by historians. I first
to know their story when one of my students did an assignment on them
years ago. (Frank Jones, where are you?) He led me to a useful booklet
by the fine MSC historian John F McMahon and I wrote about Eileen and
Ted in a Jesuit magazine, collected in Great Australian Catholics.
in 1992, came a capacious book by Tom Boland, the Brisbane priest who
written good biographies of Archbishops Carr and Duig. He took the
through to Eileen's death, in 1921; the church's recognition of the
as a religious congregation, in 1953; the return of Father Ted to the
at Coogee, in 1969; and his death there at the age of 96. Now John
has put another good biography alongside these. More information has
since Dr Boland wrote. It's a sensational story yet John Hosie does not
sensationalise it. He is quite matter-of-fact about various
manifestations - attacks by Satan, appearances by the Blessed Virgin
the discovery that Eileen's body was incorrupt fifteen years after her
death - manifestations a less temperate writer could not have resisted
Church authority is a necessary part of Eileen
story, as it is of another story, a quite different one, that I've been
reading lately. A few kilometres outside the NSW provincial city of
there's a property which was once a Catholic orphanage and is now a
of Prayer". It's mentioned in Michael McGirr's Bypass (see Online
No 19) and when I was in Melbourne I found a book on it tucked into a
shelf and the Catholic Bookshop: Waterhole of Hope by Annie Patterson,
published by Spectrum in Melbourne three years ago. (One of the
of being an historian of the grassroots is that much of your source
can be evasive.) It's a big book, really two books; a ruminative memoir
by the "founder", Sue Gordon Woods, and a parallel account of the
first 25 years. A big book but a good one, especially if you come from
a more structured environment for then it will give you a shake and
get you thinking about how your life has run. Through the quarter
there were three archbishops who had ultimate oversight of the House of
Prayer, Thomas Vincent Cahill, Edward Bede Clancy and Francis Patrick
- three very different individuals, each charged to make or delay
decisions that would impact on the life of the House. What struck me
this was the constant understanding and sympathy and - shall I say? -
Sue Gordon Walker and her companions showed towards their bishops. It's
not the sort of thing that makes the news but nonetheless it's a
of our story.
One of the things that puzzled me about the House of
was how they actually prayed. Oh, they go off to Mass and make retreats
and share biblical insights and meditate on the Bible and all that; but
when I put the book down I found it difficult to imagine what prayer
in the House might be like. This line of thought was teasing me
also in Melbourne, I'd met a woman called Michelle Anderson. She's
her own publishing house, led to it by her own need. An alumna of a
school, she found herself seeking spiritual sustenance; and so
www.sacredspace.ie, the website run by the Irish Jesuits to meet the
hunger for a prayer life that nourishes. Good stuff, she found. Coming
from a background in publishing, her next thought was - BOOK: had
thought of turning this wonderful website into a book? And the answer
no. So we have Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2005 (Melbourne: Michelle
Anderson Publishing: $24.95). It follows the church's liturgical year,
which means that Page One is about to start. As I was looking at this,
the postman brought the latest copy of Madonna, the Jesuit spirituality
magazine and I found that they have seen it too. I'll borrow two of
sentences: "This is a book to help everyday prayer go more sweetly and
to help you find unexpected space for God each day. It offers prayers
each day of the year, with reflections on prayer set within a standard
weekly format, the gospel reading, and a few questions about the
Amen to that.
Young Politician and Engineer "of Charity” to be
Catholic Action's Alberto Marvelli Is on His Way to
VATICAN CITY, SEPT 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- When John
II beatifies Italian engineer Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946) of Catholic
Action this Sunday, he will give the universal Church an exemplary
for young people and politicians.
The characteristics of the future blessed were
on Monday by Archbishop Angelo Comastri of Loreto, who described him as
"a youth who made himself a saint as a youth." Marvelli "reminds us
youth is not the age of rashness, nor the age ... to waste time; it is
not the age of whims and amusements," said the archbishop.
"Youth is the most beautiful time in which good can
done. St. Philip Neri said to the young people of his time: 'Lucky you,
young people, who have so much time to do good!" Alberto Marvelli, whom
John Paul II described as the "engineer of charity," understood "this
and reminds young people precisely of this truth," the archbishop added
on Vatican Radio.
Marvelli was also "a young Christian involved in
where "he left a sign of cleanness, transparency, dignity, correctness,
which is a great message for all politicians today. One can be in
and be a saint, and this is a very great message that comes from the
of Alberto Marvelli," the prelate emphasized.
A native of Ferrara, Italy, he was born on March 21,
Marvelli participated in the Salesian "Oratorio" and in Catholic
where his faith matured in a decisive option: "My program of life is
in one word: holiness," he said.
Of a strong and determined character, and a great
of sports, especially cycling, Marvelli prayed, taught catechesis, and
expressed apostolic zeal, charity, and serenity, according to the
issued by the Holy See. He chose Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) as
model of his youth. Frassati was a member of Italian Catholic Action,
by John Paul II in 1990.
When Marvelli finished his university studies in
engineering in 1941, he joined the army during World War II, a conflict
he firmly condemned. He was discharged as three of his brothers were at
the front. He then worked for a brief period for FIAT, Italian
company, in Turin.
Following the events that led to the fall of Fascism
the German occupation of Italy in 1943, Marvelli returned to his home
During the war he did much work for the poor and was
active in the post war reconstruction of his city.
At that time, the future blessed even went without
giving his own to the needy. He would go on his bicycle to take food
spiritual solace to refugees in hiding, witnesses said during the
Marvelli also rescued many young people from
during the German occupation. After the city was liberated on Sept. 23,
1945, he was only 26 and one of the advisers of the first junta of the
He was put in charge of housing in the city, and
reconstruction. At one point Marvelli wrote: "To serve is better than
be served. Jesus serves."
When political parties re-surfaced in Rimini,
registered as a Christian Democrat, living "his political commitment as
a service to organized society: political activity could and should be
transformed in the highest _expression of lived faith," the Holy See
In 1945, the Bishop of Rimini asked him to direct
professionals. His commitment can be summarized in two words: culture
charity. He also founded a popular university and opened a soup kitchen
for the poor, where he himself served and listened to their needs. As
of Italian Workers' Catholic Action, he formed a cooperative for
He showed his genuine love for the Eucharist in a
relationship, from where he drew the strength "to carry out his work of
redemption and liberation, capable of humanizing the face of the
the Holy See emphasized.
Marvelli died on Oct. 5, 1946, when a military truck
him while he was riding his bicycle to a polling station (he was one of
the candidates in the election for the first communal administration).
He was 28.
On Sunday, Sept. 5, in addition to Alberto Marvelli,
Paul II will beatify two other outstanding figures of Catholic Action:
young Italian lay woman Pina Suriano and Spanish priest Pere Tarres i
John Paul II Will Beatify Pere Tarres i Claret
Ecclesiastical Adviser to Catholic Action in Spain
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Pere
i Claret was a doctor, a priest, an apostle, a formator of youth and he
will be beatified this Sunday by John Paul II in Loreto.
As a young student and doctor, the future blessed
walked "on the paths of holiness." As a priest, "he dedicated himself
intense pastoral activity" and, in particular, to the "formation of the
youth of Catholic Action," highlighted Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins,
of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, in his decree last June that
opened the doors to the imminent beatification.
An ecclesiastical adviser of Catholic Action, Pere
i Claret was "a great educator, say those who knew him: he knew how to
teach to love," acknowledged Italian Catholic Action.
A native of the city of Manresa, near Barcelona,
Father Claret was born on May 30, 1905. He studied at the faculty of
of the University of Barcelona. While living in this city, he
St. Philip Neri's Oratory.
He was a member, with great apostolic zeal, of the
Federation of Christian Youth. Both in the federation as well as in
Action he worked in several posts simultaneously. He made a vow of
at 22 with the approval of his spiritual director.
In 1928, after completing medical school, he
himself definitively in Barcelona. Together with his friend, Dr.
Manresa, he founded the sanatorium-clinic of Our Lady of Mercy in that
During the disturbing period of the Spanish Civil
as a refugee in Barcelona, he secretly took communion to the
He also acted as a field doctor, heroically looking after numerous
and did not miss an occasion to manifest his faith.
He returned home from the front in 1939, and entered
Seminary of Barcelona that same year. He was ordained a priest on May
The future blessed was entrusted with many pastoral
in his short eight years as a priest. Among the offices he held were
of diocesan vice-assistant of Catholic Action youth in Barcelona and
of the association's center for women and youth in the parish of St.
In 1945 he wrote in his diary that he felt
in the ocean of the apostolate, as he had dreamed about for so long,
the same fire and enthusiasm that he felt as a lay person for the
of Christian Youth.
After three months of a painful illness, Pere Tarres
Claret died at 45 in the clinic he had founded on Aug. 31, 1950.
In addition to Father Claret, John Paul II will
on Sunday two other outstanding figures of Catholic Action: young lay
Pina Suriano (1915-1950), and Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946).
Czeslaw Milosz - a life infused with faith
The Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, died at
home in Krakow, Poland on Saturday. He was 93.
Best known as a poet, Milosz also wrote novels and
of essays. His translations of Polish writers introduced many foreign
to the literature of his homeland. His poems were an inspiration to the
Solidarity trade union movement fighting the communist regime in Poland
in the 1970s and '80s.
Faith infused all his writing. A committed Catholic,
was drawn to the Book of Job, where suffering tests a man's faith in
but does not break it. Milosz translated many books of the Bible from
and New Testament Greek into Polish. His favourite books were Psalms,
Professor Robert Faggen, from Claremont McKenna
in California who edited Striving Toward Being: The Letters of Merton
Milosz (1997) said: "He had a profound understanding of the history of
religion and the Christian church. One of the questions he would always
be asking is: 'How could a just and good God have created a world so
with cruelty and torture?' "
Professor Faggen said: "He is without question one
the heroic figures of 20th century poetry, although 'heroic' was a
he shunned. At the Solidarity monument in Gdansk, you have icons of
figures: Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul II and Milosz."
Faggen said the Pope and the poet began
over Milosz's treatise on theology and its justifications of evil.
"One of the things the Pope said to him was: "In
poetry, you take two steps forward and one step back.'" Czeslaw
'Holy Father, how in this century can I do otherwise?' "
Born in what is now Lithuania, Milosz moved to
and survived the Nazi occupation during World War II and the Soviet
that followed. His poetry gave witness, creating a literary record
with anger and irony but not despair.
Milosz credited French wartime philosopher Simone
for teaching him to live with contradiction. He wrote about this
in several poems. Explaining his own rationale for the existence of
he said: "It's not up to me to know anything about heaven or hell. But
in this world, there is too much ugliness and horror. So there must be,
somewhere, goodness and truth. And that means somewhere God must be."
Paying tribute to Milosz, Lech Walesa, former Polish
and Solidarity leader said: ""He inspired, encouraged and strengthened
us. He belonged to the generation of princes, great personalities."
Czeslaw Milosz is survived by two sons. His first
Janina, died in 1986. His second wife, Carol, died in 2003.
Although he was ill, Milosz kept writing until
before his death. In a poem called 'Meaning' he wrote in 1991:
When I die, I will see the lining of the world
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
NEW ROMAN MARTYROLOGY
LISTS 7,000 SAINTS AND BLESSEDS
VATICAN CITY, JAN 4, 2005 (VIS) - In Rome at the
of last month, the second edition of the Roman Martyrology was
The new Martyrology is an updated list not, as the name might suggest,
of martyrs, but of all the saints and blesseds venerated by the Church.
The latest edition of the Martyrology was
during an event promoted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments to commemorate the conciliar constitution
on liturgical reform "Sacrosanctum Concilium", promulgated on December
The new edition contains certain differences
respect to the earlier edition, which was published in 2001 and was the
first since Vatican Council II. A number of typographical errors have
corrected and the 117 people canonized or beatified between 2001 and
have been added. Moreover, many saints, mostly Italian-Greek monks,
names have not thus far been listed in the Martyrology but who are
much venerated, especially in southern of Italy, have also been
The updated Martyrology contains 7,000 saints
blesseds currently venerated by the Church, and whose cult is
recognized and proposed to the faithful as models worthy of imitation.
“Lion of Munster” opposed Nazi Euthanasia and
Clemens Augustus von Galen To Be Beatified
MUNSTER, Germany, OCT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The
virtues of the Servant of God Clemens Augustus von Galen (1878-1946),
known as the "Lion of Munster," were recognized on Dec. 20, 2003.
Last Year the medical-theological Commission had
recognized the validity of a miracle. Now it corresponds to bishops and
cardinals to endorse the cause of beatification. Once this step is
the Holy Father will sign the decree and decide the date of the
Clemens Augustus, Count von Galen, belonged to the
family of Spee. His uncle, Wilhelm von Ketteler was a well-known bishop
of Mainz. After completing his studies and obtaining excellent results,
he was ordained a priest and on Sept. 5, 1933 appointed bishop of
During the whole Nazi period, he raised his voice in
of the rights of the Church, the poor, the Jews, and the sick. He
opposed the spread of Nazi paganism.
His homilies of the summer of 1941 became famous,
brought him to the brink of being arrested and condemned to death. Von
Galen protested forcefully against euthanasia, the seizure of
and convents, the expulsion of religious and the persecution of Jews.
Especially effective was von Galen's offensive
Hitler's euthanasia program.
In a homily opposing euthanasia, von Galen said:
for any reason, can a man kill an innocent if it is not in war or for
defense." "If the principle by which we can kill our non-productive
is affirmed and accepted, calamities and misfortunes will strike us
we are old and weak!"
The bishop of Munster added in the homily: "If we
one of us to kill those who are non-productive, misfortune will strike
the invalid who exhausted and sacrificed themselves, and lost their
and strength in the productive process."
"If we even once accept the principle of the right
kill our non-productive brothers -- even if it is limited from the
to the poor and defenseless mentally ill --, then by this principle
becomes admissible for all non-productive beings, the incurably ill,
made invalid at work or in war, and ourselves, when we are old, weak
so not productive."
"Arriving at this point, the life of none of us will
safe. Any commission can include us in the list of the non-productive,"
von Galen alerted.
"No police, no court will investigate our murder, or
the murderer as he deserves."
"Who will be able to trust a doctor? He could
his patient as non-productive and receive instructions to kill him."
"It is impossible to imagine the abysses of moral
and general mistrust, even in the family realm, to which we would
if such a horrible doctrine were tolerated, accepted, and put into
von Galen concluded.
The homily was reproduced in leaflets which were
by Britain's Royal Air Force over Germany.
Von Galen's resistance to the Nazi euthanasia
was kept up by other priests, among them the Provost of Berlin
Lichtenberg was arrested, tried and condemned in
1941. He died in 1943 on the way to Dachau. John Paul II raised him to
the honor of the altar on June 23, 1996.
Von Galen's homilies had great impact among the
soldiers returning from the battlefront. Many of them, in fact, thought
they would be eliminated in the euthanasia program.
Despite his efforts, von Galen's courageous
did not stop the horror machine. Hitler announced publicly that he had
put an end to the euthanasia program on Aug. 24, 1941, but the programs
to eliminate the weak, the sick and non-Aryans continued.
Statue Unveiled to Italian Franciscan Who Saved Many
Inauguration Took Place in the Basilica of St.
PADUA, Italy, OCT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A bust of
Placido Cortese, known for his efforts to save numerous people from
persecution, was unveiled in the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua.
Born Nicolo Cortese di Cherso and called Father
by his brothers in the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, he was
of the magazine "St. Anthony's Messenger."
According to Father Apollonio Tottoli, the priest’s
Father Placido "did not look like a hero. He was small and thin. But he
had amazing courage and determination to the point of facing martyrdom
At the height of the war, when the city of Padua was
by the Nazis, Father Placido organized a network to rescue prisoners
Nazi concentration camps. He saved the lives of refugees, prisoners,
and Slovenian persecuted politicians and others.
Carlo Bolzonella, who knew him, said that "Father
was an angel, he had amazing charity, he was a friar who was truly all
"I once saw him weep because he couldn't help all
who were imploring him. He helped the Jews and to this end he often
me for two workers who later went on to Como and Switzerland," he added.
When the Gestapo began to look for him, Father
decided to stay in his monastery, which enjoyed papal
Subsequently, on Oct. 8, 1944, with the pretext of
a person, he was lured out of the monastery and arrested by the Nazis.
Some eyewitnesses say that during the
despite unheard of tortures, Father Placido assumed all responsibility
and did not reveal the name of a single collaborator in the charity
Slovenian Colonel Vladimiro Vauhnih, head of the
information network, reported that "the Gestapo took out the eyes of
religious, cut his tongue off, and buried him alive."
Father Placido was 37 when he died. His cause of
opened in January, 2002 in Trieste, the place where he was tortured,
people already call the "Paduan Father Kolbe."
The biography of the blessed is entitled "Father
Cortese: Victim of Nazism," and is available in Italian from Messaggero
di S.Antonio Editrice.
Marvelli, a Blessed in Jacket and Tie
Interview with Biographer of New Blessed
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Blessed
Marvelli is not what most would consider a traditional blessed: he was
a young, athletic layman who often wore a jacket and tie.
In this interview, Professor Roberto Di Ceglie of
Pontifical Lateran University, explains to ZENIT how "faith and
are intertwined in Marvelli who was proclaimed blessed a month ago in
He also outlines his personality and describes him as "athletic,
Professor Roberto Di Ceglie is co-author with
Valentini of a book on the new lay blessed entitled "Alberto Marvelli:
Fidelity to God and Fidelity to History” published in Italian by
di S.Antonio Editrice. The book includes the minutes of a scientific
promoted by the diocese of Rimini, Italy, this year.
Q: What does this contemporary young saint in a
and tie have to say to the world?
Di Ceglie: A saint in a tie and jacket means the
capacity to dress oneself with the clothing of history, making it
in the light of the pillars of faith, the Eucharist, and prayer.
In other words, this clothing assumes its maximum
in the constant remembrance of the values of faith in a God who himself
is involved in the first person in human affairs.
Q: Marvelli is among the most luminous figures of
Di Ceglie: Because in him faith and history have
united in a marvelous way. This bond, which brings with it the splendor
of a life lived to the fullest thanks to faith in Christ, finds in
an _expression of exceptional power: young, athletic, courageous,
able in his studies and successful at work, solid in his positions but
respectful of diversity, attentive to the needs of others, determined
pursue objectives with obligation and responsibility, credible, sure.
Who would not be attracted by the fascination of
a figure? Luminous, without a doubt.
Q: Lay, young, saint: is it a path we will see
Di Ceglie: In each one of us, certainly, there is
yearning to see and meet saints. It is therefore desirable that
be increasingly allied to the condition of the laity, who can have the
honor of living it in the context of daily life, in an authentic
spirit of which the need is increasingly noted.
And it turns out to be even more fascinating that
comes across such paths, because it is a symbol of freshness, of
to reality and, in a certain sense, of serene correspondence with
and history, still not vitiated, and if I am allowed the _expression,
to a certain pedantry that at times comes with age.
In a word, it is a question of re-thinking, from
point of view, the spontaneity of the little ones, who not by chance
called to be free to go to Him.
Q: Truth and charity, contemplation and action:
is spoken about as an extraordinary example of faith and history. How
he do it?
Di Ceglie: The fact of appreciating and developing
realities is constitutive of Christianity.
Medieval culture combined the saying Gratia non
naturam sed perficit, namely, that grace does not diminish but empowers
the dignity of the things of the world in relationship to God who loves
man to the point of sacrificing His Son for his salvation.
Marvelli's extraordinary experience is attributable,
to an exceptional visibility of this relationship, which finds its
_expression in the capacity to combine faith, politics, and ethics.
But beyond this particularity, we must say that in
there is no holiness without this correspondence between faith and
John Paul II's Homily After Beatification of 5
"Allowed Themselves to Be Guided by the Word of God"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
of John Paul II's homily today, delivered during the solemn Mass in
he proclaimed blessed Peter Vigne (1670-1740); Joseph-Marie Cassant
Anna Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824); María Ludovica De Angelis
and Charles I of Austria (1887-1922).
* * *
1. "'Verbum Domini manet in aeternum' -- The Word of
Lord remains for ever."
The exclamation of the Song of the Gospel refers us
the very foundations of the faith. In the face of the passage of time
the continual alterations of history, the revelation that God has
us in Christ remains stable forever and opens a horizon of eternity on
our earthly journey.
This is what the five new blessed experienced in a
way: Peter Vigne, Joseph-Marie Cassant, Anna Katharina Emmerick,
Ludovica De Angelis, Charles of Austria. They allowed themselves to be
guided by the Word of God as by a luminous and sure light, which never
failed to illuminate their path.
2. By contemplating Christ present in the Eucharist
in his salvific passion, Father Peter Vigne was led to be an authentic
disciple and faithful missionary of the Church. May his example give
faithful the desire to draw audacity for the mission from the love of
Eucharist and adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament! Let us pray that he
will touch the hearts of young people so that they will accept to
themselves totally to him in the priesthood or religious life, if they
are called by God. May the Church in France see in Father Vigne a model
so that new sowers of the Gospel will arise.
3. Brother Joseph-Marie always put his trust in God,
contemplation of the mystery of the passion, and in union with Christ
in the Eucharist. In this way, he was permeated with the love of God,
himself to him, "sole happiness on earth," and detaching himself from
goods of the world in the silence of a Trappist monastery. In the midst
of trials, with his eyes fixed on Christ, he offered his sufferings for
the Lord and the Church. May our contemporaries, in particular the
and the sick, discover, following his example, the mystery of prayer,
raises the world to God and gives strength in trials!
4. "God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a
of power and love and self-control."
These words of St. Paul invite us to collaborate in
building of the Kingdom of God, from the perspective of faith. They may
well be applied to the life of Blessed Ludovica De Angelis, whose life
was totally consecrated to the glory of God and the service of her
Prominent in her figure are the heart of a mother,
leadership qualities, and the very audacity of saints. She had a
and generous love for sick children, enduring sacrifices to alleviate
for her collaborators at the La Plata Hospital she was a model of joy
responsibility, creating a family atmosphere; for her sisters in the
she was a genuine example of a Daughter of Our Lady of Mercy. In all
she was sustained by prayer, making of her life a continuous
with the Lord.
5. Blessed Anna Katharina Emmerick showed and
in her own flesh "the bitter passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ." The
that, from being the daughter of poor peasants, who constantly sought
to God, she became the famous "mystic of Muenster" is a work of divine
grace. Her material poverty is contrasted with her rich interior life.
As much as by her patience to endure her physical weaknesses, we are
by the strength of character of the new blessed and her firmness in the
She received this strength from the Holy Eucharist.
this way, her example opened the hearts of poor and rich men, educated
and humble people, to complete loving passion toward Jesus Christ.
today she communicates to all the salvific message: "By his wounds you
have been healed" (see 1 Peter 2:24).
6. The decisive duty of the Christian is in seeking
will of God in everything, in knowing it and carrying it out. This
challenge was addressed by the man of state and Christian Charles, of
House of Austria. He was a friend of peace. In his eyes, war was
horrible." Ascending the throne in the midst of the storm of the First
World War, he tried to take up the peace initiative of my predecessor
From the beginning, Emperor Charles understood his
of sovereign as a holy service to peoples. His first need, in his
conduct, was to follow the call of Christians to holiness. That is why
he considered the idea of social love important. May he always be a
for us all, in particular for those today who have a political
Charles I of Austria: a Eucharistic Soul
Peace Was a Top Commitment
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican
office issued this biography of Charles I of Austria (1887-1922), who
be beatified this Sunday.
* * *
Charles of Austria was born August 17, 1887, in the
of Persenbeug in the region of Lower Austria. His parents were the
Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony, daughter of the last King
of Saxony. Emperor Francis Joseph I was Charles' Great Uncle.
Charles was given an expressly Catholic education
the prayers of a group of persons accompanied him from childhood, since
a stigmatic nun prophesied that he would undergo great suffering and
would be made against him. That is how the "League of prayer of the
Charles for the peace of the peoples" originated after his death. In
it became a prayer community ecclesiastically recognized.
A deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the
Heart of Jesus began to grow in Charles. He turned to prayer before
any important decisions.
On October 21, 1911, he married Princess Zita of
and Parma. The couple was blessed with eight children during the ten
of their happy and exemplary married life. Charles still declared to
on his deathbed: "I'll love you forever."
Charles became heir to the throne of the
Empire on June 28, 1914, following the assassination of the Archduke
World War I was under way and with the death of the
Francis Joseph, on November 21, 1916, Charles became Emperor of
On December 30th he was crowned apostolic King of Hungary.
Charles envisaged this office also as a way to
Christ: in the love and care of the peoples entrusted to him, and in
his life to them.
He placed the most sacred duty of a king -- a
to peace -- at the center of his preoccupations during the course of
terrible war. He was the only one among political leaders to support
XV's peace efforts.
As far as domestic politics are concerned, despite
extremely difficult times he initiated wide and exemplary social
inspired by social Christian teaching.
Thanks to his conduct, the transition to a new order
the end of the conflict was made possible without a civil war. He was,
however, banished from his country.
The Pope feared the rise of Communist power in
Europe, and expressed the wish that Charles reestablish the
of his government in Hungary. But two attempts failed, since above all
Charles wished to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.
Charles was exiled to the island of Madeira. Since
considered his duty as a mandate from God, he could not abdicate his
Reduced to poverty, he lived with his family in a
humid house. He then fell fatally ill and accepted this as a sacrifice
for the peace and unity of his peoples.
Charles endured his suffering without complaining.
forgave all those who conspired against him and died on April 1, 1922
his eyes turned toward the Holy Sacrament. On his deathbed he repeated
the motto of his life: "I strive always in all things to understand as
clearly as possible and follow the will of God, and this in the most
Anna Katharina Emmerick, Mystic of the Passion
She Bore the Wounds of Christ
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the
issued by the Holy See of Anna Katharina Emmerick, (1774-1824), who
be beatified this Sunday.
* * *
Anna Katharina Emmerick was born on September 8,
in the farming community of Flamsche near Coesfeld. She grew up amidst
a host of nine brothers and sisters. She had to help out in the house
with the farm work at an early age. Her school attendance was brief,
made it all the more remarkable that she was well instructed in
matters. Her parents and all those who knew Anna Katharina noticed
on that she felt drawn to prayer and to the religious life in a special
Anna Katharina labored for three years on a large
in the vicinity. Then she learned to sew and stayed in Coesfeld for her
further training. She loved to visit the old churches in Coesfeld and
join in the celebration of Mass. She often walked the path of
long Way of the Cross alone, praying the stations by herself.
Anna Katharina wanted to enter the convent, but
her wish could not be fulfilled at that time, she returned to her
home. She worked as a seamstress and, while doing so, visited many
Anna Katharina asked for admission to different
but she was rejected because she could not bring a significant dowry
her. The Poor Clares in Münster finally agreed to accept her if
would learn to play the organ. She received her parents' permission to
be trained in Coesfeld by the organist Söntgen. But she never got
around to learning how to play the organ. The misery and poverty in the
Söntgen household prompted her to work in the house and help out
the family. She even sacrificed her small savings for their sake.
Together with her friend Klara Söntgen Anna
was finally able to enter the convent of Agnetenberg in Dülmen in
1802. The following year she took her religious vows. She participated
enthusiastically in the life of the convent. She was always willing to
take on hard work and loathsome tasks. Because of her impoverished
she was at first given little respect in the convent. Some of the
took offence at her strict observance of the order's rule and
her a hypocrite. Anna Katharina bore this pain in silence and quiet
From 1802 to 1811 Anna Katharina was ill quite often
had to endure great pain.
As a result of secularization the convent of
was suppressed in 1811, and Anna Katharina had to leave the convent
with the others. She was taken in as a housekeeper at the home of
Lambert, a priest who had fled France and lived in Dülmen. But she
soon became ill. She was unable to leave the house and was confined to
bed. In agreement with Curate Lambert she had her younger sister
come to take over the housekeeping under her direction.
During this period Anna Katharina received the
She had already endured the pain of the stigmata for a long time. The
that she bore the wounds of Christ could not remain hidden. Dr. Franz
a young doctor, went to see her, and he was so impressed by her that he
became a faithful, selfless and helping friend during the following
years. He kept a diary about his contacts with Anna Katharina Emmerick
in which he recorded a wealth of details.
A striking characteristic of the life of Anna
was her love for people. Wherever she saw need she tried to help. Even
in her sickbed she sewed clothes for poor children and was pleased when
she could help them in this way. Although she could have found her many
visitors annoying, she received all of them kindly. She embraced their
concerns in her prayers and gave them encouragement and words of
Many prominent people who were important in the
movement of the Church at the beginning of the 19th century sought an
to meet Anna Katharina, among them Clemens August Droste zu Vischering,
Bernhard Overberg, Friedrich Leopold von Stolberg, Johann Michael
Christian and Clemens Brentano, Luise Hensel, Melchior and Apollonia
The encounter with Clemens Brentano was particularly
His first visit led him to stay in Dülmen for five years. He
Anna Katharina daily to record her visions which he later published.
Anna Katharina grew ever weaker during the summer of
As always she joined her suffering to the suffering of Jesus and
it up for the salvation of all. She died on February 9, 1824.
Anna Katharina Emmerick was buried in the cemetery
Dülmen. A large number of people attended the funeral. Because of
a rumor that her corpse had been stolen the grave was reopened twice in
the weeks following the burial. The coffin and the corpse were found to
Clemens Brentano wrote the following about Anna
Emmerick: "She stands like a cross by the wayside." Anna Katharina
shows us the center of our Christian faith, the mystery of the cross.
The life of Anna Katharina Emmerick is marked by her
closeness to Christ. She loved to pray before the famous Coesfeld
and she walked the path of the long Way of the Cross frequently. So
was her personal participation in the sufferings of our Lord that it is
not an exaggeration to say that she lived, suffered and died with
An external sign of this, which is at the same time, however, more than
just a sign, are the wounds of Christ which she bore.
Anna Katharina Emmerick was a great admirer of Mary.
feast of the Nativity of Mary was also Anna Katharina's birthday. A
from a prayer to Mary highlights a further aspect of Anna Katharina's
for us. The prayer states, "O God, let us serve the work of salvation
the example of the faith and the love of Mary." To serve the work of
-- that is what Anna Katharina wanted to do.
In Colossians the apostle Paul speaks of two ways to
the gospel, to serve salvation. One consists in the active proclamation
in word and deed. But what if that is no longer possible? Paul, who
finds himself in such a situation, writes: "Now I rejoice in my
for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's
for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Colossians 1:24).
Anna Katharina Emmerick served salvation in both
Her words, which have reached innumerable people in many languages from
her modest room in Dülmen through the writings of Clemens
are an outstanding proclamation of the gospel in service to salvation
up to the present day. At the same time, however, Anna Katharina
understood her suffering as a service to salvation. Dr. Wesener, her
recounts her petition in his diary: "I have always requested for myself
as a special gift from God that I suffer for those who are on the wrong
path due to error or weakness, and that, if possible, I make reparation
for them." It has been reported that Anna Katharina Emmerick gave many
of her visitors religious assistance and consolation. Her words had
power because she brought her life and suffering into the service of
In serving the work of salvation through faith and
Anna Katharina Emmerick can be a model for us.
Dr. Wesener passed on this remark of Anna Katharina
"I have always considered service to my neighbor to be the greatest
In my earliest childhood I already requested of God that he give me the
strength to serve my fellow human beings and to be useful. And now I
that he has granted my request." How could she who was confined to her
sickroom and her bed for years serve her neighbor?
In a letter to Count Stolberg, Clemens August Droste
Vischering, the Vicar General at that time, called Anna Katharina
a special friend of God. In the words of Hans Urs von Balthasar we can
say, "She brought her friendship with God to bear in solidarity with
To bring friendship with God to bear in solidarity
human beings -- does this not shed light on an important concern in the
life of the Church today? The Christian faith no longer includes
In our world the Christian community represents people before God. We
bring our friendship with God to bear, let it be the decisive factor in
solidarity with human beings.
Anna Katharina Emmerick is united to us in the
of believers. This community does not come to an end with death. We
in the lasting communion with all whom God has led to perfection. We
united with them beyond death and they participate in our lives. We can
invoke them and ask for their intercession. We ask Anna Katharina
the newly named Blessed, to bring her friendship with God to bear in
with us and with all human beings.
Trappist Joseph-Marie Cassant, Ordinary and Saintly
Biography of Soon-to-Be-Beatified Monk
Joseph-Marie Cassant (1878-1903)
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy
issued this biography of Joseph-Marie Cassant (1878-1903), a French
monk and priest, whom John Paul II will beatify on Sunday.
* * *
Joseph-Marie Cassant was born on March 6, 1878, at
Lot-et-Garonne, in the Diocese of Agen, France, into a family of
The second child born to the family, he had an elder brother already
years of age. He was a lodger at the boarding school of the La Salle
in Casseneuil itself, and it was there that his poor memory began to
him difficulty in studying.
He received a solid Christian education at home and
school, and little by little the deep desire to become a priest grew
him. Father Filhol, the parish priest, thought well enough of the boy
help him with his studies, but his weak memory kept him from entering
minor seminary. When it became clear that he was drawn toward silence,
recollection and prayer, Father Filhol suggested that he give thought
the Trappists, and the young 16-year-old unhesitatingly agreed.
After a trial period, Joseph entered the Cistercian
of Sainte-Marie du Désert, in the Diocese of Toulouse, France,
Dec. 5, 1894. The novice master at the time was Fr. André
a man skilled at understanding the needs of souls and responding in
From their very first meeting he showed this when he said to the young
man, "Just trust, and I will help you to love Jesus!" Nor were the
monks of the monastery slow to appreciate the newcomer: He neither
nor grumbled but was ever happy, ever smiling.
The young monk would often meditate upon Jesus in
passion and on the cross, and so became deeply imbued with love for
The "way of Jesus' heart" which Father André taught him is an
call to live the present moment with patience, hope and love.
Brother Joseph-Marie was well aware of his
and weaknesses, and so was led to depend more and more on Jesus, his
He had no interest in half-measures but wished to give himself
to Christ. His personal motto bears witness to this: "All for Jesus,
through Mary." On Ascension Thursday, May 24, 1900, he was admitted to
Then came his preparation for the priesthood. This
viewed primarily in relation to the Eucharist, which was truly to him
living presence of Jesus among us. The Eucharist is the Savior himself,
wholly giving himself to men; his Heart is pierced on the Cross and
tenderly gathers in all those who trust in him. There were times during
his theological studies when, because of his great sensitivity, he
much from the lack of understanding of the monk teaching the course.
But, as in all his contradictions, he relied upon
present in the Eucharist as his "only good upon this earth" and
his suffering to Father André who would cheer him up and help
better to understand. In the end, he did well enough to pass his
and had the great joy of being ordained a priest on October 12, 1902.
At that point it became clear that he had contracted
and that the disease was already well advanced. The young priest spoke
of his pains only when it was impossible to hide them further. How
he complain, he who meditated so lovingly on the Lord's Way of the
In spite of a seven weeks' stay with his family
he undertook at his abbot's request, his health continued to
He then returned to the monastery, where he was soon sent to stay in
infirmary. Here was one more opportunity to offer up his sufferings for
Christ and the Church: His physical pain became more and more
and was even worsened by the nurse's neglect. Father André
to accompany him and became more than ever his constant aid and support.
The young priest had said, "When I can no longer say
Jesus can take me from this world." Early in the morning of June 17,
Father Joseph-Marie received Communion and left this world to be with
Jesus for ever.
On June 9, 1984, the Holy Father, John Paul II,
his heroic virtues.
The sheer ordinariness of his life has been noted by
16 quiet years at Casseneuil and nine years of monastic enclosure spent
in doing the simplest of things: prayer, studies, work. They are indeed
simple things, but lived in an extraordinary way. They were the
of deeds, but performed with limitless generosity. Christ imbued his
clear as the water that leaps from a spring, with the conviction that
alone is our true and highest happiness and that his kingdom is like a
hidden treasure or a pearl of great price.
The message of Father Joseph-Marie has great meaning
us today. In a world filled with distrust and often with despair but
for love and kindness, his life can provide an answer, and in a special
way to today's young who seek meaning in their lives. Joseph-Marie was
a youth without any standing or worth in the eyes of men. He owed the
of his life to a meeting with Jesus that redefined his very existence.
He showed himself a follower of the Lord in the
of a community of brothers, with the guidance of a spiritual father,
was to him a witness of Christ as well as one who knew to receive and
For the meek and humble he is a superb example.
Joseph-Marie, we learn how to live each day for Christ with love, zeal
and fidelity, accepting at the same time the help of an experienced
or sister who can lead us in the footsteps of Jesus.
Apostle of Eucharist and Tireless Missionary Raised
John Paul II Will Beatify French Priest Peter Vigne
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Next
a week after the beginning of the "Year of the Eucharist," John Paul II
will propose to the universal Church the life and testimony of a
missionary and apostle of the Most Holy Sacrament, when he beatifies
priest Peter Vigne (1670-1740) in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.
Here is the biography of the future Blessed issued
the Holy See.
* * *
PETER VIGNE (1670-1740)
Peter Vigne was born on Aug. 20, 1670 in Privas,
a small town still feeling the effects of the Wars of Religion from the
previous century. His father, Peter Vigne, an honest textile merchant,
and his mother, Frances Gautier, married in the Catholic Church, had
five children baptized in the Catholic parish of Saint Thomas. Two
died in infancy. Peter and his two older siblings, John-Francis and
lived with their parents in relative comfort.
When he was 11 years of age, Peter was chosen by the
priest to act as a witness, signing the parish register for baptisms,
After receiving a good level of education and
towards the end of his teenage years, his life was suddenly transformed
by a new awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ in the eucharist.
experience led him to center his life on Jesus, who offered himself on
the Cross for love of us and, in the Eucharist, never ceases to give
to all men. In 1690, he entered the Sulpician Seminary in Viviers.
a priest on September 18, 1694 in Bourg Saint Andeol by the bishop of
he was sent as curate to Saint-Agreve where, for six years he exercised
his priestly ministry, in friendship with his parish priest and beloved
by his parishioners.
Always attentive to discern in life's events what
Lord was asking of him, he felt called elsewhere. With understandable
in the beginning and then with increasing certitude, he pursued his
itinerary along new paths. His desire to work as a missionary among the
poor was central to his decision to join the Vincentians in Lyon, in
There, he received a solid formation in poverty and in conducting
missions" and with his fellow priests began visiting towns and villages
in the work of evangelization. In 1706, he left the Vincentians of "his
own free will." Now more than ever he was passionate for the salvation
of souls, especially for the poor people living in the countryside.
a period of searching, his vocation took shape with increasing clarity.
He became an "itinerant missionary" applying his own pastoral methods,
whilst submitting his ministry to the authorization of his hierarchical
For more than thirty years he traveled tirelessly on
or on horseback the roads of Vivarais and Dauphiné, and even
He faced the fatigue of being constantly on the move, as well as severe
weather conditions, in order to make Jesus known, loved and served. He
preached, visited the sick, catechized the children, administered the
even going as far as carrying "his" confessional on his back, ready at
all times to celebrate and bestow the mercy of God. He celebrated Mass,
exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and taught the faithful the prayer of
Mary, "beautiful tabernacle of God among men" was also given a place of
honor in his prayer and teaching.
In 1712, he went to Boucieu-le-Roi, where the
favored the erection of a Way of the Cross. With the help of
he constructed 39 stations throughout the village and countryside,
the faithful to follow Jesus from the upper room to Easter and
Boucieu became his place of residence. There, he gathered together a
women, charging them to "accompany the pilgrims" on the Way of the
and to help them pray and meditate.
It was there that he founded the Congregation of the
of the Blessed Sacrament. On Nov. 30, 1715, in the church at Boucieu,
gave them the cross and the religious habit. He invited them to ensure
continuous adoration of Jesus present in the eucharist and to live
in fellowship. Anxious to give the youth access to instruction, thus
them grow in their faith and Christian values, Peter Vigne opened
and also established a training school for teachers.
Such a challenging and busy lifestyle needed some
For that reason, whenever Peter Vigne was in Lyon on business, he never
failed to call on his former seminary tutors, the priests of Saint
to meet his confessor and spiritual director. Drawn by the Eucharistic
spirituality of the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by
d'Authier de Sisgaud, he was accepted as an associate member of this
of priests on Jan. 25, 1724, in Valence, and benefited from their
and temporal help.
Whilst continuing to accompany his young
Peter Vigne continued with his apostolic works, and to make the fruits
of his missions more available, he found time to write books: rules to
live by, works of spirituality, and especially one entitled,
on the Most Beautiful Book, Jesus Christ Suffering and Dying on the
The physical strength of our pilgrim for God, the
of his apostolic activities, the long hours he spent in adoration and
life of poverty, bear witness not only to a fairly robust physique, but
above all to a passionate love of Jesus Christ who loved his own to the
end (cf. John 13:1).
At the age of 70, the effects of exhaustion began to
During a mission at Rencurel, in the Vercors mountains, he was taken
and had to interrupt his preaching. Despite all his efforts to
the Eucharist one more time and encourage the faithful to love Jesus,
his end was near, he expressed once again his missionary zeal, then
in quiet prayer and reflection. A priest and two Sisters came in haste
to accompany him in his final moments. On July 8, 1740, he went to join
the One he had so loved, adored and served. His body was taken back to
its final resting place in the little church in Boucieu where it
to this day.
Biography of Future Blessed Sister Maria Ludovica de
"Do Good to All, No Matter Who it May Be"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is
biography issued by the Holy See of Sister Maria Ludovica de Angelis
whom the Pope will beatify on Oct. 3 in St. Peter's Square in the
* * *
Born on Oct. 24, 1880, in Italy, at St. Gregorio, a
village of Abruzzo, not too far from the city of L'Aquila, Sister Maria
Ludovica De Angelis, the first of eight children, brought great
to her parents. On the same afternoon of the day she was born, she was
carried to the baptismal font where her parents chose the name of
for their firstborn.
Even as a very young child, Antonina loved nature,
as she worked long and tirelessly in the fields, she felt right at home
being so close to God's earth. A bright and honest child, Antonina grew
into a sensitive and delicate yet very strong young woman. She was
reserved, as was typical of the people of her native land. However, her
penetrating and serious eyes conveyed boundless tenderness and this is
how she looked upon all whom she met, especially the children.
On Dec. 7 of the same year on which Antonina was
a great woman died in Savona. The woman of whom we speak had chosen to
dedicate fully her own life to the following of Christ who said: "Be
as your heavenly Father is merciful..." and "All that you do the least
of my brethren, you do to me...”
She was Saint Mary Joseph Rossello who began the
of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy, a Religious Family, her family
having taken its first steps in 1837, was now spreading to various
of the world as it engaged in the works of mercy.
This Religious Family, known for its good example
genuine religious lifestyle, was' attracting many other women to follow
the same ideal.
Antonina, coming to know this religious family,
felt in her heart that her dreams were echoing the same dreams as those
cherished by Mother Rossello. There was no need to search further. She
entered the community of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy in November
1904 and, on the day of her reception, she received the name of Sister
M. Ludovica. Exactly three years after her entrance, on November 14,
in God's Providence, she set sail for Buenos Aires, arriving there on
4. From this time she gave of herself unselfishly in uninterrupted
and ministered with complete dedication in whatever she was called to
Sister Ludovica did not have a formal education, but
that she accomplished through her own resourcefulness astounded
who lived with her and knew her. Although her Spanish was mixed with
her native tongue -- an abruzzese dialect -- she understood well and
always able to make herself understood. She had neither the talent nor
the ability to set up programs or to write goals and objectives.
she gave of herself completely in her assignment at the Children's
From her very first days in the Hospital she felt at
and took on the task of providing the meals for the children, Sisters
staff. Later, when she was named as manageress of the Hospital and
of the community, she was known as the untiring angel of the hospital
that, through her loving efforts, was gradually becoming a strong and
family with a single goal in mind -- the good of the children.
Gentle in manner and determined in her commitment,
always had the Rosary in her hands, her gaze and heart turned to God,
a warm smile lighted up her face. Through her unbounded goodness,
being aware of it, Sister Ludovica became a constant instrument of
so that the message of God's love for each one of his children was
Her goal in life was repeated in the sentence: "Do
to all, no matter who it may be."
Heaven only knows how Sister Ludovica managed to
financial help to build operating rooms, additional children's rooms,
equipment, a building at Mar del Plata for convalescing children, a
-- today a parish -- and even a flourishing farm, at City Bell, that
abundant produce so that her children could have good nourishment. All
this was accomplished by this simple woman who was driven by love and
For 54 years, Sister Maria Ludovica was a friend,
and counselor to countless numbers of people of every social condition.
On Feb. 25, 1962, her earthly journey ended as God
her to her eternal reward. However, her story did not end in death. For
those who knew her, especially the medical personnel, were very mindful
of all the good she had accomplished. They named the Children's
after her, calling it "Superior Ludovica Hospital."
Pere Tarrés Aimed to Be a Holy Priest, at All
John Paul II Recalls Catalan at Beatification
LORETO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul
pointed to the testimony of Pere Tarrés i Claret, a doctor who
a priest on his way to beatification.
Born in Manresa, Spain, on May 30, 1905, Pere
was a member of the Federation of Christian Youth of Catalonia and of
Action. He founded the sanatorium-clinic of Our Lady of Mercy in
"In the exercise of his medical profession, he
himself with special solicitude to the sick who were poorest, convinced
that 'the sick person is a symbol of the suffering of Christ,'" the
said during his homily at today's beatification Mass, celebrated near
Shrine of Loreto.
As a refugee in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil
Tarrés secretly took Communion to the persecuted. He also acted
in his capacity as a field doctor, heroically caring for numerous
He returned home from the front in 1939 and entered
Barcelona seminary that same year. He was ordained a priest in May 1942.
Tarrés "consecrated himself with generous
to the tasks of his ministry, remaining faithful to the commitment
on the eve of his ordination: 'Only one purpose, Lord: to be a holy
no matter what it costs,'" the Pope said in the homily.
"He accepted with faith and heroic patience a
sickness, which led to his death when he was only 45," the Holy Father
said. "Despite his suffering, he often repeated: 'How good the Lord is
to me!' And, 'I am really happy.'"
Pina Suriano's Secret: "To Live for Jesus"
Pope Tells of Young Sicilian at Her Beatification
LORETO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul
summarized the life of newly beatified Pina Suriano with the phrase, "I
do nothing other than to live for Jesus."
The young Sicilian (1915-1950) had to give up the
of her life -- religious consecration -- because of her family's
and practical problems. She then gave her life to God as a lay member
"She spoke to Jesus with the heart of a spouse," the
said today in the homily at the beatification Mass. He added these
of Suriano: "Jesus, make me ever more yours. Jesus, I want to live and
die with you and for you."
"As a girl she was a member of the Feminine Youth of
Action, of which she was later a parish leader, finding in the
important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate
of fraternal friendship," the Holy Father said.
"She matured gradually a simple and firm will to
her young life to God as an offering of love, in particular for the
and perseverance of priests," John Paul II concluded.
Suriano, known among her friends for her beauty,
a vow of chastity on April 29, 1932, in the Chapel of the Daughters of
Mercy and of the Cross, social headquarters of Feminine Youth of
On May 30, 1948, together with three friends, she
herself as a victim for the holiness of priests.
Just over a year later, she developed a form of
arthritis that frequently forced her to stay in bed, unable to move.
died of a heart attack on May 19, 1950, at 35.
Alberto Marvelli, a Politician of God
At Beatification Mass, Pope Recalls a Postwar
LORETO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The
of Alberto Marvelli, an Italian engineer and postwar politician, was
giving of his life for Jesus and his brothers, John Paul II said at his
In his homily at today's beatification Mass,
to 250,000 people gathered near the Shrine of Loreto, the Pope sketched
the profile of this "strong and free youth, generous son of the Church
of Rimini and of Catholic Action."
He "conceived the whole of his brief life of just 28
as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brothers," the Holy
John Paul II recalled the words Marvelli wrote in
diary: "Jesus has enveloped me with his grace," "I see only Him, I
only of Him."
Alberto Marvelli was born in 1918. He was a
friend of film director Federico Fellini, and a member of Catholic
In 1941, at the end of his university studies in mechanical
Marvelli had to enlist in the Italian army, even though he condemned
Discharged from the front, he dedicated himself to
the poor during the conflict.
He succeeded in rescuing many young people from
during the German occupation.
"In the difficult period of World War II, which
death and multiplied atrocious violence and suffering, Blessed Alberto
lived an intense spiritual life, from which arose that love of Jesus
led him to forget himself constantly to carry the cross of the poor,"
Pope said in his homily.
After the city of Rimini was liberated in 1945,
name was among the members of the first Junta of the Committee of
He was just 26, and became one of the protagonists of the postwar
of the city. He was a member of the Christian Democratic Party.
On the evening of Oct. 5, 1946, while he was riding
bicycle to an election meeting -- he was a candidate for the first
administration -- he was struck and killed by a truck.
"Alberto made of the daily Eucharist the center of
life," John Paul II said during the Mass. "He also sought in prayer
for his political commitment, convinced of the need to live fully as
of God in history, to make the latter a story of salvation."
LORETO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
of the homily John Paul II delivered today in Loreto, at the
Mass for Father Pere Tarrés i Claret (1905-1950), Alberto
(1918-1946) and Pina Suriano (1915-1950).
* * *
1. "What man can know the will of God?" (Wisdom
The question, posed in the Book of Wisdom, has an answer: Only the Son
of God, made man for our salvation in Mary's virginal womb, can reveal
God's plan to us. Only Jesus Christ knows the way to "attain wisdom of
heart" (Responsorial Psalm) and obtain peace and salvation.
And what is this way? He has told us in today's
It is the way of the cross. His words are clear: "Whoever does not bear
his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
"To carry the cross after Jesus" means to be ready
any sacrifice for love of him. It means to put anything or anyone
him, not even the persons most dear to us, not even our own life.
2. Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in this
valley of Montorso," as described by Archbishop Comastri, whom I thank
sincerely for the warm words he addressed to me. With him, I greet the
cardinals, archbishops and bishops present; I greet the priests,
consecrated persons; and above all I greet you, members of Catholic
who, led by the assistant general, Monsignor Francesco Lambiasi, and by
the national president, Dr. Paola Bignardi, whom I thank for her warm
wished to gather here, under the gaze of Our Lady of Loreto, to renew
commitment of faithful adherence to Jesus Christ.
You know it: To adhere to Christ is an exacting
It is no accident that Jesus speaks of the "cross." However, he
immediately after: "after me." This is the important message: We do not
bear the cross alone. He walks before us, opening the way with the
of his example and the strength of his love.
3. The cross, accepted out of love, generates
The Apostle Paul experienced this, "an old man and now a prisoner for
Jesus," as he describes himself in the letter to Philemon, but
totally free. This is precisely the impression given in the page that
just proclaimed: Paul is in chains, but his heart is free, because it
full of the love of Christ. This is why, from the darkness of the
in which he suffers for his Lord, he can speak of freedom to a friend
is outside the prison. Philemon is a Christian from the city of
Paul addresses him to ask him to liberate Onesimus, who is still a
according to the law of the period, but a brother through baptism.
the other as his possession, Philemon will receive as a gift a brother.
The lesson from this episode is clear: There is no
love than that of the cross; there is no greater freedom than that of
there is no fuller fraternity than that born from the cross of Christ.
4. The three blessed, just proclaimed, made
humble disciples and heroic witnesses of the cross of Jesus.
Pedro Tarrés i Claret, first a doctor and
a priest, dedicated himself to the lay apostolate among the young of
Catholic Action, of whom, subsequently, he was an assistant. In the
of the medical profession he dedicated himself with special solicitude
to the sick who were poorest, convinced that "the sick person is a
of the suffering Christ."
Once a priest, he consecrated himself with generous
to the tasks of his ministry, remaining faithful to the commitment
on the eve of his ordination: "Only one purpose, Lord: to be a holy
no matter what it costs." He accepted with faith and heroic patience a
terrible sickness, which led to his death when he was only 45. Despite
his suffering, he often repeated: "How good the Lord is to me!" And, "I
am really happy."
5. Alberto Marvelli, strong and free youth, generous
of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, conceived the whole of
his brief life of just 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good
of his brothers. "Jesus has enveloped me with his grace," he wrote in
diary. "I see only Him, I think only of Him." Alberto made of the daily
Eucharist the center of his life. In prayer he also sought inspiration
also for his political commitment, convinced of the need to live fully
as children of God in history, to make the latter a story of salvation.
In the difficult period of World War II, which sowed
and multiplied atrocious violence and suffering, Blessed Alberto lived
an intense spiritual life, from which arose that love of Jesus which
him to forget himself constantly to carry the cross of the poor.
6. Blessed Pina Suriano, a native of Partinico, in
Diocese of Monreale, also loved Jesus with an ardent and faithful love
to the point of being able to write in all sincerity: "I do nothing
than to live for Jesus." She spoke to Jesus with the heart of a spouse:
"Jesus, make me ever more yours. Jesus, I want to live and die with you
and for you."
As a girl she was a member of the Feminine Youth of
Action, of which she was later a parish leader, finding in the
important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate
of fraternal friendship. She matured gradually a simple and firm will
give her young life to God as an offering of love, in particular for
sanctification and perseverance of priests.
7. Dear brothers and sisters, friends of Catholic
gathered in Loreto from Italy, Spain and so many parts of the world!
the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord says to you
today: Holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and the
Carry in your hearts what the Church carries in her
that many men and women of our time be conquered by the attraction of
that his Gospel may shine again as a light of hope for the poor, the
those hungry for justice; may Christian communities be ever more
open, attractive; may cities be welcoming and livable for all; may
be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity.
8. It corresponds to you, the laity, to witness to
faith through the virtues that are specific to you: fidelity and
in the family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good,
solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that
useful to evangelization and human promotion. It corresponds to you
to show, in close communion with pastors, that the Gospel is timely,
that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him
more profoundly in it.
Courage, Catholic Action! May the Lord guide your
The Immaculate Virgin of Loreto accompanies you with
solicitude; the Church looks to you with confidence; the Pope greets
supports you, and gives you his heartfelt blessing.