Meet Mother Maria Felix Torres who said to Jesus, “I am yours fully and consciously forever.”

Venerable Mother Maria Felix Torres

By Larry Peterson

Maria Felix Torres was born on August 25, 1907, in the village of Albelda (Huesca), Spain. This was the beginning of the 20th century, and technological breakthroughs, economic changes, combined with religious tensions among the traditional type religious faiths, were beginning to affect most people’s thoughts. The new existentialist believed that individuals knew what was best for themselves. This philosophy was rapidly permeating the behavior and thinking of many average citizens. It eliminated God from their lives.

The family was crucial for society’s ability to maintaining a stable and respectful populace. Most people realized that that genetic makeup was not nearly as important as parental example, parental love, and quality education. Maria Felix’s parents were very aware of these conditions and would have a profound influence on their daughter’s life.

Maria’s dad, Ramon Surigue, was a man of simple beginnings who earned his engineering degree by taking correspondence courses at Cervera College in Valencia. He also made sure to read quality books to round out his personality and his confidence. He began a career as a civil engineer and this is where he met his wife, Florentina Torres Fumas. She was the youngest daughter of one of the richest families in the province of Huesca. Younger than Ramon, she loved traditional values and knew what her role in the family should be. This husband and wife team made for a perfect balance between them to raise a family.

Maria was their only girl, and she also became the sole survivor among the four children. Maria’s dad had always believed that the best legacy he could leave his children was a solid academic and humanitarian education, and he would send his daughter to the best schools he could find.  Maria quickly displayed her high level of intelligence, and she read everything she could get her hands on. It was not long before a mathematics professor recommended to her father that he send his daughter to Lerida to go to its well regarded high school.

Maria became a resident student at the Company of Mary Our Lady School in Lerida. She became the youngest girl in her class and also proved to be the most intelligent. In addition to her intelligence, Mother Maria had natural leadership skills, and her sensitivity to religious matters was obvious to all who knew her. When she was fourteen she experienced the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. These readings affected her deeply and she felt God’s love and a call deeply within herself. In her diary, she would write,  “I am His, totally and consciously His forever.”

She knew her calling was to the religious life, but her parents objected. She honored their wishes by going to the University of Zaragoza, earning a degree in Chemistry in 1930. But she knew that Jesus wanted her for His own. While teaching in school, she began doing apostolic work among college students. On August 15, 1934, she and a friend, Carmen Aige, started their ministry, dedicated to saving souls and in service to the Church. It was not long before young college students were joining her way of life. It was called the Congregation of the Savior.

In 1940, Maria’s Order received canonical permission to live as a religious community, and, in 1952, they gained admission into the Church as a Religious Congregation of Diocesan Right. This means the Order is under the authority of the local bishop. It was not until 1986 that the Order was approved as a Pontifical Right, meaning it was now under the jurisdiction of the Pope.

Once the Pontifical Right was assigned to the Order it spread throughout Spain, across the sea to South America, and to the United States. Mother Maria also established the schools known as the Mater Salvatoris Schools. These schools were dedicated citing faithful adhesion to the Pope, tender love for our Blessed Mother, and to give young people the basis to evangelize, leading society to Christ.

Mother Maria Felix served as Superior General of the Congregation for eighteen years. She was a truly humble woman, and although she was the “soul and mother” of the Congregation she fulfilled her duties without ever acknowledging her position or seeking any praise or thanks. When she died on January 12, 2001, only a few people knew that she was the Foundress of the Order.

Mother Mary Felix was declared a Servant of God in 2009. On July 11, 2020, Pope Francis declared her a woman of “heroic virtue” and she now bears the title of Venerable Maria Felix Torres.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

 


He was a Geographer, an Astronomer, an Explorer, and a Jesuit Missionary—His final Title will be Saint

Venerable Eusebio Kino                         aleteia.jpg

By Larry Peterson

Eusebio Kino was born and baptized on Augst 10, 1645. His parents, Franz Kuhn and Margherita Luchi, members of the local nobility. Their position enabled them to send their son to the more exceptional schools where it was quite evident that he was a brilliant child.  Since he demonstrated such an excellent learning ability, his parents sent him to the Jesuit College at Trent, where he studied science and mathematics. From there, he traveled to the Jesuit College at Hall, near Innsbruck, Austria. While there, he contracted an unidentified illness that almost took his life.

Eusebio dreamed often, and when he was ill, he had a deep-seated dream that frightened him greatly. He vowed that if his patron, St. Francis Xavier, would intercede with God to help him get better, he would join the Society of Jesus. His health did return, and for the rest of his life, Eusebio thanked God and Francis Xavier for his recovery. He even took the name Francisco and added it to his own. From then on, he was known as Eusebio Francisco Kino. He joined the Society of Jesus on November 20, 1665, when he was twenty years old.

He received his religious training at such places as Freiburg, Ingolstadt, and Landsburg in Bavaria. He finished his journey to ordination on June 12, 1677, when he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders and became a priest. For years Father Kino had hoped to go to China, and he received word that he and a fellow Austrian were being sent. But it was not to be. Only one was destined for the Phillippines and the other for Mexico. The two men drew a slip of paper from a box. Father Kino drew Mexico. His dreams of going to China would not come true.

Being assigned to go the New Spain was one thing, getting there another. Delays due to weather and sickness and various other conditions while crossing from Europe caused Father Kino to miss the ship that was to take him to New Spain. Unlike today if a person misses an air flight or a train stop, they may need up to a day to recover; Father Eusebio would have to wait a year for another ship. He did not waste his time. During the time he waited, he studied the comet known as Kirch’s Comet. His findings were published as  Exposición astronómica de el cometa.[1] (Astronomical exhibition of the comet).

It was not until 1683 that Father Kino’s first assignment was reached and undertaken. The expedition he was directing arrived at the Baja California peninsula of Las Californias province.  He established the Mission of San Bruno, but a severe drought forced them to leave the mission and return to the capital of Mexico City.

Finally, on March 14, 1687, Father Eusebio Kino began his work in  Pimeria Alta (upper Pima land—named after indigenous natives). He started the first mission in the area (this is now southern California, Arizona, and Northern Mexico). Father Kino followed ancient trade routes, which were later expanded into roads. He covered over 50,000 square miles on horseback while mapping an area 200 miles (329 km) long and 250 miles (400km) wide. Father Kino’s maps proved to be the most precise maps of the area for more than 150 years after his death. Kino is the first person to identify and name the Colorado River.

Father Kino introduced European seeds to the natives enabling them to grow fruits, herbs and grains. He taught them how to raise livestock, including sheep, goats,  and cattle. Amazingly. Father Kino’s first herd of twenty cattle brought into Pimeria Alta grew to over 70,000 head during the time he was there. Historians refer to Father Kino as Arizona’s first rancher.

Father Kino is honored both in Mexico and in the United States. He established close to thirty missions during his time in the southwest. Today there are towns, schools, monuments, streets, while statues of him are in many places, including the United States Capital’s Statuary Hall. The largest statue of Father Kino stands along the US-Mexican border in Tijuana, Baja, California.

There is much more, including the Kino Border Initiative, The Kino Heritage Society, ,Fundacion Kino, and the Kino Catechetical Institute.

On July 11, 2020, Pope Francis declared Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a person of “heroic virtue” elevating him to the title of Venerable. Next stop–Beatification

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Mariantonia Sama, bedridden for 57 years with her legs bent as if crucified; to be proclaimed Blessed by the Church

Mariantonia Sama

By Larry Peterson

Mariantonia Sama was born on March 2, 1875, in the Catanzaro, located in the southeastern section of Italy. Her father died a few months before her birth, and her mom was on her own in caring for her new baby. She was quite poor, and she and her child lived in a tiny home located on a street that was only about five feet wide. The dwellings surrounding the little house were all larger, and besides being small, their place was never exposed to pure daylight.

Mariantonia was baptized on March 3 in the local parish, and her paternal grandmother and maternal great-uncle stood in as her Godparents. Mariantonia received her First Holy Communion and her Confirmation sometime during 1882.

Mariantonia and her mom became very close, as all they had was each other. Mariantonia’s mom was illiterate, and so it was for her daughter. Together, using a borrowed mule, they would load it with wheat and take it to the mill. They would exchange it for flour, which they brought back to town. The flour was traded for bread and other food to eat.

Sometime during the year 1886, Mariantonia, her mom, and some relatives walked to the Saturo River to wash clothing. There was a mill along the riverbank, and it provided a semblance of running water to use in clothes washing. On the way, Mariantonia, who was very thirsty, stopped at a large puddle and bent down and drank the water from it. It seemed clean, but unfortunately, it was contaminated.

When Mariantonia and her mom arrived home, the child curled up, screaming in pain. Her unexplained and frightening behavior continued for more than a month, and during this time, she would not only shake, but her body would seem to vibrate, and she would babble sounds that made no sense. People began suggesting that the girl was the victim of diabolical possession. Her behavior transformed from docile to hostile, and she would scream terrible words. This situation went on for eight years. Some doctors thought it neurological, others emotional, and still others, gastrointestinal. Many thought it was time to give this over to God.

In 1894, when Mariantonia was twenty years old,  a well-known woman in the area known as the Baroness Enrichetta Scoppa,  took it upon herself to intervene in an attempt  to help Mariantonia and her mom. She organized a trip to the Carthusian convent of San Bruno, where the monks would pray over her, and an exorcism would be conducted. Mariontonia was carried inside a box for eight hours to get to the convent.

Once inside the convent, a silver bust of St. Bruno holding his skull and bones was shown to Mariantonia. It took five hours of exorcism in front of the bust and crucifix before the devil abandoned Mariantonia’s body. People heard a growling voice say, “I leave her alive, but I leave her crippled.”

Mariantonia believed that the bust of St. Bruno was smiling at her. She also seemingly felt much better and was able to get up. Her recovery was attributed to the intercession of St. Bruno. She was taken home and seemed better for a short time. But before long, she was once again bedridden. This time with her legs bent at the knees. For the next 57 years, she would remain in that position, crippled by arthritis. Her legs were bent as if she had been crucified.

People began coming to see Mariantonia looking for advice, to obtain grace, spirituality, and even a miracle. Baroness Scoppa had allowed the Sisters of the Sacred Heart to settle in her vacant palace, and they made Mariantonia an honorary “sister,” even covering her head with a black veil. She became known as the “Nun of San Bruno,” and she was never a nun at all.

Mariantonia died on May 27, 1953. She was 78 years old. Even after she died, they could not straighten her legs, and she was buried that way. She had been holy in life, and even after her death, miracles were attributed to her. On December 18, 2017, she was declared Venerable.

Vittoria C. from Sant’Andrea was the miracle case validated for Mariantonia’s beatification. Between December 12 and 13 in 2004, she was cured overnight of a degenerative osteoarthritis. She invoked Mariantonia during the night to help with the pain, and it vanished and never returned. This miracle was approved by Pope Francis on July 10, 2020. The Beatification will take place in 2021.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


The Catholic Church—Saying “NO” to a World Screaming “YES”

St. Peter’s Balcony; Vatican pixabay

By Larry Peterson

How did the precepts of ethics and morality, based on the Ten Commandments and the “Golden Rule”, become a pariah to so many? How did these principles ever become inverted?  Why have they seemingly been tossed by many into the dumpster of the outdated and irrelevant?

There is one critical aspect that drives this onslaught, and I think we do not pay close enough attention to it. Those that are flailing away at our religious heritage and freedoms are not committing these attacks on their own. They have a brilliant, diabolical, hate-consumed leader inspiring them onward. Their leader’s name is Satan, and he is the lover of evil and the master of deceit and deception.

I believe we do not pay enough attention to God’s first creation, the angels. These were the spirit beings that God created, endowing them with knowledge, abounding love, and happiness. They lacked nothing and were to spend eternity in the presence of their Creator, the Triune God.  But God, as he did to His human creations, had given the angels free will.

Unlike humankind, the angels had one choice to make. They could return the love given to them back to God or refuse. Some, led by Lucifer, the greatest of angels, turned on God believing Lucifer’s prideful boast that they could become like God.  This choice caused the creation of Hell, and the newly “fallen angels” became Hell’s permanent residents.

This takes us to knowing and believing that which comes from 1 John 4:16,  “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is Love, and whoever remains in Love remains in God and God in Him.” Satan and his followers are consumed with anti-love, commonly called hate. And their biggest and most hated enemy after Jesus Christ is the church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church.

Satan’s hatred for the true Church of Christ is unimaginable. It fills him and his minions with an inconceivable rage, a force so powerful if we could hear the sound it makes we would turn instantly deaf as our ear drums start exploding.  But, no matter how fierce and intense the onslaught, Holy Mother Church still spits in his evil eye and says NO!

Over the centuries, the Church has withstood Satan’s evil attacks even when they came from within. It also rejects today’s “liberation theology,” the perverse philosophy that suggests, “Jesus wants you to be happy, so just enjoy yourself.” The fact is, Jesus wants us to be happy with him in heaven. God’s creation, Mother Earth, is the testing grounds where we can earn the “right’ to join Him there. While we live out our lives on earth, we do not get to decide what that right might be. We have the commandments, the Magisterium, and the Tradition of the Church to guide us on our life’s journey. As did the fallen angels, we get the right to choose whether to follow or not

The Church has teachings that have been in place for two thousand years. But secularists maintain that the Church has “nerve and audacity” to use the words, SIN, and MORALITY. In today’s self-indulged, secular world, it seems anyone who might suggest that a particular behavior is “immoral” or “sinful” is branded and vilified as intolerant, hateful, racist and even uncaring. How pompous and pride filled this is. Only the new age secularists would have the audacity to suggest that their reversed “virtue” is GOOD and the concept of self-denial is SINFUL.

My favorite comic book character was, Superman. Occasionally, Superman would get stuck in an alternative universe called “Bizarro World”. It was a place where everything was backwards. Up was down, hello meant good-bye and yes meant no. Even the planet, Htrae, (Earth backwards), was shaped like a cube. It is the same with the folly of reversed secular virtue. I call this world “Novis,” which is Latin for the word “reverse.”

On Novis, killing is “Good” and if you stand against it you are evil. For instance, take abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and partial-birth abortion. The Church says NO! On Novis, the Church is now bad. Fornication and people “hooking up” for one-night stands is heralded as “Good”. The Church says NO!  On Novis the Church is told to mind its own business. Divorced and remarried Catholics want to receive the Holy Eucharist. The Church, as it always has done, says NO!  On Novis, the Church is called intolerant. On Novis, if it makes you “happy”, ENJOY!

In this new world, the Church is deemed intolerant and insensitive and is out of touch with the “times” and needs to get into the 21st century. Homosexuals demand to be married in the Church. The Church says NO!  Marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY. Satan screams from his evil world to his followers, Say “YES! YES! YES!” Holy Mother Church says “NO!” In the alternative universe, the Catholic Church is evil.

On Novis the Novitians unwittingly listen to Satan’s message and pound on the dogmatic doors of the Catholic Church. They demand that they be opened to personal wants and desires. Unlike Bizarro World, where things are just ‘crazy’ on Novis, things are mean and vindictive. Novis is ruled by hate. Satan is Hate.

There are other Christian denominations that have succumbed to outside pressures and reworked their “teachings” to accommodate the demands from the people of Novis. They have been praised as “progressive” and “in touch” with the needs of the citizens of Novis. The reality is, they have failed their followers. But the Catholic Church has not caved into the demands and pressures and it never will. We all know that there re those within the church who would dare to destroy it. They have cast their lot with the unholy one who hates anything Catholic in unimaginable ways.

The Catholic Church still teaches that there are Seven Deadly Sins. They are pride, greed,  lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth aka laziness. Note the key word in describing these sins is the word “deadly”. The Church teaches that these sins can destroy the soul of anyone who might indulge these human appetites. The Church also offers forgiveness for falling prey to these sins. This forgiveness is available 24/7.

On the reverse world of Novis, the Church is mocked and laughed at for suggesting these actions offend God. These acts are acceptable because an individual committing one of these sins is just being human and God made us that way and wants us to be “happy”. So–sin away. Just remember, if you subscribe to that concept the victory in the fight for your soul goes to Satan.

Both the clergy and the laity need to be more protective of the faith we love. Many worry about being “PC” and not offending anyone.  We might start by going to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. Chapter 6: 16-17.

In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,

To quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit,

which is the word of God.

copyright© Larry Peterson 2020


The Unfailing Way to get out of Purgatory—Turn to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel                                                                                                       public domain

By Larry Peterson

There is a place near where e prophet Elija lived, and it is one of the most biblical places on earth. It is 1,742 feet above sea level and hovers high over the coast of the Mediterranean. It was here where Elija prayed to God, asking Him to save Israel from the onslaught of an ongoing drought.

He prayed and prayed and would ask his servant to go up the mountain and look for signs of rain. On the seventh try, Elijah’s servant returned, exclaiming, “Behold, a little cloud that looked like a man’s foot rose from the sea.” Soon after, torrential rains fell upon the parched land. The crops grew, the animals thrived,  and the people were saved. The place was called Mount Carmel.

Elijah saw the cloud as the symbol mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son and name Him Emanuel.”

Many hermits lived on Mount Carmel, and following Elijah’s example would continually pray for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. The very beginnings of the Carmelite Order can be traced back to Elijah and the hermits of Mount Carmel. Many consider these hermits as the first Carmelites.

These hermits lived on Mount Carmel during the 12th and 13th centuries. In the midst of their hermitages, they built a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they called the Lady of the Place. In the 13th century, Simon Stock was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He had been elected as the 6th superior-general of the Carmelites.

He joined a group of hermits on Mount Carmel. On Sunday, July 16, 1251, Simon Stock was kneeling in prayer when Our Lady appeared to him. The Blessed Mother said to Simon, “Hoc erit tibi et cunctis Carmelitis privilegium, in hochabitu moriens salvabitur.” (This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in the habit shall be saved.”

It is said that the Blessed Mother gave the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (also known as the Brown Scapular) to Simon Stock. Six months later, on January 13, 1252, the order received a letter of protection from Pope Innocent IV, defending them from any harassment or denial of this event.

Most of us know of the Sabbatine Privilege. This is attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular. The name, Sabbatine Privilege, comes from a papal bull issued by Pope John XXII on March 3, 1322. According to the Holy Father, the Blessed Virgin gave him the following message in a vision which was directed to all those who wear the Brown Scapular. “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday (Sabbath) after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory, I shall free, so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”

Based on Church tradition, three conditions must be fulfilled to obtain the benfeits of this Privilege and the Scapular:  1) wear the Brown Scapular; 2) Observe chastity according to one’s state in life; 3) pray the Rosary. Also, to receive the spiritual blessings associated with the Scapular, it is necessary to be formally be enrolled in the Brown Scapular by either a priest or a layperson who has been given the authority to do so. Once enrolled, no other scapular needs to be blessed before wearing. The blessing and imposition are attached to the enrolled person for life.

The feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is July 16, the same day she appeared to Simon  Stock. Interestingly, Simon Stock was never officially canonized. He has been venerated by the Carmeilites since 1564. And with Vatican approval, he has been given the feasr day of May 16. He is also called Saint Simon Stock and churches and schools have been named after him,

On the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Brown Scapular, Pope St. John Paul II said, “Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church.”

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


The Great Saint Benedict of Nursia–His Legacy includes being Father of all Western monks and the Benedictine Order Order

St. Benedict  (Eastern Icon)_ public domain

By Larry Peterson

Pope St. Gregory the Great, considered one of the greatest popes, is famous for writing the books known as the Dialogues of St. Gregory. The Dialogues are presented in four volumes where everything from the lives of the saints, to miracles, and even discussion on the eternity of the soul take place.

But Volume Two of the Dialogues is dedicated to just one person. That man is none other than Benedict of Nursia. Volume Two is spread out into thirty-eight chapters. It is the only recognized authority on Benedict’s life, a life that has left an indelible mark on the Catholic faith. Included in his legacy is what is known as the Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule is used in convents and monasteries around the world to this very day. Let’s meet St. Benedict.

St. Gregory details many signs and wonders in his Dialogues. However, when it comes to Benedict, and without using dates, his writing becomes historical. It begins with Benedict being born sometime around the year 480 A.D and having a twin sister, named Scholastica. They were born of good parents, and their father was a Roman noble of Nursia. Benedict was sent to Roman schools while Scholastica, being a woman, would stay at home until ready for marriage.

Gregory writes that Benedict left school sometime around the year 500. He had mastered a solid background of moral principle and decency. Combined with a solid understanding of what it meant for those who chose to lead corrupt and immoral lives, he knew his life would always point toward godliness.  It was during this time frame when Benedict fell deeply in love with a woman. The couple did break up, and this deeply affected him. It was after this part of his life that he left Rome. His purpose was to become a hermit.

Benedict settled down about forty miles from Rome, finding a suitable cave in the Simbruini Mountains. After a short while, Benedict met a monk named Romanus of Subiaco. Romanus wanted to know why Benedict had come to the area. Upon explanation by Benedict, Romanus, who had a monastery on the top of the mountain, gave Benedict the monk’s habit and then approved of him being a hermit for the next three years.

During this period, Romanus would bring Benedict food, which he lowered down by rope. At the same time, Benedict matured both in mind and character. His life of discipline and solitude also won him the respect of local Christians. When the abbot of a nearby monastery died, the monks came to him and asked him to be their new abbot.

Benedict knew of their lax discipline and rejected their offer. They pleaded with him, and he finally agreed. But Benedict’s strict rules angered the insubordinate monks, and they tried to poison him. He prayed over the cup holding the poison, and it shattered.  Benedict promptly returned to his cave.

During his years of solitude, Benedict grew in wisdom and understanding, especially of people in general. He became highly respected and began the construction of thirteen monasteries. In the first twelve,  he placed a superior with twelve monks. Benedict moved into the thirteenth monastery and lived with a smaller number of monks. He was their abbot as well as head abbot for the other twelve. It was from this time that miracles attributed to Benedict became more and more frequent.

Benedict’s prophetic powers became legendary. He predicted the death of the King of the Goths and foretold that the Lombards would close one of his monasteries.  He also was given knowledge of the sins of the monks and nuns under his care. Legend has it that when a child was crushed to death by a collapsing wall, Benedict raised him from the dead, healed his body, and sent him back to work.

Benedict spent the last years of his life putting together his famous Rule, known as the Rule of St. Benedict. His primary purpose was to create unity and formalize discipline. The Rule is comprised of 73 short chapters and presents both spiritual guidance on how to live a life on earth centered on Jesus Christ and also has directives on administrative guidelines on how to run a monastery.

The Rule of St. Benedict was adopted by the majority of monasteries in western Christendom, and The Middle Ages became known as the Benedictine Centuries. Pope Benedict XVI said, “With his life and work, St. Benedict—–helped Europe emerge from the “dark night of history” that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.

St. Benedict died on March 21, 547, 40 days after his twin sister Scholastica. The brother and sister are buried together at Monte Cassino, south of Rome. This is the site of the first Benedictine Abbey.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Known as Henry the Emperor and Henry the Exuberant his greatest title is that of Saint Henry

Henry the Emperor                                  public domain

By Larry Peterson

There are many saints named Henry, but the greatest of them all may well be King  Henry II. Besides being a faithful and just king, Henry was one of the great supporters of the Benedictine Order. He had wanted to be a Benedictine but his destiny was to become king. As king, he built numerous monasteries and restored others during his reign. More than a thousand years later, Pope St. Pius X declared Henry the patron saint of all the Oblates of the Benedictine Order. So who was St. Henry II, aka  Henry the Exuberant; Henry the Emperor, Henry the Good, and Henry the Pious?

Henry was born in 972 and would be the oldest of four children. His father, the Duke of Bavaria, (also known as Henry the Quarrelsome), had a bit of a temper and had revolted against two previous emperors. This caused him to spend a lot of time in exile. Consequently, young Henry was raised by St. Wolfgang, the bishop of Ratisbon (Regensburg). The bishop baptized him and dedicated himself to Henry’s upbringing, instilling virtue and discipline into the young man he knew would one day be king. Wolfgang sent Henry to the cathedral school at Hildesheim, where he seriously considered becoming a priest. That would not happen.

In 995, Henry’s father died, and he succeeded him as  Duke of Bavaria. Soon after, he met and married Cunegundes, a holy woman who he knew God had sent his way. Henry and Cunegundes observed perfect chastity throughout their married lives, and their combined love and devotion to their subjects were unparalleled.

Then in January of 1002, his cousin Otto III, who had become a Holy Roman Emperor, died in Rome. Henry, who was on his way to Rome to help Otto regain control of Italy, managed to get control of the insignia of Otto’s office and, with some help from friends in high places, secured his election and was crowned King of Germany.

Henry was indeed a church reformer. Using the bishops to secure his position as king, he was determined to rule for God’s greater glory. Trained with respect and a healthy fear of God, he proved that a good king could be a heavenly gift. Henry prayed often, meditated upon the law of God, and never allowed himself to become a prisoner of the grandeur that came with being the king.

Henry turned again to reclaiming Italy. He drove out the anti-pope who had claimed the papacy and brought Benedict VIII back to Rome. Two years later, he claimed the title, King of Italy. In 1014, Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Benedict VIII in St. Peter’s Basilica

Henry’s custom when he arrived in any town was to find a church dedicated to Our Lady and spend the night there. The church he stayed in was Saint Mary Major. Henry said that he saw the “Sovereign and Eternal Priest-Child Jesus” enter the sanctuary to say Mass. He said St. Lawrence and St. Vincent assisted Him.

Henry continued that countless saints filled the church and that after the Gospel an angel was sent by Our Lady to give Henry the scared book to kiss. The angel touched Henry lightly on his thigh and said, “Accept this sign of God’s love for your chastity and your justice.” From that moment on, King Henry always walked with a limp.

Henry’s support for moral reforms began with what was known as the Cluniac Reforms. These reforms affected not only monastic life but the life of the entire church. It helped the church fight simony (the buying of church goods and positions) and promoted clerical celibacy. In 1022 he and Pope Benedict VIII presided over the Council of Pavia, and published seven canons against clerical concubinage. He restored episcopal sees and founded the diocese of Bamburg. He also was instrumental in having the Creed introduced to Sunday Mass.

In 1024 Henry lay on his death bed with his wife and her elderly parents by his side. Henry lifted her hand toward her parents and said, “a virgin still, as a virgin, he had received her from Christ.” He gave St. Cunegundes back to her parents. Then he closed his eyes and died.

St. Henry II was canonized by Pope Eugene III in 1146. He is the patron saint of  the Benedictine Oblates, and his feast day is on July 13.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Elizabeth of Portugal was called the Peacemaker. Her foremost love was for the poor.

Elizabeth of Portugal                                 wikipedia. commons

By Larry Peterson

Elizabeth was born in 1271 into the royal house of Aragon. St. Elizabeth of Hungary was her great-aunt, and baby Elizabeth was named after her. Her father was King Pedro III of Aragon, and his wife’s name was Constantia.

From a very early age, Elizabeth displayed a pronounced devotion to God. Her fasting, regular prayer, and a sense of strong will and determination were evident to all who knew her. At a young age, she was saying the complete Divine Office daily, fasted frequently, did varied types of penance, and attended Mass twice a day.

When Elizabeth was twelve years old, her parents betrothed her to King Denis of Portugal. The actual wedding did not take place until King Denis was twenty-six years old, and Elizabeth was seventeen. The union would put her faith, tolerance, and humility to the test. She became quickly aware of his infidelity, which was so rampant that it became scandalous in the kingdom. Denis and Elizabeth had two children together but, so reckless was his immorality, that he also fathered seven illegitimate children.

Elizabeth kept leaning on her faith by attending daily Mass, assisting the poor, the sick, strangers, and simply helping all those who came her way. Her husband demanded that she stop feeding the poor because he felt embarrassed by it. He once caught her carrying bread in her large apron and demanded she show him what was in it. When she opened the apron, dozens of red roses fell to the ground. To this day, Elizabeth of Portugal is still known as “Elizabeth of the miraculous roses.”

Elizabeth persevered and remained devoted to her philandering husband. She never lost faith and continued praying for his salvation. Her prayers and sacrifice were rewarded when, at last, King Denis gave up his life of sin. Denis also proved to be an actual conservationist for his time. He became known as the Farmer King because he planted a vast pine forest near the city of Leiria to prevent the relentless soil erosion that threatened the entire region.

Elizabeth’s commitment to the Gospel was always visible. Not only was she was devoted to the poor and sick, she insisted that the ladies who served her at court care for them as well. The queen was so committed that her bishop testified that Elizabeth had a personal ministry of secretly inviting lepers into her quarter. Once inside, she would bathe them and give them fresh clothing—even though the law of the land barred lepers from coming anywhere near the castle.

Elizabeth also took an active part in the politics of the day. In 1297, she became the peacemaker between her husband, King Denis, and Fernando IV of Castile. Her skills at negotiations helped secure the Treaty of Alcatrices, which established fixed borders between the two countries.

She found herself becoming the intermediary between her husband and her son, Alfonso. Prince Alfonso was one of their two children and had become jealous of the way his father was favoring his illegitimate children over him. The Prince gathered an army and was going to go to war against his father. As the two armies gathered together on the field of battle, Elizabeth suddenly came riding onto the battlefield, sitting on the back of a donkey. She placed herself between her husband and her son and calmly and logically had them mend their differences. The illegitimate son was sent into exile, and the Prince renewed his loyalty to his father, the King. Through the efforts of Elizabeth, peace returned to the land.

When King Denis died in 1325, Elizabeth returned to the monastery she had founded in 1314.. Inhabited by the Poor Clare Nuns, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis vowing to devote the rest of her life to the poor and sick. From that point on, that is precisely what she did.

In  1336, Elizabeth traveled a great distance to negotiate a peace between Alonso IV and King Alfonso of Castile. She was successful in her mission but the journey and efforts she made had taken their toll. She made it back home but immediately became bedridden. She died on July 4, 1336.

Elizabeth of Portugal earned the title of Peacemaker. Many testified to miracles accomplished through her intercession. She was canonized a saint on May 25, 1625 by Pope Urban VIII. Her feast day is July 4.

Ironically, King Denis, after repenting of his past sins, wrote this poem for his wife: It was the ultimate tribute he could give.

God made you without peer
In goodness of heart and speech
As your equal does not exist,
My love, my lady, I thus sing:
Had God so wished,
You’d made a great king.

Copyright© Larry Peterson2020