St. Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226

St.Francis“Lord make me an instrument of they peace, where there is hatred let me sow love.
Patron of: animals, ecology, grace, green technology, light, love, merchants, nature, peace, pets, tapestry workers, harmony, dying alone
Type: Mystic

Love for God and everything in creation so consumed St. Francis of Assisi, that he was able to commune with the natural world on a divine level. Taming wolves, quieting flocks of birds and infusing peace and contentment to the humanity he interacted with, we call on Francis of Assisi to bring us into the harmonious rhythms of the universe, where all of nature and mankind are at one with the divine force of creation.

An unlikely mystic, Francis was born Giovanni Bernadone in the town of Assisi. His father, a proud member of the upper classes was a wealthy cloth merchant married to a woman from Provence. Because he frequently conversed in French with his mother, Giovanni was soon known as “Francesco” or “the Frenchman” by his friends and neighbors. Confident that his son would follow in his footsteps, the elder Bernadone indulged and catered to Francesco’s every whim and the youth enjoyed a pleasure filled existence in the company of others in his social caste. On a lark he set off with friends to take part in a war with Perugia. Much to his shock, he was taken prisoner and it took his family a year to ransom him back. Upon his return, he was bedridden and seriously ill. But in recovering his health, Francesco seems to have lost his identity. He suffered a great spiritual crisis as all interest in his old life and his father’s business waned and disappeared. While wandering the countryside he stopped into the deserted church of San Damiano and heard the crucifix say to him, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.” Happy to have some direction in his life, he took the request literally and began rebuilding the structure with his bare hands. Ultimately, his father disowned him and when Francis, renouncing his inheritance threw his clothing in the street, he donned the simple brown garment given him by the Bishop of Assisi.

Begging for supplies, Francis continued his work on San Damiano. Eventually he was joined by other disenchanted young men looking for a higher meaning in life. By simply following the exact tenets of Christ, this little band of friars, never owning anything, bartering labor for food and shelter began a movement of religious seekers that revolutionized the Church by the simple and loving way they spread the gospel. Instead of writing in church Latin he used colloquial Italian and in an effort to explain the story of Christ’s birth, he created a living tableau of animals and people – the first Christmas crèche.

A great poet and mystic, Francis was the first saint to receive the stigmata while in a meditative rapture. Filled with humility and though he founded one of the world’s greatest religious orders, Francis of Assisi was never ordained a priest. Upon his death he requested to be buried in the cemetery for criminals, but the people of Assisi so loved him that they took his body and interred it under the altar of their great cathedral. Just as popular with nonCatholics as Catholics, Francis has inspired great artists, composers and writers. Assisi, Italy remains a great pilgrimage site for those wishing to pay him tribute.

Prayer

O Beloved Saint Francis, gentle and poor, your obedience to God, and your simple, deep love for all God’s creatures led you to the heights of heavenly perfection and turned many hearts to follow God’s will. Now in our day, in our ministry to the many who come here searching for peace and intercede for us we come before the Lord with our special requests…

(Mention your special intentions here.)

O Blessed Saint of God, from your throne among the hosts of heaven, present our petitions before our faithful Lord. May your prayers on our behalf be heard and may God grant us the grace to lead good and faithful lives. Amen

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

SAINT MONICA: PATRON OF WAYWARD CHILDREN

Image result for saint monica la cathedral

331 – 387
Feast Day: August 28

Patron of: Wayward Children

Quote: “Nothing is far from God.”

Keywords: abuse victims, adultery victims, alcoholics, housewives, married women, mothers, patience, wayward children

Symbols: tears, girdle

Though she was greatly hurt and disappointed by her firstborn son, St. Monica never gave up the idea that he would change his way of living. After 17 years of what seemed like fruitless prayers, her son turned his life around, converted to her faith and became one of the world’s greatest philosophers and Catholic saints, St. Augustine of Hippo. We invoke St. Monica to help us when our own children disappoint us. She serves as a reminder that there are no lost causes in this world and that absolutely anyone can reform and change their life.

Born into a Berber tribe in North Africa, Monica was brought up a Christian. Her parents arranged her in marriage with a prominent pagan Roman citizen of Carthage by the name of Patricius. Monica had a hard time in her early married years as she had to put up with a cantankerous mother-in-law as well as a dissolute husband. There are some accounts which say that she turned to alcohol and was herself an alcoholic who recovered her sobriety through faith and prayer. She had three children who she raised as Christians. The eldest, Augustine, was the most brilliant and his parents had high hopes for his career. Both Patricius and Monica worked hard to get the best education for their son and it was the greatest sorrow of Monica’s life when Augustine turned out to live a lazy, pleasure-filled life. It hurt her even more when he threw out his Christian beliefs to embrace the Manichean heresy – a popular cult believing in the natural good and evil of every soul. In order to keep his blasphemous beliefs from misleading her younger children, Monica forbade Augustine to come back to their home. Inconsolable in her grief, Monica had a vision of a radiant being pointing to Augustine in a beam of light next to her, saying, “Your son is with you.” When she related this vision to Augustine he laughingly said it would all be true if she would only give up her religious piety. “He did not say that I was with you,” she answered him. “He said you were with me.”

When Augustine openly took a mistress and further humiliated his mother by having an illegitimate son, Monica turned to her Bishop for help. He advised her to pray and be patient saying, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” After the death of his father, Augustine decided to move to Rome to increase his worldly success, Monica vowed to follow him. In his own great treatise “Confessions”, Augustine relates how as his mother spent the night in prayer before their voyage, he tricked her and slipped away on an earlier ship. Devastated, she traveled to Rome anyway. By the time she arrived Augustine, had already left that city for Milan. By the time Monica tracked him down, she was overjoyed to find that Augustine was no longer a Manichean. He had met Ambrose, the bishop of Milan and was studying with him. Eventually, after several more years, Monica lived to see Augustine baptized a Christian. While waiting for a ship at Ostia to take mother and son back to Africa, Monica told her son that she had accomplished everything that she had set out to do in this life and did not need to live any longer. She died in Ostia, never returning to her native land.

It is interesting to note that there are many great saints from Africa, especially the earliest ones and they are rarely depicted as anything but European in visage.

Explanation:
Light from sky: Grace. Through prayer, Monica channeled grace to convert her son.
Outstretched arms: pointing to Africa, her homeland.
Palm tree: the shore of Ostia Antica, where Monica’s earthly life ended.

Novena Prayer to Saint Monica

Dear Saint Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son, be pleased to present our petition to the Lord God of heaven and earth. (Your intention here.) Look down upon our anxieties and needs, and intercede for us, as you did so fervently for Augustine, your firstborn.

We have full confidence that your prayers will gain favorable hearing in heaven. Mother of a sinner-turned saint; obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing. In His appointed hour, in His merciful way, may He respond to your prayer and ours, which we offer through you. Amen

excerpted from the Novena App

 

SAINTS ANN AND JOACHIM, PATRON SAINTS OF GRANDPARENTS

Image result for ann and joachim

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”

Saint Rita of Cascia: Impossible Causes, May 22

Related image

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.

Image result for rita of cascia

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).

novena app

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

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

 

Feast of Saints Ann and Joaquin

FullSizeCard_1St.JoachimSt.Annesmall

Feast Day: July 26

First Century B.C.

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 intercede 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

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: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Feast Day: December 12

Patron of: Motherly Comfort, Mexico, The Americas

Quote: “Am I not your mother?”

 

Keywords: the Americas, compassion, love, forgiveness, mercy, motherly comfort, protection

 

Symbols: mandorla (body halo), roses, stars, crescent moon, angel

 

This image of Mary is the preeminent cultural icon of Mexico and the American Southwest, cherished by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Unlike other apparitions of Mary, where she sometimes issues warnings to mankind, in her visitation to the Aztec people, she promised hope, love and comfort at a time when their own way of life had been destroyed.   We invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe anytime we need the wisdom and comfort of a motherly force.

 

In December of 1531, the world of the once great Aztec civilization lay in ruins. The native inhabitants of what would become Mexico City were suffering brutally under the domination of Spanish Colonialists who had first invaded in 1519. Within two short years the forces of Hernan Cortes, with the help of native enemies of the Aztecs had completely overrun and destroyed a dual culture of light and dark, one of gracious cities and blood filled temples. Believing that their superiority and way of life depended on feeding their gods human sacrifices, the Aztecs routinely invaded neighboring tribes, sacrificing tens of thousands of captives a week. Gradually, the images of their own gods, particularly the female ones, took on more monstrous and grotesque features. The Spanish responded  to these sacred sites by wreaking havoc and destruction upon them. Within ten years the remaining Aztec residents were heart-sick, depressed and dying off.

 

On December 9, 1531, and Aztec convert to Catholicism called Juan Diego, was on his way to mass. Distracted by the singing of birds on a hillside, he stopped. He then heard the kindly calling of his name in his native Nahuatl language. He approached the noble Aztec woman n the hill and was stunned at the heightened glow of her surroundings. She introduced herself as the perfect maiden Saint Mary, honorable mother of the true God. She asked him to go to the bishop and request a temple be built to her on the hill. She added, “I am the compassionate mother of you and your people, here in this land and of all the people who love me, search for me and confide in me…”  After a long wait, the bishop told Juan Diego that he needed a sign proving that this was a true appearance of Mary. In subsequent days, when Juan Diego again saw the woman on the hill, he begged her to get someone who the bishop would respect more to deliver her request. She kindly replied that he was the perfect one for her message. The next day Juan Diego walked another way into town in order to avoid the woman as his uncle was sick and he did not want to waste any time doing her errands. Nonplussed, she came down from the other side of the hill to meet him. Flustered, he told her he had to tend to his uncle and had no time to wait for the bishop who did not believe him anyway. The woman assured him that his uncle was already well and then told him to gather roses among the rocks.  This being winter he was amazed at how many roses were in full bloom. The woman arranged the roses in his cloak and again sent him off to the bishop. When he was finally granted this audience, it was the bishop’s turn to gasp in amazement. As Juan Diego unwrapped his cloak of roses, there imprinted on his cloak was the exact image of the lady on the hill. The bishop fell to his knees and begged Juan’s forgiveness. Today, tens of millions of pilgrims flock to Mexico City to see this original cloth which is in the cathedral named after this apparition of Mary, Our  Lady of Guadalupe.

 

The Virgin Mary appears to each visionary as a member of their own culture.  This image of a kindly, loving mother figure so impressed the native people of Mexico, that thousands of them came to be baptized within the first few months of the cloth being put on display.

 

Explanation of images:

Mandorla: a body halo which signifies that Mary is wrapped in the grace of God.

Robe of stars: By wearing the stars she is showing that her God is more powerful than the stars. Blue is the color of royalty and virginity.

Crescent Moon: to Christians, Mary’s virginity. To Indian’s Mary is stronger than the moon god, the god of darkness.

Angel:  Carried there by heaven.

 

 

 

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, according to your message in Mexico I venerate you as “the Virgin Mother Of the true God for whom we live, the Creator of all the world, maker of heaven and earth.” In spirit I kneel before your most holy image which you miraculously imprinted

upon the cloak of the Indian Juan Diego. And with the faith of the countless numbers of pilgrims

who visit your shrine, I beg you for this favor: (mention your request).

 

Remember, O Immaculate Virgin, the words you spoke to your devout client, “I am a merciful Mother to you and to all your people who love me and trust in me and invoke my help. I listen to their lamentations and solace all their sorrows and their sufferings.” I beg you to be a merciful Mother to me, because I sincerely love you and trust in you and invoke your help. I entreat you, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to grant my request, if this should be the will of God, in order that I may

bear witness to your love, your compassion, your help and protection. Do not forsake me in my needs. Amen.

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Buy Novena App