Featured Saints

St. Francis Xavier

Our Saint of the Week is St. Francis Xavier, SJ.

Details coming soon.

St. Peter Julian Eymard

Like all of us, Peter Julian Eymard [pronounced A-mard] was conditioned by his cultural background as well as by the sociopolitical atmosphere of his time. The French Revolution of 1789 had radically altered the political, legal, social and religious structures of the country. As a teenager, the industrial revolution was changing the face of Europe.

Struggle to Become a Priest

Peter Julian Eymard’s road to the priesthood, as well as his life as a priest, was marked by the cross. In French society, there was a strong anticlericalism. In addition, the Eymard family was poor and Peter Julian’s father was reluctant to give his blessing to his son’s decision. His first attempt to attain priesthood ended because of serious illness. He tried again. On July 20, 1834, at 23 years of age, Eymard was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble.

In Eymard’s day there was a religious movement called Jansenism. This movement focused on the gravity of human sinfulness and as a consequence stressed our unworthiness in the presence of a transcendent and perfect God. In his early years as a seminarian and priest, Fr. Eymard was influenced by this reparation spirituality and he would struggle his whole life long to seek that inner perfection that would enable him to offer to God the gift of his entire self.

Taking His Vows

Perhaps it was the intensification of this growing spiritual struggle along with Fr. Eymard’s desire to accomplish great things for God that led him to enter religious life. On August 20, 1839, Fr. Eymard became a member of the Marist Congregation by professing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

All his life Peter Julian had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. He knew about the apparition of Our Lady at La Salette and enjoyed traveling to various Marian shrines [throughout France]. It was Eymard’s work for the Society of Mary that put him in contact with the various currents of eucharistic piety that were flowing in the French Church. Peter Julian, despite his poor physical health, was an unusually energetic and hardworking priest/religious. He always had a desire to spend time in contemplation; but with his work, travel, writing, preaching, spiritual direction, and responsibilities as Marist provincial [superior], there was neither the environment nor the time for this desire to be fulfilled very frequently.

What did Fr. Eymard do as a Marist? He was an outstanding organizer of lay societies, a zealous educator, a well-prepared preacher, and a bit of a prophet to his fellow priests and even to his religious superiors.

Peter and the Eucharist

He asked his Superior General, Fr. Jean-Claude Colin, for permission to write a eucharistic rule for the Third Order of Mary of which, he, Peter Julian, was the director. Fr. Colin said no. Nevertheless, the idea for such a rule had already been written in the mind and heart of Fr. Eymard.

He wanted to begin a Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, but it was not an easy task. In fact, responding to God’s Spirit as a founder involved him in relational conflicts, personally embarrassing situations, financial troubles, and physical exhaustion. His first hurdle was getting the founding of the Congregation approved by several local bishops. When this approval came, Fr. Eymard opened his first community in Paris.

Bringing People to Jesus

The work of preparation for First Communion, especially among adults, was the aspect of the new eucharistic venture that had interested the archbishop of Paris. Other eucharistic communities and organizations were springing up throughout France but Archbishop Sibour rightly perceived that Eymard’s intuition about the Eucharist was not limited merely to the worship of the holy sacrament but to actively reach out to those who were estranged from the church and to evangelize them. Father Eymard directed his ministry firstly to the children and young workers that made up a large segment of the labor force of Paris.

No sooner did he attract a few men to join him than he had to close this house and move to another location. This happened twice within the span of a few years. These early Eymardian communities were so poor that on several occasions a neighboring convent of sisters fed the fathers and brothers. (Not being able to provide the basics of food and shelter did not help Fr. Eymard attract vocations!)

As early as 1845, Eymard began to move away from a spirituality of reparation toward a spirituality of Christ-centered love. Three years prior to his death, Fr. Eymard made a long retreat in Rome. During this retreat, he was powerfully struck by the force of Christ’s love within him – a love he felt taking over his whole person. Anticipating the renewal of the Church brought about by Vatican Councils I and II, Eymard had a vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people living lives of total dedication to the spiritual values that are celebrated and contemplated in the Eucharistic celebration and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Blessed Pope John Paul II declared St. Peter Eymard, “Apostle of the Eucharist.”

Read more about this saint from Bob & Penny Lord.

St. Peter Julian Eymard, pray for us, that we would discover Jesus in the Eucharist and become close friends with Him.

St. Gemma Galgani

Maria Gemma Umberta Pia Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, in the hamlet of Borgo Nuovo in the provincial town of Capannori. Gemma was the fifth of eight children; her father, Enrico Galgani, was a prosperous pharmacist.

At the age of eighteen, she was orphaned and so took care of her younger siblings along with her aunt Carolina.

The Devil began to  “wage a war” against her soul, trying to break her trust in God and in her spiritual director, Fr. Germanus, who gave her wise and helpful counsel.

Sometimes, Gemma became preoccupied by the difficulty of the Devil’s vexations, but she realized it was counterproductive and that her time and efforts would be better spent in trustful prayer to Jesus.

She wrote to Fr. Germanus:“For some days, Chiappino* (a name she called the devil, meaning burglar) has pursued me in every guise and way, and has done all in his power against me. This monster keeps on redoubling all his efforts to ruin me and tries to deprive me of whomever directs or advises me. But even should this happen, I am not afraid.”

She persisted in trust of God, the Blessed Mother, her guardian angel, and her spiritual director. Fr. Germanus wrote in her biography that she also found comfort in her sense of humor. Once she wrote to him, “If you would have seen him [the Devil] Father, when he fled making faces, you would have burst out laughing! He is so ugly!…. But Jesus told me not to be afraid of him.”

Another time, on her death bed, the Devil appeared in the form of a cat. Gemma turned to those around her who were clearly disturbed by his ominous presence, and she told them, “Don’t worry, it’s only the idiot.”

St. Gemma also received the Stigmata–her body miraculously bore the crucifixion wounds of Christ–like other saints, such as SS. Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio. Because she endured so much pain in her life united with Christ, she is considered a “victim soul”, a person who prayerfully offered up intense long-lasting suffering for the sake of others, especially the conversion of others.

The lesson of her unwavering trust in God is that, while it is important to be aware of the influence of the evil one, who “searches for whom it might devour” in order to distract us from God, even more important is our knowledge of God and His love for us, and the help of His grace, angels and Church, which are all the more ready to guide us toward Jesus.

St. Teresa of Avila – Teresa of Jesus

(Feast Day: October 15)

Saint Teresa of Avila led a fairly ordinary life, though she was convinced that she was a horrible sinner. As a teenager, she cared only about boys and clothes and flirting and rebelling — like other teenagers throughout the ages. When she was 16, her father decided she was out of control and sent her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually she began to enjoy it — partly because of her growing love for God, and partly because the convent was a lot less strict than her father.

Still, when the time came for her to choose between marriage and religious life, she had a tough time making the decision. She’d watched a difficult marriage ruin her mother. On the other hand being a nun didn’t seem like much fun. When she finally chose religious life, she did so because she thought that it was the only safe place for someone as prone to sin as she was.

Trouble at the Convent

Once installed at the Carmelite convent permanently, she started to learn and practice mental prayer, in which she “tried as hard as I could to keep Jesus Christ present within me….My imagination is so dull that I had no talent for imagining or coming up with great theological thoughts.” Teresa prayed this way off and on for eighteen years without feeling that she was getting results. Part of the reason for her trouble was that the convent was not the safe place she assumed it would be.

Many women who had no place else to go wound up at the convent, whether they had vocations or not. They were encouraged to stay away from the convents for long period of time to cut down on expenses. Nuns would arrange their veils attractively and wear jewelry. Prestige depended not on piety but on money.

Teresa suffered the same problem that Francis of Assisi did — she was too charming. Everyone liked her and she liked to be liked. She found it too easy to slip into a worldly life and ignore God. The convent encouraged her to have visitors to whom she would teach mental prayer because their gifts helped the community economy. But Teresa got more involved in flattery, vanity and gossip than spiritual guidance. These weren’t great sins perhaps but they kept her from God.

Fall from Prayer

Then Teresa fell ill with malaria. When she had a seizure, people were so sure she was dead that after she woke up four days later she learned they had dug a grave for her. Afterwards she was paralyzed for three years and was never completely well. Yet instead of helping her spiritually, her sickness became an excuse to stop her prayer completely: she couldn’t be alone enough, she wasn’t healthy enough, and so forth. Later she would say, “Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

For years she hardly prayed at all “under the guise of humility.” She thought as a wicked sinner she didn’t deserve to get favors from God. But turning away from prayer was like “a baby turning from its mother’s breasts, what can be expected but death?”

Return to Love

When she was 41, a priest convinced her to go back to her prayer, but she still found it difficult. “I was more anxious for the hour of prayer to be over than I was to remain there. I don’t know what heavy penance I would not have gladly undertaken rather than practice prayer.” She was distracted often: “This intellect is so wild that it doesn’t seem to be anything else than a frantic madman no one can tie down.” Teresa sympathizes with those who have a difficult time in prayer: “All the trials we endure cannot be compared to these interior battles.”

Yet her experience gives us wonderful descriptions of mental prayer: “For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

As she started to pray again, God gave her spiritual delights: the prayer of quiet where God’s presence overwhelmed her senses, raptures where God overcame her with glorious foolishness, prayer of union where she felt the sun of God melt her soul away. Sometimes her whole body was raised from the ground. If she felt God was going to levitate her body, she stretched out on the floor and called the nuns to sit on her and hold her down. Far from being excited about these events, she “begged God very much not to give me any more favors in public.”

In her books, she analyzed and dissects mystical experiences the way a scientist would. She never saw these gifts as rewards from God but the way he “chastised” her. The more love she felt the harder it was to offend God. She says, “The memory of the favor God has granted does more to bring such a person back to God than all the infernal punishments imaginable.”

Teresa felt that the best evidence that her delights came from God was that the experiences gave her peace, inspiration, and encouragement. “If these effects are not present I would greatly doubt that the raptures come from God; on the contrary I would fear lest they be caused by rabies.”

At the age of 43, she became determined to found a new convent that went back to the basics of a contemplative order: a simple life of poverty devoted to prayer.

Trials and Tribulations

When plans leaked out about her first convent, St. Joseph’s, she was denounced from the pulpit, told by her sisters she should raise money for the convent she was already in, and threatened with the Inquisition. The town started legal proceedings against her. All because she wanted to try a simple life of prayer. In the face of this open war, she went ahead calmly, as if nothing was wrong, trusting in God.

“May God protect me from gloomy saints,” Teresa said, and that’s how she ran her convent. To her, spiritual life was an attitude of love, not a rule. Although she proclaimed poverty, she believed in work, not in begging. She believed in obedience to God more than penance. If you do something wrong, don’t punish yourself — change. When someone felt depressed, her advice was that she go some place where she could see the sky and take a walk. When someone was shocked that she was going to eat well, she answered, “There’s a time for partridge and a time for penance.” To her brother’s wish to meditate on hell, she answered, “Don’t.”

Teresa believed that the most powerful and acceptable prayer was that prayer that leads to action. Good effects were better than pious sensations that only make the person praying feel good.

At St. Joseph’s, she spent much of her time writing her Life. She wrote this book not for fun but because she was ordered to. Many people questioned her experiences and this book would clear her or condemn her. Because of this, she used a lot of camouflage in the book, following a profound thought with the statement, “But what do I know. I’m just a wretched woman.”

At 51, she felt it was time to spread her reform movement. She braved burning sun, ice and snow, thieves, and rat-infested inns to found more convents. But those obstacles were easy compared to what she face from her brothers and sisters in religious life. She was called “a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor” by the papal nuncio. When her former convent voted her in as prioress, the leader of the Carmelite order excommunicated the nuns. A vicar general stationed an officer of the law outside the door to keep her out. The other religious orders opposed her wherever she went. She often had to enter a town secretly in the middle of the night to avoid causing a riot.

Teresa looked on these difficulties as good publicity. Soon she had postulants clamoring to get into her reform convents. Many people thought about what she said and wanted to learn about prayer from her. Soon her ideas about prayer swept not only through Spain but all of Europe.

In 1582, she was invited to found a convent by an Archbishop but when she arrived in the middle of the pouring rain, he ordered her to leave. “And the weather so delightful too” was Teresa’s comment. Though very ill, she was commanded to attend a noblewoman giving birth. By the time they got there, the baby had already arrived so, as Teresa said, “The saint won’t be needed after all.” Too ill to leave, she died on October 4 at the age of 67.

She is the founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church for her writing and teaching on prayer, one of two women to be honored in this way.

Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano

(Memorial: October 7)

Chiara Badano was born in a small town, Sassello, in the province of Savona, Italy (Aqui Diocese) on 29th October, 1971. Sassello is a picturesque township situated between the mountains, reknowned for its mushrooms and chestnuts.

Chiara was the only child of a truck-driver, Ruggero Badano, and his wife Maria Teresa Caviglia. After 11 long years of marriage they were still childless, although their heart’s desire was to have children. It’s easy to imagine their tremendous joy when this baby arrived. From them she received a solid Christian education.

Ruggero Badano (Chiara’s father): “I couldn’t conceive a marriage without children, so when I went out with my friends, many of whom were already married and already had children, I suffered a lot, however, I never said anything. I just prayed, and I used to do so even while driving, as I was a truck driver.”

Maria Teresa Badano (Chiara’s mother): “Ruggero went many times to pray in a shrine in our diocese and eventually his prayers were heard. When Chiara was born, we immediately felt that she was a gift from Our Lady. With her arrival, the grace of our marriage sacrament grew stronger. Chiara… increased the love between us. She grew up into a beautiful and healthy child and she gave us great joy. Right from the start we felt in our hearts that Chiara was not only our child but first of all, she was God’s child, and as such, we had to bring her up respecting her freedom.”

Chiara Luce had a generous, extroverted and lively personality. At four years of age she carefully chose to give her toys to poor children.

Maria Teresa Badano (Chiara’s mother): “Chiara had many toys and like all children she liked to play. One day, while she was playing in her room and I was working in the kitchen, I told Chiara: “Surely, you have many toys, lots of them!” She replied: “Yes, why?” I said: “Couldn’t you give some to the poor?” She answered: “They are mine!” And she grabs her toys out of fear. After some time, while I am in the kitchen, I hear her say: “This one yes, this one no…!” I was curious, I looked from her door and saw that she had divided all her toys and then she told me: “Bring me a bag mom,” I brought her the bag and she put some of her toys into it. I asked her: “But Chiara, these are the new ones!” And she said: “Mom, I cannot give old and broken toys to poor children.”

Her Childhood

In first grade, she was attentive in all sorts of little ways toward her classmate, a girl who had lost her mom. At Christmas, Chiara Luce enthusiastically agreed with her mother’s proposal that they invite her to celebrate with them, and she asked that they use the most beautiful table cloth, “because today Jesus will be with us!”

She listened with great attention to the parables of the Gospel and carefully prepared to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. She touched people with her demeanor and great concentration while listening to the Word of God and attending Mass. She visited the elderly in a retirement home and, later, when they needed assistance, she would offer to spend the night by the bedside of her maternal grandparents.

Her life was full of little acts of love. One evening she wrote: “One of my classmates has chicken pox and everyone is afraid to go visit her. With my parents’ permission, I decided to do my homework over at her place so she wouldn’t feel lonely. I think that love is more important than fear.”

Chiara had a very generous nature. In primary school, for homework, she had to write a letter to Baby Jesus. She did not ask him for toys but to “make grandmother, and all the people who are sick, well again.” She could be quite stubborn too and at times argued with her parents, but she was always ready to make up. Any friction lasted only a few moments.

There are small, but significant, episodes which testify this. For example, once when her mother asked her to clear the table, she replied, “No, I don’t want to.” She got as far as her room, then turned back and said, “Mom, I’ve just remembered that story in the Gospel about the two workers who had to go and work in the vineyard; one said ‘yes’ but didn’t go; the other instead said ‘no’… Mom, give me that apron.” And she started clearing up.

Stories like this attest to the fact that she had received a solid Christian education at home through the parish community, through the parish priest who gave interesting catechism lessons and through the good friends she had. She had a special love for the elderly and really liked to help them.

9 years old – a special meeting:

When Chiara was just over nine years of age, she became attracted by the spirituality of the Focolare. It all began during a train journey where she me a girl who was not much older than her and soon became her best friend. Later on, she wrote: “I discovered the Gospel. I was not an authentic Christian because I did not live it completely. Now, I want to make this magnificent book the sole purpose of my life.”

Chiara attended a meeting of the young people of the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich, and joined the “Gen” (New Generation of the Focolare Movement). It was to be fundamental for her future life. In 1981, her parents began to share the same spirituality after they attended a Familyfest, an international meeting for families. Her mother said, “When we arrived home, my husband and I said to each other that if someone were to ask us when we got married, we would reply: ‘When we met this Ideal (spirituality of unity)’.” From that moment, the Badano family became an example of respect, warmth and unity.

Love Made Her Beautiful

St. Augustine often said that “love makes us beautiful.” Chiara, besides being a nice-looking girl, was, in fact clothed in evangelical beauty. Her photos show that even as an infant she had quite a strong character. What is so striking in these photos is the purity of her expression.

Her life is made up of successes and failures: lack of understanding and appreciation by some of her teachers (she failed an exam during her higher secondary school which she considered an injustice), friendships and marginalization (due to her Christian commitment, she was branded as “nun”). Her first crush soon turned out to be a disappointment. Chiara Luce tried to turn small and great difficulties into love, always dedicated to the persons close to her.

Chiara Luce regularly corresponded with Chiara Lubich, Focolare foundress, and this correspondence became frequent. She confided her discoveries and trials, up till the very end of her life. From her letters and her witness, her underlying joy and wonder in discovering life is very evident: a positive and cheerful vision. Chiara Luce was a girl like all the others: happy and lively, she liked music (had a beautiful voice), swimming, tennis and hiking in the mountains.

Chiara Luce had a wide circle of friends. Especially during summer, they met at a bar in Sassello which happened to be the only venue in town. Some youth opened up to her, confiding their doubts and difficulties, sure they would feel welcomed and listened to. To her mother who asked Chiara if she speaks to them about God, she answered: “I should not speak about Jesus, rather, I have to give him to them.” And how do you do so? “By the way I listen to them, by the way I dress and above all, by the way I love them.”

Summer 1988. Then something totally unforeseen happened.

While playing tennis one day, Chiara Luce experienced a very sharp pain in her shoulder. At first she didn’t take much notice and neither did her doctor. However, since the pain persisted, the doctor carried out further tests. The verdict: osteogenic sarcoma – one of the most serious and painful forms of cancer, and it had already begun to spread.

In February 1989, Chiara Luce underwent her first surgery.

On hearing this news, after a moment’s silence, she accepted it courageously, without tears or rebellion. “I’m young. I’m sure I’ll make it,” she said.

Maria Teresa (Chiara Luce’s mother): “I said to myself, now Chiara has said her ‘yes’ to Jesus, but how many times would she have to say this ‘yes’; how many times will she fall; how many times would she have to repeat it during surgical operations and  in moments of pain. However, Chiara Luce took twenty five minutes to say her ‘yes’ to God and from that moment on, she never looked back.”

Her father, Ruggero: “We were sure that Jesus was in our midst in that moment as he gave us the strength to accept it.” This was when a dramatic change took place in Chiara Luce’s life and her rapid ascent towards holiness began.

In June 1989, Chiara Luce underwent a second surgery. This time, hopes were slim.

She was admitted to the hospital many times and her kindness and unselfishness stood out. Setting aside her own need to rest, she spent time walking around the wards with a drug-dependent girl suffering from serious depression. This meant getting out of bed, despite the pain caused by the huge growth on her spine. “I’ll have time to rest later,” she said.

While Chiara Luce was in hospital, youth and adult friends of the Focolare Movement took turns in hospital in order to support her and her family. The treatment was painful and she wanted to be informed of every detail of her illness. For each new, painful surprise, her offering was firm: “For you, Jesus, if you want it, I want it too!”

One day Chiara Luce wrote: “Jesus sent me this illness at the right moment.”

Ferdinando Garetto, a young friend, said: “At first, we thought we would visit Chiara Luce to keep her spirits up, however, we soon realized that in fact, we were the ones who needed her. Her life was like a magnet drawing us towards her.” The cancer was spreading mercilessly, but Chiara Luce tried her best to live a normal and happy life.

One of the medical staff, Dr. Antonio Delogu, said, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” She had to undergo surgery twice. The subsequent chemotherapy treatment caused her to lose her hair, which she was very proud of. As each lock of hair fell, she would say simply, but sincerely, “For you, Jesus.” Her parents, ever at her side, used to remind her that hidden in all of her sufferings there was a mysterious plan of God.

In July 1989: the tumor spread quickly. Chiara Luce was not yet 18 years of age and she lost the use of her legs. She said, “If I had to choose between walking or going to heaven, I would choose going to heaven.” With the last CAT scan, all hopes of remission disappeared.

Slowly, Chiara Luce started having the foreboding of death: “Mom, is it fair to die at 17 years old?” and her mother replied, “I do not know. I only know that it is important to do God’s will, if this is his plan for you.” Whenever she heard this, Chiara Luce would redouble her efforts to love. So, for example, she gave all her savings to a friend leaving on a humanitarian mission to Africa, saying, “I have everything. I don’t need this anymore.”

At one point, Chiara Luce suffered severe bleeding and was in danger of dying. Her youth friends took turns praying all night. The doctors didn’t know whether to carry out a blood transfusion and prolong her suffering or just let her pass away…. They decide to carry out the transfusion. Due to it, Chiara Luce lived another year, a year which was very decisive for her.

For this last year, Chiara was completely immobile in bed: through telephone calls she followed an emerging group of Youth for a United World (Y4UW) of Savona. She also participated in their congresses and activities through messages, postcards and posters, and she tried to spread the spirituality of unity among her friends and school companions. She actually invited many of them to attend Genfest ’90 (an international Youth for a United World gathering, held in Rome in May of 1990). She had the joy of watching the Genfest ’90 through a satellite dish antenna mounted for this purpose on the roof of her home.

She refused to take morphine, saying: “It reduces my lucidity,” and she added, “and there’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.”

She told her mother: “Don’t shed any tears for me. I’m going to Jesus. At my funeral, I don’t want people crying, but singing with all their hearts.”

She wrote to her friends, “Previously I felt another world was awaiting me and the most I could do was to let go. Instead now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God which is slowly being unveiled to me.”

She confided: “I no longer ask Jesus to come and take me away to heaven. I don’t want to give him the impression that I don’t want to suffer any longer.” She knew what lay before her and she does not want to change anything; her prayer was to do God’s will in all things.

During a moment of great pain, she confided to her mother that she was singing in her heart a familiar song: “Eccomi Gesù anche oggi davanti a Te… – Here I am oh Jesus, today as well, I’m here before You…” Chiara Luce is aware that her meeting with Him was approaching and she starts preparing herself.

On one of those mornings following a night of severe pain, Chiara Luce spontaneously repeated at short intervals: “Come Lord Jesus.” At 11:00 am, a priest from the Focolare Movement paid her a surprise visit. She was very happy! In fact, from the very moment she woke up, she desired to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. This eventually became the food for her departing journey.

Chiara Luce passed away to Heaven on October 7, 1990.

Together with her mother, Chiara Luce prepared for her “wedding celebration,” her funeral. She herself gave instructions on how she wanted to be dressed (in a white dress); she chose the music, the songs, the flowers and the Mass readings. She told her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mom, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.'”

At the moment of her departure, her parents were at her bedside, and all her friends were in the adjoining room. There was a great sense of peace.

Her last words to her mother were: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.”

At the funeral, celebrated by Bishop Maritano, there are hundreds and hundreds of young people and many priests. A big bouquet of flowers and a telegram to Chiara Luce’s parents come from Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, saying: “We thank you God for this bright masterpiece.”

Chiara Luce Badano was beatified on September 25, 2010.

Let us pray to give Jesus our whole selves, even in moments of suffering – like Blessed Chiara!

Learn More at the Official Website: http://www.chiarabadano.org/?lang=en

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Our Saint of the Week started off as a boy whose father had died, and whose mother was kicked out of her home by creditors. Joseph was born in a stable. At a young age, he began to see visions. This made Joseph difficult to deal with; no one – not even his mother – wanted to deal with him. He apprenticed with a cobbler, who patiently kept him on.

At age 17, he applied to the Conventual Franciscan Friars, but his severe lack of education prevented his admission. So, he tried applying to the Capuchin Franciscans, and was accepted. However, it wasn’t long before Joseph’s ecstatic visions became an issue, and he was released due to his being unsuitable for work. (He couldn’t even be relied upon to wash dishes or serve bread.)

After wandering the streets, Joseph returned to family members – including his mother, only to be verbally abused and turned out the door.

Finally, he was employed as an oblate of a Franciscan convent near Cupertino, Italy, caring for the mule. Although he had very little education, his virtue and spiritual gifts were so great that he become a priest at age 25. His visions become so strong that he would stay entranced for days, while his Brothers pricked his fingers and held embers to his skin in an attempt to ‘snap him out of it’. These attempts were no use! He would often levitate and hear heavenly music.

Father Joseph’s ecstasies in public caused both admiration and disturbance in the community. For 35 years, he was not allowed to attend the Franciscans’ community prayers or celebrate Mass in the church. He was confined to his room and a private chapel. Despite his situation, Joseph retained his joyous spirit and saw God’s good will in everything.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us to strive for closeness with God at all times.

Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi

St. John Paul II beatified Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi on October 21, 2001.  They lived in Rome during the difficult years of World War II.  Luigi was a lawyer and Maria a professor.

They lived the Gospel message in their roles as husband and wife, as parents and as professionals.  They “lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way,” John Paul II said on the day of their beatification.

Luigi and Maria assisted refugees and those dislocated by the war, participated in the local Catholic community, and helped out with education courses and marriage preparation. They raised four children and created a home where the gift of faith could grow.

In 1952, Maria wrote in her book, Radiography of a Marriage:

“Since the birth of our first son, we began dedicating ourselves to the children … We both felt the tremendous responsibility in front of God, who had entrusted the children to our care and in front of our country that expected loving citizens … But one thing is certain; … we both desired what was best for them … even if it required personal sacrifices.”

Luigi and Maria were beatified for their dedication to God, to each other, to their children, and to their community.  In their commitment they modeled to us how we can find holiness in marriage by being present and attentive to each other, to our children and to the needs of our community.

Blesseds Luigi and Maria Quatrocchi, pray for all married couples.

(Image Source)

St. Andre Bessette

Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.

At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years,” he said.

In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.

When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

He is buried at the Oratory. He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Andre “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.” His feast day is Jan. 6th.

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St. Pio of Pietrelcina

(Feast Day: September 23rd)

Born to a southern Italian farm family, the son of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars in Morcone, Italy and joined the order at age 19. Suffered several health problems, and at one point his family thought he had tuberculosis. Ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910.

While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on 20 September 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. Reportedly able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920‘s he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide.

His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo founded by Padre Pio. On the night of 20 June 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning, doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy‘s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo’s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio’s monastery, the child‘s condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: “Don’t worry, you will soon be cured.” The miracle was approved by the Congregation and Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2001.

St. Jacinta Marto

Jacinta Marto was the little sister of St. Francisco Marto, and the youngest of the three shepherd children who experienced apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

She charmed everyone she knew with her pretty looks and graceful energy. Sometimes she would pout when she did not get her way. Flowers delighted her; she would create garlands of them for her beloved cousin Lucia. Jacinta loved Jesus dearly. Once when she was five years old, she heard the story of Christ’s Passion and cried, promising never to sin again.

After the first apparition of Our Lady, Lucia had all the children swear that they would keep it all a secret, but Jacinta couldn’t contain her excitement. Soon the village learned these little shepherds’ story. Most people viewed it all with a skeptical eye, but Lucia’s mother reacted in anger. Jacinta repented and promised never to tell another secret.

In fact, though she was the youngest, Jacinta was the most fervent in taking on mortifications like going without water on a hot day, refraining from meals, and wearing an uncomfortable, knotted cord around her waist—all in the hope of growing in virtue and offering little sacrifices so that other souls would be saved from hell. Jacinta came down with influenza, like her brother, and then contracted tuberculosis. She died on February 20, 1920. With her brother, she was beatified in 2000 and canonized on May 13, 2017 by Pope Francis.