Tag Archives: Saints

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: August 1
Canonized: May 26, 1839
Patron of confessors, Naples

St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church, was born to nobility near Naples. Though a gifted theologian and writer, he was also a poet, harpsichordist, musical composer, and artist.

A successful young lawyer, he began considering leaving law after losing an important case – realizing the futile vanity of pursuing worldly glory. At 27, he heard an interior voice: “Leave the world and give yourself to Me.” 

He was thus ordained a priest at 30. In 1732, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), for preaching inspiring missions. Upon hearing Alphonsus’ sermon in church one day, his father exclaimed: “My son has made God known to me!”

A prolific writer and teacher, known for penning The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross (still used for Lenten devotions), he vowed never to waste a moment – spending his life praying, working, and composing some 111 works. He died at 91, on Aug. 1, 1787, in Pagani, Italy. Pope Pius VII beatified him in 1816; he was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

Feast Day: July 14
Canonization: October 21, 2012
Patron of Native Americans, ecologists, the environment, people in exile.

The “Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, located in present-day upstate New York. Her father was a Mohawk war chief and her mother was a Christian Algonquin Indian.

The young future saint’s parents gave her the name Tekakwitha, which means “she who puts things in order.” When Tekakwitha was 4 years old, smallpox swept through her village, killing many members of the tribe, including her parents and a brother. Tekakwitha also fell ill, but she was nursed back to health, though with weak eyes and a scarred face.

At age 20, Tekakwitha was baptized by a Jesuit missionary priest, who in his writings later said she displayed a deep understanding of the faith and an uncommon mysticism and contemplative spirituality. She experienced persecution from other Mohawk members but held fast to her Christian faith.

At age 24, she fell ill and died on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17, 1680. Her last words were said to be Iesos konoronkwa (“Jesus, I love you”).

St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

Feast Day: June 22
Canonization: May 19, 1935

Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and politicians, was born in London in 1478, son of a prominent attorney and judge during the reign of Edward IV.

Those connections helped his future station. In 1504, he was elected to Parliament, representing Great Yarmouth and London. In 1514, More became a Privy Counselor.

Beginning in 1517, young King Henry VIII befriended More as close confidante, promoting him to important posts, knighting him in 1521, and appointing him undertreasurer of the Exchequer. More would later be the first layman appointed Lord Chancellor.

A devout Catholic husband and father, More was known for piety and skills as theologian and writer. But his reputation did not stop King Henry VIII from imprisoning his former chancellor for refusing recognition of Henry’s “marriage” to his mistress, Anne Boleyn. More also refused an oath recognizing Henry as the head of the Church in England.

Imprisoned over a year in the Tower of London, More was convicted of treason and beheaded in July 1535. His last words were, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

St. Athanasius (297-373 AD)

Feast Day: May 2
Canonization: Pre-congregation
Doctor of the Church; Father of Orthodoxy; Patron of Theologians

Born to an Egyptian Christian family in the late 3rd century, Athanasius became the 20th bishop of Alexandria. He is best known for refuting the Arian heresy, which suggested that Christ was made, not begotten, by God the Father.

As a deacon, Athanasius served as Bishop Alexander’s secretary at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. A gifted theologian, Athanasius suggested the term consubstantial — which the Council adopted — to say that Christ was of the same substance as God the Father.

Athanasius was also a strong defender of the Incarnation, and of the Blessed Virgin’s role in salvation history. In a 4th century letter, he wrote that the Eternal Word of God took on human nature from His mother.

“Even when the Word takes a body from Mary, the Trinity remains a Trinity, with neither increase nor decrease. It is forever perfect,” wrote Athanasius, who was exiled at least five times for his defense of orthodox Christian teaching.

Athanasius died in Alexandria on May 2, 373 AD. His relics are venerated in Venice and Cairo.

St. Teresa of the Andes (1900-1920)

Feast Day: April 12
Canonization: March 21, 1993
Patroness of Ill People, Youth, and Against Illness

Juana Enriqueta Josefina Fernandez Solar was born July 13, 1900 in Santiago, Chile. The fourth of six children, from childhood she demonstrated an openness to the spiritual life.

Educated by French nuns from the Sacred Heart order, she read St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography which had a profound effect on her. She was inspired to overcome self-centered character traits.

At 14, she consecrated herself and became a religious. In May 1919, she entered the Discalced Carmelites in Los Andes, and was given the religious name, “Teresa of Jesus.”

Sister Teresa of Jesus was in religious life only briefly. She might have contracted typhus, though some historians suggest it was Spanish Flu. She professed religious vows on April 7, 1920, and died five days later, three months shy of her 20th birthday.

Pope St. John Paul II beatified and canonized St. Teresa, the first Chilean declared a saint, and the first Discalced Carmelite outside Europe to be canonized. An estimated 100,000 pilgrims every year visit the shrine in Los Andes where her relics are venerated.

St. Oscar Romero (1917-1980)

Feast Day: March 24
Canonization: October 14, 2018
Patron of El Salvador, The Americas

Oscar Romero’s appointment in February 1977 as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador was seen as a victory for El Salvador’s right-wing military regime and the country’s ruling class. As priest and bishop, the mild-mannered Romero showed little interest in social activism.

But widespread violence and injustice, much under the auspices of the government, spurred Romero’s transformation into an outspoken cleric who would become a prophetic figure in El Salvador.

The archbishop attended to the poor and marginalized, speaking against government brutality. During the country’s 12-year civil war beginning in 1980, Romero often accompanied his flock in retrieving bodies of their deceased.

Romero made enemies in the episcopate and among El Salvador’s ruling class. On March 24, 1980, a sniper shot the 62-year-old archbishop through the heart while he celebrated Mass. The assassin was never convicted.

Pope Francis canonized Archbishop Romero on Oct. 14, 2018. Latin America’s poor and many worldwide remain ever devoted to “Monseñor Romero,” their new patron of El Salvador and the Americas.

Blessed Pope Pius IX (1792-1878)

Feast Day: February 7
Beatification: September 3, 2000
Patron of the First Vatican Council, Diocese of Senigallia.

Blessed Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in Senigallia, Italy, was the longest-reigning pontiff in Church history, governing the Church for 32 years from 1846 to 1878.

His pontificate was a consequential one. On Dec. 8, 1854, he defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He thus promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart, to the Immaculate Conception, and declared St. Francis de Sales a doctor of the church. In 1864, his renowned Syllabus of Errors condemned liberalism, modernism, moral relativism, secularization, and the separation of church and state.

In 1869, he convened the First Vatican Council, which formally decreed papal infallibility.

Pius IX was the last pope to rule as Sovereign of the Papal States, which fell to Italian nationalist armies in 1870 and were incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy.

St. Pope John Paul II beatified Pius IX in 2000. He is patron of the Diocese of Senigallia in Le Marche (Italy), and of Vatican I.

Spiritual ventures enkindle the soul

Legatus’ fall 2018 Mexico and Rome pilgrimages were magnificent excursions for intensifying faith, appreciating salvation history, and reinvigorating the fervor of today’s Ambassadors for Christ – for sharing with family and colleagues for years to come.

Miracle of Guadalupe

The four-day Our Lady of Guadalupe Family Mission Pilgrimage, September 7-10, has greatly increased in popularity. Legatus hosted its largest group yet with over 80 legates, extended families and friends.

Jacksonville members Tom and Glory Sullivan extended heartfelt promotion for the pilgrimage, having taken the trip some 30 times, affected more deeply each time by its spiritual worth. This year it was condensed to a long weekend, enabling more families to participate, as well as the two accompanying chaplains. Fr. Jeremy Davis, SOLT (who runs a school in Mexico for neglected children), and Boston’s Fr. Michael Drea, national chaplain for FOCUS, supported pilgrims with offering daily Mass, along with spiritual counsel and insights.

The group visited the world-famous Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe – the most visited shrine in Christendom. They walked the correlating site at Tepeyac Hill of Our Lady’s 16th-century apparitions to St. Juan Diego (whose tilma still shows her miraculous image, and which is prominently displayed at the Shrine). The tilma holds the world’s only apparition-result which can still be seen.

Pilgrims likewise spent a full day at Girlstown (Chalco, MX), founded by the late Venerable Father Aloysius Schwartz, continued to presentday by the Sisters of Mary. Visiting with the 3,500 underprivileged orphan girls of Childrens Village there has a profound effect. Many American youth could never envision these girls’ lives – especially their love of life – without the up-close experience they get on this pilgrimage.

One young teenager from Ohio, after interacting with the girls, was inspired to organize a new fundraising campaign for them and the Sisters of Mary

In a time resigned to youth leaving the Church, or seeing them as disinterested in Her truths and history, this year’s pilgrimage saw many engaged with great zeal.

“We had more youth on this year’s trip than ever before,” said Glory Sullivan, “and they add a totally different and wholesome dynamic to it.” The Sullivans said that many parents and grandparents bring their young family members on the pilgrimage – to expose them firsthand to the Miracle of Guadalupe, the Shrine, and the charitable work at Girlstown.

“It has literally changed some kids’ lives,” Glory said. “They engage with faith, hope, and charity like never before.” And they return home incredibly transformed in spirit. The 2019 pilgrimage is set for September 6-9.

Eternal City – the Church’s home

From October 5-12, Legatus pilgrims enjoyed an exclusive immersion in the Eternal City – Rome – during its most enjoyable travel season.

A special opening Mass was offered at Sant’Anna dei Palafrenieri – the pontifical parish church of the Vatican dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Mary. Germany’s Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the main celebrant, concelebrating with Monsignor Joseph Schaedel, Indianapolis Chapter chaplain who led the trip.

A exclusive visit to the Swiss guard barracks was guided by former Swiss guard Dr. Mario Enzler, with his one-of-a-kind insights on living and working for three years among Pope Saint John Paul II’s special protective contingent. Later working as an investment banker, and today as professor of finance at Catholic University of America, he says of that special time with John Paul II, “I served a saint,” whom he believes made him a better man, executive, and leader.

Guided walking tours of Rome’s St. Mary Major, St. Pudenziana, and St. Praxedes Basilicas were taken after a special pasta-making lunch at Passetto Ristorante, one of the city’s most revered restaurants near Piazza Navona, known worldwide for its fresh, authentic regional dishes.

A day trip to the ancient hill town of Orvieto, a few hours north, featured old-town shopping and visits to its famed churches including Mass at Chapel of La Badia di Orvieto, a beautiful 12th-century restored abbey, which today also encompasses an adjacent hotel and restaurant. As Orvieto is also a wine-producing town, pilgrims enjoyed a special local-tasting before a private dinner at La Badia.

After savoring a special lunch with seminarians at the North American College in Rome, pilgrims enjoyed a private evening meeting and reception with the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, at the ambassador’s residence in Rome.

A day-long Vatican-vicinity walking tour included Mass in St. Peter’s Crypt, and included small-group Scavi Tours beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, tours of the main Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, the Pantheon, Coliseum, Roman Forum, and other churches throughout Rome. Sites were specially hostguided by well-known Church and art historian Liz Lev. The group even paid a visit to Saint Mother Teresa’s residence in Rome, where they had the opportunity to pray in her cell and attend Adoration with the Sisters of Charity in their convent.

Finally, Legate pilgrims attended a special Wednesday audience with Pope Francis, meeting the Holy Father personally, and having keepsake photos taken with him.

One Legate said, “Just being, existing, and breathing in such holy places — and learning so much more about our faith” made every minute worthwhile.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Father Flanagan’s Visionary Cause Takes Modern Focus

On the morning of the dedication of a life-sized statue of Father Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, rain poured down in his hometown of Ballymoe, Ireland. Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society and vice postulator of his cause for canonization, checked the weather. Rain was forecast throughout the country all day.

Wolf had traveled from Omaha, Nebraska to the little Irish village of 250 people. He brought with him the statue purchased by alumni of Boys Town to honor the famous priest.

Father Flanagan was born on July 13, 1886 in a whitewashed limestone, thatched-roof cottage, the eighth of 11 children in a hard-working farm family. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and was ordained a priest in 1912.

Tom Lynch, director of Community Programs at Boys Town and also director of their Hall of History Museum, explained that Father Flanagan came to Omaha as a diocesan priest to be with his older brother Patrick, who was also a priest.

ROOTS OF BOYS TOWN

“Father Flanagan saw men living on the streets, so he opened a shelter and called it a working men’s hotel,” Lynch said. Over time, men started showing up with drug and alcohol and mental problems. What they had in common were broken families, no education, and no skills. It inspired Father Flanagan to seek out homeless boys living in junk yards, railroad yards, and even prisons and offer them a better life.

“He went to a Jewish friend and borrowed $90 to rent his first home in 1917,” Lynch explained. “It was an old mansion that had been converted to a boarding house. In two weeks, he had 70 boys. By 1920 he needed a bigger facility to house them.” A priest with a crowd of homeless boys of different races and religions was not especially welcomed in neighborhoods, according to Lynch. Father Flanagan rented another building for a while until he was able to buy the Overlook Farm, about 10 miles west of Omaha.

“The property was beautiful with orchards and crops in the field, and a lake for swimming and fishing,” Lynch said. “Father Flanagan announced: ‘We are free and independent, we will build our own village.’” It was the start of Boys Town.

By the 1940s, the village had expanded to over 1,000 acres. At the public school, some boys were discriminated against and on average, they were around three years behind so Father Flanagan started a school for them. He created individual learning programs and also taught them trades. Church on Sunday was mandatory, but the denomination was of their own choosing. Father Flanagan had said, “Every boy must learn to pray; how he prays is up to him.”

ABUSE IN IRELAND

Father Flanagan was a social reformer, protecting the rights of children, fighting racism, closing reformatories, and insisting that every child had a right to basic necessities. The boys flourished under his supervision. At this same time, however, children in his homeland were not doing so well. In 1946, Father Flanagan received letters from Ireland begging him to investigate religious-run industrial schools that served poor and homeless children and unwed mothers. He went unannounced and was shocked.

After he returned to the U.S., Father Flanagan wrote letters to key people and spoke to a reporter, calling the institutions a disgrace where children were treated harshly and abused. The Irish government was furious and denounced him in the Irish parliament. Undeterred, Father Flanagan vowed to return to clean things up. However, after World War II ended, President Truman asked him to assist governments with programs for war orphans in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Austria, and Germany.

Father Flanagan complied with the president’s request in 1947-1948, planning to then get back to Ireland. He died of a heart attack in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 1948, however. Sadly, it would be another four decades before the truth became public. Beginning in the 1990s, a series of criminal cases and Irish government enquiries established that hundreds of priests had abused thousands of children over decades. If only Father Flanagan had been listened to.

DEDICATION DAY

Back in Ireland, before the dedication ceremony in November 2001, Wolf and 40 other Boys Town alumni climbed onto a bus outside their hotel, 10 miles from the village of Ballymoe. “It’s not going to rain on Father Flanagan’s day,” Wolf announced to the others. People smiled at his optimism. The rain kept coming though. There would be three bishops, the papal nuncio to Ireland, the U.S. ambassador, members of the Irish government, and a letter from their president would be read, and the Celtic Tenors would sing the U.S. and Irish national anthems.

As the bus rolled along on bumpy, country roads, the rain slowed. By the time they pulled into the village, where 1,800 would come for the ceremony, the clouds parted. The ceremony took place under a blue sky. After the ceremony, clouds moved back in and the rain resumed.

Many “God-things” seem to happen when Father Flanagan is involved, according to Wolf. He lived at Boys Town as a 14-year-old runaway from a single-parent home. Wolf graduated from high school at Boys Town where he had been the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Army National Guard while he was still a senior, which he just retired from after 38 years. He went on to earn a degree in journalism and master’s degree in public administration.

Wolf did not convert to the Catholic faith until years later when he had a family of his own and was a board member of the National Boys Town Alumni Association. “When I talk to other alumni, every single one of us calls that place home,” he said. “The essential ingredient is love. For that ingredient to be there for everyone, that’s God’s love and that’s what ties us all together. Father Flanagan would say, ‘It’s not my work, it’s God’s work.’”

CAUSE FOR CANONIZATION

In May of 2017, Omaha’s three-year investigation into Father Flanagan’s life received a decree of judicial validity by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, according to Father Ryan Lewis, the archbishop’s episcopal delegate for the Cause and also chaplain for the Omaha Legatus Chapter. The next step is to determine if “Servant of God” Father Flanagan lived a life of heroic virtue. If so, he will advance to the status of “venerable.” Generally, a miracle credited to his intercession will be required for beatification, and a second miracle for canonization.

Many Legates of the Omaha Chapter are also members of the Father Flanagan Guild, promoting his cause for canonization. Mass prior to the monthly meetings takes place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Boys Town where the nave on the west side holds Father Flanagan’s tomb.

“With the sexual abuse crises across the globe, to lift up someone like Father Flanagan at this time—an American priest who worked with youth and who did so in a heroic, dare I say in a saintly way—is an example that we need now more than ever,” said Father Lewis. “At a time when morale is down among priests, we can look to him with great pride that he was one of ours.”

Father Flanagan’s work lives on. Boys Town began accepting girls in 1979 and has become a national organization with programs across the country including in-home family counseling and programs for schools.

For more information about Father Flanagan, to download prayers, or to plan a pilgrimage with Mass and a visit to his tomb, go to www. fatherflanagan.org.

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing write

 

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Feast Day: January 28
Canonization: July 18, 1323
Patron of academics, philosophers, booksellers, and scholars.

The Angelic Doctor’s influence on Western thought cannot be overstated. Much of modern philosophy evolved in support of or opposition to ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, the humble 13th-century Dominican friar and father of Thomism, which says reason is found in God.

Among his many teachings, St. Thomas taught man’s spiritual renewal comes through the Holy Spirit, saying that as one comes to new and fuller knowledge of God, he is renewed in soul.

Thomas relatives who, appalled at his decision to forgo a promising career to join the Dominicans, attempted to surround him with great worldly temptations.

His best known work is the Summa Theologica, a compendium of Catholic teachings considered the chief classic in Christian philosophy and among the most influential works of Western literature.

He is said to have heard the Lord say, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have?” Thomas simply said, “Nothing but you, Lord.”

St. Thomas’ feast day is Jan. 28. Pope St. Pius V declared him a doctor of the Church in 1567.