Saints For March: Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph

Image

Notecards_march

Saint Patrick  389 – 461
Feast Day is March 17
Saint Patrick is Patron Saint of Ireland,
Fear of Snakes, Faith

Though not usually considered a novena saint, Saint Patrick is called upon by many for faith in the most trying of circumstances. Since he himself was forced to submit to living in a country not of his own choosing, he assists in accepting difficult situations where there is little hope of change. The patron saint of Ireland, he is credited with single—handedly changing the beliefs of the entire Irish nation through the purity and intensity of his faith. Saint Patrick’s following has spread to wherever the Irish have settled, especially in North America and Australia. He could never have imagined the astounding impact that his work in Ireland would have on the world. Saint Patrick was born on the west coast of Great Britain of Roman—British parents. Though his father was a deacon, and his grandfather a priest, early on, Patrick showed no interest at all in God or religion. At the age of sixteen he was abducted by pirates and taken to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery. For six years he was forced to live under the direst of conditions, subject to the elements and hardship, herding sheep. When he began to pray for deliverance, he dreamed of a ship docked two hundred miles away.

By following the dream’s directions, he was able to escape from captivity, find the ship, and prevail upon the sailors to take him with them. He eventually returned to his family, and in gratitude for God’s help he became a priest. In A.D. 432 he again had a dream that changed the course of his life. In it, he was instructed to return to Ireland and to convert as many people as possible to Christianity. Though he would have preferred to perfect his studies and remain in Britain, he surrendered to the guidance of the dream and put all his faith in God by returning to Ireland. Living there at a time when the Druid religion was in decline, he nonetheless had to compete with the “wizardry” of the Druid priests. There are many fantastic tales of his magical powers. It was said that Saint Patrick could turn people into deer and that he could turn day into night. He is still invoked today by those afraid of snakes, because he was said to have obtained a promise from God that no poisonous reptiles would be allowed to live on that island. Saint Patrick expelling snakes is a common image.

Another one of his symbols is the shamrock, or three—leaf clover. This symbolizes how he explained the Holy Trinity in his preaching. Saint Patrick built his main church in Northern Ireland.

Realizing that the landowners chose the religion of their serfs for them, he set upon converting the major families first. His life as a former slave and fugitive taught him to trust God completely, and those living in similarly miserable circumstances have always been able to identify with him. He died in 461 in the monastery of Saul, and his remains are buried with those of Saint Brigid in Ulster.

Novena to Saint Patrick

O great apostle of Ireland, glorious Saint Patrick, to whom under God so many are indebted for the most precious of all treasures, the great gift of faith, receive our fervent thanks for the zeal and charity that have been to thousands the blessings so invaluable. We ask your intervention in receiving (Mention your request here). Ask for all who dwell in this land and the land of thy labors the precious light of Faith, and beg for us on whom its glorious rays have long since beamed, the grace to regulate our lives by its sacred maxims. Amen 

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Saint Joseph  First Century
Feast Day is March 19
Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of Family Protection,
Fathers and Work His patronages include a Happy Death and the countries
of Belgium, Canada and Peru

A poor carpenter and a direct descendant of the house of David, Saint Joseph was selected by God from all the men in the world to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ, an average person exalted to he highest level of respect and achievement. He readily accepted this and other directives from God and never shirked his responsibility to his family. Thus, Joseph epitomizes the role of father—protector. Many of the greatest saints have called on Joseph for protection. His novena is considered to be powerful, one that can be invoked for any trouble. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I don’t recall up to this day ever having petitioned him for anything that he fails to grant. It is an amazing thing, the great many favors God has granted me through the meditation of this blessed saint.”

In Italy, where his feast is a major religious holiday, Saint Joseph is believed to have the power to break all natural law. It is said that since Jesus always obeyed Joseph when he was his father on earth, Joseph is accorded the same power in heaven. The only information known about Joseph is written in the Gospels. Because of the chasteness of his marriage to Mary, it is often assumed that he was an older man. This is unlikely considering the amount of effort he exerted protecting the Holy Family. Joseph was betrothed to Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. He was prevented from leaving her when he was assured by an angel in a dream that the child she was carrying was divinely given. After the child Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Joseph was again visited by the angelic presence, instructing him to move his family into Egypt to avoid King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. He kept his family in Egypt until the death of Herod seven years later. He then moved Jesus and Mary back to Israel, settling in the obscure town of Nazareth in Galilee. Joseph approached the responsibility of raising the son of God with great humility and simplicity, instructing the boy in the trade of carpenter. He accepted and protected his wife’s virginity and led a chaste life devoted to his faith in God. In art he is usually shown holding a lily for purity. In some images he is carrying the baby Jesus.

The last mention of Joseph in the Gospels is when Jesus was twelve years old and left his parents to preach in the temple. It is assumed that Joseph died before the wedding feast of Cana. Since he enjoyed a perfect family life with Jesus and Mary, it is also assumed that Joseph died an easy death, with his wife and son at his side. This is why one of Saint Joseph’s many patronages is for a happy death. Because of his livelihood as a carpenter, he is considered the patron of workers. He is frequently invoked by those in need of work. In the United States people bury a statue of him upside down on the properties of hard—to—sell homes.

Novena to Saint Joseph

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 special grace for which we now ask. Mention your request here 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. This novena can be practiced at any time of year. It is particularly effective if done for the seven Sundays prior to the feast of Saint Joseph in honor of his seven sorrows and seven joys.

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Saints for All Occasions Notecards

Novena App Saints of Health: Saint John of God, Patron of Heart Ailments

detail from a painting of Saint John of God saving sick people from a fire at the royal hospital, by Manuel Gomez-Moreno Gonzalez, 1880; Museo de Bellas Artres, Granada, Spain; swiped from Wikimedia Commons; click for source image

1495 – 1550

Feast Day: March 8

Quote: “I give myself to God. What I have is yours.”

Key Words: alcoholism, heart ailments, the dying, the sick, hospitals, booksellers, firefighters, nurses, printers

Patron of: heart ailments

Symbols: pomegranate, cross, humbly serving

 

A Portuguese mercenary who fought in several wars, sold slaves, and lived hard, John was known to “think with his heart” by acting impulsively. At the age of 40, retired from the army and a book dealer in Granada, he heard a sermon that changed his life. He became as extreme in his dedication to his religious life as he had once been to his life as a soldier. He tested the physical limits of his own heart by serving the sick and poor with an intense fervor. He is invoked by those plagued with heart conditions for protection against heart attacks.

Brought up by pious and simple people, John  had left home for a life of adventure when he was still a young boy. He worked as a shepherd and as soon as he was able, he enlisted in an army regiment. By the time his regiment disbanded, John was weary of the immoral life he led as a soldier. When he went to find his parents, he was told by an uncle that they had both died grief stricken over his disappearance. John vowed to live a better life and began selling pious pictures from town to town. On the road to Granada he met a barefoot child on the road who he offered to carry. To his surprise the child became heavier and heavier. When John put the child down at a fountain, the child gave him the title he would always be known as, saying, “John of God, Granada shall be your cross,” before disappearing. It was in Granada that he opened his book store and heard the sermon of John of Avila which shattered his existence. The thought of all the wrongs he committed in his life drove him to madness. Incarcerated in a filthy hospital, he suffered the mistreatment of the insane first hand.  As he recovered his sanity, he began helping the nursing staff. Upon his release, he devoted the rest of his life to the sick and destitute, never forgetting how terribly they were treated in the local institutions. He founded the Order of the Brother Hospitallers and opened a hospital, funding it by begging in the streets. When his hospital was burning down, he ran in and carried each patient out one by one. He is frequently depicted carrying a hospital patient. Because of this he is also considered a patron of firefighters.

While recovering from an illness, John of God leapt into a river in an unsuccessful attempt at rescuing a drowning boy. He died on his 55th birthday from an over-exhausted heart.

The symbol of Granada is the pomegranate, it is also a fruit with many seeds, which John’s Order took as a symbol of their founder’s spiritual influence.

Invoked against: alcoholism, heart attack

 

 NOVENA PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN OF GOD FOR A CURE

Saint John of God, heavenly Patron of the Sick, I come to you in prayer to seek your help in my present sickness. Through the love which Jesus had for you in choosing you for the sublime vocation of serving the sick, and through the tender affection with which the Blessed Virgin Mary placed upon your head a crown of thorns as a symbol of the sufferings you would undergo in the service of the sick to attain to your crown of glory, I beg you to intercede for me to Jesus and Mary that They may grant me a cure, if this should be according to the Will of God.

How patiently you bore the sufferings of your own disease! Teach me to carry with cheerful resignation the cross that God has given me. Let me never complain or lose courage. Help

me to understand that suffering is a very important means of sanctifying my soul, of atoning for my many sins, and of reaping a plentiful harvest of merit for Heaven. I trust in your great love for the sick and in the power of your intercession to help them. Help me, good St. John, and beg the God whose name you bear to touch me as He touched the sick while on earth, that through His almighty power health may return to my body. And as you derived strength in your own sufferings from the crucifix, so may I be able to say what you did to Jesus Crucified: “Lord, Thy thorns are my roses and Thy sufferings my paradise.”

Good Saint John, lover of those who suffer and special Patron of the Sick, I confidently place before you my earnest petition.

(Mention your request.)

I beg you to recommend my request to Mary, the Mother of Sorrows and Health of the Sick, that both Mary and you may present it to Jesus, the Divine Physician.

Saint John of God, patron of the Sick and beloved of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. (Three times.)

In honor of Saint John of God:

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Saint John of God, Patron of the Sick, pray for us.

 

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Click here for this and 35 other saints on the Novena App

Feast of Saint Adelaide, December 16

adIMG

Born 931

Patron Saint of Brides

Considered the most famous woman of her time. Adelaide was married twice. Her first marriage was arranged and ended with her husbands death three years later. Eventually she married Otto the Great with whom she had four children. Adelaide’s life was full of drama, including exile and raising her grandchildren.

She is one of the saints in Saints for All Occasions Notecards.

“These notecards are amazing – simply beautiful. They can be used for any occasion. We recently used these notecards for a retreat – they were so inspirational for those who received them.”—Rosie PS, Amazon review

Novena App Situations: Saint Lucy, invoked for Clarity

283 – 304

Feast Day: December 13

Patron of: the blind

Keywords: light, clarity, the blind, eye disease, dysentery, epidemics, cutlers, electricians, glaziers, gondoliers, oculists, peasants, writers, vision

Quote:  “Those whose hearts are pure are the temples of the Holy Spirit.”

Symbols: holding her eyes on a dish, martyrs palms, sword, oxen

 

Willing to give up the comforts of her privileged life in order to obtain a state of enlightenment, Saint Lucy is one of the early virgin martyrs who challenged the authority of the Roman state. Her very name means ‘light’ and as light is direct and clear, shining in the most filthy of environments, we invoke her for clarity of vision in the spiritual as well as the physical realm.

Born in Syracuse, Sicily to a wealthy family of Greek descent, Lucy’s father died when she was very young.  Following the traditions of their society, Lucy had a large dowry and was affianced in an arranged marriage to a pagan nobleman. Lucy was a Christian and believed that she could best be a conduit of the Holy Spirit by remaining a virgin unfettered by husband and children. At this time Christianity was a great threat to the Roman Empire and the emperor Diocletian vowed to stamp it out wherever it arose. Lucy kept her vow a secret as Christians were considered revolutionaries against the state.  Since her mother suffered from constant bleeding from a uterine hemorrhage, Lucy took her to the tomb of Saint Agatha in Catania, a place where many miracles were reported, for a healing. While spending the night there, Lucy dreamt of Saint Agatha who told her, “You have no need to invoke me, for your faith has already cured your mother. One day you will be known as the patron of your own city.”  Upon awakening and finding her mother completely healed, Lucy confessed to her desire to remain a virgin and distribute her dowry among the poor. Impressed by her faith, her mother acquiesced to her daughter’s wishes.

When her fiancé heard of the broken engagement he went to the governor to denounce Lucy as a Christian. In an attempt to change her mind, she was brought before the authorities. When she asked why was it so important that this man need to marry her, she was told because she had the loveliest eyes. Whereupon Lucy ripped out her eyeballs and told the governor to send them to her former fiancé. The next day her eyesight was miraculously restored and Lucy was once again brought before the authorities. An attempt was made to have her taken to a brothel to be repeatedly raped, but a phalanx of soldiers could not move her. A team of oxen was brought in to no avail. Burning pitch was poured on her head, but she stood fast, predicting the downfall of the emperor. This last declaration proved to be too much and Lucy was fatally stabbed in the throat. True to her prophecy Diocletian the emperor abdicated his throne within the year.

It is said that “the longest of nights and shortest of days belong to Saint Lucy.” Because her feast day, December 13 used to be the winter solstice before the change to the Gregorian calendar, Lucy enjoys great patronage in Scandanavia as the saint who brings the coming of the light. Her relics were moved to Venice where she is celebrated in song by gondoliers. In Sicily she is credited with ending an epidemic of children’s deaths in the 14th century, today she is synonymous with Santa Claus, where children receive gifts on her feast day. When there was a famine in her native land during the 16th century, ships laden with raw wheat turned up on her feast day. The starving inhabitants cooked the wheat whole, and today it is customary to cook with raw wheat on her feast day.

Explanation of symbols:

Eyes on a dish: Lucy ripped out her own eyes and offered them to her fiancée when she was told he loved her for her beautiful eyes. She was not in need of her mortal eyes as she was filled with light.

Palms: Symbol of martyrdom.

 

Novena to Saint Lucy

Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing as much as the blindness and darkness of evil and sin. By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use them for God’s great honor and glory and the salvation of all men. Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. (Mention your request here.)

Amen

Saint Lucy and 35 other Novena saints on the Novena App

Novena App: Saint Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Missionaries

 

1506 – 1552

Feast Day: December 3

Keywords: foreign missions, grace, hurricanes, missionaries, plague, sailors, tourists

 

Quote: “It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”

Symbols: crucifix, lily, flaming heart, torch

 

Credited with converting hundreds of thousands of people, St. Francis Xavier is considered the most successful missionary since St. Paul. In his own life, he evolved from being a sheltered, wealthy intellectual to becoming a fearless explorer travelling to newly discovered lands, happily living  among the lowest castes of people, improving their lives with love and grace. The novena in his honor, the Miraculous Novena of Grace is said to bring the force of grace into our lives, creating  a more harmonious relationship with the world around us.

Born in the Kingdom of Navarre, the Basque region of Spain, Francis grew up in his family’s castle. Much admired for his intellectual gifts, he was sent to the University of Paris where it was thought that he would become one of its more gifted professors. His life changed drastically when he met an older student named Ignatius Loyola who had a small band of followers. Together with Loyola, St. Francis Xavier formed a new religious order, The Society of Jesus (now known as the Jesuits) with the intention of spreading Christ’s word to the farthest corners of the earth. The King of Portugal sent Francis Xavier on his first mission to Goa in India where his country had a colony. He was concerned about the lack of religious practice available to his people and Francis’s mandate was to form a ministry for his Portuguese subjects. However, the European merchants and traders were more interested in gambling, drinking, slave trading and prostitution than in any religious preachings. When Francis Xavier attempted to meet with the Brahmin or wealthy local people, he was equally rebuffed. He then decided he would work with the lowest of the low, shocking both European and upper caste Indians by openly treating beggars, prostitutes, prisoners and the illegitimate as equals. The many eloquent letters he wrote about his life and work among society’s outcasts are still enlightening reading today. Gifted in languages, Francis Xavier had the ability to easily communicate in the various dialects spoken in the region. He is credited with saving the Paravas, an indigenous people who were pearl divers on the coastal islands from decimation and enslavement by the various Arab and European traders who plagued them.

Excited by his great success, Francis Xavier travelled throughout the Far East and he was the first missionary to travel to Japan. Not always met with the same respect and openness that he offered others, he endured his frustration with good spirits. He died on the island of Chang-Chuen-Shan, never realizing his dream of reaching mainland China. His body was put in quicklime and taken back to Goa, where it lies in a much visited shrine.

 

 

Miraculous Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier


Most amiable and most loving Saint Francis Xavier, in union with you I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. I rejoice exceedingly on account of the marvelous gifts which God bestowed upon you. I thank God for the special graces he gave you during your life on earth and for the great glory that came to you after your death. I implore you to obtain for me, through your powerful intercession, the greatest of all blessings, that of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beg of you to secure for me the special favor I ask in this novena. In asking this favor, I am fully resigned to the Divine Will. I pray and desire only to obtain that which is most conducive to the greater glory of God and the greater good of my soul. 

Amen.

(Here you may mention the grace, spiritual or temporal that you wish to obtain).

(Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be).

 There are two times a year when the Miraculous Novena of Grace is considered especially powerful: from March 4 to March 12 and from November 25 to December 3.

 

Download the Novena App

 

Saints For All Occasions Notecards

51eFlc61g7L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Based on a collection of vintage holy cards, this set of notecards offers the perfect saint to send for every occasion. Send your best wishes with St. Casilda (invoked for luck), St. Vitus (invoked for laughter), and St. Teresa of Ávila (invoked for healing). For Mother’s Day there is St. Monica (Patron Saint of Mothers) and for graduations there is St. Thomas Aquinas (Patron Saint of Students). The wonderful foil-stamped box includes 20 envelopes and 20 cards, each featuring a different saint.

Buy a copy on Amazon—http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Occasions-Notecards-Barbara-Calamari/dp/141971810X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1441927769&sr=8-3&keywords=barbara+calamari.

Feast of St. Philomena, August 11

St.Philomena St. Philomena 291-304 Patron of: The Poor, Children, Babies, Priests, Lost Causes, Youth. 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.

Novena:

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

You can find St. Philomela and 35 other saints on novena app.

Excerpt from the book Saints: Saint Clare of Assisi Abbess and founder of the Poor Clares

S0034645 Saint Clare. Image licenced to Sandy DiPasqua NEW YORK TIMES by Sandy DiPasqua Usage :  - 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4)  © Alinari / Art Resource

Feast Day: August 11

Without ever leaving her convent on the outskirts of Assisi, Saint Clare founded orders of nuns throughout Italy, France, and Germany. Though she maintained a vow of silence, popes, cardinals, and royalty came to her for spiritual advice. Only twelve years younger than her mentor, Saint Francis of Assisi, she quietly helped him lead a movement of young people that confronted the church hierarchy for their material excesses, and revolutionized religious expression by embracing simplicity and poverty.

Chiara Offreduccio was the daughter of a wealthy count and countess in Assisi, Italy, and displayed little interest in the worldly advantages offered by her highborn state. She was eighteen and destined for an arranged, profitable marriage when she heard Saint Francis deliver the Lenten sermon at her church. Inspired by his simple message of living with complete trust in God, she conspired to run away and live like this new order of mendicant friars, dependent solely on alms received from begging. The turning point for her occurred on Palm Sunday, 1212. On that day, Clare went to the Cathedral of Assisi in her finest clothes for the blessing of the palms. While others went to the altar rail to receive their palms, she sat in her seat, too shy to move. With the entire congregation as witness, the bishop stepped down from the altar and delivered the palms to her. She took this as a sign to act on her plan. Homes in Assisi were built with two doors, one for regular use and one called the Door of the Dead, opened only to remove a coffin from the house. That night, Clare secretly cleared the debris from the Door of the Dead and stepped through it, renouncing her former life and the material world forever. She slipped through the woods to the chapel of the Porziuncola, where Francis and his small community of men were at prayer. Clare exchanged her finery for a penitential tunic of coarse cloth tied with a rope, and Francis cut off her luxurious hair in front of the Blessed Virgin’s altar. Having no separate living facility for women, he then took her to the local Benedictine convent.

Clare’s family embarked on a rescue mission, sparing no expense. During a violent struggle to drag Clare from the convent, her clothing was torn off, and her shorn hair revealed. She declared to her shocked father, “The only spouse I will have is Christ, and further attempts to remove me from my chosen life will make me more steadfast!” Her powerful father had to submit to her will and leave her behind. To his great anguish his younger daughter Agnes joined Clare just two weeks later. Thus began a fashionable tradition of wealthy young women turning their backs on privilege and society in order to follow a higher spiritual path. Francis of Assisi had offered his peers a way of living that shook the foundations of society in the Middle Ages. Instead of becoming dependent behind the walls of staid, established religious orders, he encouraged his followers to exist in a day-to-day manner, experiencing nature and depending on the goodwill of others. The joy he and his band of friars exuded was infectious and he developed a following wherever he went.

Clare was the first young woman with the courage to join him. In 1215, when Clare was twenty-two years old, Saint Francis installed her as the Abbess of the Order of Poor Ladies in a small house across from the Church of San Damiano. These women followed the Franciscan rule, forbidden to own property or material goods and entirely dependent on the alms the Friars Minor could beg for them.

Upon the death of her father, Clare did not veer from Saint Francis’s teachings. She gave her vast inheritance to the poor rather than to her own religious community. This act of devotion caused much controversy–Church authorities expected women to give their dowries to the religious orders they joined. This was to ensure that the nuns would be supported throughout their lives and would not serve as a burden to their parish communities. Because she was the founder of this order of women, Clare set a precedent for future Franciscan convents. Despite this disagreement with church hierarchy, convents of Poor Clares, as the order became known, were started in cities all over Italy, gradually spreading to France and Germany. These first convents attracted many educated and wealthy women who not only walked away from titles and estates but also lived in a state of self-imposed austerity that was considered extreme for men and unheard of for women. They went barefoot, wore sackcloth, slept on the ground, ate no meat, and maintained a vow of silence, speaking only out of necessity. Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia, broke her engagement to become Empress of the Holy Roman Empire to start an order of Poor Clares. The correspondence between Agnes and Clare leaves a lasting portrayal of the intellectual brilliance and good nature of the order’s founder.

Because of her great mind, Saint Clare was an invaluable adviser to Saint Francis. When he was wrestling with the choice of becoming a religious hermit or going out in the world to evangelize his movement, she encouraged him to go out to the people. It was Clare who nursed Francis through the last days of his life, and it was under her care that he composed his greatest work, “Canticle of the Sun.” After Francis’s death, Clare could never be convinced to relax his strict rules of poverty, remaining the most loyal adherent of his teachings. Though she was abbess of her own order of nuns, Clare lived as humbly as possible. She served at the table, tended the sick, and washed the feet of the lay sisters when they returned from begging. Because of the austere manner in which she lived, Clare’s health suffered, and like Francis, she had the reputation for mystical powers. When she prayed, she exuded a rainbow aura and enjoyed a silent rapport with animals.

While bedridden, she would embroider altar cloths for neighboring churches and her cat would bring her whatever she needed. Even when ill, Clare remained a powerful spiritual force. In 1234, the army of Frederick II was at war with the Papal States, and the convent of Poor Clares in Assisi came under attack by a band of Saracen mercenaries. Clare rose from her sickbed and took a monstrance containing a host from the chapel. While ladders were being set up for the invaders to scale the walls, Clare calmly prayed, “Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect.” She then heard the voice of a child saying, “I will have them always in my care.” In response, she turned to the terrified nuns and told them to have no fear but to trust in Jesus. In that instant, the attackers were seized with an incredible wave of dread and they fled the convent.

The citizens of Assisi credit Clare with saving them from a later assault by the same army. Telling her nuns that they needed to support the city that had given them so much charity, she had them pray day and night until the attacking army inexplicably gave up and retreated. Two days before her death at the age of fifty-nine, Pope Innocent IV approved the rule for her order, which she had formally written herself. As she lay on her deathbed, her sister Agnes and the early followers of Saint Francis were at Clare’s bedside, reciting the same prayers for her as they had said for him. In art, Saint Clare is usually depicted holding the monstrance that she held in driving out the Saracens. Those working in embroidery as Clare did, frequently suffer from eye problems, and so she is their patron as well as patron to those who treat the eyes. Because gold work requires intense use of the eyes, gilders are also under her patronage. Because her name, Chiara, means clear, she is called upon for clarity of vision. Since laundresses work at dawn and her name reminds one of the effects of the rising sun, they are also under her protection.

Vision and clarity accompanied Clare throughout her life. When she was too ill to attend Christmas midnight mass, she was able to visualize it on her wall, amazing those who did attend by relaying exact information of the events. Because of this miracle, she was named the patron of television, telegraph operators, and the telephone in 1958.

Prayer of Saint Clare of Assisi

Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, Has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me. Amen.

Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church, 1195–1231

St. Antonius a PaduasmallFeast 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

It is hard to find a Catholic church that does not have a statue of Saint Anthony of Padua. Also known as “The Wonder Worker,” he may be the most popular saint in the world. It was said that Saint Anthony was so infused with the Holy Spirit that he could stop the rain, raise the dead, reattach severed limbs, and have fish lift themselves from the water to listen to him. When something is lost, “Say a prayer to Saint Anthony,” is a common refrain. Like other saints known for their ability to control nature, he would be seen preaching in two different places at the same time. Greatly beloved in his own lifetime, he was canonized within a year of his death, the second quickest canonization in Church history. Though he has been dead for over 750 years, his cathedral in Padua attracts millions of pilgrims every year who feel such an affinity for him that they invoke him for help in both ordinary and extraordinary matters.

A contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi, Anthony was born Ferdinando de Bulhes in Lisbon, Portugal, to a noble family. Raised in the heart of Lisbon, he was educated at the Cathedral school. Against his family’s wishes he joined the Augustinian religious order, where he immersed himself in intensive study. Finding life at the abbey in Lisbon too social and luxurious, he requested a transfer to the city of Coimbra, then the capital of the newly founded country of Portugal. For the next eight years, he read every book in the monastery’s library and devoted himself to contemplative prayer. While serving as the doorkeeper in his monastery, he befriended a group of monks who used to beg at his door. Fascinated with their dedication to simplicity and poverty, he learned that they were from the newly formed Order of Franciscans. When the remains of five Franciscan martyrs were brought back from Morocco and installed in his monastery to great public acclaim, he was inspired to become a missionary and possible martyr himself. He got permission to join the little band of Franciscans and changed his name from Ferdinando to Anthony in honor of the great fourth-century monastic, Saint Anthony of the Desert, the patron of the little church where the friars lived. Intent on preaching the gospel in Morocco, Anthony arrived there with one other friar. His plans were dashed when he was stricken with malaria. After spending the winter in bed, he attempted to return home to Portugal but his ship was blown off course and he found himself in Messina, Sicily. While there, Anthony met a group of Franciscan friars who were heading north for a gathering of all Franciscans with their founder, Francis. Anthony accompanied them to Assisi, where he attended the famous 1221 gathering of more than two thousand Franciscans to celebrate Pentecost. This brand-new religious order was fast sweeping Europe by inspiring Catholics to return to the original words of Christ. When the meeting ended and the friars were disbursing, Anthony was assigned to the hermitage of Montepaolo in Forli, Italy. Many Franciscans came from the ranks of the uneducated and Anthony never mentioned his noble background or his years of learning; he only requested to study more. While at Forli, Anthony attended an ordination along with other Franciscans and several Dominican friars.

It was discovered that no one had been appointed to preach. As his Superior’s polite request, for a speaker were repeatedly turned down, he turned to Anthony and ordered him to say whatever the Holy Spirit infused into him. At first shaky and shy, Anthony’s speech became strong and intense. In simple words, he was able to explain the most complicated scriptural matters. His audience was astonished not only at his incredible speaking ability but also at the depth of his knowledge. This began his public career as one of the most charismatic preachers of all time. He was sent throughout northern Italy and southern France on spiritual preaching missions. Vast crowds soon gathered to hear him. He was known as The Hammer of the Heretics for his success in winning over converts. In 1224 he received a letter from Saint Francis himself requesting that he teach theology to his fellow friars. His tenure at the college of Bologna in 1225 was followed by a move to Padua. Anthony is credited with realizing the Franciscan school of theology. At Padua, he did much to alleviate the debt into which the common people were falling. The social economy was changing from an agrarian to a cash-based society. At Anthony’s insistence, the municipality of Padua passed a law that still stands today, in favor of debtors who could not pay their debts. Debt relief and the plight of the poor in the face of increasing wealth were major topics of Anthony’s speeches. It was difficult for the city of Padua to control the crowds of more than thirty thousand that would come to hear him, and he would frequently preach out in the piazzas and open fields. Luxury, avarice, and tyranny were the three vices that most troubled him. When he was asked to speak at the funeral of a moneylender he quoted the words of the Gospel, “Where thy treasure is, there is also thy heart.” He then told the mourners, “That rich man is dead and buried in hell; but go to his treasures and you will find his heart.” When his friends and relatives did as they were told, they found the man’s still warm heart among his coins–a powerful illustration of a central tenet in his teachings. Anthony’s speaking career was cut short, however, when at only thirty-six years old, his health began to falter. An asthmatic, Anthony found great relief in rural settings among nature and he made frequent trips to meditate at Francis’s hermitage at La Verna.

A local count donated a woodland retreat for his use. One morning the count heard a child giggling and looked out to see Anthony surrounded in light playing with the baby Jesus. That Christ would choose to appear in this most vulnerable state to visit one of His saints is considered further proof of the goodness and kindness of Saint Anthony. Anthony’s death was the cause of intense public mourning and his swift canonization is a testament to the impact his great gifts had upon the very top of the Church hierarchy as well as the common people. He was declared a doctor of the Church because of his deep knowledge and ability to share it with others. The construction of his cathedral began immediately after his death, the people of Padua insisting that it be in the combined styles of Romanesque, Byzantine, and Arabic because Anthony is “everybody’s saint.” When his relics were translated thirty-two years later, his tongue was found to be perfectly preserved. It is currently on display in a reliquary at his cathedral in Padua. Though there are many older paintings depicting the many miracles of Saint Anthony, since the seventeenth century he has traditionally been depicted holding a lily and the baby Jesus. Usually there is a Psalter, or Book of Psalms, in the picture that the baby’s foot rests on.

This is to show that Christ comes directly out of these writings. It is also the root of Anthony’s patronage of finding lost things. While at Bologna, when a departing novice borrowed this Psalter and attempted to leave the monastery with it, he was confronted by a terrifying devil, brandishing an ax who chased him back to the saint. Draftees invoke Anthony for a good number on the list, and since he did so much for the poor and those in debt, he is their patron. Because he holds the baby Jesus, women having trouble conceiving request his aid. In Portugal and Brazil, his feast day is auspicious for marriages, and women seeking husbands will bury a statue of Saint Anthony until he finds one for them. They later free the saint when this is accomplished.

Prayer 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 [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.

Excerpt from Saints: Ancient & Modern, see ebook on amazon. Or pray with Saint Anthony on Novena app available at iTunes.