The First Woman Saint from Brazil was a Lifelong Diabetic

St. Paulne  of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus                            vatican.news

By Larry Peterson

She was born on December 16, 1865, in the town of Vigolo Vattaro, which was in northern Italy. At the time, this was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her father, Antonio Visintainer, and her mom, Anna Pianezzer, named her Amabile Lucia. Like most of the people in the area, Amabile’s parents, despite being quite poor, were also. devout Catholics.

When Amabile was ten years old, her family joined with some other families, and a total of about one hundred people emigrated to the State of Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine) located in Brazil. They settled in an area naming it Vigolo, the same name as the town they had left. Their new life was about to begin.

Even as a young child, Amabile displayed a pious and charitable nature that made people notice. She often spoke of serving God, and after receiving her First Holy Communion at the age of twelve, she became part of her parish by attending catechism class, visiting the sick, and cleaning the chapel. Amabile was never given the opportunity for an upper-level education. Still, her love of her faith and the poor and homeless fully compensated for the book learning she had not received.

On July 12, 1890, things took a dramatic change for Amabile. She and her dear friend, Virginia Rosa Nicolodi, began caring for a woman suffering from cancer. Their spiritual director, a Jesuit priest by the name of Luigi Rossi, asked them if they wanted to commit their lives to religious service, dedicating their lives to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. It was also about this time in Amabile’s life that the frequent thirst and increased urination became an interference in her daily life. Diabetes had reared its ugly head.

Father Rossi, through donations,  helped them acquire a small house, and they moved the woman in. The cared for her until her passing, and then another woman, Teresa Anna Maule, joined them as the third member of their tiny group. It was at this point that they founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.  With the blessing and approval of Most Reverend Jose de Camargo Barros, Bishop of Curitiba, they began their work.

During this time, the symptoms of diabetes became more frequent in Sister Pauline. The frequent trips to urinate, the ever-present thirst, and unexpected weight loss, were all evidence of an illness few knew anything about. (Insulin would not be discovered until 1921. The first insulin injection was given to a 14-year-old boy in Canada, on January 11, 1922).

The history of diabetes is scattered with ideas and treatments that more or less had one thing in common. There was ‘too much sugar” in the urine. The Egyptians had discovered diabetic symptoms thousands of years ago but did not know how to treat it. In India, they placed ants near a persons’ urine, and if they ants hurried to it, they knew it was because it had sugar in it. During the middle ages “water testers” were folks who tasted urine. If the urine tasted “sweet,” the person was diagnosed with diabetes. But, as far as treatments  for the disease, there were none save “dieting.”    Diabetes, prior to insulin, was basically a death sentence.

In December of that year, Amabile and her two friends, Virginia and Teresa, professed religious vows. Amabile took the name  Sister Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. Her title became Mother Pauline after she was named Superior General of the Order.

The holiness of life and apostolic zeal of Mother Pauline and her Sister companions attracted many vocations despite the poverty and the difficulties in which they lived. In 1903, Mother Pauline was elected Superior General “for life.” She left Nova Trento to take care of the orphans, the children of former slaves, and the old and abandoned slaves in the district of Ipiranga of Saõ Paulo. 

On May 19, 1933, Mother Pauline was granted the title of  Venerable Mother Foundress and received a Decree of Praise from the Holy See. Her health was continually evaporating, and by 1940, she had lost her middle finger and then her right arm. She spent the last year of her life blind and died on July 9, 1942. Her last words were, “God’s will be done.”

Mother Pauline was canonized a saint by Pope St., John Paul II in Vatican City on May 19, 2002. Because of her only being canonized in 2002, she is considered  the “unoffical” patroness of Diabetics. Her official status as patroness is coming soon.

St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


The Strange Paradox of COVID-19. Saving the Lonely by making them Lonelier

Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)

By Larry Peterson

I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy, satisfied, and successful. Yes, loneliness is capable of dragging the lonely into a world of hidden misery and often depression. It can attack anyone at any time, and it has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions.

I have been widowed twice and know full well how loneliness can occupy a unique place in the widowed equation. Loneliness also reaches out and captures those who may have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, or even a dear friend. I carry the loneliness package from all of those

Suddenly, loneliness has been gifted with a new victim to feast on: it can now extend its ravenous appetite into the pandemic known as COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.  Loneliness is about to ravage the senior citizen in ways never imagined.  One way will be to take away their chairs and sofas.

I have been bringing Holy Communion to the homebound on Sundays for over twenty years. It may be the most uplifting thing I do and I know I have been spiritually rewarded many times over. This past Sunday, I confronted a new wrinkle among my visits. I have one lady, Virginia (she is 98), who resides in an independent living apartment. It is a reasonably long walk from the parking lot to the building entrance. Once there, you use a keypad to gain access. I scroll to Virginia’s name and get her on the speaker. She buzzes me in.

As the sliding doors open, I stop short. No one is there. Every Sunday, there are four or five, maybe six, people in the lobby sitting around chatting and just visiting with each other. They know my name, and I always get a friendly welcome from them.  We exchange a few pleasantries (I usually joke about something), and then I go on my way.

But this Sunday no one is there. I just stood there because it took me a few seconds to realize that no one was there because the furniture was gone. The lobby was empty. There was no sofa, or chairs, or coffee table. They had been removed, and there was no place to sit and talk. This was done courtesy of the management “protecting” the residents against COVID-19 or coronavirus. We must keep the elderly SAFE. No problem; just keep them in their rooms—ALONE.

The situation impacted me deeply. I have been visiting the sick and homebound for a long time, and they do not ask for much. However, in their low profile quiet world, they look forward to sitting together (if possible) and just talking about whatever it is they talk about. My visit is a big deal for them. I see each of my folks for about ten minutes each, sometimes a bit longer.

I may be the only visitor they see all week. Yet my visit buoys them up for my next visit which is a week away.  The folks that gather in the lobby every week are non-catholic and do not receive. But I do get to say a short prayer with them, and they like my doing it. So do I.

But now, on this Sunday morning in March of the year 2020, it seems things have changed in a way no one could have ever imagined.  The powers that be want us to be alone. They want us to avoid each other, not touch each other, and become individual entities. But we are social beings and like it or not; we need each other. We need to touch and hold and shake hands and hug, especially among family and friends.

Nursing homes all over the country have been placed on “lockdown.” Patients in these places will be relegated to their beds. Family and friends will not be allowed to visit them. Independent living apartments will have empty lobbies and courtyards. There will be no place for the tenants to sit and congregate.

Will our country and maybe the world soon have billions of separate individuals with no one to talk to or visit with.  It is such a strange paradox; saving the lonely by making them lonlier than they already are.

We had all better pray like we never prayed before that this coronavirus is vanquished quickly.  We cannot live this way for very long.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Meet The Pandemic Saints—The Church’s alternative to the CDC

Saints to call on in a Pandemic

aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The Catholic Church has patron saints for many causes. There are so many they even had to be alphabetized.  Under the letter  A, there are  23 named saints such as  St. Agatha, the Patroness of bakers and nurses, .and the great Augustine of Hippo,  the patron saint of printers and brewmasters. Under G, there is St. George, who is responsible for fifteen patronages, including butchers, shepherds, and Boy Scouts.

You get the idea; we Catholics have a lot of patron saints, and almost every facet of life experience seems to be covered. If it looks impossible, we can always turn to St.Jude, the Patron of Impossible. We even have some saints that protect us against pandemics. Since Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints we can strike up a conversation with if we might need some help with coping with Coronavirus.

Let us start with the Four Holy Marshalls. Of the four, we are only including two; St. Quirinus of Neuss, the patron saint. for fighting  Smallpox and St. Anthony the Great, the patron saint for combatting the Plague.

  • Quirinus of Neuss –Patron Saint of Bubonic Plague and Smallpox

Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D.  Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian. But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for being Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.

We move ahead 1500 years and documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirius’s body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against Bubonic Plague and Smallpox.

This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’s feast day of March 30. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.” 

 

  • Anthony the GreatPatron of Infectious Diseases

One of the greatest saints of the early Church.  Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian Monasticism.  He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes.  He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.

St. Anthony the Great is also the Patron to fight infectious diseases. We might all call on him now since Coronavirus is just that, an infectious disease.

  • Edwin the Martyr ( St. Edmund)—Patron of Pandemics

 Edmund is the acknowledged Patron St. of Pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly, hardly anything is known about him. Yet. there are churches all over England dedicated to him. Edmund cannot be placed within any ruling dynasty yet the Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869. Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint of pandemics is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.

We might mention a few more saints who are patrons of familiar illnesses and afflictions:

  • Damien of Molokai—Patron Saint of those with Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)
  • Dymphna—The 15 year old Irish girl whi is patroness of emotiona disorders.
  • The Fourteen Holy Helpers—epidemics, Bubonic Plague aka the Black Death
  • St. Matthias Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
  • Tryphon Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts.

The list seems endless so if you ever need a patron saint for anything, here is a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_patron_saints_by_occupation_and_activity

There most likely is some saint waiting just for your call.

copyright


Rejected by two Religious Orders, she started her own. She became known as the “Mother of the Poor.”

St. Angela of the Cross                                      en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

She was born in Seville, Spain, on January 30, 1846. Three days later, she was baptized at the Church of Santa Lucia and given the name Maria de Los Angeles, which means Mary of the Angels. But they called her Angela. The child received her First Holy Communion when she was eight years old and her Confirmation at the age of nine.

Angela came from a simple family of very modest means. Her dad was trained as a woodcarver, but after moving to Serville took a job as the cook at a Trinitarian monastery. His wife, Josefa, took the job as a seamstress and house cleaner. Together they had thirteen children, of which only six survived. Angela’s schooling was limited as it was for most girls of her social class. When she was twelve years old, she went to work in a shoe factory to help the family with more income. She would work there virtually full time for the next 17 years.

The supervisor at the shoe factory was a devout Catholic woman by the name of Antonia Maldonado. She always encouraged the employees to pray together, to recite the Rosary, and to learn about the many saints in the church. It was through Antonia that Angela, at the age of sixteen,  would meet Father Jose Torres y Padilla, a priest from the Canary Islands. Father Jose would become Angela’s confessor and a powerful influence in her life;.

Angela had felt a calling to religious life, and when she turned nineteen, she decided it was time to answer that call. She applied to the Discalced Carmelites in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, she was turned away because of poor health. She turned to Father Padilla, who advised her to keep praying and to begin working with the poor, especially those suffering from Cholera, which was quite prevalent at the time. Angela followed this advice and started her service to the poor.

In 1868 Angela again attempted to gain acceptance to convent life. This time she applied to the Daughters of Charity of Seville. Despite her frail health, she was accepted. The Sisters tried to nurse Angela back to full health but were unable to. They sent her to Cuenca and then to Valencia, but neither place helped. She had to leave the order and returned home, going back to work in the shoe factory.

Angela continued working in the shoe factory and held on to her dream to become a religious. She worked and served the poor. She prayed and prayed, and in1873, she received a vision. In it, she was shown that her calling was to help the poorest of the poor. She began her mission that very day and also started a journal recording what she believed was God’s message to her.

Quickly other women were drawn to her, but it was on August 2, 1875, that she chose three ladies who were to begin a new order with her. They were Josefa de la Pena, who was quite wealthy, and Juana Maria Castro and Jauna Magadan. They were both poor, just like Angela.

The order they founded was called the Congregation of the Cross. Its mission would be to work with the sick, the poor, orphans, and the homeless. They would provide food, medicine, clothing, housing, and whatever else they could to help those in their care. The money Josefa had was used to rent a small room and a working kitchen. Other funds were strictly from alms and donations. They opened a 24-hour support service for the poor, and, in 1877, a new site was opened in another Seville province.

The Archbishop of Seville, Luis de la Lastra y Cuesta, gave his official approval to the new order on April 5, 1876. Father Torres died in 1877 and was succeeded by his protege, Jose Maria Delgado. Angela was installed as the Mother Superior of the Congregation of the Cross and became known as Mother Angela of the Cross. She was lovingly known to the people as the “Mother of the Poor.” She died on March 2, 1932, in Seville. She was 86 years old.

At the time of her passing 23 convents had already opened. By the year 2008, there were over 1000 sisters in the order serving the poor all over the world.

Pope St. John Paul II  canonized Mother Angela on May 4, 2003. Her feast day is March 2.

St. Angela of the Cross, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


St. Margaret of Cortona— From Sinner to Saint; her patronages include; the homeless, single moms, orphans, midwives, reformed prostitutes, the insane and more (link at end).

Jesus asked her what her wish was. She answered, ““I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus.”

St. Margaret of Cortona                                       en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Margaret was born in Laviano, near Cortona, in the province of Tuscany in the year 1247. Her parents were farmers. Sadly, when Margaret was only seven, her mom died. Not long after, her father remarried.  Her father assumed that Margaret needed a woman to step in as her “replacement mom.”

He could not have guessed that Margaret’s new stepmom would have an actual aversion to his young daughter and that young Margaret would quickly come to develop a pronounced hostility for her new “mom.” As she grew, Margaret’s behavior became reckless and uncontrollable. A reputation was attached to her conduct, and soon, she was known. as a ‘bad” girl.

When Margaret was 17, she was introduced to the son of the Lord of Valiano, Guglielmo di Pecora. The young fellow was a dashing cavalier, and Margaret saw her salvation with him. He was someone who might love her, something she had missed since she was seven.

One night she ran away and met with her lover (his name is never mentioned in any of her writings) and moved into the castle at Montepulciano with him. She lived with him in the castle for nine years. They had a son together and he kept promising her that they would get married. She pleaded with him that they could not live sinfully. It did not matter, he refused to give in.  (In her writings, Margaret confesses that she consented to her lover’s demands).

Who could ever imagine that a dog returning home could be the start of the rebirth of spiritual life? It happened to Margaret when her lover’s dog came back to the castle by himself. He went over to Margaret and began tugging on her dress trying to get her to go with him. She finally followed and the dog led her to his master’s body. Her lover who had been murdered.

Margaret blamed herself for her lover’s sinful ways and began to hate her own beauty which had so captivated him. She returned all the jewels, property, and anything else he may have given her to his relatives. Then she left the castle with her son and headed home to her father’s house. Her father would have taken her in but his wife, Margaret’s hateful stepmom, refused to have her. Her husband went along with his wife’s wishes.

Satan is always lying in wait for our weakest moments and he pounced on Margaret. Her first thoughts were to use her beauty to earn some money. Horrified by such sinful thinking she began praying. A voice told her to go to the Franciscan Friars at Cortona and to put herself under their spiritual guidance. When she arrived in Cortona, she was frightened and alone and without money. Two ladies noticed her standing on a corner with her son. She seemed so lost. They knew of the Franciscans and took her to the church of San Francesco to meet them.

Margaret and her son were brought into the Franciscans on a probationary trial period. After three years of probation, Margaret was admitted to the Third Order of St. Francis. (As soon as her son was of age he, too, became a Franciscan). From that point on, she begged her bread, lived on alms, did daily penance, and helped freely those in need. In 1277, while praying, she heard the words, “What is thy wish, Poverella?” (Little poor one).  She answered,   “I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus.”

While living such an austere existence, she managed to establish a hospital for the sick, homeless, and poverty-stricken, To develop a nursing staff for the hospital, she recruited select Tertiary Sisters into a group which became known as ‘le poverrele” (the little poor ones”). She also established a confraternity known as Our Lady of Mercy, whose members vowed to support the hospital and to help the poor and needy wherever they might be found.

In 1286,  Margaret was granted a charter allowing her to work with the underprivileged permanently. She preached against vice and many returned to the sacraments. She developed a deep love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Our Lord. She was divinely warned of the day and hour of her death and it came as foretold; she died on February 22, 1297.

She was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XIII on May 16, 1728. Her body lies incorrupt in a silver casket inside The Basilica of St. Margaret of Cortona.

St. Margaret’s patronage is quite extensive. Use the link here to see the many patronages she had been given. She is undoubtedly one busy saint.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Honoring the Tongue of St. Anthony of Padua. His Tongue, known as the “Hammer of Heretics,” has its own Feast day.

“The Life of the Body is the Soul; The Life of the Soul is God”  St. Anthony of Padua

By Larry Peterson

He was born as Fernando Martins de Bulhoes in Lisbon, Portugal, on August 15, 1195. His family was wealthy, and this enabled Fernando to enter the upscale Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra (at that time the capital of Portugal) when he was only 15. Fernando had a brilliant mind and quickly learned theology and Latin.

After Fernando was ordained a priest, he was named the hospitality director of his abbey. Shortly after that, Franciscan friars established a small hermitage outside the city. Dedicated to St. Anthony of Egypt,  Fernando developed a deep desire to become one of these friars. He sought permission to join them and it was granted. Upon entering his new order, he took the name of Anthony.

Anthony had a great speaking voice, a keen mind, and a great memory. As time passed by, he used his tongue so effectively at dispelling heresies and false rumors he became known as the Hammer of Heretics. He was the first theologian of the Franciscan Order and, besides being one of the greatest preachers to ever speak, he also possessed the spirit of prophecy and an extraordinary gift of miracles.

Anthony traveled to Morocco to preach but became very sick. He was returned to Portugal to recover but the voyage blew off course, and the ship landed in Sicily. From there, they went to Tuscany. The local friars had his health evaluated and assigned him to the hermitage of San Paolo.  Anthony spent most of his time recovering by praying and studying. However, he died at the age of 35.

Anthony of Padua was canonized a saint less than a year after his death by Pope Gregory IX. It was and still is one of the quickest canonizations in the history of the church.  In 1946, Pope Pius XII proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church. We also know him as the patron saint of lost things. His feast day is June 13. However, we also have the feast day honoring The Holy Tongue of St. Anthony. That is on February 15, and here is how that came about.

St. Anthony died on June 13, 1231. He was buried in the little Franciscan church of St. Mary, in Padua. Thirty-two years later, in 1263, the new basilica on the site was far enough along where they could transfer his body. The plan was to bury the saint under the high altar. When they opened the coffin, Anthony’s body had decayed into ashes and bone. Incredibly, his tongue was pink and moist and totally incorrupt. It was felt that his teachings were so incorrupt that his tongue remained the same way.

St. Bonaventure was present and what he said at that moment was, “O blessed tongue, which has always blessed God and caused others to bless Him, now it appears evident how great were your merits before God!”

Bonaventure picked up the tongue ever so reverently and placed it in a suitable vessel until a proper reliquary could be made for it. In 1310, when the basilica was almost complete, St. Anthony’s remains were moved there.

St. Bonaventure had found the tongue incorrupt but, incredibly, this was validated in 1981. Being carefully examined it was discovered that other parts of the Saint’s body connected to his vocal cords had been preserved from corruption. This newly discovered miracle of incorruption added            extra proof and validation to the story of the “Hammer of  Heretics.”

The Holy Tongue of St. Anthony is in a special reliquary in a separate chapel on the epistle side of the basilica. It has its own special day of honor which is February 15. .People visit The Tongue of St. Anthony to this very day. In fact, five million pilgrims visit the Basilica of St. Anthony every year.

St. Anthony of Padua, please pray for us all.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


The Miraculous Image of Our Lady with the Bowed head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head

Our Lady of the Bowed Head                             pineterest.com

By Larry Peterson

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.” St. John Damascene

Pictures and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been carved, chiseled, painted, or made in some way by many people from all over the world since the beginnings of the Catholic church. The numbers are too many to count.  One of these is a picture of the Blessed Mother that was originally found in a pile of trash. It is called Our Lady of the Bowed Head.

The story of the picture begins in Sicily in 1610. A Carmelite monk, by the name of Dominic of Jesus and Mary, was charged with inspecting an old, broken-down house to see if it might be suitable to convert into a monastery. As he walked around the grounds, he passed a pile of trash. Giving the debris a cursory look, Friar Dominic kept on walking. Suddenly he stopped. Something or someone was telling him to go back and look closer at the trash.

He heeded the prompt and returned to the garbage pile. He grabbed a broken stick and began separating the mounds of junk. When he saw the edge of a picture frame, he paused. He carefully pushed away the debris that surrounded what he now realized was a painting. Rescuing the artwork from its impending fate, he pulled it out and discovered it was an old oil painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He could not believe someone had thrown such a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother in the garbage. Friar Dominic wrote that the first thing he did was to apologize to Mary. He said, “I am sorry, dear Mother, that someone has treated thy image in such a terrible manner. I will take it back to the monastery with me and fix it up, and I will give thee the homage which thou so rightly deserve.”

Dominic did indeed, take it back to the monastery, and restore it as best he could. He hung the picture in his cell and every day gave Mary the attention, reverence, and devotion that was due her. He prayed to Our Lady with an increased exuberance asking her for the graces to please Jesus in all things.

One day when Dominic was cleaning his cell, the sunlight happened to land on the picture. Dominic thought there was dust on the painting and went over to clean it. The humble friar felt that he had been remiss in his duties and, raising his eyes to heaven,  apologized profusely to Our Lady for having neglected her painting. He even apologized for using the old rag he had.

As he proceeded to dust the picture, Our Lady’s face began to move, and she smiled at the priest. Dominic was not sure what was happening and then Our Lady spoke to him saying, “Fear not, my son, for your request is granted! Your prayer will be answered and will be part of the reward, which you will receive for the love that you have for my Son Jesus and myself.”

She proceeded to tell him that she would grant him any favor he wanted. He asked for Her to help his friend be released from Purgatory. She told him,  Dominic, my son, I will deliver this soul from Purgatory if you will make many sacrifices and will have many Masses offered for this soul.” Then the apparition of Mary faded away.

The apparition of Our Lady vanished, and Friar Dominic remembered the words of the Holy Virgin when she promised to answer the prayers of all who would honor and pray to her before the miraculous image. He knew he had to share it with everyone and the painting was placed in the Oratory of St. Charles located next to the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale.

The painting remained in the Church of Santa Maria de la Scale until Dominic’s death in 1630. Then it was loaned to the Duke of Bavaria, Maximilian. Later it was loaned to Emperor Ferdinand II and then returned to the Carmelite Fathers after Ferdinand’s death in 1655. In 1901 a new church was built in Vienna and the image was given a place of honor there.

Today it is in the monastery Church of Vienna Dobling. September 27, 1931, it was solemnly crowned by Pope Pius XI – the 300th anniversary of its arrival in Vienna.

Fr. Dominic was declared Venerable by St. Pius X in 1907.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Her Father died when she was five—It changed the course of her life

Venerable Marie-Mallet                                                en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Marie-Anne-Marcelle Mallet was born on March 26, 1805, in Montreal. Canada. Her father, Vital Mallet, passed away when she was only five, and his passing immediately changed the direction of her life. Her mother, Marguerite, unable to provide for her children’s education, sent Marie and her brother to live with an aunt and uncle in Lachine. Marie’s new guardians sent her to the nearby monastery of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre-Dame, where she would spend most of her growing years as a boarder.

Marie-Anne, having lost her dad to death and her mom to circumstances, became extremely sensitive to the confusion and disruption that had become part of her very young life. She quickly developed and displayed a natural empathy for the poor and downtrodden. As she grew, she was drawn to religious life as she saw this the best way to help those in need. She decided to join the Sisters of Charity of the Hospital General of Montreal,

This order, (also known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal), was the first religious congregation founded in Canada. Marie was admitted as a postulant when she was sixteen. Two years later, on May 6, 1824, she was allowed to enter the novitiate. On May 18, 1826, she professed her vows. Her primary duty from that point on was to care for the sick.

In 1846, Sister Marie added to her job description when she began visiting the sick and home-bound. She discovered she loved being part of this ministry, and the people she saw came to know and love her. But in 1847, Typhoid struck Montreal.  It was Sister Marie who instinctively put her organizational skills to work. She was appointed assistant superior and assumed complete responsibility and supervision of the hospital and staff.

Her leadership and guiding hand saw her assist in establishing new hospitals in such places as Manitoba, Ottawa, and Quebec.  She was chosen to be the leader of the new Quebec Mission, and this move required her to leave her order and found a new one. On August 21, 1849, Sister Marie Mallet cut ties with the Sisters of Charity of Montreal and founded the Sisters of Charity of Quebec. She and her five followers were immediately faced with a daunting task.

Quebec was going through a terrible time in its history. The city was recovering from its second destructive fire when a cholera epidemic struck. Mother Mallet and her companion sisters, had come to “care for the sick and educate young girls.” Based on the circumstances they confronted, Mother Mallet first ordered the establishment of a relief service for needy schoolchildren. She took in orphan girls, then, in 1855, homeless women, in 1856, the aged and infirm, and then in 1862, she opened a home for orphaned boys. There was never a lack of charitable work to be done.

In 1866, Mother Mallet opened an out-patient center for the needy, and during the seventeen years, she was the director of her community she was responsible for establishing with the diocese of Quebec, five boarding schools for girls which had curriculum similar to local schools but also trained women to be schoolmistresses. Let us not forget that the Sisters of charity also took in newly arrived immigrants who had no place to go and gave aid and shelter to those who lost everything to fires.

On July 1, 1866, Pope Pius IX approved the rule of the order of The Sisters of Charity of Quebec. Mother Mallet and her followers had stayed true the rule of the Sulpicians. However, the Bishop of Quebec imposed a new Rule on the order. This Rule had been derived from the Jesuits. This caused an internal crisis because the sisters wanted to stay true to their original vows even though the difference was hardly noticeable. But it required a pledge of loyalty to the newly designated Rule. Even within the confines of a deeply spiritual environment, politics reared its ugly head.

Mother Mallet, accustomed to 40 years of honoring the Rule of the Sulpician Order, could not give allegiance equally to both Rules. But the new nuns coming in embraced the Jesuit way and, in 1866, Mother Mallet was not re-elected as Mother Superior. She was even left out of all administrative duties. She returned to live the rest of her life as a simple nun.

Mother Marie-Anne Mallet, suffering from cancer, passed away on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1871,  in Quebec City at the age of 66. She was declared Venerable in January of 2014.

Venerable Marie Mallet, please pray for us.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2020


During Respect Life Week, we should never forget to remember the patron of unborn children and expectant mothers, St. Gerard Majella

Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand, he held a small roll of bread. (It was from the baby Jesus)

St. Gerard Majella                                                                aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The Annual March for Life took place in Washington. D.C. on Friday, January 24. More than a half-million people marched in defense of the unborn. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, spoke live before the crowd, the first time in history a president has done so. However, many expectant women, unsure of their situation, did not attend.   If you were one of them, you might turn to St. Gerard Majella, the Patron Saint of Unborn Children and Expectant Mothers. Many a miracle has been attributed to this young man’s intercession.

Gerard was the youngest child born to Domenico and Benedetta Majella. They already had three daughters, and Gerard was their only son. The date was April 6, 1726. The Majellas were a hard-working Italian family and, Benedetta brought her children to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces as often as she could. Gerard, only three, loved the statue of the “pretty lady with the baby.”

When Gerard got a bit older, he would run off to the shrine by himself. The first time he came home, he yelled out, “Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand, he held a small roll of bread. No one paid much attention but after several days of coming home with bread, his mom decided to follow him and see what he was up to.

What she saw stunned her because the statue of Our Lady of Graces apparently came to life and the Child she was holding scampered down to play with Gerard. She quickly left and, sure enough, when Gerard came home, he had another small loaf of bread with him. Benedetta kept this to herself.

Gerard’s dad died when the boy was twelve, and the family was left in poverty. Gerard’s father had been a tailor so his mom sent him to her brother so Gerard could learn to sew and be a tailor like his father. However, after a four-year apprenticeship, Gerard was offered the job as a servant for the local Bishop of Lacedonia. Needing the money, he took the position.

The Bishop kept hearing stories about Gerard and his kindness and how he would always stop and visit the poor in the clinic, how he always helped others and would even bring the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table. The young man was gaining a reputation just by being himself.

When the Bishop passed away, Gerard returned to his trade as a tailor. He divided his earnings among his mother, the poor, and in offerings for the souls in purgatory. By the time he was 21 years old, he had established a steady business. His mom was quite worried about her son. He looked thin and frail because he was always fasting and doing penance. She begged him to eat, and he told her, “Mama, God will provide. As for me, I want to be a saint.”

Gerard tried to join the Capuchins, but they thought him to sickly to endure the demands of the order. Finally, after much pleading and nagging, he was accepted as a lay brother into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer aka the Redemptorists.

As a lay brother, he would never be a priest, say Mass or hear confessions. He would live under the same roof and wear the same habit and share the prayers. He also would take the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. He would be a caretaker to the monastery. He embraced this role and served them well acting as gardener, sacristan, porter, cook, carpenter and, of course, the tailor.

But there was always the children. They flocked to Gerard to hear his amazing stories and learn how to pray. Once, when a large group was sitting around listening to him, a little boy fell off a cliff. When they reached the child, they thought he was dead. Gerard said to the boy’s father, “It is nothing.”  Then he traced a cross on the boy’s forehead, and he awoke. It was just one of Gerard’s many miracles that were witnessed by people.

Gerard had tuberculosis and died on October 16, 1755. He was 29 years old. Many miracles have been attributed to his intercession. One stands out as the reason he has come to be known as the patron of mothers. A few months before his death, he was visiting a family. He dropped his handkerchief, and one of the girls picked it up to return it to him. He told her to keep it because one day she would need it.

Years later, as a married woman, she was about to give birth, and the doctor was sure the child would not survive. She remembered the handkerchief and asked for it. When she held it to her womb, the pain disappeared and she gave birth to a healthy baby. There was no explanation.

In 1893 Pope Leo XIII beatified Gerard. And on December 11, 1904, Pope St. Pius X canonized him in Rome. He was now St. Gerard Majella.

St. Gerard;  please pray for all those pre-born children in danger of losing their lives and for all expectant moms everywhere.

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2020 (updated from 2018)

 


Blessed Laura Vicuna—This Patroness of Abuse Victims traded her life for her mother’s salvation.

She told her mother, “Mama, I offer my life for you.”

Blessed Laura Vicuna age  12          public domain

By Larry Peterson

Laura Vicuna was born on April 5, 1891, to a mand named Joseph Domenico Vicuna. Joseph came from a family of Chilean aristocrats. Laura’s mother’s name was Mercedes Pino and she was the daughter of farmers. Joseph Vicuna had married a woman who was considered “beneath him.” As a result, his family disowned him.

Mercedes and her daughters, Laura and Julia,  were okay while Joseph was alive. However, civil war broke out in Chile and quickly spread to Santiago. The family fled to Temuco, but a short time later, Joseph was killed in battle.  Everything changed for Mercedes and her daughters. As far as her husband’s family was concerned, Mercedes did not even exist. Despised and rejected by the aristocratic Vicuna clan, Mercedes took her two daughters and moved to Argentina.

When Mercedes arrived in Argentina, she quickly discovered that work was not plentiful, and life could turn hard. A local rancher, named Manuel Mora, sensed Mercedes vulnerabilities and offered her a job working for him. However, it was not a job where you could go home every day. On the contrary, Mercedes was told that she would have to live with Mora at the ranch. Manuel Mora also told Mercedes that if she agreed to live with him, he would send Laura to school that was taught by the nuns. Marriage was not an option.

Mercedes weighed her options and knew in her heart that moving in with Manuel and sleeping together was wrong. But she desperately wanted her daughters to receive a Catholic education. She knew that she could never afford to send them to the Catholic school. So she moved into Manuel Mora’s ranch with her children.

When Laura was of age, Manuel kept his promise and had Laura enrolled in the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco).  Before long Laura began developing a deep love for the Catholic faith.  She began spending extended periods of time in prayer and learning all she could about Jesus and the Blessed Mother.

Written in her First Communion notebook were the words, “Oh my God, I want to love and serve you all my life. I give you my soul, my heart, my whole self.”  She became so pious that many of her classmates began to ignore her. She even tried to join the Salesians, but she was only ten and was told that she would have to wait until she was a bit older.”

Laura loved her school, but her joy at being a student there turned to concern and worry when she returned home for vacation. She now realized that her mother was living with Manuel as his wife. She knew this was a sinful thing to do and began praying that her mom would leave Mora and once again follow God’s commandments.

She was a child of eleven years of age, and Manuel Mora, who probably already harbored lust for the growing girl, heard that she had voiced a desire to become a nun. Enraged at this idea, Manuel beat Laura severely several times to make her forget about becoming a nun. He told her and her mother that if she did not forget the “ridiculous idea” of becoming a nun, he would stop paying for her education with the Salesians. The nuns heard of this and told Mercedes that both of her daughters would have full scholarships to the school and that there was no need for worry.

But Laura was worried about her mom’s soul. She remembered what Jesus had said, “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends,”  Laura decided to give her own life in exchange for her mom’s salvation. She asked Jesus to take her so her mom could be saved. Soon after, the child became seriously ill with pulmonary tuberculosis.

Laura’s health quickly deteriorated. Before she passed away, she told her mom,  “Mama, I offer my life for you. Before I die, mother, would I have the joy of seeing you repent?”

Her mother cried out, “I swear I will do whatever you ask of me! God is the witness of my promise.”  Laura smiled and said, “Thank you Jesus. Thank you Mary. Goodbye, Mother, now I die happy.”

Laura Vicuna, weakened by beatings from Manuel Mora,  died from her illness on January 22, 1904. She had not reached her thirteenth birthday. She was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on September 3, 1988  She is a patroness of abuse victims, incest victims, and loss of parents.

Blessed Laura Vicuna, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020