Tag Archives: Order of Preachers

Saint Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta saw the Hand of God in everything around her

St. Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta                     en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

There are those people that are seemingly in-tune with the Holy Spirit from their earliest years. They sense His presence, understand His desires, and do their best to accommodate His requests. Such was the woman known as Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta. She indeed “heard the cry of the poor” and knew where that cry originated. She listened and followed and never looked back.

On December 2, 1826, Francisco Torres and Antonia Acosta welcomed their second of what eventually would be five children into the world. They gave her the name, Manuela, and she was baptized  as “Antonia Bibiana Manuela.” Her mom and dad operated a small business selling goods to tourists on the Plaza de Espana, in central Madrid.

Manuela attended a school run by the Vincentian Sisters. Founded in 1633, members of the order were dedicated to serving the poor through their devotion to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Manuela spent as much time as she could after school, helping the poor that were being taken care of by the Sisters.

Manuela’s life as a child and teenager was a simple, uncomplicated existence no different than most of the girls she grew up with. There was one thing that Manuela did possess that most others did not; she had a deep love for the Blessed Mother, and it was so profound many people could sense it in her. Manuela was determined to find a way to serve Our Lady by serving the poor. She tried to join the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans), but there was a waiting list, and she would have to wait.

Then, in 1851, she heard about a priest in another part of Madrid, who was starting a new group to help the poor. His purpose was to start an order that would take care of people in their homes. The priests’ name was Father Michael Martinez who was a Third Order Servite. When she asked him if she could join she was welcomed and became the seventh member of the founding group. From that point on she was known as Sister Maria Soledad. The new order began its work on August 15, 1851.

Sister Maria could feel the presence of Christ in everyone she cared for. She was able to empty herself for others and managed to understand the spiritual richness contained in the poorest of the poor. She embraced this and loved them as much as anyone ever could. In her humble eyes all of the patients were Christ himself, and there was nothing she would not do for them

In 1856, Father Micahel took six of the founding sisters and left to go to the mission in Bioko, on the African coast. Sister Maria Soledad took care of the remaining sisters and became the Foundress and Superior General of the Servants of Mary. From that point on, she was known as Mother Maria Soledad, and the new order was called the Servant’s of Mary.

Mother Maria and her followers were very poor and barely had enough to eat. There was jealousy and infighting among the clerics that were involved with overseeing the new order, and the politics became so intense that the bishop threatened to dissolve it. After meeting with Mother maria and talking to her he realized what a good and holy woman she was and re-appointed her as Mother Superior and officially sanctioned the name Servants of Mary.

Mother Maria Soledad lived long enough to see her congregation receive full papal approval in 1876. In 1887 she came down with pneumonia. She received Extreme Unction and passed away on October 11, 1887. She was buried at the local cemetery, where the sisters had a plot.

Sixteen years later, on January 18, 1893, her remains were exhumed for transfer to the mother-house. Her body was intact and emitted a sweet odor that everyone present could smell. It was as if a florist had opened its doors. After several years only the bones remained.

Mother Maria Soledad Torres y Acosta was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1950 and canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Saint Maria Soledad, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

St. Hyacinth of Poland; This “Apostle of the North” saved the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin from destruction by walking them across a river

St. Hyacinth http://www.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Saint Hyacinth of Poland was born in Silesia, Poland, in the year 1185. His father was Eustachius Konski, and he was of the noble family of Ordowacz. Hyacinth’s parents were devout Catholics, and Hyacinth grew up in a home surrounded by love and kindness.

His well-formed disposition and strong faith, combined with a brilliant mind, allowed him to move quickly through schooling in Krakow, then Prague, and finally to Bologna in Italy. This is where he was awarded the title of Doctor of Law and Divinity.  He returned to Poland and was given an administrative position at a medieval-style administrative center in southeast Poland.

The Bishop of Krakow, Ivo Konski, was Hyacinth’s uncle. He had been planning a trip to Rome, and he took his nephew with him. It was at this time in his life when he met Dominic de Guzman (who would later be known as St. Dominic, the Founder of the Order of Preachers; more commonly known as the Dominicans). Hyacinth, along with his cousin, Ceslaus, were among the very first to receive the religious habit of the Dominican Order. The year was 1220.

Hyacinth had developed a deep sense of prayer and was zealous in his desire to bring souls to salvation. Recognizing this quality, his superiors sent him back to Poland to preach and lay the groundwork for developing the Dominican order in his native land. A gifted preacher, Hyacinth’s sermons were received with great enthusiasm and before long he had established communities in Sandomir, Krakow, and in Moravia.

He traveled into Prussia, Pomerania, and into Lithuania leaving the presence of the growing Dominican order everywhere he went. He crossed the Baltic Sea and preached in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Before long, he was known as the “Apostle of the North.”

St. Hyacinth is known for performing a number of miracles.  There is one miracle that stands out among all the rest; that would be the Miracle of Kiev. The Tartars had laid siege to the City of Kiev. Hyacinth was saying Mass and was unaware that the enemy was almost at the church doors. As he ended the Mass, he realized what was going on and that the attacking forces were about to enter and ransack the church.

Hyacinth did not hesitate. Determined to protect the consecrated Host and still fully vested, he took hold of the ciborium and began to run from the church. As he ran he passed by a statue of Mary. He heard a voice say, “Hyacinth, my son, why dost thou leave me behind?  Take me with thee and leave me not to my enemies.”

The statue was made of alabaster and was very heavy. Hyacinth stopped, turned, and seeing the figure of Our Lady, hurried over and wrapped his arms around it. Somehow he managed to lift the life-size figure and escape from the church undetected saving the Holy Eucharist and the statue of the Blessed Virgin. This is the miraculous moment in which St. Hyacinth is most often depicted. But it did not end there.

The wondrous story goes on to say that Hyacinth and the surrounding community while fleeing the invading Tartar forces, came upon the Dneiper River.  Hyacinth implored the people to follow him across the river. The river was very deep, and the people were filled with fear. But Hyacinth began to walk across the river and the people, trusting his faith, followed.

Polish historians all seem to agree that this is fact. In addition, it is said that Hyacinth’s footprints remained on the water after he had crossed and that, for centuries after, when the waters were calm, they could again be seen.

There is another legend that was inspired by Hyacinth. It seems there was a violent hailstorm that swept through the area and destroyed all of the crops, leaving the people staring at the possibility of poverty and famine. Hyacinth told them all to pray and they all prayed together. The next morning the crops had regrown and the people made pierogi in gratitude. To this day an old-time Polish saying is used when facing seemingly hopeless circumstances: “Święty Jacku z pierogami!” (St. Hyacinth with pierogi!) pray for us.

Hyacinth fell ill on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8,  1257. He warned of his impending death. On the Feast of the Assumption, he attended morning Mass. He was anointed at the altar and died that very day, August 15, 1257.

He was canonized in 1594 by Pope Clement VIII. His feast day is celebrated on August 17.

St. Hyacinth, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019