Today, March 14, we celebrate the life and works of St Louise de Marillac. Born in France in 1591, she was educated by Dominican nuns and wanted nothing more than to join them and devote herself to God. However, at the advise of her confessor, she instead married Antony, a man in the Queen’s service. She was a devoted wife and cared greatly for him. When he left this world, she turned back to her original love in God. She met St Vincent de Paul and he became her spiritual adviser, allowing her to work with him for the rest of her life.
She focused on helping the poor and doing many works for charity. The poor, those neglected, and the sick were all well in her care. A few years later, she established a place in her home for those that wanted to work with her. It was the beginning of the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. They were approved formally in 1655. She took her vows and as they grew, others amongst them took their vows as well. She traveled all over the place, establishing more houses and building communities that would continue to do their great work.
God Bless her and may we also have such strength as to do God’s good work and help others in need.
Today, March 13, we celebrate the live and works of St Ailbhe, Patron of wolves. St Ailbhe is one that is seen throughout myths and legends of Ireland as a Bishop and preacher. He was a disciple of St Patrick and was also known by many as Albeus. He was a missionary that traveled about the lovely Ireland, even going so far as to become the bishop of Emily in Munster Ireland, the first bishop of that area.
The legends that surround him are rather unique. In one it claims that he was abandoned in the woods as an infant and a wolf took him in as her own. This was brought on because a she-wolf came to him to escape a hunting party, laying her head against him. He, of course, protected her from those seeking to end her life. From such things you can see that he was a man given to such kindness and charity for others, including the animals of God.
God Bless him and may we show such kindness to those that we meet in our lives.
Today, March 12, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Agnello of Pisa. Blessed Agnello was only a deacon when he was sent on a mission to find an English province. He and eight others made their way to England where Blessed Agnello stayed in Canterbury to build up their relations with those there. It was hard on them in the dead of winter to be there. It was bitterly cold and they had little to eat. Even so, their spirits were always high and their enthusiasm just as great. Half of those that came over with him, went on to London to find themselves a place to settle. The men in London were so well received that they were able to hire a dwelling in Cornhill which would allow them to push on to Oxford.
It was at this time that Blessed Agnello joined them to continue with their journey. He was a man that many loved and saw his enthusiasm and genuine care as infectious. Many have said that he was on familiar terms with King Henry III. He was a man that was strict in his beliefs and believed greatly in poverty so much so that he wouldn’t live in a house or have one built that wasn’t absolutely necessary. He left this world to join God eleven years after beginning his journey.
God Bless him and may we also have such strength of character as to stand strong in our beliefs while others might falter.
Today, March 11, we celebrate the life and works of St Fina, also known as St Seraphina. Born to parents that had fallen into poverty, she was a pretty young girl that had a heart of gold. Though she was in a poor situation, she always saved half of her food to be given to those that were worse off than her. She was a recluse though, choosing to stay home to sew and spin while spending her evenings devoted solely to prayer. When her father died, it was shortly after that she was attacked with disease. This illness took away her beauty and paralyzed her with great pain. This never stopped her faith and only seemed to strengthen it. To prove this and wanting to be like God, she laid on a plank without moving for six years.
There were many times her mother had to leave her alone to go work or beg. Though she was in terrible pain, she never complained about this. She simply focused on the joy that her faith and relationship with God brought to her. And then another great tragedy befell her when her mother died. It became obvious then that she wouldn’t last long in this world without someone to care for her aside from the occasional neighbor that came to check on her. Remembering the story of Gregory and all of his suffering, she prayed to him that he would intercede with God to help give her the patience to deal with her disease without faltering in her belief. An answer came eight days before she was to leave this world to join God in a vision of St Gregory the great telling her that on his feastday she would be relieved of all of her pain.
God Bless her and may we also have such faith and strength even when we are troubled with such tragedies.
Today, March 10, we celebrate the life and works of St Sophronius of Jerusalem. He was called the Sophist because of his knowledge of Greek. He was a man that wrote his knowledge down to be spread to the masses, including such works as the Florilegium and the life of St. John the Almsgiver as well as an encomium on John of Cyrus and composed 23 anacreontic odes on the feasts of the church.
Born in Damascus, he became a Catholic along with his good friend, John Moschus. Many weren’t really sure where they lived; some claiming near to the Jordan and others closer to Egypt. We do know that St Sophronius fled to Alexandria to escape Persian invaders and when they reached Alexandria, he fled once more to Rome. It was only when it was safe that he returned to Jerusalem. He was a man that stood for what he believed in and did so on many occasions, even traveling great distances to argue with those that he found to be wrong. He was appointed as Patriarch of Jerusalem until the year the Muslims took the city. He joined God a year after that, many say from grief over the fall of his city.
God Bless him and may we also spread the knowledge that the Lord gives to us to others.
Today, March 9, we celebrate the life and works of St Anastasia Patricia. There is a wonderful legend surrounding St Anastasia Patricia. She was the beautiful daughter of an Egyptian nobleman and a lady-in-waiting to Emperor Justinian in Constantinople. The Emperor was taken by her beauty and wanted nothing more than to make her his, though he was married to another at the time, Theodora. To escape him, she fled to a convent in Alexandria where she became a nun and dedicated her life to God. For many years she lived here in peace and was able to simply focus on her relationship with God and doing good deeds for others.
Upon the death of Theodora though, Emperor Justinian came after her, swearing that he would make her his new wife. She fled Alexandria into the desert where she met Abbot Daniel. He allowed her to hid in his community as a hermit while dressed as a monk to escape the Emperor. It seemed that did the trick and she was able to live her life out there for the rest of her days, living a solitary life of prayer and austerity.
God Bless her and may we also put God before all else in our lives, following his path and standing strong when others might tempt us with worldly temptations
Today, February 28, we celebrate the life and works of St David, revered patron of Wales. Born of nobleblood, it was more than likely that he followed in his mother’s footsteps, his mother being St Non. He was ordained a priest and even went on to study under St. Paulinus. He became involved in missionary work and went about establishing monasteries, one of the more notable ones being found at Menevia in Southwestern Wales. He and the monks that worked in the monastery were very strict in what they did, including what they consumed. They would touch neither beer nor wine, only drinking water.
There were further positions and honors that he held, such as being primate of the Cambrian Church as well as being consecrated as archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem on one of his visits to the Holy Land. He worked hard for the church, wanting to improve and bring them back to focusing on God and what was important. In one of the councils he called, they were able to completely do away with the last vestiges of Pelagianism, the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.
God Bless him and may we also work hard towards improving our relationship with God and not letting the worldly pleasures taint us from seeing the real importance in our own lives.
Today, February 27, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Villana de’Botti. She was the daughter of a merchant and wanted to commit herself to God. At the age of thirteen, she ran away from home to join a convent, but she was forced to return home. Her father, angered by this action, decided to simply wed her off to a man. It seemed as if this changed her. She became deeply involved in the world and the pleasures that it offered, dressing in fine clothes and jewels and attending parties and anything that would make her smile. It was one night when she was on her way to a party in such a fine gown that she looked in the mirror. The reflection that looked back at her was a grotesque demon. She looked in two other mirrors only to see the same thing looking back at her.
Realizing it was her sin-covered soul reflecting back at her, she tore the gown off and dressed in the most simple clothes to go to the Dominican Fathers at Santa Maria Novella to make a confession and ask for absolution in all the wrong that she had done. This changed her life once more, but for the good. She devoted herself to God and prayer. She was admitted to the Third Order of St. Dominic and focused her free time and passion on her spiritual life. She still fulfilled her duties as a married woman, but her free time was spent praying and reading the Bible and religious doctrines. Instead of going to parties, she would care for the poor. She had a fire in her soul and it was for God.
God Bless her and may we also turn such passion and focus towards our own spiritual growth.
Today, February 26, we celebrate the life and works of St Artaldus. Artaldus was born in Savoy and showed great promise when it came to religion. At the age of eighteen, he went to court, but soon was appointed as Carthusian of Portes. This meant him relocating to Portes where he worked hard alongside others driven just as he was. There he was a priest and showed such drive and experience that he was told to return to where he was born to establish a church. Taking six others with him from Portes, he returned home to build a church. Not long after the first church was built, it was destroyed by fire. Instead of trying to rebuild on that location, St Artaldus took that as a sign and relocated the building to a new location, near to the river.
However, St Artaldus found himself to be in high demand and was even pulled from his quiet existence of working within his home area to be appointed as bishop of Belley, even though he fought against this. He was consulted by the Pope among others, including kings.
God Bless him and may we have such drive and passion for our Lord.
Today, February 25, we celebrate the life and works of St Isabel of France. The daughter of King Louis VIII of France as well as the sister of St Louis, there wasn’t a short list of those that were interested in having her hand in marriage. It didn’t matter what they offered her for that opportunity, she wouldn’t give in. She wanted to continue her life as a virgin, consecrated to God to show her love and devotion for Him. Unlike many cases where this ended poorly for the women in question, because of her powerful relatives no one dared try to force her hand or persecute her.
Instead, St Isabel spent her time focused on caring for the sick and poor. It was only after the death of her mother that St Isabel took steps to establish her own monastery in the world, establishing the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Longchamps. Thought she never became a nun and refused to be abbess of the monastery, she did spend the rest of her days there, continuing her work with the sick and poor.
God Bless her and may we also turn our hearts over to God so He may guide us as He sees fit.