Tag Archives: catholic

Mother Maria Skobtsova—She had two titles: The “Saint of the Open Door” and The “Trash Can Saint” She was also Martyred by the Nazis

St. Maria Skobtsova                                                       www.pravoslavia.ru

By Larry Peterson

What follows is a brief story about a woman who would have had to be considered one of the most unlikely candidates for sainthood. A chain-smoking, twice divorced, left leaning nun with a brilliant mind and a heart so big she just could never love enough. However, being part of the Roman Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church mattered not to the Nazis; Catholic was Catholic.

Elizaveta Pilenko was born in Latvia, inside the Russian empire, in 1891. Her parents were devout Orthodox and also quite wealthy. Elizaveta embraced her Catholic faith easily and with open arms. By the time she was seven she was asking her mom if she could become a nun. But when Elizaveta was a teenager, her father died.

The girl was crushed and her heart experienced a profound sorrow that left her feeling empty inside. Her faith crumbled like stale crackers.   Elizaveta decided that God’s “nonexistence” was well known to adults but kept secret from children. Her childhood was over. She entered into a personal sea of nothingness called atheism. She was quoted as having said, “If there is no justice, then there is no God.”

Elizaveta’s widowed mom moved the family to St. Petersburg in 1906. It took Elizaveta no time to get involved with some of the radical literary circles within the city. But she soon found herself disappointed in the young “revolutionaries” she was involved with. They all seemed to do nothing but talk, talk, talk and never were willing to put their words into deeds. She said, “…they will not understand that to die for the revolution means to feel a rope around one’s neck.”

In 1910, at the age of eighteen, she married, Dimitri Kuzmin-Karaviev, who was an alcoholic. This marriage lasted only three years but, during this time, Elizaveta gave birth to her first child Gaiana, published a  book of poetry, and began to study theology. Even though a woman, she was accepted into the theological academy of the Alexander Nevsky  Monastery in St. Petersburg. Soon, she began to realize that Christ did, truly, exist.

In 1918, while living in the town of Anapa, she was arrested as a Bolshevik and put on trial. However, a local judge, Daniel Skobstova, fell in love with her, married her, and saved her life. Soon she was pregnant with her second child. The family fled to Georgia and she gave birth to another son, Yuri. Then, moving to Yugoslavia, she gave birth to her second daughter, Anastasia.  In 1923, it was onto Paris.

In 1926 her daughter, Anastasia, died from influenza.  Then her second marriage failed and Yuri went to live with his father. More heartache struck when in  1935, her oldest daughter, Gaiana, suddenly died.  This altered Elizaveta’s life immensely. She yearned to care those who were struggling with disabilities, drug addiction, and mental illness. Her bishop encouraged her to become a nun but she would only do so if she could stay with the poor and downtrodden. Things went her way. Her husband granted her an ecclesiastical divorce and she became a nun. Her name became Mother Maria Skobstova.

Mother Maria managed to rent a house in Paris and moved in calling it her “convent”. It became known for its “open door” for refugees, the poor and even the lonely. Father Sergei Bulgakov became he her confessor and Father Dmitri Klepinin took on the job as house chaplain. Word spread quickly and those in need began flocking to Mother Maria’s convent. She was sleeping in the basement near the boiler and using an upstairs room as the chapel. The dining area doubled as a classroom. More room was needed.

Two years later an old, beat up house was found in an area of Paris where there were many Russian refugees. Here, instead of twenty-five people, she could take in a hundred. There were also stables in the back which became the new church. Then came the 10th of May, 1940.  Hitler’s army invaded France. One month and fifteen days later, it was over. The Fall of France was complete.

It happened quickly. The Jewish people began coming to Mother Maria for fake baptismal certificates and for refuge. Father Dimitri would provide the “papers” and Mother Maria would hide as many people as she could. She was even sneaking into a local stadium where many Jews were being held. She would smuggle in food and water and one time managed to smuggle four children out in a garbage truck.

Mother Maria, her son Yuri and Father Dimitri fought the good fight as long as they could. Father Dimitri and Yuri were arrested by the Gestapo first. They were sent to the Dora Concentration Camp where they both died, Yuri being executed on  February 6, 1944 and Father Dimitri dying on a dirt floor of pneumonia four days later.

Mother Maria Skobstova was arrested on February 10, 1943 and was sent to Ravensbruck. the infamous concentration camp for women. Mother Maria lasted two years, until Holy Week, 1945.  She was sent to the gas chamber and died for Christ on Holy Saturday. The war ended shortly thereafter.

Mother Maria, along with Father Dimitri, and Yuri, were canonized on January 16, 2004 in the Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky in Paris. Their feast day is July 20.

We ask them all to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Saint Paschal of Baylon…Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the Seraph (Angel) of the Eucharist

 

St.Paschal Baylon (statue)                                                     en.wilkipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

On May 16,1540, a baby boy was born to Martin and Elizabeth Baylon in the Kingdom of Aragon, located in Spain. This day also happened to be the Feast of Pentecost. Since the people in Spain refer to the Feast of Pentecost as the Pasch (Passover) of the Holy Ghost., his parents named their new son, Paschal.

Paschal’s parents were poor tenant farmers and, while only a young boy, Paschal began working in the fields and tending to the sheep. His regimen of work was seemingly never-ending, and he rarely took part in the activities of other kids his age. However, he possessed an obvious spirituality that was noticeable to others, and the other boys would come to him for advice and requests for him to settle their quarrels. Paschal had innate wisdom that was marveled at by all who came to know him.

The boy was unable to go to school, so he carried a notebook with him when he was working. He would ask other kids and even strangers going by to show him different letters and how to use them. He took his tidbits of information to heart and literally taught himself how to read. Soon his favorite books were those about his Lord.

When Paschal was working in the fields, he always fell to his knees when he heard the bells ringing during the Consecration.  He was not only rich in piety and virtue, but he was also quite humble. It was just the way he was and people who knew him could not help but notice.

Paschal had always harbored a deep desire to enter religious life. Now and then he even wondered if that might ever happen. He had been offered spots in several richly endowed monasteries, and some prodded him to enter the priesthood. He had said, “, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”

His quest for simplicity came to fruition when, in 1564, he was able to enter the Franciscan Monastery of the Friars Minor at Monteforte. It was located in Orito, Spain and those who were there lived a no-frills, austere existence. It was what Paschal had hoped and prayed.for. The young man professed his vows at the monastery on February 2, 1565.

St. Paschal was frequently found before the tabernacle, at times even prostate with his arms outstretched. The humble brother, who had taught himself to read and had no known education possessed a deep knowledge and insight into the mysteries and teachings of the faith. Learned men marveled at him, and most figured he was guided by the Holy Spirit. He was so knowledgeable that during the height of the Calvinist heresies he was chosen to travel to France to defend the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence.

Once God even demonstrated the high esteem he had for Paschal by using the Blessed  Sacrament. Paschal was out in the field tending his flock. When he heard the bells ringing, signaling the Consecration was taking place, he immediately knelt down. As he did the Blessed Sacrament appeared before him in the monstrance. Incredibly,  it was held aloft by angels hovering above. Others saw this and were in awe. Word spread quickly about the miraculous Brother Paschal and his visions, which became more frequent.

Brother Paschal Baylon passed away on May 17, 1592. The custom of the time was for the deceased to be placed on an open stretcher in the church. This was done, and when the Consecrated Host was elevated at his requiem Mass, Paschal’s body sat up, and bowed to the Sacred Host. It remained like that and repeated the bow as the chalice with the Precious Blood was elevated.  Then Paschal’s body lay back down. Witnesses to this miraculous event also testified that his eyes were open watching the priest during the entire Consecration.

Paschal Baylon was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and he was canonized a saint by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690. He is the patron of all Eucharistic Congresses and Eucharistic Associations. Paintings of St. Paschal usually are shown with him in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which was the greatest love in his life.

Saint Paschal Baylon, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Blessed Imelda Lambertini—This eleven-year-old became the Patroness of First Communicants

Blessed Imelda                                                nobility.org

By Larry Peterson

Some children exhibit a  spirituality that is so powerful that they become an actual phenomenon. However, unlike child prodigies, it is not their mental capabilities that transcend the norm. Rather, it is a  connection with God Himself that takes them to a place reserved only for them. Imelda Lambertini was one of those chosen as God’s messenger. And she began doing God’s work when she was only five years old.

Imelda was born in Bologna in the year 1322 and was an only child. Her father, Count Egano Lambertini and his wife, Castora, were devout Catholics. Count Egano was well respected and was known for his ongoing charity, especially to the poor and downtrodden in the city of Bologna. When Imelda was baptized, she was given the name, Magdalen.

Magdalen grew and was inspired by both of her parents who told her stories about Jesus and Mary and of the saints. They instructed her in the faith, and her mother had a particular devotion to the souls in Purgatory. Magdalen prepared a place for herself in her room where she could pray. She wanted to think about the Child Jesus as much as she could.

On her fifth birthday, she asked if she could receive Holy Communion. At that time a child could not receive until they attained the age of 14. Magdalen, accepting the emptiness she felt,  would have to wait.

When Magdalen was nine years old, she already had a deep desire to live in a convent. Her love for Jesus was unmatched and all she could think about was that the best thing a person could do was to save their own soul. She desperately wanted to live in a place of prayer where she could just focus on loving Jesus. She began pleading with her parents to let her join a convent.

Interestingly, in those days, it was not uncommon for parents to allow their children who professed a desire to become a religious person, to allow them to move into a place of prayer and worship. Magdalen was granted her wish by her parents and moved into the convent of St. Mary Magdalen, outside Bologna.

Young Magdalen seemed much too young to wear the Dominican habit but she pleaded with the sisters so passionately they gave in. She was filled with joy when they gave her the habit and began calling her Sister Imelda.

Nine-year-old Sister Imelda began to immediately devote herself to prayer and penance. Even though a child she worked so hard at obeying the order’s rules and doing the right thing.  She became a role model for many of the sisters that lived with her. Sister Imelda found a corner in the rear of the convent garden and built a small replica of Calvary there. She would go there and meditate on the sufferings of-of Jesus. The one thing that Sister Imelda longed for more than anything was to be united with Jesus through Holy Communion. She even asked the other sisters,  “how is it possible to receive Jesus into one’s heart and not to die?”

God’s plan for Sister Imelda Magdalen came to fruition on May 12, 1333. The little nun was eleven years old. She knelt alone in the corner of the choir watching as the other sisters received Holy Communion. She wanted to receive Communion so desperately that she was praying and weeping. She remained where she was as Mass ended and watched as the nuns and priest left the chapel.

The nuns who were on their way out suddenly smelled a beautiful fragrance. Following the aroma, they headed back to the chapel and, to their amazement, saw a brightly lit Host hovering above Imelda’s head. The nuns hurried to get the priest.

Still vested,  Father returned and saw the miraculous sight. He held the paten and knelt in adoration before the vision. As he knelt the Host slowly descended onto the paten. Father knew what to do. He gave the Host to Sister Imelda who, at that moment, received her First Holy Communion. Incredibly, the love and joy that was felt by the young nun was too much for her. Upon receiving Communion, she closed her eyes and died, filled with her Savior and His love.

Sister Imelda Magdalen was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1826. She has been declared the patroness of First Communicants.

Blessed Imelda, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

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