Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Princess Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patron Saint of Charities

St Elizabeth of HungarySt. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)
Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(Franciscan Media) Born in Hungary Presburg, in her short life Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she became the Patron Saint of: Charitable Societies, Charity Workers and the Secular Franciscan Order.

Elizabeth was a Princess, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary and according to SQPN she was the Great-Aunt of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Feast Day: 04 July) Elizabeth chose a life of penance and self-discipline when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers–this choice endeared her in the hearts and minds of the people throughout Europe.

At the age of 14 Elizabeth wed Prince Louis of Thuringia (a German Prince) who she deeply loved, they had 3 children.

Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan Friar, Princess Elizabeth led a life of prayer, sacrifice, together with service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become ‘One with the Poor’ Princess Elizabeth wore simple clothing–Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest people who would come to her gate.

After just six years of marriage, Prince Louis died during the Crusades which left Elizabeth grief stricken. Princess Elizabeth’s in-laws would look upon her as squandering the royal purse and would mistreat her, finally evicting her out of the palace. — The return of her late husband’s allies from the Crusades would result in Princess Elizabeth’s reinstatement as her son was legal heir to the throne.

In 1228 Princess Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order spending the remaining few years of her life, caring for the poor in a hospital in which she founded in honor of St. Francis, near the mountain side from where her castle stood.

Princess Elizabeth’s health began to deteriorate while she was yet in her early 20s, she passed away just before her 24th birthday — As a result of her great popularity, Princess Elizabeth was Canonized just 4 years following her death in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of Queen Saint Margaret of Scotland, Patron Saint for Learning

St Margaret of Scotland

Saint Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093) Image: Catholic Online

(CNA) Born in Hungary into Royalty, Margaret “was a truly liberated Woman in the sense, that she was free to be herself,” writes Franciscan Media “for her, that meant freedom to love God and serve others.”

Margaret’s father Edward ‘Outremere’ Atheling, heir to the English throne, her mother Princess Agatha of Hungary–While Margaret’s family returned to England when she was 10 yrs old, the Norman Conquest forced them into exile. By this time Margaret’s father had passed away and her mother fled with the children aboard a ship which crashed onto the coast of Scotland where they remained.

In 1070 at the age of 25 Margaret wed the King of Scotland Malcom III Canmore (1031-1093) — As Queen, Margaret’s Christian faith had a strong influence on her husband’s reign. Queen Margaret helped to soften his temper and led him to practice virtue, she dignified the Royal Court, providing an example of purity and reverence that others emulated. Queen Margaret and King Malcom III prayed together and fed the hungry, offering a powerful witness of faith to the people they served.

In addition to being wife and mother, Queen Margaret worked tirelessly to bring justice and relief to the poor of Scotland, she would also go on to build Churches and encouraged the practice of Christian devotion. In Queen Margaret’s private life, she exhibited a great prayerfulness and faith, her influence was seen not only in King Malcom’s life but throughout all of Scotland.

Queen Margaret passed away on this date in 1093 just 4 days after King Malcom III and one of her sons was killed in battle — In 1251 Queen Margaret was Canonized by Pope Innocent IV

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Today Christians Honor Blessed Mary of the Passion, Founder Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

Blessed Mary of the PassionBlessed Mary of the Passion (1839-1904)
Image: Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

(Sisters of St. Francis) Born in France Nantes into a noble Christian family according to the Vatican Helene Marie Philippine de Chappotin de Neuville, from childhood her deep faith and natural gifts attracted Helene to a religious life, first with the ‘Poor Clares’ and then with the ‘Society of Marie Repartrice’ where Helene received the name Mary of the Passion.

In March 1865 while still a Novice, Mary of the Passion was sent to India to the ‘Apostolic Vicariate of Madurai’ where she would take her vows and stay, ministering for the next 11 years.

In 1877 Mary of the Passion established the ‘Missionaries of Mary’ and in 1882 she was received into the Third Order of St. Francis for her congregation which became the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Mary of the Passion zeal seemed to Know no bounds in responding to the calls of the poor and abandoned, she was particularly interested in the promotion of Women. With intelligence and discretion, she offered collaboration to others as she drew dynamism from contemplation of the great mysteries of the faith, in this way, she opened her institute to the horizons of universal mission, accomplished in St. Francis of Assisi’s evangelical spirit of simplicity, poverty and charity.

On this date in 1904 Mary of the Passion, passed away in Italy San Remo, leaving more than 2000 religious and 86 houses scattered abroad over 4 continents. – In 1999 Pope Saint John Paul II solemnly promulgated the Decree on the heroicity of the Virtues on Mary the Passions; She was Beatified in 2002

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Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Gertrude the Great, Patron Saint of Nuns

St GertrudeSt. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302)
Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(Franciscan Media) Born at Thuringia Eisleben (today part of East Central Germany) we don’t know anything of her parents according to SQPN or what may have become of them — Gertrude may have been an orphan as she was raised at the Benedictine Abbey of ‘Saint Mary of Helfta’ from the age of five.

Gertrude is said to have been an extremely intelligent girl and dedicated student, excelling in her studies of Literature and Philosophy, when she became old enough, Gertrude took her vows and became a Benedictine Nun in Germany at Saxony Helfta, becoming one of the great Mystics of the 13th century.

Together with Sister Gertrude’s friend and teacher St. Mechtild (Feast Day: 19 November) they practiced a spirituality called “Nuptial Mysticism’ that is, one comes to see themselves as the Bride of Christ. Gertrude’s spiritual life was a deeply personal union with Jesus and devotion to His Sacred Heart leading her into the very life of the Holy Trinity but this was no individualistic piety.

Sister Gertrude lived the rhythm of the Liturgy where she found Christ. In the Liturgy and the Holy Scripture, she found the themes and images to enrich and express her devotion–there was no clash between her personal prayer life and the Liturgy.

More here from American Catholic and here Monastery of St. Gertrude

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patron Saint of Immigrants

St Francis Xavier CabriniSt. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917)
St. Paul Street Evangelization

(CNA) Born in Italy Lombardy, Frances from a young age longed to be a missionary in China but God had other plans for her.

Orphaned as a child, Frances joined the ‘Sisters of the Sacred Heart’ taking the name ‘Xavier’ in honor of St. Francis Xavier the great missionary to Asia.

At the advice of Pope Leo XIII who told Frances, “Not to the East but to the West,” Frances refocused her attention on the United States, accepting an invitation from Archbishop Corrigan of New York

Frances would come to the U.S. and spent nearly 30 yrs, traveling back-and-forth across the Atlantic, overcoming her fear of the water according to American Catholic but never her fear of drowning. Frances would during her lifetime establish 67 institutions, these would include: Orphanages, Hospitals, Convents and Schools for the often marginalized Italian immigrants.

During Frances’ lifetime she would became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 1909 — Less than decade later, Frances would pass away just three days before Christmas 1917 in Chicago — On this date in 1938 Frances was Beatified by Pope Pius XI and in 1946 was Canonized by Pope Pius XII and according to SQPN St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, became the first United States Citizen ever to be Canonized. 

More here from EWTN

Today Christians Honor St. Josaphat Kuncevyc, Martyr for Christ

St JosaphatSt. Josaphat Kuncevyc (1580-1623)
Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(Franciscan Media) Born in Lithuania Volodymyr (modern day Ukraine) John Kuncevyc (taking the name ‘Josaphat’ in his religious life) was raised in a Catholic family according to EWTN and early in his life promoted Christian unity in the country divided between Orthodox and Catholicism.

In 1604 Josaphat would enter the Byzantine Monastery of Holy Trinity in Vilna and was elected as Archbishop of Polotsk 1o years later. While clinging firmly to unity with Rome, he firmly opposed the Latin’s who saw unity only in Latin terms and would rather suppress Byzantine traditions in the name of Catholic unity.

Archbishop Josaphat firmly opposed the Latinization of the people in his diocese, making enemies and severe critics among the Latin Clergy of Poland. — By Synod’s, Catechetical instruction, reform of the Clergy and personal example Archbishop Josaphat was successful in winning the greater part of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

The next year however a dissident hierarchy was established and a opposite number spread the allegations that Archbishop Josaphat had ‘gone Latin’ and that all of his people of his diocese would have to do the same.

Despite warning, Archbishop Josaphat went to Belarus Vitesbk, still a hotbed of trouble. Attempts were made to foment trouble for Archbishop Josaphat and drive him from his diocese. — A Priest was sent to shout insults at him from his own courtyard. When Archbishop Josaphat had the Priest removed and shut up in his house, the opposition rang the town bell and a mob assembled.

The vocal Priest was released but members of the riotous mob broke into Archbishop Josaphat’s home, he was hit with a ‘halberd’ (a two handed pole weapon commonly used in those days) then shot and his lifeless body thrown into the river on this date in 1623 — Later, Archbishop’s body was recovered and is now buried at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Archbishop Josaphat’s tragic death was a shock to both sides of the religious conflict according to SQPN and resulted in a ‘cooling off’ of the controversy.

Beatified in 1643 by Pope Urban VIII Archbishop Josaphat was Canonized in 1867 by Pope Blessed Pius IX

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, Patron Saint of Beggars & Soldiers

St Martin of ToursSt. Martin of Tours (316-397) Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(EWTN) Saint Martin called ‘The Glory of Gaul’ was born in Hungary Savaria to Pagan parents. Martin’s father was an Officer in the Roman Army who had risen up through the ranks. While Martin was still a child, his father was transferred to a new duty station in Italy Pavia, here Martin learned about Christianity, feeling drawn to it he became a convert to Christianity.

As the son of a Veteran, at the age of 15 Martin was obligated to begin service in the Army, though never shirking his military duty, he is said to have lived more like a Monk than a Soldier. Martin was stationed in Gaul (European region today known as the areas of France, Belgium and Southern Netherlands) when the incident occurred which tradition and art work have rendered him famous.

As Martin rode toward the town of Amiens one Winter’s day, he noticed near the gates a poor man, thinly clothed, shivering in the cold and begging for charity. Martin saw that none who had passed this Beggar had stopped to help him. While Martin had nothing with him but the clothes he wore to help the miserable Beggar, Martin drew the sword from his scabbard, cutting his woolen cloak into two pieces, giving one half to the Beggar and he wrapped the other half around himself.

The following night the story continues, Martin in his sleep, saw Jesus Christ surrounded by Angels and dressed in the half of the cloak that he had given away to the Beggar. A voice would bid Martin to look at it well and say whether he recognized it? Martin then heard Jesus say to His Angels: “Martin as yet only a Catechumen has covered me with his cloak.”

Martin’s friend and biographer Sulpicius Severus said, that as a consequence of this vision, Martin “flew to be Baptized.”

At the age of 23 Martin would refuse a ‘War Bonus’ according to Franciscan Media and told the Emperor Juilan his Commander-in-Chief: “I have served you as a Soldier, now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight but I am a Soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.”

Julian was angered and accused Martin of cowardice according to EWTN however Martin told Juilan that he was ready to go into battle the next day, unarmed and would advance alone against the enemy in the name of Christ — Julian had him taken off to prison but discharged Martin soon after a truce had been made.

Subsequent to Martin’s discharge from the Army, he would depart to be a disciple of St. Hilary Bishop of Poitiers (Feast Day: 13 January) Bishop Hilary gladly received Martin and Ordained him a Deacon.

Martin would work with great zeal against the Arians according to Franciscan Media and subsequently became a Monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island of Gallinara — When Bishop Hilary was restored to his See after being exiled, Martin went to France and established what may have been the first Monastery, living there for 10 years, forming his disciples and ministering throughout the countryside.

The people of France Tours would demand that Martin become their Bishop–he had been drawn to the City of Tours as a ruse, to minister to the needs of a sick person and was brought to the Church where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated Bishop. Some of the consecrating Bishops thought his rumpled appearance and unkempt hair indicated that he was not dignified enough for the office.

Along with Saint Ambrose (Feast Day: 07 December) Bishop Martin rejected Bishop Ithacius’ principle of putting heretics to death, as well as the intrusion of the Emperor into such matters. — Bishop Martin prevailed upon the Emperor to spare the life of the heretic Priscillian for his efforts, Bishop Martin was then accused of the same heresy and Priscillian was executed. Bishop Martin subsequently would plead for the cessation of the persecution of Priscillian’s followers.

Bishop Martin passed away on the 08 November, 397 in France Candes and three days later was buried at Tours–Some 2,000 Monks and Nuns attended his funeral. Bishop Martin’s successor would build a Chapel over his grave which was later replaced by a fine Basilica.

More here from American Catholic and here from SQPN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great

St Leo the GreatPope Saint Leo the Great (400-461)
Image: St. Paul Street Evangelization

(CNA) Born in Italy Tuscany into nobility, Pope Leo I was a strong student especially in Scripture and theology according to SQPN together with being an eloquent writer and minister. — Pope from 440 to 461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun (406-453) he was met by Pope Leo I in 452 when approaching Rome and was dissuaded from attacking the city.

Pope Saint Leo I known as “St. Leo the Great, as the nickname soon attributed to him by tradition tradition suggests,” said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2008 “he was truly one of the greatest Pontiff’s to have honored the Roman See and made a very important contribution to strengthening its authority and prestige.”

Little is known of Pope Leo I youthful days, he became a Deacon in Rome in approximately 430 during the Pontificate of Celestine I, which during this time, central authority was beginning to decline in the Western portion of the Roman Empire. At some point between 432 and 440 during the reign of Pope Celestine I successor Pope Sixtus III, the Roman Emperor Valentinian III commissioned Leo to travel to the region of Gaul (modern day France, Belgium and the Netherlands) and settle a dispute between military and civil authorities.

Pope St Sixtus III died in 440 and like his successor Pope St Celestine I Leo was away on a diplomatic mission at the time of Celestine I death and was chosen to be Bishop of Rome.

Pope Leo the Great, reigned for over two decades, he sough to preserve the unity of the Church in its profession of faith and to ensure the safety of citizens against frequent barbarian invasions. — Pope Leo would use his authority in both doctrinal and disciplinary matters against a number of heresies troubling the Western Church including Pelagianism (involving the denial of original sin) and Manichaeism (a Gnostic system that saw matter as evil) during this same period, many Eastern Christians began arguing about the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and His divinity.

As early as 445 Pope Leo had intervened in this dispute in the East, which had threatened to split the Churches of Alexandria and Constantinople–Its eventual resolution was in-fact rejected in some quarters, leading to a split between Eastern Orthodoxy and non-Chalcedonian Churches.

As the 5th century Christological controversy continued, Pope Leo urged the gathering of an Ecumenical Council to resolve the matter. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 Pope Leo’s teaching was received as authoritative to the Eastern Bishops which proclaimed: “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Pope Leo.”

Pope Leo’s teaching confirmed that Christ’s eternal divine personhood and nature did not absorb or negate the human nature that He assumed in time through the Incarnation. Instead “the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person. So without leaving His Father’s glory behind, the Son of God, comes down from His heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world, Pope Leo taught. “Whilst remaining pre-existent, He begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless and took on a Servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering, did not despise becoming a suffering man and deathless as He is, to be subjected to the laws of death.”

One year after the Council of Chalcedon in 452 Pope Leo would lead a delegation which successfully negotiated with King Attila preventing the invasion of Rome. — When the Vandals leader Genseric occupied Rome in 455 Pope Leo, implored him to abstain from murder and destruction by fire, being satisfied only with pillage.

Pope Saint Leo the Great passed away on this date in 461 and was proclaimed a ‘Doctor of the Church’ in 1754 by Pope Benedict XIV

More here from American Catholic

Today Christians Commemorate the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica at Rome

Interior of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome
Image Courtesy: Indianapolis Museum of Art

(Franciscan Media) Many people think of St. Peter’s Basilica as the Pope’s main Church but they are wrong. St. John Lateran is the Pope’s Church, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Italy Rome, where the Bishop of Rome presides.

The first Basilica on the site was built in the 4th century when Constantine donated he had received from the wealthy ‘Lateran Family’ however that structure and its successors were damaged by fire, earthquake and the ravages of war but the ‘Lateran’ remained the Church where Pope’s were consecrated until the Pope’s returned from France Avignon, in the 14th century to find the Church and adjoining palace in ruins.

Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646 — One of Rome’s most imposing Churches the ‘Lateran’ towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal  statutes of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, together with 12 Doctors of the Church. — Beneath its high altar rests the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds, Pope Saint Peter himself celebrated Mass.

More here from American Catholic

Related: Feast of the Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome

Today Christians Commemorate Feast of the ‘Four Crowned Martyrs’ for Jesus Christ

Four Crowned MartyrsThe ‘Four Crowned Martyrs’ at Museum of Orsanmichele Italy, Florence
Image Courtesy: National Galley of Art, Washington DC

(uCatholic) St Castorus, St Claudius, St Nicostratus and St Simpronian, were tortured and martyred for Christ during the reign and persecutions of Emperor Diocletian (from 284-305)

According to history, the ‘Four Crowned Martyrs’ were skilled stone carvers. Emperor Diocletian was so impressed with their work that he commissioned them to do several carvings which they did to his satisfaction but when they refused to carve a statute to the Roman god ‘Aesculapius’ because they were Christians they were imprisoned and subsequently executed by being drowned according to SQPN in 305

More here from EWTN

Related: Alternative Feast Day of Blessed John Duns Scotus –Franciscan Media