Today, February 18, we celebrate the life and works of Fra Angelico, patron of artists. Originally named Guido di Pietro, he took on the name Angelico because of the portraits that he painted of religious subjects. Born in Tuscany, he made a point of using his gifts to spread his religious beliefs as well as lived a life dedicated to piety that made the name stick. His career started out small as most would expect. He joined a Dominican convent and became a friar there. He started out his work as an artist by being an illustrator for religious books and other religious items.
His work and gifts were recognized as he began to paint more and began to branch out to paint pictures of portraits, to bring those that were religious into the light by capturing them in calm and religious art. It was so recognized that the pope even called for him to come to Rome to paint art for what was the Chapel of the Sacrament in the Vatican. He took these positions with honor, seeing it as his way of using God’s gift to share his belief and religion with the world. After he finished his work there, he returned to the convent he had joined in the beginning where he became prior. It was there that he lived out the rest of his days.
God Bless him and may we also use the gifts that God gives us to spread His love and work.
Today, February 17, we celebrate the life and works of St Finan of Lindisfarne. St Finan was an Iona monk that refused to give up the ways of the Celtic simply because Romans were trying to encroach on Ireland. He worked hard to ensure that Celtic traditions were upheld. He was a man that many held in high regards and he made a point of ensuring that he continued to inspire people. He was elected bishop of Lindisfarne in 621, years after he had baptized the rulers of Essex and of the Middle Angles.
Once he was bishop of Lindisfarne, he sent out missionaries to Mercia and Essex, wanting to give the people the truth that he knew and bring that light and love into their lives. He worked hard to share his knowledge with others, joining in on debates about religious topics. One of these many debates included the correct calculation for the day of Easter.
God Bless him and may we also share the knowledge that we have with others, bringing that same light and love to their lives as St Finan did to others.
Today, February 16, we celebrate the life and works of St Daniel. St Daniel was an Egyptian that took pity on those Catholics that were being imprisoned in the mines of Cilicia to work as punishment for their belief. He, along with four others with him, went to Caesarea, Palestine to offer comfort to those being enslaved because of their religion. They wanted nothing more than to share a little of God’s love with their brothers being brutalized. They made it no further than the gates of Caesarea before they were apprehended and brought before the governor.
Firmilian, the governor, was a hard man and listened to the city guardsmen accuse these men of being Catholics. He refused to stand for such happening in his city. He sentenced the group to be martyred for their faith as an example of what would happen to any Catholics that came to his city. He would do all within his power to help along the Maximus persecution. All men went bravely to their fates, never once denying their relationship with God.
God Bless him and may we also bravely help those in need, bringing a little light into their lives by sharing God’s love with them.
Today, February 15, we celebrate the life and works of Blessed Jordan. He was originally named Gordanus and received his bachelor of divinity in Paris. However, it wasn’t for years later that he actually became a Catholic. It was one a fateful day when he met St Dominic and there began to pursue a religious life. It 1220 he became a Dominican and quickly was elected to prior provincial of Lombardy. It was the year after, on the day that Dominic went to join God in Heaven, that he was elected to second master general of the Dominicans.
He worked hard to do much for the Dominicans, even establishing foundations in Germany and Switzerland. He sent men of God to Denmark to spread God’s word to the people and even went himself to preach to the nations. It was on one of these travels, on his way to the Holy Land no less, that the ship he was on crashed and everyone aboard went to join God in Heaven.
God Bless him and may we also not fear the unknown and spread God’s love and Words to the world.
Today, February 14, we celebrate the lives and works of St Valentine, patron of Love, Young People, Happy Marriages. St Valentine was a man that wanted to help others. He knew that God had a calling for him and he worked alongside others such as St Marius and his family to help those that were being persecuted during the Claudius II. As a holy priest of Rome, he felt that it was his duty to those that were following their religion to give them a chance, to help them to escape what was being done to them at the time.
In doing so, he put his life on the line, but that never concerned him. Even when he was apprehended and sent by the emperor to a prefect of Rome. There the prefect tried everything that he could to make him renounce his faith, but it all proved to be ineffective. St Valentine simply proclaimed his love for God all the more. For this he was sentenced to be beaten with clubs. When even that didn’t work to break him, he was martyred for his family.
God Bless him and may we also show our love for God in such a manner.
Today, February 13, we celebrate the life and works of St Catherine de Ricci. Born in France, she was originally named Alexandria, but took on the name of Catherine when she entered her life of religion. She showed such a love for religion that her father knew when she was only 6 years old that she was going to go into the church. As such, he sent her to be in a convent at that time with her aunt. It wasn’t a permanent thing at that point. It was rather a chance for her to try it out and see if it was something that she was interested in following. She only returned home briefly when she was 14 before she joined the convent of the Dominicans of Prat.
Though she was young, she quickly grew within the convent. By the age of 25 she was perpetual prioress. She was well known by this point because of her dedication to prayer and to God. It drew people to her like a moth to the flame. They were all curious about her and wanted to hear what she had to say, to experience what she did. There were many miracles that were attributed to her and the love she had for God, but she never commented on such. She simply lived her life for God and nothing more. In the end, it was a prolonged illness that brought her home to God.
God Bless her and may we also focus on our relationship with God and put aside our worldly desires.
Today, February 12, we celebrate the life and works of St Pio of Pietrelcina, also known as Padre Pio. Born in a small Italian village, St Pio was originally named Francesco after Francesco of Assisi. When he was ordained into priesthood, his name became Padre Pio. It was obvious to all those that knew him as a child that he was a man of God, devout even at a young age. One of the most significant things about St Pio was that he was the first stigmatized priest in the history of the church. It first appeared eight years after he was ordained and stayed for fifty until the day he joined the Lord. The wounds then healed perfectly, as he predicted, without scarring or leaving any visible mark that they had ever been there to begin with.
St Pio was a man that used the confessional to bring people closer to God, both those that were already His followers and those that were sinners looking for help. He seemed to know the right words to say and would take confessions for hours on ends, normally going for ten to twelve hours a day. He thought that it was the perfect way to help others, to listen to what was in their hearts and give them the answers that they were looking for.
God Bless him and may we all have such strength in our faith and listen with an open ear to those that are in need of someone to talk to.
Today, February 11, we celebrate the life and works of St Benedict of Aniane. He was a man born in Witiza and knew rather young in life that the religious life was the path that he would take. He served as scion of a very prestigious family, known as the Visigoth family as well as cupbearer for Pepin III and Charlemagne. This was the path the led to him becoming a monk. He was responsible as well for the Frankish revival in future centuries, but it was after he became a monk that he returned to his family estate to become a hermit.
A few other people joined him there and his pursuit was spent on documenting and compiling all known monastic rules into one place. Some of these items, such as Codex regularum and composed Concordia regularum, were used in the university that has his name. Seeing what great work this university was doing with its teaching, thanks to these regularums, King Louis I the Pious issued that St Benedict lead the synod of Aachen, which was to make every church and monastery use these rules as their guiding point.
God Bless him and may we also want to spread the Lord’s work to others in our lives.
Today, February 10, we celebrate the life and works of St Scholastica. She was the sister to St Benedict and knew at a young age that she would live her life for God and no one else. He was the one that she wanted to follow. She was always close to her brother for they shared the same beliefs and knew that God was the way in their lives. When St Benedict went away from home and established his monastery, his sister did much the same in a nearby town where she looked after and worked with women such as herself. Forming her own monastery of nuns, she and her brother made a point of meeting together once a year in order to discuss spiritual matters or simply spend time in prayer.
Because neither she could go into his monastery nor could he go into hers, they would take a number of the brethren with them to a house between the two locations to meet. Much of this time was spent in prayer and reflection, but there was one time that she begged her brother to stay the night with her in the house in spiritual reflection and prayer. He refused at first, not wanting to spend a night away from his monastery, but she prayed and a fierce thunderstorm came to trap them all in that location. They spent that whole night prayer. It wasn’t long after this occurred that she was called home to God.
God Bless her and may we also hold God in such a high and important position in our own lives. Let us glorify Him in all that we do.
Today, February 9, we celebrate the life and works of St Apollonia, Patron of dental diseases. A young woman, St Apollonia, amongst other virgins, were targeted during a persecution under the reign of Emperor Philip. This was during the persecution of Decius that they were targeting Catholic people, trying to force them to renounce their faith once and for all and turn their attention towards those that they chose to worship. St Apollonia and the other women in her group were captured and brought before a judge. They were given the choice to renounce their faith or be tortured. She refused to turn away from God and pronounced her love for Him.
For this she was tortured. Among the things done to her, all of her teeth were knocked out of her head. It was horrible and gruesome, yet never once did she falter. When told that she could either renounce God or she would be burned, she jumped into the flames voluntarily, all the while singing praises to God and proclaiming Him to be the one true God.
God Bless her and may we also refuse to turn away from God, to spread our belief and faith in Him and never falter.