St. Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226

Saint Francis of Assisi
“Lord make me an instrument of they peace, where there is hatred
let me sow love.”
Patron of: Ecologists

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.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

FullSizeCard_1 2
“Behold the heart which has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of its love….”

Patron of: family peace, anything
Feast Day: June 8

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:

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.

St. Joseph, First Century

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

—Saint Teresa of Avila
Patron of: Fathers

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

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

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

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

Novena 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 spiritual grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request.)

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God.

(The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph.)

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

 

The Women With Jesus

mary-m

Luke refers to a number of people accompanying Jesus and the twelve. From among them he names three women: “Mary, called Magdalene, … and Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources” (Luke 8:2-3).

SAINT MARY MAGDALENE
Apostle to the Apostles
First Century
Feast Day: July 22
Patron of: Provence, contemplatives, converts, gardeners, glove makers, hairdressers, penitents, perfumers, pharmacists, prisoners, reformed prostitutes
Invoked against: sexual temptation
Symbols: alabaster jar, long hair, skull

“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.”
Christ to Mary Magdalene according to John 20:17

Though the subject of Mary Magdalene’s true identity may be fodder for a heated debate, there is one aspect of her life that all ecclesiastical writers agree upon: She never left Christ during His crucifixion, and she was the first person to see Him after His resurrection. Because Jesus chose her as His first witness and because He told her to go and tell the others what she saw, she is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.” This title aside, it is the example she sets as a penitent and reformed sinner that she is most well known and honored.

According to ancient Jewish texts, the seaside town of Magdala was known as a place of loose morals. This town was Mary’s home, and she took its name as her own, signifying her unmarried state. It was said that Mary had wealth and took great pride in her appearance, enjoying luxuries and lapsing into promiscuity. Many shunned her because of her reputation for lewdness and it is as this sinner that we are first introduced to her.

After Jesus had raised the son of a widow from the dead, a man named Simon invited him to be guest of honor at a dinner. While they were seated, a certain notorious woman walked into the room carrying an alabaster box. Weeping, she threw herself down and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair and then anointed them with the oil. Simon was outraged that Jesus would accept such tribute from someone so disgraceful. But instead of judging the woman Jesus rebuked Simon, “Does thou see this woman? I entered into thy house–thou gave me no water for my feet. But she with tears has washed my feet, and with her hair has wiped them. Thou gave me no kiss. But she, since she came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou did not anoint but she with ointment has anointed my feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loves less.” He then told the penitent woman to go in peace, all her sins were forgiven.

In the next chapter of Luke he mentions the travels of Christ and his followers in Galilee, among them is “Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.” Luke also tells us that the day before Christ’s entry into Jerusalem he dined with Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. When Judas objects to the use of such expensive oil he is rebuked by Christ, like Simon, for being so self-righteous. “. . . For the poor you have always with you . . . but me you have not always. . .” Because in this story, Mary too wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair and anoints them with oil in the same manner as the penitent woman, Catholics believe both women to be Mary Magdalene, whom after being exorcized by Christ became one of his greatest and most loyal followers.

Indeed, her loyalty to Jesus was unsurpassed even at His death. Unlike His other disciples, Mary never renounced Jesus or ran from Him. She stood with His mother until He was dead, helped take Him down from the cross and wept outside of His tomb. On Easter morning it was Mary Magdalene who returned at dawn to keep a vigil. When she found the great stone covering the tomb rolled away, she ran back to tell Peter and the others that someone had taken Jesus’ body. They ran ahead of her, saw the open tomb, and left.

But it was Mary Magdalene who stayed behind, searching the tomb and weeping. Two angels dressed in white appeared to her and asked why she was weeping. “They have taken my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him,” she responded. A gardener asked her the same question and she begged the man to tell her where Christ’s body might be found. “Mary,” said the man, and she suddenly knew this man was not a gardener. She was talking to the risen Christ. When she went to embrace him he told her, “Touch me not!” (The phrase Noli me tangere in the Latin bible). Mary spread the good news to the disciples–the last action the gospels recorded of Mary Magdalene.

The rest of her life story was written in the early Middle Ages. It is said that after the resurrection of Christ, political leaders in Israel tried to quash the cult that was rapidly growing around Him. These leaders placed Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha, their brother Lazarus, and other followers in a rudderless boat, in hopes that they would perish at sea. Divine Providence brought them to the coast of Marseilles, France. There they had much success converting the local people to Christianity. Mary took her apostolic mission to Provence and was greeted with equal enthusiasm. After converting the king and helping to install a bishop, she retired to a cave to live out the last thirty years of her life as a penitent. Her hair grew long enough to cover her naked body, and she repented for her previous deeds as a sinner. Once a day angels would carry her to heaven, where she received her “daily sustenance,” which took the place of earthly food. Eventually her death drew near, and she sent for Maximinus, the bishop she had installed years earlier. She received the eucharist and died in tears.

Early French ecclesiastical writers claimed Mary Magdalene and her family as their evangelists. Since they were favorites of Christ, this divine favoritism then extended to France and the French people. Miraculous discoveries of her relics abounded from Provence to Burgundy. The Cathedral at Vézelay was dedicated to her in the twelfth century and became the center of her cult and an important stop on the pilgrimage to Campostela. Her feast, falling in the heart of summer was happily celebrated throughout France.

To the people of the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was a wildly glamorous figure, a beautiful woman with long, red hair. She presented an alternative to the image of an ever pious saint. Here was a woman who had enjoyed luxuries, made mistakes, and tried to redeem herself. As towns grew into cities, they began to face an onslaught of urban problems such as prostitution. Though there is no mention in the Bible of Mary Magdalene ever being a prostitute, preachers invented lurid tales of her youthful sexual indiscretions. That God could extend forgiveness to such a willful, wayward creature gave hope to everyone for their own forgiveness. Homes for reformed prostitutes took her as their patron, and the word magdalene became a description for a fallen woman. It was not until the twentieth century that Mary Magdalene’s role as a penitent and devoted follower of Christ was stressed.

Always a popular subject for artists, Mary Magdalene is always depicted as a beautiful, sorrowful woman with long hair. In some images she carries the alabaster unguent jar and in others a skull is present, the symbol of the penitent to remind us of how we are all going to end up. The English word maudlin is a derivative of Magdalene. Oxford University has a famous college named for her. Because she loved luxury before her conversion, and bought expensive unguents after it, she is the patron of such trades as glove makers, hairdressers, and perfumers. Since devils were cast out of her, she is the patron of prisoners who cast off their chains. Because Christ appeared to her as a gardener she is the patron of the profession. Her knowledge and use of unguents also makes her the patron of pharmacists.

Prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene, woman of many sins,
Who by conversion became the beloved of Jesus,
Thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that someday
I may share in the same everlasting joy.
Amen.
Learn more about Joanna at http://www.aletheiacollege.net/bl/19-1Joanna_Character_Study.htm.

Not much is known about Susanna.

 

St. Vincent Ferrer

Religious_Cards-00100web

 “Christ, master of humility, manifests his truth only to the humble and hides himself from the proud.”
Patron of: Builders, construction workers, brick makers, epilepsy, fields, headaches, inn keepers, lightning strikes, penance, plumbers, preachers, tile makers, reconciliation, roofers, vineyards
Feast Day: April 5
Symbols: Dominican habit, flame overhead, trumpets, banner

Born in Valencia, Spain to an English father and Spanish mother, Vincent Ferrer’s time on earth was spent during an extremely tumultuous period in history. The Black Death had ravaged Europe, decimating the population and the church was divided in a Great Schism, with three men claiming the papacy at one time. Because of his work in healing this rupture and his untiring labors in revitalizing the faithful, as well as his charismatic ability to convert thousands, he is the patron of builders and those in all of the construction trades.

With encouragement from his parents, Vincent realized his dream of becoming a Dominican friar at an early age. His intellectual gifts were immediately apparent and he soon became an expert on theology and scripture. His advice was much sought after by bishops and cardinals, and eventually, Vincent was summoned to Avignon to advise the schismatic pope Benedict XIII. In 1398 he suffered from a near fatal fever where he had a vision of Christ, Saint Dominic de Guzman (founder of the Dominicans), and Saint Francis of Assisi advising him to unite the world by evangelizing throughout it. Always a popular and skillful preacher, Vincent’s talents were said to have become supernatural after this vision. He left his political duties and took it upon himself to travel throughout Western Europe preaching about the Final Judgment, earning him the title “Angel of the Apocalypse.” Though he could only converse in his native Catalan, he was clearly understood by the tens of thousands who thronged to hear him preach. The Moslem-controlled city of Granada invited him to speak there resulting in 8,000 conversions. At a time when many were left reeling and faithless by the plague which had killed off one fourth of the population, Vincent Ferrer’s message of hope in the face of despair was wildly popular in cities and towns in England, France, Italy the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. Throngs of religious pilgrims drawn from every level of society devoted themselves to a life of penance, following him wherever he went. Along with his spectacular success as an evangelist, he also had the ability to heal the sick and hours were put aside every day for his prayers and cures. Because many of his miracles took place where thousands could gather in fields, one of his patronages is the protection of fields. Because lightning was such a threat to crops, he is also invoked against lightning strikes.

Vincent Ferrer is credited with helping to heal the great schism in the church when he realized that his friend and benefactor Benedict XIII should relinquish his claims on the papacy when he refused to submit himself to a vote among cardinals. Vincent withdrew his support and recognition of him and Benedict XIII was deposed in favor of Gregory XII in Rome.

Prayer

O Saint Vincent Ferrer, our guardian, because God, our eternal Father, has blessed you with and inexhaustible fountain of grace and blessing, we beg you to hear our prayers and to assist us with your powerful intercession which is even more effective now that you are in heaven than it was when you were on earth. Full of confidence in your mercy and compassion, we kneel in prayer before you, and commend to your powerful intercession all our needs, those of our families, our friends, relatives, and especially (your request here).

Glorious Saint Vincent Ferrer, let not our hope and confidence in your protection be deceived. Intercede for us before the throne of God. Watch over our eternal welfare. If our trials and tribulations in this world multiply, may they serve to give us spiritual joy and happiness. If God will only grant us the grace of ever increasing patience to the end that we may save our souls. Amen.

Saint Joan of Arc

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”

Our Lady of Fatima

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.