Tag Archives: Mary

The Brown Scapular…a gift from our Heavenly Mother

As I write this column in early April, the COVID-19 pandemic looms front and center in all of our lives. While I cannot know what the state of affairs will be when this is published, I am compelled to begin here. This crisis has been like nothing any of us have experienced in our lifetime, and in a real sense has brought our world to a grinding halt… and hopefully to our knees (in prayer). We are being forced to stop and among other things to face our mortality. And while this is not necessarily a comfortable place, it is an opportunity for us as Catholics (and Legatus members) to live our faith! I am reminded of Pope St. John Paul II’s continuous exhortation, “Be Not Afraid!” As Catholics, we know we are not living for this world, but for eternity. I know things are extraordinarily tough right now, and may likely get worse before they get better, but time and again God has told us not to be afraid because He is with us! So, whether it be in our families, businesses or communities, let us be not afraid, trust in God and keep moving forward…

Tom Monaghan

For centuries the Church has set aside the month of May to honor Mary. So I thought it would be appropriate this month to write about a Marian devotion that is meaningful to me. A recent experience prompted me to think about the brown scapular I wear. To make a long story short, I had taken my scapular off and forgot to put it back on, and then left it in Florida when traveling to Michigan. I realized how bare I felt without it, and how much I take it for granted. I began wearing one when I was in the orphanage, all the boys did. I do not think I wore it while in the Marine Corps, but I have worn one for most of my life…certainly for the last 40 – 50 years. 

I realized that many people may not be familiar with this popular Catholic devotion. In terms of its history, the brown scapular is from the Carmelites and it dates back to 1251 when Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. The tradition states that she handed him a brown scapular and promised him that whoever dies wearing this scapular will not suffer eternal fire. (I encourage you to read more about its history and other aspects of this devotion.) Of course, we know that the scapular is not a good luck charm, but one of the many sacramentals that the Church has given us, a sacred sign from the Church used to sanctify us and symbolize something going on in our hearts. Those who devoutly wear it renew their commitment to live in faith and devotion, and to place themselves under our Lord’s protection through His mother.

The brown scapular symbolizes salvation, protection against all dangers, and peace. How fitting during this current crisis we are facing.

Our Lady, Health of the Sick…Pray for us!

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Marian Consecration with Aquinas: A Nine-Day Path for Growing Closer to the Mother of God

Matt Fradd and Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P.
TAN Books, 75 pages


St. Thomas Aquinas never wrote a word about Marian consecration, but wrote amply about consecration to the religious life. Yet, as the authors of this slim volume point out, the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, lived radically by religious men and women, are to be lived in spirit by all baptized Christians. So here is the basis for this excellent nine-day preparation for Marian consecration through the teachings of Aquinas, with each day featuring a theological reflection based on Aquinas and a passage from his writings. En route to consecration, you’ll get to know both Aquinas and Our Lady much better.


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Entrust the cause of life to Mary – the Mother of Life

At the close of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he begins his prayer to the Mother of God by saying, “O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life.”

Dr. Donald Demarco

We can assist in the cause of life by saying the rosary and meditating on three consecutive decades of the Joyful Mysteries. The culture of death has taken direct aim against new life in three ways: through contraception, which negates the inception of new life; abortion, which destroys life already formed; and infanticide (euphemistically called “wrongful birth”), which destroys newborn life. Against these evils, the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity provide a strong remedy.

The Annunciation means saying “yes” to life that has yet to commence. Mary’s “yes” overturned Eve’s “no” and welcomed Christ into the world. It was a momentous event. As St. Irenaeus stated, “Being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.”

The Visitation, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, occurs while Mary is pregnant with Jesus. It is a time of exultation for both women. Luke tells us that Elizabeth spoke out in a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1: 42-45). As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, her own child, John the Baptist, “leaped in my womb with joy.”

The Nativity is the time when Mary delivers her child into the world. It is the first Christmas, an occasion that has been celebrated throughout the world for 2,000 years with great jubilation. It is the third “yes” to life following the acceptance of life and the joy of carrying it to term.

These three decades of the rosary represent not only Mary’s affirmation of life, but offer an instruction for all of us to follow. Mary invites us to hear, cultivate, and express the Word of God.

Saying “yes” to the Word of God imitates the Annunciation. Here, we agree to accept God. Our Visitation period is to carrying the Word of God in our hearts while at the same time cultivating it. Our Nativity is to bring the Word of God into the world, expressing it with love and an affirmation of life. When we recite these three decades of the rosary, we pledge to imitate Mary in our own way by accepting, developing, and expressing our love of life.

Mary, along with our relationship to her, takes on a special significance in today’s world where life is routinely despised and destroyed. As the Mother of God, she is also the Mother of Life. Our relationship with her is a powerful means of counteracting the evils that are transpiring in today’s culture of death.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had great affection for the Catholic Church, once wrote about Mary’s special importance: “I have always envied Catholics their faith in that sweet, sacred, Virgin Mother who stands between them and the deity, intercepting somewhat His awful splendor, but permitting His love to stream on the worshipper more intelligibly to human comprehension through the medium of a woman’s tenderness.” These beautiful words suggest that it should be easy to pray to Mary. Hawthorne’s own daughter, Rose, entered the Church and, as Mother Alphonsa, established a new order within the Dominican community.

We can re-enact the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity in our own way. In so doing, we help to advance the culture of life. Prayer is a prelude to a powerful remedy in the war against life that is currently transpiring.

Dr. DONALD DEMARCO is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the St. Austin Review. His latest two books, How to Navigate through Life and Apostles of the Culture of Life, are available on Amazon.com.

A Holy Mother models and encourages heroism

I was raised in a home with a mother who desired sainthood, but unless I was paying attention, I didn’t notice. I’m remembering now, for what it’s worth, that I don’t recall her ever purchasing an item of clothing for herself. She loved the Catholic Faith of her childhood, her priests, her family, and jigsaw puzzles; that’s about it. And wouldn’t you know it, right after the last of her eight children, John, left home, Judy Wells died too young from cancer.

If a single snapshot is able to capture the image of a lifetime, it would be this of Mom: I would occasionally walk unannounced into my parents’ bedroom to find her in the afternoon’s half-light, kneeling alone by her bed, praying the Holy Rosary. She’d look up with hesitant eyes that told distinctly different stories: her self-consciousness at being caught in the raw nakedness of prayer, and her hope that I’d kneel beside her. The openhearted look hangs forever in my mind like a warm remembrance.

Mom was certainly as guileless and meek a person as I’ll ever know, but her love for truth carried her to places most others don’t venture. She knocked on neighbors’ doors, asking fallen-away Catholics if they wanted to join her family for Sunday Mass. She hand-wrote tender, pleading letters to encourage shackingup couples to separate and renew chaste relationships. She worked for decades as a counselor at Mary’s Center, a tiny, poorly funded pregnancy center in a tough area of town, where she continually encouraged calloused women to cast their ringed eyes beyond the veil and into the bright hallelujah of their babies’ tiny heartbeat. If walking the unseen sacrificial path of small daily trials marked the identity of her motherhood, it was the rosary that kept pointing her back into those disregarded places.

More than two dozen priests processed down the aisle at Judy Wells’ funeral, wanting to offer their gratitude for her esteem for their priesthood. I think these priests realized that Mom – like our Blessed Mother – expected only heroism from them. In a stunning visual of Marian ferocity, [our priest] Monsignor Esseff shared with me a mental picture of Mary as related to a priest’s relentlessly heroic duty owed as an alter Christus; it was the same picture Mom could have given me…

…“Mary is relentless with me,” he said. “…I see her on the ground taking me into her arms at the Fourth Station, and I’m already completely beat and broken. …she looks down at me and says, ‘Your Father said, “You go and die.” You better do that, son – you undo it.’ And she helps me up so I can move forward with the cross. That’s who Mary is to my priesthood. …I can’t be a priest without this relationship with Mary.”

Excerpt from Kevin Wells’ book, The Priests We Need to Save the Church (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2019), from Chapter 7, “The Blessed Mother,” pp. 101-104 .

KEVIN WELLS, former Major League Baseball writer and award-winning journalist, is an active evangelist who speaks on Catholic topics. He is president of the Monsignor Thomas Wells Society for Vocations, and his work with youth earned him the James Cardinal Hickey National Figure Award from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He lives in Millersville, MD with his wife and children.

Our Lady’s Wardrobe

Anthony DeStefano
Sophia Institute Press, 40 pages


Here’s a unique way to teach young children about Mary, the mother of Jesus: through her clothing. Our Lady’s Wardrobe takes the child through events in Mary’s life, particular mysteries of the rosary, and several of Mary’s more prominent apparitions around the world. The illustrations by Juliana Kolesova are strikingly beautiful, truly colorful and exquisite, and Anthony DeStefano’s simple verses express the story of each Marian scene portrayed. There’s even a word of encouragement to make use of Mary’s sacramentals. It’s an ideal gift book for your young children and grandchildren, one that is sure to enhance their love and appreciation for our Blessed Mother.


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God rewards faithfulness, Mary helps us keep it

In southern Poland, as World War II was beginning in early September 1939, a man named Franciszek brought his wife and two little daughters to the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska near Krakow where the Franciscans ran a Marian shrine. While there, he disappeared briefly behind the shrine walls. Only after the war in 1945 did he reveal what he did at the shrine: he had begged the Blessed Virgin Mary for protection during the war, promising in return to bring a group of parishioners there for the Solemnity of the Assumption each year. He kept this promise, and even after Franciszek’s death in 1992 his family and co-parishioners maintain that pledge every August.

His oldest daughter, Weronika, learned from her father’s example. When the youngest of her three children was almost 12, Weronika, then nearly 39, learned she was pregnant again. Her “best” friends urged her to abort, which she thought about – “You don’t need another problem,” they said – but she wanted the baby. She went to her parish priest for counsel, and decided to keep the child. After nine months, on May 28, 1975, Weronika delivered a beautiful boy named Rafal. Weronika and her husband, Edward, would later have a fifth child, a daughter named Monica.

During the pregnancy with Rafal, Weronika did like her father Franciszek: she asked Our Lady for help and protection. In return, she offered the child to the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her son Jesus. Rafal, the same Father Rafal who writes these words, is now 45.

To not have been aborted is a wonderful gift from my mom in cooperation with God. Every gift is a sign of love and proof that someone thinks about us. It is the same in my life.

I have lived my life in a close relationship with God and His mother Mary. Growing up, the parish church was my second home. In Poland, August, like May, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. During that month you see many groups of people walking to the Shrine of Black Madonna in Czestochowa, the fourth-largest Marian shrine in the world. It is a “Walking Pilgrimage,” and it takes some people 21 days. It is a very old way of penance and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pilgrims carry on their shoulders not only backpacks with food and water, but also many prayer intentions.

Walking Pilgrimage was part of my annual summer vacation. In 1996, after reaching the shrine, my group of 5,000 pilgrims from the Diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec celebrated the Eucharist. We then watched as pilgrims from Krakow arrived. A thought came to my mind, like an offer to God and to Mary: “It would be so nice to serve all those pilgrims here at the shrine.” Two years later, I entered religious life in the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit.

Back to the gifts. The second most precious and important gift I have ever received was the one I received on May 28, 2005, my 30th birthday, from God Himself. At the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the same place I had offered myself to God to serve the pilgrims, I and eight other young men gathered around the altar of Our Lady and were ordained to the priesthood.

This reflection is not about gifts we receive from people, but about God, who is faithful. Saint Paul says, “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3). This is exactly what happens to my family: God guards us “from the evil one.” Therefore, I want to sing with Mary, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Luke 1:46-47).

FATHER RAFAL WALCZYK, O.S.P.P.E. was ordained a priest in 2005 and is a member of the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit. A native of Poland, he currently serves at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA.

Marian Shrine For Mothers – Beckoning All To Christ

People come for peace and to pray at the oldest Marian shrine in the country, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, Florida. It is on the same acre of land where the first mass was celebrated on the Feast of The Nativity of Mary, September 8, 1565, and draws some 200,000 annually to the 20-acre grounds owned by the Diocese of St. Augustine.

“It is a treasure,” according to Bishop Felipe Estevez. “the image of Mary is embracing and feeding the child in the most beautifully feminine way. At a time when many abortions separate the mother from the child, this image is the opposite; it is evangelization through the eyes.”

When Bishop Estevez was transferred to the diocese of St. Augustine nine years ago, he felt the shrine could be better developed as an evangelization opportunity. “I perceived the potential, especially in a city of so many pilgrims and tourists,” he said. “the purpose of the shrine is to bring people to Christ.”


Bishop Estevez began a campaign in 2018 to expand and attract more pilgrims to the “Sacred Acre” where holiness and history intersect. It was on the feast of St. Augustine, August 28, 1565, that General Pedro Menéndez de Avilés of Spain, commander of a fleet of ships sent forth by King Philip II, sighted land. His goal was to establish a colony for Spain and convert the native people to Christianity. On September 8, the feast day of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sailors, soldiers, tradesmen, and priests came ashore. Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales celebrated Mass in honor of the feast.

Following Mass, the Spaniards shared a meal with the native people who had come to watch—56 years before the first Thanksgiving meal in Plymouth. Menéndez christened the land Mission Nombre de Dios (Name of God). It became the starting point for the oldest, nonindigenous city in North America and the first in a network of missions up the Atlantic coast.

Those same tranquil grounds shaded by tall cedar and oak trees became home to the Shrine Our Lady of La Leche, (or La Leche y Buen Parto— Spanish for “Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery”) in 1577 by the Spanish settlers. It is believed this ancient Marian devotion began in a cave in Bethlehem where the Holy Family took refuge while fleeing Herod’s soldiers during the Slaughter of the Innocents. Known today as the Milk Grotto, it is credited with miraculous answers to prayer and is especially popular with both Christian and Muslim women seeking intercession for infertility or problem pregnancies.

King Philip II built a shrine to Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto in a Madrid church, and Spanish settlers established the U.S. shrine to the Blessed Mother in 1577. The ivy-draped, Spanish-styled chapel, reconstructed in 1915, seats about 40. Three earlier structures fell victim to war and hurricanes. Behind the altar, the two-foot wooden statue of Our Lady of La Leche sits on a throne barefoot, with her right foot resting on a pillow. At her breast is the infant Jesus clutching his mother’s dress.

The original statue was lost, believed to have been taken to Cuba during war with the British. Replica statues were later placed in the chapel. The one there now was made in the 1970s and the museum also holds one dating to the 1930s.


“The seeds of Christianity were planted here,” explained Joanna Stark, executive director of the shrine. “Some people come just for the history but then we have that additional opportunity to share our faith and our story.”

Even for Catholic visitors, Stark said that the peace and holiness found there leads many to deeper conversions of faith. “For some, it’s learning more about Mary and for some it’s a deeper conversion.”

A leather-bound book in the chapel contains thousands of intentions and testimonies of answers to prayer. Last March, two dozen roses arrived at the shrine with a note from a 42-year-old woman thanking the Blessed Mother for the birth of her first child.

One couple recently had a memorial tree planted in thanksgiving for the renewal of their marriage. After coming to the chapel to pray, they realized their lack of faith was the problem. The couple recommitted to marriage and faith and planted a tree to memorialize it.

“We want our children to grow up knowing the value of faith in the marriage,” they explained to Stark. “And we want them to have a place to celebrate our marriage and their own marriages.”


Three couples belonging to the Jacksonville Chapter are regular visitors to the shrine. “I believe this is the most important acre in the state of Florida,” says John Clegg, who visits often with his wife Clare. “There is such peace. Pilgrims are not in a rush; they want to observe all that is there and be connected to the Holy Acre.”

The Cleggs, originally from England, first learned of the shrine when they moved from Chicago to Florida 24 years ago. John and Clare are dedicated to pro-life efforts including being involved with Homes of Hope in India where they visited in February. “Our Lady of Le Leche fits right in with our interests and causes for children and the unborn,” John said. “I believe that if enough people pray and visit, it will be a turning point in the abortion issue.”

Mary Pat and Dave Kulik began visiting 30 years ago when their daughters went there on grade school field trips. They go several times a month now. “As soon as you get on the grounds, you feel a sense of sacredness,” Mary Pat said. “Our heavenly mother does that for us.”

One recent Sunday afternoon, she and Dave went to the chapel to pray for a special intention. “It was raining so hard you could barely see the road,” she said. “The number of cars parked here was a surprise—around 50. No matter the dangerous driving conditions due to the weather, the Blessed Mother was drawing us to her, as only she can.”

Jacqueline and Daniel Brown first visited in 2008, praying to conceive a baby. “People would tell me to go there and the Blessed Mother would take care of it,” Jacqueline said. “I would hear, ‘I prayed there and got my baby.’ That’s why I went.

She and Dan had been married for 16 years and had struggled with infertility. “That first time, I just went and prayed,” Jacqueline said. “The beauty of the place and history overwhelmed me.” Instead of a pregnancy, she and Dan came to accept infertility as God’s will. That led to the adoption of their two sons ages nine and eight, from China. “They are such an incredible gift,” Jacqueline said. “I would pick them every time.”

Jacqueline credits Our Lady of La Leche with a deep spiritual healing that began at the shrine. “I now feel massively in love with God, but didn’t then. I did not have a relationship with the Blessed Mother and now I do. I needed the spiritual healing more than physical healing.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.


Expansion And Evangelizing To A Modern World

When hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios was deluged with water and suffered extensive damage forcing it to close for 6 months. But it has been rebuilding better and stronger according to shrine executive director Joanna Stark. “We’ve embarked on a lot but are seeing the grace daily,” she said. Repairs were made and bulkheads were put in to reduce erosions. Being installed now are a pavilion with a covered picnic area, new walkways, signs, mobile maps, and a rosary garden.

Under Bishop Felipe Estevez, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche had already taken on a new life. Two priests from The Immaculate Conception Marian community in Colombia were brought over in 2013 to offer daily Mass and Confession, oversee adoration and minister to the many pilgrims. In 2015, a church on the grounds originally built in 1965 in thanksgiving for aversion of the Cuban Missile Crisis was expanded to accommodate 225 people and renamed as the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.

Bishop Estevez started a campaign in 2018 to promote expansion of the shrine to include a pilgrim center, outdoor amphitheater, and excavation (already begun) of the first chapel, believed to be the oldest stone church in the country. Last year on October 11, the feast of Our Lady of La Leche, he announced that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared the place a national shrine, worthy of pilgrimages. And at the Holy See’s suggestion, there will be a crowning of Our Lady of La Leche this October on her feast day, making it one of only three other Marian sites in the U.S. to have done so.

A notable attraction on the grounds is the stainless steel “Great Cross,” erected in 1966, towering 208 feet high and illuminated at night proclaiming the birth of Christianity in America. Other devotions include Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, monuments of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, a pietà, and Stations of the Cross.


Fruitcake reaches back 2000 years – to Christ

As this season of faith, family, and food approaches, I reminisce not only about holiday seasons past, but also about the original Christmas day so many centuries ago. On a 2013 trip to Israel, I had the privilege of standing in Shepherd’s Field, once traversed by Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, still cradled in His mother’s womb. This was the field where shepherds first saw the rising Christmas star and angels heralded the birth of the newborn king. This was Bethlehem. In Hebrew, “Bet Lehem,” meaning “House of Bread.”

While it may have been wanderlust that brought me to Israel, it was wonder that overcame my senses at every turn of this journey. How can you stand at the genesis of salvation history and not be overcome with wonder? In Bethlehem, I knelt in amazement, as a child does on Christmas morning, when placing my hand on the site of the nativity. I thought of the Magi’s gifts: gold for the child’s kingship, frankincense representing His priestly role, and myrrh foreshadowing the God-man’s destiny on Calvary. There is no greater gift that any of us receive than redemption through the sacrifice of the Bread of Life.

We receive the body and blood of Jesus every Sunday; we break bread with family and friends at meals; we give gifts during the Christmas season in the form of cookies, cakes, and breads. My favorite holiday bread – to give or receive – is fruit bread, which you may know as fruitcake.

According to some researchers, fruit bread was first made 2,000 years ago with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, fruit bread consisted of spices, honey, and fruit preserves. In the 19th century, fruit bread became the traditional wedding cake of England. Fruitcake by any other name is still fruit bread: Italian Panettone, German Stolen, Bulgarian Keks, Mexican Three Kings Bread, Spanish King Cake or Twelfth Night Epiphany Bread, Dutch Ontbijtkoek, Norwegian Julekake, Czech Vanocka, Provence Pompe de Noel, Slovenian Potica, Greek Christopsomo or “Christ Bread,” and Romanian Cozonac.

My gift to you this Christmas season was actually bequeathed to me from my maternal grandmother: her recipe for Super-Moist Fruitcake. Don’t laugh! There is no doubt that this humble yet remarkable dessert will make you wonder why you never tasted such a delicious fruit bread before.

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.


MAMÈRE’S SUPER-MOIST FRUITCAKE • prep time: 3 hours • yields: 1 cake


4 oz. each, candied red and green cherries
8 oz. candied pineapple, coarsely chopped
8 oz. packaged pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 c. raisins
1 c. Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries
1 c. each, chopped pecans and walnuts
3 c. self-rising flour, divided
4 large eggs
1½ c. sugar
1 c. melted butter
2 tsps ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. pineapple juice
½ c. brandy
6 each, candied red cherries and green cherries, optional
additional brandy or cognac for flavoring, optional


Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease one (10-inch) tube pan, set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine fruit and nuts with 1 cup flour until well coated. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and melted butter, blending well with spatula. Continue to stir, while slowly adding remaining flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pineapple juice. Whip ingredients thoroughly until well blended. Add fruit-nut mixture and ½ cup brandy; then mix until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into greased tube pan and bake approximately 2½ hours or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
NOTE: After 1½ hours of cooking, you may wish to gently press 6 candied red cherries and 6 candied green cherries into the top of the fruitcake for decorative purposes. Continue to cook for the remaining hour. Once cake is done, remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, cover with aluminum foil and store in refrigerator. From time to time, ladle 1 or 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac over cake for a spiked flavoring.
NOTE: You may wish to bake 4 or 5 of these cakes at a time and offer them as Christmas gifts to family and friends.

Priest presents largest relics collection – with piece from Cross, Mary’s veil


Father Carlos Martins, a Companions of the Cross priest, will be bringing the world’s largest collection of saints’ relics – outside those at the Vatican – to the 2020 Legatus Summit.

Father Martins has been running the Treasures of the Church ministry for more than 23 years, and presents 200 to 250 expositions each year around the world. Numerous conversions and healings have been reported from people who have encountered the relics of some of the Church’s greatest saints.

In an interview with Legatus magazine, Father Martins described his ministry and the spiritual value of relics. More information is available on his website, www. TreasuresOfTheChurch.com.

What will you be presenting at the 2020 Legatus Summit?

I bring a Vatican exhibit of approximately 150 relics, including those of St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. The supreme highlight is one of the largest certified relics of the True Cross in the world, and a piece of the Veil of Our Lady. The Vatican grants for all in attendance a special plenary indulgence which it has attached to Treasures of the Church. I will be explaining that indulgence and how to obtain it as part of the event.

What is Treasures of the Church?

Treasures of the Church is a ministry of evangelization. Its purpose is to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with relics of his saints in the form of an exposition. I begin each exposition with a presentation and teaching on relics which provide the catechetical and spiritual basis for, what I call, the Walk with the Saints that follows the presentation. The point of the teaching is to present the basic Gospel message of Jesus Christ: that God is here right now, and wants to be encountered; He touches us through the lives and the sacred remains of His saints.

What have been the responses to your ministry?

God never disappoints … He always “shows up.” There are healings at every exposition. Thousands have been reported to me over the decades. I have seen cancer, heart disease, tumors, osteoporosis, physical deformities, etc., disappear immediately and completely. Though a great number of miracles have been physical, the most spectacular are the healing of faith where a new and deeper relationship with God and His saints are formed in the faithful. It is a most wonderful thing to see a parish, school, or prison renewed after an exposition. That is the reason why I have this ministry.

How did you acquire your collection of saints’ relics?

I work with the Holy See, thus acquiring relics for the ministry is part of my job. The Vatican is “relic central.” The collection changes regularly. Relics are swapped in and swapped out, depending upon such things as where in the world the ministry will be. If certain saints are particularly beloved in a certain part of the world, I will try to include their relics on that particular tour.

What spiritual value do relics have for Catholics?

The veneration of relics is a communion with the heroes of our Christian faith, asking for their powerful intercession. As St. Paul tells us, they are members of the Body of Christ. One day, the very remains that we are looking at within a particular reliquary will be resurrected and re-united with the soul of its saint. Nevertheless, that soul, who is even now beholding God face to face, is just as present to their mortal remains here and now. In some sense, one can say that the closest you can get to a saint is through their relics. And people are very touched by that reality.

Any other thoughts?

Attendees are encouraged to bring their articles of devotion (such as rosaries, holy cards, etc.) and pictures of ill friends/family members which may be touched to the reliquaries as a means of intercessory prayer.

Mary and my brace of Saints

All my life, I had the custom of writing JMJ on the top of every piece of paper I wrote on. This was a common practice in my day. I remember Bishop Fulton Sheen used to do it on the top of his chalk board on his TV show. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are certainly the three people most central to salvation history. Jesus, of course, as the second person of the Trinity is not only man, but is God. Mary, who is the Mother of God, has long been venerated as the Queen of the Angles and Saints; and St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, among many other titles, is honored as the Patron of the Universal Church.

Tom Monaghan

Over time, I have added four more saints to the list. First, my patron saint, St. Thomas the Apostle. Then, being Irish, I invoke St. Patrick’s intercession; without him, I probably would not be Catholic, nor most of us who are of European descent. It is said that he was blessed with the same power as the Apostles to work miracles, even raising the dead. Recently, after learning about St. Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of the impossible, I added her to my list. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. And finally is St. Sharbel, whom I learned about from the Maronite monks who serve our chapel community at Domino’s Farms. (They celebrate four Masses daily and hear about 500 confessions weekly.) St. Sharbel is the patron saint of the Maronites, and is referred to as one of the greatest saints of our time.

I am not aware of any saints who are responsible for more miracles than Saints Patrick, Rita, and Sharbel. Bing Crosby used to refer to the Mills Brothers as a “brace” of guys. I liked the sound of that and adopted it to describe my short litany of saints. I ask for the intercession of Mary and my brace of saints every time I pick up a sheet of paper to write on. I also ask for their intercession every day after I receive Communion, as I pray for humility, charity, and for whatever other intentions I have at the time.

As we start the month of November with the Feast of All Saints, I thought I would share my personal devotion to Mary, and my brace of saints. The Church encourages us to develop relationships with saints – whether it be those who share our baptismal or confirmation name or those who we have just a special devotion to. So, during this month, maybe think about coming up with your own personal litany of saints.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.