Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Reading I 2 Cor 5:14-21

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Responsorial Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes. 
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us. 
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Alleluia See Lk 2:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the Virgin Mary who kept the word of God
and pondered it in her heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 2:41-51

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Be Childlike

Today, on the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we get a glimpse of what it must have been like raising Jesus. Kind of nerve-wracking, if you ask me. Jesus, my son, the Son of God, lost for three whole days??? I can’t even imagine! Still, in this Gospel, we are humbled by the voice of a child, so calmly knowing that he is his Father’s child. 

Last weekend, I met someone that was sharing her humbling experience of raising faith-filled children. She shared with me that the other day her daughter started a sentence with, “Mommy, I had a vision while adoring Jesus and I was wondering…” and it was at that point that she knew she was out of her depth. She knew that she would be relying on her Father, Our Father, to raise this little, prayerful child. If anything, she strived to have the child-like faith and relationship with the Lord that her daughter had!

This little one, as well as young Jesus, are such wonderful examples of how we should be young in spirit when it comes to our relationship with the world. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

How do we do this? How can we be like holy little children? How do we come to be so comfortable in our Father’s house that we lose ourselves?

I believe the biggest components of this are the following two things:

  1. Share your life with the Lord! 

Whether you’re celebrating, worried, or needing guidance, just spend some time in community with God. You don’t have to start with three hours in adoration or a special chair for prayer, it can be small. It can be while you’re driving to the grocery store, as you wash the dishes, or even when you’re taking a shower! The main thing is to just begin that open communication of sharing your life, all the joy and heartaches, with God.

  1. Have the strength to rely on God, your father. 

So many times, we push ourselves to the limit trying to be the best, to do the best, and are then let down when our best doesn’t feel good enough. But, like children, we must remember that we are not alone and we are put in community because we are meant to ask for help. Children will raise their arms to the sky as a signal to pick them up or that they need help, and we can do the same. In fact, even in 2 Corinthians 12:9, we are given the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This means that the power of God does not rely on our power, because truly we have none. We are weak and that is OKAY because it is through HIS grace, HIS love, HIS power that we are able to do such glorious things and experience true joy. 

So take some time to share your life with God. Tell Him about your work week while you fold laundry. Surrender your exhaustion to the Lord. Ask Him to strengthen and guide you. 

Start the conversation. Accept God’s strength. Be childlike. 

Contact the author

Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 

Feature Image Credit: Samantha Sophia, https://unsplash.com/photos/NaWKMlp3tVs

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Reading I Hos 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9

    Thus says the LORD:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
    out of Egypt I called my son.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    who took them in my arms;
I drew them with human cords,
    with bands of love;
I fostered them like one
    who raises an infant to his cheeks;
Yet, though I stooped to feed my child,
    they did not know that I was their healer.

My heart is overwhelmed,
    my pity is stirred.
I will not give vent to my blazing anger,
    I will not destroy Ephraim again;
For I am God and not a man,
    the Holy One present among you;
    I will not let the flames consume you.

Responsorial Psalm Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.

R. (3)    You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
    I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
    at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
    among the nations make known his deeds,
    proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
    let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
    for great in your midst
    is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Reading II Eph 3:8-12, 14-19

Brothers and sisters:
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

For this reason I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Alleluia Mt 11:29ab

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord;
and learn from me, for I am meek and gentle of heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

OR:

1 Jn 4:10b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God first loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 19:31-37

Since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, 
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken 
and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first 
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, 
they did not break his legs, 
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, 
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; 
he knows that he is speaking the truth, 
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
    Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
    They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Pascal Baylon


St. Pascal Baylon

Feast date: May 17

Pascal was born at Torre-Hermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon, on May 24, 1540. He was born on the Feast of Pentecost, which in Spain is called “the Pasch of the Holy Ghost”, which is why he received the name Pascal. He died at Villa Reale, May 15, 1592, on Whitsunday.

His parents, Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera, were virtuous peasants. The child began very early to display signs of that surpassing devotion towards the Holy Eucharist, which forms the salient feature of his character.

From his seventh to his twenty-fourth year, he led the life of a shepherd, and during the whole of that period exercised a salutary influence upon his companions. He was then received as a lay brother amongst the Franciscan friars of the Alcantarine Reform. In the cloister, Paschal’s life of contemplation and self-sacrifice fulfilled the promise of his early years.

His charity to the poor and afflicted, and his unfailing courtesy were remarkable. On one occasion, in the course of a journey through France, he triumphantly defended the dogma of the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and in consequence, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. Although poorly educated, his counsel was sought for by people of every station in life, and he was on terms of closest friendship with personages of eminent sanctity. Pascal was beatified in 1618, and canonized in 1690.

His cultus has flourished particularly in his native land and in Southern Italy, and it was widely diffused in Southern and Central America, through the Spanish Conquests.

In his Apostolic letter, Providentissimus Deus, Leo XIII declared St. Pascal the especial heavenly protector of all Eucharistic Congresses and Associations. His feast is kept on 17 May. The saint is usually depicted in adoration before a vision of the Host.

Blessed Antonia Mesina


Blessed Antonia Mesina

Feast date: May 17

Antonia Mesina was born into a poor family in a small town in Sardinia, Italy, in 1919. She was the second of 10 children and she had to leave school after only four years to help her bed-ridden mother who suffered from a heart condition tend to the house and the other children.

Despite her heavy responsibilities at home, Antonia became a very active member of Catholic Action, an Italian Catholic organization for the laity, at the age of 10. When she was 16, she was attacked while out gathering wood after mass. He friend ran away, trying to find help. Antonia was beaten and murdered by a would-be rapist, fighting him off to her last breath. She suffered 74 strikes with a stone before she died. On 5 October 1935 the Catholic Action member Venerable Armida Barelli – who had met Antonia once – met with Pope Pius XI and informed him of Antonia’s activism and her murder. Antonia was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 as a martyr of purity. She is a patron of rape victims.

St. John I, Pope


St. John I, Pope

Feast date: May 18

On May 18, the Catholic Church honors the first “Pope John” in its history. Saint John I was a martyr for the faith, imprisoned and starved to death by a heretical Germanic king during the sixth century.

He was a friend of the renowned Christian philosopher Boethius, who died in a similar manner.

Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also honor Pope St. John I, on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.

The future Pope John I was born in Tuscany, and served as an archdeacon in the Church for several years. He was chosen to become the Bishop of Rome in 523, succeeding Pope St. Hormisdas.

During his papal reign Italy was ruled by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric. Like many of his fellow tribesmen, the king adhered to the Arian heresy, holding that Christ was a created being rather than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Arianism had originated in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, and subsequently spread among the Western Goths. By the sixth century the heresy was weak in the East, but not dead.

In 523, the Byzantine Emperor Justin I ordered Arian clergy to surrender their churches into orthodox Catholic hands. In the West, meanwhile, Theodoric was angered by the emperor’s move, and responded by trying to use the Pope’s authority for his own ends.

Pope John was thus placed in an extremely awkward position. Despite the Pope’s own solid orthodoxy, the Arian king seems to have expected him to intercede with the Eastern emperor on behalf of the heretics. John’s refusal to satisfy King Theodoric would eventually lead to his martyrdom.

John did travel to Constantinople, where he was honored as St. Peter’s successor by the people, the Byzantine Emperor, and the Church’s legitimate Eastern patriarchs. (The Church of Alexandria had already separated by this point.) The Pope crowned the emperor, and celebrated the Easter liturgy at the Hagia Sophia Church in April of 526.

But while John could urge Justin to treat the Arians somewhat more mercifully, he could not make the kind of demands on their behalf that Theodoric expected.

The gothic king, who had recently killed John’s intellectually accomplished friend Boethius (honored by the Church as St. Severinus Boethius, on Oct. 23), was furious with the Pope when he learned of his refusal to support the Arians in Constantinople.

Already exhausted by his travels, the Pope was imprisoned in Ravenna and deprived of food. The death of St. John I came on or around May 18, which became his feast day in the Byzantine Catholic tradition and in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, he is celebrated on May 27, the date on which his exhumed body was returned to Rome for veneration in St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. Ives

Feast date: May 19

St. Ives was born at Kermartin, near Tréguier, Brittany, October 17, 1253 and was the son of Helori, lord of Kermartin, and Azo du Kenquis. In 1267, Ives was sent to the University of Paris where he graduated with a degree in civil law, and he then went on to Orléans in 1277 to study canon law. Upon his return to Brittany, having received minor orders, he was appointed as the “official”, or ecclesiastical judge, of the archdeanery of Rennes (1280).

In the meantime, he ardently studied Scripture, and there is strong evidence suggesting that he joined the Franciscan Tertiaries sometime later at Guingamp. He was soon invited by the Bishop of Tréguier to become his “official”, and accepted the offer in 1284. He displayed great zeal and rectitude in the discharge of his duty and did not hesitate to resist the unjust taxation of the king, which he considered an encroachment on the rights of the Church. Through his charity Ives gained the title of “advocate and patron of the poor.” Having been ordained, he was then appointed to the parish of Tredrez in 1285, and eight years later to Louannee, where he died May 19, 1303.

He was buried in Tréguier, and was canonized in 1347 by Clement VI, his feast being kept on May 19.

He is the patron of lawyers, though not, it is said, their model, for — “Sanctus Ivo erat Brito, Advocatus et non latro, Res miranda populo.”

Saint Celestine V, Pope


Saint Celestine V, Pope

Feast date: May 19

Celestine is a saint who will always be remembered for the unique manner in which he was elected Pope, for his spectacular incompetence in that office, and for the distinction of being the first pontiff ever to have resigned.

Pietro di Murrone was born in born 1215 in the Neapolitan province of Moline to a poor family. He became a Benedictine monk at the age of seventeen and was eventually ordained priest at Rome. His love of solitude led him first into the wilderness of Monte Morone in the Abruzzi, whence his surname, and later into the wilder recesses of Mt. Majella. He was strongly influenced by the life of John the Baptist, and took him as his model in his religious life. His hair-cloth was roughened with knots, he wore a chain of iron encompassing his emaciated frame, and he fasted every day except for on Sunday. Each year he kept four Lents, passing three of them on bread and water only, and he consecrated the entire day and a great part of the night to prayer and labour.

As generally happens in the case of saintly anchorites, Peter’s great desire for solitude was not destined to be gratified. Many kindred spirits gathered about him eager to imitate his rule of life, and before his death there were thirty- six monasteries, numbering 600 religious, and bearing his papal name, Celestini.

The order that developed amongst those that gathered around him was approved as a branch of the Benedictines by Urban IV in 1264. This congregation of Benedictine Celestines must not be confused with other Celestines, Franciscans, who are extreme Spirituals that Pope Celestine permitted to live as hermits according to the Rule of St. Francis in 1294, but were pendent of the Franciscan superiors. In their gratitude they named themselves after the pope (Pauperes eremitæ Domini Celestine), but were dissolved and dispersed (1302) by Boniface VIII, whose legitimacy the Spirituals contested.

In 1284, Pietro, weary of the cares of government, appointed a certain Robert as his vicar and plunged again into the depths of the wilderness. It would be well if some Catholic scholar would devote some time to a thorough investigation of his relations to the extreme spiritual party of that age, for though it is certain that the pious hermit did not approve of the heretical tenets held by the leaders, it is equally true that the fanatics, during his life and after his death, made copious use of his name.

In July 1294, his pious exercises were suddenly interrupted by a scene unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Three eminent dignitaries, accompanied by an immense multitude of monks and laymen, ascended the mountain, and announced that Pietro had been chosen as the new Pope by a unanimous vote of the Sacred College and humbly begged him to accept the honor.

Two years and three months had elapsed since the death of Nicholas IV on April 4, 1292 without much prospect that the conclave at Perugia would unite upon a candidate. Of the twelve Cardinals who composed the Sacred College six were Romans, four Italians and two French. The factious spirit of Guelph and Ghibelline, which was then epidemic in Italy, divided the conclave, as well as the city of Rome, into two hostile parties of the Orsini and the Colonna, neither of which could outvote the other.

During a personal visit to Perugia in the spring of 1294, Charles II of Naples, who needed the papal authority in order to regain Sicily, only exasperated the situation. Hostile words were exchanged between the Angevin monarch and Cardinal Gaetani, who was at that time the intellectual leader of the Colonna, and later, Pope Boniface VIII, their bitter enemy. When the situation seemed hopeless, Cardinal Latino Orsini admonished the fathers that God had revealed to a saintly hermit that if the cardinals did not perform their duty within four months, He would visit the Church with severe chastisement. All knew that he was referring to Pietro di Murrone.

The proposition was seized upon by the exhausted conclave and the election was made unanimous. Pietro received the news of his elevation with tears, but after a brief prayer, obeyed what seemed the clear voice of God, commanding him to sacrifice his personal inclination on the altar of the public welfare. Flight was impossible, even if he had contemplated it, for no sooner did the news of this extraordinary event spread abroad than multitudes (numbered at 200,000) flocked about him. His elevation was particularly welcome to the Spirituals, who saw in it the realization of current prophecies that the reign of the Holy Spirit ruling through the monks was at hand, and they proclaimed him the first legitimate Pope since Constantine’s donation of wealth and worldly power to “the first rich father” (Inferno, Canto XIX).

King Charles of Naples, upon hearing of the election of his subject, hastened with his son Charles Martel, titular King of Hungary, to present his homage to the new Pope, but, in reality, to take the simple old man into honourable custody. Had Charles known how to preserve moderation in exploiting his good luck, this windfall might have brought him incalculable benefits. As it was, he ruined everything by his excessive greed.

In reply to the request of the cardinals, that he should come to Perugia to be crowned, Pietro, at the instigation of Charles, summoned the Sacred College to meet him at Aquila, a frontier town of the Kingdom of Naples. Reluctantly they came, and one by one, Gaetani being the last to appear. Seated humbly on a simple donkey, the rope held by two monarchs, the new pontiff proceeded to Aquila, and although only three of the cardinals had arrived, the king ordered him to be crowned, and the ceremony had to be repeated in traditional form some days later, instancing the only double papal coronation.

Cardinal Latino was so grief- stricken at the course which affairs were evidently taking that he fell sick and died shortly after the coronation. Pietro took the name of Celestine V. As one of his first acts of Pope, being urged by the cardinals to cross over into the States of the Church, Celestine, at the behest of the king, ordered the entire Curia to repair to Naples.

It is wonderful how many serious mistakes the simple old man crowded into five short months. We have no full register of them, because his official acts were annulled by his successor. On September 18, he created twelve new cardinals, seven of whom were French, and the rest, with one possible exception, Neapolitans, thus paving the road to Avignon and the Great Schism. Ten days later he embittered the cardinals by renewing the rigorous law of Gregory X, regulating the conclave which Adrian V had suspended.

He is said to have appointed a young son of Charles to the important See of Lyons, but no trace of such appointment appears in Gams or Eubel. At Monte Cassino on his way to Naples, he strove to force the Celestine hermit-rule on the monks, which they humoured him with while he was with them. At Benevento he created the bishop of the city a cardinal, without observing any of the traditional forms. Meanwhile he scattered privileges and offices with a lavish hand. Refusing no one, he was found to have granted the same place or benefice to three or four rival suitors. He also granted favours without a second thought.

In consequence, the affairs of the Curia fell into extreme disorder. Upon his arrival in Naples, he took up his abode in a single apartment of the Castel Nuovo, and on the approach of Advent had a little cell built on the model of his beloved hut in the Abruzzi. But he was ill at ease. Affairs of State took up time that ought to be devoted to exercises of piety, and he feared that his soul was in danger. The thought of abdication seems to have occurred simultaneously to the pope and to his discontented cardinals, whom he rarely consulted.

That the idea originated with Cardinal Gaetani, the latter vigorously denied, and maintained that he originally opposed it. But a serious canonical doubt arose: Can a pope resign? As he has no superior on earth, who is authorized to accept his resignation? The solution of the question was reserved to the trained canonist, Cardinal Gaetani, who, basing his conclusion on common sense and the Church’s right to self-preservation, decided affirmatively.

It is interesting to notice how curtly, when he became Boniface VIII, he dispatched the delicate subject on which the validity of his claim to the papacy depended. In the “Liber Sextus” I, vii, 1, he issued the following decree: “Whereas some curious persons, arguing on things of no great expediency, and rashly seeking, against the teaching of the Apostle, to know more than it is meet to know, have seemed, with little forethought, to raise an anxious doubt, whether the Roman Pontiff, especially when he recognizes himself incapable of ruling the Universal Church and of bearing the burden of the Supreme Pontificate, can validly renounce the papacy, and its burden and honour: Pope Celestine V, Our predecessor, whilst still presiding over the government of the aforesaid Church, wishing to cut off all the matter for hesitation on the subject, having deliberated with his brethren, the Cardinals of the Roman Church, of whom We were one, with the concordant counsel and assent of Us and of them all, by Apostolic authority established and decreed, that the Roman Pontiff may freely resign. We, therefore, lest it should happen that in course of time this enactment should fall into oblivion, and the aforesaid doubt should revive the discussion, have placed it among other constitutions ad perpetuam rei memoriam by the advice of our brethren.”

When the report spread that Celestine contemplated resigning, the excitement in Naples was intense. King Charles, whose arbitrary course had brought things to this crisis, organized a determined opposition. A huge procession of the clergy and monks surrounded the castle, and with tears and prayers implored the Pope to continue his rule. Celestine, whose mind was not yet clear on the subject, returned an evasive answer, whereupon the multitude chanted the Te Deum and withdrew. A week later, on December13, Celestine’s resolution was irrevocably fixed.

Summoning the cardinals on that day, he read the constitution mentioned by Boniface in the “Liber Sextus”, announced his resignation, and proclaimed the cardinals free to proceed to a new election. After the lapse of the nine days enjoined by the legislation of Gregory X, the cardinals entered the conclave, and the next day Benedetto Gaetani was proclaimed Pope as Boniface VIII. After revoking many of the provisions made by Celestine, Boniface brought his predecessor, now in the dress of a humble hermit, with him on the road to Rome. He was forced to retain him in custody, lest an inimical use should be made of the simple old man.

Celestine yearned for his cell in the Abruzzi, and managed to escape at San Germano, and to the great joy of his monks reappeared among them at Majella. Boniface ordered his arrest, but Celestine evaded his pursuers for several months by wandering through the woods and mountains. Finally, he attempted to cross the Adriatic to Greece but, driven back by a tempest, and captured at the foot of Mt. Gargano, he was delivered into the hands of Boniface, who confined him closely in a narrow room in the tower of the castle of Fumone near Anagni (Analecta Bollandiana, 1897, XVI, 429-30).

Here, after nine months passed in fasting and prayer, closely watched and attended by two of his own religious, though rudely treated by the guards, he ended his extraordinary career in his ninety-first year. That Boniface treated him harshly, and finally cruelly murdered him, is a calumny. Some years after his canonization by Clement V in 1313, his remains were transferred from Ferentino to the church of his order at Aquila, where they are still the object of great veneration. His feast is celebrated on May 19.

St. Anthony Mary Gianelli


St. Anthony Mary Gianelli

Feast date: Jun 07

Anthony grew up in a poor but pious family in a small farming village in Lombardy, Italy. The owner of his family farm paid for Anthony’s seminary education because he was such a promising student. He was very young for ordination and required a special dispensation, however he was ordained in 1812 and served as a parish priest, and eventually founded several religious communities, some of them short-lived.

In 1827, he founded the Missionaries of St. Alphonsus, which lasted until 1856. He also founded the Oblates of Saint Alphonsus in 1828, which lasted only 20 years. The Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden, which he founded in 1829, still continue their ministry in education and among the sick in Europe, Asia and the United States.

He was named bishop of Bobbio, Italy in 1837 and actively restored devotions and instructed the faithful. He was a people’s bishop, visiting with his parishes and organizing two synods. He died after nine years as bishop on June 7, 1846 due to a serious fever and tuberculosis.

He was canonized in 1951.

St. Gaspar Bertoni


St. Gaspar Bertoni

Feast date: Jun 12

St. Gasper was born in Verona, Italy in 1777. He was baptized the day after. It is known that he was from an affluent family, and that his family’s faith-life was also quite notable.

Gasper was an only child as his baby sister passed away. He had the benefit of an excellent education both at home and at St. Sebastian’s school which was run by Jesuits.

From the grace of his first Holy Communion at age 11, Gaspar Bertoni was called to a life of mystical union. His vocation to the priesthood matured, and at 18, he entered the seminary. In frequenting the theological course as an extern student, he found in his professor of moral theology, Fr. Nicholas Galvani, an excellent spiritual director.

He was known to have helped the sick and hurt during the invasion of French armies in 1796, the beginning of a 20 year period of upheaval during which he tended to those in need. He took over the spiritual direction of a community founded then by St. Magdalena of Canossa at St. Joseph’s Convent (May 1808).

On November 4, 1816, with two companions, he moved into a small house, adjacent to a suppressed Church, that bore the title of “the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis (from this, the name of his community was eventually adapted; in this small church, he also worked to spread the devotion to the Passion and the wounds of Christ). In a very unostentatious manner, the new community opened a tuition-free school, offering this and other gratuitous services to the Church and society. The men lived together a common life of strict observance and penance. An intense life of contemplation was joined to a broad apostolate, including the Christian education of the youth, the formation of the clergy and missionary preaching, in perfect availability to the requests of the bishop.

Right after an ecstasy that he experienced praying before a Crucifix (on May 30, 1812), he suffered a first attack of “miliary fever” that brought him to the very threshold of death. Almost miraculously, he did recover but for the rest of his 41 years of life he remained in poor health, all this while giving a wonderful example of patience and heroic confident abandonment to God.Even from his sick-bed, suffering indescribable discomfort, he became the “angel of counsel” for countless persons who sought him out.

His Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, enriched by so many sufferings, gradually spread beyond Verona, to other cities in Italy, and then to the United States, to Brazil (where it presently has 6 Bishops), to Chile, to the Philippines and to mission territories: South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Thailand.