Our Lady of Mercy

The story of Our Lady of Ransom begins with St. Peter Nolasco, born in Languedoc about 1189. At the age of 25 he took a vow of chastity and made over his vast estates to the Church. After making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, he went to Barcelona where he began to practice various works of charity.

He conceived the idea of establishing an Order for the redemption of captives seized by the Moors on the seas and in Spain itself; they were being cruelly tormented in their African prisons to make them deny their faith.

He spoke of it to the king of Aragon, James I, who knew him well and already respected him as a saint; for the king had already asked for his prayers when he sent out his armies to combat the Moors, and he attributed his victories to those prayers.

In effect all the Christians of Europe, and above all of Spain, were praying intensely to obtain from God the remedy for the great evil that had befallen them. The divine Will was soon manifested. On one night — August 1, 1218 — the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Peter, to his confessor, Raymund of Penafort, and to the king, and through these three servants of God established a work of the most perfect charity, the redemption of captives.

On that night, while the Church was celebrating the feast of St. Peter in Chains, the Virgin Mary appeared first to St. Peter, saying that she indeed desired the establishment of a religious Order, later known as the Mercedarians, bearing the name of her mercy. Its members would undertake to deliver Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as a ransom pledge.

The Order, thus solemnly established in Spain, was approved by Pope Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. By the grace of God and under the protection of His Virgin Mother, the Order spread rapidly. Its growth was increased as the charity and piety of its members was observed; they very often followed Our Lady’s directive to give themselves up to voluntary slavery when necessary, to aid the good work. It was to return thanks to God and the Blessed Virgin that a feast day was instituted and observed on September 24, first in the Order, then everywhere in Spain and France. It was finally extended to the entire Church by Pope Innocent XII. Pope Leo XIII encouraged the devotion by making this feast proper to all the dioceses of England, with a focus on how Our Lady ransoms us from the slavery of our sins, and brings us the grace of conversion.

~Source:catholicculture.org

Prayer to Our Lady of Ransom

O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son

was pleased to give new children to Thy Church

for the deliverance of Christ’s faithful

from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee,

that we who love and honor her as the foundress of so great a work may,

by her merits and intercession,

be ourselves delivered from all sin

and from the bondage of the evil one.

Through the same Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

St.Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio was an Italian priest who was known for his piety and charity, as well as the gift of the stigmata, which has never been explained.

St. Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione, on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. His parents were peasant farmers. He had an older brother and three younger sisters, as well as two other siblings who died in infancy. As a child, he was very religious and by the age of five he reportedly made the decision to dedicate his life to God.

Fortunately, his parents were also very religious and they supported his Catholic development. His family attended daily Mass. Francisco served as an altar boy at his local parish. Francisco was known for taking on penances and his mother once scolded him for sleeping on a stone floor.

Francisco’s community was also supportive. Saint’s days were popular celebrations and commonly celebrated in his town.

From his tender age, Francisco had a peculiar ability. He could see guardian angels, spoke with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. This was not something taught to him, but occurred so naturally that he assumed other people could see them too.

Although Francisco and his family was very religious, they were also very poor, which required that he work. He spent many years as a child tending to a small flock of sheep owned by his family. Unfortunately, the work meant he was unable to attend school regularly, so he quickly fell behind other kids his age.

Francisco was sickly as a child. He suffered an attack of gastroenteritis at age six and when he was ten, he had typhoid fever.

In 1897, after three years of schooling, Francisco expressed to his parents that he wanted to become a friar. His parents traveled to a nearby community of monks and asked if Francesco could join them. He was evaluated, despite his young age, and was told that he needed more education before he could join.

To prepare Francesco, his parents decided to hire a private tutor. To pay the cost of the tutor, Francesco’s father traveled to America to find work, and sent the money home.

At the age of 15, Francisco was finally ready and he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars at Morcone. He took the name of “Pio” in honor of Pope Pius I, whose relic he often saw at his local chapel.

At the age of 17, Brother Pio became extremely ill and could only digest milk and cheese. He was sent to the mountain for better air, and when this did not work, he was sent home to his family. Amid all this, he continued to study for the priesthood.

On one occasion during prayer, a fellow monk astonishingly reported he saw Pio levitate during an episode of ecstasy.

Brother Pio became a priest in 1910, but was permitted to remain at home because of his poor health.

In 1915, with World War I afflicting the world, Padre Pio was summoned for military service. He was compelled to leave a tiny community of monks, with whom he was then housed, and drafted into medical service. However, he was so sickly that he was often sent home, only to then be recalled for service. In March 1916, he was finally dismissed because of his poor health.

On September 20, Padre Pio was hearing confessions when he felt pain in his hands and feet. He noticed the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appearing on his hands and feet. The experience was painful. Bleeding occurred. The wounds smelled of roses, and although they continued to weep, they never became infected. Doctors who later examined the stigmata were amazed at their perfectly round shape.

By 1919, word began to spread about Padre Pio’s stigmata and people came from far away to examine him.

Padre Pio became popular with the people he encountered and soon began to attribute supernatural occurrences to him. For example, he was said to levitate, and able to perform miracles.

His popularity became a source of concern for the Church and the Vatican began to restrict his activities to minimize public interaction. Padre Pio himself was uncomfortable with his newfound popularity and the attention he received because of his stigmata. A Church investigation into his stigmata concluded that his condition was not faked.

By 1934, the Vatican began to change its attitude towards Padre Pio and he was again allowed to perform public duties. He could preach, despite never being officially licensed by the Church to do so. Pope Pius XI encouraged people to visit him.

In 1947, Fr. Karol Wojtyla visited Padre Pio who prophetically told him he would rise to the highest post in the Church.” Fr. Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

Padre Pio used his newfound popularity to open a hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo. The facility opened in 1956.

Pope Paul VI reviewed the controversies surrounding Padre Pio and dismissed any concerns over his conduct and the authenticity of his stigmata.

Padre Pio became internationally famous. He was known for his piety, charity and the quality of his preaching. He famously advised, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”

He had other illnesses, as well, including cancer which was miraculously healed after just two treatments. Other problems, such as arthritis, which plagued him in his later years, never went away.

Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968. His funeral was attended by over 100,000 people.

Pope John Paul II recognized Padre Pio as a saint on June 16, 2002. His feast day is September 23. He is the patron of civil defense volunteers, adolescents, and the village of Pietrelcina.

Blessed Marie Therese of St.Joseph

Anna Maria Tauscher — was born on June 19, 1855 in Sandow, Germany, which is now in Poland.  She came from a deeply religious Protestant pastor’s family.  God guided this richly talented and capable woman on steep and stony roads to the Catholic faith.  On October 30, 1888 she was received into the Catholic Church.  From then on she herself became poor for the sake of the poor, homeless for the sake of the homeless.  She placed her life in the service of God.  In order to realize this goal, she founded a religious Congregation, the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus on July 2, 1891.

Mother Maria Teresa took for a model St. Teresa of Jesus, the great Spanish Mystic and Reformer of the Order of Carmel.  Mother Maria Teresa took the Carmelite spirit of prayer and coupled it with apostolic service.  Her concern was aimed especially at poor and neglected children, above all those who had no home.  Her loving dedication was further directed to families and individuals who had left the Church, to the lonely, the aged, to immigrants and transient workers–simply all who were homeless in any way.  So it was that contemplative prayer coupled with active charity became the distinguishing mark of the Carmel of the Divine Heart of Jesus.

After a long life of dedicated service, Mother Maria Teresa died at the age of 83 on September 20, 1938 at the Mother House of the Carmel DCJ, in Sittard, Holland.  Bishop W. Lemmens opened her beatification process in Sittard on February 2, 1953. On December 20,2002 Pope John Paul II declared Mother Mary Teresa of St. Joseph venerable. In December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI approved the miracle necessary for her beatification. Mother Maria Teresa was beatified on May 13, 2006 in Roermond, Netherlands.

Before her death she wrote: “To be able to dry tears, to heal wounds of souls from the heights of heaven, this is my ardent wish.”

“Let us rest in the Divine Heart like little children in the arms of their father. The greater our confidence, the more will God’s goodness be seen in us.”

-Blessed Marie Therese

“Through cross to throne! That is the way, the royal way of the cross that leads to heaven, in union with God.”

-Blessed Marie Therese

PRAYER

O, God, Our Father, You purified Your Servant Maria Teresa of St. Joseph through suffering and afflictions.  Her great faith, her firm trust and unselfish love made her, through Your grace, a pure instrument in Your hand with which You could do great things.

Encouraged by her example and her trust in Your help we ask, through her intercession (name your intention here)

May Your holy Will be done Lord. 

Make our hearts ready to accept what You send.  Then we know that we pray in the spirit of Mother Mary Teresa.

This we ask through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

St.Januarius

Together with his deacons Socius and Festus, and his lector Desiderius, Januarius, bishop of Beneventum, was subjected to most atrocious torturing during the Diocletian persecution (about 304). Nevertheless, with God’s aid they were preserved unmaimed. The wild animals let loose upon them would not attack. Beheaded at Puteoli, their bodies were reverently interred in the neighboring cities. Eventually the remains of St. Januarius became the prized possession of the city of Naples.

“Even to the present time the blood of the saint that is preserved in a glass vial will become fluid shortly after it is brought close to the head of the saint; then it bubbles up in a remarkable manner, as if it had just been shed” (Breviary). Cardinal Schuster makes this statement in his Liber Sacramentorum (vol. 8, p. 233): “The author has seen the marvel of the blood liquefaction at closest range and can give witness to the fact. Taking into consideration all the scientific investigations that have been made, he would say that a natural explanation of the phenomena does not seem possible.”

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Our Lady of La Salette

On September 19, 1846—the century following the diabolical French Revolution—Our Lady appeared to two shepherd children, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat, in La Salette, France. She was weeping, and she told them of a time of impending trial for France as well as for the whole world.

Our Lady first spoke to the two children together before entrusting them each individually with a secret:

Come near, my children, be not afraid; I am here to tell you great news. If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let fall the arm of my Son. It is so strong, so heavy, that I can no longer withhold it. For how long a time do I suffer for you! If I would not have my Son abandon you, I am compelled to pray to him without ceasing; and as to you, you take no heed of it.

However much you pray, however much you do, you will never recompense the pains I have taken for you. Six days I have given you to labor, the seventh I had kept for myself; and they will not give it to me. It is this which makes the arm of my Son so heavy. Those who drive the carts cannot swear without introducing the name of my Son. These are the two things which makes the arm of my Son so heavy.

The children were then individually given two separate secrets, which they recorded in July of 1851 for the Church authorities. Although this Marian apparition has been subject to controversy and misrepresentation, below is purported to be the entirety of Maximin’s original account of the secret entrusted to him, described in his own words and translated from the original French:

On September 19, 1846, we saw a beautiful Lady. We never said that this lady was the Blessed Virgin but we always said that it was a beautiful Lady. I do not know if it is the Blessed Virgin or another person. As for me, I believe today that it is the Blessed Virgin.

Here is what this Lady said to me:

“If my people continue, what I will say to you will arrive earlier, if it changes a little, it will be a little later. France has corrupted the universe, one day it will be punished. The faith will die out in France: three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it.

Then, after [that], nations will convert, the faith will be rekindled everywhere. A great country in the north of Europe, now Protestant, will be converted; by the support of this country all the other nations of the world will be converted.

Before all that arrives, great disorders will arrive, in the Church, and everywhere. Then, after [that], our Holy Father the Pope will be persecuted. His successor will be a pontiff that nobody expects. Then, after [that], a great peace will come, but it will not last a long time. A monster will come to disturb it. All that I tell you here will arrive in the other century, at the latest in the year two thousand.”

Below is purported to be the complete text of the secret given to Melanie:

“Mélanie, I will say something to you which you will not say to anybody: The time of God’s wrath has arrived! If, when you say to the people what I have said to you so far, and what I will still ask you to say, if, after that, they do not convert, (if they do not do penance, and they do not cease working on Sunday, and if they continue to blaspheme the Holy Name of God), in a word, if the face of the earth does not change, God will be avenged against the people ungrateful and slave of the demon. My Son will make his power manifest!

Paris, this city soiled by all kinds of crimes, will perish infallibly. Marseilles will be destroyed in a little time. When these things arrive, the disorder will be complete on the earth, the world will be given up to its impious passions.

The pope will be persecuted from all sides, they will shoot at him, they will want to put him to death, but no one will be able to do it, the Vicar of God will triumph again this time. The priests and the Sisters, and the true servants of my Son will be persecuted, and several will die for the faith of Jesus Christ. A famine will reign at the same time.

After all these will have arrived, many will recognize the hand of God on them, they will convert, and do penance for their sins. A great king will go up on the throne, and will reign a few years. Religion will re-flourish and spread all over the world, and there will be a great abundance, the world, glad not to be lacking nothing, will fall again in its disorders, will give up God, and will be prone to its criminal passions.

[Among] God’s ministers, and the Spouses of Jesus-Christ, there will be some who will go astray, and that will be the most terrible. Lastly, hell will reign on earth. It will be then that the Antichrist will be born of a Sister, but woe to her! Many will believe in him, because he will claim to have come from heaven, woe to those who will believe in him!

That time is not far away, twice 50 years will not go by. My child, you will not say what I have just said to you. (You will not say it to anybody, you will not say if you must say it one day, you will not say what that it concerns), finally you will say nothing anymore until I tell you to say it!”

St.Joseph of Cupertino

Joseph of Cupertino was such an extraordinary saint that his fellow-Christians could scarcely cope with him. First of all he was forgetful, even as a child, often not turning up for the scanty meals his impoverished widowed mother prepared. He would wander about the village of Cupertino, Italy, where he was born, gazing open-mouthed at everything. He found it hard to learn. And he was clumsy.

When he was seventeen he decided he wanted to become a monk or friar. The Franciscans would not take him because, they said, he was too stupid. The Capuchins threw him out after eight months because he broke everything. Eventually a Franciscan house at La Grotella accepted him as a stableboy.

He prayed and fasted and did his best to perform every task to perfection. Eventually the delighted brothers decided to accept him as one of their equals, and in 1628 he was ordained priest. From that time onwards Joseph of Cupertino was continually passing into ecstatic trances, sometimes even appearing to float above the ground. No meals could be taken in the monastery without some extraordinary interruption because of Joseph’s miraculous behaviour. For thirty-five years the community decided that he should be kept out of the choir and refectory.

Naturally enough his miracles and above all the reports of his supernatural levitations attracted countless curious visitors. In 1653 the church authorities transferred him to a Capuchin friary in the hills of Pietarossa and kept him completely out of sight. Finally Saint Joseph was allowed to join his own order at a place called Osima, but he was still kept out of sight until his death in 1663. All this he bore without the remotest complaint. Fittingly the twentieth century has made the saint patron of pilots and airline passengers.

Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley

St.Robert Bellarmine

Robert was born at Montepulciano in Tuscany on October 4, 1542, the feast of the Poverello of Assisi toward whom he always cherished a special devotion. The day on which he died, September 17, is now the feast in honor of the stigmata of St. Francis.

In 1560 Robert Bellarmine entered the Society of Jesus. He easily ranks among its greatest men, illustrious for learning as well as for piety, humility, and simplicity of heart. If it were possible to summarize his life in a single sentence, one that would resolve all the varied activities and accomplishments of his long career, a verse from the psalm might serve: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten.” His most important work was controversial in nature but the impact of his presentation “resembled the final chord in a mighty cantata, a chord that resounded through all the vice and scandal resulting from the internal corruption of the Church of that day, and that chord heralded Mother Church as one, holy, and Catholic” (E. Birminghaus).

Bellarmine also acted as confessor to the youthful Aloysius and John Berchmans. It might be asked why three hundred years passed before the beatification and canonization of Bellarmine. Long ago Bishop Hefele pointed to the reason when he wrote: “Bellarmine deserves the highest degree of respect from Catholics, even though he has not been canonized. Those who labored to besmirch him have only erected a monument of shame for themselves!” Finally in 1923, he was beatified; canonization followed in 1930, and on September 17, 1931, Pope Pius XI declared him a doctor of the Church.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch