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

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

St ErnestSt Ernest of Mecca  -Image Courtesy: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(Catholic Online) Born in Germany, Ernest was a Benedictine Monk then Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Germany Zwiefalten during the 12th century.

Ernest would go and minister in Arabia and Persia (present day Islamic Fascist Iran) during the the Second Crusade fought between Christians and the Moors (Muslims) 1145 to 1149 where he was captured and tortured to death in Mecca.

More here from SQPN

Related: Today’s Alternative Feast Day: Saint Didacus

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. John of Capistrano, Patron Saint of Lawyers & Judges

St John of CapistranoSt. John of Capistrano (1386-1456) Image: St Paul Street Evangelization

(Franciscan Media) Its been said that Saint’s are the worlds greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequence of evil, they based their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ, extends not only to sinful persons but also to calamitous events.

Imagine being born in the 14th century, one third of the population and nearly 40% of the Clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western schism split of the Church with 2 or 3 claimants to the Holy See at one time. — England and France were at war, Italy’s cities in conflict, its not a wonder that ‘doom and gloom’ dominated the spirits of people living during this period.

John Capistrano born in Italy Capistrano, was the son of a German Knight according to SQPN and he would bury his father while he was still quite young.  As a young man, John studied at the University of Prague and later worked as an Attorney in Naples, becoming a reforming Governor in Italy Perugia under King Landislas. When war broke out between Perugia and the ‘House of Malatesta’ in 1416 John attempted to broker a peace treaty but when the opponents ignored the truce, John was taken as a prisoner-of-war.

During John’s imprisonment, he made a decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war but his marriage was never consummated and with his bride’s consent, his marriage was subsequently annulled.

At the age of 30 John joined the Franciscans at Perugia and was Ordained a Priest, 4 years later.

Fr. John’s ministry attracted great throngs during a time of religious apathy and confusion–Subsequently he together with 12 Franciscan Brethren were received warmly, instrumental in reviving Christianity throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Russia together with establishing communities of Franciscans.

The Franciscan Order during this same period was in turmoil concerning the interpretation and observance of the Rule of Saint Francis — Through Fr. John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the ‘Spirituals’ were freed from interference in their stricter observance.

When the Muslims of Turkey captured Constantinople in 1453 Fr. John, was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to preach at a crusade in defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, Fr. John decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary, leading an Army of 70,000 Christian Soldiers according to SQPN to Belgrade under the great General John Hunyadi there they gained and overwhelming victory and the siege of Belgrade was lifted.

Worn out by his years of indefatigable work, Fr. John became easy prey to infection and illness subsequent to the battle to free Europe from the Muslims and he passed away on this date in 1456 at Hungary Villach.

Fr. John of Capistrano was Beatified in 1650 by Pope Innocent X and was Canonized in 1690 by Pope Alexander VIII

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God

Most Holy Name of MaryMost Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Image Courtesy: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Today’s Feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Feast Day: 03 January) both have the possibility of reconciling people too easily divided.

The ‘Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary’ began in Spain 1513 and by 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples.

In 1683 King John Sobieski III of Poland (1629-1696) brought an Army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies, loyal to Mohamed in Constantinople — After King Sobieski entrusted himself to Our ‘Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God’ he and his Soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims (an invaluable lesson that Americans should heed today –I digress)

Pope Innocent IV extended this Feast to the entire Church as a perpetual memorial of the great blessing won by Christians at Vienna.

More here from Our Lady of the Rosary

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Louis IX King of France, Patron Saint of Builders & Masons

St Louis IX of France

St. Louis IX of France (1226-1270)
Image Courtesy: Brogilbert

(Franciscan Media) Born in France at Poissy, Louis was the son of King Louis VII and Blanche of Castile according to SQPN and was crowned King at the age of 11 according to Catholic News Agency at his father’s death. King Louis’ mother reigned during her son’s youth.

King Louis IX was known to lead an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother’s words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” King Louis’ biographers wrote about the long hours that he spent in prayer, fasting and penance, without the knowledge of the people in the kingdom.

At the age of 19 King Louis was wed to Marguerite of Provence and the couple had a loving marriage though not without challenge as the couple had 11 children.

King Louis IX loved justice according to Catholic News Agency and took great measure to ensure the jurisprudence was carried out fairly, replacing the trial by battle with an examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in Court proceedings. All of 13th century Christian Europe looked upon him as an international judge.

While King Louis IV of France was always respectful of the Papacy, he defended the royal interests against the Pope’s and refused to acknowledge Pope Innocent IV sentence against Emperor Frederick II.

King Louis IX was devoted to the people of his kingdom, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and like his Patron Saint Francis of Assisi (Feast Day: 04 October) he cared for people with leprosy. King Louis united France, Lords, Townsfolk, Peasants, Priests and Knights–by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years, France was at peace.

Everyday King Louis would invite 13 ‘Special Guests’ among the poor to dine with him together with a large number of the poor that were served meals near the palace–During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were provided with a meal which King Louis served them in person.

Disturbed by Jerusalem’s fall to the warring Muslim in 1245, King Louis IX set sail with his Naval forces to win back the Holy Land according to Catholic Herald but by late 1249 with his military was bogged down by the Nile and the following year his capture by the Egyptian Army, he was ransomed back  to France for 1/3 of his kingdoms annual income.

In 1267 together with his three sons, King Louis led a second crusade against Muslims, this time in Syria but when plague broke out, it decimated the troops and King Louis, sickened by disease died on this date near Tunis in 1270

King Louis IX was was Canonized in 1297 by Pope Boniface VII 

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

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VIA: Washington Free Beacon

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Outside Durham County Courthouse on Monday  -Images Courtesy:

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Today Christians Honor Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs for Jesus Christ

Blessed Emanuel Ruiz and Companions

Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz & Companions
Image: Tinh Than

(Franciscan Media) Born in Spain Santander in 1804 not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz but details of his heroic death in defense of Christianity have been passed down through generations.

Born of humble parents, Emmanuel became a Franciscan Priest and served as a missionary in Syria Damascus–this was at the same time that anti-Christian riots shook the country and thousands were martyred.

Among these were Fr. Emmanuel Ruiz, Superior of the ‘Franciscan Convent’ together with seven other Friars and three Laymen–When a menacing crowd of Islamists came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their Christian faith and become Muslim (sounds familiar, I digress) as a result, the men were subjected to horrible torture before their martyrdom in 1860

Fr. Emmanuel Ruiz, his Brother Franciscans and three Maronite Laymen were Beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI

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