The French Revolution stifled Elizabeth Bichier; Then she met Father Andrew Fournet and everything changed—She founded the Sisters of the Cross

Joan Elizabeth Bichier des Ages                public domain

By Larry Peterson

Elizabeth Bichier (full name; Jeanne-Elisabeth-Lucie Bichier des Agnes) was born on July 5,  1773, in the Chateau des Ages, in the village of Le Blanc, which was located in the Central Loire Valley in the center of France. Elizabeth was one of four children, and she was baptized the same day she was born at the Church of Saint-Genitour du Blanc. Elizabeth’s mom, a devout Catholic, taught all of her children how to pray and ensured that they knew the basic tenets of the Catholic faith. Elizabeth, a willing student, was drawn to a life of prayer even as a child.

The French Revolution erupted in 1789. A predominantly Catholic country, the French Catholics were shocked at the restrictions placed upon the practice of their faith. As the Revolution progressed, more and more uprisings took place.  The War in the Vendee is probably the best known because government forces eventually massacred thousands upon thousands of Catholics.

To avoid the high chance of being killed, Elizabeth’s older brother, Laurent, fled France and settled in England. Shortly after, on January 16, 1792, their father died. Elizabeth and her mom were left to deal with the ever-changing “laws” put in place by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the National Constituent Assembly.

These agencies had decreed that church property, which included that owned by Catholics such as Laurent, was subject to confiscation. Elizabeth and her mother moved to a small house in the village. Once there, they were harassed every day by the Revolutionary Surveillance Committee. After a short time, authorities discovered an old gun owned by Elizabeth’s dead father, and she and her mother were put in prison. Fortunately, Elizabeth’s other brother, who had joined the forces of the Revolution, had the influence and connections to obtain their release.

In 1796, Elizabeth and her mother were able to move to the family’s country home in Bethines. It was lonely here, and Elizabeth began to feel the loss of the Holy Eucharist deeply. That was because the local church was served by a government-approved “priest,” The masses being said were not valid and were rejected by most people. As a child, Elizabeth had consecrated herself to the Blessed Mother.  Filled with love of Our Lady, she began to gather people to pray together for the return of their religious freedom.

Elizabeth’s grief was lifted when, toward the end of 1796, a former servant came to her and told her of a secret Mass being offered at a farm ten miles away. Elizabeth rode a donkey for more than three hours to reach the farm. After Mass, the priest, Father Andrew Fournet, began to hear confessions. Elizabeth was last in a very long line. Confessions lasted all night long, and when Elizabeth’s turn came to confess, the sun was rising.

She and Father Andrew had an immediate connection. Their spiritualities combined, and the priest became Elizabeth’s spiritual director. He asked her to consider devoting her life to the sick, needy, aged and to establish schools for children in the rural areas of their diocese. Devoted to the Virgin Mary, she immediately responded to Father Fournet’s ideas.

Father Fournet put Elizabeth in charge of a group of women who also were dedicated to Catholic education and the care of the poor and sick. Elizabeth then founded the order known as The Sisters of the Cross, The Sisters of St. Andrew. The year was 1807. When she died in 1838, there were over 100 communities with hundreds of sisters working to help those in need. By the turn of the 20th century, over 3100 sisters were serving around the world. Today, the Sister’s of the Cross still has more than 600 sisters working on four continents in fourteen different countries, helping others.

Father Andrew Fournet was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI on June 4, 1933. Sister Joan Elizabeth Bichier des Ages was canonized a saint of June 6. 1947 by Pope Pius XII.

We ask both of these saints to pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

 


Hearing that he might be elected Pope, he hid in a cave until the election was over; meet St. Philip Benizi

Saint Philip Benizi                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Philip Benizi was born in Florence on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1233. (The Feast of the Assumption was declared a dogma of faith by Pope Pius XII in 1950. However, celebrating the day has been traced back to as early as the third century). That same day the Order of Servites was founded by the Mother of God. Even as a small child, this was the Order that Philip wanted to join. His father was against this and insisted to Philip that he was not worthy of such a calling. Philip succumbed to his father’s influence and began to study medicine. He studied for several years in Padua and Paris, earning doctorates in medicine and philosophy.

He began to work as a physician but never stopped thinking about his vocation. It was the Thursday after Easter when Philip went into the Chapel of the Servites located on the outskirts of Florence to attend Mass. During the reading of the Epistle, the words, “Draw near and join thyself to the chariot.”  Philip, hearing these words, went into ecstasy and found himself out in a wild and dangerous wilderness. He looked for a way to get out and save himself. He looked around but saw no escape. Then he looked up and saw the Blessed Virgin, above him in a chariot. She held in her hand the habit of the Servites. Philip immediately knew what he had to do and headed to the dwelling of the Seven Founders and asked to be accepted as a lay-brother.

Philip was readily accepted and began to work as diligently and as faithfully as he could. His knowledge and holiness were so evident that those who knew him convinced him to become a priest. He tried to oppose them but finally accepted their advice. He was ordained at Siena in 1258. Once ordained, he became zealous in his love of the priesthood and his quest to serve the Blessed Virgin.

Philip became the Superior to several houses and, in 1267, was elected Prior General of the Servite Order. As Prior General, he ordered his Servite members to travel about and preach the Gospel and spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin. From city to city and town to town, the Servites went, spreading the Word and encouraging devotion and honor to Our Lady.

Philip was humble and highly intelligent, with his humility always staying in charge. This character trait obtained for him the highest regard from both clergy and laity. Philip did not realize what kind of effect he had on those around him. When the Cardinals assembled in Viterbo to elect a new pope, they could not agree on whom to choose. Eventually, after lengthy discussions, they unanimously chose Philip.

When Philip heard of this, he fled into the mountains. He found a cave to hide in and stayed there until a new Pope was elected. He could not understand why these lofty churchmen would consider choosing him. The year was 1271, and the man elected to the papacy became Pope St. Gregory X.

During the thirteenth century, Italy was ravaged by civil wars. Father Philip Benizi’s preaching was one of the prime reasons peace was restored. At the Council of Lyons, he spoke to the many prelates and did so using the “gift of tongues.” Known for performing miracles, he met a leper on the road and gave the man his cloak. When the leper put it on, his leprosy vanished.

Philip’s body was getting weaker, and he went to the convent at Todi to finish his earthly journey. On the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, he preached his last sermon. It was so eloquent and persuasive people in the congregation wept. When he had finished, he was overcome with fever, which he regarded as a sign of impending death. He asked his helpers to carry him to his apartment. He would spend the last days of his life in prayer, repenting of his sins, and asking if he might be admitted into heaven.

After receiving the Sacraments, he asked all those present to pray the litany of the saints. He had been born on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, and he died on August 22, 1285. That was within the Octave of Assumption. He was 52 years old. He was canonized by Pope Clement X on April 12, 1671.

Saint Philip Benizi, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Loneliness in America—A Growing and Deadly Epidemic spurred on by the Covid-19 Pandemic; where is God in all of this?

LONELINESS                                                                                                                        cs.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Peterson

I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It stretches out its tentacles and wraps them around those who may have lost a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, or even a dear friend. I have been widowed twice and know full well how loneliness can create a desolate place in the widowed equation.

Loneliness holds no prejudice. It randomly chooses those it has decided to torment, and once it does, it attacks mercilessly. Its victims include people from every conceivable walk of life,  especially the unsuspecting. Many times the dull ring of the phone or a knock at the door is all it takes to hurl someone into the pit of loneliness. It can attack anyone at any time, and it has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions.

Incredibly, during early March of 2020, loneliness was gifted with a new victim to feast on: it extended its ravenous appetite into the pandemic known as COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.  Loneliness and the pandemic joined forces with “experts” and began to ravage thousands upon thousands of people with loneliness, especially senior citizens.  One way was to take away their chairs and sofas. Let me explain.

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. It was early March when I confronted a new wrinkle among my visits. I have one lady, Virginia (she is 98), who resides in an apartment which is part of a  single person, independent living facility. 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, the lobby was empty. I just stood there because it took me a few seconds to realize that the furniture was gone. There was no sofa, or chairs, or coffee table. Management had decided that “protecting” the residents against COVID-19 was of prime concern. So they had the furniture removed. That simple decision changed the lives of the half dozen people I knew in ways management could not have imagined. It also changed the lives of many others, of whom I was not aware. Management’s action was successful; with no place to sit, the tenants remained in their small apartments—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 from maybe ten minutes up to thirty minutes, depending upon how much “chatting” is needed. 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 Communion. But I do get to say a short prayer with them, and they like my doing it. So do I.

But on this Sunday morning in March of the year 2020, things changed in a way no one could have ever imagined.  The powers that be decided we should be isolated from each other.  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. Mandated loneliness could prove to be, in some cases, more deadly than the actual virus.

The headline for this piece used the word epidemic in referring to loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the loneliness factor, not just in America, but around the world. Cigna referenced a ‘Loneliness Index,” which shows how loneliness is an actual epidemic in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale (yes, there is a loneliness scale) in a questionnaire used to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. What follows is from their report of May 1, 2018.  

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent think that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How scary is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

If we think about the actual numbers, these percentages refer to it is mind-boggling. In a nation of almost 330,000,000 people, 20 percent is 66.000,000 of us. When we say 47 percent, we are almost at 150,000,000 people. How can close to half the population of the United States of America, feel alone? How can 66,000,000 people feel close to no one or have no one to talk to? And all of this is prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and its forced isolation.

Over the past 25 years, there is a 58 percent drop in attendance at club meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners, and a 35% drop in having friends over. Children have regulated play-time while deprived of social development. We reach in our pockets and pull out electronic devices that allow us to instantly reach each other day or night anywhere in the world, but how many of us are talking to each other. This behavior is fertilizing the seeds of future loneliness.

Is our primary mode of communication now email? How many young people can even write a letter or address an envelope? Job applicants interview over the phone or skype, couples break up via text message. Families are also having birthday parties for a loved one on ZOOM. Is this a GOOD thing?  Where is the hugging, the handshaking, the cheek kissing, the eye contact? We need that—it is who we are. Are we teaching the younger generation how to be lonely? How many families are holding hands as they thank God for the food they are about to eat, together, as a family?

Loneliness is brought upon us by things we have no control over, such as death, injury, accidents, and natural disasters. This, we understand, because this makes sense. Why are so many, especially among the young, feeling so alone with no one to turn to? This must count as one of the saddest commentaries of our era. This does NOT make sense.

The remedy may be right in our face, but the secular world will never factor it in. You see, nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings. In fact, nowhere is the importance of the  God-based, family even considered.

Regarding our faith, often called the One, True Faith, we have this incredible gift of The Holy Eucharist. Our core teaching is that Transubstantiation occurs when the priest says the words of consecration over the bread and wine during the celebration of Holy Mass. The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ Himself. It is NOT symbolic. Yet 70% of professed Catholics reject this dogmatic teaching. This leads back to the loneliness factor.

We have this beautiful tradition of having Eucharistic Adoration.  Christ, truly present in the consecrated Host, is placed in a monstrance and put on the altar. We believers can come and visit with Him, sit with Him, talk to Him, even simply just look at Him. On First Fridays, we have all night Adoration at my parish, which ends with  8 am. Mass on Saturday morning.

During the night, there will be those of us who will come and sit with the Christ present in the Eucharist, and just “hang out” with Him. For you lonely Catholics who do not believe, you are missing so much. You do not need to be alone. Jesus is there for you—and for all of us—all the time. If you are feeling lonely, why not call your local parish and ask them when they have Adoration. Then go over and sit with Jesus. You will not be alone.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

Interestingly, the first three words of the Bible are; “In the beginning—” Could the Bible or an app for the Bible be the beginning for someone to believe that they are NEVER alone?

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2020

 


Blessed Titus Brandsma—The Miracle to advance him to Sainthood may have Occurred in Florida

Blessed Titus Brandsma    en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Anno Sjoerd Brandsma was born in the Province of Friesland, located in the Netherlands in 1881. His father, Titus Brandsma, and his mom, Tjisje Postma, ran a small dairy farm and were devout Catholics, part of the minority in the strongly Calvinist region. They had six children; four daughters and two sons.

Titus and his wife worked very hard at encouraging their children to love the Lord and to honor their faith.  Their dedication paid off. All, except one of the daughters, entered religious life. Three sisters became nuns, and Anno and his brother became priests.

The Brandsma brothers both wanted to become Franciscans. Anno’s brother entered the Franciscan minor seminary first. This is where boys, feeling the call to the priesthood, could begin their priestly journey. Those heeding that call were admitted here if they were between the ages of eleven to seventeen..

When Anno, nicknamed ‘Shorty,” developed intestinal health problems, his condition prevented him from becoming a Franciscan. Undeterred, he joined the Carmelite Order at Boxmeer, Netherlands, taking the name of Titus in honor of his father. He made his first vows in 1899 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1905.

Father Titus was a gifted academic. After his ordination, he was sent to Rome. Although suffering through several bouts of illness, he managed to earn his Doctorate in Divinity from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The year was 1909, and he was 28 years old. Also, Father Tituss learned and spoke Italian, Frisian, Dutch,  and English. He could also read Spanish. He translated the works of St Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Dutch and had them published.

Father Titus moved on and taught at the Carmelite Seminary at Oss, Netherlands. He became the editor of a local daily newspaper in 1919,  and was easily recognizable as the “short priest with the cigar in his mouth.” He became a widely traveled orator, journalist, and author. In 1932 he was named Rector Magnificus of Catholic University in the Netherlands. To top it all off and even though occupied with so many responsibilities, he still managed to become one of the most popular confessors on campus. He also conducted a speaking tour throughout the United States in 1935.

Something else happened in 1935.  Father Titus Brandsma came to the attention of the Nazis. He had started his anti-Nazi actions by writing against the anti-Jewish laws. He wrote that no Catholic publication could publish Nazi propaganda and still call itself Catholic. The attention paid to him by the Nazis dramatically increased.

The Gestapo was now following Father Titus continually. Wherever he went or whatever he did, the always aware Gestapo made their presence known. One day, Father “Shorty,” his ever-present cigar stuck between his teeth, was on a mission to deliver a letter from the Conference of Catholic Bishops to the editors of Catholic newspapers. The letter ordered these publications not to print official Nazi documents. (a new “law” passed by the Nazis demanded they do this) and Father Titus had delivered the letter to fourteen editors when the Gestapo arrested him. The date was January 19, 1942, at the Boxmeer monastery.

Father Titus was moved from prison to prison until finally, on June 19, 1942, he was imprisoned in Dachau. This was the Nazi’s first concentration camp, and it became known as the “priests barracks.”  The reason for that was because over 2500 priests and religious were confined there.

Father’s health quickly deteriorated at Dachau. The lack of food, daily beatings, harsh, unimaginable, living conditions combined to break a person quickly. Within a few weeks of his arrival, he was so sick that he was transferred to the camp “hospital.”  On July 26, 1942, a camp nurse was ordered to give him an injection of carbolic acid. Father Titus handed the woman his Rosary. He said to her, “What an unfortunate girl you are. I shall pray for you.”

The nurse did her “work,” and Father Titus Brandsma died a martyr for the faith. Forty-three years later, the same nurse was at Venerable Titus Brandsma’s beatification ceremony. She testified to this happening. She also said that his actions brought her back to the faith. Father Titus Brandsma was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on November 3, 1985.

We should all note well that Blessed Titus is still busy working in the 21st century. His brother Carmelite, Father Michael Driscoll, has a special connection to Blessed Titus. In 2004 Father Driscoll was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma*. He invoked Blessed Titus asking for his intercession The story of Father Driscoll’s miraculous recovery is at the following link.

https://aleteia.org/blogs/the-anchoress/priest-cured-of-melanoma-credits-miracle-by-bl-titus-brandsma-murdered-by-nazis/

Blessed Titus Brandsma, please pray for us all.

 

*(I know how deadly this cancer can be. My wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma in April of 2002. She passed away on April 4, 2003).

copyright©L:arry Peterson 2020


Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga—-co-founder of the Servants of Jesus of Charity, he worked tirelessly for the poor, sick, and imprisoned.

Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia  Zuloaa                           public domain

By Larry Peterson

I do not speak Spanish, so pronouncing the name, Ibarguengoitia, proved quite the challenge for me.   Assuming some who might read this will have the same problem, here is how you say Ibarguengoitia phonetically:  eebar gen GOY tee a. I hope it helps you—I know it helped me

Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga was born on Septemeber 8, 1815, in the city of Bilbao, located in north-central Spain. He was the youngest of nine brothers, and, sadly, his dad passed away when he was only two years of age. His mom, a resourceful woman, knew how to stand up to adversity and held the family together. She taught them well and made sure their education was of high quality, especially when it came to being Catholic.

Mariano was blessed with a keen mind and excelled in his studies. Even as a child, his ability to process and solve mathematical problems made his instructors take notice. His family’s business was dealing in trade and commerce, and his mother recognized her boy’s potential as did her relatives who were also involved in the family business. However, Mariano had other ideas. He told them, “The business I want is to save souls.”

Mariano studied Philosophy, Theology, and Law in Bilbao, but in 1833  the First Carlist War erupted, and he had to move to Santiago to finish his studies. He then traveled to Rome and completed his formation and was ordained to the priesthood in April 1840. Father Zuloaga and his companions found themselves quickly dragged into the politics of the time and were exiled to Vallodolid in 1843. However, Father Mariano did not lose sight of the fact that he was a priest, and owed himself to God before all else and that his primary purpose was to save souls.

When Father Mariano returned from exile he was assigned to the parish of San Antonio Abad (Saint Anthony Abbot) in Vallodolid. He poured himself into his ministry, giving talks, sermons, hearing confessions, teaching children’s catechesis, visiting the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and working with St. Vincent de Paul conferences. He began devotions to the Holy Christ of Mercy, organized the Association of Catholic Mothers and the Archconfraternity of the Most Pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary. There was no pastoral activity anywhere in the area where Father Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga did not make his presence known.

After eighteen years assisting at San Antonio Abad, Father Mariano was appointed as pastor. His parishioners were thrilled, and Father continued his work by founding the House of Refuge for the redemption of ‘public women”, the Daughter’s of the Cross, and the Carmelite Schools of the Charity of Zumaya.  He then joined forces with Sister Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus in founding the Consecration of the Servants of Jesus of Charity, their mission being to take care of the sick in their homes, the elderly, and children of the needy.

In 1872, the Second Carlist War broke out. Father Mariano was in Bilbao as it was being bombarded and under siege. Once again, he never lost sight of his purpose as a priest and did his best to minister to those in the city. In addition to all his ministerial work, he supervised the construction of the tower and façade of the new basilica being built which is today the Basilica of Santiago.

Father Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga died on January 31, 1888. Sister Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus said at the time, “The entire city of Bilbao mourned his passing like that of a saint. It is everyone’s thought that he will be elevated to sainthood.”

Father Mariano’s cause for sainthood was initiated in 2003. He was declared Servant of God, and his cause moved to Rome. On July 11, 2020, Pope Francis declared Father Mariano a man of “heroic virtue.” He is now called Venerable Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga.  Most folks will call him Venerable Mariano Jose.

We ask Venerable Mariano Jose de Ibarguengoitia Zuloaga  to pray for us.

Copyright ©LarryPeterson 2020


Blessed Luigi Novarese—At age nine, Doctors said his case was hopeless…His Mom turned to the Blessed Virgin for help.

Blessed Luigi Novarese                           Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Luigi Novarese was born on July 20, 1914, in Casale Monferrato, located in northern Italy. He was the ninth and last child born to Giust Carlo Novarese and Teresa Sassone. Luigi’s dad died before the boy’s first birthday from pneumonia. His Mom, a devout Catholic, embraced her responsibility as a Mom and did her best to keep the family afloat. She was somehow managing when, in 1923, Luigi is struck with a life-threatening disease. He is diagnosed with bone-tuberculosis. The doctors tell his Mom there is no cure, and there is no hope.

Luigi’s Mom does not believe them. She is determined to save her boy and works as much as she can and saves every penny possible to cure her dying son. She does have one weapon the doctors do not have. She turns to the Blessed Virgin and begs her to help in Luigi’s recovery. Doctor’s tell her she should resign herself to the fact that her son is terminally ill and will not live. Teresa Sassone is undeterred and keeps on praying.

Luigi, following his Mom’s example, develops a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. He writes a letter to Father Filippo Rinaldi, the head of the Salesian Order, asking him to have the students pray for him. Father Rinaldi tells Luigi that they will pray for the intercession of St. John Bosco and Our Lady Help of Christians.

On May 17, 1931, Luigi Novarese left the hospital for the last time.  He is 17 years old. The illness is gone, and doctors cannot explain it. But the disease caused Luigi’s one leg to become shorter than the other. This requires him to wear a special shoe for the rest of his life. He does not mind at all.

During his many hospital stays, Luigi became impressed with the work of the doctors and decided that he would become a doctor himself, if he survived. He had a change of heart when, in 1935, at the age of 21, his Mom died. Luigi thought about how hard his Mom prayed for his recovery and realized that he could serve the Lord by offering his suffering for those who are seriously ill.  He entered the seminary at Casale Monferrato, Italy. From there, he moved and completed his studies at the Capranica College in Rome. He was  ordained a priest at St. John Lateran Basilica on December 17, 1938.

While a student Luigi Novarese earned degrees in Theology and Canon Law. On May 1, 1942, Monsignor Giovanni Montini,  the future Pope Paul VI, asked Luigi to join his staff at the Secretariat of State for the Vatican. Father Novarese would remain there until May 12, 1970.

On May 17, 1943, while on staff within the Secretariat of State, Father Luigi founded the Marian Priest League. In 1947 he would co-found the Volunteers for Suffering and, in 1950, the Silent Workers of the Cross. In 1952, he founded the Brothers and Sisters of the Sick.

He still had more to do, so he was able to get permission from Pope Pius XII to launch an hour broadcast on Vatican Radio dedicated to the sick. In 1962, Pope John XXIII placed Father Novarese in charge of all Italian hospitals. Then, in 1970, he was put in charge of the health sector of the Italian Episcopal Conference, where he remained until 1977. During this time, he met Pope John Paul II, and when they met, the Holy Father embraced him.

Luigi Novarese died on July 29, 1984. He was 70 years old. He was beatified on May 11, 2013 at the Basilica of San Paolo fueri le Mura  (Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls) in Rome, Italy, by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone with the approval of Pope Francis. Blessed Luigi is the patron for the Apostolate of the Suffering, Silent Workers of the Cross, Maria Priest league, and Brothers and Sisters of the Sick.

Sidebar: Venerable Angiolino Bonetta,  the 14-year-old cancer victim, featured in Aleteia on July 22, was visited by Blessed Luigi Novarese in 1962, as part of his ministry of the Apostolate of the Suffering.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 202


He played football and learned the pain in his leg was not from football; it was bone cancer. He was eleven years old.

Venerable Angiolino Bonetta                                                                                                        public domain

By Larry Peterson

Angiolino Bonetta was born on Septemeber 18,1948, in Cigole, a town in northern Italy located in the Diocese of Brescia, a diocese established in the first century. His parents, Francesco Bonetta and Giulia Scarlatti were not poor and managed to make ends meet, but there were no “extras.”  As Angiolino grew, he displayed an inner happiness combined with an intelligent mind.

Angiolino attended schools taught by the Canossian Sisters of Charity. They noticed the intense devotion to prayer and how devoted he was for such a young boy. On April 14, 1955, at the age of six, he received his First Holy Communion. As Angiolino grew his love for the Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Penance developed too. He became an altar boy and would serve Mass every Sunday. He also loved the nuns and would stay at school as long as he could to help them. The nuns, in turn, loved having Angiolino around. His eyes displayed love and kindness, and it was enjoyable being in his company.

As he grew, Angiolino was seen to be a fast runner, and he began to excel at playing football. But the youngster was developing a limp. And from its inception it got dramatically worse. Angiolino was also having sharp pain in his right leg.  His mom and dad had him admitted to the hospital for testing. The initial diagnosis came back as osteomyelitis in his right leg. He was then admitted to the civil hospital in Brescia where the diagnosis became more specific; the boy had osteosarcoma.

Angiolino’s life began its medical journey. He was in and out of the hospital on five separate occasions for treatments. It was two years after he first began limping and feeling pain when he was wheeled into the operating room. The date was May 2, 1961. That was the date his right leg was amputated. It was also the beginning of his painful post-operative period. During this time the physical pains were combined with psychic pain. Angiolino imagined he still had his leg and was feeling pain from something that was not there while feeling real pain from the amputation and the healing process.

This young man of great faith never failed to lean on Jesus and Our Lady. He would pray,  “Lord, I have offered you everything for the poor sinners, but now help me not to deny you anything.”  Next to his bed was an end table, and on it was the story of Fatima. He had read in it where  Our Lady asked people to offer penances and prayers for the conversion of sinners and the souls in purgatory. He promised Her he would do that, and he did.

After a long convalescence in the hospital, he returned home to find a party that had been arranged for him. Most of the guests were saddened to see Angiolino missing his leg. It was not a pretty sight. But it was Angiolino who cheered everyone up by yelling out, “This is a party! Look on the positive side. Now I do not have to wash my feet and cut my nails.”

He quickly began to work at cheering up those around him whether sick, injured, or not. He participated in the 1961 Spiritual Exercises held at the church of the Madonna del Sangue di Re (Novara) for the Volunteer Center of Suffering. He became a friend of all and was a role model for the sick. He comforted patients, visited wards, and always urged those he saw to strengthen themselves with prayer.

By 1962 the tumor had spread and was in the lung.  Radiation was no longer effective. It was during this time when he met Monsignor Luigi Novarese (beatified in 2010), the founder of the Volunteer for Suffering Center in 1947. He even managed to participate in a pilgrimage to Lourdes organized for the sick. He loved Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

On January 27, 1963, the parish priest heard Angiolino’s confession and brought Viaticum, his last Holy Communion. The boy was anointed, and he continued praying with those around him. At two in the morning, he awoke and said to his mother, “Mom, here we are. Here is my hour.” As he stared at the statue of Our Lady, he closed his eyes and died. The date was January 28, 1963.  He was fourteen years old.

On July 10, 2020, Pope Francis declared that Angiolino Bonetta was a young man of “heroic virtue” and declared him Venerable. His Beatification date has not been determined.


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