The First Woman Saint from Brazil was a Lifelong Diabetic

St. Paulne  of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus                            vatican.news

By Larry Peterson

She was born on December 16, 1865, in the town of Vigolo Vattaro, which was in northern Italy. At the time, this was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her father, Antonio Visintainer, and her mom, Anna Pianezzer, named her Amabile Lucia. Like most of the people in the area, Amabile’s parents, despite being quite poor, were also. devout Catholics.

When Amabile was ten years old, her family joined with some other families, and a total of about one hundred people emigrated to the State of Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine) located in Brazil. They settled in an area naming it Vigolo, the same name as the town they had left. Their new life was about to begin.

Even as a young child, Amabile displayed a pious and charitable nature that made people notice. She often spoke of serving God, and after receiving her First Holy Communion at the age of twelve, she became part of her parish by attending catechism class, visiting the sick, and cleaning the chapel. Amabile was never given the opportunity for an upper-level education. Still, her love of her faith and the poor and homeless fully compensated for the book learning she had not received.

On July 12, 1890, things took a dramatic change for Amabile. She and her dear friend, Virginia Rosa Nicolodi, began caring for a woman suffering from cancer. Their spiritual director, a Jesuit priest by the name of Luigi Rossi, asked them if they wanted to commit their lives to religious service, dedicating their lives to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. It was also about this time in Amabile’s life that the frequent thirst and increased urination became an interference in her daily life. Diabetes had reared its ugly head.

Father Rossi, through donations,  helped them acquire a small house, and they moved the woman in. The cared for her until her passing, and then another woman, Teresa Anna Maule, joined them as the third member of their tiny group. It was at this point that they founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.  With the blessing and approval of Most Reverend Jose de Camargo Barros, Bishop of Curitiba, they began their work.

During this time, the symptoms of diabetes became more frequent in Sister Pauline. The frequent trips to urinate, the ever-present thirst, and unexpected weight loss, were all evidence of an illness few knew anything about. (Insulin would not be discovered until 1921. The first insulin injection was given to a 14-year-old boy in Canada, on January 11, 1922).

The history of diabetes is scattered with ideas and treatments that more or less had one thing in common. There was ‘too much sugar” in the urine. The Egyptians had discovered diabetic symptoms thousands of years ago but did not know how to treat it. In India, they placed ants near a persons’ urine, and if they ants hurried to it, they knew it was because it had sugar in it. During the middle ages “water testers” were folks who tasted urine. If the urine tasted “sweet,” the person was diagnosed with diabetes. But, as far as treatments  for the disease, there were none save “dieting.”    Diabetes, prior to insulin, was basically a death sentence.

In December of that year, Amabile and her two friends, Virginia and Teresa, professed religious vows. Amabile took the name  Sister Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. Her title became Mother Pauline after she was named Superior General of the Order.

The holiness of life and apostolic zeal of Mother Pauline and her Sister companions attracted many vocations despite the poverty and the difficulties in which they lived. In 1903, Mother Pauline was elected Superior General “for life.” She left Nova Trento to take care of the orphans, the children of former slaves, and the old and abandoned slaves in the district of Ipiranga of Saõ Paulo. 

On May 19, 1933, Mother Pauline was granted the title of  Venerable Mother Foundress and received a Decree of Praise from the Holy See. Her health was continually evaporating, and by 1940, she had lost her middle finger and then her right arm. She spent the last year of her life blind and died on July 9, 1942. Her last words were, “God’s will be done.”

Mother Pauline was canonized a saint by Pope St., John Paul II in Vatican City on May 19, 2002. Because of her only being canonized in 2002, she is considered  the “unoffical” patroness of Diabetics. Her official status as patroness is coming soon.

St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Family and Death—The common denominator that helps many move forward is FAITH.

Life after Death                                                                 slideshare.net

By Larry Peterson

I am the oldest of five, and my mom died when I was sixteen. My brothers were eleven, six, and two. My sister was thirteen. Grandma lived with us and decided that dad had killed her daughter. Mom, who had just turned forty, had died of leukemia; so grandma was wrong. But dad believed that we kids were better off with Grandma looking after us than him doing it. He was wrong too

Since there was no reasoning with her, dad became a constant patron of the local saloons. (We lived in the south Bronx, and there were plenty of “watering holes” for him to choose from). The truth of it was—he could not live with her as she berated him mercilessly every chance she had, including calling him a no-good murderer. Yup, in keeping away from her got to know a lot of people, and everyone loved him.

Two years after mom passed on, Grandma had a massive stroke. Some events are emblazoned into your memory forever as if they just happened and this was one of them. Dad was home, and he yelled to me, “Something’s wrong with your grandmother. She needs your help. I’m calling the priest.”

I heard the word “priest” and hurried into the kitchen. Grandma was standing with her head arched into her shoulder and her hands were clamped like vise-grips onto the cupboard door. I had to pry her fingers up one at a time, so I could drag her to her bed. My little brothers and sister were staring at this spectacle taking place. It was surely a surreal moment.

I managed to drag her convulsing and contorted body to her bed. Dad was home and called the rectory. She was squeezing my hands so tight I thought they might break. She was conscious and looking me in the eyes as I looked into hers. “Grandma, pray with me. Okay grandma, C’mon, pray with me.”

Together we prayed the “Our Father.”  Barely able to speak, she made an Act of Contrition. She sort of relaxed a bit and her eyes closed. Father Quirk hurried in and gave her the Last Rites. She died soon after as I held her in my arms. The ambulance was too late.

Dad was like a lost pup. Monsignor Martin gave him some work at the church, and he drove a cab a few days a week. He was not living as much as he was existing. He drank too much and two years later he died of an acute attack of Pancreatitis. That was the moment we officially became orphans. I was old enough to work so things worked (pun intended) out—as best they could.

My brother Bobby passed away unexpectedly ten years ago, from a heart attack. He was 53.  The baby of the family, Johnny, sad to say, took his own life when he was 55. He had alcohol and other drug issues during his life and any deep-seated issues he may have had were never resolved. He had just turned two when Mom died and (according to several medical health professionals) his suicide was the final result of the losses he suffered during his formative years.

My high-school sweetheart, Loretta, stuck by my side (I had three brothers I was taking care of), and her family was not too happy about her and I being together. In hindsight, I understand why. But her loyalty and love for me was unshakable and we tied the knot several years later. We were married thirty-five wonderful years.

In 1978, she was expecting our fourth child and was in her sixth month of pregnancy when the baby was still-born. We named her Theresa Mary, and she is buried with my parents. Loretta became ill in 1991, was sick for a long time, and passed away from melanoma in 2003.

Four years later I married again. Her name was Marty (Martha), and we were both members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. In March of 2017, Marty passed away after fighting lymphoma and Alzheimer’s disease for six years. We had made it to our tenth anniversary.

So there you have it; our lives will all end in death. Many have reached out to God and embraced the faith He has gifted us. Many have rejected it. That is called a “choice.” For those who have embraced the God given gift of Faith they know that death is a NEW beginning. Having that gift to live with can help make living gratifying, no matter what the circumstances.

Copyright© Larry Peterson 2019

Satan tried to give us The Darkest Sunday Ever —Once again He Failed Miserably

St. Joseph Calasanz–Patron of Catholic Schools                 public domain

By Larry Peterson

It is Sunday morning, March 22, 2020. What follows is simply this man pondering a  morning that he never in a million years could have imagined happening. It is a Sunday morning without Mass. Yes, the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is nowhere to be found. Nowhere in my town, my county, my state, or my country is Mass being offered. Or is this just more “fake news?”

This unimagined directive was ordered by each of the Bishops and Archbishops and Cardinals, who oversee the 177 dioceses that occupy the entire United States of America. They did it to save us from a virus, known as COVID-19.  They were worried about us getting sick and were trying to protect us.

So today, Sunday, March 22, 2020, as the secular world rejoices, its best friend and biggest cheerleader, Satan, does not. He outsmarted himself. The Master of Darkness simply used the smallest weapon in his arsenal to halt the thing he hates more than anything else on this planet,  Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.  He used a virus; tiny, invisible, yet deadlier than the dreaded AK-47. But he failed because hate gets you nothing but more hate, and that is what Satan once again achieved, stuffing more hatred into his blackened spirit.

You see, Satan, shrouded in his hate-consumed black spirituality, forgot one thing; he forgot about the Catholic Priesthood. He may have been influential in having the churches close down, but he was unable to stop the celebration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ’s thousands of ordained priests will still be celebrating Mass in the churches.

Along with a few attendees to assist, the Most Holy Sacrifice will go on in individual parishes all over the United States and throughout the world. The faithful Catholics that attend Sunday Mass will not be present. They may be watching the Mass live-streamed or on TV. It will not be the same for them. They will be unable to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Maybe it is good for the laity to be deprived of this great gift anyway. A few weeks being told “NO” may help many of us appreciate a bit more what a great gift this is.

We must remember that the primary purpose of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to continue offering  Himself to His Father, in heaven, for all of us here who are sinners. Calvary lives on in perpetuity through the power of the Holy Priesthood and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  The priest stands in the shoes of Christ and changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Himself. Upon completion of the consecration, God’s angels escort the precious Gifts to God the Father Who, after accepting them, asks the Holy Spirit to give the now Risen Christ back to all of us  as His great gift of Salvation. We  are then able to receive HIM within our very selves, sharing in the life of God.     (See Eucharistic Prayer #1 The Roman Canon).

We should not worry because, on this day, March 22, 2020, there are still Masses being offered all around the world. We also might remember that a Mass being offered by a missionary alone in a cave in some faraway place has the same intrinsic value as the Holy Father offering a Mass St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday. Satan tried again and once more, failed to stifle the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He will never quit trying. He will always fail. But we all must always be vigilant because Satan and his minions never rest.

From the Roman Canon:

With deep reverence we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be carried by the hands of your holy angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty. And for all who will receive the most holy body and blood of your Son in this communion at the altar, let them be filled with all the blessings and gifts of heaven. (Through Christ our Lord, Amen.)

copyright ©Larry Peterson 2020

The Strange Paradox of COVID-19. Saving the Lonely by making them Lonelier

Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)

By Larry Peterson

I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy, satisfied, and successful. Yes, loneliness is capable of dragging the lonely into a world of hidden misery and often depression. It can attack anyone at any time, and it has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions.

I have been widowed twice and know full well how loneliness can occupy a unique place in the widowed equation. Loneliness also reaches out and captures those who may have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, or even a dear friend. I carry the loneliness package from all of those

Suddenly, loneliness has been gifted with a new victim to feast on: it can now extend its ravenous appetite into the pandemic known as COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.  Loneliness is about to ravage the senior citizen in ways never imagined.  One way will be to take away their chairs and sofas.

I have been bringing Holy Communion to the homebound on Sundays for over twenty years. It may be the most uplifting thing I do and I know I have been spiritually rewarded many times over. This past Sunday, I confronted a new wrinkle among my visits. I have one lady, Virginia (she is 98), who resides in an independent living apartment. It is a reasonably long walk from the parking lot to the building entrance. Once there, you use a keypad to gain access. I scroll to Virginia’s name and get her on the speaker. She buzzes me in.

As the sliding doors open, I stop short. No one is there. Every Sunday, there are four or five, maybe six, people in the lobby sitting around chatting and just visiting with each other. They know my name, and I always get a friendly welcome from them.  We exchange a few pleasantries (I usually joke about something), and then I go on my way.

But this Sunday no one is there. I just stood there because it took me a few seconds to realize that no one was there because the furniture was gone. The lobby was empty. There was no sofa, or chairs, or coffee table. They had been removed, and there was no place to sit and talk. This was done courtesy of the management “protecting” the residents against COVID-19 or coronavirus. We must keep the elderly SAFE. No problem; just keep them in their rooms—ALONE.

The situation impacted me deeply. I have been visiting the sick and homebound for a long time, and they do not ask for much. However, in their low profile quiet world, they look forward to sitting together (if possible) and just talking about whatever it is they talk about. My visit is a big deal for them. I see each of my folks for about ten minutes each, sometimes a bit longer.

I may be the only visitor they see all week. Yet my visit buoys them up for my next visit which is a week away.  The folks that gather in the lobby every week are non-catholic and do not receive. But I do get to say a short prayer with them, and they like my doing it. So do I.

But now, on this Sunday morning in March of the year 2020, it seems things have changed in a way no one could have ever imagined.  The powers that be want us to be alone. They want us to avoid each other, not touch each other, and become individual entities. But we are social beings and like it or not; we need each other. We need to touch and hold and shake hands and hug, especially among family and friends.

Nursing homes all over the country have been placed on “lockdown.” Patients in these places will be relegated to their beds. Family and friends will not be allowed to visit them. Independent living apartments will have empty lobbies and courtyards. There will be no place for the tenants to sit and congregate.

Will our country and maybe the world soon have billions of separate individuals with no one to talk to or visit with.  It is such a strange paradox; saving the lonely by making them lonlier than they already are.

We had all better pray like we never prayed before that this coronavirus is vanquished quickly.  We cannot live this way for very long.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

This Teenage Christian was Martyred for praying for another Christian being Martyred. Meet St. Victor and St. Corona*

St. Corona                                                                             Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

*Right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is the city of Anzu, Italy. There is a basilica in Anzu where the relics of St. Victor and St. Corona have been preserved since the ninth century. The name Corona is Latin for crown. The name, coronavirus, is given to the disease because it shows “crown-like” projections on their surfaces. There are other coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS. Ironically, St. Corona is considered as one of the patron saints of pandemics

For people who have faith in God, prayer is the most potent weapon they use to fight adversity. Since the onset of the coronavirus (real name COVID-19), many Catholics have been turning to a little known saint from the 2nd century by the name of Saint Corona. They are praying to her for her intercession with God to help us overcome this insidious and deadly worldwide pandemic.

Little is known about St. Corona, but she and the man she prayed for, St. Victor, are listed in the Roman martyrology and the Hagiography of the Church. There is ambiguity surrounding the dates and locations of  St. Victor’s and St. Corona’s martyrdom. Most sources say it was in Syria, which was under Roman rule. Some say Damascus others, Antioch.  Most agree they were put to death in the year 170 A.D. Most historians agree they died during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and that they were put to death by order of a Roman judge named Sebastian.

The story (legend) tells the tale of a Roman soldier named Victor. The Romans discovered that Victor was a Christian. The soldiers brought Victor before a judge, named Sebastian, who despised Christians. He decided to make an example out of Victor. He was bound to a pillar and summarily whipped until his skin was hanging from his body, and then Sebastian had his eyes gouged out. (I cannot imagine). Through it all, Victor never denied Christ.

Nearby wasa 16-year-old girl name Corona. She was the wife of one of the soldiers, and she was also a Christian. (Corona’s husband did not know his wife was a Christian).  As Victor was being brutalized, Corona decided she needed to help the slowly dying man. She chose to announce her Christianity to all present and hurried over to where they were torturing Victor. She knelt and began to pray for him, letting him know she was there for him. It did not take very long for the soldiers to bring her before Sebastian.

Sebastian was livid that this young woman had so disrespected his authority. He immediately had her put in the prison and tortured. Then, he ordered her tied to the tops of two palm trees, which had been pulled down to the ground. At his signal, the ropes holding the trees down were cut. The trees sprang back away from each other to an upright position. The force was so great that Corona’s body was ripped apart. Then Sebastian ordered Victor beheaded.

The remains in the basilica have been there since the ninth century. In 1943 and again in 1981, they were examined, and the bones are from both a male and female. In the 1981 examination, they discovered cedar pollen, which was a typical plant from the Mediterranean basin during the time in question. Archaeologists confirm that this adheres to ancient Syria and Cyprus.

Saint Victor and Saint Corona are pre-congregation saints meaning that they were chosen as saints prior to Church canonization being standardized. The first saint canonized by a pope was Ulrich, the bishop of Augsburg, who died in 973. He was canonized by Pope John XV at the Lateran Council of 993. Canonization became the general law of the church under Pope Gregory IX (1227-41).

Saint Corona’s feast day, along with Saint Victor’s, is May 14th. We ask both of them to pray for us all that this pandemic subsides.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Meet The Pandemic Saints—The Church’s alternative to the CDC

Saints to call on in a Pandemic

aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The Catholic Church has patron saints for many causes. There are so many they even had to be alphabetized.  Under the letter  A, there are  23 named saints such as  St. Agatha, the Patroness of bakers and nurses, .and the great Augustine of Hippo,  the patron saint of printers and brewmasters. Under G, there is St. George, who is responsible for fifteen patronages, including butchers, shepherds, and Boy Scouts.

You get the idea; we Catholics have a lot of patron saints, and almost every facet of life experience seems to be covered. If it looks impossible, we can always turn to St.Jude, the Patron of Impossible. We even have some saints that protect us against pandemics. Since Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints we can strike up a conversation with if we might need some help with coping with Coronavirus.

Let us start with the Four Holy Marshalls. Of the four, we are only including two; St. Quirinus of Neuss, the patron saint. for fighting  Smallpox and St. Anthony the Great, the patron saint for combatting the Plague.

  • Quirinus of Neuss –Patron Saint of Bubonic Plague and Smallpox

Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D.  Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian. But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for being Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.

We move ahead 1500 years and documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirius’s body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against Bubonic Plague and Smallpox.

This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’s feast day of March 30. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.” 

 

  • Anthony the GreatPatron of Infectious Diseases

One of the greatest saints of the early Church.  Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian Monasticism.  He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes.  He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.

St. Anthony the Great is also the Patron to fight infectious diseases. We might all call on him now since Coronavirus is just that, an infectious disease.

  • Edwin the Martyr ( St. Edmund)—Patron of Pandemics

 Edmund is the acknowledged Patron St. of Pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly, hardly anything is known about him. Yet. there are churches all over England dedicated to him. Edmund cannot be placed within any ruling dynasty yet the Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869. Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint of pandemics is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.

We might mention a few more saints who are patrons of familiar illnesses and afflictions:

  • Damien of Molokai—Patron Saint of those with Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)
  • Dymphna—The 15 year old Irish girl whi is patroness of emotiona disorders.
  • The Fourteen Holy Helpers—epidemics, Bubonic Plague aka the Black Death
  • St. Matthias Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
  • Tryphon Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts.

The list seems endless so if you ever need a patron saint for anything, here is a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_patron_saints_by_occupation_and_activity

There most likely is some saint waiting just for your call.

copyright

His name was Devasahayam, and he was the First Indian Martyr. His Canonization has been approved. Date TBA

Bl. Devasahayam                                                             youtube.com

By Larry Peterson

He was born as Nilikandan Pillai* in 1712 in the southern part of the Indian sub-continent. He grew up serving in the palace of King Marthanda Varma, the ruler of Travancore in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Nilikandan was a good man and a hard worker who always tried his best to do the right thing. The King liked him, but Nilikindan lost much of his possessions after several poor harvests. He was very depressed and feared losing the respect of the King and the people.

Nilikandan explained his problems to a devout Catholic man, a Dutch official by the name of Benedictus Eustachio de Lannoy. Benedictus explained to Nilikandan the meaning of suffering. He told him how Catholics had to put their trust in God for all things. Nilikandan came to believe and,  after nine months of preparation, was baptized by Father Giovanni Butarri, a Jesuit missionary. The year was 1745, and he took the name Devasahayam which is the Tamil translation of the biblical name, Lazarus, which means “God has helped.”

On his Baptism day, Devasahayam dedicated himself solemnly to Christ. He prayed, ““No one forced me to come; I came by my own free will. I know my heart: He is my God. I have decided to follow Him and will do so my whole life.” His life was no longer the same; Devasahayam dedicated himself to the proclamation of the Gospel for four years.

The leaders of the local religions were quite upset with Devasahayam’s conversion to Christianity. He began being threatened and soon after beaten. Before long, he was imprisoned and tortured. This went on for three years. Despite the brutal treatment, Devasahayam remained steadfast in his faith. His wife, Bhargavi Ammal, also became Catholic. She took the name Gnanapoo which means Theresa.  The combined conversion of both the husband and wife seriously offended the upper-caste Hindus, and the King commanded Devasahayam to reconvert to Hinduism. He refused.

Devasahayam was setting an example that many people began to follow.  The king was furious and ordered his arrest. The year was 1749 and Devasahayam was charged with treason and espionage. He was dragged into prison,m tortured and then banished to the Aralaimozhy Forest, in a remote section of the country. Documents attest to the fact that on the journey to the forest  Devasahayam was beaten regularly, had pepper rubbed in his wounds and into his nostrils, was exposed to the brutal sun, and given contaminated water to drink.

Crying, he prayed to God and fell, smashing his elbow on a rock. Water poured from the rock, and it was drinkable water. This rock continues to pour forth water to this day and people visit the fountain in large numbers. Many have received miraculous cures from drinking the water. It is called  Muttidichanparai  meaning the rock from which water gushed forth.

In 1752, he was taken into  Pandya country near the edge of the forest. He was in deep meditation when people from the nearby village began visiting the holy man. The Hindus decided it was time to get rid of  Devasahayam. A soldier went up to where  Devasahayam was praying and attempted to shoot Devasahayam, but his gun would not fire. Devasahayam took the gun in his hand and blessed it. Then he gave it back to the soldier, and the soldier aimed and fired five times, killing Devasahayam. His body was cast over a cliff near the foothills of Kattadimala. The date was January 14, 1752.

Local Christians retrieved the body and buried Devasahayam in front of the altar of St. Francis Xavier Church, which today is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Kottar. He was declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on December 2, 2012.  He has been known as Blessed Devasahayam Pailli.*

Since a new miracle has been credited to Blessed  Devasahayam and he will now be declared a saint, the caste name of Pailli will be dropped. He is, until canonization,  Blessed  Devasahayam. He will become Saint Devasahayam.

*Pillai is a Hindu caste name. Apparently it was never used when he was baptized. People from that caste did not want the Pillai name included with a Catholic saint’s name. The Vatican issued a decree approving this request on February 25, 2020.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020