Tag Archives: catholic

A Cold Front in May? If so, blame the Ice Saints.

Ice Saints                                                               en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

The following three saints are known as the Ice Saints.  Their names are St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius.

  • Mamertus was the bishop who introduced us to the days of prayer and fasting known as Rogation Days. He died in 475 A.D.
  • Pancras is a much-loved boy saint (especially in Europe) who was beheaded in the year 313 during the persecution of Christians under the emperor, Diocletian. He was only fourteen years of age yet refused to reject his Christianity. He paid the ultimate price.
  • Lastly, there is St. Servatius who was Bishop of Tongeren (now the Netherlands). Early biographies of Servatius suggest he was born in Armenia and was a cousin to John the Baptist. It followed that made him a distant cousin of Jesus (This is not documented). He died in 384 A.D.

These three saints have their feast days on May 11, May 12, and May 13; respectively. So why are they known as the Ice Saints?  The reason is as obvious as it seems; it is because of the weather. What follows may be true but more than likely it is documented folklore with millions of believers.

Most of this has to do with Northern Europe. In that part of the world, the month of April can have quite a few days that are warm and sunny. Then along comes the month of May. Slowly but surely, as the days move on, the temperatures begin to drop. There is an extra onslaught of biting cold, wind, and rain and people have to turn on their heat and start wearing sweaters again.

This ongoing weather anomaly in Europe has a long history and is called “Eisheligen.” This refers to the period in May when, according to the stories told by farmers, the weather is much too unstable to plant crops. Why would mid-May be too early to plant? Because of the danger of frost. Many folks thought this was a bit ridiculous, but most farmers did not. Planting did not start until after “Eisheligen.”

This whole business of the Ice Saints began when students of Galileo examined weather documents and realized that the days from May11 thru May 13 often brought a spell of cold weather. This weather invariably caused frost which would be the last frosts of spring.

In Germany, the legend of the Ice Saints led people to believe that there were special “iron nights” which was prone to frost but they confused them with dates ten days apart from the others. They believed the dates were from May 22 thru May 24.  Their mistake was they failed to take into account the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582. The change caused ten days to be removed. Therefore the dates moved to May 11th  thru the 13th.

So as it happens, Saints Mamertus, Pancras (aka Pancratius) and Servatius, are mostly known as the Ice Saints. Their individuality has been compromised by the legend. There is a proverb in England  that says, “Ne’er cast a clout til May be out.” A “clout” was clothes, and the saying simply meant “don’t take your clothes off until the end of May.

Ironically, scientists have been unable to determine if the legendary weather patterns actually cause frost in May. No matter, even with all the kerfuffle over climate change, when the month of May comes around, most Europeans will still talk about the Ice Saints.

Saints Mamertus, Pancras (Pancratius), and  Servatius were real people and are venerated saints. In fact, there is a Major Shrine dedicated to St. Pancras in Rome and a Major Shrine at the Basilica of St. Servatius, located in the Netherlands.

We humbly ask the Ice Saints to pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

From Jehovah’s Witness to Catholic Priest an Interview with Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M.the man who made that Journey

Father Daniel Bowen O. de M. orderofmercy.org

By Larry Peterson

Father Daniel Bowen, O. de M., distinctly remembers how every Sunday when he was growing up his mom would take him and his two brothers to Kingdom Hall. Their mom was a Jehovah’s Witness, and this was their church. It was as far removed from the Catholic church as one could imagine.

Young Daniel believed in God but was filled with doubts. By the time he became a teenager, he had decided he had enough of “church” and told his mom he did not want to go anymore  His father told his wife that Daniel did not have to go if he did not want to. Daniel seized the moment and stopped going.  After all,  he came first—all else came second.

The years passed by and Daniel more or less forgot about God. Once in college, he became more self-absorbed about his own needs and what might make him happy. Then he met a Catholic girl named Lisa.

Lisa told Daniel that if he wanted to date her, he would have to go to Mass with her. He did, and he liked it. Then she introduced him to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That was it. The young man, as the saying goes, was “hooked.”

Eventually, Daniel and Lisa took different life paths. The Holy Spirit had seized hold of Daniel Bowen and was not about to let go.  On August 15, 2015, the Solemnity of the Assumption, Daniel Bowen was ordained a priest. He now serves as Vocation Director for the Mercedarian Friars U.S.A.

You can find Father Daniel’s inspiring story HERE. It is a beautiful story of a man who took his leap of faith holding hands with the Holy Spirirt—ENJOY

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now let’s ask Father Daniel some questions:

(Interviewer’s questions in Bold:     Father Daniel is (Fr. D) responses in Italics)

When and how did you receive your call to become a priest? Was there a moment in time or an event when you heard the Holy Spirit calling you?

  • D: “People began to ask me the question: Did I ever think about being a priest. I hadn’t, and so I had to ask God about it. It took a few years to figure it out, and then seminary to figure it out the rest of the way. No man knows for sure until he is laying on the ground before a Bishop on the day of his ordination. It is totally a Holy Spirit thing, and prayer is an essential part of it all.”

 Tell me your number one reason for being a priest?

  • D: “To know, love and joyfully serve God, and to love my neighbor as myself. To be a servant to God’s servants. All for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

What attracted you to the Mercedarians? (The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy)

  • D: “The Order was founded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, so this Marian aspect was most attractive to me. Also, the 4th vow, the Redemptive Vow, the willingness to lay down one’s life for another in danger of losing their faith – this “all in” aspect always spoke profoundly to my heart.”

 According to the General Rule Of Survey from the Univ. of Chicago, in 2015, among those 18 to 34 years old, 30 % do not have any religion at all. Many do not believe in God. Secularism seems to have infected many the world over. As the Vocation Director for the Mercedarians, your job must present quite the challenge. How is this going for you?

  • D: “I am still working on getting my wings, so to speak. Yes, it can be seen as a challenge, but I prefer to see it as an opportunity. God still calls people to Himself. Christ’s death and resurrection is completely relevant to every generation, even those who feel it does not need to apply to them. First is helping others know that our Lord, the God of love and mercy is real and necessary to live a life of complete fulfillment. To help them realize the Christian faith is about relationship – God’s desires us to be in an intimate relationship with Him. And then to facilitate an encounter with Him. Once men know this, then they can begin to find what the mission and plan that He has for their life. Could God be calling me to be a priest and/or a consecrated religious? And if the answer is yes, then one is best to find out if this is truly His calling, and if so acting on it.”

What advice would you give to a young person who is considering religious life?

  • D: “It is a great gift given by God to some, not all. It is a precious calling to be intimate with God and others in a way that no other lifestyle can match. It is a summons to love fully and without holding back. To proclaim boldly to our world that not only God exists, but He knows and loves us. That I am willing to forsake the goods of this life and world, in order to embrace, here and now, the blessing that God desires for us in heaven. My advice: Go for it!!! Do not be afraid, or put it off, go find out if this is God’s will for your life. If it is you will have the best life. If it is God’s will, then there will be a peace and deep, profound joy that will be under it all.”

 How do you, as a priest, deal with negativity about the Catholic Church in the media, when asked about it by a layperson?

  • D: “Some people were negative towards Jesus in His life here on earth. It is no different today. The Catholic Church is the body of Christ, yes there is a very human element, but there is also a divine element present here, that should not be so easily dismissed. For all her faults, and only the Lord knows why He permits them, the Church is the most charitable and truth-bearing place on the planet. She is the spouse of Christ, and so must be present to continue to bring Christ’s authentic presence, so that all generations may have the opportunity to encounter Him. Staying close to our Lord in prayer is key to keeping one’s head above water, especially when our faults are clearly manifested – keeping our hearts, minds, and souls on the Lord. Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

 What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?

  • D: “Helping others to believe that the faith is real, and then to fully surrender one’s life to it. Seeing people fall deeply and madly in love with our Lord, and seeing that transformation take place is most rewarding. Experiencing the good work our Lord is able to accomplish through people who desire Him to work in their lives is a beautiful blessing. Challenging is seeing those who fall away from the faith, or keep saying no to God, seeing the resulting destruction this does to that person and to others and knowing how much it hurts our Lord, this is challenging. But following Christ is a summons to love, and it is an invitation that one must be free to choose or reject. Otherwise, it really isn’t love is it?

Go here and listen to Father Daniel  discuss the kind of men  the Mercedarians are looking for

 THANK YOU Father Daniel for taking the time to do this interview. May God bless you as you move forward in your priestly ministry.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

St. Agnes of Montepulciano—St. Catherine of Siena called her, “Our Mother, the Glorious Agnes

St. Agnes of Montepulciano                                                   aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The Dominican Order has five women who are canonized saints. The two best known are St. Catherine of Siena, the stigmatist and a Doctor of the Church, and St. Rose of Lima, the first woman canonized a saint from the Americas. The other three are St. Margaret of Hungary who became Empress of the Byzantine Empire, St. Catherine de Ricci, the stigmatist, and lastly, St. Agnes of Montepulciano.

St. Agnes, who may be the least known of the five, could be the most important among them. What tells us that is, it was St. Catherine of Siena, who knelt by Agnes’ incorrupt body and said, “Our Mother, the Glorious Agnes.” As Catherine bent forward to kiss the foot of Agnes, it raised up so Catherine could easily reach it. St. Agnes had died almost 300 years before that moment.

On January 28, 1268, a baby girl was born into the wealthy De Segni family, in Montepulciano, located in the Papal States (central Italy). The child was named Agnes, and from an early age, she displayed an outward and obvious devotion to God.

By the time Agnes was six years old she was asking her parents to please allow her to enter the convent. When they told her she was much too young, she pleaded with them to move closer to the convent so she could be near to it. On one occasion Agnes was traveling to Montepulciano with her mom and some of the household.  The group passed by a house that was up on a hill and was known as a place of ill repute. Suddenly, a flock of screaming crows soared down from above and attacked little Agnes.

With claws outstretched and beaks flailing away they scratched and clawed at the seven-year-old, causing her to bleed from her head and arms which she was using to cover herself. The women in the group had to fight the shrieking birds off by waving their shawls and yelling at them. The ladies knew that the evil in the nearby house did not want Agnes anywhere near it. It had been a demonic attack. Years later, Agnes would build a convent on that very site.

By the time this child was nine years old she had convinced her parents to allow her to enter the convent. She was so young this was against church law but, Pope John XXI gave Agnes permission to enter the Franciscan monastery. The nuns who lived there were known as the “Sisters of the Sack” because the garments they wore were so coarse. Nine-year-old Agnes happily wore it every day.

When Agnes was fifteen, she found herself in need of another special dispensation. This time it was so she could become the abbess of a new convent in Proceno. She desired to be in a contemplative state where she could simply pray and commune with those above. But she did not complain and humbly followed the path that always seemed to appear before her. On her day of consecration as abbess, showers of tiny white crosses floated down inside the chapel on the people below. Being a fifteen-year-old abbess was unheard of, and everyone took this as a sign of heaven’s pleasure with Agnes.

Agnes was graced with many visions. Probably the most legendary and the one for which she is best known is was when Our Lady appeared to her holding the Baby Jesus in her arms. Our Lady allowed Agnes to hold Him and caress Him. Another time the Blessed Mother gave Agnes three stones and told her to keep them in honor of the Blessed Trinity. She told Agnes that one day she would need them.

Agnes had another vision which told her that she was to leave the Franciscans and join the Dominicans. In 1306 she was asked to return to Montepulciano to build a new convent. She had no money, but she did have the three stones the Blessed Virgin had given to her. Using the three stones as a “cornerstone,” she raised money and built the convent. The sisters embraced the Rule of St. Augustine and joined the Dominican Order.

Sister Agnes died on April 20, 1317. It is said that the children of the city woke up the next morning and sadly cried out, “Holy Sister Agnes is dead.”

Agnes was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. The Dominicans celebrate her feast day on April 20.

St. Agnes of Montepulciano, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

St. Conrad of Parzham: He served Our Lady for over 40 years as a porter: His permanent “pension” was Sainthood

St. Conrad of Pharzham                                                        en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

He was born on a farm in a town called Parzham in the Kingdom of Bavaria. The date was December 22, 1818. His parents, George and Gertrude Birndorfer, were devout Catholics, and they named their new baby Johann Evangelist. Johann was the second youngest of twelve children, five of whom had died in infancy.

As a child young Johann demonstrated a love of prayer and solitude that indicated where his future might lead. He became filled with a great love for our Blessed Mother,  learned how to pray the Rosary, and recited it every day.

By the time he was eleven or twelve, Johann had a particular routine he followed on Our Lady’s special feast days. He would journey on foot to different shrines dedicated to Her. They were always a good distance away. He would attend Mass there, fast and pray all day, and not get home until it was dark. He was so filled with a spiritual love that even inclement weather or bitter cold would not keep him away.

Johann’s mom died when he was 14 years old. He remained on the farm helping his father.  He attended Mass as often as possible and made frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. The young man was always embedded deeply in prayer and personal solitude, even while working in the fields.  He remained on the farm until his father passed away in 1838.

Johann received a substantial inheritance from his father’s estate. Having no desire for material things, he disposed of the inheritance and left the secular world. He joined the  Capuchin Franciscans and became a lay brother. When he entered the novitiate, he was given the name, Conrad,  in honor of Conrad of  Piacenza. He would be known as Conrad forever after.

Soon after his profession of vows, Conrad was sent to the Friary of St. Ann in the city of Altotting. This was the location for the Shrine of Our Lady of Altotting which was the National Shrine of Bavaria. (Today this place is also called the Lourdes of Germany). Conrad was given the job of porter at the shrine. From the doorway, he could see the tabernacle. He could not have been happier. He needed nothing else.

The shrine was located in a bustling and busy city. The porter’s job was not an easy one as people came to him all day long asking questions, wanting directions, looking for a priest, asking for advice, and those just wanting someone to talk to. Conrad filled his designated role perfectly. He also could see into the hearts of those who came to him. His wisdom, kindness, and holiness always seemed to be able to help satisfy the needs of the people who came in contact with him.

Conrad loved silence. He used it to be in touch with God. When he managed to get a spare moment, he would stand in the nook by the front door so he could see the Blessed Sacrament. At night he often deprived himself of sleep so he could step into the brother’s oratory or the church to pray. Many believed that he hardly ever rested but that he continually occupied himself with work or prayer.

Brother Conrad was on the job every day for 41 years. After an extremely busy day during April of 1894, Conrad felt his strength leaving him. It was so pronounced that he told his superior. He was ordered to bed for rest. The children in the neighborhood loved Conrad and noticed him missing. They asked where he was and were told that he was sick.

The word quickly spread and soon children form all over had surrounded the friary and began praying the Rosary for Brother Conrad. Their prayerful voices would be the last thing he would hear. How beautiful was that?

Conrad died on April 21, 1894. He had been given the gift of prophecy, could read the hearts of people he met and was known for his wisdom, kindness, and holiness. Numerous miracles were also attributed to him. He was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

Saint Conrad of Parzham, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Blessed Wladyslaw Findysz—He died “In Odium Fidei”; the first person martyred under Communist rule in Poland

Bl. Wladyslaw Findysz  wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Wladyslaw Findysz was born on December 13, 1907,  in Krosno, which is located in southwestern Poland. His mom and dad, devout Catholics, followed the tradition and had their new baby boy baptized the very next day at their parish church, Holy Trinity.

Wladyslaw was sent to an elementary school run by the Cistercian Sisters (CSSF) in the town of Kroscienko Nizne. After finishing grade school, he went on to a state-run school but his years with the sisters had instilled in him an attraction to the priesthood. In 1927, Wladyslaw entered the seminary in a nearby town called Przemysil. He was very fortunate for the rector of the seminary was Father John Balicki, who would be beatified in 2002. He completed his studies satisfactorily and was ordained a priest June 19, 1932.

Father Findysz was moved around quite a bit in his first ten years as a priest. Finally, in 1941, he was appointed the parochial vicar at the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Nowy Zmigrod.  On October 3, 1944, the Nazis expelled Father Findysz and many others from the city. He lived in exile for a while but did return to his church in January 1945.

He immediately began a rebuilding and reorganizing project.  When the Nazis finally surrendered in May of 1945, the communists took charge. Promoting atheism was one of their primary objectives.  Moreover, they were not only good at doing it they were also quite insistent about people embracing it.

Father  Findysz focused his pastoral work on a moral and religious renewal within his parish. He worked tirelessly at keeping the faith in focus, especially among the young people. He also did his best to help the people of his parish who had lost so much during the war and the Nazi occupation. From food, medicine, clothing, and whatever else he could gather to help those in need, he did.

Greek Catholics from Lemki were especially singled out by the communist party, and these people were often evicted from their homes without cause or reason with no chance of reprieve. The kindly priest did work tirelessly trying to help those people and the priest’s activities quickly made the communists wary of his actions.

By 1946 he was under constant surveillance by the secret police. In 1952 people in charge of academics prohibited him from teaching catechism in the parish secondary school. The authorities went so far as to rescind his permission to live within the border of the school even though it was where his parish was located.

The church authorities viewed Father Findysz as a devout and zealous priest and they honored him as an honorary canon in 1946. In 1957 he was accorded the privilege of wearing the rochet and mantelletta and was also appointed the vice-dean of Nowy Zmigrod where he was elevated to Dean in 1962.

In 1963 Father Findysz, started the “Conciliar Works of Charity.” He sent letters of exhortation to parishioners who were known to have leaned toward a secular lifestyle encouraging them to reorder their Christian lives.  The communists reacted harshly toward Father’s actions. He was accused of trying to make the faithful be part of religious rites and practices.

On November 25, 1963, he was interrogated, arrested, and imprisoned in Rzeszow castle. His trial took place in December. He was accused of violating the “Protection of the Freedom of Conscience and Denomination Act of 1949. He did this by sending newsletters to his parishioners. He was sentenced to two years and six months in Central Prison

Just before his imprisonment Father Wladyslaw had surgery to have his thyroid removed. He entered prison ill, and the authorities knew it. He also developed esophageal cancer and had to remain in the prison hospital where the care was extremely limited and substandard. He was under constant interrogation and surgery was required for his cancer. The authorities postponed the surgery sentencing Father Wladyslaw to a slow and painful death.  He died on August 21, 1964.

O June 19, 2005, Father Wladyslaw Findysz was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Blessed Wladyslaw was deemed to have died “In Odium Fidei” (In Hatred of the Faith)  He was the first martyr of the Communist Regime in Poland.

Blessed Wladyslaw, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Mrs. Jamie Schmidt; Catholic Wife and Mom; Martyred “In Defensum Castitatis” in St. Louis, Missouri on November 19, 2018.

 

 

 

By Larry Peterson

The Roman Martyrology of the Catholic Church has thousands of names on its pages.

However, that huge book may need to find space for the very first American who was martyred on American soil for being Catholic and daring to defend her honor. Her name is Jamie Schmidt and she gave her life for Jesus in St. Louis, Missouri.

Most of us have heard of  St. Maria Goretti, the eleven-year-old who died “In Defensum Castitatis” (In Defense of Purity). Maria was trying to fight off the advances of a twenty-year-old neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli. He became so enraged at her that he stabbed her fourteen times. Before Maria died, she forgave her attacker. He spent 30 years in prison and, touched by the grace of God, was present at the canonization of the young girl he had murdered.

Jamie Schmidt was an average, 53-year-old, Catholic woman who lived in High Ridge, Missouri a town about 25 miles outside St. Louis. She was married to her high-school sweetheart, and they had three children. The Schmidt family belonged to St. Anthony of Padua Church and Jamie sang in the choir. She was also a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, worked organizing and holding women’s retreats, and was always ready to help anyone in need. She even made and distributed rosaries. Ironically, it was her Rosary ministry that brought her face to face with evil.

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon when Jamie stopped into the Church Supply Warehouse in St. Louis for needed rosary supplies. There were two other women in the store. Jamie was no sooner inside when a man came in and began looking around. He said to the woman at the counter that he had forgotten his credit card and had to go out to the car to get it. He was actually casing the place.

Jamie went over to the section where the supplies she needed were located. It was then that the man returned. This time he was brandishing a gun. He told the three women to get to the back of the store and that “they had better do as they were told.”

He lined them up against the wall and proceeded to molest the first woman who, frightened for her life, gave in to the man’s advances. He did the same to the second woman who also just submitted, terrified for her life. Then he turned to Jamie. He demanded that she take off her clothes.

Jamie had been witness to the depraved acts this disgusting man had inflicted on the two other women. She was surely terrified too, but the Holy Spirit must have been with her. (The two women gave this account to police);  She stared at the man  and, standing tall, said in a firm voice, “In the name of God, I will not take my clothes off.”

Buoyed by her Catholic faith and refusing to submit to an immoral, sexual assault, she had invoked the name of her God and said categorically to her assailant, “NO!”  He shot her in the head at point blank range. Jamie Schmidt crumpled to the floor. The man ran from the store while one of the women quickly called 911.

Jamie did not die instantly. As she lay mortally wounded, the two women could  hear her saying ever so softly the “Our Father.” She knew her life was slipping away, but she was thinking of her God and invoking His name. It was reported that even during the ride in the ambulance Jamie, barely audible, kept praying.  She was still praying when her last breath left her body.

A short time later a man by the name of Thomas Bruce, was captured by police. He was the perpetrator and was arrested for murder, sodomy, and other charges. He now awaits trial for the crimes with which he has been charged.

St. Maria Goretti, age 12,  refused a similar assault and was stabbed to death in 1902. Blessed Pierina Morosini, age 26, refused a similar assault and was beaten to death with a rock in 1957. Jamie Schmidt, age 53, refused and was shot to death in 2018. These three women, their lives spread over a century apart, share an unexpected sisterhood.

Having died “In Defensum Castitatis” Jamie’s cause for beatification should move along quickly.  What happened to her and St. Maria and Blessed Pierina can happen to any of us at any time. If suddenly we were asked to defend our faith with our lives hanging in the balance, what would we do?

Let us never forget Mrs. Jamie Schmidt, a Catholic wife, mother, and friend to many who will forever remain a shining example for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

How a child-housekeeper named Florentina, became Blessed Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart

Blessed Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart                         Aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

Florentina Nicol y Goni was born on March 14, 1868, in the town of Tafalla, in Navarre province, located in northern Spain near the French border. Her dad, Juan Nicol y Zalduendo, was as shopkeeper specializing in selling and repairing farming equipment.  The families life changed dramatically when the lady of the house, Agueda, passed away in 1872.

Dad did his best but was having a hard time managing the home and family. When Florentina was ten, her dad’s cousin, a cloistered Carmelite nun, offered to take the two middle girls to educate them at the monastery’s boarding school. Juan was relieved to have such help and readily agreed. The girls would later go on to become Carmelite sisters. Since the oldest daughter had already married this left Florentina the only child still at home. The housekeeping was left to her.

In December of 1881, Florentina’s dad enrolled her in a boarding school called the Convent of Santa Rosa. Located in Huesca, it was a cloistered community of The Third Order of St. Dominic. The school had a fine reputation and it quickly transformed the thinking of Florentina about the direction her life should take.

Her father had remarried and in 1883 he and Florentina’s new stepmother removed her from the school feeling she had received enough education for a woman. However, Florentina’s vocation had erupted. She knew for sure what she was called to do with her life. She was fifteen years old. Once back home she began praying intently that she might be able to answer the call.

Her father knew his youngest child had her mind made up and in October of 1884, he allowed Florentina to enter the Dominican Convent back in Huesca. In 1886 Florentina Nicol y Goni took the religious name of Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart. She became a teacher at the school she had attended herself and remained in that position for the next 27 years. But change was on the horizon.

In 1913, secularism had reared its ugly head, and anti-clerical laws were being enacted in Spain. Consequently, the Spanish government seized the school and expelled the sisters. The sisters were faced with some hard choices. Stay in Spain and be deprived of being able to minister to the children or enter the world of the missionary. They had learned from different publications about different missionary congregations and wrote to the authorities of several ecclesiastical groups asking for permission to do so. One response came back.

Father Ramon Zubleta had just been appointed by the Holy See as the new Apostolic Vicar of a new Vicariate. The location was in the Peruvian forest near the Amazon. Before leaving for Rome, he stopped in Huesca. He asked the sisters if they would consider coming with him to Peru. Among those that did volunteer, five were chosen. Mother Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart was chosen as their leader.

Bishop Zubleta, accompanied by three friars and the five sisters,  arrived in Peru on December 13, 1913. They were given housing at the Shrine of Our Lady of Patronage and would spend two years of training to get accustomed to the culture and superstitions of the natives in the jungles.

In 1915, Mother Ascension and two of the sisters left for the mountain forests. Two stayed behind to care for the Shrine which had been left in their care. It took them 24 days to cross the Andes and reach Puerto Maldonado. This place was situated at the end of two rivers accommodating communications and acting as a supply depot. No one there had ever seen a white woman before. Folks were also quite shocked that the women had made it across the mountains.

Following the leadership of Mother Ascension, the nuns founded a girl’s school and took care of the sick. The master general of the Dominicans’ asked Sister Ascension if she could start a new congregation. Along with the local bishop, she created the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary. Today it has 785 Sisters serving 21 nations on five continents. Four of the Order’s sister are considered martyrs having died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) in the Congo in 1964. Their crime was for refusing to leave patients alone in a hospital.

Mother Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart died on February 24, 1940. With the authorization of Pope Benedict XVI, she was beatified by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins on May 15, 2005. The ceremony took place in St. Peter’s Square.

Blessed Maria Ascension of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019