Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Sebastian, Martyr for Jesus Christ

St SebastianSaint Sebastian (257-288)

(Franciscan Media) Almost nothing is historically certain about Saint Sebastian except that he was a Roman Martyr for Jesus Christ, was venerated in Milan even in the time of Saint Ambrose and was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name.

Devotion to Sebastian spread rapidly and he’s mentioned in several Martyologies as early as 350 AD

The legend of St. Sebastian is important in art and there is a vast iconography. Scholars now agree that a pious has Sebastian entering the Roman army because only there could he assist the Martyrs without arousing suspicion–finally he was however found out and brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death, his body was pierced with arrows and he was left for dead.

Sebastian was however found still alive by those who came to bury him, he recovered but refused to flee. One day he took up a position near where the Emperor was to pass and confronted him, denouncing him for the cruelty to Christians–this time the sentence of death was carried out and Sebastian was beaten with clubs to death.

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Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Pope Saint Fabian, Martyr for Jesus Christ

St FabianPope Saint Fabin (200-250)
Image Courtesy:
Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Fabian was a Roman layman who came into the city from his farm one day as Clergy and people were preparing to elect a new Pope–Eusebius, a Church historian says a dove flew in and settled on the head of Fabian. The sign united the votes of Clergy and the laity and Fabian was chosen unanimously.

Fabian led the Church for 14 yrs and died a martyrs death during the persecution of Decius in 250 AD

St Cyprian Bishop of Carthage wrote to his successor that Fabian was an “incomparable” man whose glory in death matched the holiness and purity of his life.

In the Catacombs of St. Callistus the stone that covered Fabian’s grave may still be seen broken into 4 pieces bearing the Greek words, “Fabian, Bishop Martyr.”

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Charles of Sezze

St Charles of Sezze

St. Charles of Seeze (1613-1670)
Image Courtesy: Roman Catholic Saints

(Franciscan Media) John ‘Charles’ Marchioni was the son of very religious rural family according to Catholic News Agency and was born in Italy Sezze, Southeast of Rome on the 19 October, 1613 At the request of his Grandmother, she raised him and Charles acquired a Great love and prayers from his Grandmother.

Charles believed that God was calling him to be a missionary in India but he never got there–He had something better for this 17th century successor to Brother Juniper–Charles was inspired by the lives of Salvator Horta and Paschal Baylon to become a Franciscan, he did that in 1635 and says in his autobiography:

“Our Lord put in my heart a determination to become a Lay Brother with a great desire to be poor and to beg alms for his love.”

Charles served as a Cook, Porter, Sacristan, Gardener and Beggar at various Friars in Italy and in some ways, he was ‘an accident waiting to happen.’ Charles once started a huge fire in the kitchen when the oil in which he was frying onions burst into flames.

One story shows how Charles thoroughly adopted the Spirit of St. Francis–the Superior instructed Charles, then a Porter, to provide food only to traveling Friars who came to the door–Charles obeyed this direction. Simultaneously the alms to the Friars decreased. Charles convinced the Superior these two facts were related. When the Friars resumed giving to all who asked at the door, alms to the Friars increased also.

At the direction of his Confessor, Charles wrote his autobiography ‘The Grandeurs of the Mercies of God’ together with several other books and made good use of his several directors throughout the years–they helped him to discern which of his ideas or ambitions were from God. The dying Pope Clement IX called Charles to his bedside for a blessing.

Charles had a firm sense of God’s providence. Fr. Severino Gori said, “By word and example he recalled in all the need of pursuing only that which is eternal.” (Leonard Perotti, St. Charles of Sezze: An autobiography, Pg 215) 

Charles died at San Francesco a Ripa in Rome and was buried there Pope Leo XIII pronounced him Blessed in 1882–Pope John XXIII canonized him in 1959

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony of Egypt

St Anthony of EgyptSt. Anthony of Egypt –Image: Bishop’s Conference of Indonesia

(Franciscan Media) The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint Francis of Assisi (Feast Day: 04 October) at the age of 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message:

“…Go sell what you have and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven and come follow me.” —Mark 10:21

 Anthony did just that with his large inheritance. Anthony is different from Francis, in that most of Anthony’s life was spent in solitude–Seeing the world completely covered in snares and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal sacrifice and prayer but no Saint is antisocial and Andrew drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

By the time Anthony was 54 he replied to many requests and founded sort of a Monastery of scattered cells–Again like Francis, Anthony had great fear of ‘stately buildings and well laden tables.’

At 60, Anthony hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger, while providing moral and material support to those imprisoned–By the time Anthony turned 88 he was the Arian heresy–the denial of the Divinity of Jesus Christ that took the Church centuries to recover.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Berard and Companions, Martyrs for Jesus Christ

Saint Berard and CompanionsSt. Berard & Companions — Martyrs of the Franciscan Order
Images: 365 Rosaries

(Franciscan Media) Preaching the Gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving ones home, adjusting to new cultures and languages is difficult enough but martyrdom caps all the other sacrifices.

In 1219 with the blessings of St. Francis, Berard departed Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to minister in Morocco–Enroute in Spain, Vitalis became ill and commanded the other Friars to continue their mission without him.

The Friars tried ministering in Seville, then in Muslim lands but made no converts, they continued on to Morocco where they ministered in the marketplace, they were subsequently apprehended and ordered to leave the country–they refused. When they began ministering again an exasperated Sultan ordered them executed.

After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes of power, riches and position to renounce their Christian faith, the Friars replied:

“We despise all those things for the sake of Christ.”

St Berard and...

The five Friars were beheaded by the Sultan himself on the 16 January, 1220 becoming the first Franciscan martyrs.

When St. Francis learned of their deaths he exclaimed, “Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor.” Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian Canon–Anthony of Padua to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the following year.

The five Friars of the Franciscan Order martyred for Jesus Christ were Canonized in 1481 by Pope Sixtus IV after many miracles had occurred through their intercession.

At first glance, the story of the five Franciscan Friars martyrs reads as if these brave and holy men failed in their mission–they failed to convert many and only succeeded in achieving death for their cause, however the fire of evangelism and missionary work that was lit by their martyrdom has forever changed the Franciscan Order as well as the world.

We look at the brave sacrifices of these five Friars, offering thanks. We are inspired to move courageously and single minded purpose to pursue the truth of our faith living as witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ.

More here from 365 Rosaries

Related: Defenders of Christendom –Roman Catholic Saints.com

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Paul The Hermit

Saint Paul the HermitSaint Paul the Hermit (233-345) Image Courtesy: Catholic Tradition

(uCatholic) Paul the Hermit reportedly was born in Egypt where he was orphaned at 15 yrs of age, a learned and devout young man.

During the persecution of Decius in Egypt in the year 250, Paul was forced to hide in a home of a friend. Fearing a brother-in-law would betray him, he fled to a cave in the desert, his plan, was to return when the persecution ended but the sweetness of a solitude life and heavenly contemplation convinced him to stay–Paul went on to live in the cave for the next 90 years.

A nearby spring gave Paul drinking water, a palm tree furnished him clothing and nourishment, after 21 years of solitude, a raven began bringing him half of a loaf of bread each day.

Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed the world would be a better place.

Saint Anthony of Egypt (Feast Day-17 January) attests to Paul’s holy life and death, tempted by thought that no one had served God in the wilderness longer than he, Anthony was led by God to find Paul and acknowledge him as a man, more perfect than himself–the raven that day brought a whole loaf of bread instead the usual half. As Paul predicted, Anthony would return to bury his friend.

Thought to have been about 112 when he died, Paul is known as the ‘First Hermit’ his feast day is celebrated in the East, he’s also commemorated in the Coptic and Armenian rites of the Mass.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Theologian

St Gregory NazianzenSaint Gregory Nazianzen –Image Courtesy: Scribbles of a Catholic Girl

(Franciscan Media) After Gregory’s baptism in 360 he lived the quiet life in solitude according to Catholic Culture later he gladly accepted his friend St. Basil invitation to join him in a newly found monastery.

The tranquility Gregory found at the monastery was broken when Gregory’s father, a Bishop needed his help in his diocese and estate–It seems that Gregory reluctantly agreed to become a Priest, was ordained and with some hesitation accepted the responsibility, skillfully avoiding a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism.

At the age of 41 Gregory was chosen ‘Suffragan Bishop of Caesarea’ and at once, came into conflict with Valens, the Emperor who supported the Arians, which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ–An unfortunate by-product of the conflict was the cooling of the friendship of two Saints.

Basil his Archbishop, sent Gregory to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly creating divisions in the diocese–Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his See.

When protection of Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great See of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades.

Retiring and sensitive, Gregory dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. Gregory first stayed at a friend’s home which became the only Orthodox Church in the city–In such surroundings, he began delivering the great sermons on the Trinity for which he was famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence–an interloper, even attempted to take-over his Bishopric.

Gregory’s last days were spent in solitude and austerity, writing religious poetry–some of it autobiographical of great depth and beauty, acclaimed simply as ‘The Theologian’ his writings merited for him the title of ‘Doctor of the Church.’

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers — Heroic Defender of the Faith

St-Hilary-and-St-MartinSaint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers Confers Minor Orders on Saint Martin
Image Courtesy:
Scribbles of a Catholic Girl

(Franciscan Media) The staunch defender of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to some of the greatest theology on the Trinity and was like his master being labeled a ‘Distributor of the Peace’ in a very troubled period of the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy–he was Bishop of Poitiers in France.

Hilary raised a pagan, converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the scriptures, his wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the Bishop of Poitiers in France and was soon taken up with battling  what became to scourge of the 4th century–Arianism, which denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

This heresy spread rapidly, St. Jerome said: ‘The world groaned and marveled to find that it was Arian.’ When Emperor Constantius, ordered all of the Bishops of the West to sign a ‘Condemnation of Athanasius’ the greatest defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia (in modern day Turkey) eventually he was called the ‘Athanasius of the West.’

While writing in exile, Hilary was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the Emperor called to counteract the ‘Council of Nicea’ but Hilary predictably defended the Church and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the Emperor to send this troublemaker back home–Hilary was welcomed by his people.

  • A favorite motto of of Saint Hilary was: “Ministros veritatis decet vera proferre.” — “Servants of the truth ought to speak the truth.”

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, Founder Sisters of Congregation of Notre Dame

St MarguetiteSt. Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) Image Courtesy: Catholic Online

(Vatican) Marguerite, born the 6th of 12 children in France Troyes, she lost her Mother when she was just 19 yrs old.

The following year in a course of a procession held on the 07 October in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, Marguerite had an unforgettable experience–her eyes resting on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, at that moment, she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God and with that unchanging fidelity to what she believed God’s will to be for her, an allegiance that characterized her life thenceforth, she set about to discern her vocation.

Marguerite registerd at once as a Member of the ‘Congregation of Troyes’ an association of young ladies devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While still engaged in this, she learned about the foundation of ‘Ville Marie’ (present day Montreal) in 1642 and at that time, believed it was a first call to missionary life.

This calling was rendered concrete in 1652 when she was introduced to Monsieur de Maisonneve, founder and Governor of the French settlement who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French-Indian children, according to Franciscan Media when Marguerite arrived, the colony numbered 200 with a hospital and Jesuit Mission Chapel.

Soon after starting the school, Marguerite realized her need for co-workers, returning to France Troyes, she recruited a friend–Catherine Crolo and two other young Women. In 1667 they added classes at their school. A second trip back to France three years later, resulted in 6 more young Women and a Letter form King Louis XIV, authorizing the school–the Congregation of Notre Dame was established in 1676

Marguerite established a school for Indian girls in Montreal–At the age of 69, she walked from Montreal to Quebec, in response to the Bishop’s request to establish a community of her Sister’s in that city.

At the time she passed away (12 January, 1700) Marguerite was referred to as the ‘Mother of the Colony’ acknowledged for her holiness.

The educative and apostolic effort of Marguerite Bourgeoys, continues through the commitment of the members of the community that she founded–More than 2,600 Sisters of the ‘Congregation de Notre Dame’ work in fields of action, according to the needs of time and place — from school, to college or university, in the promotion of the family, parish and diocesan endeavors, they’re on mission in Canada, the United States, Japan, Latin America, Cameroon and most recently, they have established a house in France.

On the 12 November, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite, she was Canonized by Pope John Paul II on the 31 October, 1982 giving the Canadian Church, its first Woman Saint.

Related: Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, Montreal Canada

Today Christians Honor Blessed William Carter, Martyred for Jesus Christ

Bl William Carter

Bl. William Carter –Image: A Catholic Prayer@Twitter

(Franciscan Media) Born in London, William Carter entered the printing business at an early age. For many years he worked as an apprentice to well known Catholic printers–one of who served a prison sentence for persisting in Catholicism. William also served prison time for printing ‘lewd (Ie Catholic) pamphlets’ as well as possessing books upholding Catholicism.

Even more, William offended public officials by publishing works that aimed to keep Catholics firm in their faiths. Officials that searched William’s house found various vestments and suspect books and were even able to extract information from William’s distraught wife–Over the next 18 months, William remained in prison, tortured and subsequently learning of his wife’s death.

William was eventually charged with printing and publishing the ‘Treatise of Schisme’ which allegedly incited violence by Catholic and which was said to have been written by a traitor who addressed to traitors.

While William calmly placed his trust in God, the jury met for only 15 minutes before finding him guilty–William made his final confession to a Priest who was being prosecuted along side of him, hanged, drawn and quartered the following day.

In 1987 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II

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