Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Bridget of Sweden

Saint Bridget of Sweden
Image: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born at Finsta Castle in Sweden Uppsala, Bridget was the daughter of Birger Persson, Governor and Provincial Judge of Uppsala according to SQPN and was one of the greatest landowners in the country. — Bridget’s mother was known widely for her religious conviction and Christian devotion.

From the age of 7 on, Bridget began receiving visions of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion which formed the basis for her youthful activities–always with the emphasis on charity rather than spiritual favors.

In 1315 Bridget’s mother passed away, she was then raised and educated by her Aunt that held strong Christian convictions like her mother had. A year subsequently in 1316 Bridget married Prince Ulfo of Nercia (an arranged marriage) becoming the mother of eight children.

Bridget continually strove to exert good influence of Sweden’s King Magnus II (1316-1374) who gave her land and buildings to found a Monastery for Women & Men. Following Prince Ulfo’s death in 1344 Bridget pursued a religious life for which she was continually harassed by others in the Royal Court — Bridget would later renounce her title as Princess.

In 1346 Bridget founded the ‘Order of the Most Holy Savior’  Bridgettiness of Vadstena which received confirmation Pope Urban V in 1370 and remains in existence to this day in Sweden.

Bridget died on this date in 1373 in Italy Rome and was Canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene — Model of Penitence

Saint Mary Magdalene --Archbishop Jose GomezSaint Mary Magdalene –Image Courtesy: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Except for the Holy Mother of Jesus, few Women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene–Yet she could well be the Patron Saint of the ‘Slandered’ since there has been a persistent legend in the Church, that she is the unnamed sinful Woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 and was forgiven.

Most scripture scholars today point out, there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two Women. Mary Magdalene that is, ‘of Magdala’ was the one from whom cast out seven demons —Luke 8:2 an indication–at the worst of extreme demonic possession or possibly serious illness.

  • Fr. Wilfred J. Harrington O.P. writing in the ‘New Catholic Commentary’ says that the “seven demons — does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life–a conclusion reached only by a means of mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36-50.”
  • Fr. Edward Mally, S.J. writing in the ‘Jerome Biblical Commentary’ agrees that she “is not…the same person as the sinner of Luke 7:36-50 despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them (Jesus and the Twelve) out of their means.” — Mary Magdalene was present at the Cross with His Mother and of all the ‘official’ witnesses that may have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection–she was the one to whom that privilege was given. Mary Magdalene is known as the: Apostle to the Apostles.

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Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Lawrence of Brindisi

St Lawrence of Brindisi

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)
Image: Totus Tuus

(Franciscan Media) Born at Italy Brindisi, at baptism he received the names of Julius Ceaser and Guglielmo de Rossi (his father’s name) according to EWTN his mother was Elisabetta Masella, both very devoted Christians.

Lawrence gave early evidence of a religious vocation. — The ‘Conventuals of Brindisi’ were entrusted with young Lawrence’s education, progress in his studies was very rapid and when barely 6 yrs of age, Lawrence had already given indication of his future success in public speaking, consequently he was always the one chosen to address to his compatriots a short sermon on the Infant Jesus during Christmas festivities.

When Lawrence was 12 his father passed away, he was sent to Venice to continue his studies with the ‘Clerics of St. Mark’ and under the supervision of his uncle. — At the age of 16 he was received into the Franciscan ‘Order of Capuchin’s’ he subsequently completed his studies in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Padua and at the age of 23 was Ordained a Priest.

With his command of languages, Fr. Lawrence was able to continue to study the scriptures in their original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, Fr. Lawrence spent much of his time ministering to the Italian Jewish population–So excellent was Fr. Lawrence’s knowledge of Hebrew, the Rabbi’s were sure that he must have been born Jewish before becoming a Christian.

In 1596 the ‘Capuchin’s’ completed a 15 volume edition of Fr. Lawrence’s writing’s, 11 of which contained his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Fr. Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of the people–a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar began to surface. Fr. Lawrence was elected ‘Major Superior’ of the Capuchin Franciscan providence Tuscany at the age of 31, possessing the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skills needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession Fr. Lawrence was promoted by his fellow Capuchin’s and in 1602 was elected ‘Minister General’ in this position, he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Franciscan Capuchin Order. — Later, Fr. Lawrence was appointed Papal Emissary, a position that took him to a number of different foreign countries.

In an effort to achieve peace in Fr. Lawrence’s native Italy took him on a journey to Portugal Lisbon to visit the King of Spain however serious illness took his life. 

Fr. Lawrence was Beatified in 1783 by Pope Pius VI and Canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII

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

St ApollinarisSaint Apollinaris –Image Courtesy: Jesus Caritas Est

(Franciscan Media) According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Italy Ravenna as its first Bishop — his ministry of the Good News was so successful and miracles conducted soon attracted attention of the local officials, as Apollinaris won many converts to the Christian faith according to Catholic News Agency while at the same time, his words and works brought upon the fury of the Pagan people who beat him merciless on several occasions.

During one such beating Apollinaris was cut with knives and scalding hot water poured over his wounds, he then subsequently was expelled and put on a ship to Greece.

In Greece, Apollinaris continued his ministry of the Good News of Jesus Christ but once again as before, he met resistance from the Greek Pagans and after another cruel beating, Apollinaris was evicted and sent back to Italy.

When Roman Emperor Vespasian (9 AD – 79 AD) issued a decree of banishment against the Christians, Apollinaris was kept hidden for some time but as he was leaving, passing through the gates of the city, he was attacked and savagely beaten again. — Apollinaris lived for 7 days after, foretelling that the persecutions would increase but that the Church would ultimately triumph.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Mary MacKillop, Australia’s First Saint

St Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary MacKillop (1842-1909)
Image: Catholic Online

(Franciscan Media) Born in Australia Melbourne, Mary was the eldest child of Alexander and Flora MacKillop poor Scottish immigrants–Alexander had studied for the Priesthood according to SQPN but was never Ordained. Mary was educated in private schools and bu her father. To help support her family which struggled financially, Mary worked as a ‘Nursery Governess’ while in her teens, together with tutoring and teaching–subsequently Mary established a ‘Seminary for Young Ladies’ in her home.

Mary felt called to a religious life but felt obligated to continue Teaching to help support her family, however a scandal caused by a jealous and corrupt education official, caused Mary to resign her teaching position and to leave the school without guilt with the support of her family. –Mary and her sister moved to South Australia Penola, there they met Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods in 1860 who became Mary’s spiritual director. Together they founded a new community of Women, ‘The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart’ (becoming known as the Josephite Sisters) its members were to staff schools, especially for poor children, orphanages and do other charitable work.

As the ‘Josephite Sisters’ grew so did Mary’s problems. Fr. Julian Tennison-Woods proved unreliable in many way and his responsibilities for the direction of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were removed. Meanwhile, Mary had the support of some local Bishop’s as she and her Sisters went out their work but the Bishop in South Australia, aging and relying on others for advice, briefly excommunicated Mary, charging her with disobedience and dispensed 50 of Mary’s Sisters from their vows. — In truth, the Bishop’s quarrel was about power and who had authority over whom? The Bishop ultimately rescinded his Order of excommunication.

Mary had insisted that the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should be governed by an elected mother answerable to Rome and not to the local Bishop — There was also a dispute whether or not the ‘Josephite Sisters’ should own property. In the end, Rome proved to be Mary’s best source of support. After a long wait, official approval of the ‘Josephite Sisters’ and how it was to be governed came from Pope Leo XIII

Despite Mary’s struggles with Church authorities, she along with her Sisters were able to offer social services that few, if any government agencies in Australia could. The ‘Josephite Sisters’ served both Protestants and Catholics alike. They worked among the indigenous (aborigines) Australians, they taught in schools and orphanages together with serving unmarried mothers.

Finances, or the lack thereof was a continual worry but the Sister’s who sought charity door-to-door, were bolstered by faith and conviction that their struggles were merely opportunities to draw closer to God.

By the time that Mary was approaching the twilight, the ‘Josephite Sisters’ were thriving. Mary passed away in 1909 in Sydney of a stroke. In 1995 Mary was Beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II and was Canonized in 2010 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI becoming the first Saint of Australia.

More here from American Catholic and here from Sisters of St. Joseph