Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St Colette of Corbie, Founder of the Colettine Poor Clares

St Colette

Saint Colette Holy Card
Image Courtesy: Catholic Holy Cards

(Franciscan Media) Colette did not seek the limelight but in doing God’s will, she certainly attracted a lot of attention.

Born in 1381 in France, Corbie according to EWTN Colette’s father was Robert Boelett, a carpenter of the famous ‘Benedictine Abbey of Corbie’ her mother Marguerite Moyon.

Colette joined successively the ‘Bequines’ and the Benedictines, subsequently living for 4 years in solitary. Known for her sincere reverence, she was also quite intelligent and energetic.

Having resolved to reform the ‘Poor Clares’ reintroducing  the ‘Primitive Rule of St. Clare’ in the 17 Monasteries she established,’Colettine Poor Clares’ reform movement grew, spreading to other countries and is still thriving today.

Saint Colette, was Beatified on the 23 January, 1740 and Canonized on the 24 May, 1807

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Japan Nagasaki Martyrs for Christ

St Paul Miki and CompanionsSaint Paul Miki & Companions –Image Courtesy: Catholic Online

(CNA) In the year 1597 a group of 26 Martyrs in Japan Nagasaka were Martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ–During the 16th Century, Catholic Missionaries had reached Japan by the efforts of a Jesuit Saint Francis Xaiver (1506-1552) missionary outreach continued after his death, subsequently around 200,000 Japanese became Christians.

Brother Paul Miki a Jesuit, native of Japan and son of a military leader, had become best known among the 26 martyrs writes uCatholic for his eloquent teaching.

Religious tensions led to a period of persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi  Heidyoshi in 1587 during which many Churches were destroyed and missionaries forced to work in secret.

In 1593, Franciscan missionaries arrived in Japan from the Philippines by order of  Spain’s King Philip II these new arrivals, gave themselves zealously to the work of charity and evangelism but their presence disturbed a delicate situation between the Church and Japanese authorities.

Suspicion against Catholic missionaries grew when a Spanish ship was seized off the Japanese coast found to be carrying munitions–Toyotomi responded by executing Brother Paul Miki and his 25 companions on a hill, now known as the ‘Holy Mountain’ overlooking Nagasaki–the group were comprised of three native Jesuits, six foreign Franciscans, several lay Catholics–including some children, suffering a martyrs death by being slashed and crucified.

While hanging on a cross awaiting death, Brother Paul Miki, ministered to the people gathered there for the executions:

“The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines but I did not come from any other country, I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ, I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy, I obey Christ.

After Christ’s example, I forgive my persecutors, I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as faithful rain.”

When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860’s they at first found no Christians but after establishing themselves, they discovered that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and they had secretly preserved their faith.

Beatified in 1627 the 26 Martyrs of Japan were Canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX

More here from Franciscan Media

Related: Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions -USCCB

Twenty Six Martyrs Museum, Japan Nagasaki –26

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Agatha, Faithful Servant and Martyr for Jesus Christ

Saint Agatha

Saint Agatha Holy Card

(Franciscan Media) As in the case of Saint Agnes, Virgin Martyr, Patron of the Children of Mary she too was martyred for Jesus Christ during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251

Agatha was from a rich and illustrious family, according to EWTN and was consecrated to God in her tender years and triumphed over numerous assaults of her chastity.

Quintianus, a man of Consular dignity, bent on gratifying both his lust and his greed for wealth, imagined he should easily encompass his wicked designs on Agatha by means of the Emperors Order against the Christians. Quintianus caused Agatha to be arrested and brought before him at Catana, seeing herself in the hands of the persecutors, Agatha made this prayer:

“Jesus Christ, Lord of all things, You see my heart, You know my desire-possess alone all that I am, I am Your sheep, make me worthy to overcome the devil.”

Agatha wept, praying for courage and strength–When she appeared before Quintianus, he gave orders for her to be put into the hands of Aphrodisia, a most wicked woman with six daughters all prostitutes, kept in a brothel. Agatha suffered in this infamous place sexual assaults and schemes against her virtue, more terrible to her than any tortures or death.

Placing her confidence in God, Agatha never ceased with her sighs and most earnest tears to implore God’s protection and by it was an over-match for all of their hellish attempts, the entire month she was imprisoned there.

Quintanus being informed of Agatha’s fidelity after 30 days, ordered her again to be brought before him–this virgin in her first interrogation told him to be a Servant of Jesus Christ was the most illustrious nobility and true liberty. Quintanus offended by her answers, commanded that she be beaten and sent to prison–Agatha entered it with great joy.

The following day Agatha was interrogated again and answered in equal devotion that Jesus Christ was her life and salvation–Quintanus then ordered that she be stretched on the rack, which torment was usually accompanied with the tearing of human flesh with iron hooks and burning them with torches.

The Governor enraged to see her suffer all this with cheerfulness, commanded that her breasts be severed, at which she made him this reproach:

“Cruel tyrant, do not blush to torture this part of my body, you that sucked the breasts of a woman yourself.”

The Governor remanded her to prison, with a stern order that neither salves or food should be provided to Agatha but God would be Himself her physician and the Apostle St. Peter in a vision comforted her, healing her wounds and filled the dungeon with a heavenly light.

Quintanus, four days after and not the least moved by Agatha’s miraculous cure of her wounds, ordered that she be rolled naked over hot coals mixed with broken pottery. Subsequently being carried back to prison, Agatha made this prayer:

“Lord my Creator, You have ever protected me from the cradle, You have take me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer, receive now my soul.”

After her prayer, she sweetly passed away.

Agatha’s name was inserted in the Canon of the Mass in 530

The year following Agatha’s death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph of Leonissa

St. Joseph of LeonissaSaint Joseph of Leonissa –Image Courtesy: Mary Gilder

(CNA) Joesph of Italy Leonassa, Umbria was the 3rd of 8 children at Baptism, he was given the name ‘Eufrano’ –From infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind, writes EWTN erecting little alters and spending much time in prayer, often he would gather his companions and got them to pray with him.

Impressed by the example of Matthew Silvestri, who had left the medical profession to embrace the Capuchin life and whose holiness was evident, Eufrano was inspired to become a Capuchin. After overcoming family opposition, Eufrano was admitted to the religious order and received the habit and the name “Joseph” making a profession on the 08 January, 1573

On the 21 May, 1581 the Capuchin General Vicar issued patents for preaching, the ministry Joseph would be engaged for the remainder of his life.

In 1587, Joseph was sent to Constantinople (modern day Turkey, Istanbul) to minister to the Christians held captive there, writes Capuchin Franciscan Friars upon arriving, Joseph and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine Monks. The poverty which the Friars lived, attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. Joseph was very caring in his ministry to the captive Christians in the galleys–Each day he went into the city to preach and subsequently was thrown into prison, he was only released at the intervention of the Italy Venice agent.

Warned not to resume his work, he did and was again imprisoned writes Franciscan Media subsequently was condemned to death. Miraculously freed, Joseph returned to Italy, where he ministered to the poor, reconciled feuding families and warring cities that had been at odds for years.

Joseph was beatified by Pope Clement XII in 1737 and on the 29 June, 1746 was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr for Jesus Christ

Patron Saint of Veterinarian’s & Throat Illnesses
Image: Catholic Online

(EWTN) It isn’t known precisely when and where Saint Blaise lived but according to tradition, he was Bishop of Armenia Sebaste, in the early part of of the 4th century and suffered a martyrs death, under the Roman Emperor Licinius, who had commanded the Governor of the province to prevent the spread of Christianity in his territory–Subsequent to this order, Blaise fled to the mountains and lived in a cave frequented by wild beasts.

Blaise used his skills to help nurse animals that he found wounded or ill and when the Emperor’s hunters determined to collect wild animals for sport, they discovered Blaise in the cave and carried him off to prison.

Legend has it according to Franciscan Media as the hunters were on their way to prison with Blaise, a Woman came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat and was choking, at Blaise’s command, the child was able to cough-up the fish bone.

Gov Agricolaus of Cappadocia, attempted to persuade Blase to sacrifice to idols, when Blaise refused, he was beaten–the second time he refused, Blaise was suspended from a tree and his skin torn open with iron rakes and later beheaded.

More here from American Catholic and here from EWTN

Related: Prayer in Honor of Saint Blaise –EWTN

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

Presentation of the Lord

(Vatican Radio) Today Christians celebrate the ‘Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple’ occurring 40 days subsequent to the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ  — This day is also known as ‘Candlemas’ which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrated in 2013 marking the ‘World Day for Consecrated Life’ thousands attended the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

We process in with lit blessed candles, writes EWTN and the light of our blessed candles, symbolizes Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world–It symbolizes the Infant Savior, entering into the temple with Mary and Joseph–God our Father who is the source of all light, revealed to Simeon the light of revelation to the nations. It symbolizes also, that we are to always bring that light of Christ we received at our own baptism to those who live in darkness.

Coinciding with this Feast, it is also a special day of all consecrated Women and Men throughout the world. Of course, all baptized persons are truly consecrated to God, the moment we were baptized, we were consecrated to God, becoming separated from the world, yet being in the world especially to fulfill the mission God gave to us but this day is particularly highlighting those who consecrate themselves more radically through their profession of the evangelical counsels–like out dearest Sisters here and others who profess the vows of purity, chastity and obedience as their permanent state of life.

There are indeed many forms of consecrated life that exist today within the Church, as the Catechism (starting with paragraphs 914 — stating at 917) its ‘One great tree with many branches.’ Our dearest Sisters (mentioned earlier) are living one of the many forms of consecrated life, that is the form of ‘religious life’ — specifically, religious life who has the privilege of ‘Solemn Vows and Papal Enclosure’ this is just one form within the main branch of religious life within the bigger branch of consecrated life.

At the end of the 4th Century, a Woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, her journal discovered in 1887 provides an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the ‘Epiphany’ writes Franciscan Media the observance of the
Birth of Jesus Christ and the gala procession in honor of His ‘Presentation in the Temple’ 40 days later–This Feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple.

At the beginning of the 8th Century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession and at the end of the same century, the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day, became part of the celebration.

Related: Feast of Presentation of the Lord (Scripture Readings) -USCCB

Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Saint Ansgar — Apostle to the Vikings

St. Ansgar

Saint Ansgar (801-865)
Image Courtesy: St.Martin of Tours

(Franciscan Media) The ‘Apostle of the North’ (Scandinavia) had enough frustrations to become a Saint and he did.

Ansgar became a Benedictine at France Corbie, where he had been educated–Three years later when the King of Denmark became a convert, he went there for 3 years of missionary work without noticeable success.

Sweden asked for Christian missionaries, Ansgar went there, suffering capture by pirates together with other hardships. Fewer than two years later, Ansgar was recalled to become ‘Abbot of New Corbie and Bishop of Hamburg’ — the Pope made him a Legate (personal representative) for the Scandinavia missions–fund for the northern apostle stopped with Emperor Louis’ death.

After 13 yrs work in Hamburg, Ansgar saw it burned to the ground by invading Northmen — Sweden and Denmark returned to paganism.

Ansgar directed new apostolic activities in the north, traveling to Denmark and being instrumental in the conversion of another King–By the strange device of casting lots, the King of Sweden, allowed the Christian missionaries to return.

Biographers of Ansgar remark, that he was an extraordinary theologian, a humble and ascetic priest, devoted to the poor and sick, imitating the Lord by washing their feet and waiting on them at the table. Ansgar passed away peacefully in Germany Breman in 865

Today Christians Celebrate Feast of St. John Bosco, Patron Saint of School Children & Young People

St John Bosco

Saint John Bosco (1815-1888)
Images: Fr. Broom’ Blog

(EWTN) “In his life the supernatural became the natural and the extraordinary the ordinary,” said Pope Pius XI of the Beloved John Bosco, renowned for his educational pioneering and his affectionate care for the fatherless.

Born in 1815, Giovanni Melchoir Bosco, this future Saint was the youngest son of a peasant farmer in the hamlet of Italy, Becchi — At the age of 2 his father passed away and he was brought up by a devoted and industrious mother, Margaret who was challenged maintaining the home and three children, all of them boys.

A dream of young Giovanni had at the age of 9 revealed to him his vocation in life, he seemed to be surrounded by a mob of fighting children using bad words that he tried in vain to pacify at first by arguments and then by hitting them–Suddenly there appeared a mysterious Woman who said:

“Softly, softly…If you wish to win them. Take your shepherd’s staff and lead them to the pasture.” Even as she spoke, the children were transformed first into wild beasts and then into gentle lambs. From that time on, Giovanni thought, it was his clear duty to lead and help other boys.

Giovanni (John) was ordained in 1841 his service began in his own village to young people started when he met a poor orphan and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion, he subsequently gathered young apprentices and taught them the Catechism and brought them Church.

A story is told, that one Sunday morning, John found local children mesmerized by a traveling juggler and gymnast by his performance, John challenged him to a competition and beat him at his own tricks–then he marched off to Church with his admiring audience.

After serving as an Assistant Chaplain in a hospice for girls, this post left John free on Sunday’s to devote himself to a group of boys according to Franciscan Media subsequently founding the ‘Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for Boys’ which several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys–shoe making and tailoring.

John Bosco Shoe Making

By 1856 the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of Christian and catechetical pamphlets. John’s interest in vocational education and publishing, justifies him as the Patron of young apprentices and publishers.

John’s ministerial fame spread, he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young Priest’s.

With Pope Pius IX encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859 their activity focused on education and mission work–Later he would organize a group of Salesian Sisters to assist young Women.

John Bosco More here from Catholic Online

Today Christians Honor Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, Founder of Felician Sisters

Blessed Mary Angela TruszkowskaBlessed Mary Angela Truszkowska
Image Courtesy: Felician Sisters of North America

(Franciscan Media) Today we celebrate the life a Woman who submitted to God’s will throughout her life.

Born Sophia Camille Truskowska prematurely on the 16 May, 1825 in Poland Kalisz, according to The Franciscan Family she was the eldest of 7 children. With care and love of her family, she grew up to be a lively, inquisitive child and observant of all people and events around her.

As a young girl, Sophia contracted tuberculosis, this forced a period of convalescence and gave her ample time for silent reflection and this is where she developed a spirit of contemplative prayer.

Sophia felt called to serve God by working with the poor, including street children and the elderly homeless in Poland Warsaw’s slums–In time, her cousin Clothilde Ciechanowska joined her in the work.

On 21 November, 1855 the two Women made private vows and consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mother. In this simple ceremony, the first Felician community came into existence–this date has remained the official founding date of the ‘Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice’ and became known as the Felician Sisters.

As their numbers grew, so did their work and so did the pressures on ‘Mother Angela’ –the name Sophia took in her religious life.

Mother Angela served as Superior for many years, until her health forced her to resign at the age of 44, she watched the Order of the ‘Felician Sisters’ grow and expand, including missions to the United States among the Sons & Daughters of Polish immigrants.

Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1993 at St. Peter’s Square and said that, “Blessed Mary Angela’s life was marked with love, she was concerned about all people, those hungry for bread, the heartbroken, the homeless and those hungering for the truth of the Gospel.

More here from the Felician Sisters of North America

Related: The Road to Sainthood: Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska

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Today Christians Celebrate the Feast of Servant of God Brother Juniper

Servant of God -- Brother JuniperServant of God Brother Juniper –Image Courtesy: uCatholic

(Franciscan Media) “Would to God, my Brothers, I had a whole forest of such Juniper’s,” said Saint Francis of this Holy Friar.

One doesn’t know much about Juniper before he joined the Friars in 1210 — Francis, sent him to establish ‘places’ for the Friars in Italy, Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo.

When Saint Clare (1194-1253) was dying, Juniper consoled her, he was devoted to the passion of Jesus and known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper, in the ‘Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi’ Part 1 and Part 2 illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once, Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful Friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, prepared it and served this meal to the sick man he was caring for. The owner of the pg was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper realized his mistake, he apologized profusely–he also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the Friars.

Another time, Juniper had been ordered to quit giving part of his clothing to half-naked people he met along the road. Desiring to obey his Superior, Juniper once told a man in need, that he could not give the man his tunic but he would not prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the Friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away.

Servant of God Brother Juniper, passed away in 1258 of natural causes and was buried at Ara Coeli Church in Italy Rome.