Tag Archives: catholic

Give us Silence or Give us Death: A Priest will accept death rather than violate this vow

Pedro Marielux                                                                             aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

Part 3 in the Series; Give us Silence or Give us Death;  Meet Father Peter Marielux

*Information about dialogue that took place between Father Marielux and the Commandant was found in a copy of the December 17, 1925, edition of the Freeman’s Journal; a publication in Sydney, Australia. Anything taken from there will be italicized.

His name was Pedro Marieluz Garces, but we can call him Peter Marielux. He was born in 1780 in Tama, Peru. From an early age, Peter knew in his heart he was called to be a priest, and he followed that calling without ever looking back. He joined the Camillian Order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1805. Eventually he would be appointed a chaplain for the Spanish military which managed Peru for the Spanish government.

The Peruvian War of Independence had started in 1811. The end of this war was in sight as the rebels had laid siege to the Port of Callao. The siege had begun in 1824, and nine months later the rebels had fortified their positions, and the Spanish army was in desperate need of supplies and ammunition. It was now 1825, and things were coming ta head.

The Spanish soldiers had been held in the fort without supplies or reinforcements able to get in. The garrison was under the command of Don Raymond Rodil. With food being almost gone and rationing down to crumbs, many of the soldiers began grumbling.

The chaplain to the troops was Father Peter Marielux. Father Peter had been doing his best to keep the spirit of the soldier upbeat, but it was getting to be a difficult task. Lack of food and necessities plus increasing illness was wearing them down.

Despair was beginning to spread, and then Don Rodil was told of a plot to take him prisoner and surrender to the rebels. Included in the group were some of his most trusted officers. Hearing this he became enraged even though he was not even sure if the rumors were true. He wasted not a moment and had those he suspected arrested.

None of them would confess to anything. It did not matter to Don Rodil. It was around 6 P.M. The “merciful” commandant gave the accused three hours to confess to the chaplain.   They would all be executed at 9 P. M. The number of men executed is unknown but suffice it to say, they all died at 9 P.M.

But the commandant was not finished. He knew the confessor, Father Peter, would know the dead men’s secrets. Even though they were now dead, it did not matter. He called the chaplain into his office.

Rodil: “Father, these scoundrels just executed have, no doubt, revealed in Confession all their plans and all the details on which they had placed their hopes. You must now disclose everything to me, and in the King’s name, I command you do so without concealing a name or a detail.”

 Father M: “General,” answered Father Marielux, “you ask an impossible thing from me. I shall NEVER sacrifice the salvation of my soul by revealing the secret of a penitent. If the King were here in person, God defend me from obeying a similar order.”

 The Brigadiers face crimsoned, and, taking the priest by the arm, he shook him violently, shouting in a commanding tone as he did so: “You must disclose everything to me or I will shoot you.”

 Father M: “If God desires my martyrdom, may His Will be done. A minister of the altar can reveal nothing of what is confided to him in the confessional.”

 Rodil: “Do not speak to me in this way—“You are a traitor to your King, your flag, your country, and your superior officer.”

 Don Rodil then gave the order to the captain of the guards to get four soldiers with loaded guns. When they arrived, he told the priest to kneel down, then in an imperious tone, turning toward the holy victim, he said: “For the last time, in the King’s name, I command you to reveal all you know to me.”

 Father M: “In God’s name, I refuse to speak,” answered the priest, in a weak but determined voice.

 Rodil:  “Madman!”

 The command was given and the shots fired. Father Marielux, the illustrious martyr of the Sacramental Seal, fell mortally wounded, his chest pierced with bullets. This occurrence took place on the 22nd of September, 1825.

Father Peter Marieloux  (Pedro Marieluz)  willingly accepted martyrdom rather than violate the Sacred Seal of Confession.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This Aborigine child’s legacy lives on in the 21st Century-Meet Francis Xavier Conaci

Diremera and Francis Xavier Conaci       19th Century Australia Aborigines

By Larry Peterson

Kate Galvin is a nursing student from Australia who is a descendant of the Aborigines, the indigenous people native to her homeland.  Her roots are ingrained in what is known as Australia’s  Stolen Generations.

In July of 2018, she was awarded the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship. Sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and the Australian government, she flew to Rome where she received her award and is finishing up her final year of study at the Rome Campus. She expects to earn her degree in nursing and midwifery sometime in 2019.

So who was Francis Xavier Conaci and why is a scholarship named after him?

On March 1, 1846, two Spanish Benedictines, Rosendo Salvado, and Joseph Serra, founded a mission on the southwest coast of Australia. It was named New Norcia, (after the Italian town of Norcia) which is the birthplace of St. Benedict. Within one year of their arrival, the cornerstone for their future monastery was set in place.

Friar Rosendo had devoted almost 20 years to spreading the gospel and teaching about Jesus to the Aborigines. Indigenous to Australia and Tasmania, these people were not even considered fully human.  Incredibly, Friar Rosendo had made remarkable progress in bringing the Catholic faith to these folks. He lived with them, camped with them, learned several of the primary languages (there were many), wrote dictionaries for them, and even acted as a lobbyist for them with the colonial authorities.

Rosendo Salvado realized the intelligence of these people and became aware of their potential. He decided to select a few of the children who seemed to shine above the rest and take them to Rome.  He hoped to train these youngsters as European religious so they could go back home and spread the faith among their own people.

Friar Salvado chose two boys: one was Francis Xavier Conaci*, age seven, and the other was John Baptist Diremera*, age eleven.  They left Perth on January 8, 1849. The youngsters were very excited about the journey and were bubbling over with enthusiasm. So was Friar Rosendo.  (They were not the first to travel to Rome. A year earlier the first boy baptized in New Norcia,  Benedict Upumera*, was taken on the journey but sadly, he died on the way. Benedict was only seven years old).

The journey was long and hard. The big sailing ship had to travel from Australia to Madagascar, round the Cape of Good Hope and then north to Europe.  It was several months before they arrived in Rome. But first, Friar Salvado,  was invited to speak before the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Society believed the Aborigines were sub-human and he was able to convince them that they were just as human and of the same intelligence as all of them. Having the two boys with him were his living, breathing, walking, talking, proof.

It was on to Rome, and they had an audience with Pope Pius IX. The Holy Father presented the boys with their black, woolen Benedictine robes. The pope, laying hands on Francis Xavier, said, ”Australia needs a second Francis Xavier; may the Lord bless this boy, and make him into one!”

The boys also met the Kings and Queens of Sicily and Naples and were filled with awe at the royal guards and all the pomp an beauty of the palaces. Then it was off to the monastery in the Campania region of Italy to begin their education. Amazingly, both of them were quick to understand Latin. Little Conaci was not only impressive with his learning he also exhibited a great love for Jesus and prayed often. The friars began predicting he might become the first Aborigine bishop in Australia. But, that would never happen.

In early 1853 the abbot at the monastery advised the Vatican that two boys seemed ill and he could not understand why. Doctors, including the Holy Father’s personal physician, decided that the two young boys who were just homesick. Their advice was to send them home to Australia. It was too late for Francis Xavier. On October 10, 1853, at the age of eleven, he died. He is now buried at the Major Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

John Baptist arrived back in Australia in May of 1855. The youngster, all of fifteen years old, died three months later. Church historian, Father Brendan Hayes of Melbourne says, “They pined away.”

The scholarship, established in 2016,  is named after Francis Xavier Conaci to extend the boy’s legacy from the beginning in 1849 and carry it to the present day. His youth, his love of Jesus, and the fact that he passed on while at the Benedictine monastery all reach across the decades to embrace the Australian Catholic Church and tie all Catholics “down under” together.

*The boy’s names; Francis Xavier, John Baptist, and Benedict are their baptism names given by the Benedictines. The last names are their Aboriginal or tribal names.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

A deadly blood disorder took his life at age 21, but it could not prevent him from reaching the road to sainthood–Meet Venerable Filippo Lo Verde

Venerable Filippo Lo Verde                                    fair use

By Larry Peterson

Filippo (Philip) Lo Verde was born in Palermo on December 10, 1910, and baptized on NewYear’s Day, 1911. By the time he was six years old,  he had already developed a deep love for the Child Jesus and was spending more and more time in prayer at home or in the nearby chapel. His influential family home life, which included daily prayer and the family Rosary, played a big part in his faith development.

By the time Philip turned twelve, he was sure he had received a vocation to the priesthood. His parents were not quite as confident as their son was. They knew a  Third Order Franciscan by the name of Antonina Spatola. He lived near the monastery, and they took Philip to see him. When Antonina learned that Philip wanted to be a  priest, he took him to Father Girolamo Giardina, the superior of the monastery (Father was destined to be Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor in Sicily). He gave Philip the biography of St. Francis of Assisi and asked him to read it.

The next day Philip brought the book with him to the chapel. He began to read, and when he was halfway through the book, a family member waiting for him heard him exclaim, “Enough! The Lord wants me to be a Franciscan.”

His father conceded to his son and gave him his approval. He was only twelve years old, and it must have been a hard thing for him to do. Philip’s mom was not so easy to convince. She wanted him to wait and enter a diocesan seminary when he was older. She loved him dearly and did not want to see him go behind the walls of a religious monastery. On August 30, 1922, he wrote her a letter and put it under her dinner plate. It was her birthday.

When they sat down to eat, she asked Philip to please read it to her. In the letter, he asked for her permission  and finished by writing (taken from his journal) “—“You must not let yourself be overcome by the devil because the devil does not want you to give me to Jesus, he has all these thoughts put in our heads, but we must not let the devil win. We must make the Lord win”.  When he finished reading, she told him, “Yes.”

Philip finished his initial training on January 21, 1923, and received the Franciscan habit assuming the name of Fra Luigi. He was still almost a year away from his thirteenth birthday. He remained at the Franciscan seminary of Motevago completing his middle school and high school classes while there.

It was during the spring of 1926 when Philip suffered from the first symptoms of the serious illness known as Oligoemia. The initial symptoms stopped him from studying. He was exhausted and could not focus. The disease was depleting his blood supply, and its effects were obvious. The teenager was fighting back amid great frustration.

The illness would seemingly go into remission, allowing him periods to get back to his studies. He did return to school in December of 1926 and managed to make his temporary religious vows on December 8, 1927. He was almost seventeen at the time.

In November of 1928, Philip moved to the Seraphic College of the Sacred Heart in Palermo. His illness returned with a fury. But even though he was fighting fatigue and exhaustion and had terrible headaches, he managed to complete his philosophy course.

He was required to undergo various therapeutic attempts to no avail. During this time there were two uplifting and happy days for the young man; on February 28, 1931, he received his clerical tonsure, and on May 30, 1931, he received the first of two minor orders.

Philip  Lo Verde went back home to visit his parents in October of 1931. His illness rapidly progressed, and he could barely get out of his bed. He knew the end was near and turned it all over to God. He received Holy Viaticum and Anointing of the Sick and was quoted as saying, “How sweet is the passage to Heaven!”

He died in his home on February 12, 1932, at the age of 21. It was reported he was smiling.

On June 14, 2016, Pope Francis declared him worthy of the title Venerable Luigi Filippo Lo Verde.

We ask him to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This 21 year old never stopped smiling as cancer destroyed his body…meet Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio—

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio                                                         facebook-fair use

By Larry Peterson

Nicola D’Onofrio was born in Villamagna, Italy, on March 24,1943. His father, Giovanni, and his mom, Virginia, had their son baptized three days later in the parish church of St. Mary’s. Nicola’s dad was a successful farmer, but more importantly, he was a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom, virtues fueled by a deep and abiding Catholic faith. His mom was known for her piety and kindness. Their character traits would be passed on to their son.

As Nicola began to grow the distinct qualities of kindness and peacefulness seemed to be part of whom he was. He made his First Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi in June of 1950.  Three years later, in October of 1953, he received his Confirmation. His teachers and even his classmates invariably spoke or wrote of Nicola’s hard work ethic, his kindness, and his availability to anyone who needed help. No matter the season, he never missed serving at Mass in the morning even though it was a   two-mile walk to the church.

When Nicola was about 10 years old, a priest who belonged to the Order of St. Camillus aka Camillian invited him to consider entering the Camillian Studentate in Rome. Nicola immediately accepted the offer, but his parents felt he was not ready.  His father wanted him to stay at home and take over the family farm, when he grew up. His two unmarried aunts tried to convince him that he was their only heir. However, Nicola, even at his young age, wanted desperately to become a priest.

During the following year, Nicola prayed and studied hard, and by the end of the year, his family gave him permission to enter the Camillian school. The school was for pre-teens to see if they truly displayed signs of having a real vocation. The date he entered the school was October 3, 1955. He was twelve years old, and it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Little Flower would later become his spiritual guide.,

During the next six years, Nicola’s character continually manifested a person who was humble, friendly, helpful, and above all, always smiling. He was constantly ready to help others, render words of comfort or understanding, and simply be there when and if needed.

Interestingly, Nicola learned after several years at school that his father had wanted to bring him back home. Nicola wrote him saying he was determined to become a priest in the Camillian Order no matter the cost. His dad humbly relented.

Nicola worked hard and applied himself to his studies, gaining the respect and admiration of his teachers. He wanted to be a worthy priest, and his work ethic evidenced that. On October 7, 1961, and after a period of intense training, Nicola took the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, and Charity towards the sick, especially those with contagious diseases. These vows were binding for three years. At the end of that period, he would take his final vows as a professed Castillian religious.

It was toward the end of 1962 that first symptoms of cancer that would kill him reared its ugly head. He did not understand the pain he was having, nor why he felt weak. Testing ensued, and following the advice of his superiors and the doctors, he was operated on at the urology department at St. Camillo Hospital in Rome.  The diagnosis came back as positive for Tera-tosarcoma, better known as genital cancer, and it had already begun to metastasize. The date was July 30, 1963.

The pain and suffering increased dramatically over the next year. Weakend and in constant pain young Nicola never stopped praying  and smiling. His Rosary was his constant companion. He  had one desire; he wanted desperately to be able to take his final vows.

A request was sent to Pope Paul VI, and he granted Nicola a special dispensation allowing him to receive these vows. On May 28, 1964, Nicola D’Onofrio consecrated himself to God for life. It was his final act of love. On June 5, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Nicola, fully conscious and completely aware that he was dying, smilingly received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Nicola passed away on June 12, 1964. He was twenty-one years old, and he was surrounded by his family and Camillian brothers. A close family friend who had assisted Nicola throughout his illness remembered his last moments and said, “He seemed to me like Jesus Christ on the Cross, so calm and confident, with prayers on his lips, calling Our Lady ‘Mom.’

Pope Francis declared Nicola D’Onofrio a man of ‘heroic virtue’ and worhty of the title, Venerable,on July 5, 2013.

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Venerable Mother Rosario Arroyo—She gave away her wealth and spent her life serving the poor

Mother Maria Rosario of the Visitation      en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo was born on February 17, 1884, in Molo, which is located in the Philippines. She was the only daughter born to  Ignacio Arroyo and Dona Maria Podal; the Arroyos also had two sons. Three days after Maria’s birth she was baptized in St. Anna’s Church in Molo and officially named Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo.

Maria’s family was well to do, and her parents were well known for the generous almsgiving. The Arroyo sons and daughter were taught the importance and virtue of giving of themselves at an early age. This virtuous sense of self-giving became part of who they were, especially Maria.

The young woman could have lived a life of luxury, but her upbringing had left her keenly aware of the misery and plight of the poor and downtrodden. Her compassion for others was genuine and intense. Maria was unspoiled by the quality and abundance of material things that were hers for the taking. She just wanted to share what she could with those less fortunate.

Maria attended school at the Colegio de St. Anna, which was a private school in Moto. She was transferred to Colegio de San Jose to prepare for her First Holy Communion.  This school was run by the Daughters of Charity, and she remained here until she finished her elementary education. From there, she began the initial steps toward religious life. She entered the Convent of St. Catalina in Manila and made her profession of vows on January 3, 1914.

Despite coming from affluence and having great wealth, Maria chose a life of poverty, devoting her life to the poor. She entered the Dominican Order and with the help of two other Dominican nuns, created the Dominican sisters of the Most Holy Rosary. The date was February 18, 1927. From that point forward, she was known as Mother Rosario Arroyo. (Most Filipinos refer to her as Madre Sayong).

The Congregation continued to grow and, after 32 years in existence, the First General Chapter was convened. Meeting from January 3-6, 1953, Mother Rosario was elected the First Superioress General of the Order.  She served for three and a half years before heart failure caused her passing on June 14, 1957.

Mother Rosario’s legacy has spread itself around the entire world. The order runs schools, colleges, retreat houses, and convents, not only in ten dioceses and archdioceses in the Philippines but also has a membership of over 250 serving people in the Mariana Islands, the Diocese of  Ngong in Kenya,  several cities in Italy, and in the United States in the Archdiocese of San Francisco  and the Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii. All toll, the nuns run 31 schools, two colleges, two retreat houses, a charitable institution, and a clinic. Another 40 or more sisters work in foreign missions.

Reports of miracles attributed to Mother Rosario have been credible enough that the cause for her canonization is underway. On July 28, 2009, the process was initiated by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, the Philippines.  Based on gathered evidence of miraculous cures that had occurred the official opening of Mother Rosario’s cause took place on October 7, 2009. The ceremonies were conducted at the parish church of St. Anne, in Molo, Mother Rosario’s birthplace.

Miracles that saved people from aneurysm, leukemia, and cancer were among the first documented. In 1983, a Manila woman, Angela Palma, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was not expected to live, prayed to Mother Rosario to be cured. The cancer was found to be gone, and in 2003 she was still alive without medical explanation for her survival.

Another reported miracle involves a woman with leukemia. In 2004, she was “miraculously cured” after prayers to Mother Rosario were invoked. A year later, she was found to be disease free without ever having had any blood transfusion or chemotherapy as described by doctors.

These are just two examples of purported miracles that have taken place because of Mother Rosario’s intercession. Further investigation will continue until not a shred of doubt as to their veracity can be found.

On June 11, 2019, Mother Rosario Arroyo (Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo) was declared by Pope Francis to be a woman of “heroic virtue” and now bears the title; Venerable Rosario Arroyo. She is one step away from being beatified.

Venerable Rosario Arroyo; we ask for your prayers.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This kid from Iowa grew up to be a Bishop in Uganda, served in all four sessions of Second Vatican Council, and his cause for sainthood has been sent to Rome.

Servant of God Vincent McCauley              Congregation of Holy Cross

By Larry Peterson

Vincent Joseph McCauley was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on March 8, 1906. His dad, Charles, worked as an installer for AT&T and his mom stayed home taking care of the six kids of whom Vincent was the oldest.  Vincent’s parents were active and devout Catholics; dad was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and mom was active in the Rosary Altar Guild and parish prayer groups. The McCauley children grew up knowing what it meant to be Catholic.

During the fall of 1924, during his first semester at Creighton College, members of the Congregation of Holy Cross came to St. Francis Xavier Church to conduct a parish mission. Vincent, who was 18 at the time, had a life-changing experience. The mission sparked within him a call to the priesthood.

His family was stunned. He had never expressed an interest in a religious life. But he wrote to the vocation director that a calling to the priesthood “has been the aim of my life for many years. Trusting that God will it, my only desire now is a favorable reply from you.”

Vincent McCauley did, in fact, receive a “favorable reply” and on July 1, 1925, entered the novitiate. He professed his first vows one year later and took his perpetual vows on July 2, 1929. He then was sent off to Foreign Missionary training in Washington D.C. After completing his training there, he had one more stop to make. The date was  June 24, 1934; he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Noll at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Great Depression of the 1930s left its boot-heel on many a person in America. It even affected missionaries. Father Vincent was trained in missionary work, but the depression had left the Holy Cross Order short on funds. Instead of going overseas, Father Vincent was assigned to the faculty at the congregation’s seminary in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He would remain here for the next two years.

In 1936 Father Vincent was sent to East Bengal to be the rector of a minor seminary. During his time there he learned much about indigenous people.  In 1944, because of poor health, he had to return to the United States. He would spend the next fourteen years working in Washington D.C. It was during this time that he began treatments at the Mayo Clinic for skin cancer, an affliction he had been battling most of his adult life.  But his experiences in Bengal had prepared him for the mission work that would come his way; serving in East Africa.

In early 1958, Father McCauley and Father Arnold Fell were sent to Uganda to check on establishing a community mission under the Holy Cross umbrella. Bishop Jean Ortiz of Mbarra, wanted the “White Fathers”  to establish a new diocese in West Uganda. McCauley wrote, “Unless something changes our impression, this is a great opportunity for Holy Cross.”

They submitted a very favorable report. The job was entrusted to Father McCauley. He arrived back in Uganda on November 4, 1958. It took only three years for Father McCauley to establish schools and churches in the region. The Holy Cross Order, under the guidance of the priest from Iowa, was about to open a new Catholic Diocese in Fort Portal, Uganda.

Having been the effective and inspiring guiding force in establishing the new Diocese of Fort Portal, Father Vincent was consecrated the first bishop of Fort Portal on May 18, 1961. Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston was the presider.

Bishop McCauley immediately set out to organize and promote the Catholic Church in East Africa, He was so successful at his work that he was invited to represent at the Second Vatican Council. His opinions on missionary work in Africa regarding finances, and forming catechesis and how to overcome conflict among different tribes in the area was highly regarded by the council. It was a challenge for sure because there were many cultures and nationalities mixed together.

The baseball playing priest from Iowa did all these things while having to endure over fifty surgeries for his chronic skin cancer. In 1976 he had open heart surgery, having a plastic aorta placed into his heart. Then in 1982, suffering from lung cancer, he agreed to another surgery. He died during the operation. The date was November 1, 1982; the Feast of All Saints. He would become a part of their team.

In 2006 Bishop Vincent J. McCauley was declared a Servant of God and his cause is now before the Congregation of Saints in Rome.

We ask Servant of God, Vincent J. McCauley to pray for us.

copyrigh©Larry Peterson 2019

Lucien Botovosoa’s devotion to Christ and Family made him a Martyr—- Today he is counted among the Patrons of Married Couples and Fathers

Blessed Lucien Botovasova                                                      public domain

By Larry Peterson

Madagascar is a vast island nation located off the east-central coast of Africa. It was here that Lucien Botovasoa was born in the year 1908,  the exact day is unknown. He was the oldest of nine brothers and sisters.  Besides that, not much more is known about his early childhood.

Lucien began his schooling at the local public school when he was ten years old. Four years later, he was baptized and received his First Holy Communion. Soon after he was able to transfer to the newly opened “Priests School” at the Jesuit College of St. Joseph. He remained here until 1928 when he completed his schooling. He was awarded a teaching certification and became an instructor.

One of Lucien’s favorite things to do was read about the lives of different saints. He would always be willing to stay after class and read about these saints to any students who wanted to hear the stories. Many did stay, and great discussions about the faith and the saints took place with Lucien guiding the students along.

Lucien had a natural gift for teaching and became highly admired by his peers. On October 30, 1930, he married Suzanna Soazana. Soon after his marriage, a nun asked him if he had regretted getting married since he would have made a wonderful priest. Lucien never flinched and immediately told her that he did “not have the slightest regret at all.”

He went on to explain that he was serving God through his vocation as a married man through the example he set as a husband while living among the people. Lucien and Suzanna would eventually have five children together.

Lucien became a member of the Crusaders of the Heart of Jesus in August of 1935. He learned to speak Chinese, German, and French and was a musician who had a great singing voice. He also directed the parish choir. In 1940 he joined the Secular Franciscans. He had found his spiritual home and immediately went about spreading devotion to St. Francis of Assisi.

He avoided wearing the traditional black slacks that teachers and religious wore.  He dressed in the khaki colored clothes that Third Order Lay Seculars wore. He was proud of being part of the Secular Franciscans and wanted everyone to know he was a layperson. His devotion to his family, his students, and most of all, his beloved Catholic faith was visible to all who knew him.

Political unrest began to explode in 1946. The protests and violence that spread soon became known as the Malagasy Uprising. The Malagasy people were native to Madagascar, and their local rulers began to lead their people in revolt against French colonial rule. Quickly, Catholics became viewed as French loyalists, and officials throughout the country began turning against them. Their immediate targets were those who were among the religious.

By 1947, Lucien was keenly aware of the political situation and its impending dangers. He told his wife and children, “Whatever happens, do not EVER separate yourself from God. I am not afraid of death. and I will find bliss in heaven.”

By Easter, no nuns or priests could be found in the city. The authorities had rounded them all up and taken them away, executing them all. Then Lucien got word that the anti-Christian forces would be coming for him. The date was April 14, 1947. Lucien refused to hide and spent the day with his family.

At 9 P.M four militia men came for him.. He was brought before the local chieftain for trial and judgment. He asked the chief if they could talk before he pronounced sentence. They spoke for more than a half hour. Then Lucien was led off to be executed.

Lucien Botovasoa was taken to the nearby river bank. Ironically,  his executioners were all his former students. Lucien forgave them all and then was beheaded. They tossed his remains into the rushing river. Incredibly, not long after the man who had judged him and passed sentence on him converted to Christianity.

Pope Francis declared that Lucien had died “in odium fidei” and he was beatified by Cardinal Maurice Piat on April 15, 2018, in the town of Vohipeno, Madagascar. Blessed Lucien is counted among the patrons of married couples, fathers, and teachers.

Blessed Lucien Botovasova, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019