The New Evangelization - America












































SAINT KATHERINE DREXEL
Virgin & foundress - AD 1955 
Feast: March 3 

Mother Katharine Drexel died in 1955, within the memory of many of us, and so she is very close to us in time. At her recent canonization she became Saint Katharine Drexel and is fondly remembered by many people who are still alive.

She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. When her father, who was the founder of a Philadelphia banking house, died in 1885, she inherited a large fortune. With the help of Pope Leo XIII, she decided to dedicate her life to God and to devote her fortune to the American Indian and black American missions of the United States.

In 1889, she made her novitiate with the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh; in 1891, she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Her first convent was the old Drexel summer home at Torresdale, Pennsylvania.

The need for her work was very great, and requests for sisters soon came from the South and Southwest. She built and maintained missions and schools and sent her nuns to staff them. In 1915, she founded Xavier University in New Orleans and continued to expand the facilities of the university. By 1935, she had made forty-nine foundations throughout the country, mostly in the South and Southwest. She kept up continual correspondence with her missions and schools and in each letter usually included a generous check for the missionary work her sisters were doing.

She suffered a heart attack in 1935 but continued to travel to her missions, taking an active interest in the work of each one. She celebrated the golden jubilee of her congregation in 1941, and Pope Pius XII described her work as "a glorious page in the annals of the Church."

During the last years of her life, Mother Katharine Drexel was an invalid, spending much time in prayer, an example of love and devotion to her nuns. At her death in 1955, at the age of ninety-six, she had spent twelve million dollars of her inheritance for the American Indian and black American missions. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988, and canonized October 1, 2000.


SAINT LOUIS BERTRAND
Priest - 1581 
Feast: October 9

Born at Valencia, Spain, 1 Jan., 1526; died 9 Oct., 1581. His patents were Juan Bertrand and Juana Angela Exarch. Through his father he was related to the illustrious St. Vincent Ferrer, the great thaumaturgus of the Dominican Order. The boyhood of the saint was unattended by any of the prodigies that frequently forecast heroic sanctity. At an early age he conceived the idea of becoming a Friar Preacher, and despite the efforts of his father to dissuade him, was clothed with the Dominican habit in the Convent of St. Dominic, Valencia, 26 Aug., 1544. After the usual probation, in which he distinguished himself above all his associates in the qualities of an ideal religious, he pronounced the vows that irrevocably bound him to the life of perfection. The profound significance of his religious profession served as a stimulus to the increase of virtues that already gave evidence of being cast in heroic mould. In demeanour he was grave and apparently without any sense of humour, yet withal possessed of a gentle and sweet disposition that greatly endeared him to those with whom he came in contact. While he could lay no claim to the great intellectual gifts and ripe scholarship that have distinguished so many of the saints of the Dominican order, he applied himself assiduously to study, and stored his mind with the sacred truths expounded in the pages of the "Summa". In 1547 he was advanced to the priesthood by the Archbishop of Valencia, St. Thomas of Villanova.

The extraordinary sanctity of the young Dominican's life, and the remarkable influence he exercised on those about him, singled him out as one peculiarly fitted to lead others along the path of perfection. Consequently, he was appointed to the most responsible office of master of novices, in the convent at Valencia, the duties of which he discharged at different intervals for an aggregate of thirty years. The plague that decimated the inhabitants of Valencia and the vicinity in 1557, afforded the saint an excellent opportunity for the exercise of his charity and zeal. Tirelessly he ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of the afflicted. With the tenderness and devotion of a mother he nursed the sick. The dead he prepared for burial and interred with his own hands. When the plague had subsided, the zeal of the holy novice-master sought to extend the scope of his already large ministry into the apostolate of preaching. Though possessed of none of the natural qualities deemed essential for a successful career in the pulpit, he immediately attracted attention as a preacher of great force and far-reaching influence. The cathedral and most capacious churches were placed at his disposal, but proved wholly inadequate to accommodate the multitude that desired to hear him. Eventually it became necessary for him to resort to the public squares of the city. It was probably the fame of his preaching that brought him to the attention of St. Teresa, who at this time sought his counsel in the matter of reforming her order.

Unknown to his brethren, St. Louis had long cherished the desire to enter the mission fields of the New World. The hope that there he might find the coveted crown of martyrdom contributed not a little to sharpening the edge of his desire. Possessed of the necessary permission he sailed for America in 1562, and landed at Cartagena, where he immediately entered upon the career of a missionary. The work thus begun was certainly fruitful to an extraordinary degree, and bore unmistakably the stamp of Divine approbation. The process of his canonization bears convincing testimony to the wonderful conquest which the saint achieved in this new field of labour. The Bull of canonization asserts that, to facilitate the work of converting the natives to God, the apostle was miraculously endowed with the gift of tongues. From Cartagena, the scene of his first labours, St. Louis was sent to Panama, where in a comparatively short time he converted some 6,000 Indians. His next mission was at Tubera, situated near the sea-coast and midway between the city of Cartagena and the Magdalena River. The success of his efforts at this place is witnessed by the entries of the baptismal registers, in the saint's own handwriting. These entries show that all the inhabitants of the place were received into the Church by St. Louis. Turon places the number of converts in Tubera at 10,000. What greatly enhances the merit of this wonderful achievement is that all had been adequately instructed in the teachings of the Church before receiving baptism, and continued steadfast in their faith.

From Tubera the Apostle bent his steps in the direction of Cipacoa and Paluato. His success at the former place, the exact location of which it is impossible to determine, was little inferior to that of Tubera. At Paluato the results of his zealous efforts were somewhat disheartening. From this unfruitful soil the saint withdrew to the province of St. Martha, where his former successes were repeated. This harvest yielded 15,000 souls. While labouring at St Martha, a tribe of 1500 Indians came to him from Paluato to implore the grace of baptism, which before they had rejected. The work at St. Martha finished, the tireless missionary undertook the work of converting the warlike Caribs, probably inhabitants of the Leeward Islands. His efforts among these fierce tribesmen seem not to have been attended with any great success. Nevertheless, the apostolate among the Caribs furnished the occasion again to make manifest the Divine protection which constantly overshadowed the ministry of St. Louis. A deadly draught was administered to him by one of the native priests. Through Divine interposition, the virulent poison failed to accomplish its purpose, thus fulfilling the words of St. Mark: "If they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" (xvi, 18). Teneriffe next became the field of the saint's apostolic labours. Unfortunately, however, there are no records extant to indicate what was the result of his preaching. At Mompax, thirty-seven leagues south-east of Carthagena, we are told, rather indefinitely, that many thousands were converted to the Faith. Several of the West India islands, notably those of St. Vincent and St. Thomas, were visited by St. Louis in his indefatigable quest for souls.

After an apostolate the marvellous and enduring fruits of which have richly merited for him the title of Apostle of South America, he returned under obedience to his native Spain, which he had left just seven years before. During the eleven remaining years of his life many offices of honour and responsibility were imposed upon him. The numerous duties that attached to them were not permitted to interfere with the exacting regime of his holy life. The ever increasing fame of his sanctity and wisdom won the admiration and confidence of even the officials of the Government, who more than once consulted him in affairs of State. With the heroic patience that characterized his whole life he endured the ordeal of his last sickness. He was canonized by Clement X in 1671. His feast is observed on 10 [changed to 9] October.


BLESSED MARIA ENCARNACION ROSA 
of the SACRED HEART
Virgin - AD 1886

Baptized Vicenta, was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on 26 October 1820 to a pious Christian family. At the age of 15, awed by the mystery of Bethlehem, she heard the Lord's call. On 1 January 1837, she entered the Beaterio of Bethlehem founded by Bl. Pedro de Betancout and was clothed that same year. Here she was tormented by the lack of a truly religious atmosphere and realized that the community was drifting away from its original charism. But faithful to her original call, she hesitated before transfer ring to the convent of the Catalinas, where despite its prayerful atmosphere, she found no peace either. Thus she returned to her original "Bethlehem", the model of an organized and well-directed community impressed upon her mind. She was elected prioress in 1855. She revised the constitutions bringing them into line with the order's original charism but the older sisters refused to accept them. She therefore planned a new Beaterio in Quetzaltenango which she founded in 1861. Mother Maria Encarnacion gradually formed a lasting relationship of deep intimacy with the Lord. She was intensely attracted by Christ's humanity, contemplated at the most poignant moments of his life. Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane was the central point of her contemplation, which led her to interiorize the Lord's sorrows and promote in the Church a special devotion to the intimate sorrows of his Sacred Heart, and reparation for humanity's sins. This ideal formed by her spiritual experience became a firm tradition of the Bethlemite Sisters who dedicate the 25th day of every month to the prayer of reparation. Mother Maria Encarnacion of the Sacred Heart introduced the reform she had so desired and thus saved her institute's original charism. She died on 24 August 1886, the eve of the feast of the Sorrows of the Sacred Heart whose celebration the Lord himself had asked of her. The Institute of Bethlemite Sisters is present today in 13 countries.


BLESSED MARIANA DE PAREDES Y FLORES
Virgin - AD 1645

Blessed Mariana de Paredes y Flores is the counterpart of the Rose of Lima, and has long been known in ecclesiastical history as the Lily of Quito. Born in that city, on the 31st of October, 1618, she inherited from her father, a noble officer named Don Jerome Paredes, a deep and tender piety. Her early years showed a self- sacrificing devotion, and a love of suffering. Guided by the Jesuit Fathers, she heard the story of the martyr church of Japan, and was enflamed with a desire of converting the heathen. Taking in her first communion the name of Mariana de Jesus, at twelve she bound herself by the three vows of religion, and soon after, with three companions, whom she had gained by the fire of her zeal, she left her father's house to go and convert the Indians. Brought back from her wild attempt, she next resolved to lead an eremitical life, and retired to a hermitage near Quito. She was induced to leave it, when shown by her directors that such was not, and could not be her duty. Her father's house was thenceforward the shrine of her virtues: not called to the cloister, she remained to hallow the secular state, and in it, guided by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, she made rapid progress in the way of perfection. Giving to the poor her dowry, she led a life of austerity and penance, similar to that of St. Rose, being ever ready to sacrifice herself for others. An occasion soon offered for an heroic act of this virtue. A pestilence ravaged Quito in 1645; Mariana, in prayer in the church, offered herself a sacrifice for the peoplethe offering was acceptedshe died, and the pestilence ceased. Her body arrayed in a Franciscan habit, was laid out in the church of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, and the people of the city flocked around it as around a holy corpse, to touch their beads and reliquaries, and implore her prayers.

The Society of Jesus adopted her cause and became the postulants for her canonization; their suppression checked, their restoration renewed the process, and she was at last beatified by Pius IX, on the 20th of November, 1853.


BLESSED MARIA of ST JOSEPH ALVARADO CARDOZO
Virgin & Foundress - AD 1967

was born in Choroni, Venezuela, on 25 April 1875, and received the name Laura Evangelista at Baptism. The feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1888 was an unforgettable day for her: she received Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time and made a private vow of virginity, consecrating herself as a bride of Jesus Christ.She began instructing poor children at home, supporting the project financially with her own labour. She took her parish priest in Maracay, Fr Vicente Lopez Aveledo, as a spiritual director and under his guidance made a vow of perpetual virginity. During 1893 smallpox epidemic in Maracay, she devoted herself to the care of the sick in the first hospital founded by her parish priest. The work was difficult, the poverty total, but nothing caused her to waver. She said: "My Jesus, the ideal I seek is you and you alone. Nothing frightens me. I want to be a saint, but a true saint". This became the motivation of her entire life. In 1901 she and Fr Lopez Aveledo founded a congregation of sisters for the assistance and care of the sick, the elderly and orphans, called the Augustinian Recollects of the Heart of Jesus. In 1902 Laura confirmed the vow of virginity she had made at 17. On 13 September 1903, by a special privilege granted to her by the Holy See as the foundress of the community, she made her perpetual vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, changing her name from Laura to Maria of St Joseph. Her love for the needy led her to found 37 homes for the elderly and orphans in La Victoria, Villa de Cura, Coro, Calabozo, Ocumare del Tuy, Barquisimeto, Los Teques, San Felipe, Puerto Cabello, Caracas and Valencia. Many towns and cities experienced the boundless love of Mother Maria and her daughters. She said: "Those rejected by everyone are ours; those no one wants to take are ours". Her life was a union of deep contemplation and intense activity for others. She identified with Mary's love for the Eucharist and spent many hours at night before the tabernacle in intimate conversation with Jesus. Motivated by this love, she made hosts with her own hands and distributed them freely to parishes, a work she recommended to her daughters. After a long illness, which she bore with great strength of soul, she died in the odour of sanctity in Maracay on 2 April 1967, at the age of 92. As she had requested, she was buried in the chapel of the Immaculate Conception Home in Maracay, where she is venerated by thousands of pilgrims who come to give thanks for the favours they have received through her intercession.


BLESSED MARIA VICENTA 
Virgin & Foundress - AD 1949

Blessed Maria Vicenta of St Dorothy Chavez Orozco was born in Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico, on 6 February 1867. She was the youngest of four and as a child was known for her devotion to the Infant Jesus. She used to make little altars and invited other children to pray there.The Chavez Orozco family lived in the Mexicaltzingo neighbourhood, which was inhabited by the need and unskilled workers. The care of the faithful was entrusted to Fr Agustin Beas, a zealous priest who devoted his attention to the infirm poor. To care for them he improvised a hospital in the parish house, where he put six beds in a room and called it Holy Trinity Hospital. The sick were cared for by the women of the St Vincent de Paul Society. On 20 February 1892 Vicentita had to enter that hospital to be treated for pleurisy and it was precisely at that moment that she received the inspiration to dedicate her live to God in the person of the poor and the sick. On 10 July she regained her health and returned to Holy Trinity Hospital to serve the sick with extraordinary charity for the rest of her life. She took private vows with Catalina Velasco and Juana Martin del Campo in 1895. On 12 May 1905 she founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Poor, later renamed the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor. She made her canonical profession in 1911 and was named Superior General in 1913, a service she performed for 30 years as the soul and leader of her institute. She was a model superior by her moral authority and genuine charity, and knew how to guide her daughters in putting their lives in the Lord's hands. She was fervent in prayer and saw obedience as the greatest form of sacrifice, She fully lived her consecrated chastity and heroically practised the theological and moral virtues, particularly humility, simplicity and charity. St Paul's saying, "The love of Christ impels us", was the ideal of her life. She suffered greatly during the Mexican Revolution. In 1914 Carranza's troops installed themselves in Guadalajara's cathedral and imprisoned priests and religious. In 1926 St Vincent's Hospital in Zapotlan was turned into a military headquarters. The sisters took no heed of the danger but continued to care for the wounded with great dedication. Once the sisters had to take refuge in the home of some kindly people were protecting them, Mother Vicentita was left alone with a postulant to care for the wounded, enduring insults and even death threats. The commandant who arrived later reprimanded the soldiers for their unbecoming conduct thus implicitly praising the greatness of the brave religious. The majority of the sick cared for by the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor went to confession and received the sacraments. The Lord blessed the institute with abundant vocations and 17 new foundations (hospitals, clinics and nurseries). In 1942, at the age of 75, Mother Vicentita began to experience eye trouble, She suffered greatly yet patiently and never complained. Despite her years she was the first in chapel each morning at 4:00. On 29 July 1949 she was not able to come to chapel and her condition worsened. Her pale complexion and weak pulse indicated her serious state. The chaplain, Fr Roberto Lopez, anointed her and shortly afterwards Archbishop Jose Garibi Rivera (Mexico's first Cardinal) heard her confession and celebrated Mass. At the elevation of the Host Mother Vicentita expired peacefully, without tremor or convulsion, like a baby falling asleep. She died on 30 July 1949 at Holy Trinity Hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico.


SAINT MARTIN DE PORRES
Monk - AD 1639 
Feast: November 3

In 1579, just 35 years after Pizarro conquered Peru, two thousand Spanish ruled over 25,000 Indians and 40,000 blacks. Probably the only thing the three groups agreed on was their hatred of those of mixed race. Into this environment of conquest and hatred, Martin was born of a Spanish nobleman and a free black woman. Martin's father, who was not married to his mother, refused to acknowledge Martin as his son because he looked too black and indeed deserted the family (which also included a daughter).

When Martin's father returned years later, his one contribution to Martin's life was to make sure he learned a trade. Martin became a barber. In those times, a barber's work involved not just cutting hair but being surgeon, doctor, and pharmacist. Martin's reputation as a healer grew quickly and he even became a hero to the blacks and Indians who looked up to his success. But as fast as he got money he gave it to the poor. And by the time he was 18 his desire to spend a life dedicated to God grew beyond what he could accomplish outside of religious life.

When he knocked on the door of the Dominican monastery and asked to enter as a tertiary -- the lowest place, his father was furious. He didn't mind if Martin wanted to become a priest or enter religious life, he just had greater plans for Martin than sweeping a broom in the monastery halls.

If Martin was expecting more sympathy from his fellow Dominicans, he was wrong. He was in the lowest place, and he was treated as the lowest. One brother named Francis took every opportunity to insult him or yell at him, calling him "mulatto dog." To Francis' surprise, Martin would simply laugh at the insults or give him gifts. Brother Francis could only think how stupid this Martin was not to understand how despised he was. Finally Brother Francis realized it was he, not Martin, who was the stupid one for continuing his attacks in the face of such holy humility and became his disciple instead of his enemy.

Because of his skill as a physician/barber, Martin was appointed as major infirmarian for the monastery. But even when he had five assistants he never delegated caring for the sick to anyone else. For Martin physical health was essential for spiritual growth. Martin treated each patient as if that person was his only patient and his only responsbility. He not only visited the sick day and night, but bathed each one, and changed their linens for them. Often the sheets of wounded were soaked in mud and blood and one brother chided him for trying so hard to get them white again. Martin replied that with a little work and water and soap the sheets would be white but only tears and penance could clean a soul that lacked charity.

Sometimes all a patient would have to do was think of a drink of water, fresh clothes, or fruit, and Martin would appear with the exact object of the unspoken wish. Perhaps this was a miracle, but perhaps it was his compassionate selfless nature that kept him attuned to what each patient needed at the time.

Many miraculous cures were attributed to Martin. He went through locked doors to nurse people, healed others of gangrene and dangerous wounds with a prayer and the sign of the cross. But he was always first of all a doctor and he said he never asked for a miracle. He only asked God to help his remedies work. One brother, desperate from insomnia, locked Martin in his room and told him was going to stay there until the brother was healed. Martin calmly assessed the situation, pointed out how hot the room was in the middle of summer and told the brother to put his bed between the door and the window in order to get more air.

Martin did not wait for patients to come to him. With a pack full of medicines, bandages, and food, he went out looking for people who needed help. After he gave them comfort, he instructed them in religion. Before he left, he would give them a piece of fruit or tobacco, something unnecessary but something that would cheer them up. Marting understood how important it was to address the needs of the whole person.

After nine years in the monastery, the other Dominicans could no longer deny the holy man in their midst and offered him religious profession as a brother. Martin, who had turned down the offer before because of his desire to be in the lowest position, finally accepted.

Around noon every day Martin was at the door with a pot containing all the food he could find. Though this food should not have been enough to feed five people, in his hands it fed the crowd who came to the door of the monastery as well as dogs and cats.

Martin opened the door even wider to immigrants to Peru. He made them sleep in his own room until they were able to find a job and a place to say. For him helping the poor was not the job of an institution but a a personal responsibility. He had no forms to fill out; need was the only criteria.

Not everyone was willing to accept his help. Some of the noble families had fallen on hard times and were starving. But they would rather go without food than accept help from a mulatto. Martin, understanding their prejudices but unwilling to abandon them, asked a white friend to deliver food and clothing to these families for him.

Martin's charity was not limited to human beings. As a matter of fact wounded and sick animals often came in search of him. As he cared for them, he would talk to them as he spoke to human beings. After he bandaged a cat with a half-crushed skull, he told the cat to return the next day so he could check on it -- and the cat returned. When the monastery was plagued by rats, Martin realized they were simply hungry. He promised the rats he'd give them food if they moved out. He kept the promise by serving them dinner every day and the monastery never had a problem with the rats again. Martin's attitude was that there was plenty of God's love to go around.

As any one who helps the poor knows, sometimes the problem is not the will to help but where to get the means. Martin saw his own material goods as a means to end and the end was to help others. He sold his own hat to buy bread for a few prisoners. He planted fruit trees and herbs along the road so the poor would find food as they walked. Others would give him money because they knew that in his hands all they gave would go to the poor. They trusted that this holy man kept nothing for himself. He also got others involved -- probably much to their chagrin. When he was forbidden from keeping the poor and sick in his room, he sent them to his sister Joan.

Another problem those who minister would recognize is where to get the strength to serve. The answer is always prayer. Martin prayed the rosary everywhere he walked and had a special nook where he hid to gaze on the tabernacle.

Martin's closeness to God gave him the gift of discernment. One day he found his sister Joan and her family fighting with each other. He told them exactly why they had been fighting and then took out his famous basket and gave them a picnic.

When a brother criticized another Dominican for wearing elegant shoes, Martin hypothesized that God was using that Dominican to bring sinners back. A sinner frightened by the holy poverty of the other brothers would feel more comfortable and understood by a Dominican who seemed a little more worldly.

When someone was up for election at the monastery and Martin felt they weren't suited for the position, he sought them out and told them so. Because of his holiness and their humility, they often accepted his judgment and withdrew.

The most difficult trial for Martin was his fame. People came looking for him, followed him around, even spied on him in prayer in hopes of seeing him in ecstasy. Even people in high places sought out this once lowly and despised nonentity for advice. Their attention made Martin uncomfortable for they treated him like a saint.

When he was 60 years old, Martin wore his first new habit in 45 years. A brother actually scolded him for this indulgence but Martin replied it was the habit he was to be buried in. He fell sick a few days later and died on November 5.

Martin is considered the patron of social action and is often shown with the broom he swept with or with the animals he cared for.



BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO
Martyr - AD 1927
Feast: November 23

Miguel Pro was born January 13, 1891, at Guadalupe Zacatecas, Mexico. From his childhood, high spirits and happiness were the most outstanding characteristics of his personality. The loving and devoted son of a mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes which he retained all his life.

At 20, he became a Jesuit novice and shortly thereafter was exiled because of the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua and Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered greatly from a severe stomach problem and when, after several operations his health did not improve, in 1926 his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the religious persecution in the country.

The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. Father Pro spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. He adopted many disguises to carry out his secret ministry. In all that he did, he remained filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King, and obedient to his superiors.

Falsely accused in a bombing attempt on the President-elect, Pro became a wanted man. He was betrayed to the police and sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On the day of his death, Father Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold, and died proclaiming "Long Live Christ the King!"

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

 


SAINT PETER CLAVER
Confessor - AD 1654 
Feast: September 9

Born in Spain, the son of a farmer, Peter Claver entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained in 1615 in Cartagena, South America, where he had made his higher studies. Cartagena was the center of the infamous slave trade, where many thousands of African slaves were landed after crossing the ocean amid inhuman conditions, and then penned like animals in yards. Their terrible plight, corporal and spiritual, tore at the heart of the young Jesuit and he determined to devote himself to the alleviation of their misery. At his profession he had vowed "to be a slave of the slaves forever," and he now began to carry out this vow. Though his main concern was the salvation of the slaves, he realized that their bodily misery needed attention first. "We must speak to them with our hands," he said, "before we can speak to them with our lips." His love and his endurance seemed boundless. Taking only a minimum of sleep, he ministered tirelessly to the slaves, washing and tending their wounds, feeding them with food begged in the city, burying their dead, comforting them so lovingly that he appeared like an angel from heaven. He saw in them not only Christ's brothers and sisters, but souls for whom He had bled and died. He instructed the adults by means of interpreters and pictures, and during the forty years of his heroic apostolic labors he is said to have baptized over 300,000, including infants. He fought courageously for enforcement of the law providing for the Christian marriage of the slaves and forbidding the separation of families. Every spring he conducted missions for the slaves in the country, and in fall for the sailors and traders in the city, preaching in the streets' hearing confessions for hours on end, so that he also became the apostle of Cartagena itself. The plague struck the city in 1650, and Peter was one of its first victims. For four years he was bedridden in his cell, unable to work, and almost forgotten. However, when he announced his approaching end, crowds came to kiss his hands and feet and to take away from his cell whatever they could as relics. He was given a public burial, and the fame of his heroism, his holiness, and his miracles soon spread throughout the world. Leo XIII declared him the patron of all missionary work among the Negroes.


SAINT PHILIP OF JESUS
Martyr - AD 1597 
Feast: February 6

[St. Philip of Jesus was born in Mexico at an uncertain date.]  His early life was one of disorder and sin. Vain were the remonstrances of his parents and of those who had trained him up in the path of virtue: his heart seemed hardened to every influence of grace. At last, however, he was touched. He suddenly abandoned his vicious career, and returning to God in the sacrament of penance, began a new and virtuous life. Anxious even to edify as much as he had hitherto scandalized, he yielded to an inward voice which bade him consecrate himself to God in the religious life. He applied to the children of St. Francis and was soon enrolled in their number. For a time he was faithful to the inspirations of grace, but the tempter was loathe to see a soul thus wrested from him: he again assailed the young man, and Philip, yielding in an evil hour, flung off his habit returned to the world, and again plunged into every excess. More grieved than ever at the scandal committed by their son, his parents resolved to send him abroad) and having furnished him with capital, beheld him at last depart for China. Here he traded for a time, but troubles and misfortunes overtook him, and like the prodigal son, he longed to return to his father's house. Business called him to Manilla. There he asked to be received in a fervent convent of St. Francis, of the Reform of St. Peter of Alcantara. His conversion was now sincere: his edifying life excited general admiration: and men wondered to see one whose conduct had been so irregular, become a fervent, humble religious. The tidings reached his parents in Mexico, and anxious to have the consolation of witnessing this work of the hand of the Most High, they applied to the commissary of the order, then in Mexico, and obtained an order for their son's return to America. He set sail from Manilla, with five other friars of his order, but after three months of storms was driven in at Urando, a Japanese port. A cross of light, which had been seen hovering over the vessel, warned them of the close of their career. F. Philip and another who remained, became missionaries in Japan, but the jealousy of Taycosama was aroused: the rash, boasting words of a Spanish mariner induced him to renew the persecution: six Franciscan Fathers, three Japanese Jesuits, and seventeen Japanese Christians, were arrested at Nangasacki [Nagasaki] and other places. Father Philip of Jesus was one of this happy band of martyrs. He was taken, with the rest, to Meaco, where they were all condemned by the emperor to be carted through the streets of the ecclesiastical capital, to have their noses and ears cut off, then to be sent to Ozaca,, to be carried through the streets of that city, and then through those of Sacai, with a placard before them declaring the cause of their condemnation, and finally to be crucified at Nangasacki.

The martyrdom of these heroes began on the 3d of January, 1597. On that day they were led to the place of execution in Meaco, and a piece of the ear of each was cut off; then, three by three, in carts, they were conveyed through the streets. Now, however, the usual shouts and hootings gave place to silence and tears, at the sight of these innocent men and children. In a similar way they passed through the other cities on their way to Nangasacki, but from city to city were driven on foot like cattle, to their own great joy and consolation, for at Facata they were met by some Fathers who confessed them and prepared them to die. They reached Nangasacki on the 4th of February: twenty-five crosses had been erected on a hill overlooking the bay, and to this spot, on the following day, they were conveyed. Surrounded by Christians who had flocked together from all the country around, the martyrs, full of joy, prepared for their last triumph. In a short time they were all bound to the crosses by the iron collars and fetters used in Japan, and a lancer stood by each, ready at the word of command to pierce him to the heart. Father Baptist, superior of the Franciscans, intoned the canticle of Zachary, in which all joined, and while the boys were singing the Laudate pueri Dominum, the word was given, and the lancers gave the fatal blow. Father Philip of Jesus died first, and thus gave Mexico the honor of having one of her children, as protomartyr of Japan, begin that long line of heroes which have made that country a wonder in Christian annals.

Miracles attested the will of Heaven, and Urban VIII at last formally declared St. Philip of Jesus and his companions to be martyrs, appointing the 5th of February [6 February in the new calendar] for their commemoration.


ST ROSE OF LIMA
Virgin - AD 1617 
Feast: August 23

Rose of Lima has a special claim on our interest for she has the honor of being the first person born in the Western Hemisphere to be canonized by the Church. Only a little more than half a century before her birth, the fabulous land of Peru had been discovered and seized for Spain by the explorer Francisco Pizarro. In 1533 this enterprising conquistador subdued the native population and took over as his capital the inland city of Cuzco, with its strange Inca temples, palaces, and great fortress. Two years later the seat of government was transferred to Lima, a city on the coast, which came to be called the "royal city of kings," because of its architectural splendors. Dominican friars and the representatives of other religious orders were in the vanguard of a great migration from Spain and Portugal that meant a long, dangerous journey across the Atlantic, across the Isthmus of Panama, and down the western coast of South America. To implant Christianity in the new empire was a major aim; while the civilian population, European and native, were working the mines and raising products for export, the friars and priests were intensely active. They taught, preached, learned the native languages, tried to win the love and confidence of the Indians, and soon were engaged in building churches, hospitals, and schools.

The child who became St. Rose of Lima was born on April 20 1586, of a Spaniard, Gaspar de Flores, and Maria d'Olivia, a woman who had Inca blood in her veins. The infant, one of ten children born to the couple, was baptized Isabel, after an aunt, Isabel de Herrara, who acted as godmother. This ceremony took place at home, for the baby was extremely weak. Several weeks later the tiny infant was carried to the nearby church of San Sebastian for baptism by the priest, Don Antonio Polanco. By the time she was confirmed by Archbishop Toribio of Lima, the name Isabel had been replaced by Rose, and this was the name now bestowed on her. Rose had a fresh, lovely complexion, and she was worried by the thought that this name had been given as a tribute to her beauty. So sensitive was her conscience that she had genuine scruples over bearing the name, and on one occasion, after hearing someone praise her comeliness, she rubbed pepper into her face to mar it; another time, she put lime on her hands, inducing acute suffering. This was her way-a way conditioned by the time and place-of fighting a temptation to vanity. Such self-imposed cruelties, as we have seen in the lives of some of the other saints, have not been uncommon, particularly among those of a mystical bent.

Rose seems to have taken for her model St. Catherine of Siena, and, like the earlier saint, she experienced so ardent a love of God whenever she was in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament that exaltation completely filled her soul. Yet Rose was not without a practical side. Her father had been well-to-do, but when he lost money in mining ventures, the family's fortunes reached a very low ebb. Rose helped out by selling her fine needlework; she also raised beautiful flowers and these too were taken to market. One of her brothers, Ferdinand, was sympathetic and understanding toward this sister who was so markedly "different." As she grew to maturity, her parents were anxious to have Rose marry, and indeed there were several worthy aspirants for her hand. Rose did not wish marriage, and, to end the arguments and offers, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, donned the habit, and took a vow of perpetual virginity.

For many years Rose lived virtually as a recluse. There was a little hut in the family garden, and this she used as an oratory. She often wore on her head a circlet of silver studded on the inside with sharp points, in memory of the Lord's crown of thorns. Other forms of penitence which she inflicted on her body were floggings, administered three times daily, the wearing of a hair shirt, and the dragging of a heavy, wooden cross about the garden. She rubbed her lips with gall and often chewed bitter herbs to deaden the sense of taste. Both eating and sleeping were reduced to a minimum. Naturally her health was affected, but the physical disorders which resulted from this regime-stomach ailments, asthma, rheumatism, and fevers-were suffered uncomplainingly. This manner of life offended her family, who preferred their daughter to follow the more conventional and accepted ways of holiness. Finally, when Rose began to tell of visions, revelations, visitations, and voices they deplored her penitential practices more than ever. She endured their disapproval and grew in spiritual fortitude.

In spite of the rigors of her ascetic life, Rose was not wholly detached from happenings around her, and her awareness of the suffering of others often led her to protest against some of the practices of the Spanish overlords. In the new world, the discovery of unbelievable mineral resources was doing little to enrich or ennoble the lives of the Peruvian natives. The gold and silver from this land of El Dorado was being shipped back to strengthen the empire and embellish the palaces and cathedrals of Old Spain, but at its source there was vice, exploitation, and corruption. The natives were oppressed and impoverished, in spite of the missionaries' efforts to alleviate their miseries and to exercise a restraining hand on the governing class. Rose was cognizant of the evils, and spoke out against them fearlessly. Sometimes she brought sick and hungry persons into her own home that she might better care for them.

For fifteen years Rose bore the disapproval and persecution of those close to her, as well as the more severe trial of desolation of soul. At length an examination by priests and physicians was indicated, and this resulted in the judgment that her experiences were indeed supernatural. Rose's last years were passed in the home of a government official, Don Gonzalo de Massa. During an illness towards the end of her life, she was able to pray, "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Thy love in my heart." This remarkable woman died on August 25, 1617, at the age of thirty-one.

Not until after her death was it known how widely her beneficent influence had extended, and how deeply venerated she was by the common people of Lima. When her body was borne down the street to the cathedral, a great cry of mourning arose from the crowd. For several days it was impossible to perform the ritual of burial on account of the great press of sorrowing citizens around her bier. She was finally laid to rest in the Dominican convent at Lima. Later, when miracles and cures were being attributed to her intervention, the body was transferred to the church of San Domingo. There it reposes today in a special chapel. Rose of Lima was declared patroness of South America and the Philippines; she was canonized by Pope Clement in 1671, August 30 being appointed her feast-day. This holy woman is highly honored in all Spanish-American countries. The emblems associated with her are an anchor, a crown of roses, and a city.


Blessed Sebastian de Aparicion
Monk - AD 1600 

The Blessed Sebastian de Aparicion was born at Gudina in Galicia, of poor, but pious parents. While he was yet a child, a contagious disorder desolated the place, and little Sebastian, being seized with it, was exposed in a ruined cabin, near which food was placed for him. Abandoned by men, he was cured by a wolf, which, entering the hut, opened the tumor, and thus saved his life. Born to a life of toil, he took service at an early age, but, after a few years, found this station full of danger to his purity for he was modest, handsome, and correct in his deportment. He next took a little cottage near San Lucar, and became a small farmer, but meeting temptations again, he sailed to America and landed at Vera Cruz in 1533 Puebla was the city which he chose, and there he spent most of his life. He turned his attention to the breaking and training of horses and cattle, and, in a short time, acquired considerable wealth, although the poor were always certain of abundant alms at his hands. Perceiving the difficulty of transportation in that country, he opened a new road from Zacatecas to Mexico, and ran a line of express wagons from; the mines to the capital, and thence to Puebla Wealth now flowed in upon him, and many parents sought to gain him as a son-in-law, but he had chosen a life of chastity and austerity: in a state of affluence. his manner of life was harda life of toil and self-denial, less comfortable than that of many who relied on his alms for support. While residing at Chapultepec, where he had taken a farm, he fell dangerously ill, and preparing to die, bequeathed all he had to a neighboring convent of Dominicans.

But his career was not yet ended. He recovered his health, and resumed his former way of life: but believing it prudent, at his advanced age, to have some, one near him, he married a poor, but virtuous girl, proposing, with her consent, to lead a life of perfect continency, as many holy couples have done. In this state he lived in great peace for about a year, when the early death of his wife left him again alone in the world. At the age of sixty-three he again married, but his second wife, who was greatly attached to him, being troubled one day at his prolonged absence, climbed a tree that stood by their door, to look down the road, when by some accident she fell, receiving injuries which caused her death.

Soon after this, Sebastian felt himself called to enter the religious state, and obedient to his vocation, proceeded to Mexico, to consult his director, an Observantine Friar. By the advice of the latter, he gave all his property to a convent of Poor Clares, and assuming the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis, entered the service of the convent. This state did not, however, realize his desires: he wished to be a religious bound by vows, and renewing his solicitations, he was at last received by Father John de Bastidas, warden at Mexico, into the novitiate of the Observantine Franciscans, on the 9th of June, 1573, in the 71st year of his age.

His fervor and assiduity in performing the duties imposed upon him, soon won the esteem of his superiors, and after his profession in the following year, he was sent to Puebla, and made alms-questor for the convent. In this post he continued to the close of his life, except during a short period, when, on a charge of being a stupid, slovenly old man, he was deprived of it and sent back to the novitiate. His sanctity was, however, too clear not to triumph over persecution. His life as a monk was a series of miracles and prophecies; the very animals obeyed him, as they did Adam before the fall, and he had but to assign his cattle limits in their pasture to be sure that not a blade of grass beyond would be taken.

After having spent many years in this laborious career, obsessed by devils, worn by disease he was seized with a fatal malady, and, for the first time almost in his life, placed in a comfortable bed. He sank gradually, edifying all by his sanctity and desire to be with God, and expired on the 25th of February, 1600, at the age of 98. He was at once invoked as a saint; miracles attested the approval of Heaven; his body remained incorrupt, and the civil and ecclesiastical authorities called for his canonization. The process began, was again and again delayed, but he was at last beatified, on the 23d of February, 1789.


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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