Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Novena Saints for May: St. Peregrine, Patron Saint of Cancer Sufferers

April 28, 2017

Image result for pellegrino laziosi

1265 – 1345

Patron of : Cancer

Feast Day: May 1

 

Quote: “For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and you had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more.”

Keywords: cancer, incurable illness, running sores, medical breakthroughs, AIDS

Symbols: running sore on leg, Christ speaking to him from cross

A victim of cancer himself, Saint Peregrine not only had to accept the reality of his illness, but also the instantaneous healing of that disease through the intercession of Christ. For this reason he is invoked for medical breakthroughs as well as for those suffering from cancer, running sores and other incurable diseases.

A wealthy young man from the town of Forli, Italy, Peregrine was a political leader of the local anti-Papist party.  His rabble rousing against the power of the Pope and his early disdain for the Church makes him an unlikely saint. When a papal representative, Philip Benizi the prior general of the Servants of Mary journeyed to Forli to preach and to attempt a reconciliation between the rival political factions, Peregrine and his men broke up the crowds attending the speech. Peregrine himself slapped Benizi in the face. Instead of inciting Benizi to retaliate, he received a kindly look of forgiveness which so stunned Peregrine, that he collapsed in shame over his actions.

Since the Servants of Mary are devoted to the Blessed Mother, Benizi advised Peregrine to transform his life by cultivating a childlike devotion to Mary. While meditating in the cathedral at Forli, Peregrine had a vision of Mary instructing him to go to Siena and join the religious order of the Servants of Mary. Returning to Forli as a priest in that order, Peregrine devoted himself to the poor, the sick and the outcasts of society. Many reported being healed during his inspirational masses. Peregrine imposed a personal penance on himself of never sitting down unless he had to. He also slept on the ground, using a stone for a pillow. After 30 years of such deprivation he developed severe varicose veins and an incurable running sore down his leg. This led to a diagnosis of cancer, the only cure possible was amputation. Resigning himself to the same fate as those he had served, Peregrine reluctantly agreed to the surgery. Praying in the chapel on the eve of the operation he fell into a trancelike sleep where he experienced the figure of Christ getting off of the cross to touch his leg. When he awoke, there was no trace of illness in his leg and it was deemed to be completely healed. Because of this miracle, the incurably ill flocked to Forli for Peregrine’s healing prayers. Peregrine continued his mission for the next 20 years, dying at the age of 80. In modern times, many still make the pilgrimage to his tomb and there are thousands of healing societies bearing his name throughout the world.

 

Explanations of symbols:

Christ on the cross: Christ actually got off of his cross to heal Peregrine

Bandaged leg: Peregrine had running sores and cancer of the leg.

Religious habit: Peregrine turned from an anti-clerical political figure to a priest in the Servite order.

 

Novena to Saint Peregrine

O great Saint Peregrine, you have been called “the Mighty” and the “Wonder Worker” because of the numerous miracles you have had recourse to, for so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and you had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from his cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God, and our Lady the cure of these sick persons whom we entrust to you. Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for his great goodness and mercy.

(Mention your request.)

Saint Peregrine, pray for me and for all who invoke your aid.

Amen.

novena app

 

 

February Novena App, Health: Saint Agatha, Patron of Breast Cancer

January 31, 2017

Image result for saint agatha painting

D. 251

Feast Day: February 5

Patron of: Breast Cancer

Quote: “Do not offend Agatha’s nation, because she will avenge all insults”. – Inscription on the façade of the Cathedral of St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily

Keywords; breast cancer, burns, pulmonary diseases, bell ringers, bell makers, brass workers, cloth makers, glass workers, wet nurses, nursing mothers, nurses, fires, volcanic eruptions

Symbols: breasts on a dish, palms

A national heroine to Sicilians, a great figure in art and one of the few saints mentioned in the Catholic mass, St. Agatha is a fierce and fearless role model for anyone who lives in modern times. A martyr, she is most often invoked by those suffering from diseases of the breast. Her tomb has been a place of miraculous healing since her death. Because of her courage in standing up to the Roman authorities, anyone persecuted by them, Pagans, Jews and Christians all made pilgrimages in her honor. In modern times, her feast day is an important holiday, attracting hundreds of thousands of devotees who process through the streets of Catania.

An orphaned daughter of wealthy Christians, Agatha was considered an attractive marriage prospect by Quintianus, the ruling Roman consul of Sicily. Taking advantage of the recent Roman decree outlawing Christianity, Quintianus assumed Agatha would renounce her religion and acquiesce to his proposal of marriage. She refused him on both counts, telling him that she had dedicated her virginity to Jesus Christ. Refusing to marry and bear children was considered an act of political defiance in those times. Agatha’s rejection of him so enraged Quintianus that he had Agatha taken to a brothel and forced her to live as a prostitute for thirty days. When she was brought back before him, he ordered her to sacrifice to the Roman gods. She pointed out that no Roman wife would dare live like Venus and no Roman husband could legally do the things that Jupiter was known for, why would she follow such gods? Christ lived what he preached, love and forgiveness; she would follow him instead. Agatha was then tortured by having her breasts slowly rushed and cut off. Thrown back in prison and left to die, an elderly man and a young boy came into her cell. Revealing himself as St. Peter, Agatha was miraculously healed. The next day, Quintianus ordered her to be rolled in broken pottery and hot coals. As this torture was being inflicted, an earthquake leveled Catania. The citizens of that city, declaring that this was God’s vengeance for what was happening to Agatha, chased Quintianus out of town and the terrified consul drowned in the river. Agatha offered her soul up to Christ and died.

The year after her death Mount Etna erupted and a lava flow threatened Catania. Agatha’s death shroud was taken out and held aloft which immediately stopped the lava. This same shroud has been used many times over the years to protect the city. Because of her tortures Agatha is the patron of those suffering from breast disease as well as those suffering from burns. Trades that use burning coals also claim her. Bells, which are signals for fire alarms and also resemble breasts are closely identified with this saint. Saint Agatha’s bread, shaped like breasts or bells are a specialty served around the time of her feast.

Explanation of symbols:
Mt. Etna in the background: Agatha protects Sicilians against its eruptions. She is the patron and protector of Sicily.
Offering breasts on a dish: Agatha suffered the gruesome torture of having her breasts cut off. Because of her faith, she easily endured this torture and offered it up to God.
Palms: a sign of martyrdom. Christ was showered in palms the Sunday before he was executed.

Novena to Saint Agatha

O Saint Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom.

Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity.

O Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice may receive your intercession.

(Mention your request).

Amen.

Novena App

 

 

 

Novena App for November: Saint Martin de Porres, Mystics

November 2, 2016

Image result for martin de porres

579-1639

Feast Day: November 3

Patron of: Mixed Race People

“Compassion, my dear brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”

Keywords: barbers, wonder worker, harmony, nature, rats, mice, dogs, healer, animals, nature, charity black people, hairdressers, hoteliers, interracial justice, jurists, mixed race people, the poor, public health organizations, public schools, racial harmony, the poor

Symbols: broom, mice, cats, dogs

Born in Peru, with a Spanish noble father and an African freed slave mother, St. Martin de Porres is one of the most popular saints in the New World. A great healer, he was so in tune with the innate rhythms of nature, he could read minds, heal any sickness, communicate with animals and even levitate. Being a person of mixed race he is called on to quell racial tensions, but his patronage extends to bringing harmony to all situations and he is invoked to heal both physical and spiritual wounds.

Martin and sister had a poor and difficult childhood, as people of mixed race were reviled. At the age of twelve Martin was apprenticed to a barber. 17th Century barbers did more than just cut hair, they also performed medical procedures, made medicines and prescribed treatments for every ailment. A naturally devout boy, Martin meditated on Christ’s passion as he mixed his herbs and it is said he healed as many people with his prayers as with his potions. By the time he was eighteen, Martin had a very successful practice. People from all walks of life sought his abilities. Instead of pursuing a lucrative career in town, Martin joined the local Dominican Convent as a Lay Brother, secretly wishing to become a foreign missionary

While the monastery was founded to tend to Spanish nationals working in Peru, Martin taught his European brethren the true meaning of Christian charity when helping out in the infirmary during a plague. He cared for nobility, slaves, soldiers, merchants and natives with the same respect. The incredible success of his treatments made his superiors install him as the head of the infirmary. Knowing Lima and its citizens as a native of that city made him a very effective fundraiser for the monastery. His superiors gave him full autonomy on dispersing whatever monies he raised to the poor. Every day at noon he opened the doors of the monastery distributing food to whoever needed it,

To Martin  all creatures in creation were equally loved and he inaugurated the first shelters for stray cats and dogs. When the monastery was overrun by rodents, his superiors ordered poison to be set out. Instead, Martin went out to the garden and called the rodents out their hiding places. He promised to feed them, if they promised to stay out of the building. Both sides kept to their agreement, and Martin has been invoked ever since, to prevent mice and rat infestation. Martin used menial labor as a time of prayer and communion with God. He developed deep wisdom from this form of mediation and Archbishops, city officials and students came to him for spiritual guidance. Because of this he is the patron of jurists.

Explanation of symbols:

Mice: Martin fed the mice everyday in exchange for them keeping out of the monastery.

Cats: Martin started the first animal shelters.

Grain: Martin nurtured both humans and animals with the same degree of compassion and love.

Novena to Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Martin de Porres, your concern and charity embraced not only your needy brethren, but also the animals of the field. You are a splendid example of charity; we thank and praise you. From above, hear the requests of your needy brethren.

(mention your request here).

By modeling our lives after yours, and imitating your virtues, may we live content knowing that God has looked favorably upon us. Because this is so, we can accept our burdens with strength and courage in order to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and the Blessed Mother. May we reach the Kingdom of Heaven through the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Excerpted from the Novena App

Novena App, Saints for Health: Saint Blaise invoked for throat ailments

February 1, 2016

D. 316
Feast Day: February 3
Patron: Throat Ailments
Quote: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God free you from illness of the throat and from any other sort of ill. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” Traditional Blessing of the Throat
Keywords: Croatia, sick cattle, wild animals, builders, carders, laryngologists, mattress makers, swineherds, throat illness, wind musicians, wool workers
Symbols: crossed candles, episcopal garb, martyrs palms, carder’s comb

Every Catholic Church throughout the world honors the tradition of the Blessing of the Throats on February 3 in invoking Saint Blaise who was martyred seventeen centuries ago. A priest crosses two white candles in a ‘y’ formation over ones throat and recites the above invocation to Saint Blaise in order to stave off throat ailments which often lead to more serious illnesses, throughout the year.
A bishop from Segeste in Armenia (now Turkey), Blaise was renown for his medical knowledge and abilities to heal. He moved to a cave to avoid persecution for his Christian beliefs. Whenever he came upon a sick animal, he healed it with the sign of the cross. Gradually, animals flocked to him. When a group of hunters came across the array of bear, tigers and lions around the cave, they dragged Blaise off to the Roman magistrate. Imprisoned for his Christian views, Blaise continued to heal the sick with the sign of the cross. When a poor woman came to him because the only piglet she owned had been carried off by a wolf, Blaise told her not to worry. The wolf immediately brought the piglet back to her. The woman later tried to repay Blaise by bringing him candles in prison. Blaise advised her to take the candles back and bring one to church as an offering each year and she would always enjoy strong health and good fortune.
While being taken out to face torture for refusing to give up his faith, a frantic mother presented him with a child choking on a fishbone. Upon Blaise’s command, the boy immediately choked up the fishbone and was healed. Blaise then promised to heal all who called on him of any throat ailments. Because he refused to renounce his faith, Blaise was tortured by having his skin torn from his body with carder’s combs, the combs used to separate wool. He was then decapitated.

The cult of Saint Blaise became immensely popular during the Middle Ages and spread throughout the Christian world during the time of the Black Death. Blaise became one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers for his willingness to cure throat ailments. The wool industry claims him as a patron because one of his symbols is a carder’s comb. Because his feast is one day after candelmas, special breads and rolls are baked in his honor.

Invoked against: goiter, throat disease

 

 

 

Novena to St. Blaise to Cure Disorders of the Throat

O God, deliver us through the intercession of Thy holy bishop and martyr Blaise, from all evil of soul and body, especially from all ills of the throat; and grant us the grace to make a good confession in the confident hope of obtaining Thy pardon, and ever to praise with worthy lips Thy most holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Blaise, gracious benefactor of mankind and faithful servant of God, who for the love of our Saviour didst suffer so many tortures with patience and resignation; I invoke thy powerful intercession. (Your intention here.)Preserve me from all evils of soul and body. Because of thy great merits God endowed thee with the special grace to help those that suffer from ills of the throat; relieve and preserve me from them, so that I may always be able to fulfil my duties, and with the aid of God’s grace perform good works. I invoke thy help as special physician of souls, that I may confess my sins sincerely in the holy sacrament of Penance and obtain their forgiveness. I recommend to thy merciful intercession also those who unfortunately concealed a sin in confession. Obtain for them the grace to accuse themselves sincerely and contritely of the sin they concealed, of the sacrilegious confessions and communions they made, and of all the sins they committed since then, so that they may receive pardon, the grace of God, and the remission of the eternal punishment. Amen.
My Lord and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.

Excerpted from the Novena App

Saint: Ancient & Modern

June 2, 2015

SaintsJacketSans_R4small

Saints is now an ebook on Amazon, please take a look at http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Ancient-Modern-Barbara-Calamari-ebook/dp/B00S6PS1FC/ref=sr_1_3_twi_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433273932&sr=1-3&keywords=barbara+calamari

Visions of Mary: Our Lady of La Salette

May 5, 2015

LaSall3Patroness of France
Feast: September 19

One of the most controversial of the Church-approved apparitions of Mary is her visit to La Salette in the French Alps. The seers who saw her were two poor shepherd children, half wild, unwanted by their parents and unschooled. They had little credibility with the people in their region and even less with the local clergy. Yet because of the complete conversion or change of heart of the little town, this apparition was approved within four years.

On September 19, 1846, two shepherds, fourteen-year-old Melanie Calvat and eleven-year-old Maximin Giraud were tending their cows in the Alpine hamlet of La Salette, France, approximately 6,000 feet above sea level. Both children had only recently met, the younger of the two, Maximin, was outgoing and friendly. He had insisted on their working together in order to stave off the boredom and loneliness of their tedious job. Melanie Calvat begrudgingly accepted his company. She was known to have a difficult and taciturn nature. She had worked as a shepherd from the time of her tenth birthday, and her master considered her disobedient and lazy. She was the fourth of tenth children, and many people in the village remember her mother as abusive and violent. On this Saturday afternoon in September the children had only been working together for a few days. They had taken a nap after lunch and upon awakening realized that their cows had wandered off. As they scrambled up into the pasture to retrieve them, they saw what seemed to them to be a globe of fire near a little hollow, which looked “as though the sun had fallen on that spot.” Upon closer inspection, the light took on a form and the figure of a beautiful woman weeping could be made out. The woman was sitting on a rock with her face buried in her hands. She saw the children and got up, saying, “Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news.”
Reassured and extremely curious, Maximin and Melanie ran over to the woman. They later reported that she was tall and everything about her radiated light. She wore clothing typical of the women of that area; a long dress with an apron, and a shawl crossed over her breast and tied around her back. Her dress, however was studded in pearls, and her bonnet was a strange crown-shaped hat that exuded bright rays. Hanging from her neck she wore a large crucifix with a figure of Christ on it. Beneath the arms of the cross there were, to the left a hammer, and to the right, pincers. An even brighter radiance emanated from this crucifix. There were garlands of roses around her head, the edge of her shawl and around her feet. Throughout her conversation with the children the woman continually wept.

“If my people will not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son’s arm. It is so heavy, so pressing that I can no longer restrain it. How long I have suffered for you! If my Son is not to cast you off, I am obliged to entreat Him without ceasing. But you take no least notice of that. No matter how well you pray in the future, no matter how well you act, you will never be able to make up to me what I have endured for your sake.”

Then the woman pointed out how no one in the village took Sunday off from work. She added, “The cart drivers cannot swear without bringing in my Son’s name. These are the two things which make my Son’s arms so burdensome.”
She went on to say that if the village continued to act impiously there would be a great famine coming and it would be the people’s own fault. She added that if the people would change their ways, the rocks would become piles of wheat and the potatoes would sow themselves. Melanie later reported that since the lady was speaking French and she was not familiar with the French word for “potato,” the lady stopped what she was saying and added, “Ah, but you do not speak French!” and she continued her dialogue to them in the local patois. She then gave each child a secret that the other could not hear. She questioned them on whether they said their prayers. When they answered “no,” she said, “Ah, my children, it is very important to say them, at night and in the morning. When you don’t have time at least say an ‘Our Father’ and a ‘Hail Mary.’ When you can, say more.” She continued in a tearful voice: “Only a few old women go to mass in the summer. All the rest work every Sunday throughout the summer. And in winter, when they don’t know what to do with themselves, they go to mass only to poke fun at religion. During Lent they flock to the butcher shop like dogs.”
The lady went on to ask if either of them had ever seen spoiled grain before. Maximin quickly answered, “No.”

The lady reminded him that this was not so, “But my child, you must have seen it once near Coin, with your papa. The owner of a field said to your papa, ‘Come and see my spoiled grain.’ The two of you went. You took two or three ears of grain in your fingers. You rubbed them, and they crumbled to dust. Then you came back from Coin. When you were but a half hour away from Corps, your papa gave you a piece of bread and said, ‘Well, my son, eat some bread this year, anyhow. I don’t know who will be eating any next year, if the grain goes on spoiling like that.’”
Maximin immediately recalled this experience but was astounded as to how this lady could know it.

In French the lady said, “My children, you will make this known to all my people.” She turned from them and started to glide away. She stopped and paused, repeating one more time, “My children, you will make this known to all my people.”
The children returned with their cows at the end of the day. Melanie was not inclined to tell anyone of their adventure with the lady. Maximin however, told his employer all about it. When both children were questioned independently, they told the same story. The priest and the town officials were doubtful. To them, these were just two ignorant children making up a fantasy. But there was something in the tone of the story that affected the people of the town. This lady was not using religious metaphors, she was speaking in an accessible, straightforward manner. When the villagers went to visit the spot where the lady appeared, a spring had started flowing. It was thought at first that this was a coincidence, since it had rained the day before and it was common for small springs to appear for a day or so than dry up. But this spring behaved differently, freely flowing no matter what the weather. People who drank from the spring reported dramatic healing activity. The demeanor of the village totally changed. By 1846, France, once a nation dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was now actively a nation trying to live without religious conviction. In the search for material wealth, spiritual values had fallen by the wayside. Though La Salette had only five hundred inhabitants, they, too, had adapted the slack lifestyle of the bigger cities. The lady was right; religious devotion had become a joke. Recognizing the truth in the lady’s examples of their behavior, the village church started to fill up with earnest worshipers, and most of the village began honoring Sunday as the Sabbath. The spring itself, became a pilgrimage site with devotees of Mary coming from far distances. It is thought that Mary speaking her final words in French was a message to the French nation to reform themselves and their values. La Salette became an approved apparition in 1851.

The seers of La Salette went on to lead troubled lives. Maximin drifted in and out of employment and died by his fortieth birthday. Melanie became a nun. She reveled in the attention she received for being a visionary and felt neglected by the local clergy. In 1879 she published a book alleging what her secret had been. It was a gruesome description of Satan let loose upon the world in 1864 and predictions of mass destruction and the anti-Christ. Because she had fallen under the influence of apocalyptic books and various conspiracy theorists, her book was thought to be purely imaginative and was not sanctioned by the Church. She continually had a small band of followers who believed in these later visions. She died in 1904.

In 1879 a magnificent basilica, Our Lady of La Salette was consecrated on the site of the apparition.

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Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, First Century AD

March 11, 2015

St.Joseph copysmall“I know by experience that the glorious Saint Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” —Saint Teresa of Avila

Patron of: Fathers, Carpenters, Catholic Church, Families, Homeless, Pregnant Women, Unborn Children, Workers, Family Protection, To Find Work, A Happy Death, To Sell A Home.

A righteous man who never shirked his responsibilities as protector of his family, Saint Joseph offers a perfect example for fathers everywhere. He is invoked by families for all matters of support needed to sustain a household, both material and spiritual.

A descendant of the House of David, there is very little written about Joseph in the gospels. He was said to be betrothed to Mary when she became pregnant with Jesus. Instead of leaving her in scandal, he accepted the word of the angel Gabriel who told him that the child was divinely given and Joseph and Mary were chosen by God to be his earthly parents. It was Joseph who protected Mary on the journey to Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He also suffered the frustrations of a man who could not find proper shelter for his family as his wife was about to give birth. Upon returning to their native city of Nazareth, Joseph was once again visited by an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of the innocents. On faith alone, he dispensed with his business and personal effects, taking Jesus and Mary to Egypt where they stayed for seven years until Herod’s death. It fell upon Saint Joseph to support his young family in this foreign country.

The last mention of Joseph comes when Jesus is twelve years old and strayed from his family while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is thought that he died well before Jesus began his mission with Jesus and Mary at his deathbed. For this reason, more than any other saint, he is invoked for a happy death, one where a person is older and has their family at their side.

Though of noble lineage, Joseph was a carpenter and it was from him whom Jesus learned his trade. Because he worked with his hands and frequently put his family ahead of any personal ambitions, workers everywhere who live similar lives call on him as a patron. It is no mystery that the cult of Saint Joseph became more popular in modern times with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Many saints throughout the ages have declared him to be a powerful advocate as well, since it is thought that Jesus obeyed him in his earthly life, he is inclined to listen to Joseph in his heavenly life. Teresa of Avila always buried medals with his image when she needed land for a new convent. This tradition has extended itself to realtors of all faiths who bury statues of Saint Joseph on properties they wish to sell.

It is assumed that since Joseph respected his wife’s virginity that he was an older man when he married. He is depicted in art with a staff, which he led his family ( precursor to the bishop’s staff) a lily for purity, and with carpenter tools or holding the baby Jesus

Novena

O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the spiritual grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request.)

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God. (The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph.)

O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

February 11, 2015

115_GrottoLourdes, an ancient village in the valley of the Pyrenees mountains, is in the extreme southwest of France near the Spanish border. It is the site of the most famous series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary and the most visited pilgrimage shrine in Christendom. Credited with exuding a powerful healing energy, it is inundated by those in need of physical and spiritual renewal. Attracting well over 200 million visitors since its discovery, Lourdes is a relatively modern holy site, having only been recognized by the Church as an official pilgrimage place since 1862. It became famous after a poor, illiterate local 14 year old girl, Bernadette Soubirous saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a grotto near a great rock mound called Massabeille. Despite much ridicule and persecution inflicted on her by the local authorities, Bernadette could not be shaken from her story. While communing with the Virgin, Bernadette uncovered a trickle of muddy water in a place where water had never been. Today, that tiny spring gushes forth with thousands of gallons of water daily. Considered to contain inexplicable healing properties by the devout, many terminally ill people of all faiths flock to Lourdes as a last resort in curing their ailments. Catholics go to spiritually refresh themselves and to honor this visitation by the Mother of God.

Though officially ruled over by France, the villages of the Pyrenees had little to do with their country on any cultural or social level. Most spoke in patois, their own language, never learning French at all. They dressed in their own local costumes, disdained the central government and were known as the ‘Indians’ of France for the exotic way they lived. While the 19th century was celebrated as a great secular age, when France was finally freed of all political domination of the Catholic Church and science and logic replaced faith, the villagers of the Pyrenees defied all official teachings and held on to their religious beliefs. They were hostile to the French government and suspicious of any forms of official beauracracy. Living in a harsh, mountainous landscape, they held much of nature as sacred. They had little faith in modern medicine and combined ancient Celtic beliefs with their Catholic prayers. The love of the Virgin Mary was at the heart of their religious life. Since the 13th century shepherds and shepherdesses had reported direct contact with her, either through visions or the miraculous discovery of statues of her. Shrines to the Madonna were abundant and most towns had a special day of pilgrimage honoring her.

Bernadette Soubirous was a 14 year old girl who’s impoverished family lived in a dank former dungeon. Stricken with asthma, she was considered slow and held back from receiving her First Holy Communion because she had trouble learning her catechism. On February 11, 1858 her mother needed firewood for cooking and could not afford to buy any. She sent Bernadette, her younger sister and a friend out to look for some. So that they would not be accused of stealing, the girls had to go outside of town to public lands. There was an outcropping of rock facing the river with a grotto at its base known as Massabielle. The pigs of Lourdes grazed there and respectable residents did not go to that area because it was considered filthy. According to legend, the Massabeille had been sacred to the pagans in prehistoric times and those passing by it always crossed themselves to ward off the aura of evil that they felt emanated from it. Because of her illness, Bernadette stayed behind while the two younger girls waded across the river to get wood. She decided to join them and began taking off her stockings. It was at this point she heard the sound of a wind and then saw a soft light coming from the niche in the grotto. A beautiful, smiling girl in white seemed to beckon to her. Bernadette was startled and instinctively reached for her rosary. She was unable to pick it up until the young girl produced one herself. They made the sign of the cross together and as Bernadette prayed the rosary, the young girl passed her own beads through her fingers in silent prayer. When Bernadette finished, the young girl smiled and disappeared. Despite her mother’s opposition, Bernadette returned to the site that Sunday after mass. She was joined by a group of friends. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette said, “If you come from God, stay. If you don’t, go away.” She then sprinkled holy water at the girl to make sure she was not from the devil. Bernadette was relieved when the girl laughed and inclined her head to receive more water. Bernadette was the only one who could see or commune with the girl. Her friends were astounded by the physical change in her demeanor. She had fallen into a beautiful rapture and seemed totally relieved of her asthma. One threw a large stone in the direction of the niche and Bernadette did not flinch. Fearing she had had some sort of fit, they ran to get help. The towns residents who came were shocked at the beautiful transformation in Bernadette. Word of her visions started to spread.

Each time she returned to the grotto she was joined by a larger crowd. Many thought the apparition was either the ghost of a devout townswomen who had recently died or a soul who had wandered away from purgatory. Bernadette’s third vision was on the 18th of February and two important townswomen brought along a pen and paper. The girl in white laughed when Bernadette held out the writing instruments and for the first time spoke to her, addressing her with great politeness, “Boulet aoue ra gracia de bie aci penden quinze dias?” she asked in the patois dialect. (“Would you have the grace to come here for fifteen days?”) When Bernadette replied that she would ask her parents’ permission, the girl said, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.” During these next two weeks news rapidly spread through Lourdes about the apparitions and the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. Bernadette was taken to the local police station for questioning. The authorities tried to make her admit that it was all a hoax. When she refused, they began to threaten her family. The Church was also skeptical and embarrassed by what they regarded as superstitious worship. The local pastor, Father Peyramale did not want to give the apparitions any credence. Even though the girl in the visions had not named herself, the belief that she might be the Virgin was growing among the townspeople.

For her part, Bernadette did not speculate on the mysterious girl’s identity, always referring to her as ‘Aquero’, the patois word for indescribable being. It was on February 25th, the ninth apparition of the girl that Bernadette was told to go drink at the spring and wash in it. Thinking the girl meant the river, she went towards the Gave. In her words, “…Aquero called me back and pointed to a spot beneath the rock. I found some moisture there but it was mud. Three times I threw it away even though the Lady said to drink it. Then I washed in it only to have my face besmeared with mud. When the Lady left, my Aunt Bernarde slapped my face. ‘Stop your nonsense,’ she said as she sent me home to the jeers of the people…” By the afternoon the muddy area was flowing with pure water and many in the laughing crowd were amazed.because they had never seen a spring there before. In subsequent apparitions the girl asked for penitence and the conversion of sinners. Bernadette said that she was afraid that the people climbing all over the grotto would disturb the rosebush where the girl stood. “I was afraid she might fall, but she kept on smiling at the people. She loved them, and she always seemed sorry to leave them.” At 13th visit Bernadette was told to tell the priests to come to the grotto on procession and to build a chapel. Father Peyramale was enraged and told her that if the girl in white wanted a chapel she should say who she was and she should make the wild rose bush in the niche blossom. It was after this 13th visit that the water in the spring was first accredited with healing properties. A pregnant woman with a paralyzed hand became totally cured and a stonecutter had his sight restored after he bathed his eyes in the water. Before this, there had been no physical proof of Bernadette’s visits.

The vast crowds that had started to accompany her did not see or hear the girl in white. They only believed in these visions because of Bernadette’s great physical transformation. Thursday, March 4th was the last of the 15 days. Over 8,000 people went to the grotto expecting to see something miraculous. At the end of her vision, 45 minutes, Bernadette put out her candle and went home. The rosebush did not bloom, the girl in white did not declare any message. Bernadette, unconcerned about the wild emotions she had aroused, went home content. For the next three weeks, Bernadette later wrote, “The people pestered me, the police watched me, and the public prosecutor almost crushed me…” Then, on the night of March 24th she awoke with the familiar urge to return. On March 25th,the day of the Annunciation, she returned to the grotto at 5AM. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette asked her four times to say who she was. “Aquero extended her hands towards the ground, swept them upwards to join them on her heart, raised her eyes, but not her head to Heaven, leaned tenderly towards me and said, ‘Que soy era Immaculada Concptiou.’ (‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’) She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.” Father Peyramale was astounded at this announcement. This expression meant nothing to a simple peasant girl like Bernadette. The Catholic tradition that Mary had been conceived without original sin so that she might be worthy to be the Mother of God had only been formally defined as Church doctrine in 1854. Eventually, the parish priest would be Bernadette’s greatest defender as she was harassed and examined by government officials, psychologists and church hierarchy.

She never altered the account of her story to any of them, “I do not ask you to believe; I only told you what I had seen.” Three eminent Parisian doctors declared that she was mentally and emotionally sound but that she suffered from asthma. (“My mother could have told them that and saved them the trouble.”) Under increased pressure from the authorities, the grotto was closed off and anyone visiting it threatened with arrest. On the 16th of July, Bernadette saw the girl in white for the last time. She knelt in the meadow on the far side of the river. “…I began my rosary and my Lady stood in the Grotto smiling at me. It was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her. This would be the last time I would see her on this earth….She left heaven in my heart and it has been there ever since.” While Lourdes developed into a world famous place of pilgrimage, Bernadette, disliking the attention her presence created, joined the Sisters of Nevers in 1866. Her novitiate was difficult and her health deteriorating. She never showed any interest in the miraculous healings promised by the water in the spring. Her insistence that the girl in white was no older than 12 was ignored and priestly experts stated that since Mary had to be between the age of 15 and 17 at the time of the Annunciation, the official image of the apparition should depict her at that age. Bernadette never liked the statue that was erected in the Grotto in 1864, declaring it “too big and too old”. She died of tuberculosis in 1879. When her body was exhumed in 1908, it was found to be uncorrupted. She was recognized as a Saint by the Catholic church in 1933. Gradually, the local officials had to relent and re-open the grotto to the public. The Bishop accepted the apparitions and approved the shrine in 1862. After the railroad line was finished in 1866, pilgrims began arriving in the tens of thousands. After 1873, when incidents of healing at the spring began to be reported, the shrine rapidly developed an international reputation for having healing powers. Bathing pools filled with cold water piped from Bernadette’s spring were created for visiting pilgrims. Much effort was put on the scientific community to repudiate the healings at Lourdes.

Many illnesses were declared to be hysterical in nature and therefore cured by the powers of suggestion. Studies of the water from the spring showed it had no special chemical properties In 1882 a medical bureau was established to test the validity of the cures. Before a cure can be officially considered, a patient’s medical records are studied by a commission of doctors and independent medical professionals. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. When an investigation does occur, the conclusion is placed in one of four possible categories: (1)There has been no cure. (2)A partial cure has taken place. (3)There has been a cure, but there are medical or psychological reasons for it. (4) There has been a cure for which there is not natural or scientific explanation. The pilgrim must then return after a year for further examination. Since March 1, 1858, the Church has recognized 65 miracles at Lourdes. There are countless undocumented healings and over 5,000 documented “inexplicable healings”. Father Peyramale completed the first basilica upon the rock of Massabielle in 1873. After the great “national” French pilgrimages were initiated where Catholics of all classes came to bathe the sick at Lourdes, a larger church had to be built. The Church of the Holy Rosary was consecrated in 1901.

Today, the Basilica rises in 3 tiers over the grotto. Across the stream is a cavernous underground church which seats 20,000. In the grotto the miraculous spring has been channeled into a long row of spigots where visitors may collect the “Lordais water” and take it home. A small hospital and a number of hostels serve the needs of the seriously ill There is a Rosary procession held by torchlight each evening and the entire shrine is active throughout the day and evening with various services, processions and blessings of the sick. At the heart of the Lourdes pilgrimage is service to the sick and the infirm. Many devotees do not go for themselves but to aid others and to commune with God in a holy atmosphere.

There are four traditional gifts imparted by Lourdes: 1) The gift of miraculous water 2) The gift of healing 3) The gift of reconciliation 4) The gift of strength and friendship.

SAINTS: Ancient & Modern

January 23, 2015

SAINTS_COVER_web
Announcing the Electronic Version of “Saints: Ancient and Modern”

Journey through time as Saints reveals the wonder and power of God through full color illustrations, images and inspirational prayers.

For more than two thousand years, the Christian saints have had great influence worldwide. They lived full, passionate lives and remain compelling examples of God’s work here on Earth. Now, this new, inspiring collection of biographies reveals the legendary stories, little-known facts, and inspiring beliefs of some of the best-loved saints.

Saints explores a select group of these individuals whose influence can be felt profoundly in the modern day. Each profile includes an extensive biography with patronage and feast dates throughout the world, along with prayers both to and about each saint. These saints inspired countless classic artworks and you’ll also learn the symbols used to identify each.

Saints included in this collection:

Ancient Saints

Saint Michael The Archangel
Saint Anne
Saint Joseph
Saint Mary Magdalene
Saint Jude
Saint Cecilia
Saint Valentine
Saint Christopher
Saint Lucy
Saint Nicholas
Saint Ursula
Saint Benedict
Modern Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Clare of Assisi
Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Rita of Cascia
Saint Joan of Arc
Saint Teresa of Avila
Saint Martin de Porres
Saint Therese of Lisieuex
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Saint Pio (Padre Pio)

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, January 28

January 22, 2015

FullSizeCard_1@2“There must be must be a first mover existing above all – and this we call God.”

Patron of: Students

As one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. Yet on his deathbed, this intensely popular teacher and lecturer, who had lived in the cosmopolitan environments of Paris, Cologne and Naples, was said to give the innocent final confession of a child. Known in his lifetime as “The Angelic Doctor”, Thomas lived through his higher mind, taking intense pleasure in intellectual pursuits. Because he was an excellent teacher, able to clarify the most complicated points of learning, Thomas Aquinas is invoked by students whenever they are presented with a challenging test, a demanding course of studies or difficulty in passing an entrance exam.

Thomas was born in his noble family’s castle just outside of Naples, the youngest of four brothers and two sisters. As a child, one of his sisters was killed by lightning while sleeping in the same room as Thomas. He was forever fearful of thunderstorms, he is invoked by those with the same fears for protection against lightning strikes and sudden death. At the age of five Thomas was sent to study to the legendary Monastery of Monte Cassino. Considered the seat of Western Civilization through the dark ages, all manners of the arts and sciences were taught there. By the time Thomas left at the age of thirteen to attend the University of Naples, he was already tutoring his elders in their studies. While a student in Naples he horrified his noble family by joining the new order of mendicant Friars known as the Dominicans. Instead of begging in the streets with the Dominicans, his parents wanted to see Thomas using his great intellectual gifts to earn a higher ecclesiastical office. His brothers kidnapped him and locked him up in another family home, tempting him with every worldly thing they could think of. When they presented him with a prostitute, Thomas chased her out with a burning brand from the fireplace. After two years of confinement, his family relented and freed him The Dominicans sent Thomas to Cologne, Germany to study with Albert the Great, the most famous teacher of his times. Because of his quiet, kindly manner and his large size, his fellow students labeled him “the dumb ox”. Thomas quietly surpassed every student he ever had and Albert insisted he go to the University of Paris where he was made a teacher and received a doctor’s chair. His writings attracted both the Pope and the King of France who consulted him on matters of state. In 1272, the Dominicans sent him to Naples to run their school there. It was during the following year that experienced an ecstasy that caused him to suddenly stopped writing his greatest work , Summa Theologica, a tome that consisted of over two million words and he had spent the last seven years on. Compared to his vision, he declared, “all that I have written seems like so much straw.”

Novena:

Saint Thomas Aquinas, patron of students and schools, I thank God for the gifts of light and knowledge God bestowed on you, which you used to build up the church in love. I thank God, too, for the wealth and richness of theological teaching you left in your writings. Not only were you a great teacher, you lived a life of virtue and you made holiness the desire of your heart. If I cannot imitate you in the brilliance of your academic pursuits, I can follow you in the humility and charity that marked your life. As Saint Paul said, charity is the greatest gift, and is open to all. Pray for me that I may grow in holiness hand charity. Pray also for Catholic schools and for all students. In particular, please obtain the favor I ask during this novena.

(Mention your request).

Amen.