Featured Saints

Photos (c) Associazione Pier Giorgio Frassati, Rome. Used with permission.

Pier Giorgio Frassati

Learn More about Pier Giorgio Frassati’s life & cause for canonization – FrassatiUSA.org
Special thanks to Chris with FrassatiUSA for help and permission in using photos and helping us promote this inspiring young man! Photos (c) Associazione Pier Giorgio Frassati, Rome.  Used with permission.

Known as the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes”

St. Gaetano Catanoso

Saint Gaetano was born on Valentine’s Day 1879 in Italy to a devout family. He had great devotion to Holy Face of Jesus. He once wrote: “The Holy Face is my life. He is my strength.”

Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902 and dedicated himself to serving his parishioners. In particular, he considered his duty as a priest to help those who were isolated and forgotten: youth without role models, abandoned senior citizens, and priests who were without support. He revived devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the region.

“If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus… we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host”.

Father Gaetano spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle. To serve the needs of the people in various parishes, he set up “flying squads” – mission teams of priests who would move from parish to parish giving homilies and hearing confessions. Gaetano himself served three decades as confessor for religious & prisoners, as a hospital chaplain, and as a Seminary spiritual director.

In 1934, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face – whose mission encompasses constant prayer of reparation, humble service in worship, catechesis & assistance to youth, priests, and the elderly.

He died in 1953, and was beatified not long after (1997) by Pope John Paul II. His canonization took place in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI. We celebrate his feast day on April 4.

St. Rita of Cascia

Our saint of the week is one whose whole sanctity is based on her great virtue of hope. St. Rita of Cascia was born in 1381 in Roccaporena, Italy. She lived a very difficult life on earth, but she never let it destroy her faith or her hope.

Although she had a deep wish to enter religious life, her parents arranged her marriage at a young age to a cruel and unfaithful man. Because of Rita’s prayers, he finally experienced a conversion after almost 20 years of unhappy marriage, only to be murdered by an enemy soon after his conversion. Her two sons became ill and died following their father’s death, leaving Rita without family.

She hoped again to enter the religious life, but was denied entrance to the Augustinian convent many times before finally being accepted. Upon entry, Rita was asked to tend to a dead piece of vine as an act of obedience. She watered the stick obediently, and it inexplicably yielded grapes. The plant still grows at the convent, and its leaves are distributed to those seeking miraculous healing.

For the rest of her life until her death in 1457, Rita experienced illness and an ugly, open wound on her forehead that repulsed those around her. Like the other calamities in her life, she accepted this situation with grace, viewing her wound as a physical participation in Jesus’ suffering from His crown of thorns. Through it all she never last hope. Although her life was filled with seemingly impossible circumstances and causes for despair, St. Rita never lost her hope in the loving mercy and help of God.

Her feast day is May 22. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. St. Rita of Cascia, pray for us.

Saints Louie & Zelie Martin

This couple is best known as the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower), but they are models of holiness in their own right. They are only the second married couple to be canonized.

Louis was born in 1823 in Bordeaux. When his hope of entering religious life was thwarted he became a watchmaker. Zelie Guerin was born in 1831. She, too, hoped to become a religious, but eventually understood that it was not God’s will. She became a successful lace-maker.

Louis and Zelie met in Alencon and were married in 1858 after a three-month courtship. For almost a year the couple lived as celibates, but the advice of a confessor changed their minds and they decided to raise as many children as possible for the glory of God. Zelie gave birth to nine children, five of whom entered religious life.

The family lived a comfortable lifestyle, but they also suffered the loss of four children at an early age and had to deal with a rebellious daughter. Their devotion never wavered, however. The couple lived modestly, reached out to the poor and the needy, and led daily prayers in the household. St. Therese would later write: “God gave me a father and a mother who were more worthy of heaven than of earth.”

In 1877, at age 45, Zelie Martin died of breast cancer. Louis and his daughters moved to Lisieux. Gradually his daughters left to enter the convent. Despite his loneliness he said: “It is a great, great honor for me that the Good Lord desires to take all of my children. If I had anything better, I would not hesitate to offer it to him.” Louis died in 1894 after suffering greatly, including a three-year stay in a psychiatric hospital.

Louis and Zelie Martin were beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. Their feast day is July 12, though a liturgical celebration in their honor is not included in the current General Roman Calendar.

Find out about more information for married couples.

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.

St. Louis de Montfort

Feast Day: April 28
(1673-1716)

He was born Louis Maie Grignon in Montfort, France, in 1673. Educated at Rennes, he was ordained there in 1700, becoming a chaplain in a hospital in Poitiers. His congregation, also called the Daughters of Divine Wisdom, started there. As his missions and sermons raised complaints, Louis went to Rome, where Pope Clement XI appointed him as a missionary apostolic. Louis is famous for fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary. In 1715, he also founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. His book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin remains popular. Louis died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. He was canonized in 1947.

(source)

St. Henry de Osso

Each week, we like to introduce you to a friend in the Communion of Saints, who is a model for us on our spiritual journey, as well as a friend who can pray for us.

Our Saint of the Week this week is a very special friend for Pilgrim Center of Hope, St. Henry de Osso. Our building at Pilgrim Center of Hope was formerly a convent of the Teresian Sisters, and St. Henry de Osso was the founder of their community. In fact, as you drive onto the property, you see a life-size bronze sculpture of St. Henry! After we share a bit with you about his life, we have a special invitation for you to venerate his relic this week.

He was born in Spain in 1840, and had a love for God and others at an early age. As a boy, he would pause while playing with friends, to accompany the parish priest as he brought Holy Communion to the sick.

He himself became a priest, and was deeply inspired by the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila. He began founding different groups for every ages, all based on her spirituality—friendship with Jesus in prayer that leads to action. An example is “The Friends of Jesus Club” for children, to teach them to love Jesus, to talk to Him every day, and to do whatever He asks.

Father Henry wrote numerous publications, many of which were directed to women, because he believed in the power of impacting women to transform communities and their love for God and one another. In January 1896, he wrote the following words in St. Teresa’s Magazine:

“My Jesus and my all. Let me love you or die, rather, to live and die loving you above everything else. Do not let me leave this world without having loved you and made you known and loved as much as I can. Give glory, honor and riches to others, but give me, your servant, only your love and that will be enough. My Jesus and my all. Praised be Jesus my love.”

He died January 27, 1896. Upon hearing of his death, a friend, Father Francisco Marsal wrote, “The servant of God, Henry de Ossó, was the most faithful model of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. His speech, conduct and actions always made me think: That is how Christ acted.”

We at Pilgrim Center of Hope especially love St. Henry de Osso because of his many connections to our story. Not only did our building used to belong to his religious order, the Teresian Sisters, but he was also canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 1993; just six days before Pilgrim Center of Hope was officially consecrated.

It’s especially fitting, then, that we invite you to Pilgrim Center of Hope this week, to venerate a relic of St. Henry de Osso, during our very first Day of Hope & Evening of Hope. These are events we’re beginning in 2018, to be monthly opportunities for you to be renewed in hope! The schedule is flexible, so come and go whenever you can. Join us this Thursday, January 11th for our Day of Hope from 9am to 2pm. You’re welcome to bring a brown bag lunch if you’d like. That evening at 6pm, we’ll offer a light dinner and have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Then at 7pm, we’ll begin the Evening of Hope, to conclude at 8:30pm. Again, come learn about St. Henry de Osso and venerate his relic, encounter Jesus, pray, we’ll have spiritual presentations and time for your questions & answers.

Fr. Augustine Tolton

‘Saint’ of the Week: Servant of God Fr. Augustine Tolton (cause for canonization now open)

From Ignatius Press:

Born into a black Catholic slave family, Fr. Augustine Tolton (1854-1897) conquered almost insurmountable odds to become one of the very first black priests in the United States. By his early death at 43, this pioneer black priest left behind a shining legacy of holy service to God, the Church and his people.

Toltons cause for canonization has been officially opened by the Archdiocese of Chicago as announced by Cardinal Francis George.

The thorough scholarly research and inspirational writing by Sister Caroline Hemesath on  the great legacy and courage of this former slave who became a priest in the face of incredible prejudice within the Church and society will be a source of strength for modern Christians who also face persecution. In American history, many black people have achieved success against great odds. But Father Tolton faced a different source of prejudice – an opposition from within the Church, the one institution he should have been able to rely on for compassion and support.

He endured many rebuffs, as a janitor spent long hours in the church in prayer, and attended clandestine classes taught by friendly priests and nuns who saw in his eyes a deep love of God and the Church, and a determination to serve his people. Denied theological training in America, his friends helped him to receive his priestly education, and ordination, in Rome. He later became the pastor of St. Monica’s Church in Chicago and established a flourishing center at St. Monica’s that was the focal point for black Catholics in Chicago for 30 years.

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis was born to wealthy cloth merchant Pietro Bernadone c. 1181. He grew up in the lap of luxury and indulged in drinking and partying as a youth. When Assisi and Perugia went to war, he joined the army and fought in defense of his home. Captured by the enemy while dressed as an aristocrat in fine clothing, his captors guessed that he must have come from a family that would pay his ransom. While in jail for a year while ransom negotiations were made, he became severely sick and began to receive visions from God.

After being freed, Francis returned to Assisi a different man. Riddled with physical and mental scars, the young Francis began spending much of his time in old churches around Assisi. One day while visiting the ruins of the Church of San Damiano, he heard the voice of God tell him, “Francis, rebuild my Church.” Thinking that Christ was telling him to rebuild San Damiano, he first began to repair the dilapidated building and devote himself to Christianity. While preaching and nursing lepers, he attracted several followers, beginning what would later become the religious Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans).

His group was unique for their time and place in that they lived in extreme poverty, relying on donations and living in base simplicity. Devoted themselves to serving the poorest of the poor and to preaching the Gospel, Francis and his identified with Christ’s self-description, “The Son of Man has come not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In order to be recognized as an official religious order, they traveled to Rome and met with Pope Innocent III. Though the Curia at the time saw Francis with suspicion, Innocent received a vision in which the universal Church was represented by a collapsing building, with Francis holding it up himself. After being authorized by the Pope, Francis withdrew from external affairs and later, while praying, received the wounds of the stigmata.

Our beloved Pope Francis chose his papal namesake during the papal conclave, when it became clear that he had been elected to the See of Peter. He said that his friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes “embraced me and kissed me and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor’… and that struck me… the poor…Immediately I thought of St Francis of Assisi. Francis was a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.” St. Francis of Assisi’s model of tender service to the poor and neglected has proven to be a guiding light in Pope Francis’ time at the head of the barque of the Church.

St. Josemaria Escriva

Born in Barbastro, Spain, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer sensed early in life that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1925, he briefly ministered in a rural parish, then moved to Madrid, where he obtained a doctorate in law. At the same time, Father Escriva – at the prompting of the Holy Spirit – was beginning to envision a movement that would offer ordinary people help in seeking holiness through their everyday activities. Known as Opus Dei, it was officially founded in 1928, and emphasizes that all men and women can become holy by performing their daily duties with a Christian spirit and by living a dynamic Catholic life. In his homily at the canonization of St. Josemaria, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of every believer following God’s will, as had Fr. Josemaria.

As Opus Dei grew, Father Escriva continued his studies in civil law and his priestly work among the poor and sick. During the Civil War in Spain, he had to exercise his ministry secretly and move from place to place. Only after the war did he return to Madrid and complete his doctoral studies. He later moved to Rome, and obtained a doctorate in theology. Pope Pius XII named him an honorary prelate and a consultor to two Vatican congregations. All the while, Opus Dei grew in size and influence.

When Msgr. Escriva died in 1975, Opus Dei could be found in dozens of places around the globe. Today, its membership includes approximately 83,000 laypersons and 1,800 priests in 60 countries.

St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for us!

Photo from ThePracticingCatholic.com; permission to use granted by Lisa A. Schmidt.