St. Jeanne Jugan - (1792-1879)
Born in northern France during the French Revolutiona time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.
When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).
After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her associationthe Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.
Abb Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890.
By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009.
Sts. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus
Joseph was a respected, wealthy civic leader who had become a disciple of Jesus. Following the death of Jesus, Joseph obtained Jesus' body from Pilate, wrapped it in fine linen and buried it. For these reasons Joseph is considered the patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers. More important is the courage Joseph showed in asking Pilate for Jesus' body. Jesus was a condemned criminal who had been publicly executed. According to some legends, Joseph was punished and imprisoned for such a bold act.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and, like Joseph, an important first-century Jew. We know from John's Gospel that Nicodemus went to Jesus at nightsecretlyto better understand his teachings about the kingdom. Later, Nicodemus spoke up for Jesus at the time of his arrest and assisted in Jesus' burial. We know little else about Nicodemus.
Patron Saint of:
St. Giles - (d. 710?)
In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Sts. Christopher, Barbara and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the "Holy Helpers" was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.
The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles' death.
Blessed John Francis Burt and Companions - (d. 1792; d. 1794)
These priests were victims of the French Revolution. Though their martyrdom spans a period of several years, they stand together in the Churchs memory because they all gave their lives for the same principle. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1791) required all priests to take an oath which amounted to a denial of the faith. Each of these men refused and was executed.
John Francis Burt became a Franciscan at 16 and after ordination taught theology to the young friars. Later he was guardian of the large Conventual friary in Paris until he was arrested and held in the convent of the Carmelites.
Appolinaris of Posat was born in 1739 in Switzerland. He joined the Capuchins and acquired a reputation as an excellent preacher, confessor and instructor of clerics. Sent to the East as a missionary, he was in Paris studying Oriental languages when the French Revolution began. Refusing the oath, he was swiftly arrested and detained in the Carmelite convent.
Severin Girault, a member of the Third Order Regular, was a chaplain for a group of sisters in Paris. Imprisoned with the others, he was the first to die in the slaughter at the convent.
These three plus 182 othersincluding several bishops and many religious and diocesan priestswere massacred at the Carmelite house in Paris on September 2, 1792. They were beatified in 1926.
John Baptist Triquerie, born in 1737, entered the Conventual Franciscans. He was chaplain and confessor of Poor Clare monasteries in three cities before he was arrested for refusing to take the oath. He and 13 diocesan priests were guillotined in Laval on January 21, 1794. He was beatified in 1955.
St. Gregory the Great - (540?-604)
Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome.
Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.
He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed.
Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king.
An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great."
His book, Pastoral Care, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.
Patron Saint of:
St. Rose of Viterbo - (1233-1251)
Rose achieved sainthood in only 18 years of life. Even as a child Rose had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. While still very young, she began a life of penance in her parents house. She was as generous to the poor as she was strict with herself. At the age of 10 she became a Secular Franciscan and soon began preaching in the streets about sin and the sufferings of Jesus.
Viterbo, her native city, was then in revolt against the pope. When Rose took the popes side against the emperor, she and her family were exiled from the city. When the popes side won in Viterbo, Rose was allowed to return. Her attempt at age 15 to found a religious community failed, and she returned to a life of prayer and penance in her fathers home, where she died in 1251. Rose was canonized in 1457.
Blessed Teresa of Kolkata - (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.
Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.
During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around herthe poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.
In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.
After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighborsespecially the poor and sickand getting to know their needs through visits.
The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.
For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.
Born in Santa Lucia del Piave near Venice, Claudio was the youngest of nine children and was accustomed to hard work in the fields. At the age of nine he lost his father. Six years later he was drafted into the Italian army, where he served more than three years.
His artistic abilities, especially in sculpture, led to studies at Venices Academy of Fine Arts, which awarded him a diploma with the highest marks in 1929. Even then he was especially interested in religious art. When Claudio entered the Friars Minor four years later, his parish priest wrote, "The Order is receiving not only an artist but a saint." Prayer, charity to the poor and artistic work characterized his life, which was cut short by a brain tumor. He died on the feast of the Assumption and was beatified in 1994.