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

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

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Francis Solano

Saint Francis Solano

Saint Francis Solano (1549-1610)
Image: Third Order of St. Francis

(Franciscan Media) Born in Spain Montilla, Francis was the son of Andalusian leading nobles Matthew Sanchez-Solanus and Anna Ximenes. — Perhaps it was Francis’ popularity as a youth to stop two duelists?

Francis entered the ‘Friars Minor’ in 1570 and after his Ordination, he enthusiastically sacrificed of himself to others. –Fr. Francis Solano care for the sick during an epidemic of the plague in Granada in 1583 according to SQPN (which he himself contracted and recovered) drew so much admiration, that he became embarrassed and asked to be sent to the African Missions, instead he was sent to South America in 1589

While working as a missionary traveling throughout South America (mainly Argentina, Bolivia Paraguay) Fr. Francis Solano quickly learned the local languages and was well received by the native populations — Fr. Francis Solano visits to the sick would often include playing a musical number on his violin.

Around 1601 Fr. Francis Solano was called to Peru Lima, where he attempted to recall the Spanish Colonists to their Baptismal integrity and worked to defend the native Peruvians from oppression. Fr. Francis Solano subsequently died there less than a decade later in 1610 of natural causes.

Fr. Francis Solano was Beatified in 1675 by Pope  Clement X and Canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII

More here from American Catholic and here from Franciscan Institute

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount CarmelOur Lady of Mount Carmel –Image Courtesy: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in Northern Israel in the 12th century, they had a Chapel dedicated to ‘Our Lady’ by the 13th century, they became known as ‘Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’ and soon celebrated a Special Mass and Office in Honor of Mary. In 1727 it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of, ‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel.’

For centuries, the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary, their Great Saints and Theologians, have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

St. Teresa of Avila (Feast Day: 15 October) called Carmel, ‘The Order of the Virgin.’ — St. John of the Cross (Feast Day: 14 December) credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel and helping him escape from prison.

St. Therese of (Lisieux) the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her first Communion day, Therese dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life, she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition which may not be historical. — That Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock (Feast Day: 16 May) a Leader of the Carmelites and gave to him a Scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The Scapular was a modified version of Mary’s own garment and symbolized her ‘special protection’ and called the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. — The Scapular reminds us of the Gospel call to prayer and penance, a call that Mary models in a splendid way.

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church

Saint BonaventureSt. Bonaventure (1221-1274) Image Courtesy: Archbishop Jose Gomez

(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Tuscany, Bonaventure was healed of a childhood illness through prayers to God and intercessory prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (Feast Day: 04 October) — Later in life, Bonaventure joined the ‘Order of Friars Minor’ according to SQPN and studied the liberal arts together with theology and philosophy.

Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi together with the examples of the Friars Minor and French Theologian and Philosopher Alexander of Hales Bonaventure entered the ‘Franciscan Order’ and became a university professor of theology.

Bonaventure was chose as ‘Minister General’ of the Franciscan Order in 1257 he was God’s instrument in bringing it back to a deeper love of the way of St. Francis both through the life Francis, which he wrote about at the behest of his Brothers and through other works which defended the ‘Franciscan Order’ together with explaining its ideals and way of life.

Pope Clement IV chose Bonaventure to be Archbishop of England York according to SQPN however he declined the appointment claiming to be inadequate of the office.

Bonaventure died on this date in 1274 at France Lyon — In 1482 Bonaventure was Canonized in Rome by Pope Sixtus IV

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Patron Saint of Native Americans

Saint Kateri TekakwithaSt. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)
Image: Diocese of Saint Jean Longueuil

(CNA) Born at Osserneon (New York, Auriesville) Kateri mother was a Christian (she had been abducted by the Iroquois) her biological father was a Pagan Mohawk Chief. — Kateri was orphaned at an early age when a smallpox epidemic infected the tribe which left permanent scars on Kateri’s face and impaired her vision.

In 1667 when three Jesuit Priests visited the Mohawk Indian tribe, Kateri converted and was Baptized by Fr. Jacques de Lamberville according to SQPN — Kateri struggled to maintain her Christian faith amidst opposition of the Mohawk Indian tribe, they would subsequently ostracize her for refusing the arranged marriage.

The life of the Mohawk’s had become violent and debauchery was commonplace, realizing this was much too dangerous to Kateri life and to her personal vow of perpetual chastity, she escaped to the town of Caughnawaga in Quebec, where she would grow in Holiness and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

Kateri lived out the final years of her short life in Quebec, practicing austere penance and constant prayers. — It is said that Kateri reached the highest levels of mystical union with God and many miracles were attributed to her during her brief life of 24 years.

At the time of Kateri death, witnesses reported that her smallpox scars that she carried for much of her life vanished and her face shone with radiant beauty.

Kateri was Beatified in 1980 by Pope Saint John Paul II and she was Canonized in 2012 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

More here from the Natl Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine, Fonda, NY