The New Evangelization - America








BLESSED ANTÔNIO DE SANT’ANNA GALVÃO
Priest - AD 1822

Bl. Antonio de Sant'Anna Galvao was born in 1739 in Guaratinguetá, São Paulo, Brazil, to a deeply religious family of high social standing. When he was 13, his father sent him to the Jesuit seminary In Belém, but on account of the anti-Jesuit climate, his father later recommended that he pursue his vocation with the Alcantarine Franciscans instead. 

On 15 April 1760, he entered the noviciate at St Bonaventure Friary in Macacu, Rio de Janeiro. After making his solemn profession in 1761, he was ordained a priest on 11 June 1762 and was sent to St Francis Friary in Sao Paulo, where in 1768 he was appointed preacher, confessor of the laity and porter. 

In 1769-70 he served as confessor to the "Recolhimento" of some devout women, the Recollects of St Teresa in Sao Paulo. Here he met Sr Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit, who said she had visions in which Jesus was asking her to make a new "Recolhimento". The new foundation, Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence, was established on 2 February 1774 and modeled on the Conceptionists. In its early days, it accepted young girls who wished to live as religious without being bound by vows. 

After Sr Helena's unexpected death in 1775, Friar Galvao showed humility and prudence in caring for the Recollects. Due to the great number of vocations, more space was required. It took him 28 years to build the convent and the church, which was dedicated on 15 August 1802. Friar Galvao gave his full attention to the Recollects' formation. His principal work is the excellent Rule or Statute he wrote for them, which clearly reveals his personality. In 1929 this convent became a monastery, incorporated into the Order of the Immaculate Conception. 

In 1781 Friar Galvao was appointed novice master in Macacu and in 1798, guardian of St Francis Friary in Sao Paulo. He was reelected in 1801. But the "Recollects da Luz" and the Bishop of Sao Paulo appealed to the Provincial: "None of the inhabitants of this city will be able to bear the absence of this religious for a single moment ... ". As a result, he returned. In 1802 he became definitor and in 1808, visitator general and president of the Chapter, but was forced to give up these posts for reasons of health. 

In 1811 he founded St Clare Friary in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo. After 11 months, he returned to Sao Paulo to St Francis Friary. In his old age, he obtained permission from the Bishop and the guardian to stay at the Recolhimento da Luz. He died on 23 December 1822. 

Friar Galvao was buried in the Recholhimento church, and his tomb continues to be a destination for pilgrimages of the faithful, who obtain graces through the intercession of this "man of peace and charity", the founder of the "Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz".


BLESSED ELIAS del SOCORRO NIEVES
Priest & Martyr - AD 1928

Bl. Elias del Socorro Nieves was born on the Island of San Pedro, Yuriria, Guanajuato, Mexico on 21 September 1882 into a modest but deeply religious peasant family. He early expressed his desire to be a priest but circumstances prevented it: at the age of 12 tuberculosis brought him to death's door, then his father was killed and he was obliged to earn the family's keep. Despite his adult age and scarce preparation he was admitted to the Augustinian college of Yuriria in 1904. He overcame his frailty and inevitable difficulties in his studies with determination, never failing to find the financial help he required, so that when he took his vows in 1911 he changed his name from Mateo Elias to Elias del Socorro. He was ordained a priest in 1916. In 1921 he was appointed parochial vicar of La Canada de Caracheo, a village then isolated and extremely poor. At the time when the "Christeros" movement started as a popular reaction to the religious persecution, instead of obeying the Government's orders to settle in a large city, he moved to a village in the nearby hills of La Gavia, thus assuring his faithful of his continued religious assistance, usually given under cover of night. After 14 months of this clandestine ministry, together with two ranchers who had offered to accompany him, he was arrested by a military patrol. Soldiers and prisoners set out at dawn on 10 March 1928, for the small local capital of Cortazar. On the way, the captain gave orders to shoot the two ranchers; they died proclaiming Christ the King as victor. At the next halt, the captain said to Fr Nieves, "Now it is your turn: let us see if dying is like saying Mass", to which he answered, "You have spoken the truth, because to die for the faith is a sacrifice pleasing to God". He blessed the soldiers and began to recite the Creed. His last words were "Long live Christ the King".


ST ELIZABETH BAYLEY SETON
Widow & Foundress – AD 1821
Feast: January 4

ELIZABETH was born in New York of a very distinguished family on August 28, 1774. Her mother Catherine Charlton was the daughter of the Episcopalian Rector of St Andrew's church, Staten Island, while her father Dr Richard Bayley was not only a noted physician, but also professor of anatomy at King's College, an institution later to develop into Columbia University. It was her father who undertook in a somewhat unorthodox fashion, though with remarkable success, Elizabeth's education, for her mother died when she was only three years old. In 1794 Elizabeth married a young merchant of ample means, William Magee Seton, and she bore him two sons and three daughters. But their happiness was short-lived. William Seton lost his fortune, and with it his health, and though they went to Italy in an attempt to effect a cure, William died there in December 1803. His widow remained on in Italy, staying with friends, until the May of the following year, and during that time her natural piety was strongly attracted to Roman Catholicism. When, upon her return to the United States, this attraction became apparent, she met a good deal of opposition from her family and her friends. Nonetheless she persevered, and on March 14, 1805 she was received into the Catholic Church. This step, which estranged her from her family, left her in some financial difficulty. She therefore welcomed the invitation from a priest to establish a school for girls in Baltimore. The school opened in June 1808. Even while her husband had been alive, Elizabeth had devoted much time to the care of the poor in New York, and had founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children. So active had she and her friends been, that Elizabeth became known in the city as 'the Protestant Sister of Charity'. Now in Baltimore she again gathered around her a group of like-minded women, and there was the possibility of establishing formally a congregation of nuns. In the Spring of 1809 the community based on the school in Baltimore formed a community, the Sisters of St Joseph, and from that time onwards Elizabeth, as their superior, was known as Mother Seton.In the June of that same year Mother Seton and her community moved to the town of Emmitsburg in north-west Maryland and there, with some modifications and adaptations, the Sisters took over the rule of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. The congregation from 1812 onwards was therefore known as the Daughters of Charity of St Joseph. It spread rapidly. The sisters established orphanages and hospitals, but they gained most renown for their commitment to the then burgeoning parochial school system, which became one of the glories of the Catholic Church in the United States. In moments caught from running her congregation, Mother Seton not only herself worked with the poor and with the sick, but found time to compose music, write hymns and prepare spiritual discourses, many of which have since been published. It was at Emmitsburg that Elizabeth died, on January 4, 1821, by which date her congregation, the first to be founded in America, numbered some twenty communities spread right across the United States. Her cause was introduced in 1907 by Cardinal Gibbons, himself the successor in the see of Baltimore of Archbishop James Roosevelt Bayley, a nephew of Mother Seton, and she was canonized in 1975. She is the first native-born North American to be raised to the altars.


Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
Virgin &  Foundress - AD 1917 
Feast:
November 13

As saint of our own time and as the first United States citizen to be elevated to sainthood, Mother Cabrini has a double claim on our interest. Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and pioneer worker for the welfare of dispersed Italian nationals, this diminutive nun was responsible for the establishment of nearly seventy orphanages, schools, and hospitals, scattered over eight countries in Europe, North, South, and Central America. Still living are pupils, colleagues, and friends who remember Mother Cabrini vividly; her spirit continues to inspire the nuns who received their training at her hands. Since the record remains fresh in memory, and since the saint's letters and diaries have been carefully preserved, we have more authentic information about her, especially of the formative years, than we have concerning any other saint.

Francesca Cabrini was born on July 15, 1850, in the village of Sant' Angelo, on the outskirts of Lodi, about twenty miles from Milan, in the pleasant, fertile Lombardy plain. She was the thirteenth child of a farmer's family, her father Agostino being the proprietor of a modest estate. The home into which she was born was a comfortable, attractive place for children, with its flowering vines, its gardens, and animals; but its serenity and security was in strong contrast with the confusion of the times. Italy had succeeded in throwing off the Austrian yoke and was moving towards unity. Agostino and his wife Stella were conservative people who took no part in the political upheavals around them, although some of their relatives were deeply concerned in the struggle, and one, Agostino Depretis, later became prime minister. Sturdy and pious, the Cabrinis were devoted to their home, their children, and their Church. Signora Cabrini was fifty-two when Francesca was born, and the tiny baby seemed so fragile at birth that she was carried to the church for baptism at once. No one would have ventured to predict then that she would not only survive but live out sixty-seven extraordinarily active and productive years. Villagers and members of the family recalled later that just before her birth a flock of white doves circled around high above the house, and one of them dropped down to nestle in the vines that covered the walls. The father took the bird, showed it to his children, then released it to fly away.

Since the mother had so many cares, the oldest daughter, Rosa, assumed charge of the newest arrival. She made the little Cecchina, for so the family called the baby, her companion, carried her on errands around the village, later taught her to knit and sew, and gave her religious instruction. In preparation for her future career as a teacher, Rosa was inclined to be severe. Her small sister's nature was quite the reverse; Cecchina was gay and smiling and teachable. Agostino was in the habit of reading aloud to his children, all gathered together in the big kitchen. He often read from a book of missionary stories, which fired little Cecchina's imagination. In her play, her dolls became holy nuns. When she went on a visit to her uncle, a priest who lived beside a swift canal, she made little boats of paper, dropped violets in them, called the flowers missionaries, and launched them to sail off to India and China. Once, playing thus, she tumbled into the water, but was quickly rescued and suffered only shock from the accident.

At thirteen Francesca was sent to a private school kept by the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. Here she remained for five years, taking the course that led to a teacher's certificate. Rosa had by this time been teaching for some years. At eighteen Francesca passed her examinations, cum laude, and then applied for admission into the convent, in the hope that she might some day be sent as a teacher to the Orient. When, on account of her health, her application was turned down, she resolved to devote herself to a life of lay service. At home she shared wholeheartedly in the domestic tasks. Within the next few years she had the sorrow of losing both her parents. An epidemic of smallpox later ran through the village, and she threw herself into nursing the stricken. Eventually she caught the disease herself, but Rosa, now grown much gentler, nursed her so skillfully that she recovered promptly, with no disfigurement. Her oval face, with its large expressive blue eyes, was beginning to show the beauty that in time became so striking.

Francesca was offered a temporary position as substitute teacher in a village school, a mile or so away. Thankful for this chance to practice her profession, she accepted, learning much from her brief experience. She then again applied for admission to the convent of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, and might have been accepted, for her health was now much improved. However, the rector of the parish, Father Antonio Serrati, had been observing her ardent spirit of service and was making other plans for her future. He therefore advised the Mother Superior to turn her down once more.

Father Serrati, soon to be Monsignor Serrati, was to remain Francesca's lifelong friend and adviser. From the start he had great confidence in her abilities, and now he gave her a most difficult task. She was to go to a disorganized and badly run orphanage in the nearby town of Cadogno, called the House of Providence. It had been started by two wholly incompetent laywomen, one of whom had given the money for its endowment. Now Francesca was charged "to put things right," a large order in view of her youth-she was but twenty-four-and the complicated human factors in the situation. The next six years were a period of training in tact and diplomacy, as well as in the everyday, practical problems of running such an institution. She worked quietly and effectively, in the face of jealous opposition, devoting herself to the young girls under her supervision and winning their affection and cooperation. Francesca assumed the nun's habit, and in three years took her vows. By this time her ecclesiastical superiors were impressed by her performance and made her Mother Superior of the institution. For three years more she carried on, and then, as the foundress had grown more and more erratic, the House of Providence was dissolved. Francesca had under her at the time seven young nuns whom she had trained. Now they were all homeless.

At this juncture the bishop of Lodi sent for her and offered a suggestion that was to determine the nun's life work. He wished her to found a missionary order of women to serve in his diocese. She accepted the opportunity gratefully and soon discovered a house which she thought suitable, an abandoned Franciscan friary in Cadogno. The building was purchased, the sisters moved in and began to make the place habitable. Almost immediately it became a busy hive of activity. They received orphans and foundlings, opened a day school to help pay expenses, started classes in needlework and sold their fine embroidery to earn a little more money. Meanwhile, in the midst of superintending all these activities, Francesca, now Mother Cabrini, was drawing up a simple rule for the institute. As one patron, she chose St. Francis de Sales, and as another, her own name saint, St. Francis Xavier. The rule was simple, and the habit she devised for the hard-working nuns was correspondingly simple, without the luxury of elaborate linen or starched headdress. They even carried their rosaries in their pockets, to be less encumbered while going about their tasks. The name chosen for the order was the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

With the success of the institute and the growing reputation of its young founder, many postulants came asking for admission, more than the limited quarters could accommodate. The nuns' resources were now, as always, at a low level; nevertheless, expansion seemed necessary. Unable to hire labor, they undertook to be their own builders. One nun was the daughter of a bricklayer, and she showed the others how to lay bricks. The new walls were actually going up under her direction, when the local authorities stepped in and insisted that the walls must be buttressed for safety. The nuns obeyed, and with some outside help went on with the job, knowing they were working to meet a real need. The townspeople could not, of course, remain indifferent in the face of such determination. After two years another mission was started by Mother Cabrini, at Cremona, and then a boarding school for girls at the provincial capital of Milan. The latter was the first of many such schools, which in time were to become a source of income and also of novices to carry on the ever-expanding work. Within seven years seven institutions of various kinds, each founded to meet some critical need, were in operation, all staffed by nuns trained under Mother Cabrini.

In September, 1887, came the nun's first trip to Rome, always a momentous event in the life of any religious. In her case it was to mark the opening of a much broader field of activity. Now, in her late thirties, Mother Cabrini was a woman of note in her own locality, and some rumors of her work had undoubtedly been carried to Rome. Accompanied by a sister, Serafina, she left Cadogno with the dual purpose of seeking papal approval for the order, which so far had functioned merely on the diocesan level, and of opening a house in Rome which might serve as headquarters for future enterprises. While she did not go as an absolute stranger, many another has arrived there with more backing and stayed longer with far less to show.

Within two weeks Mother Cabrini had made contacts in high places, and had several interviews with Cardinal Parocchi, who became her loyal supporter, with full confidence in her sincerity and ability. She was encouraged to continue her foundations elsewhere and charged to establish a free school and kindergarten in the environs of Rome. Pope Leo XIII received her and blessed the work. He was then an old man of seventy-eight, who had occupied the papal throne for ten years and done much to enhance the prestige of the office. Known as the "workingman's Pope" because of his sympathy for the poor and his series of famous encyclicals on social justice, he was also a man of scholarly attainments and cultural interests. He saw Mother Cabrini on many future occasions, always spoke of her with admiration and affection, and sent contributions from his own funds to aid her work.

A new and greater challenge awaited the intrepid nun, a chance to fulfill the old dream of being a missionary to a distant land. A burning question of the day in Italy was the plight of Italians in foreign countries. As a result of hard times at home, millions of them had emigrated to the United States and to South America in the hope of bettering themselves. In the New World they were faced with many cruel situations which they were often helpless to meet. Bishop Scalabrini had written a pamphlet describing their misery, and had been instrumental in establishing St. Raphael's Society for their material assistance, and also a mission of the Congregation of St. Charles Borromeo in New York. Talks with Bishop Scalabrini persuaded Mother Cabrini that this cause was henceforth to be hers.

In America the great tide of immigration had not yet reached its peak, but a steady stream of hopeful humanity from southern Europe, lured by promises and pictures, was flowing into our ports, with little or no provision made for the reception or assimilation of the individual components. Instead, the newcomers fell victim at once to the prejudices of both native-born Americans and the earlier immigrants, who had chiefly been of Irish and German stock. They were also exploited unmercifully by their own padroni, or bosses, after being drawn into the roughest and most dangerous jobs, digging and draining, and the almost equally hazardous indoor work in mills and sweatshops. They tended to cluster in the overcrowded, disease-breeding slums of our cities, areas which were becoming known as "Little Italies." They were in America, but not of it. Both church and family life were sacrificed to mere survival and the struggle to save enough money to return to their native land. Cut off from their accustomed ties, some drifted into the criminal underworld. For the most part, however, they lived forgotten, lonely and homesick, trying to cope with new ways of living without proper direction. "Here we live like animals," wrote one immigrant; "one lives and dies without a priest, without teachers, and without doctors." All in all, the problem was so vast and difficult that no one with a soul less dauntless than Mother Cabrini's would have dreamed of tackling it.

After seeing that the new establishments at Rome were running smoothly and visiting the old centers in Lombardy, Mother Cabrini wrote to Archbishop Corrigan in New York that she was coming to aid him. She was given to understand that a convent or hostel would be prepared, to accommodate the few nuns she would bring.

Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding as to the time of her arrival, and when she and the seven nuns landed in New York on March 31, 1889, they learned that there was no convent ready. They felt they could not afford a hotel, and asked to be taken to an inexpensive lodging house. This turned out to be so dismal and dirty that they avoided the beds and spent the night in prayer and quiet thought. But the nuns were young and full of courage; from this bleak beginning they emerged the next morning to attend Mass. Then they called on the apologetic archbishop and outlined a plan of action. They wished to begin work without delay. A wealthy Italian woman contributed money for the purchase of their first house, and before long an orphanage had opened its doors there. So quickly did they gather a houseful of orphans that their funds ran low; to feed the ever-growing brood they must go out to beg. The nuns became familiar figures down on Mulberry Street, in the heart of the city's Little Italy. They trudged from door to door, from shop to shop, asking for anything that could be spared- food, clothing, or money.

With the scene surveyed and the work well begun, Mother Cabrini returned to Italy in July of the same year. She again visited the foundations, stirred up the ardor of the nuns, and had another audience with the Pope, to whom she gave a report of the situation in New York with respect to the Italian colony. Also, while in Rome, she made plans for opening a dormitory for normal- school students, securing the aid of several rich women for this enterprise. The following spring she sailed again for New York, with a fresh group of nuns chosen from the order. Soon after her arrival she concluded arrangements for the purchase from the Jesuits of a house and land, now known as West Park, on the west bank of the Hudson. This rural retreat was to become a veritable paradise for children from the city's slums. Then, with several nuns who had been trained as teachers, she embarked for Nicaragua, where she had been asked to open a school for girls of well-to-do families in the city of Granada. This was accomplished with the approbation of the Nicaraguan government, and Mother Cabrini, accompanied by one nun, started back north overland, curious to see more of the people of Central America. They traveled by rough and primitive means, but the journey was safely achieved. They stopped off for a time in New Orleans and did preparatory work looking to the establishment of a mission. The plight of Italian immigrants in Louisiana was almost as serious as in New York. On reaching New York she chose a little band of courageous nuns to begin work in the southern city. They literally begged their way to New Orleans, for there was no money for train fare. As soon as they had made a very small beginning, Mother Cabrini joined them. With the aid of contributions, they bought a tenement which became known as a place where any Italian in trouble or need could go for help and counsel. A school was established which rapidly became a center for the city's Italian population. The nuns made a practice too of visiting the outlying rural sections where Italians were employed on the great plantations.

The year that celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus' voyage of discovery, 1892, marked also the founding of Mother Cabrini's first hospital. At this time Italians were enjoying more esteem than usual and it was natural that this first hospital should be named for Columbus. Earlier Mother Cabrini had had some experience of hospital management in connection with the institution conducted by the Congregation of St. Charles Borromeo, but the new one was to be quite independent. With an initial capital of two hundred and fifty dollars, representing five contributions of fifty dollars each, Columbus Hospital began its existence on Twelfth Street in New York. Doctors offered it their services without charge, and the nuns tried to make up in zeal what they lacked in equipment. Gradually the place came to have a reputation that won for it adequate financial support. It moved to larger quarters on Twentieth Street, and continues to function to this day.

Mother Cabrini returned to Italy frequently to oversee the training of novices and to select the nuns best qualified for foreign service. She was in Rome to share in the Pope's Jubilee, celebrating his fifty years as a churchman. Back in New York in 1895, she accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires to come down to Argentina and establish a school. The Nicaraguan school had been forced to close its doors as a result of a revolutionary overthrow of the government, and the nuns had moved to Panama and opened a school there. Mother Cabrini and her companion stopped to visit this new institution before proceeding by water down the Pacific Coast towards their destination. To avoid the stormy Straits of Magellan they had been advised to make the later stages of the journey by land, which meant a train trip from the coast to the mountains, across the Andes by mule-back, then another train trip to the capital. The nuns looked like Capuchin friars, for they wore brown fur-lined capes. On their unaccustomed mounts, guided by muleteers whose language they hardly understood, they followed the narrow trail over the backbone of the Andes, with frightening chasms below and icy winds whistling about their heads. The perilous crossing was made without serious mishap. On their arrival in Buenos Aires they learned that the archbishop who had invited them to come had died, and they were not sure of a welcome. It was not long, however, before Mother Cabrini's charm and sincerity had worked their usual spell, and she was entreated to open a school. She inspected dozens of sites before making a choice. When it came to the purchase of land she seemed to have excellent judgment as to what location would turn out to be good from all points of view. The school was for girls of wealthy families, for the Italians in Argentina were, on the average, more prosperous than those of North America. Another group of nuns came down from New York to serve as teachers. Here and in similar schools elsewhere, today's pupils became tomorrow's supporters of the foundations.

Not long afterward schools were opened in Paris, in England, and in Spain, where Mother Cabrini's work had the sponsorship of the queen. From the Latin countries in course of time came novice teachers for the South American schools. Another southern country, Brazil, was soon added to the lengthening roster, with establishments at Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Back in the United States Mother Cabrini started parochial schools in and around New York and an orphanage at Dobbs Ferry. In 1899 she founded the Sacred Heart Villa on Fort Washington Avenue, New York, as a school and training center for novices. In later years this place was her nearest approach to an American home. It is this section of their city that New Yorkers now associate with her, and here a handsome avenue bears her name.

Launching across the country, Mother Cabrini now extended her activities to the Pacific Coast. Newark, Scranton, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, all became familiar territory. In Colorado she visited the mining camps, where the high rate of fatal accidents left an unusually large number of fatherless children to be cared for. Wherever she went men and women began to take constructive steps for the remedying of suffering and wrong, so powerful was the stimulus of her personality. Her warm desire to serve God by helping people, especially children, was a steady inspiration to others. Yet the founding of each little school or orphanage seemed touched by the miraculous, for the necessary funds generally materialized in some last-minute, unexpected fashion.

In Seattle, in 1909, Mother Cabrini took the oath of allegiance to the United States and became a citizen of the country. She was then fifty-nine years old, and was looking forward to a future of lessened activity, possibly even to semi-retirement in the mother house at Cadogno. But for some years the journeys to and fro across the Atlantic went on; like a bird, she never settled long in one place. When she was far away, her nuns felt her presence, felt she understood their cares and pains. Her modest nature had always kept her from assuming an attitude of authority; indeed she even deplored being referred to as "head" of her Order. During the last years Mother Cabrini undoubtedly pushed her flagging energies to the limit of endurance. Coming back from a trip to the Pacific Coast in the late fall of 1917, she stopped in Chicago. Much troubled now over the war and all the new problems it brought, she suffered a recurrence of the malaria contracted many years before. Then, while she and other nuns were making preparations for a children's Christmas party in the hospital, a sudden heart attack ended her life on earth in a few minutes. The date was December 22, and she was sixty-seven. The little nun had been the friend of three popes, a foster-mother to thousands of children, for whom she had found means to provide shelter and food; she had created a flourishing order, and established many institutions to serve human needs.

It was not surprising that almost at once Catholics in widely separated places began saying to each other, "Surely she was a saint." This ground swell of popular feeling culminated in 1929 in the first official steps towards beatification. Ten years later she became Blessed Mother Cabrini, and Cardinal Mundelein, who had officiated at her funeral in Chicago, now presided at the beatification. Heralded by a great pealing of the bells of St. Peter's and the four hundred other churches of Rome, the canonization ceremony took place on July 7, 1946. Hundreds of devout Catholics from the United States were in attendance, as well as the highest dignitaries of the Church and lay noblemen. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American to be canonized, lies buried under the altar of the chapel of Mother Cabrini High School in New York City.


SAINT FRANCIS SOLANO
Priest - AD 1610 
Feast: July 13

This saint was born at Montilla in Andalusia in 1549, did his studies in the school of the Jesuits, and in 1569, joined the Franciscan Observance at his birth place. He was duly professed and in 1576 ordained priest. Full of zeal and charity and an ardent desire for the salvation of souls, he divided his time between silent retirement and the ministry of preaching. Francis exercised his ministry in southern Spain for many years and heroically during the plague of 1583 at Granada, when he himself was struck down but made a quick recovery. After the epidemic was passed, Francis was selected to go with Father Balthazar Navarro to Peru. The missionaries to Panama, crossed the Isthmus, and again took ship on the other side. But approaching Peru, they ran into a bad storm and were driven aground on a sand bank. The ship looked as if she were going to pieces, and the master ordered that she be abandoned, leaving aboard her, a number of negro slaves for whom there was no room in the single lifeboat. Francis had these men under instruction and he now refused to leave them, so he remained behind on the ship, which was breaking up. He gathered them around him, encouraged them to trust in the mercy of God and the merits of Jesus Christ, and then baptized them. This he had scarcely done when the vessel parted amidships and some of the negroes were drowned. The remainder were on the part of the hull that was firmly aground and there they remained for three days, Francis keeping up their courage and rigging signals of distress. When the weather broke, the ship's boat returned and took them off to join the others in a place of safety, where they eventually were conveyed to Lima, Peru. Now began twenty years of untiring ministry among the Indians and Spanish colonists. It is said that St. Francis had the "gift of tongues", and for his miracles he was called the "wonder-worker of the New World"; in his funeral sermon Father Sabastiani, S.J., said that God had chosen him to be "the hope and edification of all Peru, the example and glory of Lima, the splendor of the Seraphic order". A habit of his, very reminiscent of his religious father and namesake, was to take a lute and sing to Our Lady before her altar. He died on July 14, 1610, while his brethren was singing the conventual Mass, at the moment of consecration, saying with his last breath, "Glory be to God". His whole life, says Alvarez de Paz, was a holy uninterrupted course of zealous action, yet at the same time, a continued prayer. St. Francis Solano was canonized in 1726. His feast day is July 13th.


SAINT ISAAC JOGUES
Priest & Martyr - AD 1646 
Feast:
October 19

French missionary, born at Orleans, France, 10 January, 1607; martyred at Ossernenon, in the present State of New York, 18 October, 1646. He was the first Catholic priest who ever came to Manhattan Island (New York). He entered the Society of Jesus in 1624 and, after having been professor of literature at Rouen, was sent as a missionary to Canada in 1636. He came out with Montmagny, the immediate successor of Champlain. From Quebec he went to the regions around the great lakes where the illustrious Father de Brébeuf and others were labouring. There he spent six years in constant danger. Though a daring missionary, his character was of the most practical nature, his purpose always being to fix his people in permanent habitations. He was with Garnier among the Petuns, and he and Raymbault penetrated as far as Sault Ste Marie, and "were the first missionaries", says Bancroft (VII,790, London, 1853), "to preach the gospel a thousand miles in the interior, five years before John Eliot addressed the Indians six miles from Boston Harbour". There is little doubt that they were not only the first apostles but also the first white men to reach this outlet of Lake Superior. No documentary proof is adduced by the best-known historians that Nicholet, the discoverer of Lake Michigan, ever visited the Sault. Jogues proposed not only to convert the Indians of Lake Superior, but the Sioux who lived at the head waters of the Mississippi.

His plan was thwarted by his capture near Three Rivers returning from Quebec. He was taken prisoner on 3 August, 1642, and after being cruelly tortured was carried to the Indian village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk, about forty miles above the present city of Albany. There he remained for thirteen months in slavery, suffering apparently beyond the power of natural endurance. The Dutch Calvinists at Fort Orange (Albany) made constant efforts to free him, and at last, when he was about to be burnt to death, induced him to take refuge in a sailing vessel which carried him to New Amsterdam (New York). His description of the colony as it was at that time has since been incorporated in the Documentary History of the State. From New York he was sent; in mid-winter, across the ocean on a lugger of only fifty tons burden and after a voyage of two months, landed Christmas morning, 1643, on the coast of Brittany, in a state of absolute destitution. Thence he found his way to the nearest college of the Society. He was received with great honour at the court of the Queen Regent, the mother of Louis XIV, and was allowed by Pope Urban VII the very exceptional privilege of celebrating Mass, which the mutilated condition of his hands had made canonically impossible; several of his fingers having been eaten or burned off. He was called a martyr of Christ by the pontiff. No similar concession, up to that, is known to have been granted.

In early spring of 1644 he returned to Canada, and in 1646 was sent to negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He followed the same route over which he had been carried as a captive. It was on this occasion that he gave the name of Lake of the Blessed Sacrament to the body of water called by the Indians Horicon, now known as Lake George. He reached Ossernenonon 5 June, after a three weeks' journey from the St. Lawrence. He was well received by his former captors and the treaty of peace was made. He started for Quebec on 16 June and arrived there 3 July. He immediately asked to be sent back to the Iroquois as a missionary, but only after much hesitation his superiors acceded to his request. On 27 September he began his third and last journey to the Mohawk. In the interim sickness had broken out in the tribe and a blight had fallen on the crops. This double calamity was ascribed to Jogues whom the Indians always regarded as a sorcerer. They were determined to wreak vengence on him for the spell he had cast on the place, and warriors were sent out to capture him. The news of this change of sentiment spread rapidly, and though fully aware of the danger Jogues continued on his way to Ossernenon, though all the Hurons and others who were with him fled except Lalande. The Iroquois met him near Lake George, stripped him naked, slashed him with their knives, beat him and then led him to the village. On 18 October, 1646, when entering a cabin he was struck with a tomahawk and afterwards decapitated. The head was fixed on the Palisades and the body thrown into the Mohawk.

[ Isaac Jogues was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930, with seven other North American martyrs. Their collective feast day is October 19.]


BLESSED JOHN MASSIAS
AD 1645

The Blessed John Massias was born in Estremadura in 1585, of poor and pious parents. Heir of these virtues, his early years was spent as a shepherd, till he was called by God to America. Landing at Carthagena, he made his way on foot to Lima, and applied for admission at the Dominican Convent of St. Mary Magdalen where he was received on the 23d of January, 1022; for though he was unknown, his piety, gravity and modesty prepossessed all in his favor. He was soon made porter, and entrusted with the distribution of alms, and in this ministry spent the rest of his life. No poor person could escape his charitable search-none ever went from him without receiving relief: All were astonished how a poor religious obtained the means of bestowing such alms; but as one biographer remarks, "If he gave from the store-house of God, which is infinite, what wonder that he gave so much?" His charity was not confined to bodily wants; he daily instructed the poor who came to the door, in their catechism, and made them touching exhortations.

A severe illness, produced by his austerities, spread a general grief through Lima, followed by as general a joy at his recovery, for as he told one who came to weep beside him: "Stop! this vile worm is not ripe yet."

His knowledge of the secrets of the heart, his insight into the future, and his zeal for God's glory, enabled him to draw many from vice; none could resist his words, for conceal their disorders us they might, they felt that all was known to him. Conversions of the most remarkable character are ascribed, to the Blessed Massias. At last, after twenty-four years spent in the service of his neighbor by day, and in prayer and austerities by night, he was seized with a fatal malady in August, 1645, and after an illness of three weeks, during which he was visited by the most eminent persons of the city, expired, as he had predicted, on the 17th of September. His death was no sooner known, than the convent was besieged; so eager were thousands to possess some of his relics, that the body was saved with difficulty. After his solemn obsequies, his tomb was the resort of the afflicted, so that on the first anniversary of his de death, his cell having been enlarged into a chapel, his body was transferred to it.

Proceedings for his canonization were undertaken at an early date, and he too was beatified by Pope Pius VII.


SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN
Bishop - AD 1860 
Feast: January 5

Fourth bishop of Philadelphia and the first canonized American bishop. Born in Bohemia, he studied at the University of Prague and was a distinguished scholar, completing his education there in 1835. While preparing for ordination, he was inspired to journey to America by the remarkable letters sent by Father Frederic Braga (later bishop of Marquette) to the Leopold Missionary Society. Arriving in America in 1836, he was ordained in New York on June 25 of that year and would spend the next four years in active missionary work among the Germans around Niagara Falls. In 1840, he joined the Redemptorists, becoming the first of their number to be professed in America (1842). Ten years later, at the suggestion of Archbishop Francis Kenrick of Baltimore, Neumann was consecrated bishop of Philadelphia (March 28, 1852). As bishop, he worked strenuously to improve education; at the time of his consecration there were two parochial schools in the diocese, but by the time of his death they numbered nearly a hundred, making him an important figure in the organization of the American Catholic school system. He erected some fifty churches and advanced the work on the cathedral for the city and was the first American bishop to introduce the Forty Hours Devotion in 1853. Having had a major role in the First Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1852, he was invited to Rome by Pope Pius IX in 1854 to take part in the formal definition of the dogma on the Immaculate Conception. Beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963, he was canonized in 1977. 


SAINT JUAN DIEGO
AD 1548 
Feast: December 9


On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk fifteen miles to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City. Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow. A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings."

The bishop was kind but skeptical. He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's identity. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was dying. Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.

She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop.

Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak.

Soon after, a church was built on the site where our Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.

*  *  *

In April of 1990 Juan Diego was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. The following month, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, during his second visit to the WT, shrine, John Paul II performed the beatification ceremony. Who was this Juan Diego?

Most historians agree that Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).

His native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, which could be translated as "One who talks like an eagle" or "eagle that talks". The Nican Mopohua describes him as a "macehualli" or "poor Indian", one who did not belong to any of the social categories of the Empire, as priests, warriors, merchants .... but not a slave; a member of the lowest and largest class in the Aztec Empire. When talking to Our Lady he calls himself "a nobody", and refers to it as the source of his lack of credibility before the Bishop. He devoted himself to hard work in the fields and manufacturing mats. He owned a piece of land and a small house on it. He was happily married but had no children.

Between 1524 and 1525 he was converted and baptized, as well as his wife, receiving the Christian name of Juan Diego and her wife the name of Maria Lucia. He was probably baptized by the famous and loved Franciscan missionary Fray Toribio de Benavente, called "Motolinia", or "the poor one", by the Indians for his extreme kindness and piety.

According to the first formal investigation by the Church about the events, the Informaciones Guadalupanas of 1666, Juan Diego seems to have been a very devoted, religious man, even before his conversion. He was a solitary, mystical character, prone to spells of silence and frequent penance and used to walk from his village to Tenochtitlan, 14 miles away, to receive instruction on the doctrine.

His wife Maria Lucia became sick and died in l529. Juan Diego then moved to live with his uncle Juan Bernardino in Tolpetlac, which was closer (9 miles) to the church in Tlatelolco -Tenochtitlan.

He walked every Saturday and Sunday many miles to church, departing early morning, before dawn, to be on time for Mass and religious instruction classes. He walked on naked feet, as all the people of his class, the macehualli. Only the higher social classes of the Aztecs wore cactlis, or sandals, made with vegetal fibers or leather. He used to wear in those chilly mornings a coarse-woven cactus cloth as a mantle, a tilma or ayate made with fibers from the maguey cactus. Cotton was only used by the upper Aztec classes.

During one of this walks to Tenochtitlan, which used to take about three and a half hours between villages and mountains, the First apparition occurred ... in a place that is now known as the "Capilla del Cerrito", where the Blessed Virgin Mary talked to him in his language, Nahuatl. She called him "Juanito, Juan Dieguito", "the most humble of my sons", "my son the least", "my little dear". 

He was 57 years old, certainly an old age in a time and place where the male life expectancy was barely above 40. 

After the miracle of Guadalupe, Juan Diego moved to a room attached to the chapel that housed the sacred image, after having given his business and property to his uncle; and he spent the rest of his life propagating the account of the apparitions to his countrymen.

He died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74. 

Juan Diego deeply loved the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times. 

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf") as a model of humility for all of us.

He was beatified 6 May 1990, and canonized 31 July 2002, both by Pope John Paul II.


BLESSED JUNIPERO SERRA
Priest – AD 1784
Feast: July 1

Born at Petra, Island of Majorca, 24 November, 1713; died at Monterey, California, 28 August, 1784. On 14 September, 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. For his proficiency in studies he was appointed lector of philosophy before his ordination to the priesthood. Later he received the degree of Doctor of Theology from the Lullian University at Palma, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico (1749). While traveling on foot from Vera Cruz to the capital, he injured his leg in such a way that he suffered from it throughout his life, though he continued to make his journeys on foot whenever possible. At his own request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions some thirty leagues north of Queretaro. He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior, learned the language of the Pame Indians, and translated the catechism into their language. Recalled to Mexico, he became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions. His zeal frequently led him to employ extraordinary means in order to move the people to penance. He would pound his breast with a stone while in the pulpit, scourge himself, or apply a lighted torch to his bare chest. In 177 he was appointed superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Lower California. Early in 1769 he accompanied Portolá's land expedition to Upper California. On the way (14 May) he established the Mission San Fernando de Velicatá, Lower California. He arrived at San Diego on 1 July, and on 16 July founded the first of the twenty-one California missions which accomplished the conversions of all the natives on the coast as far as Sonoma in the north. Those established by Father Serra or during his administration were San Carlos (3 June, 1770); San Antonio (14 July, 1771); San Gabriel (8 September, 1771); San Luis Obispo (1 September, 1772); San Francisco de Asis (8 October, 1776); San Juan Capistrano (1 Nov. 1776); Santa Clara (12 January, 1777); San Buenaventura (31 March, 1782). He was also present at the founding of the presidio of Santa Barbara (21 April, 1782), and was prevented from locating the mission there at the time only through the animosity of Governor Philipe de Neve. Difficulties with Pedro Fages, the military commander, compelled Father Serra in 1773 to lay the case before Viceroy Bucareli. At the capital of Mexico, by order of the viceroy, he drew up his "Representación" in thirty-two articles. Everything save two minor points was decided in his favour; he then returned to California, late in 1774. In 1778 he received the faculty to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. After he had exercised his privilege for a year, Governor Neve directed him to suspend administering the sacrament until he could present the papal Brief. For nearly two years Father Serra refrained, and then Viceroy Majorga gave instructions to the effect that Father Serra was within his rights. During the remaining three years of his life he once more visited the missions from San Diego to San Francisco, six hundred miles, in order to confirm all who had been baptized. He suffered intensely from his crippled leg and from his chest, yet he would use no remedies. He confirmed 5309 persons, who, with but few exceptions, were Indians converted during the fourteen years from 1770. Besides extraordinary fortitude, his most conspicuous virtues were insatiable zeal, love of mortification, self-denial, and absolute confidence in God. His executive abilities has been especially noted by non-Catholic writers. The esteem in which his memory is held by all classes in California may be gathered from the fact that Mrs. Stanford, not a Catholic, had a granite monument erected to him at Monterey. A bronze statute of heroic size represents him as the apostolic preacher in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. In 1884 the Legislature of California passed a concurrent resolution making 29 August of that year, the centennial of Father Serra's burial, a legal holiday.


BLESSED KATERI TEKAKWITHA
Virgin - AD 1680 
Feast: July 14

Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks", and the "Genevieve of New France" an Indian virgin of the Mohawk tribe, born according to some authorities at the Turtle Castle of Ossernenon, according to others at the village of Gandaouge, in 1656; died at Caughnawaga, Canada, 17 April, 1680. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois and saved from a captive's fate by the father of Tekakwitha, to whom she also bore a son. When Tekakwitha was about four years old, her parents and brother died of small-pox, and the child was adopted by her aunts and a uncle who had become chief of the Turtle clan. Although small-pox had marked her face and seriously impaired her eyesight and her manner was reserved and shrinking, her aunts began when she was yet very young to form marriage projects for her, from which, as she grew older, she shrank with great aversion. In 1667 the Jesuit missionaries Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron, accompanying the Mohawk deputies who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French, spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwitha's uncle. From them she received her first knowledge of Christianity, but although she forthwith eagerly accepted it in her heart she did not at that time ask to be baptized. Some time later the Turtle clan moved to the north bank of the Mohawk River, the "castle" being built above what is now the town of Fonda. Here in the midst of scenes of carnage, debauchery, and idolatrous frenzy Tekakwitha lived a life of remarkable virtue, at heart not only a Christian but a Christian virgin, for she firmly and often, with great risk to herself, resisted all efforts to induce her to marry. When she was eighteen, Father Jacques de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission which included the Turtle clan, and from him, at her earnest request, Tekakwitha received baptism. Thenceforth she practised her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition, till finally her uncle's lodge ceased to be a place of protection to her and she was assisted by some Christian Indians to escape to Caughnawaga on the St. Laurence. Here she lived in the cabin of Anastasia Tegonhatsihonga, a Christian Indian woman, her extraordinary sanctity impressing not only her own people but the French and the missionaries. Her mortifications were extreme, and Chauchtiere says that she had attained the most perfect union with God in prayer. Upon her death devotion to her began immediately to be manifested by her people. Many pilgrims visit her grave in Caughnawaga where a monument to her memory was erected by the Rev. Clarence Walworth in 1884; and Councils of Baltimore and Quebec have petitioned for her canonization. On 22 June 1980, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II; her feast day is celebrated on 14 July.


Sources include the Catholic Encyclopedia, Butler's Lives of the Saints, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church and L'Osservatore Romano.

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