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


Meet Augustine John Ukken and Antonietta Giugliano. They both now bear the title of Venerable, the second step on the journey to Sainthood.

Journey to Sainthood                                                 vatican.org

By Larry Peterson

On Friday, December 22, 2018, Pope Francis, based on the recommendations from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, validated nine men and three women as people of “Heroic Virtue.”  These people are now worthy of the title of Venerable. Among them are Augustine John Ukken, from India, and Antonietta Giugliano, from New York. Their lives and journeys are profiled here.

Venerable Augustine John Ukken:

Augustine John Ukken was born on December 19, 1880, in Parappur, located in the state of Kerala in India. Augustine was the second son born to Punnapar and Chalaki Ukken. Sadly, both of his parents died when he was only six years old. The boy was taken in by the parish priest who provided him with a home and an education.

In 1895, based on the recommendations of his priest and mentor (name unknown) the Bishop, Adolphus  Mediycott had Augustine enrolled in the Monir Seminary in Trichur. Upon completing his studies there he moved Kandy, in Sri Lanka, to begin his study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest by the Bishop Clement Pagany on December 21, 1907.

Father was assigned to St. Thomas College in Thrissur, where he taught French and Latin from 1908 to 1909. In 1910 he became the Rector of the Minor Seminary and remained at that post also serving as Secretary to Archbishop John Manachery from 1913 until 1917. At that point, he was assigned to assist at different parishes doing the work of a parish priest. In 1921 he was named as the Manager of St. Thomas College and remained in that post until 1925.

From 1925 and on, Father Augustine spent time in different parishes getting deeply involved with the poor and starving people and children. Inspired by St. Vincent de Paul, he prayed for guidance so he might help them. On November 21, 1944, he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity.

The mission of the new order was the “caring of the sick, tending those who are in deathbed, uplifting the poor and giving catechetical formation.”  The new order was approved by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Thrissur, George Alapatt.

Father Augustine John Ukken passed away on October 13, 1956. He was 75. He was declared a Servant of God on August 24, 2008, and on December 22, 2018, declared Venerable.

Venerable Augustine John Ukken, please pray for us.

 

Venerable Antonietta Giugliano:

Among those recommended to Pope Francis by Cardinal Becciu as having “Heroic Virtue”  was Antonietta Giugliano. Antonietta was born in New York in 1909 and move to Italy (probably as a child but there is no definite date). Trained under Venerable Sosio Del Prete, a Franciscan priest,  Antonietta began the Institute of the Little Servants of Christ the King in Naples.

She had wanted to start a group that would offer a Christian response to humanitarian emergencies in the area and in 1935 she started  The Little Servants of Christ the King. The purpose was to assist the elderly, educate the children, and acquire needed items for the poor, such as clothing and food and medical supplies.

Antonietta gave most of what she and her family had to the needy. A woman who possessed a deep humility, she spent the rest of her life fighting severe pain and illness, yet never wavering in her mission to help those in need.

Antonietta passed away in Naples in 1960. She was 51. She left behind as her legacy the order she had founded plus a reputation as a woman of great holiness. The cause for her elevation to sainthood began in 2006. She has completed the second step in the four-part process of Canonization and is now Venerable Antonietta Giugliano.

Venerable Antonietta Giugliano, please pray for us.

 ©Larry Peterson 2019


Brother Fix-It gave his life in Guatemala: Another American Martyr to be Beatified

Blessed James Miller—    Christian Brothers of the Midwest

By Larry Peterson

They called him Brother “Fix-it” and his religious name was Brother Leo. He loved the poor and joined the order of the De La Salle Christian Brothers so that he could mentor, help, comfort, teach, and protect the poorest of God’s children. In 1982, while serving the downtrodden in Guatemala, he was gunned down by three masked men. Pope Francis has issued a decree of martyrdom for Brother James Miller, and henceforth he will be called Blessed.

James Miller was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in 1944. It was a premature birth, and baby James weighed in at under four pounds. James defied the medical science of the 1940s. He survived and grew into a six-foot-two-inch, 220-pound man.

James attended Pacelli High School in Stevens Point which was run by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Impressed with his teachers he graduated and entered St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota. St. Mary’s was also run by the De La Salle Brothers and in 1962 he entered the order as a postulant (candidate). Upon finishing his novitiate (training period) he donned the habit and took the name of Leo William.  In due time, he did as many religious were doing and went back to using his baptismal name; he became Brother James Miller.

Brother James began his career as a teacher in Cretin High School where he taught Spanish and English plus religion. He was also the football coach and was so adept at maintaining and repairing equipment, including plumbing and electrical problems, that he became known as “Brother Fix-It.”

In 1969 Brother James was sent to Nicaragua to take charge of a run-down school with about 300 students. Under his guidance and determination, the student enrollment quickly grew and within a few years was at 800.  He was then put in charge of the construction of ten new schools located in rural areas of Nicaragua.

When the Sandinista Revolution began in 1979, he was ordered to leave Nicaragua. His superiors knew that Brother James had cooperated with the  Somoza Government and would now be targeted by the Sandinistas. Brother James had kept lines of communication open with the government because he needed their cooperation so he could open new schools. He resisted leaving, but he and his superiors soon discovered that his name was on the Sandinista “death list.”

Brother James returned to the United Staes and went back to teaching at Cretin High Scool. He had promised the people in Nicaragua that he would return to them. It did not happen. Instead, in 1981, he was sent to Guatemala. He began teaching in Huehuetenango, a city in the Guatemalan highlands, which had a large population of suffering Guatemalan Indians.

Brother James had been going about his work providing job skills and schooling to the oppressed natives in the area. But he was a marked man because it was discovered that the pro-government,  Guatemalan armed forces, who had a death squad known as G-2,  had Brother James on their hit list.

On February 13, 1982. Brother James was working up on a ladder repairing a section of wall on the school. It was early morning and he never saw his assassins sneaking up behind him. As he wielded his hammer to complete repairs the three masked men opened fire on brother James. Children watched from the school windows as their beloved teacher fell from his ladder. He had died before he hit the ground. No one was ever charged for the murder.

Brother James Albert Miller had died “In Odium Fidei” (In Hatred of the Faith). In 2009, Brother James has declared a man of “heroic Virtue” and pronounced as Venerable.  Pope Francis has issued the decree of Martyrdom for Brother James, and sometime during the year of 2019, he will be officially Beatified becoming Blessed James Miller.

Blessed James Miller, please pray for us.

©copyright Larry Peterson 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Servant of God; Father Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly (Kathanar)

Venerable Payyappilly Varghese Kathanar

By Larry Peterson

On April 14, 2018, Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He presented the cardinal with the names of eight Catholics who have attained the designation of Servants of God. This designation is awarded to those who have attained the first pedestal on their road to canonization. Among those named was Servant of God, Father Varghese Payyapilly Palakkappilly (yes, that is a definite tongue-twister so we will keep it at Father Varghese).

Cardinal Amato was authorized by the Holy Father to place those named worthy of receiving a promulgation of “the Heroic Virtues.” Pope Benedict XIV, 1740 to 1758, who is considered the defining authority on these virtues, wrote five volumes about them. They are still used in determining if a Servant of God meets the criteria of demonstrating ‘heroic virtue.’

A simple way to think of  ‘heroic virtue’  might be as a virtue that has become a second nature.  It becomes a habit of good behavior that can only be attained through the love of God and a closeness to Him, a closeness that most of us never reach. Heroic Virtue must be a part of those who would be advanced to the level of Venerable from Servant of God.

Father Varghese was born in India, in the province of Kerala, on August 8, 1876. He attended St. Albert’s School in Ernakulam which is on the southeast coast of India. From St. Albert’s he moved onto the Central Seminary in Sri Lank (formerly Ceylon) an island off the coast of India. From there he attended the Papal Seminary, also in Sri Lanka, where he was ordained a priest on December 21, 1907.

Father Verghase was assigned as a parish priest and served as such in various parishes from 1909 thru 1922. While serving at the parish in Arakuzha, he began St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School. His presence and efforts at the school and church helped reunite many estranged families and succeeded in making the church self-sufficient through land purchases.

Father Verghase also managed to acquire land for the construction of St. Joseph’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. He remained there until 1929. It was reported that during Father Varghese’s tenure there, vocations to the priesthood exploded.

Father Verghases’s reputation as a kind and loving priest continued to grow. He became a member of the Diocesan Council and the Director of Apostolic Union as well as the Priests’ Provident Fund. People from all over came to him because they wanted his counsel to help them with their problems. He managed to bring many families back together using the wisdom he received from the Holy Spirit.

The simple priest was held in high esteem both by church officials and government officers. His empathy for the poor and suffering and his reputation spread far and wide after he helped many victims of the great flood of 1924. He even turned St. Mary’sHigh School into a shelter and delivered food himself by boat.

On March 19, 1927, Father Verghese founded the Sisters of the Destitute. His intention was to continue what he saw as Christ’s saving message among the poor. He found abandoned people, brought them to the shelter of the Home for the Aged and nursed them.

Today the Sisters of the Destitute, have over 1500 nuns and also include among its ranks doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers. They are located in Asia, Europe, Africa and across the United States.  The operate such institutions as homes for the sick and needy, health centers, libraries, nursing homes, schools, hospitals and cancer centers.

Payyappilly Palakkappilly Varghese Kathnar (that is Father Verghese’s full name) died from typhoid fever on October 5, 1929. He was buried at St. St John Nepumsian Syrian Catholic Church in Kornthurthy, India. On August 25, 2009, Father Verghese was declared a Servant of God by the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar CatholicChurch.

When Pope Francis authorized Father Verghese as worthy of having “the heroic virtue” he (aswell as the seven others) were elevated to the rank of Venerable. A miracle attributed to Father Verghase is under review for Father Verghese and if validated, Venerable Verghase Payyappilly may become beatified.

Venerable Verghase Payyappilly, please pray for us.