January Feast Days

Blessed Petrus Donders

Son of Arnold Denis Donders and Petronella van den Brekel. Peter grew up poor, rarely getting to school, working at home and in a local factory with his brother Martin, and dreaming of becoming a priest. With the help of local priests and a wealthy patron, he enter the seminary at the College of Herlaar at age twenty-two, initially working as a servant while he studied. At age twenty-six her applied to the Franciscans, Jesuits and Redemptorists, but was turned down by each. Ordained on 5 June 1841 after nearly ten years of work.

Missionary to the Dutch colony in Surinam, Dutch Guiana, arriving in Paramaribo on 16 September 1842. Evangelized and ministered to plantation slaves, constantly in touch with his superiors to complain of the terrible treatment of the workers. He baptized at least 1200 in his first couple of years, and worked among the sick during an epidemic in 1851. Transferred to the leper colony of Batavia in 1856. There he ministered to both the body and soul of the 600 or so patients. His constant harassment of the colonial authorities resulted in much better care for the patients.

When the Redemptorists arrived in Surinam in 1866 to take charge of the mission, Peter joined the Order, becoming a 57 year old novice in 1866, and making his final vows on 24 June 1867. He then returned to Batavia with a crew of Redemptorists ready to help the lepers. With the added help, Father Peter expanded his work, and began to evangelize the Indians in the region. He learned their languages and had made a good start on the work when his health failed. His superiors transferred him to easier assignments, but as the end approached, Peter returned to Batavia where he worked with the patients until his end.

“We can say that he was an apostle of the poor. In fact, he was born into a poor family and had to lead the life of a worker before he could pursue his priestly vocation. He dedicated his whole priestly life of the poor. In addition, he is an invitation and an incentive for the renewal and reflourishing of the missionary thrust which in the last century and in this one has made an exceptional contribution to carrying out of the Church’s missionary duty. Joining the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer late in life, he practiced in an excellent way what Saint Alphonsus proposed as an ideal for his religious: imitate the virtues and examples of the Redeemer in preaching the divine word to the poor.

~St.Pope John Paul II in the beatification homily for Blessed Peter

st Padre Pio, Stories of the Supernatural

Miracles of St.Padre Pio

+ During the Second World War, Mrs. Luisa’s son was an officer in the Royal British Navy. At that time she prayed every day for her son’s conversion and salvation. One day an English pilgrim arrived to San Giovanni Rotondo, carrying some English newspapers. Luisa wanted to read them. She found a piece of news concerning the sinking of the warship on which her son was stationed. She immediately went crying to Padre Pio, who consoled her: “Who has told you that your son is dead?” In fact, Padre Pio was able to explain to her exactly the name and the address of the hotel where the young officer was staying after he escaped from the shipwreck in the Atlantic. He was there waiting for a new assignment again. Immediately Luisa sent him a letter, and after a couple of week she received an answer from her son.

+ A woman at San Giovanni Rotondo was such a good person that Padre Pio said it was impossible to find any fault in her soul to forgive. In other words, she lived to go to heaven. At the end of Lent, Paolina felt seriously ill. The doctors said there were no hopes for her. Her husband and her five children went to the convent to pray with Father Pio and ask him to help her. Two of the five children pulled Father Pio’s habit and cried. Father Pio got upset, but he tried to console them and promised to pray for them, nothing else! Some days later, at the beginning of the Seventh hour, the sainted Padre’s behavior changed. In fact, he asked for Paolina’s healing and told everybody: “She will resuscitate on Easter Day.” But on Good Friday Paolina lost consciousness as she fell into a coma. On Saturday, after some hours, Paolina finally died. Some of her relatives took her wedding dress in order to put it on her according to an old tradition of the country. Other relatives ran to the convent to ask Padre Pio for a miracle. He answered them: “She will be resuscitated” and he went to the altar for the Holy Mass. When Padre Pio started to sing the Gloria and the sound of the bells announced Christ’s resurrection, Padre Pio’s voice broke off with a sob and his eyes were full of tears. In the same moment, Paolina resuscitated. Without any help she got up from the bed, she knelt down and she prayed for the Creed three times. Then she stood up and smiled. She has recovered…or it should be better to say: “She has resuscitated.“ In fact padre Pio had not said, “she will recover” but “she will resuscitate.” When she was asked what happened during the period when she was dead, she answered: “I went up, went up, went up; when I entered into a great light, I came back.”

+ A woman said: “My first daughter, who was born in 1953, was rescued by Father Pio when she was eighteen months old. On the morning of January 6, 1955 my husband and I were in church attending the Holy Mass and our daughter was at home with her grandfather. There was an accident: she fell into a tub of boiling hot water. She was burned on her stomach and back. The doctor came in an hour and he said, “take your daughter to a hospital immediately because she could die from her wounds”. For this reason he did not give us any medicine. After the doctor left I started to pray for Father Pio’s help. It was nearly noon. As I was getting myself ready to go to the Hospital, my daughter who was alone in the bedroom called me: “Mommy, I don’t have a wound anymore!” “Who has taken your wound?” I asked her out of curiosity. She answered: “Father Pio has come. He took my wounds by putting his whole hand on my burn”. Actually there was no sign of burns on my daughter’s body even though the doctor had told me my daughter was going to die.

+The peasants of San Giovanni Rotondo fondly remember the following event. In spring, the almond trees were blossoming and they were promising a good harvest. But unfortunately millions of voracious caterpillars arrived and devoured the leaves and flowers. They did not spare even the shell. After two days of trying to stop that infestation, the peasants, for whom the almonds were the only economic resource – decided to speak to Father Pio about the problem. Father Pio looked at the trees from the window of the convent and decided to bless them. He put on the sacred vestments and started to pray. When he finished praying he took the holy water and made the sign of the Cross in the air, in the direction of the trees. The next day, the caterpillars had disappeared but the almond trees looked like sticks. It was a disaster: the harvest had been lost. What happened next is incredible! We had the most abundant harvest; a harvest like we had never seen before, but how is it possible that trees without flowers could produce fruits? How was it possible to have fruit from trees that looked like sticks? Scientists have never been able to give any reason for this phenomenon.

+ In the garden of the convent there were trees; cypresses, some fruit and some pine. Especially on summer afternoons, Father Pio used to stay in the shade together with his friends and guests in order to have a little relief from the hot weather. Once when Father Pio was speaking with some people a large number of birds suddenly started to chirp and make noise from the shade of the trees. The birds had composed a symphony. Father Pio became annoyed with the symphony so, looking at the birds he said: “Keep silent!” At which point, the birds, the crickets and the cicadas fell silent. The people who were in the garden were greatly astonished! In fact Father Pio had spoken to the birds like Saint Francis.

+ A gentleman said: “My mother came from Foggia and was one of the Father Pio’s first spiritual daughters. She had asked Father Pio “to convert and protect my father”. In April 1945 my father was condemned to be executed by firing squad. He was in front of the platoon when he suddenly saw father Pio appear in front of him to protect him. The commander of the platoon gave the order to fire but no shots were fired from the rifles that were pointed at him. The seven members of the platoon and their commander, astonished, checked their rifles but they didn’t find any problem. So the platoon again pointed their rifles at my father and the commander ordered his soldiers to shoot again, but for a second time the rifles did not work. This mysterious and inexplicable occurrence stopped his execution. Afterward my father was pardoned due to having been awarded a medal during the war; moreover he was disabled in action during the war. After my father returned home, he converted to Catholicism, receiving the sacraments at San Giovanni Rotondo, where he had gone to thank Father Pio. In this way my mother obtained the miracles she had always asked from Father Pio: “her husband’s conversion!”

+ Father Onorato said: “I went to San Giovanni Rotondo with a friend of mine by motorcycle. I arrived at the convent some minutes before noon. After paying my respects to the superior, I went to the refectory to meet Padre Pio in order to kiss his hand. It should be taken into account that my motorbike model was called “wasp” so Father Pio told me: “Son, did the ‘wasp’ sting you?” I was quite surprised because Padre Pio had not seen me when I arrived at the convent, but he knew what kind of transportation I had used to get there. The next morning, we left San Giovanni Rotondo on my “wasp” motorbike and set out for Saint Michel, a little town not far from Saint Giovanni Rotondo. The gasoline tank was going empty, so we decided to fill up at Monte Saint Angelo. But as soon as we reached that little town, we had a bad surprise: all the gas stations were closed. At that point we decided to go back to San Giovanni Rotondo, and hoped to find somebody along the road who could provide us with some gasoline. I was worried about my brothers in the convent; it would be ungracious not to be back at the convent by lunchtime, for they were waiting for me. But low on gas, the engine started to make noise, and after a few feet it stopped altogether. We checked the tank; it was empty. With sadness I pointed out to my friend that we had only ten minutes to reach the convent and take part in the lunch with our brothers. We could not find any solution, and for this reason my friend stomped on the starter pedal. Unbelievable! The motorbike started again! We immediately set out for Saint Giovanni Rotondo without asking ourselves how the motorbike had started without gasoline. When we arrived in the middle of the square of the convent, the motorbike stopped working again. We opened the tank and realized it was still as dry as it was before. We were also astonished when we looked at our watches: it was ten minutes before lunchtime. That meant we had covered fifteen kilometers in five minutes: an average of 180 kilometers per hour. Without gasoline! I entered the convent as the brothers were coming down for lunch; and when I went to meet Father Pio, he was watching me and smiling.

+ It was the month of May in 1925. Maria had a little baby who had been ill since birth. Maria was very worried about her baby. In fact, after a medical visit, she was told her child had a very complicated illness. There was no hope for the baby: he could not recover. Maria decided to go by train to Saint Giovanni Rotondo. She lived in a very little town in the south of Puglia (a poor region in the South of Italy), but she had heard some stories concerning Padre Pio, a friar who had the stigmata like Jesus, worked miracles, healed people of their diseases, and gave hope to the hopeless. She immediately set out, but during the trip the baby died. She watched over his little body all night, then placed it in a suitcase and closed it. The following day she arrived at the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo. She had no hope, but she had not lost her faith. That evening she met Padre Pio. She was in the line of people waiting for confession, and she had in her hands the suitcase that contained her son’s body. Her son had died twenty-four hours before. When she arrived in front of Father Pio, she knelt down, cried, and asked his help. He looked at her intently. The mother opened the suitcase and showed Father Pio the corpse. The poor padre was very shocked by the mother’s sorrow. He took the little body and put his hand on the boy’s head; then he prayed, looking up to Heaven. In a moment, the poor creature was alive again. A gesture, a movement of the feet, the arms…he looked as if he had just awakened after a long sleep. Speaking to the mother Padre Pio said: “Mother, why are you crying? Your son is sleeping!” The mother’s shouts of joy, and those of the crowd, filled the church. Everyone spoke about the miracle!

+ In the evening an engineer was staying late at the convent, but, when he decided to leave, he noticed it was raining. So he told Padre Pio, “I do not have any umbrella! Could I stay here until tomorrow morning? If not I will get wet.” – “I am sorry my dear, it is not possible. But don’t worry! I will keep you company!” answered Father Pio. But that engineer had thought it would be much better for Father not to do that penance, although it would have been less treacherous with Padre Pio’s assistance. Anyway, he put on his hat and started to cover the two miles between the convent and the town. But as soon as he went out he realized with surprise it was not raining anymore. It was just drizzling when he arrived at the home where he was a guest. “My God!” the woman who opened the door exclaimed. “You must be wet to the bone!” – “Not at all,” the engineer answered. “It is not raining.” At that point, the peasants who were hosting him looked at each other dumbfounded. “What! It is not raining anymore? It is pouring! Listen!” They opened the door again and it was raining. They told him it had been raining for an hour without interruption. “How did you manage to come here without getting wet?” they asked him. The engineer answered, “Padre Pio told me he would have come here together with me.” Then the peasants realized it had been Padre Pio’s miracle and they were able to tell him, “Now everything is clear if Padre Pio told you that.” Everything has been cleared and they found themselves in the kitchen for dinner when the woman said, “For sure Padre Pio’s company is much better than an umbrella!”

+ A man from Ascoli Piceno (an Italian city) said, “Toward the end of the 1950s, I went to Saint Giovanni Rotondo with my wife to go to confession, and I received absolution after Padre Pio’s counsel and penance. In the evening I was still in the convent and Padre Pio saw me again and he said, ‘Are you still here?’ – ‘My “little mouse” did not start,’ I answered. – ‘What exactly is a little mouse?’ Padre Pio asked. ‘It is my car,’ I answered, ‘a little mouse model.’ – ‘Let’s go and have a look,’ said Father Pio. He invited me to leave the monastery, which we did without any problem. We traveled all the night and day and the following morning, I took my car to the mechanic in order to have him look at it. The mechanic told me, after his checks that the electric system of the car was out of order. And he did not believe me when I told him I had traveled in the car all night. In fact, it was impossible to cover two hundred miles, between San Giovanni Rotondo and Ascoli Piceno, with such a car, and I realized Padre Pio had helped me, so I thanked him in my mind.

+ A good woman’s husband was very sick. The woman ran to the convent, but she asked herself, “How do I reach father Pio?” She had to wait for at least three days if she wanted to meet him for a confession. So during the Mass she stood-up and walked from one side of the Church to the other. Finally, she decided to tell Our Lady what her problem was and asked at the same moment for Padre Pio’s help. After the Mass, she started to move into the Church again, in order to reach Father Pio. Finally, she managed to reach the famous corridor where Father Pio had to pass. As soon as father Pio watched her, he said: “Woman with a little faith, when will you finally ask for my help? Do you think I am deaf? You have already told me it five times when you were in front of me, at my back, on my right and on my left. I understood! I understood! …Go home! Everything is OK.” She went home and found her husband was healed.

+In the book of the convent, on the line of October 23rd, 1953, this annotation can be read.

“This morning Miss Amelia Z., a blind girl who was born blind, who is 27 years old, has come from the province of Vicenza (Italy) and she started seeing. She has asked to padre Pio to have her sight after her confession. Padre Pio said: “Be faithful and pray a lot”. In the same moment the young girl saw Padre Pio: the face, the hand, the half gloves that hid the stigmatas.

The sight has quickly increased. She informed Padre Pio about the miracle and he said: “We can say thanks to the Lord.”

Then the young girl asked the complete sight from Padre Pio and he said: “Step by step and it will come.”

Miracles of Jesus

The Crucifix of St.Bridget of Sweden

We are indebted to two of the St.Bridget’s confessors, Peter of Vadstena and Peter of Alvastra, for the biography of the Saint that was written in the year of her death, 1373. From this biography, we learn that Bridget was born in 1303 to a mother known for her deep piety and to Birger Persson, a provincial judge who was one of the wealthiest landholders of the country. At the age of 14 (or 15), Bridget consented to her parents’ wishes and was married to Prince Ulf Gudmarsson, who was then 18. The happy marriage was blessed with eight children, among them being St. Catherine of Sweden.

Apparently Bridget’s saintly and happy married life was noticed by members of the Swedish court, since she was summoned there around the year 1335 to serve as companion to the newly married Queen Blanche of Namur, wife of Magnus Eriksson, King of Sweden. It was hoped that the Saint’s spiritual practices and kindly disposition would affect the queen, but Bridget eventually realized that she could do nothing to diminish the queen’s extravagances or improve her “flighty nature.” After an almost six-year effort, Bridget left the court with the love and respect of the royal couple.

When she was almost 40 years of age, Bridget joined her husband in a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostella, Spain. On the return journey, her husband was stricken with an illness, from which he died three years later. Before dying, he tenderly placed on his wife’s finger a gold ring which he said would serve to remind her of their mutual and undying love. Now widowed, Bridget divided her husband’s estate among her children and devoted herself entirely to prayer, penance and religious undertakings.The visions which the Saint had started to experience during her youth now became more frequent. During the year 1346, St. Bridget founded a monastery at Vadstena for an order of nuns known as the Brigittines, or the Order of St. Saviour. The monastery was richly endowed by King Magnus and was governed by the Saint’s daughter, St. Catherine of Sweden. To seek confirmation of the order, St. Bridget journeyed to Rome in 1349 in the company of her saintly daughter. With the exception of a few pilgrimages, notably one to the Holy Land, St. Bridget remained in Rome for the next 24 years, until her death in 1373.

During her stay in Rome, the Saint might have frequently recalled a vivid dream or vision she had experienced during her childhood in which she saw Our Lord hanging upon His Cross. The Crucified’s voice seemed to say, “Look upon Me, My daughter.” The child asked, “Who has treated You in this manner?” The vision replied, “They who despise Me, and are insensible to My love for them.”

This dream was probably remembered numerous times during her many visits to the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls. In this basilica is still found the life-size crucifix, sculpted by Pierre Cavallini, to which she was particularly devoted and which is said to have spoken with her. At the base of this crucifix is a Latin inscription that translates, “Bridget not only receives the Words of God hanging suspended in the air, but takes the Word of God into her heart. Jubilee year of 1350.”

The year 1350 is not the year in which the inscription was placed beneath the crucifix but the year in which the Saint received the communication from the crucifix. Many claim that this communication consisted of the 15 St. Bridget prayers that are found in many prayer books. Pope Urban V approved the Saint’s order in August 1370 when he confirmed the Rule of her congregation.

Three years later, after a most edifying and holy life, St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. Since Bridget had often visited the Poor Clares and had occasionally found it necessary to beg alms on the entrance steps, she was buried in their church, San Lorenzo in Panisperna, which is located on the summit of the Viminal Hill. A year later, her daughter, St. Catherine of Sweden, conveyed the remains to the monastery Bridget had founded at Vadstena, Sweden. Left at the convent of the Poor Clares was an arm of the Saint that the nuns wanted for a relic, together with the Saint’s coat and a prayer book. A mere 18 years after her death, St. Bridget was canonized on October 7, 1391, by Boniface IX. Alban Butler once wrote, “Nothing is more famous in the life of St. Bridget than the many revelations with which she was favored by God.” By order of the Council of Basle, the learned John Torquemada, afterward cardinal, examined these revelations and approved them as being profitable for the instruction of the faithful. This approbation was admitted by the council as being competent and sufficient.

Pope Benedict XIV referred to the Saint’s revelations when he wrote, “Even though many of these revelations have been approved, we cannot and we ought not to give them the assent of divine faith, but only that of human faith, according to the dictates of prudence whenever these dictates enable us to decide that they are probable and worthy of pious credence.” The revelations were printed and distributed as early as 1492. They were said to have been extremely popular during the Middle Ages, and they are still regarded as excellent material for spiritual consideration and meditation. In addition to St. Bridget founding a religious order and receiving the 15 prayers from Our Lord, the Saint’s name is also affixed to a rosary known as the Brigittine beads, which consist of 7 Our Fathers in honor of the Sorrows and Joys of the Blessed Virgin and 63 Hail Marys to commemorate the number of years Our Lady is thought to have lived on earth.

~Source:”Miraculous Images of Jesus”