Archive for the ‘Novena’ Category

St. Clare of Assisi

August 11, 2017

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St. Clare

Feast Day: August 11
Keywords: clarity, blindness, embroiderers, eye diseases, gilders, goldsmiths, laundry workers, telephones, telegraphs, television
Mystic

Together with her mentor and friend, Francis of Assisi, St. Clare shook the foundations of Medieval society by revolutionizing religious expression. Her given name, Chiara means clarity and we call on St. Clare whenever we need to shine a light on a situation or to find a way to communicate more clearly. She is also invoked to protect the blind and to help those with eye trouble. Chiara Offreduccio, as the beautiful daughter of minor royalty was offered every worldly advantage available to one in her social class. When she heard St. Francis preach the Lenten service at her church in 1212, his simple message of living with complete trust in God inspired her to abandon going through with her arranged marriage in order to join the Franciscan movement. The first followers of Saint Francis were the wealthy sons of his town of Assisi. Their act of turning their backs on the material world to live at the mercy of the elements and on whatever alms they could beg was disturbing and controversial to both their families as well as to the church authorities. Attracted by the joyous way in which they comported themselves, as well as the enthusiasm they brought to religious worship, Clare was the first woman to join their order. Fervently believing in a life devoted to the precepts of the gospel, the Franciscans did not believe in personal property. When Clare escaped her family to join them on Palm Sunday, Francis himself cut off her long blond hair and handed her the simple woolen robe worn by his followers. He then left her in the local Benedictine convent as there were no facilities in his order for women. It was not long before her entire family attempted an intervention type rescue of the girl. Revealing her shorn hair to her horrified father made them realize that she would never return to their world. Her younger sister, as well as other wellborn young women from the town soon followed her. In 1215, Saint Francis installed Clare as the Abbess of the Order of Poor Ladies. True to the Rule of St. Francis, they accepted no dowries from their families as other religious orders did. When they were left inheritances, the money was distributed to the poor. Highly intelligent, and known for the efficacy of her prayers, popes, cardinals, royalty and St. Francis himself came to her for spiritual advice. Her own correspondence shows her to be a clever, happy person.

Devoted to the Eucharist and frequently immersed in prayer, the stories of miraculous occurrences around Clare abound. The most famous is that while she was ill, her convent which was outside of the walls of Assisi was attacked by the Saracen mercenaries of Frederick II . As the invaders stormed the walls with ladders, Clare calmly held up a monstrance containing the host. A child’s voice emanated from inside the monstrance, “I will always guard and defend you.” A feeling of dread overtook the invaders and they ran away from the town.

St. Clare was named the patron saint of television writers and workers due to a vision she had while too ill to attend Christmas Eve mass. She was able to view and hear the entire mass on the wall of her room. She spent much time embroidering linens for use in mass, so she is the patron of embroiderers. Because that trade is hard on the eyes and because of her name, she is the patron of those with eye problems and the blind.

Prayer
O Glorious St. Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen

Morning Prayer

August 10, 2017

 

SAINT PHILOMENA: PATRON SAINT OF THE POOR

August 5, 2017

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291 – 304

Feast Day: August 11

Patron of: the Poor

Keywords: the poor, children, babies, priests, lost causes, youth

Symbols: palms, arrows, anchor, crown

Quote: “For the love of God! It might well be that her name is not Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.” Padre Pio

Never official canonized, and listed in the local Calendar of Saints for only 130 years before being removed, Saint Philomena enjoys a unique and fervid following among common people, popes and saints. Her remains discovered seventeen centuries after her death, Saint Philomena is known as one of the great Wonder Workers of the nineteenth century and is the only person declared a saint based solely on their intercessionary powers. Recognized for her miraculous influence by six popes and ten different saints who have claimed personal experiences through her intervention, she is called upon when things look most hopeless. Discovered by a priest who hailed from a poverty-stricken parish near Naples, she is said to be particularly in tune with the needs of the poor.

In 1802, the bones of a girl between the ages of 13 and 15 were discovered in the Catacombs of Priscilia in Rome, Italy. Three tiles closing off her space hollowed into the rock read, “Peace be with thee, Philomena”. Entombed with the girl was a vial thought to contain blood as well as drawings of a palm, two anchors and three arrows. Because these images were well known symbols used by early Christians to convey martyrdom, it was established that the girl was one of the many virgin martyrs in the early, underground church. In 1805 a young priest from the diocese of Nola (a district near Naples) requested the Vatican to allow him to obtain a relic for the new altar in the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Mugnano. Because he felt a spiritual affinity when he was near her remains, he was allowed to take the relics of the recently discovered virgin martyr back with him. Before her remains were translated to the church, they were put on display in Naples. Almost immediately, there were reports of miraculous healing. When her relics arrived in Mugnano on August 11, 1805, a cult rapidly grew, attributing many miracles to the intercession of the little martyr.

In 1833 a Neapolitan nun, Sister Maria Luisa de Gesu, claimed to have a vision of Philomena who relayed her life story. According to her vision, Philomena was the daughter of the king of Corfu in Greece. When the Emperor Diocletian of Rome threatened her father’s kingdom with war, he traveled to Rome with his family in order to obtain peace. There Philomena discovered Christianity and vowed her virginity to Christ. When the Emperor saw how beautiful she was, he asked to marry her. When the young girl refused him, she was tortured and then drowned with an anchor tied around her neck. When two angels raised her up out of the sea, she was shot with arrows. After this failed to kill her, she was decapitated. According to the nun’s vision, Philomena declared that August 11th, the day her relics were installed in Mugnano, was also the anniversary of her death.

In 1835, when Pauline Jaricot, the well-known and respected French reformer was gravely ill with heart disease, she made a pilgrimage to Mugnano and was completely cured by Philomena. News of this event spread throughout France and Spain and Philomena attracted such notable devotees as Saint Anthony Mary Claret from Spain and Saint John Vianney of France who built his own shrine to the little martyr. Several popes, while still cardinals paid visits to Philomena’s shrine. Pope Pius IX credits her with curing him of epilepsy. Saints such as Francis Xavier Cabrini, Padre Pio and Father Damian are numbered among her devotees. When the Calendar of Saints was reassessed to only list saints who had historical proof of their existence, Philomena lost her place. Her cult is still very strong and pilgrims from around the world visit her shrine in Mugnano.

Symbols:
Crown – of royal birth
Anchor – early Christian symbol of being ‘anchored by Christ’
Palms – martyrdom
Arrows – method of martyrdom

NOVENA PRAYER TO SAINT PHILOMENA

O Faithful Virgin and glorious martyr, St. Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowing, have pity on me. Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of my needs. Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity, O great Saint! Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favorable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before thee.. (mention your intention).
I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the Passion and death of Jesus, thy Spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee, and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His Saints. Amen.

End with:
Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us!
Saint Philomena, powerful with God, hear our prayers!

excerpted from the Novena App

August Novena App: St. Clare of Assisi, Occupations: Patron of Television Workers

August 2, 2017

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1193-1254
Feast Date: August 11
Abbess and Founder of the Poor Clares
Patron of: Television Workers
Quote: “Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”
Keywords: clarity, blindness, embroiderers, eye diseases, gilders, goldsmiths, laundry workers, telephones, telegraphs, television
Symbols: monstrance, lamp, lily

Together with her mentor and friend, Francis of Assisi, St. Clare shook the foundations of Medieval society by revolutionizing religious expression. Her given name, Chiara means clarity and we call on St. Clare whenever we need to shine a light on a situation or to find a way to communicate more clearly. She is also invoked to protect the blind and to help those with eye trouble.

Chiara Offreduccio, as the beautiful daughter of minor royalty was offered every worldly advantage available to one in her social class. When she heard St. Francis preach the Lenten service at her church in 1212, his simple message of living with complete trust in God inspired her to abandon going through with her arranged marriage in order to join the Franciscan movement. The first followers of Saint Francis were the wealthy sons of his town of Assisi. Their act of turning their backs on the material world to live at the mercy of the elements and on whatever alms they could beg was disturbing and controversial to both their families as well as to the church authorities. Attracted by the joyous way in which they comported themselves, as well as the enthusiasm they brought to religious worship, Clare was the first woman to join their order.

Fervently believing in a life devoted to the precepts of the gospel, the Franciscans did not believe in personal property. When Clare escaped her family to join them on Palm Sunday, Francis himself cut off her long blond hair and handed her the simple woolen robe worn by his followers. He then left her in the local Benedictine convent as there were no facilities in his order for women. It was not long before her entire family attempted an intervention type rescue of the girl. Revealing her shorn hair to her horrified father made them realize that she would never return to their world. Her younger sister, as well as other wellborn young women from the town soon followed her. In 1215, Saint Francis installed Clare as the Abbess of the Order of Poor Ladies. True to the Rule of St. Francis, they accepted no dowries from their families as other religious orders did. When they were left inheritances, the money was distributed to the poor. Highly intelligent, and known for the efficacy of her prayers, popes, cardinals, royalty and St. Francis himself came to her for spiritual advice. Her own correspondence shows her to be a clever, happy person.

Devoted to the eucharist and frequently immersed in prayer, the stories of miraculous occurrences around Clare abound. The most famous is that while she was ill, her convent which was outside of the walls of Assisi was attacked by the Saracen mercenaries of Frederick II . As the invaders stormed the walls with ladders, Clare calmly held up a monstrance containing the host. A child’s voice emanated from inside the monstrance, “I will always guard and defend you.” A feeling of dread overtook the invaders and they ran away from the town.
St. Clare was named the patron saint of television writers and workers due to a vision she had while too ill to attend Christmas Eve mass. She was able to view and hear the entire mass on the wall of her room. She spent much time embroidering linens for use in mass, so she is the patron of embroiderers. Because that trade is hard on the eyes and because of her name, she is the patron of those with eye problems and the blind.

Explanation:
Monstrance: Devoted to the Eucharist, Clare protected her convent by holding up a monstrance, which holds the host. Sometimes in art, this monstrance is re-interpreted as a lamp. Since Chiara means clarity, it is Clare shining the light of clarity.

NOVENA TO SAINT CLARE

O Glorious St. Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen.

Excerpted from the Novena App

Read more about Saint Clare in “Saints: Ancient and Modern”

SAINTS ANN AND JOACHIM, PATRON SAINTS OF GRANDPARENTS

July 14, 2017

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First Century B.C.
Feast Day: July 26

Patron of : Grandparents

Keywords: child rearing, childless people, fathers, family crisis, infertility, mothers, pregnancy

Quote: “O blessed couple, all the world is indebted to you, for it is by your means that it can offer to its Creator the most excellent gift possible, her who is worthy to be Mother of His only Son.” – St. John Damascene

Symbols: two white doves, meeting at the golden gate, teaching the Virgin Mary

Grandparents are the foundation of a family and we invoke Saints Joachim and Ann for strength in every sort of family crisis. As parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus Christ, they offer a vast array of earthly experiences relatable to every human being. Infertility, late parenthood, an unmarried pregnant daughter, a grandson who was imprisoned and executed, are all parts of their life together which they accepted with grace and dignity.

Joachim and Ann are important as moral examples rather than truthful historical figures. According to legend, Joachim and Ann were married twenty years and still had not conceived a child. Living in Nazareth they were upstanding citizens, always tithing one third of their income to the temple. After many years, their barrenness was considered a form of divine judgment and eventually their contribution to the temple was refused and they were ostracized by their community. In shame, Joachim went off to live with his shepherds. There he was visited by an angel who told him, that Ann was pregnant with a child named Mary who was to be dedicated to the Lord. He was to return home and find his wife, who would be waiting at the golden gate, the entrance to the city. Doing as he was told, his joyful reunion with Ann at the golden gate has become a famous image in art history.

Mary was raised according to the instructions of the angel, she was consecrated to the Lord at infancy and sent off to live in the temple, away from the world, at the age of three. Accepting this great sacrifice of giving up what is most cherished to God, Joachim and Ann acted out an almost impossible act of faith. Though Saint Ann was younger and lived much longer than her husband, she and Joachim are inseparable in sharing the important patronage of grandparents.

Explanation:
A rare image of Joachim as an older father, and his wife, Ann, instructing the Virgin Mary. They are divinely inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

 

Novena to Saints Joachim and Ann

Saints Joachim and Ann, grandparents of Jesus and parents of Mary, we seek your intercession. We beg you to direct all our actions to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Strengthen us when we are tempted, console us during our trials, help us when we are in need, be with us in life and in death.

O divine savior, we thank you for having chosen saint Joachim and Ann to be the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary and so to be your beloved grandparents. We place ourselves under their patronage this day. We recommend to them our families, our children, and our grandchildren. Keep them from all spiritual and physical harm. Grant that they may ever grow in greater love of God and others.

Saints Joachim and Ann, we have many great needs. We beg you to interce

de for us before the throne of your divine grandson. All of us here have our special intentions, our own special needs, and we pray that through your intercession our prayers may be granted. Amen.

(Mention your request here)

Excerpted from the Novena App

More on Joachim and Ann in The Novena Book

More on Saint Ann in “Saints: Ancient and Modern”

SACRED HEART OF JESUS

June 19, 2017

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Feast Day 2017: June 23

Feast Day: Movable – the Friday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost

Patronage: Family Peace, Anything

Keywords: Love, Family Peace, Consolation, Mercy, Reparations

Quote: “Behold the heart which has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of its love….”

The iconography of the Sacred Heart speaks to us on such a basic level that its image can be found everywhere in everyday life – from tattoos on bikers to stained glass windows in cathedrals. Traditionally, many Catholic homes display the Sacred Heart of Jesus to insure domestic peace and a loving atmosphere. This ancient concept depicting Christ’s heart in flames was first meditated on in privacy by the 4th century hermits in the desert and taken up by mystics in religious communities in the 11th and 12th centuries; it did not become a popular devotion until the 17th century.

On December 27, 1673, a young Visitation nun in Burgundy, France, named Margaret Mary Alacoque was praying in the convent chapel when she heard a strong inner voice identifying itself as Jesus Christ. In later visits the voice requested that she begin a devotion to an image of Christ’s heart in flames, bleeding and encircled by thorns. The flames were for His ardent love for mankind, the thorns were to remind us of His sacrifice on the cross and the blood was because He was God made man. There is no indication that Margaret Mary Alacoque had ever seen this image before. Indeed, she was puzzled by it and greatly mistrusted herself as being qualified to relay any spiritual messages no matter who they purportedly came from. When she reported her communications to her Mother Superior she was scoffed at as delusional and forbidden to perform any of the devotions she was instructed to carry out. It was only after her Confessor, Claude de La Columbiere heard her describe her visions that she was taken seriously. Unlike the Mother Superior or Margaret Mary, he was well aware of the private devotions of Bernard of Clairvaux and Mechtilde of Helfta, religious mystics who lived centuries before, inspired by same image. La Columbiere did much to publicize devotion to the Sacred Heart based on the messages Christ gave to Margaret Mary. According to her, Christ was greatly troubled by the indifference and sacrilege He was being treated with by the average person. As a reward for contemplating this image He promised:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
Since there is no way to physically depict the soul, it is thought that the image of the Sacred Heart comes closest. The heart is the seat of love in the body and the wounded heart represents Christ’s sacrifice at the crucifixion as well as His ongoing pain at the state of mankind.

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Lord, Jesus Christ, to your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention. Only look upon me, then do what your love inspires. Let your Sacred Heart decide. I count on you. I trust in you. I throw myself on your mercy. Lord Jesus, you will not fail me.
(Mention your request.)
Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust in you.
Sacred Heart of Jesus I believe in your love for me.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, your kingdom come.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked you for many favors, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in your open heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.

excerpted from the novena app

read more on the sacred heart of jesus in the book: ‘Novena the power of prayer’

Saint Anthony of Padua: Finder of Lost Objects

June 10, 2017

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1195 – 1231

“Saint Anthony, please come around, there’s something lost that must be found.”

Doctor of the Church

Feast Day: June 13

Patron of: Lisbon, Portugal, Padua, amputees, barren women, domestic animals, draftees, oppressed people, orphans, paupers, the poor, pregnant women, prisoners, sailors

Invoked for: finding a husband, finding lost articles

Invoked against: debt, shipwreck, starvation

Symbols: baby Jesus, book of Gospels, lily

Wonder and miracles are infused with every story of Saint Anthony. Though he has been dead for almost 800 years, he is still the most popular saint in the world and his statue is found in every Catholic Church. Saint Anthony is best known as the patron saint of lost articles but he is invoked for help in all life situations. In his own day he was called the “Wonder Worker’ and credited with the ability to stop the rain, raise the dead and reattach severed limbs. He was such a charismatic preacher that when a crowd of heretics in Rimini refused to listen to his preaching, the fish raised themselves out of the water to hear him.

Born Fernando de Bulhes in Lisbon, Portugal, he disappointed his noble family by rejecting his luxurious life and joining the Augustinian religious order. A scholar by nature, he read every book in the monastery, devoting his time to contemplative prayer. Eventually, he befriended a group of itinerant Franciscan monks and became fascinated with this new religious order. Much impressed by their dedication to simplicity, poverty and their belief in returning to the original words of Christ, he joined their ranks, changing his name to Anthony in honor of Saint Anthony of the Desert, the patron of their little church. Returning home from a failed missionary venture in Morocco, his ship was blown off course and he wound up in Messina, Sicily. A group of Franciscan friars insisted he go north with them for a great gathering of all Franciscans, with their founder Francis of Assisi.

Anthony remained in Italy and discovered his great gift of preaching when a superior ordered him to speak at an ordination, telling him to say whatever the holy spirit had infused into him. He astonished his audience, not only by his skills as an orator but by the depth of his knowledge. He was sent throughout northern Italy and southern France on evangelical preaching missions which gathered crowds in the tens of thousands. His popularity among the people increased as he used his position to get real changes enacted for their protection. While based in Padua, he observed the crushing power of debt upon the common people. At Anthony’s insistence, the local municipality enacted a law protecting those who could not pay their debts that is still enforced today.

Anthony exhausted himself preaching out in fields and in piazzas as there was not cathedral large enough to hold all who came to hear him. At the age of thirty six, his health began to fail him and a local Count donated a woodland retreat for his recovery. One morning the Count heard the sounds of a baby giggling and he looked out to see Anthony surrounded in light, playing with the baby Jesus. That Christ would choose to appear to one of his saints in such a vulnerable state is a testament to the loving and kind nature of Saint Anthony. Because he is depicted holding a baby, women having trouble conceiving invoke his aid. Being of Portuguese descent, Anthony’s feast day is very auspicious for marriages in Portugal and Brazil and in those cultures, he is known to assist women seeking a husband.

According to legend, Saint Anthony earned the title patron saint of lost articles when a novice borrowed his psalter and failed to return it. Saint Anthony prayed to get it back and the novice was visited by terrifying visions that sent him running back to Anthony with the book. In iconography, Anthony always holds the baby Jesus and a lily for purity. Many times the returned book of the gospels is included.

Novena to Saint Anthony of Padua

Holy Saint Anthony, gentle and powerful in your help, Your love for God and charity for His creatures, made you worthy when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were always ready to request for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (mention your request here). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart is ever full of human sympathy, take my petition to the Infant Savior for whom you have such a great love, and the gratitude of my heart will be ever yours.
Amen

It is customary to donate to Saint Anthony’s Bread, a charity started in Saint Anthony’s lifetime, in gratitude to answered novena prayers.

Excerpted from the Novena App

Read about St. Anthony in Novena:The Power of Prayer

An extensive life of St. Anthony can be found in Saints:Ancient and Modern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Joan of Arc

May 30, 2017

joan

Feast Day: May 30

Patron of: France, Orleans, Rouen, captives, opposition of Church authorities, radio workers, rape victims, shepherds, wireless telegraph workers, women in the military

Invoked for: strength in the face of opposition

Invoked against: fires in woodpiles

Symbols: armor, standard, sword

Saint Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d’Arc ) is both a secular heroine and a Roman Catholic saint. Known as La Pucelle, or “The Maid” to her countrymen, she is credited with being the galvanizing force that returned French rule to France.

Joan of Arc was from a comfortable peasant family of five children. Already known in the village as a pious child, the adolescent Joan was at work in a garden when she heard a disembodied voice in a blaze of light. The voice gave her a simple task: Pray often and attend church. After a time this voice revealed itself to be Michael the Archangel. The angel told her that she would soon be visited by Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, two ancient martyrs whose statues were ensconced in her village church. In her later testimony, Joan said the martyr’s voices began visiting her frequently, and she was eventually allowed to gaze upon them as well. Fearing disapproval from her father, Joan never told anyone about these visits. She also vowed to retain her virginity for as long as God wanted it.

After two years the three saints revealed Joan’s true task: She was to save her country by first taking Charles, the exiled heir to the throne, into Rheims to be crowned king, and then by driving the English out of France completely. She had no idea how an ignorant peasant girl was to accomplish this. But by the time she was sixteen, the voices grew more insistent and ordered Joan to travel to the next town to see the commander of Charles’s forces, Robert de Baudricourt, and tell him that she was appointed to lead the future king to his coronation.

Chaperoned by an uncle, she did as the voices instructed. The commander laughed and said, “Your father should give you a good whipping.” He also ignored Joan’s prediction that Orleans, the last remaining city in French hands on the Loire, would fall to the English if he did not listen to her. She returned home in defeat, the voices hounding her to complete her mission. She told them, “I am a mere girl who knows not even how to ride a horse.” They answered, “It is God who commands it.” She secretly returned to Baudricourt, who was unnerved by the fulfillment of her prediction. Orleans was ready to fall. Desperate for any help at all, and troubled by the girl’s otherworldly confidence, he recommended that the future king, known as the Dauphin, grant her an audience. Because the eleven-day journey to Chinon was through enemy territory, Joan was disguised in man’s clothing.

Tales of Joan’s seemingly supernatural abilities preceded her. As a test, Charles dressed a member of his entourage in royal robes while he stood among the throng of his courtiers. All were stunned when the girl walked in and immediately advanced toward the real Charles, saying, “Most illustrious Lord Dauphin, I have come and am sent in the name of God to bring aid to yourself and to the kingdom.” Privately, she related to him a secret prayer he had made the previous All Saints’ Day asking God to restore his kingdom if he was the true heir to the throne, and if not, to punish only him for his impudence and let his supporters live in peace. Unnerved, but not ready to accept this proof of her calling, Charles arranged for Joan to be interviewed by a group of theologians in Poitiers. They questioned her for three weeks before they granted their enthusiastic approval, amazed at how such an uneducated person could hold her own against learned scholars. They recommended that Charles recognize the girl’s divine gift and grant her
titular command of the army.

A small suit of armor was made for Joan, and she designed a banner for herself with the words Jesus Maria. Her voices told her to carry an ancient sword that would be found buried in the altar of the church of Saint Catherine-de-Fierbois. When it was easily found, Joan’s reputation as a messenger from God began to spread in the general population. Allegedly this sword was used by Charles Martel in the seventh century in his defense of France against the invading Saracens. Men enlisted who would normally not be inclined to join the army. Joan insisted that all soldiers go to confession and receive communion. She banished the prostitutes who routinely followed troops. There are many written accounts of men who served with Joan of Arc who declared that despite her physical beauty, they never “had the will to sin while in her company.”      

After unsuccessfully calling on the English to leave French soil, the military campaign to lift the siege of Orleans began on April 30. Charles’s commanders considered Joan a mere mascot and thus refused to take her strategic advice. After four days of witnessing their floundering efforts, Joan charged into
battle waving her banner. The vision of this fearless young girl on a mission from God turned the tide of the battle for the French army. By May 8 the English were forced to retreat and the siege of Orleans was lifted. Just as her voices had predicted, Joan endured a wound during the fighting. They also warned that she had very little time and had much to accomplish within the next year.

At her insistence, all English positions were cleared on the way to Reims. During these battles through one town and another, Joan took the lead, inspiring many common citizens to follow the troops. The English were routed completely, suffering a loss of 2,200 men, while the French army lost only three. With Joan organizing troop and artillery placement, the French army easily accomplished a feat that had seemed impossible to them–they drove the English out of Reims so that Charles VII could be crowned there, as all French kings had been before him. Joan held her banner as she stood next to Charles during his coronation on July 16, 1429.  Part of her mission was complete.

Though she was in a great hurry to accomplish the rest, Charles VII became cautious and followed his adviser’s recommendation to marginalize the seer. Against Joan’s wishes, he signed a truce with the Burgundians, which gave the British time to regroup. He refused to support his army in an assault on Paris, a fight in which Joan was wounded and forcibly removed from the battlefield. By the spring of 1430, Joan’s voices told her that she would be captured before the Feast of John the Baptist. This occurred in Burgundy on May 24. At that time, it was common practice to ransom off important captives. Charles VII could have offered to pay her ransom but instead ignored her plight. The inner circle of his court was discomfited by Joan’s strangeness. They convinced Charles that she had fallen out of favor with God. She was sold to the English, who imprisoned her in Rouen.

Since there were no rational explanations for her overwhelming successes, the English vowed revenge on Joan, considering her a witch with satanic powers. In order to destroy her reputation as a religious visionary sent by God, they wanted Joan tried in an Ecclesiastical court for witchcraft and heresy. Once this was proven, they could then charge that Charles VII was made king by diabolical means and reassert their claims on the French throne. Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais, willingly adopted this plot in order to realize his own political ambitions.

Joan was illegally held in a secular prison guarded by men who repeatedly threatened her with rape. Since it was believed that a true witch was the lover of the devil, when her virginity was proven, she could not be charged with witchcraft. She was interrogated from February 21 to March 17, 1431, by a relentless panel of forty-seven judges, a majority of whom came from the pro-English University of Paris. After an attempted escape, Joan was imprisoned in a cage, chained by the neck, hands, and feet, and she was forbidden to partake of any of the sacraments. Despite their avid attempts to browbeat her and put words in her mouth, she calmly deflected the panel. These trial transcripts exist today, and are a remarkable testament to the brilliance of her simple answers. Many times, she instructed the judges to look up testimony she had previously given–exact to the day and hour. On March 1 she further infuriated the court by stating that “Within seven years’ space the English would have to forfeit a bigger prize than Orleans.” (Within six years and eight months the English would abandon French soil entirely.)

By May, the judges had written up their verdict: Forty-two of them agreeing that if Joan did not retract her statements, she would be handed over to the civil powers to be burned at the stake. Filled with fear, Joan signed a two-line retraction. A document detailing her acts as works of the devil was substituted in the official record. Because she had done as the judges ordered, they could not execute her and the British were furious. It is not known if Joan was so afraid of the threat of rape by her guards or if the dress she had been wearing during her trial was taken away and her male costume the only thing left to her, but when she appeared before the court on May 29 dressed as a man, she was declared a relapsed heretic. Her masculine attire served as proof of her crime, and she was burned at the stake in the town square the next day. On the morning of her execution she was visited by the judges. She solemnly warned Cauchon that he would be charged by God for the responsibility of her death. She insisted her voices came from God and had not deceived her. Her last word, as she was consumed by flames was “Jesus.” In order to discourage the collection of relics, her ashes were thrown into the Seine.

A reversal of her sentence was granted by the pope in 1456, twenty-five years after her death, citing of the unfairness of her judges and the fact that the court illegally denied her right to appeal to the Holy See. Joan of Arc remains one of the most illustrious historical figures in the world. Poets, painters, writers, and filmmakers have ensured her role in popular culture. While the image of her as a beautiful girl warrior is a romantic one, in fact she is the only person in written history, male or female, to command a nation’s army at the age of seventeen. Mocked as a pious lunatic by many intellectuals during the Enlightenment, her reputation as a French patriot was resuscitated when she became powerful propaganda figure during both world wars. She was finally declared a saint in 1920.

In art, Joan of Arc wears her suit of armor and carries her “Jesus Mary” banner. Because of her voices, she is the patron of radio and telegraph workers. She is patron of women in the military and shepherds because these were her occupations. She dressed in men’s clothing to avoid the threat of rape so she is the patron of rape victims. Most important, she is the patron of the nation she saved, France.

Novena to Saint Joan of Arc

Glorious Saint Joan of Arc, filled with compassion for those who
invoke you, with love for those who suffer,
heavily laden with the weight of my troubles,
I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need
under your special protection [state intention here].
Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and lay it before the throne of Jesus.
Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.
Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face
and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him
through all eternity.

O most powerful Saint Joan, do not let me lose my soul,
but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven,
forever and ever.

Amen.

excerpted from the book, “Saints:Ancient and Modern”

Saint Rita of Cascia: Impossible Causes, May 22

May 18, 2017

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1386-1457

Patron of: Impossible Causes

Quote: “…In patience and fortitude you are a model of all the states in life.”

Keywords: Impossible, Desperation, bad marriages, spousal abuse, widows, bodily ills, loneliness, smallpox, sterility

Symbols: roses, thorns, bees, wounded head

An abused wife, a mother who’s children died, a widow of a murdered husband, and finally, a nun, Saint Rita experienced many lives in her time on earth. Knowing the powerlessness and despair of those in bad marriages she is invoked for help in desperate times. In her own lifetime she was famous for the power of her prayers to change any situation and it was said that she could accomplish the impossible. Canonized almost 500 years after her birth, she is the first declared female saint of the 20th Century.

Margarita Lotti was born to an older farming couple in Roccaporena, Italy. She was called Rita because of a vision of an angel her mother had who named the baby while declaring, “You will give birth to a daughter marked with the seal of sanctity, gifted with every virtue, a helper to the helpless and an advocate of the afflicted.” As proof of this prophecy, bees, a sign of divine presence, always hovered over her crib as she slept, never harming or waking her.

Though she had always wanted to be a nun, Rita’s parents feared for her future security as there was a schism in the church and many religious orders were closing their doors. Instead, she had to accept a marriage they contracted for her with a man named Paolo Mancini. Though he was a good provider, he soon proved to be an abusive, promiscuous husband. Settling his personal disputes with violence, Mancini created a tense family environment for Rita and the two sons she had with him. Never wavering in her devotion to God, Rita prayed that her husband would change his ways. After 18 years of marriage, Paolo had a vision of himself as others saw him and begged for his wife’s forgiveness. A lifetime of enemies caught up with Paolo and he was murdered, his mutilated body dumped on his family’s doorstep. Rita begged her two teenaged sons not to pursue a vendetta against his killers, but they refused. She prayed to God to prevent her sons from murdering anyone. Both of them came down with serious illnesses and died before they could act on their vendetta.

Alone in the world, Rita petitioned to join the Augustinian convent. Because several of the nuns there had family members who were involved in Paolo’s murder, the convent refused her, not wanting tensions to carry over from the outside world. Rita prayed and entreated Paolo’s family to forgive his killers. Much to everyone’s surprise, they acquiesced and Rita was admitted to the convent on her third try. While there she spent her days nursing the older nuns and concentrating on Christ’s suffering. When she begged to feel what Christ felt on the cross, a thorn from the crown of thorns on a crucifix struck her on the head and became embedded there. It left a deep wound that never healed. Because this wound became infected and foul smelling Rita was shunned by the other nuns and remained in her cell praying and meditating. The January before she died, a cousin asked her if there was anything she needed and she asked for a rose from her childhood garden. The cousin was shocked to see that there was indeed two roses growing in that garden in the middle of January. Upon her death, her cell was filled with the smell of roses. Rita is always depicted with the thorn in her head, in her Augustinian habit, meditating on the crucified Christ.

Thorns: she took on the suffering of Christ
Wound in the head: Divine light, grace and spiritual power.
Roses: love. Also proof of Rita’s miraculous powers as her roses grew in the winter.

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Novena to Saint Rita

O holy protectress of those who art in greatest need, O you who shine as a star of hope in the midst of darkness, blessed Saint Rita, bright mirror of God’s grace, in patience and fortitude you are a model of all states in life. I unite my will with the will of God through the merits of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and in particular through his patient wearing of the crown of thorns, which with tender devotion you daily contemplated. Through the merits of the holy Virgin Mary and your own graces and virtues, I ask you to obtain my earnest petition, provided it be for the greater glory of God and my own sanctification. Guide and purify my intention, O holy protectress and advocate, so that I may obtain the pardon of all my sins and the grace to persevere daily, as you did in walking with courage, generosity, and fidelity down the path of life.
(Mention your request).
Saint Rita, advocate for the impossible, pray for us.

Saint Rita, advocate of the helpless, pray for us.

(Recite Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be three times each).

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Read extensively about Saint Rita in ‘Saints: Ancient and Modern’

More on Saint Rita in ‘Novena: The Power of Prayer’

 

Our Lady of Fatima

May 8, 2017

Pray to Our Lady of Fatima for Forgiveness and Reparations

The Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima is the anniversary
of the first apparition, May 13.  

The twentieth century has been the bloodiest and most violent in the history of the world. During Mary’s visits to Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, she foretold not only the terrors of the Russian Revolution and World War II, but also made a third prediction, never released, as it was judged far too terrifying.  In her visits she stressed the recitation of the rosary and taking fifteen minutes to meditate on her Immaculate Heart each week. Expressing the feeling that humanity had drifted away from God, she wanted the world to offer up reparations for the disastrous state of the earth. Our Lady of Fatima is an angry and pained mother, demanding that the world come to its senses and honor its Creator.

Her rules are strict. This novena is said to honor Mary and to atone for the blasphemies and ingratitude that are heaped upon God and his creations. Coming in the midst of the first World War, her warnings were pointedly political. She predicted the suffering imposed by the Communist states as well as the incredible carnage of the next world war. She strongly commanded all of humanity to pray the rosary, insisting this is the only road to peace. On May 13, 1917, three young shepherd children, aged ten, nine, and seven – Lucia, Antonio, and Maria dos Santos – were out tending sheep at a place called Cova da Iria in Fatima. Mary appeared to them in a dazzling light, floating above the trees. She taught them how to pray the rosary and told them she would return on the thirteenth day of each month for the next five months. Though they were initially mocked for their story, a handful of people accompanied them when they returned to the location of Mary’s visit on the thirteenth of June. There they witnessed a burst of lightning and heard the buzzing of bees. The three children stood transfixed, almost fainting with fright. By Mary’s final visit, on October 13, there were several thousand people waiting for her to appear.

It had been pouring rain for two days, and a local priest, who’d believed the children were lying, tried to disperse the crowd. In the east a bolt of lightning rang out and the rain stopped instantly. As the clouds parted, the people looking at the sun fell to their knees. It had begun to tremble and dance, and the entire crowd was engulfed by the spectrum of colors streaming from it. Some saw the face of the Virgin in the sky; others saw a huge whirling wheel of fire spinning toward the earth. The heat emanating from the rays of lights was so intense that by the end of the vision, ten minutes later, those soaked by the rain were completely dry. As far as thirty miles away, people reported sighting strange light forms in the sky.

There were many journalists present who recorded this story, and it filled the newspapers. It was called, “the Miracle of the Sun,” and it is thought that Mary orchestrated it in order to force the world to believe the predictions she had communicated to the three children.

Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

Most holy Virgin, who came to Fatima to reveal to the three shepherd children the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it, we may gather their fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, and (Mention your requests) Which we ask of you in this novena, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of people. Amen   Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be   Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, pray for us!   Recite this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.