Today Christians Honor Blessed Antonio Lucci

Blessed Antonio Lucci

Blessed Antonio Lucci (1682-1752)
Image: Tinh Tham

(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Agnone a city famous for manufacturing bells and copper crafts, he was given the name Angelo at Baptism.

Angelo attended the local school run by the ‘Conventual Franciscans’ and joined them at the age of 16, completing his studies for the Priesthood in Assisi where he was Ordained in 1705 — Further studies led to him receiving his Doctorate in Theology and appointments as Teacher in Agnone, Ravello and Naples.

Fr. Lucci was elected Minister Provincial in 1718 and the following year he was appointed Professor at ‘St. Bonaventure College’ in Rome, a position that he held until Pope Benedict XIII selected him as Bishop of Bovino in 1729

Pope Benedict XIII said of Fr. Lucci: “I have chosen as Bishop of Bovino and eminent theologian and a Great Saint.”

Bishop Lucci’s 23 years in his position were marked by visits to local Parishes and a renewal of Gospel Living among the people of his Diocese — Bishop Lucci dedicated his episcopal income to works of education and charity. At the urging of the ‘Conventual Minister General’  Bishop Lucci wrote a major book about the Saints and Blesseds in the first 200 years of the Conventual Franciscans.

In 1989 Pope Saint John Paul II Beatified Bishop Lucci, three years after his close friend St. Francis Fasani was Canonized.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint’s Joachim & Anne

Sts Joachim and AnnaSaint Joachim & Saint Anne –Image: uCatholic

(Franciscan Media) In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises, not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except of their existence–Even the names: Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection.

The heroism and holiness of these individuals however is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures–Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her ancestors.

The strong character of Mary making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the Torah, her steadfastness in moments of crisis and her devotion to her family–all indicate, a close knit and loving family that looked forward to the next generation, even while retaining the best of the past.

Saint’s Joachim and Anne, whether these are their real names or not, represent that entire quiet series of generations, who faithfully performed their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the Coming of the Messiah but remain obscure.

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. James the Greater, Patron Saint of Horsemen & Laborers

St. James the Greater

Saint James the Greater
Image: Knights of Columbus

(CNA) James the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of St. John the Apostle (Feast Day: 27 December) and may have been Jesus’ cousin according to SQPN he is called ‘The Greater’ simply because he became an Apostle before St. James the Lesser (Feast Day: 03 May) was the first Apostle to be martyred with a sword by order of King Herod Agrippa in 44 at Jerusalem.

Saint James was one of three Apostles who were particularly close to Jesus, he was there with the Lord and his brother John and Peter at the Transfiguration, in the Garden of Gethsemane and most of the recorded miracles of Jesus Christ.

It is worthy of notice that James is never mentioned in the ‘Gospel of Saint John’ who observes a humble reserve not only with regard to himself but also about the members of his family.

Full biography here on St. James the Greater from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Sharbel Makhluf

Saint Sharbel

Saint Sharbel Makhluf (1828-1898)
Image: Archbishop Terry

(Franciscan Media) Born in Lebanon and the son of a mule driver according to SQPN Joesph Zaroun Makhlouf, was raised by an uncle because his father passed away when he was but 3 yrs old –little more is known of his youthful days except that his favorite book was Thomas e Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ a Christian devotional classic.

When Joseph was 23 he sneaked away to join the Baladite Monastery of Saint Maron at Annaya, where he took the name Sharbel (Charbel) in memory of the 2nd century martyr for Jesus Christ, in 1853 he professed his final vows and was Ordained six years later.

Following the example of Saint Maron (Died 410 AD) Sharbel lived as a Hermit from 1875 until his death, his reputation for holiness, prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. — Sharbel followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, when his Superiors asked him to administer the sacraments to a nearby village, Sharbel did so gladly.

Sharbel Makhluf passed away late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve 1898 in Lebanon Annaya — Christians and non-Christians alike, soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage for prayers and healing. Sharbel was Beatified in 1965 and Canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI

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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.

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

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

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

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

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis, Patron Saint of Nurses

St CamillusSaint Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614) — Image: Catholic Online

(CNA) Born in Italy Naples, Camillus mother died during his infancy and his father, a former military officer who neglected him according to Franciscan Media died six years later.

Camillus followed in his father’s footsteps, serving in the armies in Venice and Naples and developing a gambling addiction which led to him ‘losing his shirt’ and impoverished in his mid-20s resulting in him having to do menial labor for the Franciscans–In February 1575 Camillus resolved to change his life and soon thereafter sought to join the religious order.

A wound in one leg (that was seen as incurable) however kept Camillus from becoming a Franciscan, after this rejection, he traveled to Rome and worked for 4 yrs in Hospice care. Committed to a life of prayer and penance, Camillus wore a hair shirt and received spiritual direction from St.Philip Neri (Feast Day: 26 May)

Grieved by the quality of service being given to the sick, Camillus decided to form an association of Catholics ‘Congregation of the Servants of the Sick’ — Today Order of St.Camillus who would provide them with both physical and spiritual care–Camillus subsequently would study for the Priesthood and was Ordained in 1584

Members of Fr. Camillus de Lellis order, worked in hospitals, prisons and in the homes of those afflicted by disease–in 1586 Fr. Camillus de Lellis Order received Papal approval and received official recognition and confirmed as a religious order in 1591 In addition to their traditional vows of poverty, charity and obedience, the new religious order took a vow of unfailing service to the sick.

Fr.Camillus de Lillis himself suffered physical ailments throughout his life–his leg wound never healed properly over the course of some five decades, in addition to which he suffered sores and severe kidney trouble but he is said to have spent time with the sick even while unable to walk–crawling from bed-to-bed.

The Founder of the Order of St. Camillus lived to assist at a general chapter of his Order in Rome in 1613 and to make a last visitation of many of their hospitals. Learning that he himself was incurably ill, Fr. Camillus de Lillis said:

“I rejoice in what has been told to me. We should go into the House of the Lord.”

Fr. Camillus de Lillis receiving the Eucharist for the final time declared:

“O Lord, I confess I am the most wretched of sinners, most undeserving of your favor but save me by your infinite goodness. My hope is placed in your divine mercy through your precious blood.”

After giving his final instructions to his fellow Ministers of the Sick, Fr. Camillus de Lillis died in July 1614 in Italy Genoa — In 1742 he was Beatified and Canonized just 4 years later by Pope Benedict XIV

Saint Camillus de Lillis was subsequently named along with Saint John of God (Feast Day: 08 March) as one of the two main co-patrons of Nurses and Nursing Associations by Pope Pius XI in 1930

More here from Order of St. Camillus and here from Butler Lives of Saints