Our Leaders take Oaths on the Bible to Defend Life

By Larry Peterson

Certain things are joined together in perpetuity. This is demonstrated when a president, or any public official, lays a hand upon a Bible and swears an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend life.

The Presidential Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The 35 words of the oath and the words in the Bible are forever embraced by the person who has just taken the Oath.  Think about that.

I base my thoughts here on the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. It reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice that the very first right is Life.

I would like to explore two separate cases that have to do with the very question of Life itself.

Alfie Evans

The first case is about Alfie Evans, the little boy from Liverpool, England.  Alfie was denied the right to live by the courts in Great Britain because the doctors did not believe the child could survive his illness.

Alfie suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder that would cause his lungs to fail. The medical experts at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool decided that ventilator support was unkind and inhumane and not in Alfie’s best interests.

Supported by Pope Francis

Thomas Evans and Kate James, Alfie’s parents, fought as best they could to keep their son alive. They even had the support of Pope Francis. The Holy Father actively helped Alfie obtain Italian citizenship in hopes that he might be brought to Italy to receive care there. It did not happen.

On April 23, 2018, strangers wearing medical garb disconnected Alfie from his ventilator. He lived five days gasping for breath and died at 2:30 a.m. on April 28, 2018. Alfie was two weeks shy of his second birthday.

On one side was the medical and government community.  The two are intrinsically linked because the government in Great Britain provides healthcare.  This is known as socialized medicine.

On the other side were the mother, father, and people of faith. God had no place in the former. People of prayer, including the Pope, were fighting to keep Alfie alive, praying that something miraculous and/or life-saving would enter Alfie’s shrinking world.  The secularists could not wait for such Pollyanna wishes to come to pass. Good-bye, little Alfie.

My Wife

The second case is deals with my wife, Loretta.  My wife was on life-support, but unlike Tom and Kate Evans, her family (led by me) could decide when to allow the machines to be turned off.  It was not a judge or a doctor or the courts or anything like that. The woman’s immediate family made the decisions.

The end result in my wife’s case was different than in Alfie’s. In our case, God had a prominent role in how we would proceed.  And the ending we received was completely unexpected.

Loretta, had been ill for a long time, and on April 6, 2002, she fell into a coma. By that evening, she was on life support. There was a Catholic living will on file for each of us.  As long as I was present, I had complete control over life-ending processes.

Although Loretta was a middle-aged adult and Alfie was a baby, the parallels in each case are quite similar.

At the age of seven months, Alfie developed seizures, which caused him to go into a “semi-vegetative state.” Alfie did have brain function, but most doctors agreed that his condition (which they were not sure of) was incurable. Most importantly, his parent’s rights to try to save him were stripped from them by the courts.

The primary difference between Loretta and Alfie was age and size. The similarities were that they each were both God’s individual and unique creations.

Weaning from the Ventilator

Two weeks passed by, and we began attempting to wean Loretta off the ventilator. Each time her breathing would stop in less than a minute. Six doctors told us it was “no-use.” On the third day, my grown children and I gathered together in the small hospital chapel to pray a Rosary. We asked Our Lady and Jesus for their help. My kids then took turns going to their mom’s bedside to say their “good-byes.”

One at a time, they came from that room sobbing like babies. I was last and sat by her side, looking at her, holding her hand, and saying whatever it was I said. Those words I do not remember. I was too busy watching a cascade of memories that suddenly were exploding in my head. It was not a happy time. The bottom line was, we had “Let go and Let God.” We had given it all over to Him.

Unlike Alfie’s parents, I had control over the machine doing her breathing. Three of the doctors were there and the chief-of-staff. I asked them to pray with us. Guess what? They all did.

As my children watched, I gave the order to disconnect the power. The machine was switched off. A minute passed by, and Loretta kept breathing. Then two minutes passed by, and then five, and then ten, and then one hour. The cardiologist said, “Don’t be fooled; she’s not going to make it.”

Three days later, she was up in a room, and three weeks later, she came home. Hospital staffers were calling her “The Miracle Woman of Northside.” Her recovery was not only baffling; it was unexplainable. God gave her back to us for one more year. Cancer killed her on April 4, 2003.

Our “Fortress of Solitude” — God

In Alfie’s case, his parents had no choice, even though they were invoking God along with countless others around the world.  The Pope had even secured citizenship for Alfie, and the Italians were ready to transport him to Italy to be cared for.

Unfortunately, in the world of the “nones,” secularists, and atheists, God is not part of the equation. We have been given free will and God shows us alternatives. But we make our choices and He does not interfere. He was not allowed to enter Alfie’s world. In our world – mine, Loretta’s and our kids – however, He was our “fortress of solitude.”

Virtually every court in the U.K. ruled against the parent’s rights. The government and their “experts” knew best. Alfie was doomed to die.

I cannot imagine how Thomas and Kate felt as their child’s Life was taken from them by court order. Thomas and Kate, the man and woman God had given Alfie to, his parents, were dismissed by those in power who “knew best.”

Trust not in Princes

The state took away the parent’s right to protect their child. They subjugated Natural Law and ignored the very nucleus of any thriving civilization – the family.  They pulled Alfie’s tube.  He lived for five days, struggling to breath on his own. Was that a message from above that those in charge should have tried harder?

Unfortunately for Alfie, his “quality of life” was not deemed worthy of moving forward. Loretta, on the other hand, kept breathing and did use oxygen intermittently. If the doctors were in charge of her breathing apparatus, they might have simply left it off when her breathing failed on the first day.

Unlike the Evans, we were able to make the decision remove the ventilator.  And on the third day, she kept on breathing on her own and came out of the coma.

Doctors do NOT know everything. They are definitely not equal to the God who created each and every one of them. They were wrong about Loretta. She lived.

Bible Passages About the Beginnings of Life

Presidents of the United States and many others across the country, from the federal to the local levels, have placed their hands on Bibles and sworn under oath to defend many different things. In so doing, they have joined together both the religious and civil sides of the equation. This is why the United States shouts to the world that we are “One Nation Under God.”  The two are inseparable. God’s greatest gift to us all is Life itself. Yet many oath takers become hypocrites by ignoring it.

And so it was on an April day in 2018, Tom and Kate Evans went home and closed the door behind them. They surely realized that little Alfie was gone—permanently. This is the lonely heartache they will forever live with. You cannot understand that unless you, too, have lived it. Their child was taken from them by strangers who permitted Alfie’s life to fade away. That choice should have been left to the parents.

The Bible contains a number of passages that show when life begins. Here are a few:

  • Psalm 139:13-14, You formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.”
  • Jeremiah 1:4-5, ”The word of the LORD came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . . “
  • Isaiah 44:2, “Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb.”

And lastly, from Wisdom 14:27, “For the worship of infamous idols [power and money] is the reason and source and extreme of all evil.”


These Three Nurses accepted Martyrdom rather than Deny their Catholic Faith

By Larry Peterson

This is about three young women. They were all Red Cross nurses but had been mistaken for Catholic nuns. The year was 1936, and the Civil War in Spain was raging. The Catholic clergy was a prime target for the government militia. The three nurses were taken prisoner by the rebel soldiers.

The innocent women, who were Catholic,  had come to help and treat the sick and dying no matter what side they were on. It was all about taking care of those in need. Inspired by their love for Jesus, they were simply following His way, demonstrating love and kindness the way Jesus taught. Even though they were not nuns, they loved their faith deeply and were not about to denounce it.

The three ladies were beaten, tortured, and treated in the most degrading and heinous ways imaginable. This cruel treatment continued all through the night and then, for the grand finale, they were shot to death. Their names were Maria Pilar Gullon Yturriaga, age 25;  Octavia, Iglesias Blanco, age 42; and Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez, age 23.  

After inflicting their degrading and painful acts upon the women, their torturers demanded that they renounce their Catholic faith. Exhibiting unbelievable courage and saying over and over, “Viva Cristo Rey” (“Long live Christ the King”), they died “in odium Fidei” (“in hatred of the Faith”).

  • Nurse Maria Pilar Gullon was born on May 29, 1911, in Madrid, Spain. Her mom and dad were devout Catholics, and Maria became a member of Catholic Action and the Daughters of Mary in Astorga, Spain.  She taught catechism and worked with the poor and the sick. But her calling was to nursing, and she became a Red Cross Nurse and wound up at the front during the Spanish Civil War. She was captured by the militia and (as mentioned) died a martyr’s death on October 28, 1936.
  • Nurse Octavia Iglesias Blanco was born on November 30, 1894, in Astorga, Leon, Spain. At age 42, she was the oldest of the three women and tried her best to be the “big sister” as they were beaten and violated. They apparently all stuck together as best they could because they all died the same way, “in odium fidei” never giving  up to the evil being showered upon them.
  • Nurse Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez was born on March 16, 1913, in Paris, France. At the age of seven, she moved to  Astorga, Spain with her parents. At the age of 23, she was the “baby” of the group but just as determined and dedicated to helping the sick, wounded, and dying as her older nursing sisters. When she reported for duty at the Red Cross headquarters she was assigned to the front, the same as Nurse Maria and Nurse Octavia.

Prior to their Beatification Ceremony on May 29, 2021, Bishop Jesus Fernandez Gonzalez of Astorga said, “These martyrs were not linked to either side—the Red Cross went wherever it was summoned, regardless of who was in control. Nor did they carry weapons or even use words to attack anyone. They were simply moved by human compassion and Christian charity, knowing the risks and dangers when signing up as volunteers.”

Bishop Fernando Gonzalez also said that the three women had clung to their crosses and forgiven their executioners, offering a “model of the Christian lay vocation.”

The Bishop continued by saying, “Although they were given the opportunity to apostatize, they did not do so. They were people with their whole lives ahead—only a great hope could have enabled them to renounce it, and only a great love could have sustained such hope. The testimony of martyrs offers a lifeline, keeping us afloat in the truth that liberates,”

The Beatification ceremony took place on Saturday, May 29, 2021, at Santa Maria  Cathedral in Astorga.  The celebrant representing Pope Francis was Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saint’s Causes. The newly Beatified women were originally buried in a mass grave at their execution site. They were re-interred at the Cathedral in Astorga in 1948.


She was executed for loving too much: Meet Sr. Aguchita

Sister Aguchita–                                               she loved too much

By Larry Peterson

Maria Agustina Rivas Lopez was born on June 13, 1920, in Coracora, Peru. She was the oldest of eleven children born to Modesta Lopez de Rivera and Damaso Rivas. They gave their daughter the name of Antonia Luzmilla. Antonia and her siblings had loving and caring parents who taught their children the Catholic faith and its virtues.

Antonia developed a deep love for the poor and, as she grew older, always did her best to help and protect them. She loved harvest time because she could give the poor much more than usual. The country atmosphere was well suited to Antonia as she loved nature with its abundance of plants and farm animals. She also liked helping her mom taking care of the house; no simple task with thirteen people living under one roof.

Antonia’s mom did her best to take her children to Mass every day. It was not always possible, but she sure tried. Her children attended Catechism class in the Parish. Her brother, Caesar, answered the call to become a priest, eventually being ordained a Redemptorist.

In 1938 Antonia was in Lima, visiting her brother, and was already feeling the call to service in the Church. It was during this time she had her first encounter with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Antonia began a vocational discernment with them, which ultimately led her to enter the Congregation  Antonia received her habit and, with it, a new name. From then on, she was known as Maria Agustina, but the sisters would call her Aguchita.

While she was still in her novitiate, her father passed away. Deeply saddened, she continued to move forward with her calling and, on February 8, 1945, professed her first vows. She prayed that she could always work with the poorest of the poor. She was steadfast in her commitment to serve Jesus by serving the poor, and in 1949, she made her Perpetual Profession of Vows. Aguchita had a dream and in it she was in the jungle working with the peasants in the “emergency zone” She was not sure what that meant, but it was real for her.

Aguchita lived for many years in Barrios Altos in Lima. During this time, her mom died. Aguchita worked in many different places, which included learning various jobs. This diversity put her organizational skills on display. leading to varied leadership levels within the Community. This included working with the poor and putting Aguchita in constant contact with young women who needed help.

Aguchita happily lived the charism of Mercy in her community life, always displaying her love and consideration for her Superiors. She always seemed to step in when a sister was ill or on vacation, tend to the sick whenever extra help was needed, assist in setting up meetings and assist wherever else help might be required. She truly loved being Sister Aguchita.

In 1987 Sister Aguchita remembered her dream of being sent to the “emergency zone” in La Florida. The Sisters had been working in the area for eleven years. La Florida had been among the most violent in Peru, and it was home to the poorest of the poor. This area saw constant skirmishes and bloodshed between the Peruvian Armed forces and the guerilla organization known as Shining Light, a Maoist group that hated Christians.

The Sisters knew the risks. They had a saying, “Leave the town or give your life for it.” After prayer and reflection, they choose to “give life” and stay there. Sister Aguchita had, from the moment she arrived in La Florida, devoted herself to the natives extending to them the same love she would give to anyone. She had written, “I was never a respecter of persons,  I loved everyone. To love the poor is to love life. Is to love the God of Life.

Sister Aguchita worked with the Ashaninka tribe, a people who had been almost wiped out in the early twentieth century. Rubber exporters destroyed the forests and brought disease to the natives. .Sister Aguchita spent most of her time working with the young women of the tribe.

On September 27, 1990, members of the guerilla band, Shining Path entered the village. Sister Aguchita was taken outside and stood in front of the villagers. Six of the local natives were also taken out to make examples of. A 17-year-old girl executed Sister by firing seven shots into her with a rifle. Sister Aguchita died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith).

On May 21, 2021, Pope Francis confirmed the martyrdom of Sister Maria Agustina Rivas Lopez, fondly known as “Aguchita” and a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. The date for her Beatification has not been determined.


This “martyr for purity” was killed in 1982 in Brazil

Isabel Crisitna Mrad Campos                                  aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

The date has not been set for the beatification of Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos

Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos was born in Brazil, in the ancient city of  Barbacena, on July 29, 1962. A few weeks later, on the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption, her parents had her baptized in the parish church of Nostra Signora della Pieta in Barbacena. At the age of seven, she received her First Holy Communion at the school of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Isabel grew up in a devout Catholic family and led an everyday life for a young woman of that era. She studied hard, dated and attended socials, participated in Church activities, and was even part of the local St. Vincent de Paul Conference. She cared for needy children, spent time in prayer, and planned on becoming a pediatrician. The world looked bright to Isabel Campos.

She studied at Immaculata College run by the sisters of the Daughters of Charity. She was an excellent student with above-average intelligence, applied herself well, was held in high regard by her teachers, and had a good relationship with everyone. Often, Isabel helped the sick and the elderly, giving them food while demonstrating love and kindness to all, no matter who they might be.

When Isabel was twenty years old, she and her brother, Roberto, moved to the city of Juiz de Fora, where Isabel was going to prepare for entrance into medical school. They found a small apartment to rent located close to the school. It was an excellent place to study, but, more importantly, it was close to the church and the Blessed Sacrament. Having little money, she began to furnish the house as best she could.

She managed to acquire a table and chairs, utensils and plates, and other necessary items. Included among them was a wardrobe closet that required assembly. She hired a young, local man who had a reputation as a reliable handyman who charged reasonable prices.

On August 30, the young man delivered the wardrobe and began to assemble it. He began to converse with Isabel.  She became very uncomfortable as the man started making suggestive comments to Isabel about her good looks and asking her to date him. Isabel asked him to please finish his work and told him she was not interested. He told her he had to leave to get a missing part and would return to complete the job in a day or two.

On September 1, the man returned to Isabel’s apartment to finish the work. Sadly, his intentions were not on work. No, he was focused on Isabel. He immediately put his arm around her. She pushed him away telling him to stop. The man became enraged at the rejection and threw Isabel to the floor. She screamed, so he grabbed a chair and hit her with it.

He continued to beat her with it and then tore some sheets into strips and gagged her. He tied her with rope and ripped her clothes off. She fought the best she could to protect her honor. He stabbed her fifteen times before she died. Isabel never let him accomplish his intent. She chose death rather than fail in protecting God’s virtue.

Her violent death triggered an outcry for her recognition as a martyr for the faith. Many compared her to St. Maria Goretti. Also, many testified to Isabel’s work with those with disabilities and those who were the poorest of the poor.

On January 26, 2001, she was declared a Servant of God and in September of 2009, she was declared Venerable. During October of 2020, Pope Francis has recognized her death as one of  “in defensum castitatis”  (in defense of purity). She has been.declared  a martyr and her cause for beatification has been approved. The date is still TBA.

copyright©LarryPeterson 2020


He played football and learned the pain in his leg was not from football; it was bone cancer. He was eleven years old.

Venerable Angiolino Bonetta                                                                                                        public domain

By Larry Peterson

Angiolino Bonetta was born on Septemeber 18,1948, in Cigole, a town in northern Italy located in the Diocese of Brescia, a diocese established in the first century. His parents, Francesco Bonetta and Giulia Scarlatti were not poor and managed to make ends meet, but there were no “extras.”  As Angiolino grew, he displayed an inner happiness combined with an intelligent mind.

Angiolino attended schools taught by the Canossian Sisters of Charity. They noticed the intense devotion to prayer and how devoted he was for such a young boy. On April 14, 1955, at the age of six, he received his First Holy Communion. As Angiolino grew his love for the Holy Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Penance developed too. He became an altar boy and would serve Mass every Sunday. He also loved the nuns and would stay at school as long as he could to help them. The nuns, in turn, loved having Angiolino around. His eyes displayed love and kindness, and it was enjoyable being in his company.

As he grew, Angiolino was seen to be a fast runner, and he began to excel at playing football. But the youngster was developing a limp. And from its inception it got dramatically worse. Angiolino was also having sharp pain in his right leg.  His mom and dad had him admitted to the hospital for testing. The initial diagnosis came back as osteomyelitis in his right leg. He was then admitted to the civil hospital in Brescia where the diagnosis became more specific; the boy had osteosarcoma.

Angiolino’s life began its medical journey. He was in and out of the hospital on five separate occasions for treatments. It was two years after he first began limping and feeling pain when he was wheeled into the operating room. The date was May 2, 1961. That was the date his right leg was amputated. It was also the beginning of his painful post-operative period. During this time the physical pains were combined with psychic pain. Angiolino imagined he still had his leg and was feeling pain from something that was not there while feeling real pain from the amputation and the healing process.

This young man of great faith never failed to lean on Jesus and Our Lady. He would pray,  “Lord, I have offered you everything for the poor sinners, but now help me not to deny you anything.”  Next to his bed was an end table, and on it was the story of Fatima. He had read in it where  Our Lady asked people to offer penances and prayers for the conversion of sinners and the souls in purgatory. He promised Her he would do that, and he did.

After a long convalescence in the hospital, he returned home to find a party that had been arranged for him. Most of the guests were saddened to see Angiolino missing his leg. It was not a pretty sight. But it was Angiolino who cheered everyone up by yelling out, “This is a party! Look on the positive side. Now I do not have to wash my feet and cut my nails.”

He quickly began to work at cheering up those around him whether sick, injured, or not. He participated in the 1961 Spiritual Exercises held at the church of the Madonna del Sangue di Re (Novara) for the Volunteer Center of Suffering. He became a friend of all and was a role model for the sick. He comforted patients, visited wards, and always urged those he saw to strengthen themselves with prayer.

By 1962 the tumor had spread and was in the lung.  Radiation was no longer effective. It was during this time when he met Monsignor Luigi Novarese (beatified in 2010), the founder of the Volunteer for Suffering Center in 1947. He even managed to participate in a pilgrimage to Lourdes organized for the sick. He loved Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.

On January 27, 1963, the parish priest heard Angiolino’s confession and brought Viaticum, his last Holy Communion. The boy was anointed, and he continued praying with those around him. At two in the morning, he awoke and said to his mother, “Mom, here we are. Here is my hour.” As he stared at the statue of Our Lady, he closed his eyes and died. The date was January 28, 1963.  He was fourteen years old.

On July 10, 2020, Pope Francis declared that Angiolino Bonetta was a young man of “heroic virtue” and declared him Venerable. His Beatification date has not been determined.


Sister Maria Laura Mainetti; murdered in a ritual act of satanism, will be Beatified.

They all (her killers) said she kept saying, “Lord, forgive them.”

Sister Maria Laura Mainetti                                                       public domain

By Larry Peterson

Teresina Elsa Mainetti was born in Colico, Italy, on August 20, 1939. She felt the calling to dedicate her life to helping others from when she was in grade school. Staying true to herself, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of the Cross, in Rome, Italy, on August 22, 1957. Teresina had just turned 18 years old. She took the name, Sister Maria Laura.

Sister Maria studied hard and dedicated her life to children, young people, and families in the towns surrounding Vasto, Rome, and Parma. She moved to Chiavenna in 1984. Once there, she quickly became known for her love and commitment to the homeless youth and poor people of the area. Her ministry to children as a catechist and spiritual leader added to her reputation.

On the evening of June 3, 2000, Sister Maria Laura Mainetti was at home in her convent when she received a phone call from one of her former catechism students. Sister Maria was the Mother Superior of the convent, which specialized in helping teenagers in trouble. The girl was calling, asking Sister for help. She said she had been raped and was pregnant. Frightened and alone, she said, was considering having an abortion. She asked Sister if she could meet with her to talk. Sister agreed, and the girl told her she would call her back with a time and place.

The girl called back on June 6 and told Sister Maria she had run away from home and would she please come to see her. She wanted to meet Sister in Marmitte dei Giganti Park at 10 p.m. Sister agreed. It was not unusual for her to go out at night like this as she was always available to assist young people in trouble.

The girl who met her was Milena De Giambattista. The two walked together over to the park where Milena’s two friends, Ambra Gianasso, and Veronica Pietrobelli, joined them. All four walked into the park and headed to a secluded area. When they arrived there, they immediately made Sister Maria kneel on the ground. They then began screaming and cursing at her and smacking her head.  De Giambattista began beating Sister Maria with a brick while Gianasso started smashing sister’s head into a wall next to where they had stopped.

They had only just begun. Then they took turns stabbing Sister Maria with a kitchen knife. Their intention was to each stab Sister six times for a total of eighteen stab wounds, which would be three sixes, or 666, the number of the beast. But they stabbed her nineteen times, one too many, which “ruined” their ritual.

The next morning someone out for an early morning walk discovered Sister Maria’s brutalized body. In her hands were clumps of one of her attacker’s hair. As the police began their investigation, a witness stepped forward and said that he had seen the three girls and Sister Maria together on the night of June 6.

The police monitored the girl’s phones, and in one of the calls, two of the girls began discussing the murder. Three weeks after the crime had been committed, the three girls were arrested. Two of the girls were seventeen, and one was sixteen. None of them had any prior history of violent behavior or of being in any trouble. They all came from upstanding, middle-class families.

At first, they said that killing Sister was “a game.” They finally admitted it was a satanic sacrifice. After searches in the young peoples’ homes, the police were able to discover the existence of a satanic subculture.  These three young women, all teenagers, had aligned themselves with Satan and his evil demonic forces. Their initial target was the parish priest, but they realized he was much too big and powerful for them to bring down.

They then targeted little Sister Maria, the kind nun who had taught them catechism when they were in grade school. Sister was willing to do anything to help her former pupil, who had been violently impregnated. It was like leading the lamb to the slaughter. In fact, in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI praised Sister Maria, who said, “with total giving of self, sacrificed her life while praying for those who were attacking her.”

The killers of Sister Maria admitted that she was praying for them as she lay dying. They all said she kept saying, “Lord, forgive them.”  Pope Francis declared on June 21, that Sister Maria Laura Mainetti had died “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) and was a martyr. She will be beatified at a date to be announced.

(The murderers of Sister Maria were juveniles and served their sentences, being paroled (on the average) after about five years. Today they are all living lives far away from their crime.)

copyright©Larry Peterson2020


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


This Filipina nun’s legacy continues through the order of nuns she established

ROSARIO ARROYO

Mother Rosario Arroyo                                                   facebook fair use

Mother Rosario Arroyo is much loved and often invoked. Some say her intercession has already brought miracles.

By Larry Peterson

Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo was born on February 17, 1884, in Molo, which is located in the Philippines. She was the only daughter born to  Ignacio Arroyo and Dona Maria Podal; the Arroyos also had two sons. Three days after Maria’s birth she was baptized in St. Anna’s Church in Molo and officially named Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo.

Maria’s family was well to do, and her parents were well known for the generous almsgiving. The Arroyo sons and daughter were taught the importance and virtue of giving of themselves at an early age. This virtuous sense of self-giving became part of who they were, especially Maria.

The young woman could have lived a life of luxury, but her upbringing had left her keenly aware of the misery and plight of the poor and downtrodden. Her compassion for others was genuine and intense. Maria was unspoiled by the quality and abundance of material things that were hers for the taking. She just wanted to share what she could with those less fortunate.

Maria attended school at the Colegio de St. Anna, which was a private school in Moto. She was transferred to Colegio de San Jose to prepare for her First Holy Communion.  This school was run by the Daughters of Charity, and she remained here until she finished her elementary education. From there, she began the initial steps toward religious life. She entered the Convent of St. Catalina in Manila and made her profession of vows on January 3, 1914.

Despite coming from affluence and having great wealth, Maria chose a life of poverty, devoting her life to the poor. She entered the Dominican Order and with the help of two other Dominican nuns, created the Dominican sisters of the Most Holy Rosary. The date was February 18, 1927. From that point forward, she was known as Mother Rosario Arroyo. (Most Filipinos refer to her as Madre Sayong).

The Congregation continued to grow and, after 32 years in existence, the First General Chapter was convened. Meeting from January 3-6, 1953, Mother Rosario was elected the First Superioress General of the Order.  She served for three and a half years before heart failure caused her passing on June 14, 1957.

Mother Rosario’s legacy has spread itself around the entire world. The order runs schools, colleges, retreat houses, and convents, not only in ten dioceses and archdioceses in the Philippines but also has a membership of over 250 serving people in the Mariana Islands, the Diocese of  Ngong in Kenya,  several cities in Italy, and in the United States in the Archdiocese of San Francisco  and the Diocese of Honolulu, Hawaii. All toll, the nuns run 31 schools, two colleges, two retreat houses, a charitable institution, and a clinic. Another 40 or more sisters work in foreign missions.

Reports of miracles attributed to Mother Rosario have been credible enough that the cause for her canonization is underway. On July 28, 2009, the process was initiated by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, the Philippines.  Based on gathered evidence of miraculous cures that had occurred the official opening of Mother Rosario’s cause took place on October 7, 2009. The ceremonies were conducted at the parish church of St. Anne, in Molo, Mother Rosario’s birthplace.

Miracles that saved people from aneurysm, leukemia, and cancer were among the first documented. In 1983, a Manila woman, Angela Palma, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was not expected to live, prayed to Mother Rosario to be cured. The cancer was found to be gone, and in 2003 she was still alive without medical explanation for her survival.

Another reported miracle involves a woman with leukemia. In 2004, she was “miraculously cured” after prayers to Mother Rosario were invoked. A year later, she was found to be disease free without ever having had any blood transfusion or chemotherapy as described by doctors.

These are just two examples of purported miracles that have taken place because of Mother Rosario’s intercession. Further investigation will continue until not a shred of doubt as to their veracity can be found.

On June 11, 2019, Mother Rosario Arroyo (Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo) was declared by Pope Francis to be a woman of “heroic virtue” and now bears the title; Venerable Rosario Arroyo. She is one step away from being beatified.

Venerable Rosario Arroyo; we ask for your prayers.

Copyright© Larry Peterson 2019

 

 

 

 

 


A Journey to Sainthood…meet Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosili

Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosoli                                                     comboni.org

By Larry Peterson

The woman was only twenty years old and was dying of Septicemia (blood poisoning). It was October 25, 2008, and on that day, her baby had already been lost, and Lucia Lomokol, seemed destined to follow her child in death. All means known to the doctors to reverse Lucia’s condition had failed, and there was no hope to save her.

Doctor Eric Dominic, a physician from Turin, reached into his pocket and pulled out a small prayer card. It was the holy card of Servant of God, Father Giuseppe Ambrosili. Doctor Dominic placed the holy card on Lucia’s pillow and asked the young woman’s relatives and all else who were present to pray to Father Guiseppe for Lucia’s recovery. They all did as requested, and the next morning, Lucia Lomokol was alive, well,  and her infection was gone.  No one thought such a thing was possible.

Giuseppe Ambrosili was born on July 25, 1923, in Ronago, Italy, a small town in northern Italy five miles from the Swiss border. He was the seventh son of Giovanni Ambrosili and Palmira Valli. Guiseppe did well in grade school and went to high school in nearby Como, Italy. In 1942, after finishing high school, he moved on and attended the College of Milan, but World War II disrupted his studies.

He became part of the Italian underground, and in 1943 he pledged to help save as many Jewish people.  Giuseppe and others worked clandestinely to hide them and get them safe passage to the Swiss border. The alternative for them was the concentration camp. If Giuseppe or his cohorts had been caught it would have meant their immediate execution.

Giuseppe did survive the war.  His ultimate calling had always been to the priesthood, but in 1946, he returned to the College of Milan. On July 28, 1949, he was awarded a degree as a Doctor of Medicine. Giuseppe then headed home to the seminary located in Venegona (also in northern Italy) to study to receive Holy Orders. He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1955. The Archbishop of Milan presiding over his ordination was Archbishop Giovanni Montini, who would become Pope St. Paul VI.

He was now a priest who had also been schooled in medicine and surgery. He then moved on to get a Tropical Medicine Diploma with the goal of eventually tending to the poor and deprived in Africa. Upon completion of his training, he announced to his mother and the rest of his family that his ultimate calling was to be a missionary. He told them, “God is love, they are suffering neighbors, and I am their servant.”

He became part of the Congregation of the Comboni Missionaries, and in 1956 he left for Africa. He was sent to a  small village in a town called Kalongo. This was located in northern Uganda, and he was put in charge of the medical dispensary at the outpost. He would remain at this place for the next 32 years.

During Father Giuseppe’s tenure at the dispensary, he transformed it into the Kalongo Hospital. Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) was quite prevalent at the time, and the lepers were kept isolated in a place called the “leprosarium.” Care at these places was of poor quality, so Father Giuseppe began the “St. Mary’s School of Midwifery” training Ugandans to be the caregivers of the lepers.

Father Giuseppe transformed the methods for leprosy care. The first thing he did was acknowledge those with leprosy were, foremost,  people with an illness. These people deserved the same dignity and treatment as all others. Then he incorporated the ‘leprosarium” into being part of the hospital. The lepers became patients like all the other patients, and Father made sure they were treated as such.

In February of 1987 an insurrection erupted in Uganda, and Father Giuseppe and his hospital had to be evacuated. The hospital was burned to the ground by the insurrectionists. The humble priest, who only wanted “to be His servant for people suffering,” died March 27, 1987, at the Camboni Mission in Lira. The cause of death was kidney failure. (A little bit of “heartbreak” probably was also involved).

Today the Kalongo Hospital is called the Dr. Ambrosili Memorial Hospital. It has 350 beds and treats more than 60,000 people a year. He is remembered in Uganda as the “Doctor of Charity.”

Giuseppe Ambrosoli was elevated to the rank of Venerable on December 17, 2015, by Pope Francis. On November 28,2019, the Holy Father attributed the recovery of Lucia Lomokol, to the intervention of  Giuseppe Ambrosoli. He will be beatified sometime in 2020 to the rank of the “Blessed.”

Venerable Giuseppe Ambrosoli, please pray for us.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


Rooted in the Incarnation of the Lord, the Confraternity de la Virgen de la Cinta has become a powerful weapon protecting the unborn

Blessed Virgin and Child                                                   en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

On April 12, 2019, Pope Francis welcomed a group to the Vatican known as the Archconfraternity of the Virgen de la Cinta (Ribbon). The group, led by Bishop Enrique Benavent Vidal of Tortosa, Spain, was celebrating their founding 400 years earlier, during the 17th century.

Honoring the Virgin of the Ribbon (the term girdle or belt is sometimes used) is rooted in the Annunciation of Our Lady which is also the Incarnation of Jesus. (The two individual occurrences did happen at the same time). So why did the celebration of the Virgin of the Ribbon only begin four-hundred years ago?

Contained in the archives of the Diocese of Tortosa were records of a spiritual event that took place on the night of March 24 thru the 25th in the year 1178. This was the Feast of the Annunciation. It is said that a priest who was about to begin Matins (early morning prayer) in the Cathedral.

As he began his prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and said, “Since you have built this Church in honor of my Son and me, and because I love the people of Tortosa, I place this girdle of mine on the altar and I give it to you so that you may keep it as a sign of my love.” 

The “girdle” (belt or ribbon)  was wrapped around Her mantle (a gown or tunic). It was probably something that the women of Mary’s day wore when they were expecting a child.  She placed it on the altar. Then Our Lady was gone.

Bishop Benavent Vidal explained to the Holy Father, and others present how over the centuries women honored the Virgen de la Cinta, and many claimed how it was because of praying to her that their child was born healthy or saved from danger or illness. Groups began to form to honor the Virgen de la Cinta and then, during the 17th century, the Confraternity was founded to honor her.

Sometime around 1615 to 1617, Pope Paul V gave his blessing to the Confraternity of the Virgin of the Ribbon, and it has since been a steady and ever-growing force. The bishop went on to say, “during my years here I have heard the testimony of pregnant mothers in difficulty, who have protected the lives of their children entrusted to the Virgin, and who have experienced his protection over his unborn children.

Here are a few of the comments made by Pope Francis (full text here)  at the ceremony. “Looking to the example of Mary, you are called to take that fraternity to every corner of our society. You are present in different ecclesial realities in your diocese: in this way you collaborate so that the Church is first of all a home, a family, a place of welcome and love, in which everyone, especially the poor and marginalized, can feel a part, and never feel that they are excluded or rejected. Lived in this way, fraternity becomes a mission, which challenges us and does not leave us indifferent, because the mutual love that reaches out and is directed towards others is our letter of presentation. Thus, even those who do not believe can repeat that eulogy of Tertullian: “See how they love one another!”

Bishop Benavent Vidal also shared the following words, “thanks to this, devotion to the Virgen de la Cinta has been maintained and has grown. “It is a dedication that, from its origin (the feast of the Incarnation of the Lord)  leads to the protection and care for the life of the unborn human being.”

See the complete Vatican transcript here.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019