Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Marianne Cope, Patron Saint of Lepers and Outcasts

St Marianne CopeSaint Marianne Cope -Image Courtesy:
Our Lord and Savior

(Franciscan Media) Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th century Hawaii that disease sparked great generosity in the Woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai, her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii

Born Barbara Koob this date in 1838 in West Germany, Mother Marianne was one of 10 children, the year following her birth, her family immigrated to the United States and found a home in New York, Utica where they became members of St. Joseph’s Parish according to the Vatican and where the children attended the Parish School.

Although Barbara felt called to religious life at an early age, her vocation was delayed for 9 yrs because of family obligations. As the oldest child at home, she went to work in a factory after completing the 8th grade in order to support her family when her father became ill.

Finally in the Summer of 1862 at the age of 24 Barbara entered the ‘Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse’ and on the 19 November, she received her religious habit and the name ‘Sr Marianne’ the following year she made her religious profession and began serving as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in the State of New York, subsequently joining the Order in Syracuse with the intention of teaching but God had other plans.

As a member of the governing boards of her religious community in the 1860s Mother Marianne participated in the establishment of two of the first hospitals in the central New York area.

In 1870 she began a new ministry as a Nurse-Administrator at St. Joseph’s in Syracuse where she served as the head administrator for 6 yrs during the time, she put her gifts of intelligence and people skills to good use as a facilitator, demonstrating the energy of a Woman motivate by God alone.

Although Mother Marianne was often criticized for accepting for treatment ‘outcast’ patients such as alcoholics, she became well known and loved in Central New York for her kindness, wisdom and down-to-earth practicality.

In 1883 Mother Marianne (now the Provincial Mother in Syracuse) received a letter from a Catholic Priest asking for her assistance in managing hospitals and schools in the Hawaiian Islands and mainly to work with leprosy patients. The letter touched Mother Marianne’s heart and she enthusiastically responded:

“I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the Salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders…I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned lepers.”

Group of SistersMother Marianne’s Six Sisters of St. Francis
Image: Sisters of Saint Francis

Mother Marianne and 6 other Sisters of St. Francis, arrived in Honolulu in November, 1883, their main task was to manage the Kakaako Branch Hospital in Oahu, which served as the receiving station for patients with Hansen’s disease (Leprosy) gathered from all over the Hawaiian Islands–The Sisters quickly set to work cleaning the hospital and tending to its  200 patients. By 1885, they had made major improvements to the living conditions and treatment of the patients.

In November of that year, Mother Marianne and the Sisters also founded the Kapiolani Home, made inside the hospital established to care for the healthy daughters of Leprosy patients at Kakaako and Kalawao, the unusual decision to open a home for healthy children on the Leprosy hospital premises was made because only the Sisters would care for those so closely related to people with the dreaded disease.

Rest here from the Vatican

Related: The Woman Who Received a Piano from Robert Louis Stevenson

Canonization is Pushed for Molokai’s Other Saint –Honolulu Star Bulletin

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon & Martyr for Jesus Christ

St VincentSaint Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon & Martyr –Image: Catholic Fire

(Franciscan Media) When Jesus deliberately began his ‘journey to death on the Cross’ Luke said that He ‘set his face to go to Jerusalem.’ (Luke 9:51) It is this quality of rock like courage that distinguishes the martyrs.

Most of what we know about St. Vincent, comes from the poet Prudentius, his ‘Acts’ have been rather freely colored by the imagination of their compiler but St. Augustine in one of his sermons on St. Vincent, speaks of having the ‘Acts’ of his martyrdom before him–We are at least sure of his name, his being a Deacon, the place of his death and burial.

According to the story we have (and as some of the early martyrs) the unusual devotion that he inspired, must have had a basis in a very heroic life.

Vincent was ordained a Deacon by his friend St. Valerius of Zaragossa in Spain. The Roman emperors had published their decrees against the Clergy in 303 and the following year against the laity. Vincent and his Bishop Valerius, were imprisoned in Italy Valencia, hunger and torture failed to break them. Like the three young men Shadrach, Meshach and Abed’nego that Nebuchadnezzar ordered thrown into the fiery furnace for not serving his false god or worshiping the golden image. (Daniel 3:12-30) Vincent and his Bishop seemed to thrive on suffering.

Valerius was sent into exile and Dacian the Roman governor, now turned the full force of his fury on Vincent–tortures of varying kind were attempted but their main effect was the progressive disintegration of Dacian himself–he had the tortures then beaten because they failed.

Finally he suggested a compromise. Would Vincent at least give up the sacred books to be burned according to the Emperor’s decree? Vincent refused–Torture on the gridiron continued, Vincent remaining courageous, the Torturer began losing control of himself.

Subsequently Vincent was thrown into a filthy prison cell, there he converted the Jailer. Dacian wept with rage but strangely enough, ordered Vincent to be given some rest.

Friends among the faithful came to visit Vincent but he was to have no earthly rest. When they finally settled him on a comfortable bed, Vincent passed away to his eternal rest.

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Agnes Virgin Martyr, Patron of the Children of Mary

Saint AgnesSaint Agnes Biography Holy Card — Image: Catholic Shopping.com

 (EWTN) Few legends of Saints have been more cherished than that of the virgin martyr for Jesus Christ, Agnes.

Agnes (291-304) was held in high regard by the primitive Christian Church and her name has remained a symbol of maidenly purity through the ages.

According to tradition, Agnes was a Christian girl of Rome, perhaps 12 or 13 yrs old when Diocletian began his persecutions–Like St. Lucy, she was sentenced by a Judge to a house of prostitution but a young man that looked upon her lustfully was stricken blind thereafter she was taken out to be burned but whether she met her death by fire or sword is unknown.

While one has no contemporary sources for the facts of Agnes’ life and martyrdom, there is little reason to doubt the main outline of the story.

References to this young Saint appear in many Church writings of later date Saint Ambrose, Saint Damasus and Prudentius, all praise Agnes’ and her heroism–her name appears in the Canon of the Mass.

Agnes’ crypt was in the ‘Via Nomentana’ and the stone covering her remains bore the words: ‘Agna Sanctissima’ (Most Holy Lamb) a Church in her honor is presumed to have been built in Rome at the time of Constantine the Great (272-337) In the apse of the basilica, which was rebuilt in the 7th century by Pope Honorius I there is still to be seen the large and beautiful mosaic depicting the Saint.

Saint Agnes is the patroness of: Children of Mary, Betrothed Couples, Girl Scouts, Young Ladies and Rape Survivors, her symbol is naturally, a lamb.

On the anniversary of Agnes’ martyrdom, the Pope, after high Pontifical Mass in her Church at Rome, blesses two lambs and their wool is later woven into the Pallia worn by Archbishops.

More here from Franciscan Media

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.

More here from EWTN

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.

More here from Catholic News Agency

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.

More here from Franciscan Media

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.’