Tag Archives: Jesuits

Madonna della Strada or Our Lady of the Way was an unknown Fresca that inspired St. Ignatius Loyola to help found the Society of Jesus

Our Lady of the Way                                             public domain

By Larry Peterson

The title “Our Lady of the Way” (Madonna della Strada) comes from a beautiful shrine kept in Rome, where a fresco (painted on wet plaster) during the 13th or 14th century was venerated. The fresco was a small painting of the Madonna and Child. For the previous 425 years, this painting had hung in the corner of Rome’s church of St. Mary of the Way (Santa Maria dell Strada). St. Ignatius Loyola had come across this painting on his first trip to the Eternal City in 1540. He preached day after day on an adjacent street corner and fell in love with the artwork.

Shortly after, Pope Paul III approved Loyola’s small band of “reformed” priests, and so was born the Society of Jesus. The Holy Father gave them Santa Maria della Strada as their home base and pastoral home. Ignatius effectively became the caretaker of the fresco.

In 1568, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese erected the Chiesa del Gesu (Church of Jesus) as the Mother Church of the Jesuits. The fresco was moved there in 1575 and placed in the chapel where the Jesuits took their vows.

Before he died, Ignatius left instructions for the Jesuits on how to preserve the image so it could eventually be enshrined in the new church, a church he would not live to see. It ultimately was transferred to its permanent place of honor above the ornately decorated chapel to the left of the high altar. It remained there until the present time.

The Chiesa del Gesu was not completed until 1584. By then, many people had come to venerate the painting, especially after Ignatius of Loyola had agreed it demonstrated healing powers. He also gave to the Blessed Virgin credit for saving his life during a battle in 1521. It was not until the 19th century that the image was transferred to canvas and affixed to a slate panel.

In the year 2006, the Madonna della Strada was long overdue for a “cleaning.”  The project quickly escalated into a much more complex task than anticipated. For starters, the image proved to be more than 200 years older than previously thought. And the quality of the artwork was much more intricate than believed.

The biggest and most profound revelations came from the Madonna and the infant Jesus. Working in a makeshift studio above the church’s lateral chapels, conservators slowly dissolved centuries worth of grime, mineral deposits, varnish, and overpainting from the image’s surface.  Brilliant colors began to poke their way through the cloudy old residue. After weeks of slowly but surely working a tiny piece at a time, a new Madonna della Strada appeared.

Faces once frozen tight under layers of dirt and resin reappeared fresh and lively. A rosy-cheeked baby Jesus with His little right hand raised in blessing was crystal clear. It was incredibly three dimensional as He sat in his Mother’s arm. The Virgin, wearing a stenciled crown, has a healthy complexion, a gentle face, and, as does the baby Jesus, looks at the viewer as if she is LOOKING at the viewer. Experts were the overseers of the project and agreed the work was most likely from the 13 or the 14th century. It is a rare example of late-medieval Roman wall painting.

Today, freed from its 19th century “protective coatings,” the Madonna della Strada aka Our Lady of the Way, is once again alive. Many more people now visit and venerate it. The icon is located between two altars, the first dedicated to Ignatius of Loyola, the second, the main altar of the church, dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Pilgrims visit the shrine every day, and many stories circulate of favors they receive from the Mother of God after praying before it. The feast day of Our Lady of the Way /Madonna della Strada is May 24.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

This Portuguese Jesuit was a poet, dramatist, and scholar. He also converted more than one million native Brazilians

Joseph de Anchieta is considered the Apostle of Brazil and the father of Brazilian Literature.

St. Joseph of Anchieta                       en.wikipedia.org

Larry Peterson

Joseph de Anchieta was born on March 19, 1534, in San Cristobal de La Laguna in a city called Tenerife which was in the Canary Islands. Joseph’s dad was a wealthy landowner who had escaped to Tenerife after participating in a plot to overthrow King Charles V.

The rebellion had failed but his dad, Juan Lopez de Anchieta , managed to hold on to his wealth and the family was still well off. His mom, Mancia Diaz de Clavijo y Llarena, came from a Jewish family. She was the daughter of Sebastian de Llarena, a Jewish man, who had converted to Christianity and was related to Ignatius Loyola.

Joseph went off to study in Portugal when he was 14 years old. He was accepted into the Royal College of Arts in Coimbra. When he turned 17, he applied to the Jesuit College of the University of Coimbra as a novice. Joseph was an intensely religious young man and while he was a novice, he almost destroyed his health by his excessive sacrifice to please Our Lord.  To make matters worse, he became very ill with a spinal condition that would torment him throughout his life. Even so, besides his regular studies, he managed to learn two new languages, Portuguese and Latin.

At the age of 19, Joseph traveled to Brazil as a missionary. He was among the third group of Jesuits sent to the New World. The journey was fraught with mishaps and even a shipwreck but finally, they arrived in Sao Vicente. This was the first village founded in Brazil 20 years earlier and it was now 1554. They were led by the second governor-general nominated by the Portuguese crown, Duarte da Costa. It was here that Joseph and his companions had their first contact with the native Tapula Indians.

Later in the year, Joseph and twelve of his Jesuits companions were sent to s plateau in the Serra do Mar, where they established a small mission. Joseph and his friends immediately went to work teaching, converting, baptizing, and evangelizing the pagan natives. Joseph began teaching Latin to the natives while simultaneously learning their own language.

He began compiling a dictionary and a grammar book, a custom the Jesuits always maintained after making contact with the locals. Soon the mission was being called the Jesuit College Sao Paulo of Piratininga. The mission was growing faster than expected. It was also beginning to prosper.

However, the Portuguese colonialists were causing considerable trouble. They were killing the natives and destroying the villages of the local tribes. Joseph de Anchieta was wholly opposed to the actions supported by Duarte and started peace negotiations. His knowledge of the language was crucial and he managed to gain the native’s confidence and peace was established. It was a fragile peace and it was broken a number of times before a final peace was established with victory over the French in 1567.

With the permanent peace established, a Jesuit college was founded in Rio De Janeiro and put under the direction of Joseph’s best friend, Manuel da Nobrega. He died in 1570 and Joseph took charge of the college. Besides administering the school, Joseph de Anchieta, in poor health, traveled by foot and by boat for the next ten years from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia and other cities continuing to extend the influence of the Jesuits and the Catholic faith.

Joseph de Anchieta is honored as the founder of Brazilian literature and he and his friend, Manuel da Nobrega, are called the Apostles of Brazil. Many places in Brazil are named after Joseph including roads, hospitals, institutions, and schools. He is the first playwright, the first grammarian, and the first poet to be born in the Canary Islands. He is also a writer of music, a dramatist, and a poet. He is the Brazilian patron of literature and music and, to top it off, was an excellent physician and surgeon. WHEW!

Joseph de Anchieta passed away on June 9, 1597. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II  on June 22, 1980. He was canonized by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014.

There are many stories that are attributed to St. Joseph de Anchieta. One tells how he was about to be attacked in the jungle by a snarling panther. Joseph looked at the panther and began to preach. The panther relaxed and walked away. To this day, a popular devotion is to pray to St. Joseph de Anchieta for protection against animal attacks.

St. Joseph de Anchieta, pray for us.

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

His business failed, his wife died, he lost three children in succession, managed to become a Jesuit Lay Brother, and ultimately was canonized a saint. Meet St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez                                              wikipedia commons

By Larry Peterson

The friar pulled open the big, oak door, and before him stood a disheveled looking man staring at him. The year was 1571, and the down and out fellow was a thirty-seven-year-old cloth merchant seeking admission to the order. The weary, hunched man was not seeking to be a priest but, instead, he just wanted to be admitted as a lay brother. The friar shook his head and was about to dismiss the man when the man said, “Peter Faber was my friend.”

Peter Faber was probably St. Ignatius of Loyola’s best friend. He is considered by many as the co-founder of the Jesuits. He had passed away in 1545 at the age of thirty-nine but for the man to have said “he was his friend” made the friar pause and hold the door open. Staring at the wretched-looking fellow the friar asked, “And how do you dare claim to be friends with Peter Faber?”

The man introduced himself as Alphonsus Rodriguez. He explained that when he was a boy of about ten, Peter Faber had stayed with his family while he was preaching a mission in Segovia. Alphonsus also told him that Friar Peter had prepared him for his First Holy Communion. The man was allowed to come in, and the friar called another of the brothers over to hear the man’s story.

Alphonsus went on to explain that he had to quit school at the age of twelve. That was when his dad died unexpectedly, and he had to leave school because he had nine brothers and sisters, and his mother needed his help. Alphonsus eventually married a woman named Maria Suarez when he was twenty-six. They had three children together, and two died before the age of five.  Then Maria suddenly passed away, and Alphonsus was a widower with one child to raise. His last child also suddenly passed.

Alphonsus was now thirty-seven years old, worn out, and frail-looking. He explained he had no desire to re-marry and only wished to spend the rest of his life serving God. Fortunately, people who were having a tough time of it were always welcomed by the Jesuits. Having been instructed by Peter Faber himself, the resident Jesuits were quite willing to accept Alphonsus.

Alphonsus had minimal education, so he had to take courses at the College of Barcelona. His health was poor, and he only managed a year of studies. But he was then accepted into the Jesuit novitiate on January 31, 1571. It was said that the provincial joked that if Alphonsus could not qualify for the priesthood or become a brother maybe he could stay and become a saint. He was sent to the town of Palma where he did odd jobs at the Jesuit College of Montesino. He made his perpetual vows on April 5, 1573, when he was 41 years old.

In 1579 Brother Alphonsus became the porter at the college. He did odd jobs, answered the door welcoming travelers and guests, and did almost every type of different job that needed to be done. His position at Jesuit College was his first, last, and only assignment as a member of the Jesuits.

Brother Alphonsus experienced great heartache in his life. He had lost his young wife to disease, his three children, one after the other, and he also had lost his business as a wool merchant. He had become a lay Jesuit Brother and spent the rest of his life doing the most humble work imaginable.

Unknown to most, Alphonsus had developed a deep relationship with God and was given the gift of the spirit that enabled him to deeply affect anyone who spoke with him. He managed to bring countless people to peace within themselves, and his reputation spread far and wide.

Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez died on October 31, 1617. He was eighty-four years old.  He was canonized a saint by Pope Leo XIII in September of 1888.

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

 

This Saint became one of the most honored Jesuits in History; His name is Edmund Campion

St. Edmund Campion                                      http://www.mirifica.netBy Larry Peterson

By Larry Peterson

Edmund Campion was born in England in 1540. His father was a bookseller, and Edmund’s love of books was instilled in him as a child. He had a brilliant mind and, at the age of thirteen, he was chosen to deliver a speech when Queen Mary visited London.

Soon after he became a student at St. John’s College in Oxford. He graduated with his B. A. degree in 1560 and at that time took his Oath of Supremacy to the Crown. In 1564 he received his Master’s Degree and was also ordained as an Anglican deacon. No one could see what was in his heart, but Edmund had serious misgivings about his professed Protestantism

In 1566, Queen Elizabeth visited the university and met Edmund. She instantly was drawn to the young man, and she saw to it that he was taken under the wing of two powerful men; William Cecil, and the Earl of Leicester, who was rumored to be the Queen’s future husband. Edmund had shared his concerns about Anglicanism to a few “friends,” and soon rumors of his “radical” opinions began to spread.

Edmund, fully aware of his fate if betrayed, left Oxford and went to Ireland. James Stanyhurst, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, knew Edmund and hired him as a tutor for his son, Richard.  But the Protestant party in Dublin had become aware of his presence and were searching for him. He was given another assignment on the east coast of Ireland. For the next three months, using the name of “Mr. Patrick,”  he avoided his pursuers who were determined to find him.

Edmund had become convinced that Anglicanism was wrong and returned to Catholicism. This was about the same time that Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth retaliated and initiated vicious persecution of Catholics in England. Edmund heard of the dreadful tortures and executions and in 1571 fled to Douai,  France.

Edmund was accepted into the Jesuits in 1573 and began his novitiate in Austria, away from any English provinces. He began teaching at the University of Prague and was ordained to the priesthood there in 1578.

He remained in his teaching position for another two years at which time he received a unique assignment. He and Father Robert Persons were assigned to be the first Jesuits to go to the newly established mission territory of England. Their mission was to minister to the faithful English Catholics who were strictly forbidden to practice their religion. The year was 1580.

Father Campion and Father Persons entered England posing as merchants. They both had been given different locales to minister to and went their separate ways. Father Campion immediately began preaching, and his presence quickly became known to the authorities as well as the many Catholics languishing in the filthy prisons.

The authorities began spreading the word that Campion’s mission was political and that he was committing treason. Father Campion responded by writing what came to be known as Campion’s Brag. This work spelled out his love of Catholicism and gave his critique of Anglicanism. It was printed and 400 copies were found in the pews during the commencement exercises at St. Mary’s in Oxford. This caused such an uproar that the largest and most intensive manhunt in English history was begun.

On July 14, 1581, Campion was preaching in Berkshire at the house of Francis Yale. He was tracked down by a spy named George Eliot and taken into custody. With his arms tied behind his back and a sign on his hat reading, “Seditious Jesuit” he was paraded through the street of London to the “Tower.” His clandestine days of administering the sacraments, hearing confessions and preaching had come to an end. His legacy was just beginning.

Edmund Campion was offered great wealth and position if he would renounce his Catholic faith. Knowing the pain and torture he would endure for refusing to do so, he stood steadfast in defense of Catholicism. The torture began and lasted for over four months, but Campion never wavered. On December 1, 1581, he was taken to Tyburn and was hanged, drawn and quartered for the crime of being Catholic.

He was canonized a saint on October 25, 1970, by Pope St. Paul VI. Saint Edmund Campion is included among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Saint Edmund Campion, please pray for us

©Larry Peterson 2018

Christ had revealed the Treasures of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. But it was St. Claude de la Colombiere who helped her reveal it to the world.

 

St. Claude de la Colombiere en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Claude de la Colombiere was born in 1641, in the old province of Dauphine, in France. He was the third child of Bertrand Colombiere and Margaret Coindat. Soon after Claude was born the family moved to the town of Vienne, and this is where the young boy began his education. It was during this time period that Claude began feeling the call to the Jesuits.

Claude began his secondary studies at the Jesuit school in Lyon. He was now seventeen and, wrote in his journal, that he had “a terrible aversion for the life embraced.” Later on, those who knew him, attributed those comments to his being away from home and missing his family who he was very close to. Plus, he loved the arts, literature and active social life. But the selfless side of Claude won out, and he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Avignon. Here he finished his studies in rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1666 he went to the College of Clermont in Paris to study theology. He took his first vows and completed his studies in philosophy. He became a professor of grammar and literature and stayed in that position for the next five years. Well known  for his tact, poise, and devotion to the humanities, his superiors appointed him the tutor for the children of France’s Minister of Finance, Jean Baptiste Colbert. Unknown to Claude, God had bigger plans for him.

Claude was now a priest and returned to Lyon. Here he taught in the college, became a full-time preacher, and also the moderator of several Marian congregations. After 15 years as a Jesuit, Father Colombiere began his probation in a Jesuit’s final spiritual formation. This is  known as the Tertianship, and it would be the final pathway for the priest to his still unknown destiny.

Upon Father Colombiere’s profession of solemn vows, he was named rector of the College at Paray-le-Monial. Most people who knew of Father Colombiere wondered why such a talented priest would be sent to such an unknown and obscure place. The answer was well known to the superiors’ who sent him.

The reason was for him to see a simple, humble nun at the Monastery of the Visitation. Her name was Margaret Mary Alacoque. The reports were that she told her superiors that Jesus was appearing to her  and revealing the secrets of His most Sacred Heart.

Sister Margaret Mary was being spurned by the other sisters and ridiculed. She tormented over and was  uncertain of what was actually happening. Jesus had told Sister Margaret that He would send her the “faithful servant and perfect friend.”

Sister Margaret Mary had endured much because of the disbelief of the other nuns at the monastery. She felt isolated and alone even though she had been chosen by Christ Himself to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart. When  Father Colombiere arrived at the monastery and began hearing the confessions of all the nuns, Sister Mary Margaret knew the “faithful servant and perfect friend”  that Jesus had promised her had finally come.

She willingly confided in Father Colombiere and opened her heart to him. After speaking and meeting with her a number of times Father Colombiere was convinced of the truthfulness and the validity of her visions. He became her most ardent supporter and apostle for her and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Colombiere left Paray  in 1676 and headed for London. He kept in touch with Sister Margaret Mary by letter. He had been assigned to be the preacher to the Duchess of York and later, to the Queen of Great Britain. He even took up residence in St. James Palace.

Colombiere’s belief and loyalty to his Catholic faith never wavered, even under the intense pressure against the Catholic faith in England. In 1678 he was  accused and arrested as one of those involved in the fictional ‘popist plot’ designed to overthrow King Charles II. He spent over three weeks in squalid prison conditions weakening his frail health to the point of ‘no-return”.

After his release, in 1679, he was sent back to Paray.  Father Colombiere died on February 15, 1682, from severe hemorrhage. He was 41 years-old.

Jesus had appeared to St. Margaret Mary revealing His wishes for devotion to His Sacred Heart. But it was St. Colombiere who helped the quiet, humble visionary announce it to the world. Father Claude de la Colombiere was canonized a saint on May 31, 1992, by Pope St. John Paul II.

St. Colombiere, please pray for us. His feast day is February 15.